It has been 68 years since Arden Rowley’s capture during the Korean War, but based on the clarity of his memories, it could have been just yesterday.
The now longtime Mesa resident and Korean conflict veteran joins presenters at the next Our Stories speaker series coming to West Chandler’s Sunset branch library on Saturday, Dec. 1.
The program, “Voices from the Korean War: Prisoners and the Missing” begins at 10:30 a.m.
In addition to Rowley, more than 7,000 Americans were captured during the three years of conflict on the Korean peninsula.
These servicemen were sent to camps throughout North Korea, suffering from the cold, brutal treatment and starvation. More than 2,700 died while imprisoned.
Rowley was raised in Mesa, joining the U.S. Army in 1948 after graduating high school. He eventually landed in Korea with the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division.
The Chinese Communist forces took Rowley and other military members as prisoners of war on Dec. 1, 1950.
He was repatriated in Operation Big Switch in August 1953. Rowley eventually returned to Mesa, began a family and spent 31 years teaching in Mesa schools.
Joining Rowley at the presentation will be Dr. Yuri McKee, a local doctor and former U.S. Air Force flight surgeon, who has a deep interest in the status of Korean War missing-in-action servicemen.
Drawing on insights as the medical director for the 35th Joint Recovery Operation into North Korea in 2004, McKee will describe the experience of negotiating with that country’s officials on the recovery of missing American servicemen.
The program will be led by Susan Kee, a Korean-American writer who has interviewed Korean War veterans and the families of those who served. She is working on a book of stories about Korean War veterans and fallen heroes, which she characterizes as a tribute to their service and a guarantee their sacrifices will not be forgotten.
When the series starts up again in January, the Our Stories program will reveal little known connections between the city of Chandler and renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
In the 1920s and ‘30s, Wright developed a friendship with Dr. A.J. Chandler and worked on projects in and around the city.
While most of those never came to fruition, Wright’s vision for Chandler and the surrounding area was inspired by the desert and its unique landscape. This talk will cover various Wright projects in Chandler, including San Marcos on the Desert and Broadacre City.
Our Stories presents diverse speakers who share unique Arizona and local-history topics to a general audience.
The series is produced by Chandler Public Library and Chandler Museum, with support from Friends of the Chandler Public Library and Chandler Historical Society.