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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Scioto's First Casualty in Korea -- Lucasville's Elmer Everett Hardy


 
 Cpl. Elmer Everett Hardy

Although almost 40,000 Americans died in action in Korea, and more than 100,000 were wounded, the Korean War has been called “the Forgotten War.” Much of the coverage of the 1950s conflict was censored and its memory many decades later is often overshadowed by World War II and the Vietnam War. But the three-year conflict in Korea, which pitted communist and capitalist forces against each other, set the stage for decades of tension among North Korea, South Korea and the United States. It also helped set the tone for Soviet-American rivalry during the Cold War, profoundly shaping the world we live in today, historians said.

Among the 32 known casualties of the Korean War from Scioto County was Lucasville's Cpl. Elmer Everett Hardy. Hardy was actually the first person from the county killed in the war. He was killed in action near Pusan, South Korea when his C-54G Skymaster transport plane crashed on route to the combat zone on June 30, 1950.

Elmer was born May 31, 1926. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hardy of the Sedan community, Lucasville, Rt. 1 and a graduate of Valley High School in 1944. He joined the service in 1945 after being employed a year in Dayton, Ohio. He then rejoined in 1948 and had been stationed in Japan most of the time performing his duties connected with communications work. Hardy was a member of the 71st Signal Service Battalion, U.S. Army. He was buried in Mound Cemetery in Piketon, Ohio.

The headquarters area of the Army Signal Corp unit in Tokyo, Japan, was named in honor of Elmer Hardy.

Word of Hardy's death came in a letter from Lt. Col. Robert P. Zebley of the 71st Signal Service Battalion, writing from Far East Command Headquarters in Tokyo ...

“While there is little we can say that will help, we felt deeply the loss of Elmer. He was an outstanding soldier and we consider it quite fitting and an honor that our post should bear his name.”

Here are some more details of Hardy's tragic death as recounted in official Army papers:

On Friday, June 30, 1950, five crew members and eighteen passengers were killed when their C-54G transport aircraft, tail number 45-518, crashed into a hillside northwest of Pusan. The aircraft was flying from an airfield in southern Japan to an airfield in South Korea.

Special Note: The Korean War Project was recently notified by the Office of Air Force history that confusion existed as to the actual facts of the loss of the 23 servicemen on the flight. Prior Department of Defense data put the personnel losses on the ground at Suwon airfield, but was confusing an incident involving a C-54D aircraft, tail number 42-72648, that was destroyed on the ground at Suwon airfield with no losses.

Hardy Barracks in Tokyo was named for Corporal Hardy. Per Melvin Moore: 'I knew Elmer when we served together in the 71st Signal Btn. in Tokyo, 1949/1950. We worked in Gen. McArthur's HQ in the Dai Ichi Bld. We lived in the San Shin Bldg. a couple of blocks away until we moved to Roppongi, the former Japanese Imperial marine Barracks. Elmer went with the first draft of TDY guys from the 71st, most of us went in with the Inchon operation. He and another good friend from my unit, Peter Ternes, were KIA on their TDY assignment. They named our barracks after Elmer - Cpl. Elmer E. Hardy.'”

And, Hardy Barracks, also known as the Akasaka Press Center, is a U.S. Army facility that survives to this day. The facility named for Elmer Hardy was seized by the U.S. soon after Japan’s defeat in World War II. It is some 35 km southeast of Yokota Air Base, home to the headquarters of all forces based in Japan. Helicopters take off and land at Hardy Barracks even at night and early morning for operations involving Yokota and the other U.S. military facilities in the wider metropolitan area, including Yokosuka and other bases in Kanagawa Prefecture.

 
Hardy Barracks, 2009 Photo

Hardy Barracks occupies 3.1 hectares of land in central Tokyo. It houses the Tokyo offices of Stars and Stripes, the Tokyo division of the Office of Naval Research, as well as the barracks, an accommodation facility for military personnel. It sits in the heart of the city and is said to be occupying some of the most expensive, “sought-after real estate on the planet.”

The United States Army has officially stated that the helipad is meant to be used during emergency situations in Tokyo, while the mayor of Minato City has stated that "we have been told in response to inquiries that the details of how the base is used cannot be released publicly."

A May 16, 2010 report in the Japan Times states, “Yokota Air Base and the Yokosuka naval base are well-known U.S. bases in the Tokyo area. But few people know the U.S. military also has a major facility right in the heart of the city. Since 1945, U.S. Forces Japan has been keeping an off-limits heliport and buildings in a complex near the Roppongi entertainment district.

Roppongi (literally "six trees") is a district of Minato, Tokyo, Japan, famous for the affluent Roppongi Hills development area and popular night club scene. Many foreign embassies are located in Roppongi, and the night life is popular with locals and foreigners alike.

The Times report continued … “The U.S. National Security Agency’s presence in Japan was also for many years managed out of a 'cover office' within the Hardy Barracks compound, The Intercept website reported last month, citing classified documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden.”

“I heard North Korean missiles target U.S. military bases in Japan. I am worried this (Akasaka Press Center) might be one,” said Emiko Kagaya, a 68-year-old woman who grew up nearby.

There has been organized local opposition to the facility since 1967, and both the Tokyo metropolitan assembly and Minato municipal assembly have unanimously resolved to request that the facility be removed.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government recently has been demanding that the U.S. return the land. Among their concerns is the worry about the danger of helicopter crashes in the area, citing a 2004 U.S. helicopter crash on Okinawa in a university campus that was closed for the summer.

In addition, the day before Vice-President Pence’s visit to Tokyo in 2017, a group of protesters, the Action Committee to Get Rid of Hardy Barracks, held a rally in a park near the base calling for the removal of the facility.

Cpl. Elmer Everett Hardy and the barracks dedicated in his name now hold a special place in local history. We are bound to remember the Korean War and a Lucasville native who gave his all in that conflict, a war that has never ended and remains in a tense armistice enacted in 1953.

Almost daily now in 2018 we hear news of the dictatorship of North Korea's Kim Jong Un and his authoritarian regime. It is a country still threatening America with missiles and armies of destruction. Cpl. Hardy fought against the same type of aggression in a war that began on June 24, 1950, when the North Koreans invaded South Korea. That war took 36,914 American lives while leaving a lasting effect on American foreign policy. We think of Elmer Hardy, who gave his life for our freedom, and we understand our sacred obligations in a little community in Ohio over 6,900 miles from the site of that war. Rest in peace, Cpl. Hardy. We stand tight in our allegiance to peace and freedom.

Sources

A Backward Glance, Volume II. Lucasville Area Historical Society.

Juliana Gittler. Stars and Stripes. April 10, 2005.


Korean War Casulaties in Scioto County http://theusgenweb.org/oh/scioto/korea.html

David McNeill. (9 May 2006). "Local fury at Hardy perennial.” The Japan Times.

The Military Community of Mainland Japan". Stripes Japan. April 29, 2014.

The Military Honor Wall.

“Roppongi.” https://thebetter.wiki/en/Roppongi.

Roppongi’s Hardy Barracks, a little-known U.S. base in the middle of Tokyo
KYODO, STAFF REPORT JAPAN TIMES




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