RICHMOND, Mo— Many times we think of our veterans as hero’s and idol’s, but one Korean War era vet says he doesn’t feel that way at all. Click play below to listen to KMZU’s Ashley Johnson speak with an Army Ranger
Corporal from the Korean War, Ira Henderson:
From June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953 more than 5 million soldiers and civilians lost their lives as a result of the Korean War. Now, more than 62 years later, one Army Ranger veteran recalls the grizzly scenes and chaotic environment many soldiers were subjected to on a daily basis.
Corporal Ira Henderson spoke with KMZU about his deployments to the then communist peninsula of Korea. Recollections of a blood filled holster on his first trip out began the stories of friends being blown up, shot, and burning to death. Henderson himself was wounded in action twice before the age of 18.
Despite the overflowing memories of his brothers in arms, Henderson detailed vivid visions of a battlefield after he completed his tasks.
“I lay awake at night thinking about what I did,” Henderson recalled, “I’d go down to the battlefield, I was a machine gunner, and after the battle I’d walk down and look at those kids, and they were just young kids 14 or 15 years old, that I killed and I went nuts.”
More than 60 years later, Henderson still feels his service and the horrific sights and sounds he dealt with every day have gone unappreciated. He spoke about his feelings on more well-known wars such as WWII and Vietnam but admitted his sadness in the lack of gratitude shown to Korean veterans.
Henderson continued describing his war stories without a single detail lost in reminiscence. Among one memory was the story of an Italian gentleman who proved to be a lifelong friend.
Henderson said the men kept in touch long after wartime, until eventually their older age prompted a light conversation regarding who would be whose Paul Bearer at their own funerals. Something most would find as a heavy subject, these men found to be a comfort after long lived lives.
Even with a brother and true friend by your side, Henderson explained, war is a scary thing, full of fighting and death, and then you come home. Many civilians believe that once a soldier finishes deployment they are done with their time in battle, however as many families have come to realize, many soldiers come home carrying the burden of lives lost and innocents taken, prompting a battle within the veterans own mind.
Statistics show traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder combined affect nearly 1 in 3 returning soldiers and veterans and suicide rates have reached an all-time high of almost 22 per day.
Henderson said if there’s anything you can do for a veteran today, it should be to thank them not for their time and service but for the environments they withstood in the wake of chaos, all to protect the rights of freedoms we all too often take for granted.