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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Korean War Veteran shares memories

Friday, November 11, 2011

Brazil resident Martin Jack Whittington (right) shared memories with John Bullard at a recent reunion.
Both laughter and tears fell on the countenance of Martin Jack Whittington, an 80-year-old Korean War veteran, as he shared his memories out loud.

Sixty years ago, the Clay County man risked his life on a battlefield working alongside his "brothers" to overcome trials and tribulations while fighting in North and South Korea.

"The weather there was sometimes as low as 60 below zero," Whittington said. "We were sleeping out in that, and sometimes we'd wonder if we'd make it through the night."

Martin Jack Whittington served in the United States Army during the Korean War.
After a three-score separation, Whittington took what he and his wife Wanda call "the trip of a lifetime" in late September when they attended a reunion for the 7th Army Infantry Division, which included Whittington and his "extended family" members.

"When it wasn't cold out, some of the boys would literally fry eggs on the sidewalk," Whittington added.

Whittington served as a Private First Class in the 7th Army Infantry Division, 48th Field Artillery, C Battery near Seoul, South Korea, and other areas from 1949-52.

"It was by the grace of God we were able to get those big two-and-a-half ton Army trucks up and around the mountains in Korea," Whittington recalled from his deployment days. "The Good Man Upstairs was the one who got us around."

Whittington grew up in Clay County, until his parents' divorce prompted a move to Warsaw, Ind., when Whittington was a teenager.

After coming of age, Whittington left home for basic training at Camp Breckenridge, Ky. and artillery school in Fort Hood, Texas.

"During my deployment, there were three major battles where we were trying to advance further north into Korea," Whittington said. "Most were successful, but there were some that weren't."

Whittington was a gunner in the 105 artillery, and he described his job as fast-paced.

"We had to put the (gun) powder in the cans, and we had to know exactly where to cut the powder charges," Whittington told The Brazil Times. "Being in combat, they send you out to fire a 105 Houser, and a forward observation party tells you where you are supposed to be. You don't get much of a chance to do any thinking."

For his military service in the war, Whittington also brought back some military medals including the Korean Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, Korean Service Medal, a Ground Forces plaque and a "Good Conduct" Medal.

"That one was because I did what they told me to do, when they told me to do it," he laughed.

Today, Whittington said he feels fortunate to be in as good physical health as he is.

"I thank the good Lord above that I ain't in a walker," Whittington said. "I've got a few things wrong with me, but for the most part, I'm doing alright."

Talking about the war brings back a plethora of emotions for Whittington.

"Some of the things the North Koreans did to their own people over there were just terrible," Whittington explained. "There were children starving, and one time we gave these little kids a chocolate bar out of our rations. It made us all feel like we were very lucky."

Whittington added his experiences while deployed were varied, some humorous and compassionate, while others were disturbing.

"I remember when a buddy of mine threw a match on the ground and burnt up our tent," Whittington laughed, "and there was another time I found a Cobra snake in my foxhole, and the guy next to me told me to come over into his fox hole."

Memories like these kept conversations flowing during the reunion, which took place at the Stone Castle Inn and Conference Room in Branson, Mo., from Sept 28-Oct. 2.

The Whittington's received word of the reunion through an announcement in Hour Glass Magazine, stating the 7th infantry division would have the reunion.

"We began making plans in April to go, since it was in Missouri and so close," Wanda explained. "The next one was going to be in Texas; so I told Jack this was his chance, and I'd drive him if he wanted to go."

During the reunion, more than 200 retired service members sat around tables talking, rehashing and remembering their service to the country, including both their perilous and pleasant adventures.

"We were all like brothers," Whittington said about the people surrounding him at the reunion.

While reminiscing, Whittington ran into John Bullard, a fellow retired service member who fought alongside him all those years ago.

"They didn't recognize each other at first," Wanda said. "Jack mentioned to me they might know each other, so I encouraged him to go strike up a conversation with him."

Coincidentally, Bullard hails Clay Pool, Ind., from a suburb of Warsaw, and is only one year older than Whittington.

The men fought together during the war, but didn't know each other before deployment and haven't seen each other again until the reunion.

"He was in the B Battery, and I was in the C Battery," Whittington explained. "It was really great to see so many of my brothers, and especially someone who was in the same division that I was in."

Bullard said he's been to many reunions like the one he and Whittington attended, and he said everyone enjoys them.

"We're buddies overseas together," Bullard said. "We all have a lot in common because we're getting up in age."

Whittington said the time he spent at the reunion was very valuable and meaningful to him.

"It was a really great reunion, and I am so glad my wife took me to Branson," Whittington said fighting back tears, "I'll never forget it, or my brothers."

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Thanks, Jack!!

-- Posted by Dagnabbitt on Fri, Nov 11, 2011, at 9:06 PM

Fitting comments Jack, on your service with the 7th Inf. Division in Korea. Were you on occupation duty stationed in Japan when that war started.

-- Posted by tex8898 on Sat, Nov 12, 2011, at 9:00 PM

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