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KoreaThere I was on the port side of a mighty Destroyer the U.S.S. O'Brien, DD725, sailing into the east coast waters of a place called Korea. Seemed to me the place was pretty hilly. As we got closer I noticed a flash of light. Not long after, another. I asked the nearest Chief I could see what that was all about. His reply was " Count to seven, kinda slow "
I did and what do you know, a couple splashes up ahead. He said something to the effct that " You Carrier sailors never got close enough to shore batteries to know what this Destroyer business is all about.

He was right and in the next 10 months or so we spent an inordinate amount of time in Wonsan Harbor. Shore bombardment and harrassment duties were our mission and soon, counting flashes wasn't even scary anymore, just routine. What I remember most was staying on line for 20 days, growing numb to it all. Then the word comes that relief is due in 9 or 10 days and how you just knew in your heart one of those next flashes would have your name on it. Suddenly you became very vunerable. Everyone walked on tacks until the relief came into view. Once relived and clear of the Harbor or close in shore position, quiet jubilation. Back to Japan, R/R, fixin' up what ever got busted and most of all -- safety. Then of course in a week or ten days it was time to return. For many it boiled down to three mental exercises; being invincible when away, numb on the line, and when relief was due, certain the next flash would have your initials on it.

Once, when our 30 days on the line was up and a relief took over our position we headed out for the R/R and most of all the safety. Before we cleared the area our relief took a big hit and had to get out. Since no other ship was available it was turn around and do it all again time.

As terrible as the situations tend to be there are no bonds stronger than those forged in battle. Many of us will never meet, too many of us died and many more wounded, not only in body but in spirit and mind. That being said we are still comrades and to this day I bet you perk up a bit when you over hear someone say they are a Korean War Veteran. I'll bet my last dollar you are tempted to walk up to that person and ask, " What oufit were you with." That's the special bond at work.
Note: by Louis "Digger" O'Dell


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