Korean War veteran honored

Jim Berg served in Korea, continues to play bugle at military funerals
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Jim Berg has played bugle at more than 900 military funerals during the past 30 years, which is no small feat. The 77-year-old bugler donates his time and energy to pay respect to United States veterans. Berg, who served in the Air Force during the Korean War, has also spent many years in the honor guard. Berg’s dedication earned him recognition as “Veteran of the Year” during an annual ceremony held at the Korean War Memorial in Maidu Park Saturday. Mayor Pro Tempore Pauline Roccucci presented Berg with the award. “I feel honored,” Berg said Monday. The local memorial contains the names of 300 Roseville men and women who served in Korea, including the two who lost their lives, said John Piches, a navy veteran from World War II, who helps organize the annual event. “Veterans saved our country,” Piches said Friday. “(This event) is to thank those people.” The Consul General of South Korea attended the event, along with Col. Doyle Redmond, the area’s most decorated veteran. The event included live music, the laying of a wreath on the memorial and historical memories. In the early years, Berg played bugle at as many as 280 funerals a year. Last year, he performed at 67. “We’re doing less and less because we have less and less WWII veterans,” Berg said. He plays bugle at the funerals of veterans from all recent wars, including the Korean War, Vietnam War and the Iraq War. This year’s event is especially important as it marks the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, which began June 25, 1950 and ended with the signing of an armistice three years later. Before the end of WWII, Korea had been in the possession of Japan. But following Japan’s surrender in 1945, the country was divided at the 38th parallel with the Soviet Union occupying the north and the United States occupying the south. The military conflict started when North Korea invaded the south to reunite the peninsula under communist rule. During Saturday’s ceremony, Piches spoke about Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s surprise amphibious landing of infantry troops on the beach in Inchon on Sept. 15, 1950, which was a turning point of the war. The army general launched the daring counter-offensive after United Nation forces had been pushed far south. The tactic led to the retreat of North Korean forces. President Harry Truman eventually fired MacArthur after the general publicly criticized the commander in chief — similar to what happened last week when President Barack Obama requested the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former commander of Allied Forces in Afghanistan. The Korean War reached a stalemate in 1953, which led to a cessation of fighting. A formal peace treaty was never signed. Kim Jong-il currently runs the totalitarian regime of the north, as the south functions as a modern, democratic state. Berg said the public must remember America’s history, which has become increasingly difficult as “you don’t see it in the newspaper and kids are just not taught about our history anymore.” “If we forget history,” Berg said, “We’re doomed to repeat it.” Sena Christian can be reached at