Birnamwood man writing book to remember Korean War

Ryan Walkowski hopes to finish the book by December
Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 10:57 PM CDT
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BIRNAMWOOD, Wis. (WSAW) - Remembering what may have been forgotten. That’s the goal of a Birnamwood man writing a book showcasing the first-hand experiences of Korean War veterans in battle.

Aspiring author Ryan Walkowski’s grandfather was a Korean War veteran. Walkowski believes the Korean war is often overlooked and not talked about. Now, he’s trying to change that saying it gets swept under the rug.

“It’s preserving the history,” Walkowski said. “When I was in school, we covered Korea for maybe 15 minutes.”

Maybe everything you know about the Korean War is from the TV show M*A*S*H.

“I don’t think that’s a war that was lost, but it’s been a war that’s been forgotten,” Walkowski said.

Walkowski’s goal now is to make the war better known, by writing a book that tells the untold stories of veterans he’s interviewed.

“They’re shocking stories, they talk right about combat, hand to hand fighting with Chinese and North Korean soldiers and it’s pretty brutal stuff,” Walkowski said.

Walkowski began the project about three months back. He travels nationwide in his free time to sit and chat with Korean vets about events that happened 70 years ago.

“Just about all the time, I slept in mud slopes and everything,” Korean War veteran in Freeland, Penn. Joe Barna told Walkowski.

“We didn’t have the weapons, we couldn’t compete with the AK-47s and the T-34 tanks,” Korean War veteran from Delavan, Wis. Stewart Sizemore told Walkowski.

Walkowski has interviewed countless veterans, each with different perspectives on the war. His book, “Forgotten, the Korean War” will feature the vets he’s met, chapter by chapter.

“Some of these men that I’ve met with, they never even told their families until I showed up at their door,” Walkowski said.

On his journey, he has each vet sign an M1. When they get their hands on the weapon, he said the memories come flowing back.

Talking to the guys is also a learning experience for Walkowski, he’s found the importance of knowing history, and being grateful for what you have.

“One thing I’ve learned from these guys is to carry my burdens a lot more lightly because it could always be worse,” Walkowski said.

Walkowski hopes to finish writing the book by December. He said if he makes any money off of the book, he hopes to eventually build a Korean War memorial in Wausau.

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