Valley veteran returns to South Korea 70 years after Korean War

Staff Sergeant John Trask encourages all Korean War veterans to take the revisit trip.

Nic Garcia Image
Wednesday, September 6, 2023
Valley veteran returns to South Korea 70 years after war
A Valley veteran revisited the country where he fought for freedom.

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- A return to South Korea, 70 years in the making.

A Valley veteran who served in the Korean War took a trip back to the country he left when it was war-torn in 1953.

John Trask of Visalia served in the Air Force during the Korean War.

He's been on the Central Valley Honor Flight to visit the Korean War memorial in Washington D.C., but he said actually going to the country and seeing how it looks decades after the war was indescribable.

"There's feelings I can't even describe because I was so overwhelmed with what I saw," said Trask.

A Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, Trask is 92 years old and left war-torn South Korea in 1953.

In July, he spent a week in the country, revisiting parts of the country he hadn't seen in 70 years.

"When I left Korea, I left a land that was totally demolished. It was burned. People were dying, people had been killed. All of the bad things," said Trask.

The trip was sponsored by the Korea Defense Veterans Association, a division of the South Korean government.

It pays for Korean War veterans to revisit the country to be honored for their service.

Veterans from all countries who helped the South Korean war effort are welcome.

"I was so amazed when we arrived in Seoul to see what they had done in 70 years. It made my heart feel good that I had a tiny little part in seeing that that happened," said Trask.

The veterans, including Trask, received medals from the government in a grand ceremony.

"That evening, this man that was standing there that I didn't know who it was, it happened to be the President of South Korea," said Trask.

The American Veterans on the trip were also invited to a special private reception where they received a plaque.

It came from Mr. Kim Dong Myung, who Trask had more in common with than he realized.

"He served when you served, so he's well aware of what you were exposed to, and because of that, he wanted you to have this," said Trask.

Overall, Trask says the trip was an incredible way for the South Korean government to personally say thank you to those who helped them through the war.

It was also a healing experience.

"I think it was for the fact of the enormity of the number of people that didn't get to come back, and I did. I think that was the whole thing," said Trask.

You can learn more about the Korea Revisit Program here.

Mr. Trask says any Korean War veteran who would like to chat with him about his experience can email him at

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