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Mark Simonson

July 22, 2013

Korean armistice received with relief locally in July 1953

Some of our area’s parents, family and friends of their loved ones fighting over in Korea must have gone to bed Sunday night, July 26, 1953 feeling some relief. President Dwight D. Eisenhower addressed the nation on TV and radio that night to report on the meaning of the Korean armistice just about an hour after the signing of the documents at Panmunjom. It ended three years and one month of deadly undeclared warfare in Korea.

The Oneonta Star newsroom was a busy place that night, as the president’s address came at 8 p.m. Local reaction to the armistice was sought quickly in order to get the press running for the Monday morning paper. A reporter spoke with Fred L. Braun, the manager of the Oneonta Hotel.

“I think everyone is happy about the signing of the truce, but that does not eliminate the real issue. The real issue is Russia versus the free world…Communism versus freedom. Ending the Korean war does not solve that issue. However, let’s hope the truce may be a step in that direction,” Braun said. 

Braun’s comments reflected similar optimism mixed with skepticism by others who were interviewed.

On Wednesday, July 29, local residents were also glad to learn how Allied prisoners of war, 3,313 of them Americans, would soon begin the march out of Communist captivity, as some had languished behind the stockades in North Korea for nearly three years. Gradually a few returned home to our area.

Oneonta celebrated this and the armistice with a dance on Thursday night at the New Windsor Hotel, then found at the corner of Wall and Chestnut streets where the NBT Bank stands today. Don Prince and his Pennsylvanians provided the music.

Two years and nine months of anxiety ended on Tuesday night, Aug. 12, for Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Althiser, who resided about a mile north of Worcester. Their son, Sgt. Rae M. Althiser, had been among those released from a POW camp. The family didn’t have a telephone, but heard about his release while Althiser’s mother was at work at Walt’s Restaurant, a popular stop for many years on state Route 7. Someone had seen Rae’s name on TV among those released and called the restaurant around 11:20 p.m.

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Mark Simonson

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