My Dad and the Korean War

Kevin Long
Kevin Long's picture

My son was asigned to write a short paper about a veteran in honor of Veteran's Day. He chose to write about my dad. I thought I'd re-print it below:

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My grandfather(1931-2011) was a former member of the United States Air Force.

World War II started when he was ten years old, and ended when he was fourteen. As a result of this, he was exposed to much anti-Japanese propaganda. Japanese were depicted as cannibals and demons, sub-human basically. They were frequently shown with pointed ears and fangs. As a result of this, he was understandably afraid of them.

When he was 18, the Korean War started, and he quickly signed up for the Air Force. He was shipped to Texas for basic training, where he managed to catch dysentery. This incapacitated him for several weeks. When he eventually was shipped out, he was sent to – of all places – Japan. For obvious reasons this assignment to Itazuke Air Force Base terrified him.

However, when he got to Japan he discovered that they were just about the nicest people in the world. He served with the USAF 68th Fighter Squadron, “The Lightning Lancers,” and worked as a RADAR Technician. He helped repair F82-Twin Mustangs, a RADAR plane that was literally the result of bolting together two older planes left over from World War II.

As a result of working on RADAR which gathered intelligence, my grandfather’s work undoubtedly saved lives.

At the end of the Korean War, my grandfather received an honorable discharge. After the war, he went to college on the GI bill, and eventually got a job working for NASA as a civilian RADAR engineer. My grandfather participated, albeit only slightly, in the construction of Skylab, America’s first space station.

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