As Veterans Day approaches, we remember everyone that served — the ones who didn’t make it back home and others who did, but now live with the memories of war. That’s why a group of local Korean War veterans are making sure the sacrifices of their fellow service members remain a part of history.
Korean War veteran Bob Fitts has put together quite the collection over the years. That includes this Jeep — just like the one he worked on as a motor sergeant in the Korean War. The flag, however, might hold even more value. It’s the only thing then-19-year-old Bob was able to bring back home.
“You grow up real quick, you learn that you’ve got to take care of yourself and the other guys,” Fitts said.
But as Bob learned, that’s impossible. War has no mercy. He still remembers the day he lost his friend Jim.
“Jim was standing there and we were talking and he said, ‘Bob, they need me.’ He said, ‘They need our supplies and they need ammo and they need food and they need water,’ and he said, ‘I can’t leave them up there alone.’ And I said, ‘Jim, I don’t want you to go.’ And he said, ‘I got to go.’ He and the lieutenant both got killed. When we were there getting his Jeep he yelled ‘incoming,’ and when they yell incoming you hit the dirt. You can’t get low enough and I bounced from an artillery shell that exploded.”
While Bob’s personal experience and the loss of his friend are unique, he knew the pain and trauma were not.
“When it’s all over you wonder why or how you survived when others didn’t and you live with that the rest of your life,” Fitts said.
That’s why Bob started a local Korean War Veterans chapter more than 20 years ago, and out of that a tradition was born.
“We started getting the guys together and we started a breakfast every Wednesday morning and it’s still going on,” Fitts said. “It clears your mind a little bit because everything is always there, you never lose it, it’s always in your mind.”
And while there’s always plenty of joking, it’s the sense of family that stands out the most. On this morning while we were filming, the son of a veteran named Bill who passed away last year snuck in and paid for the entire meal.
An act of kindness for a group that has given so much.