Veterans of the Forgotten War, Narce Caliva and Jack Keep
We feature two veterans who served in the “Forgotten War,” the so-called “Police Action” in Korea, 1950-1953.
Guest Narce Caliva, a native Californian born in 1929, enlisted in the U.S. Army in November 1948 after graduating from Salinas Junior College. His initial assignment was at Fort Eustis, Virginia, with the Military Police Detachment. Then, he decided to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Transportation Corps in January 1951.
When the Korean War began in 1950, Caliva was en route to OCS. He ultimately served in Korea as a platoon leader responsible for leading convoys of 15 to 20 trucks delivering supplies, ammunition, and troops to the front lines.
He was stationed at Wanjoo, which marked the end of the rail line in Korea. The harsh conditions of Korean winters, treacherous roads, and extremely cold temperatures made his role challenging. The primary dangers were the road conditions and weather, rather than enemy actions. Caliva’s experiences in Korea expanded his worldview.
He encountered a diverse range of people and cultures during his military service, fostering a desire to serve others globally. After his discharge from active duty, he pursued higher education using the GI Bill and embarked on a 30-year career with the American Red Cross.
Caliva’s responsibilities included managing Red Cross operations across Europe and Asia, where he witnessed the profound impact of service and assistance.
Later, Caliva became a national officer in the Korean War Veterans Association and an advocate for sharing the lessons of his experiences with younger generations.
Guest Jack Keep was born during the Great Depression and came of age during World War II. In 1951 at age 17, Jack joined the U.S. Navy, fulfilling his dream of becoming a sailor. He served aboard the USS Gatling (DD-671), a destroyer ship.
His role mainly involved maintenance, deck cleaning, rigging work, and watchkeeping. Jack participated in Operation Mainbrace, the first joint NATO exercise, in the North Atlantic. Life aboard the destroyer was close-knit and rigorous, with hazardous conditions during stormy weather and high-sea operations. Jack was discharged from the Navy in September 1955, following his ship’s assignment to Ecuador. After his service, he joined the Korean War Veterans Association, Shenandoah Valley Chapter 413, where he was an active member.
Despite initially feeling that Korea was a lost war, Jack’s perspective evolved over time. He began to appreciate the significance of the Korean War in preventing the spread of communism and the growth of South Korea’s economy and democracy.
His experiences in the Navy and subsequent involvement in veteran activities helped Jack gain a deeper understanding of the importance of his service.
Thank you to Tobacco Free Adagio Health for sponsoring this event!