VC/UHV Library to host national conference commemorating 60th anniversary of Korean War

May 15, 2010 at 12:15 a.m.

The Victoria College/University of Houston-Victoria Library is set to host the Korean War Conference on Thursday through Saturday, June 24 -26.

The conference will feature notable speakers such as host of PBS NewsHour and VC alumnus Jim Lehrer, along with author and Pulitzer Prize nominee Bill Sloan.

The conference commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. It is coordinated by retired VC history professor Charles Spurlin and chaired by James Smallwood, professor emeritus at Oklahoma State University, and Brenda Fisseler of Hallettsville.

VC/UHV Library Director Joe Dahlstrom serves as host.

"I wanted to coordinate this conference for the 60th anniversary of the Korean War because I feel that it is important to recognize this historical event," said Spurlin, who is also a Korean War combat infantry veteran. "To my knowledge, this conference is one of only two being held in the United States this year."

The program will begin on June 24 with opening remarks from Smallwood, immediately followed by the first session, which will include presentations from Mary Jo O'Rear, a historian from Corpus Christi, and Lara Newcomer, an ecological communications corporation historian, on the topic of Americans, foreign policy and the Chinese.

Thursday's second session will focus on "Korea Yesterday and Today" featuring a presentation remembering Texans in the Korean War by William McWhorter of the Texas Historical Commission with Stephen Sloan from the Baylor Institute of Oral History.

Later in the day, presentations will cover such topics as "Danger and Double Duty" focusing on U.S. ground forces, men who fought in World War II and the Korean War, and American prisoners of war in North Korea, followed by "The Fight in the Sky" highlighting the Korean War as a transitional period in history and the role Victoria's Foster Field played in the Korean War.

"Not many people know this," said Dahlstrom, "but the Coastal Bend region has played a historical role in more than one war.

Foster Field, now Victoria Regional Airport, was originally built as a U.S. Army Air Force Base during World War II and was later reactivated for military use during the Korean War.

On Thursday evening, Korean War veterans will be honored at a reception and exhibit at the Museum of the Coastal Bend, located on the Victoria College campus. Guests representing several nations will be in attendance.

Friday morning, conference guests will attend a memorial service at the Korean War Monument at Greenbelt Park in Victoria. District Judge Joseph P. Kelly, also a former Marine Corps officer, will speaker.

Conference sessions throughout the day on Friday will include "Crises Management in the War," "American Minorities in the War," "The Fight" and a panel discussion on "The War from Inside" featuring Kenneth Howell of Prairie View A&M University as chair.

The banquet Friday will begin at 6 p.m. in the VC Student Center. Lehrer will be the featured speaker.

Saturday's sessions will include "The War in Pictures" highlighting sketches and cartoons from the war.

A video documentary titled "The 45th Division 60 Years Later" from freelance video journalist Robert Paniagua will follow.

The conference is scheduled to close with a luncheon in the University Center at the University of Houston-Victoria featuring Bill Sloan, author of "The Darkest Summer: The First Three Months of the Korean War."



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