A purple heart recipient and U.S. Army veteran spoke about his experience during the “Forgotten War” event Wednesday at the Fenton History Center.
Peter Carlo, Disabled American Veterans former commander, hosted the discussion on the Korean War and proper flag etiquette. He was drafted into the Army when he was 22 years old in 1952, and was first sent to Fort Dix, N.J., for 16 weeks of “hand-to-hand” battle training before he was shipped to Asia.
First he arrived in Japan and then he was sent to Seoul, Korea. At that point, Carlo said he took a trip by train with other soldiers to the front line. He said during the train ride they didn’t talk or smoke because they didn’t want to give away their position to the enemy. He added that the10-hour train trip seemed like it took several weeks.
Once at the front, Carlo said he was stationed in a gun bunker where he was a member of an experimental four-man “buddy system” unit for the Army. Carlo said as part of the four-man unit, they worked, ate, slept and fought together for days on end. He said after a couple weeks, his unit would change locations to a new section along the front. He added his unit most have been in four to five different locations along the front during the war.
Once their was a truce between North and South Korea and Carlo returned home, he said he kept in touch with his unit and periodically they would meet for a reunion. He said they’ve met in several different locations for the reunions, including once in Jamestown.
“It kept us in tune with one another,” Carlo said.
Carlo also discussed Christmas and New Year’s Eve 1953 while fighting in Korea. He said Mary Ann, his wife of 64 years and his fiancee at the time, sent him a Christmas tree, which he said was a real treat. Carlo also discussed how the North Koreans would play a tape telling the American troops to go home and how they have nothing to gain from fighting on the Korean Peninsula. He also discussed how he lost many good friends and witnessed several get injured during the war. Carlo himself was injured in Korea and received a purple heart military medal.
“I truly appreciate being a veteran,” he said.
Carlo also discussed his work to donate 272 flags that have flown over the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., to local organizations. He also donates flags that have been displayed in Lake View Cemetery’s Soldier’s Circle. He said the flags were being disposed of before he got involved to donate them to people and local organizations.
Carlo said this will be the 61st consecutive year he will be participating in the Jamestown Memorial Day parade. He said it is an honor to be able to participate in the parade each year.
“This is something I want to do,” he said. ”I love doing what I’m doing.”