Donor reflects on Korean War experiences that forged attitudeJoe Vasek said his can-do attitude was forged during the time he spent in heavy battle at Outpost Harry during the Korean War.
By: Staff reports, The Daily Republic
Joe Vasek said his can-do attitude was forged during the time he spent in heavy battle at Outpost Harry during the Korean War.
Below is Vasek’s account of the war, as reported by a news release from Avera Queen of Peace Health Services.
The information depicts war-time battle and might not be suitable for all readers.
“June 10, 1953 … 59 years ago and I still remember it as though it happened yesterday.
“We came under attack between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.; there was intense fighting and bombing.
“That was the first round. About midnight, there was a lull in the fighting and it became awfully quiet.
“For some dumb reason and being the only one in the bunker, I decided to go check on my men. I was a squad leader at the time and I had nine men under my command.
“So, I go check on my men and all nine of them were killed at their posts. I look around and wonder to myself what the h—- am I doing out here all by myself surrounded by enemy soldiers.
“So I decided I better get back to my bunker, but some of the sandbags fell into the trenches so I had to dig myself a hole to get out — and there sat an enemy soldier as I poked my gun through the hole, so I shot him at point-blank.
“I pushed him over to get over him and he was loaded with grenades. If one of my shells had hit even one grenade, I would have been blown to Kingdom Come.
“Anyhow, I got back to my bunker and just in time as the Chinese, our enemy, came full in the trenches.
“I could see their legs walking by and they did not realize I was in the bunker and I was scared as heck.
“One grenade would have wiped me out.
“I was there about an hour longer and it seemed like forever.
“At the time, I thought I was there alone but must have had the ‘can-do angels’ with me.
“Still, I said a lot of prayers. At 2 a.m. we got reinforcements and formed a scrimmage line and blasted the enemy until daylight as they came at us in swarms, wave after wave. I was using a .50-caliber Browning automatic rifle, 50 round, and as the weapon got too hot I threw it down and picked up another one as the Browning automatics were lying all around from the earlier attack.
“I don’t know how many enemy I shot but it had to be one heck of a lot because I used a half dozen or more BARs.
“In the morning, we retained Outpost Harry and there were seven of us that were able to walk down the hill.
“They fed us breakfast and I felt something on my leg. I looked down and it was blasted from shrapnel and I did not even know it until then.
“They got me to a helicopter and I did not know anything until I woke up in Japan at the hospital.
“I was awarded the Purple Heart because I was combat wounded and also the United Nations Defense Service Medal, and Good Conduct Medal.
“I would be remiss if I did not mention another member of the 15th Infantry Regiment, Sgt. Mize, who was in charge of the entire Outpost Harry operations.
“There were between 3,600 and 4,200 casualties; 12 survived and seven walked off.
“I was injured and discharged in April of 1954 as a sergeant first class and I guess you could say I picked up my ‘can-do’ attitude in the service.
“I am proud to have served in Korea and grateful to have survived.”