On Oct. 10, 1950 I was inducted into the Army for two years and was sent to Camp Atterbury, Ind. for my 16 weeks of basic training. After graduation we were sent to Korea as combat infantrymen.
We were fighting the communist North Koreans and Chinese. My tour of duty was for nine months on the front lines with the 3rd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, known as the “Wolfhounds.”
Because of our effectiveness in combat, we were often called upon to be the point men in an advance. As a result we usually were the first ones to make contact with enemy forces.
One time we advanced a little too far out ahead of the main line and ended up on a mountaintop with the enemy in front and on both our left and right sides. We didn’t dare to make a run to the rear, so the Air Force forward observer in the company called for an air strike by Navy jets flying from the aircraft carriers off the coast at Inchon.
Within minutes they were over our position and receiving coordinates from the observer as to where to attack. We had laid out what was known as “air panels,” which were quite large and had painted stripes on their canvas surfaces.
The panels were always placed so that the pilots could see them quite readily. The pilots knew that we were where the panels were located; anything beyond the panels was enemy territory that needed to be attacked.
Seven fighter jets arrived and went into action. It was a sight to behold. We all applauded and yelled our approval when the jets fired their rockets and when there was a resultant loud boom when the rockets struck their target.
The jets finished the attack by dropping napalm bombs. It was amazing the amount of damage they did in such a short time.
We witnessed the after-effects when we advanced the next morning. Death and destruction were spread over a large area.
Those who have witnessed death and destruction almost on a daily basis will attest that war is “hell on earth.” There is so much pain experienced by those who have lost very close friends.
Paul Martin lives in Old Town. He is an active troop greeter and participates in the student/veteran interview program at the Cole Land Transportation Museum in Bangor.