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Local veteran optimistic Olympics to spark peace between North and South Korea

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TUCSON- Richard Rice, 82, who served three decades in the United States Navy, sees a spark of hope for improved relations between North and South Korea in light of the Olympics.

"I believe it's to let the world understand that people from all different walks of life can get together and do things that are creative instead of destructive,” Rice said.

He joined the Navy at 17-years-old, having grown up mostly in Roseville, California.

Rice served aboard the USS Kearsarge off the coast of war-torn Korea during 1953, the year when North and South Korea established an armistice.
 

"I'm married to a Korean lady. I know that she has other relatives here that I've met. They're sad about it and of course they know that the communists are bad because they were there -- my wife was there when they overran South Korea,” Rice said.

For now, he’s keeping optimistic as both countries stand unified amid the winter Olympics. Delegations from the two nations have held talks.

A sign of eased tensions perhaps?

Rice has his fingers crossed for both world peace and success among the American Olympians as the games wrap up.

"Hope two or three things happen. One that the Americans get a whole bunch of gold and that the North and the South bury the hatchet and get together a little more. That'd be great. Bring the tensions down over there. Maybe the world would relax a little bit,” Rice said.  

Rice’s military career took him from Korea to Vietnam. He eventually achieved the rank of Master chief petty officer. Rice turns 83 in June.

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