‘I love our country’: Siouxland vet recalls ‘Forgotten War’ service

Veterans Voices

(KCAU) — A patriotic man who loves his county, that’s Leonard Carstensen. Even though he fought in a war commonly referred to as the “Forgotten War,” he said he won’t ever forget a moment of it.

“It seemed like at that age, we were very informative during the war, I would say 11, 12 years old. You sorta set your sights, such as something like serving the country or something in that order.”

Carstensen was among 2 million American soldiers who fought in the Korean War.

“I was in the Navy. I entered the war in 1952 as a commissioned officer. I was assigned to ships, primarily a destroyer,” Carstensen said.

He was in the 7th fleet, far eastern territory.

“We, as a destroyer, always had to be on guard in case they went into the water or in case they didn’t make it back and I felt very bad about that, that so many people didn’t make it back but it was just a feeling you soon become to accept,” Carstensen said.

Nearly 5 million people died during the war. Roughly 40,000 of those were American soldiers.

“Generally, you didn’t make too many close friends because they would be gone the next day probably, be wounded or killed or something like that. It seemed like during that time, you were just more concerned with staying alive,” Carstensen said.

Throughout the war, weather was extreme, ranging from unbearable heat to freezing cold temperatures. But Leonard said he stayed focused through each obstacle he faced.

“You didn’t have much time to think about anything else you had so much going on we just did our job,” Carstensen said.

Many refer to the Korean War as the “Forgotten War” because of the little attention it received compared to other conflicts but 60 years later, Leonard is 92 years old and one of the few servicemen left from the war, and he still remembers almost every moment.

“I feel very strongly about our country and our flag,” Carstensen said.

Similar to many other brave men and women who have served, he said he would go through it all again if he had the chance.

“I love our country, and I love our flag,” said Carstensen.

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