The 28 Irish GIs Who Died in Korea (July 2006)

Left, Marine Pfc. John Patrick White, born in Caherdaniel, County Kerry.

Five of the 28 Irish-born GIs who perished in the Korean War were born in County Kerry, including Marine Pfc. John Patrick White (left). Four were born in Cork, Roscommon and Limerick. Mayo was the birthplace for three, Leitrim and Antrim two, and Longford, Galway, Tipperary, and Louth one each. A complete list, drawn from the Irish in Korea Web site compiled by Brian McGinn, at, follows:

* Maurice Angland, Pfc., Army, born Meentinna, Rockchapel, Co. Cork, resided Chicago, KIA Oct. 4, 1951, buried Clonfert Cemetery, Newmarket, Co. Cork.

* Mark James Brennan, Sgt., Army, born Ballinamore, Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo, resided Greenwich, Conn., died June 18, 1953, buried St. Mary's RC Cemetery, Greenwich.

* John Canty, Pfc., Army, born Ahabeg, Lixnaw, Co. Kerry, resided Chicago, died Aug. 26, 1951, buried Kiltomey Cemetery, Lixnaw.

* William (Billy) Collins, Pfc., Army, born Tullig South, Templeglantine, Co. Limerick, resided Queens, N.Y., KIA May 18, 1951, buried Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, N.Y.

* John Corcoran, Pfc., Army, born Coolikerane, Millstreet, Co. Cork, resided Lafayette Parish, La., died Oct. 2, 1950, buried Calvary Cemetery, Lafayette Parish.

* Michael Fitzpatrick, Pfc., Army, born Cappagh, Claremorris, Co. Mayo, resided Whiting, Ind., KIA Aug. 18, 1951, buried Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, Worth, Ill.

* Bartholomew Galvin, Cpl., Army, born Gorticurrane, Annascaul, Co. Kerry, resided Weymouth, Mass., KIA Sept. 1, 1950, buried Aglish Cemetery, Annascaul.

* Michael Gannon, Cpl., Army, born Dooniver, Achill, Co. Mayo, resided Cleveland, KIA Feb. 13, 1951, buried Bunnacurry Cemetery, Achill.

* Michael Patrick Hardiman, Pvt. E-2, Army, born Moyne, Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon, resided Philadelphia, KIA March 6, 1951, buried Fairymount Cemetery (near Loughglynn), Co. Roscommon.

* Daniel Christopher (Donal) Harrington, Pvt. E-2, Army, born Ardnacluggan, Eyeries, Co. Cork, resided Brooklyn, N.Y., KIA Jun. 6, 1951, buried Old Cemetery, Castletownbere.

* Michael Herlihy, Pfc., Army, born Mount Falvey, Scartaglen, Co. Kerry, resided San Francisco, KIA Sep. 12, 1951, buried Ballydesmond Cemetery, Co. Cork.

* Daniel Joseph (Danny) Keogh, Pvt. E-2, Army, born Cartron Upper, Drumlish, Co. Longford, resided Sparks, Nev., KIA Mar. 17, 1953, buried in Drumlish Cemetery.

* Michael Thomas King, Pfc., Army, born Attiaghygrana, Elphin, Co. Roscommon, resided U.S. at large, KIA Feb. 13, 1951, buried Shankill Cemetery (near Elphin).

* Patrick Joseph Lavin, Pvt. E-2, Army, born Glackaun, Drumkeeran, Co. Leitrim, resided Bronx, N.Y., KIA Jul. 10, 1953, buried St. Raymond's Cemetery, Bronx.

* Philip Columba Lynch, Pvt. E-2, Army, born Brooklawn, Kilconly, Co. Galway, resided San Francisco, KIA Aug. 27, 1951, buried in Kilconly Parish Cemetery.

* Michael A. McCormack, Pfc., Army, born Church Park, Taughmaconnell, Co. Roscommon, resided Boston, died Jul. 22, 1952, buried Taughmaconnell Cemetery.

* Patrick McEnery, Pfc., Army, born Turaree Lower, Glin, Co. Limerick, resided Chicago, KIA Nov. 13, 1951, body not recovered.

* William John Mills, Pvt. E-2, Army, born Enniskillen Street, Belfast, Co. Antrim, resided Jersey City, N.J., MIA Nov. 5, 1951, declared died while missing (body not recovered) Dec. 31, 1953.

* William Francis Murphy, Pfc., Army, born Shandon Street, Cork City, Co. Cork, resided New York City, taken POW, died in captivity May 18, 1951, body not recovered.

* Thomas Joseph O'Brien, Sgt., Army, born Ballyvistea, Emly, Co. Tipperary, resided New York, N.Y., KIA Oct. 26, 1950, body not recovered.

* Alphonsus O'Connell, Cpl., Army, born Sarsfield Avenue, Garryowen, Limerick City, resided New York City, N.Y., KIA Oct. 29, 1951, buried Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, N.Y.

* Owen Prior, Pfc., Army, born Derradda, Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim, resided Providence, R.I., died Jul. 21, 1952, buried Coraleehan Graveyard (near Derradda).

* Thomas Stephen Quinn, Pfc., Army, born Clooninsla, Ballinlough, Co. Roscommon, resided Toledo, Ohio, KIA Oct. 6, 1951, buried Calvary Cemetery, Toledo.

* William (Billy) Scully, Pfc., Army, born Kilgrena, Galbally, Co. Limerick, resided Manhasset, N.Y., KIA Jan. 14, 1951, buried Galbally Cemetery.

* Patrick Sheahan, Cpl., Army, born Leitrim Middle, Newtown Sandes, Co. Kerry, resided New York City, KIA Oct. 4, 1951, buried Murhur Cemetery, Moyvane.

* Thomas John Ward, Pfc., Army, born Osman Street (off Falls Road), Belfast, Co. Antrim, (raised in Carrickmacross, Co. Monaghan), resided U.S. at Large, KIA Aug. 22, 1950, buried in Donaghmoyne Cemetery, Carrickmacross.

* John Patrick White, Pfc., Marine Corps, born Caherdaniel, Co. Kerry, resided New York City, taken POW Sept. 24, 1952, body not recovered.

* Patrick Augustine White, Pfc., Army, born Lisdoo, Dundalk, Co. Louth, resided Moline, Ill., KIA Oct. 6, 1951, buried in St. Patrick's Cemetery, Dundalk.

A Monument of Their Own': Hundreds Gather to Honor Irish GIs Slain in Korean War

Fifty-three years after the end of the Korean War, comrades, family, and supporters unveil a monument to 27 Irish-born soldiers and one Marine who didn't make it back. Alex Féthière reports.
Patrick Sheahan, from Leitrim Middle, Newtown Sandes, County Kerry, County Kerry, resided in New York City before the war. He was killed in action Oct. 4, 1951, and awarded a Bronze Star and a posthumous Silver Star.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – The year 1953 brought an uneasy truce to the Korean peninsula, leaving North and South Korea divided and wary of each other to this day. More than 50,000 American military personnel died in the three-year war, along with more than 2 million others. Twenty-eight of these American fatalities were Irish nationals.

Sandwiched between World War II and the Vietnam War, less exalted than the former and less controversial than the latter, the so-called Korean Conflict gained a reputation in the West as "The Forgotten War." And those who fought it have had to scrap to gain the recognition that their sacrifices deserved, including American citizenship for the foreign born.

Hundreds of Irish-born immigrants filled the ranks of the 500,000 U.S. military personnel serving in Korea, fighting under the United Nations flag with forces of 16 other nations. Upon their return, just like all other immigrants then, they had to wait a mandated five years before becoming eligible for U.S. citizenship.

1953's Public Law 86, though, cut a break for those immigrants who would serve in the regular U.S. military. Going forward, they wouldn't need to serve in a declared war nor have to wait the statutory five years, only between 90 and 180 days.

Many of those who helped were among the 250 people gathered under a powder blue sky at Green-Wood Cemetery, in New York City's borough of Brooklyn, founded in 1838 and among the most beautiful and historic cemeteries in the world. Leahy, a native of Lixnaw, County Kerry, was one of several speakers at the unveiling of the two-ton, gray granite slab that bears the names of the 28, along with a Celtic cross and epigraph.However, the new law did not include a grandfather clause, nor include reservists, so the war's Irish GIs had to wait for the old requirements to be met, and the dead had to wait for John Leahy. On Oct. 14, a resplendent and warm day, a monument was unveiled in honor of the 28, and Korean War veteran Leahy had a chance to consider anew his accomplishment and that of his allies, the granting in 2003 of U.S. citizenship to the 28.

Photo by Alex Féthière
Members of the Cork Association of New York, left to right, Connie Doolan; Joe Murphy; Korean War veterans Dan O'Neill, Mike Cronin, and Denis Forde, and Sean Driscoll are on hand for the unveiling of a monument honoring the 28 Irish-born GIs slain during the Korean War, including four men from Cork.

Leahy told the throng: "Today is possibly the proudest day of my life. ... These 28, just after crossing home plate, they're now in a beautiful clubhouse and have a monument of their own." He went on to eulogize his fallen comrades, while noting that the memorial is about 60 feet from the final resting place of Matilda Tone, widow of Theobald Wolfe Tone, an enduring symbol of Irish republicanism.

Leahy, a sergeant with the 82nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion during the war, pushed for 27 years to gain citizenship for his fallen comrades. He had received a citation for capturing a spy in Korea, and chuckled dryly when reflecting on the impact of his immigrant status then: "I got a citation for catching a spy and couldn't get (work in) the Post Office upon coming back!"

Mayo native John T. Jennings, a medic with the 32nd Infantry Division in Korea, said, "We had to be three years in the service and five years in the country before we qualified (for citizenship). You couldn't even sweep the street with a broom without being an American citizen." He called the monument "long overdue" and was visibly pleased that his fallen comrades had finally received this recognition.

Irish Consul General Tim O'Connor, the Korean Consulate's Mr. Kim Wan-joong, and Breandan O'Caollai, deputy consul general of Ireland, were only a few of the dignitaries who addressed the throng, flanked by U.S. Army soldiers bearing flags and rifles. Kim thanked the Irish-Americans for their services and sacrifice, then went on to say, "In particular, we owe the current economically prosperous and politically democratic Korea so much to the 28 Irish-Americans who gave their lives in the war."

Photo by Alex Féthière
Keynote speaker Ray O'Hanlon, senior editor at the New York-based Irish Echo: "There's something about stone, and today we have stone, we have permanence, enshrined memory and legacy."

Ray O'Hanlon, senior editor at the New York-based weekly Irish Echo, sounded a similar note during his keynote address when speaking of John Toland's book "The Forgotten War," saying: "The Koreans and the Irish are very similar people. Indeed, Toland described the Koreans as the Irish of East Asia. We have a very similar outlook on life, very similar temperaments, very similar habits." Both countries have been dominated and divided, as well, but this went unmentioned in the spirit of international camaraderie.

O'Hanlon congratulated Leahy, along with the late Vietnam War veteran Brian McGinn, and the committee that had worked for posthumous citizenship and, subsequently, the memorial. "There's something about stone," O'Hanlon said, "and today we have stone, we have permanence, enshrined memory and legacy."

The local Mayo, Leitrim, and Cork societies helped raise money and awareness of the need for a memorial, and representatives were present to celebrate the occasion. "We have to commend those 28 that died - our hearts go out to them, I'm glad they're finally at rest and properly remembered. God bless America and God bless Ireland," said Mike Regan, past president of the Mayo Society. Members of the County Leitrim Society of New York, more than a century in existence, turned out to support their Vice President Helen Lavin. She is the niece of Patrick J. Lavin, a private from Leitrim whose name is etched in the first column of the memorial stone.
Patrick J. Lavin, a native of County Leitrim, was killed in action July 10, 1953, and was awarded a posthumous Bronze Star.

Tigue Murphy, treasurer of The Irish Korean War Memorial Committee, said the Committee raised $18,000 and was gifted with $10,000 from the Irish government, "Whatever we had left over we gave to Green-Wood Cemetery, for perpetual care. They paid for this (reception), they paid for the (monument's) foundation, they put the shrubbery around, and didn't take any money (for any of these)."

Murphy said that the memorial had been shopped around to various venues, including Arlington National Cemetery, whose officials indicated "they needed the space to bury soldiers." For a while the Committee was so desperate that "we were seeing who was putting up a flagpole, so we could put their names on it." Eventually, Green-Wood approached the committee, Murphy said.

Green-Wood President Richard J. Moylan said in a written statement: "America has been made strong by the contributions of both our military and hard-working immigrants. Throughout the cemetery's history, we have always honored our war dead, dating back to men who lost their lives in the American Revolution and the Civil War. So it was fitting that Green-Wood Cemetery honor these brave Irish-born soldiers who died so that generations to come might enjoy the freedoms of this great country." WGT




This feature was produced by Joe Gannon and edited by Gerry Regan.

Views: 3859

Tags: 1953, Brooklyn, Korea, Preservation, War

Comment by Kevin Arthur Ryan on February 15, 2018 at 6:49am
Comment by Kevin Arthur Ryan on February 15, 2018 at 6:51am

I think you will be pleased to know that Michael Gannon is commemorated on the U.S. Section in Castlebar Peace Park, the Peace Park was inaugurated in 2008 to commemorate all those from Mayo who gave their lives in war.

I attach a picture of the monument which I took while on a visit home to Castlebar in 2016, his name is on the upper part of the right hand stone. You may notice 4 names are listed the fourth being Pte. Hardiman Michael.

Comment by Gerry Regan on February 19, 2018 at 5:28pm

Thank you, Kevin. Can you share with us your unique Irish story? How'd you end up in Romania, for one?


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