Today, I ventured out to the grocery store to get some things for the soup that Nancy wanted me to make - this is a killer soup btw...it is called White Chili Soup - I 'll share the recipe after the post. But that is not what this post is about.
As I was checking out, I saw a 70+ year old gent coming into the store. He wore a green jacket and a fur covered hat. Not too unusual up here in Michigan - you need a hat - but what was unusual was the emblem on the front of this gentleman's hat. It was the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor - the emblem of the United States Marine Corps. I recognized the emblem easily, it was the same one my father proudly wore - being a veteran of both the Korean conflict and of Vietnam. (a picture of the mighty Eagle, Globe, and Anchor is on the left) The gentleman's name was John, and he and I exchanged stories..mine are only based on what I was told my Dad; John's version are based on the actual experiences of a US Marine and Veteran of the Korean Conflict.
Korea was a very tough place to be. As the U.S. engaged in this war - the Chinese engaged on the other side. When this happened - the Marines were over-run by the Chinese. My Dad and his buddy Wayne, were part of the Marines who were overrun. As this fight / battle continued into the night, Dad and Wayne ran out of ammunition for their 50 caliber browning machine gun (BAR). My Dad told me that all they had left, was his 45 caliber Colt Pistol. Dad told me that he wasn't sure if he could hit the side of the fox hole with the 45. So there they stayed all night, quietly waiting to see what their situation would be in the morning. Dad told me that when they saw daylight, there were Chinese Regulars, laying dead, knee deep all around their hill top fox-hole. Dad told me about seeing the "frozen Chosen", a reservoir on the Chosen River. As he and Wayne tried to find their way back to their battalion, he was hit in the back by enemy mortar fire. This injury haunted Dad the rest of his life; but his buddy Wayne carried him out - Dad was later sent to Japan to recover from his injuries. My middle name is "Wayne"; because of this hero who personally carried my Dad out - I understand that his last name is / was "Cook", but I have never met him. (But I would love very much to.)
John, my newly met friend at the grocery store, arrived in Korea shortly after my Dad's unit had been overrun. John was a Howitzer operator, they were ordered to "fire at will" at the rapidly advancing Chinese. John's unit dumped over 2 shiploads of munitions on the Chinese over the next few days. They knocked over 50 feet of the mountain top off - and stopped the advance of the Chinese. These guys probably provided the cover that enabled Wayne to bring my Dad, back to the MASH.
John told me more about his exploits as part of the USMC in Korea. It was a very lively discussion until he then looked me in the eyes and asked if my Dad was still alive? I choked and said, "no Sir, I lost him years back". My eyes filled with tears and so did John's.
As we tried to part, with tears in both of our eyes, John said, "thanks for talking to me", and I tried to say "Happy Holidays, Sir" it wasn't easy for either of us.
God Bless Our Veterans! They gave more than we will ever know; or will ever be able to repay!
All the best.
michael WAYNE roberts