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thedrifter
11-12-07, 09:29 AM
Article published Nov 12, 2007
Korean War Vets Share Experiences

By MALENA OGLES
Staff Writer

Korean War veterans came together Sunday at the Tyler Public Library to tell their stories of what is often called the "forgotten war" and families, some of whom were directly affected by the men's sacrifices listened carefully letting them know their efforts were not forgotten. The program, hosted by the library, was part of a project to compile stories from men and women who have served in the United States armed forces.

The information collected will be compiled and shared with the vets, library archives and Library of Congress for inclusion in its Veterans History Project.

At 77-years-old, Bill Lynn, of Tyler, was proud to share his story.

At 13 years old, Lynn knew he would be a Marine. His father served in the Army during World War II and his uncle was a Marine Raider.

Even coming from a military family, his parents didn't want him to join, but at the age of 15, he got a school friend to sign for him and with a canvas bag, Lynn got on a bus to Dallas to join the marine corp.

"I was determined to get in," he said.

After getting turned away for being too young, he joined the Texas State Guard 36th Division and was eligible for enlistment at 16. Each day, Lynn would go to the marine offices, peer his head in and check to see if he could join.

"They would say not today Bill, but finally one day two weeks after I turned 16, they said come on," he said.

Lynn arrived in South Korea in July of 1950 to the hottest summer he had or ever would experience. Then, in October he boarded a ship in Seoul, northbound to the Chosin Reservoir region, to protect the air base.

Before making land, the men swept for mines manually with rifles shooting the floating mines in the water to prevent ships from hitting them. After three days, when the waters were cleared, they landed.

"The Chinese were ordered to annihilate all of us, but they didn't know who they were going against," he said. "We defeated nine divisions of China's number one army."

Air support was what Lynn said kept them alive. Navy, Marine and Air Force planes helped battle enemies during the daylight hours.

"One after another, round after round, you could feel the heat from the napalm," he said.

Lynn received a purple heart for injuries sustained during combat.

Lynn and his "buddy" were 50 yards out front of the battle lines waiting to signal the rest of the troops at the first sign of trouble.

The quiet was quickly broken with the sound of bugles, screaming and exploding ammunition.

The Chinese were quickly approaching and Lynn pulled off his gloves and reached for two grenades.

After dropping to his knees he pulled the pins and drew back ready to throw, but just as he was ready to launch the at the enemy a concussion grenade went off behind him knocking him face forward, unconscious in the snow still holding two live grenades with the pins pulled.

The next morning his comrades found him lying in the snow motionless and presumed him dead.

"When they rolled me over they saw those two grenades with the pins pulled, boy they rolled me back real quick," he said.

Moments later, they saw him move, but in the sub-zero temperatures his hands had frozen to the grenades.

Medics tried to thaw his hands by rubbing snow over them while his comrades looked for grenade pins to stick back in the live grenades.

In the medical tents when he recovered consciousness, he was given a shot of whiskey.

"They gave me a shot of that stuff and man, it was paradise. And that's the only time in my life I've ever enjoyed a shot of whisky," he said.

The medics were able to remove the grenades from his hands, but a large portion of his skin came with it.

"I don't know what happened to my buddy," he said.

The blast gave Lynn a concussion so that he was not aware of who he was or where he was, his hands were still raw and he could barely walk. In December, because of his injuries he was transported to Japan, where he remained for the next two years.

"When I got to the hospital they saw my dog tags and saw who I was," I was just blank.

A CB operator radioed back to the states to contact his parents telling them he was alright.

His parents received a telegram two weeks earlier telling them their son was listed as missing in action.

After two years in Japan he came back to the United States on the U.S.S. Mayfield, the same ship that had taken him to Korea years earlier.

"I wouldn't take 10 million dollars for what I went through and I wouldn't want to go through it again," he said.

Lynn said while he enjoys the "thank you's" from American citizens, it's the "thank you's" from Korean families he has met in the United States that make him cry.

"It makes you feel good," he said. "It's sad, sometimes. I've had young kids come over here since the war that have never seen any of it, but have heard about it from their parents and say 'thank you,'" he said. "It means a lot to me and a lot of us vets."

Peter Paek, a Korean American and his family attended the program on Sunday and afterwards stopped to talk with the Veterans.

"If it wasn't for them, for freedom, maybe I wouldn't be here today. I really appreciate what they have done in the Koran War," Paek said.

While he didn't grow up in Korea he heard stories from family and said he understands the sacrifices made by men such as Beaty and Lynn.

"My family and I are grateful," Paek said.

Ellie