Hundreds of names engraved on a memorial to the Korean War dead have been misspelt or omitted entirely, with the names of some survivors wrongly added, a historian has said.
Hal Barker, a historian of the war and founder of the Korean War Project, said he has identified around 1,000 spelling errors and 400 names left off the $22 million monument.
The original Korean War memorial, on the National Mall in Washington DC, was inaugurated in 1995: an updated tribute was unveiled in July, with a wall of remembrance.
Barker said that he was astonished at the scale of the mistakes.
‘It makes my head hurt,’ he told The Washington Post.
‘The fact is we have a memorial that has a huge number of errors and no way of paying to fix it.’
The Korean War Veterans’ memorial in Washington DC was inaugurated in July – yet features hundreds of errors
Ambrosio Guillen, who was killed in battle on July 25, 1953, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Valor – yet his name is misspelt on the monument
The Korean War was fought from 1950 to 1953, pitching the United States, South Korea and their allies against North Korea and China, aided by the Soviet Union.
Dwight Angell died aged 24 when his plane was shot down over China, but his name has been omitted from the memorial
It began when North Korea invaded the South, aiming to unify Korea under the communist regime in Pyongyang, and the U.S. came to the aid of Seoul.
The U.S. lost 34,000 service members during the war, and over two million Koreans were killed, civilians and combatants.
The memorial in DC includes, in addition to the American names, 7,100 names of Koreans who were part of the Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army.
Among those omitted from the memorial is Navy Ensign Dwight C. Angell, who was shot down aged 24 on January 18, 1953, off the coast of China.
Megan Marx, the daughter of Angell’s first wife Gerry, told the paper she plans to travel from her home in Colorado on Wednesday to mark the 70th anniversary of his death at the memorial – even though his name is not there.
She was also present at the dedication, in July.
Marx said her mother, who died in 1999, was haunted by Angell’s loss.
‘All of this stuff with Dwight was never far from the surface for her,’ she said.
‘She never stopped looking for him.’
The memorial is situated on the National Mall in Washington DC
Those whose names were misspelt include Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Ambrosio Guillen, 23.
He was killed in battle on July 25, 1953.
Guillen, born in Colorado, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for valor, but is spelt as Guilien – despite being a local hero in his Texas hometown of El Paso, with a school and veterans’ center named after him.
Another misspelt name is that of Army Pfc. William Red Horn, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
On the memorial, he is named as Horn W Red.
He was 18 when he was killed December 9, 1951.
A third misspelt name is that of Navy helicopter pilot Lt. j.g. John Kelvin Koelsch, who was shot down on July 3, 1951, while trying to rescue an injured comrade.
He was captured and died three months later, on October 16.
In 1955, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism; nevertheless, his name is incorrectly spelt as Koelsh.
John Kelvin Koelsch, a helicopter pilot, was born in London to an American banker father. The family returned to the United States and settled in the village of Briarcliff Manor, Westchester County, New York. Koelsch enlisted as an aviation cadet in the United States Navy in September 1942, and died in captivity in 1951. His name is misspelt on the memorial
Army Pfc. William Red Horn, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is named as Horn W Red on the memorial
Other names are on the wall despite them surviving the war.
They include Alfred P. Bradshaw, of the Marines, who died in Missouri in 2012, Barker said.
The Pentagon said it was working to correct the names, and urged those with concerns to get in touch.
Some of the mistakes are due to deaths being classed as part of the Cold War, given that the conflicts overlapped.
Army Maj. Charlie Dietz, a spokesman for the Pentagon, said efforts were being made to correct the memorial.
‘The errors are a very unfortunate mistake and the [Department of Defense] is working in tandem with the Dept. of Interior to correct those mistakes,’ he said.
‘We are also aware that some names are on the Wall of Remembrance which were not included on the Department’s final list of Korean War casualties.
‘The respective Military Departments reviewed every name on the Korean War Casualty List for correctness against available official military records.
‘Though not common, the official records themselves may have contained errors.’
Dietz added: ‘We encourage all family members or concerned citizens to notify the Department of any names that were omitted, misspelled, or included in error.’