They call it “The Forgotten War” but from 1950 to 1953 the United States was locked in a brutal, violent war with North Korea.
Vert L. Boins, the now 91 year old vet, remembers having to grow up very quickly upon setting foot on foreign soil.
“We got there on a Sunday morning and Sunday evening we were going to fight, they were so short of men,” said Vert L. Boins, Korean War veteran from Nacogdoches.
Boins, a machine gunner, spent most of the fighting on hilltops.
Fighting was sporadic and typically lasted all night.
One evening Boins stepped away from his machine gun to “relieve himself”, it was then his life would be forever changed.
“They were up on the hill with us and one of them threw a hand-grenade, hit me in my shoulder and my side and tore my entrenching shovel off,” Boins said.
Boins says the entrenching shovel saved his life.
“I crawled to the edge of the hill, fighting was still going on, and I was able to jump off and head back towards where we come from,” said Boins.
A medic had coincidentally stepped off the hill as well and met Boins and dressed his bleeding arm.
The two had a long walk back to base until they caught a lucky break and managed to hitch a ride.
“One of those big guns come along, the long range guns, so we was able to get up between the wheel and the gun and ride back to the hospital they had there in Korea,” said Boins.
The damage to Boins’ arm was a concern at the Korean hospital.
He would then catch his third break of the night.
“Just lucky, they sent a planeload of us back to Japan to the hospital to recuperate,” said Boins.
During his stay in Japan he was able to see first-hand the still-festering wounds of the last war, World War II.
A point of pride, Boins sat a little taller as he reminisced a simple train ride through ground zero of the first ever nuclear attacks.
“They let us get on a slow-moving train and we went where the two atomic bombs had been dropped,” he said. “I never will forget the looks of the place, it was really something to see it looked just like a dead place. It looked like the buildings, you just took your hands and twisted them around and what little foliage there was growing it looked withered like it was dying, it wasn’t green and standing up like it should be.”
All the while Boins said he had a “funny feeling” the Army was still short of men back in Korea.
Those feelings came true when a lieutenant walked into the hospital.
“He said ‘Boins, you’re going back to Korea tomorrow’ so my heart just dropped,” said Boins. “I said Lord you blessed me not to get killed the first time I was over there, now I got to go back and I don’t know what the outcome is going to be when I go back this next time.”
Boins survived his second tour but is now among the few veterans still alive who fought a war many never knew happened.