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Mark Simonson

July 22, 2013

Korean armistice received with relief locally in July 1953


Sgt. Althiser, the youngest of five sons, had three brothers who had served in World War II. Rae Althiser was with Company G, 8th Regiment, First Calvary Division. He had enlisted in the Army in March 1950 and was in Korea by July.

It was a long return home. Sgt. Althiser was a passenger on the U.S. Hospital Ship, which arrived in San Francisco on Sept. 4, 1953. Althiser had suffered some wounds while in the prison camp and needed hospitalization. He was brought to St. Albans Hospital in Queens before returning home.

The news was not good for Roscoe Weldon of Westford, as he was notified that his son, Pfc. Harold D. Weldon, had died in a Korean prison camp. This was the first word Mr. Weldon had received about his son since being reported as missing in action in November 1950.

Word came across the Associated Press wire in the Oneonta Star office about 2 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, that Lt. Col. Bert Santora of Oneonta was free from the Korean camps. His wife, Margaret Santora, didn’t have a phone, so the good news was delivered at 6 a.m. by Oneonta police officers Alvin Nichols and Alphonse Pizza. Her next-door neighbor on East Street did have a phone, and called Margaret to their phone that morning, as Bert was on the line from Japan.

Col. Santora had just heard that his father, Joseph Santora of Meridale, was in the hospital in Delhi, a patient after a heart attack. That became grounds for an immediate trip home. He left Tokyo on Sept. 8.

Oneonta had planned a big welcome home reception for Col. Santora, but told the planning committee while he deeply appreciated the honor, he didn’t want to be singled out for his service. A committee member, Edwin R. Moore, said Santora told him that honors should go to those in Korea who gave more than he did, namely their lives.

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Mark Simonson

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