ABC News’ Producer Angel Canales and Editor Arthur Niemynski report:
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.–Actors from the “M*A*S*H” TV show including Loretta Swit, Jamie Farr, and William Christopher, honored and remembered the soldiers of the Korean War with tributes, exhibits and recognition ceremonies during a Veterans Day celebration over the weekend.
“This is a very special time for us three to be part of the third Heroes Homecoming and we’re very proud to be here,” Christopher told ABC News.
Longtime “M*A*S*H” fans crowded into the North Carolina Veterans Park here and were entertained by the actors, who recalled unscripted moments and the idiosyncrasies of their characters and fellow actors.
Hosted by the volunteer group Army’s Army, Heroes Homecoming III pays special tribute to the thousands of servicemen that participated in the Korean War through a series of tributes, exhibits, recognition ceremonies and events during this four-day event. “We don’t do enough for our veterans and this is a wonderful opportunity and it is so great that this community is so heavily involved in making sure that we don’t forget,” said Swit.
Fans got up close and personal with the celebrities, asking questions, getting autographs and taking pictures during a meet and greet event at North Carolina Veterans Park. “We who worked in ”M*A*S*H” have a special bond with the Korean War because many of our stories came from people who came back and were given to our writers and used in our show,” said Christopher.
Photo Credit: Luke Rayson, The Republik
This year’s event marks the 30th anniversary of the conclusion of ”M*A*S*H” and the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. “‘M*A*S*H’ was a real turning point in the American public’s understanding of the challenges and sacrifices faced by Korean War veterans,” said Bruce Daws of NC Veterans Park. “We are excited that its stars will join us not only to honor those veterans, but also to shed personal insight into their roles as part of an important cultural milestone.”
“M*A*S*H” brought awareness about the Korean War through popular culture. One of the highest-rated shows in U.S. television history, it followed a team of doctors and support staff stationed at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Uijeongbu, S.K., during the Korean War.
In addition to the Meet & Greet, Swit, Christopher and Farr, were part of a private tour of Fort Bragg and the 82nd Airborne Division Museum for Korean War Veterans, a pancake breakfast at the Fayetteville VA Hospital, and a community-wide Veterans Day blood drive during the four-day event.
“As the point of departure for thousands of soldiers, the Fort Bragg Communities are the ideal place to honor and recognize the brave veterans who fought to preserve our freedom,” said John Meroski, CEO of the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
From concerts and parades, to lectures and movie viewings, cultural celebrations and recognition ceremonies, Fayetteville has hosted Heroes Homecoming since 2011 and has become one of the top events honoring veterans.
The reality of military service isn’t too far fetch for Christopher and Farr. Both Jamie Farr and William Christopher served in the Army. Farr joined the US Army in 1957 and was there for two years and served in Japan and Korea. Christopher is a Korean War vet who spent his tour entertaining the occupation troops in Germany.
“The real heroes are not the movie actors you see in films. They’re the men and women who march in those parades in Veterans Day and the Fourth of July. Men may have lost some hair and put in a little paunch. Some of the women, may walk a little slower but they are the ones that gave their lives to go into harm’s way for the love of their country, for the love of their family, for the love of their friends and for the love of freedom. That’s why I’m here today,” said Farr.
“I hope that we as a country, we who are responsible through our government will be able to provide more. because we’re not providing enough. There is help but it is not easy to find it or enough,” said Christopher.
Second Tour is an ABC News digital series profiling the lives of military veterans who are doing unique things in the civilian world, including vets who took on an entrepreneurial venture to create a business, grassroots organization or a second career. For more stories visit http://abcnews.go.com/US/Second_Tour/.