Remembering Vets in the ‘Forgotten War’

Veterans of Korean Conflict Found a Home on Rutgers–Camden Campus

Capt. Andrew Thomas Jackson CCAS'58

Capt. Andrew Thomas Jackson CCAS’58

By Jason Nark CCAS’00

When U.S. Army Capt. Andrew Thomas Jackson enrolled in Rutgers College of South Jersey, as Rutgers University–Camden was known in 1954, he’d already faced his greatest test a year earlier while hunkered down on a Korean ridge some 7,000 miles away. “When you were getting shelled in a bunker it wasn’t easy, because you never knew if you’d come out alive,” said Jackson CCAS’58. Details of the Korean War—often called “America’s forgotten war” because it fell between World War II and Vietnam—remain vivid for Jackson 65 years later. “When you get involved with a situation that’s life or death, it never leaves you,” the 87-year-old Cherry Hill resident said. “I sure was an adult when I came home.”

After the Korean Armistice Agreement ended the three-year war with a ceasefire in July 1953, Jackson’s journey back to South Jersey began with one goal. “I figured I’d get down to Rutgers and get myself into college,” he said.

Once enrolled and focused on getting a degree in economics, Jackson found his life experience was far different than that of most of his classmates. He bonded with fellow veterans at the school. “We were coming from the military, where everything is structured and set out for you,” said Jackson, who worked for 50 years as a controller and senior accountant. “The life is so different.”

Rutgers–Camden, like colleges across the nation, saw an influx of veterans enroll after World War II, thanks to the G.I. Bill that assisted with education expenses. Numbers rose again after the Iraq War began in 2003, and Rutgers–Camden now has more than 400 student-veterans in undergraduate and graduate programs.

But the university hasn’t forgotten veterans of the Korean War, as well as others who served in the military in Korea. Fred Davis, the founding campus director for the Rutgers–Camden Office of Military and Veterans Affairs since it opened in 2009, has reached out. “My message to the Korean War veterans was that I wanted them to know that all Americans recognize that many of you have not only fought for this country, but your generation of veterans also fought here at home to make sure that future veterans don’t have the same experience after their service as you did,” Davis said.

At the annual Veterans Day luncheon on campus in November 2017, the university honored seven veterans who served in the military in Korea. Some, like Jackson, served during the period considered the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, while others served on the Korean Peninsula during other tense times.

Frank A. Brown Sr. CCAS’79

Maj. Frank A. Brown Sr. CCAS’79

U.S. Army Maj. Frank A. Brown Sr. CCAS’79 is one who served later, having been deployed from 1966 to 1968. “I was over in Korea when the Tet Offensive took place in Vietnam,” said Brown, who lives in Atco, New Jersey. “The Vietnam War had all the media attention, but we had guys getting killed all the time up there.”

Brown, 72, spent 27 years in the Army and later worked as an investigator for the New Jersey Department of Human Services. He now serves as a VFW liaison to Rutgers–Camden and makes frequent visits to the campus to help students, including a recent session where he helped student-veterans with their income taxes. His son, Frank A. Brown Jr., is also a veteran and working on a master’s degree in social work at Rutgers.

Brown and Jackson didn’t meet until after their time at Rutgers–Camden, but they are friends from years working together in various regional Korean War groups. Looking back over the decades, Jackson said he still cherishes the people of Rutgers–Camden for helping him transition from soldier to student. “It’s not the buildings or the pretty looking lawn—it’s the professors and the students who make the place special to me.”

Jason Nark, a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, holds a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in journalism and film studies from Rutgers–Camden.

Capt. Andrew Thomas Jackson CCAS’58 speaking at the Veterans Day luncheon on campus in 2017. Frank A. Brown Sr. CCAS’79 is second from the right. Other veterans who served in Korea pictured, from left in rear, are Robert Musser, Richard Daucunas, Stan Levin, Carl C. Letizia, and George R. Ulmer.

Capt. Andrew Thomas Jackson CCAS’58 speaking at the Veterans Day luncheon on campus in 2017. Frank A. Brown Sr. CCAS’79 is second from the right. Other veterans who served in Korea pictured, from left in rear, are Robert Musser, Richard Daucunas, Stan Levin, Carl C. Letizia, and George R. Ulmer.

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