SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Franklin Goff was awarded a Silver Star and two Bronze Stars during the Korean War. Today, he will tell you he left Korea scared and humble. Although fiercely proud of those medals and his service, Goff feels guilt for the recognition because of others who he claimed did so much more than he in the conflict.
“The document with my citation for the Silver Star, I’m the only survivor,” Goff said. “The other four on there are posthumous awards for the Silver Star from the 24th Infantry division in the same encounter.”
Goff returned from the war, married his high school sweetheart, and lived his life as a pastor in the Charleston area. During a ceremony to commemorate the cease fire in Korea 63 years ago Wednesday, he remembered his friend Jack Burford. Goff said he remembered him often for the past 63 years.
“Jack and I grew up together on Davis Creek. We buddied together, went overseas together, stayed together until we got to Japan where he went to one division and I went to another,” Goff explained. “It touches me today because I came home and Jack died in Korea. When you lose someone that close to you it’s just like losing your brother.”
Speaking to the small gathering at the Kanawha County Korean War Memorial in South Charleston, Goff said he still tears up as he drives by the cemetery where his friend is buried. He will never forget his buddy and many others who served in Korea, but there’s a constant effort to make sure others don’t forget either.
“When people talk about the military, they talk about World War II, Vietnam, Desert Storm, but they never talk about the Korean War,” Goff said. “Then you remind them and they apologize. It’s just a forgotten war.”
Goff has spent much of his life since returning from Korea working to preserve the memory of his comrades and their service. He was adamant the contributions made by the veterans of Korea were no less important than any other conflict and he doesn’t want their service to be lost to history.
“I don’t want that to happen. I think we made as big a contribution to the freedom of America as any veterans that served,” said Goff.
His point was driven home by the sparse turnout for the commemoration of the end of hostilities in the conflict. Fewer than 40 people were on hand for the ceremony and most were senior citizens. Goff worried how much longer such ceremonies would take place since the veterans who fought in Korea are getting older.
“I”m 84 and I’m a young Korean War Vet,” he said.