What: Memorial Day service and motorcycle run
When and where: Motorcycle ride to Memory Gardens: 10:30 a.m. Monday at Four Corners Harley-Davidson, 6520 E. Main St.
Memorial service: 11 a.m. at Memory Gardens Cemetery, 6917 E. Main St.
Cost: Free. Lunch, provided by Memory Gardens, will be served after the service.
More info: Call 505-326-3121.
The five men were killed in action or presumed dead during the Korean War, which is often called "The Forgotten War" because of the lack of public attention it received.
The service begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Memory Gardens Cemetery. Before the raising of the flag, a convoy of veterans and patriots, astride their flag-adorned motorcycles, will process into the cemetery.
Former Aztec Mayor Mike Padilla a "Marine for life" will lead the motorcycles and deliver the service's keynote speech.
"This is a way to bring all people from the area, military and civilian, to remember and honor those who have sacrificed for our country," Padilla said.
During the ceremony, Navajo medicine man Francis Mitchell, who served in the U.S. Marines during the Vietnam War, will contribute a flag and traditional Navajo songs with drums. He will also lead a feeding of the spirit ceremony.
"Those wishing to feed the spirit, feed your loved ones, can do that," Mitchell said.
Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Bruce Salisbury will speak in special recognition of the five Farmington Korean War veterans.
"The focus on these five men who served in Korea is to pay tribute to them, since so many veterans of earlier wars are going so fast," Salisbury said. "Too many of these men have been virtually forgotten in our busy lives, except for the families and friends who will never forget."
Originally called a police action by President Harry Truman, the U.S. military made up 88 percent of the 341,000 international soldiers involved in the effort to aid South Korean forces against invasion by North Korea. After three years of conflict, more than 36,000 U.S. soldiers were killed and nearly 5,000 went missing.
At Monday's service, Salisbury will stand beside a 100-pound brass naval ship's bell and toll it for the five local Korean War veterans, as well as for all military servicemen and women.
The bell's inclusion in the service was at the insistence of Salisbury's wife, Dottie, who was in the Air Force during the Korean War. She told her husband that a commemorative wall at the cemetery lacked a fifth emblem representing the U.S. Coast Guard. Part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, it is the only branch of the military not overseen by the U.S. Department of Defense. Including the maritime bell includes the Coast Guard in a special way, said Bruce Salisbury.
Salisbury enlisted in the U.S. Army when he was 15 years old. All five of his siblings were in the military.
"My parents (Bill and Bertha Salisbury), I don't know how they endured," he said.
Now 83, he has spent the better part of the last decade tracking down the stories of the five Farmington Korean War veterans. He was prompted by his desire to find out about two of the five men Glen Howard Rickleton and Douglas Sherman Woolman with whom he played football when they were all students in the class of 1949 at Farmington High School.
Only one of the five men, U.S. Navy Ensign Glen Rickleton, is interred beside his family members at Memory Gardens. He died in action on Jan. 6, 1952, while part of a fighter squadron on the USS Essex, the first all-jet-plane naval ship, alongside astronaut Neil Armstrong.
Salisbury's other classmate, Army Sgt. Douglas Woolman, is interred in Green Lawn Cemetery in Farmington. He was killed in action on April 23, 1952, during the Korean War.
Marine Sgt. Marion King, who was killed in action on Jan. 6, 1952, is interred in Resthaven Cemetery in Lubbock, Texas.
Two Navajo veterans, Army Master Sgt. Gray Pinto Pete and Army Sgt. Jimmie Jumbo, went missing during the Korean conflict and are presumed to be dead.
"We will never stop looking for these men," Salisbury said. "The parents and many of the siblings and friends of so many soldiers are no longer alive, but memories survive."
Salisbury remains determined to locate information from photographs, letters and surviving friends and family about Korean veterans, but as time passes, it has become more difficult. Still, he remains committed to the task.
"Jumbo went missing east of Chosen Reservoir in North Korea, and the Army has his DNA in its data bank," he said. "There exists the possibility of him one day being found among remains that came from that area and await processing in Hawaii."
At Monday's memorial service, there will also be a lantern lighting and release, placing of a memorial wreath. "Taps" will be played, along with a rifle salute, and a benediction at the close of the service will be provided by Abel Saiz, a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War.
"I hope that people who have a special friend, uncle, father, grandfather or great-grandfather might want to have a special remembrance of their loved one by wearing that person's photo at the Memorial Day event," Salisbury said. "It is my hope that people will want to make this Memorial Day special for themselves and the memory of Korean War Veterans who are leaving us so fast."
Jim Clark, a World War II Army veteran, said Monday's service offers the chance for the community to gather to honor those who served, no matter the war.
Clark, who turns 90 in a few months, worked in reconnaissance operations during World War II. His son was a door gunner in Vietnam.
"We've focused on World War II and Vietnam in previous years; this time, it's Korea," Clark said. "Remember, Memorial Day is for all."
For Salisbury, it's about honoring fellow veterans.
"I think I'm doing what they'd be doing if I weren't here," he said. "They're all those we've lost, young kids serving today my heroes."
James Fenton can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4621. Follow him on Twitter @fentondt.