By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Arthur Dobson, 87, has long believed in serving others, whether it was as a proud United States Marine serving in the Korean War period or as a dedicated community volunteer with a number of groups in his hometown of Shrewsbury. Recently for one week in June, he visited South Korea, as a guest of a special trip organized by the Republic of Korea (ROK).
A trip of a lifetime
The trip, Revisit Korea, has been organized annually since 1975 as a way to honor and thank all United Nations veterans of the Korean War and their families. The ROK government appropriates funds for the visit, which is administered by the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs.
Dobson enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1951 at the age of 20 after learning that North Korea had invaded South Korea with the backing of Russia. Then, when the United States stepped forward to stop communism from spreading to South Korea, he knew he wanted to be part of the efforts. By 1953 he was on his way to Korea on a troop ship.
But halfway there, the ship was diverted to Japan after the Korean armistice was signed, thus ending the war.
After serving six months in Japan, Dobson was discharged in 1954.
Upon learning that the Revisit Korea Program was open to all veterans who served in the Korean Zone, Dobson was keen to go. Accompanying him on the trip was his nephew, Brian Conlon, who is a U.S. Army veteran.
“We first landed at Incheon International Airport. It was one of the most magnificent airports,” Dobson shared. “It was a little over an hour to our hotel in Seoul. The staff of the hotel was lined up waiting for us like we were heroes.”
The trip consisted of six days of programs, which notably included tours of Seoul and the surrounding area, a visit to the Korean Demilitarized Zone and a banquet given by the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in.
“The respect, consideration and gratitude for all of us was so high and so sincere. Everything was thought out to the inch,” Dobson added.
A life of service
Dobson was married to his wife, Dorothy, for 63 years until her passing in 2015. The couple lived in Shrewsbury, raising their family which includes three daughters, 15 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
He built a successful career in the food industry, much of it spent employed by Spags in Shrewsbury. He has been retired for the past 20 years.
Dobson has devoted much of his life to community service through the Shrewsbury Rotary Club, volunteering with veterans groups, the Friends of the Shrewsbury Senior Center and the Shrewsbury Memorial Day Parade Committee.
Program to continue one more year
Because there are so few Korean War veterans left, the Revisit Korea program is now open to family members. If the veteran is deceased or unable to travel, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, aunts, or uncles are encouraged to make the trip on behalf of the veteran. They will receive the Ambassador for Peace Medal and certificate in the veteran’s name.
For more information visit https://kwva.us/?page=prog_revisit_korea. 2020 will be the last year for the Revisit Korea Program.
“I would encourage all veterans that are eligible to go on this trip,” Dobson noted.
“Every day was more insightful than every other day,” he added. “It was a magnificent time.”