Freedom thanks to themKorean War veteran describes life on the 38th parallel
Residents of Washington County have been honoring veterans over the past few days in ceremonies throughout the county. There was a Veterans Day ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park in Riverside Saturday morning, and a ceremony at Blair House in Washington this morning.
Wayne Reighard was the guest speaker at the Veterans Day ceremony in Washington. Reighard was a cook in the military and served on a base at the 38th parallel separating North and South Korea shortly after the end of the Korea War.
Reighard was in South Korea from January of 1955 through December of that year. He told the crowd of about nearly 40 people what living in Korea was not exactly staying at the Hilton Hotel.
“We slept in 8-men tents,” he said. “Everything we ate came in a can. We made milk from a can.”
Reighard said the stoves he used for cooking ran not on gas but on diesel fuel. He said that his unit had to be prepared for war at any time, which is why even he as a chef had to carry a .45 pistol on his hip.
Leaving the base was not an option for Reighard, who said he never got to tour South Korea but did spend a week in Japan while on “R&R.” He said nobody ventured off the roads in Korea because there were so many landmines strewn throughout the country that it was too dangerous.
A member of the audience asked Reighard if he was close enough to see the North Korea soldiers. Reighard said the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the countries is on the side of the mountain, making it virtually impossible to traverse by automobile. However, he said his base was close enough to the North Korean side that the North Korean soldiers could be seen.
Reighard’s wife, Sally, was in the audience and told a humorous story about her husband. When Wayne returned from the service, he told Sally that he didn’t want to see anything with the word “Korea” on it. Wayne sold tires after the war, and before too long he was selling Korean tires.
Wayne flew home from Southeast Asia, which was preferable to how he got there, on a ship. Wayne told of being aboard a passenger ship for 20 long days. He tried to sleep atop a column of bunkbeds while the men below him became sea-sick. He said that he didn’t get seasick but he saw plenty of soldiers who did.
One more Veterans Day event remains, and it is the All Veterans Dinner tonight at 6 p.m. in the Iowa National Guard Readiness Center, formerly known as the armory.
The highlight of the Veterans Day program in Riverside was seeing two members of the Iowa Military Funeral Honor Program from Cedar Rapids fold the flag and explain what each fold means. The men who folded the flag were SSC Peter Moeller and SSG Troy Ruffin.
Members of the Highland Community School Chorus sang the National Anthem to begin the ceremony. Boy scouts and girl scouts in Riverside led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.