It’s often called the forgotten war, and Monday at San Francisco’s Presidio, it certainly looked that way.
A handful of veterans gathered for a Veterans Day observance service at the Korean War memorial. The crowd was sparse likely because the Korean War vets were encouraged to cancel their event due to the unhealthy air.
The Presidio Trust told event organizers the air was too smoky to put out folding chairs or flags. So Gunnery Sgt. Denny Weisgerber stood on his artificial leg, the one he got along with a Purple Heart and the Navy Cross after leading a four-man team to take out a machine gun.
"I came back down to get the platoon, and one of my guys was missing, so I went back up to get him," said Weisgerber, a Milpitas resident. "He’d been badly wounded; put him on my back and carried him down the hill."
Weisgerber said mortar fire chased him as he ran.
"One went off between my feet, blew me down the hill a ways," he said. "It killed my partner, and long story short, they sent me home with one leg and retired me out of the Marine Corps in 1953."
Weisgerber came home to Milpitas and served three terms as mayor in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, he volunteers at the VA to counsel amputees and Marines suffering from post-traumatic stress.
"Counseling those guys on how to settle down, face what’s happening and get back into life," he explained.
For Weisgerber, the Korean War was the beginning of a life of service. That includes showing up on days like Monday.
"Maybe they short-changed us a little bit, but we’re here," he said. "We’re here to commemorate Veterans Day and to celebrate, and by god, that’s what we’re going to do."
Weisgerber said the men and women coming home with post-traumatic stress need to be around service members who’ve lived though the trauma of war because those who haven’t experienced it just don’t understand what it's like.