The Korean War brought many heroes. Some lost their lives and others survived. The challenge in the Korean War was that many refused to call it a war at all. In the dawn of World War II, the war was called a conflict. It took many years for the military to recognize its heroes, particularly those who sacrificed for our country.
My grandfather lies in a military cemetery, a forgotten hero of the Korean War. He died flying to battle, when his airplane malfunctioned and crashed into a Japanese hillside. Two weeks before his death, he was named Pilot of the Month and then Pilot of the Year. He left behind two daughters and a wife, and nine grandchildren, plus countless great-grandchildren.
God gave him a legacy.
My grandfather came from a small town in Oklahoma. His parents both came from the same small town and had a long line of small farms. While my grandfather’s father’s family were common farmers, his mother’s family came from the Hopkins family. The Hopkins family descendants, most of which are buried in a nearby cemetary, are direct descendants of Stephen Hopkins who sailed from England on the Mayflower. He had several aunts, uncles and cousins, whom he saw for the holidays.
As a child, he was gifted in piano and most everything he did. As a youth, he worked in a cinema and found inspiration to make his own home movies. He was a bit of a Maverick, which later served him well as a fighter escort pilot.
His father worked for Gulf Oil Corporation in the Oil Camps in the Texas desert. Taking their small town values, my Great-Grandmother, cooked for the field hands daily, making home-cooked meals such as roast chicken, mashed potatoes and cantaloupe pie. The camp community was small, so playing with friends, shooting rabbits and school activities were the norm.
He went off to college
My Granddad went off to college and met my Grandmother. She, was from the city and painted her lips red. My Grandfather spent a year in classes, then joined the military. He went to flying school and then married my Grandmother. By 1945, my mother was born and my Granddad lived abroad fighting in World War II. My aunt was later born, three years before his end. He survived the war, and made it halfway through the Korean War before he died.
My grandfather’s testimony was his end.
Like any person, my Grandfather lived an imperfect life. I am sure he did many things he later regretted, but his military career was definitely his calling in life.
His small town upbringing gave him a personable demeanor, and the security to carry out his duties to his family and his country well. He wrote to his wife for the whole two weeks he was gone to Japan, before he died. Several weeks after his death, the letters arrived, assuring her of his love for her and his family. It was God’s gracious gift to her.