Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Meet The Woman Who Has Dedicated Her Life To Honoring Korean War Vets

susan kee.jpg
Susan Kee speaks with a Korean War veteran.
Courtesy Susan Kee)
Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

Today, the U.S. honors the 1.5 million men and women who gave their lives to protect American freedoms. It’s a day cherished by Americans who have benefitted from the service of our nation's soldiers.

For Susan Kee, 55, whose parents were saved by American soldiers during the Korean War, it’s another day to remember the gratitude she has dedicated her life to expressing.

The U.S. aided South Korea in winning the three-year battle for independence against their neighbor to the north. If not for those troops, Kee says, her life would have been entirely different.

Support for LAist comes from

“All who served and all who sacrificed their life in the Korean War are responsible in having given me my life and my freedom,” she said. “Without America’s help, South Korea would have been lost to North Korea’s Communist tyranny.”

More than 36,000 American soldiers lost their lives fighting in the Korean War. To this day, almost 7,800 men and women are still listed as missing or unaccounted for.

Kee has worked to document the stories of Korean War veterans, and has been a staunch advocate for the continued search for those who went “missing during the course of action” — some for more than 70 years.

Facing their families can be emotional and complicated.

“I see indescribable pain in their face,” Kee said. “They show me pictures of who in their family is missing. I feel so deeply sorry that I am the one in front of them and not their loved one, but I also try to express just how grateful I am.”

Kee has documented the accounts of hundreds of veterans. Based in Phoenix, she has worked with Gold Star families in L.A. and across the country. She says she is fueled by gratitude for soldiers who gave their lives for her family.

“I’m grateful for a brave people who would go to an unknown country to fight for a people they have never met,” she said. “What their loved ones did was for mankind and for humanity and there is no greater hero to me.”

Next summer, the national Korea War Veterans Memorial will debut “The Wall of Remembrance” at the National Mall in Washington D.C. The wall will list the names of 36,574 American service members who gave their lives defending the people of South Korea.