Wounded veteran who oversaw construction of Korean War memorial dies at 97

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

U.S. Army Col. William E. Weber, a decorated Korean War veteran who oversaw the design and construction of the war’s memorial, passed away on Sunday at age 97.

Born in 1925, Weber joined the Army in 1943 and served with the 11th Airborne during World War II. When the Korean War broke out, he deployed with 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team and remained in Korea until February 1951, during the battle for Wonju. Injuries there cost him a leg and part of his arm.

For his service, Weber received the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Bronze Star with V, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, and an Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, according to the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation.

In 1987, Weber was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to an advisory board to shepherd the Korean War Veterans Memorial’s construction on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Once the memorial was completed and dedicated in July 1996, Weber went on to establish the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation. He served as the chairman of the foundation and then as its chair emeritus until his death.

The memorial is meant to honor what many call the “Forgotten War.”

Weber, when soliciting maintenance funds for the memorial’s upkeep, told Military Times there is “a lack of public knowledge of the Korean War itself, even though more than 36,000 U.S. troops died and more than 103,000 were wounded in the conflict.”

As a result, Weber felt the memorial was incomplete. He had hoped to add to it a wall of remembrance. In 2016, Congress granted that wish. Construction began on the memorial’s remembrance wall in March 2021.

“His vision was to add a Wall of Remembrance,” according to the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation. “After many years of hard work and determination, Bill’s dream of honoring and thanking those who gave the ultimate sacrifice is nearly complete.”

On July 27, 2022, the Korean War Veterans Memorial’s Wall of Remembrance will be dedicated.

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.



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Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.