ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - What would possess someone to make the decision to join the military during a time of war? Even greater, what would cause a child to want to sacrifice life for the country?
For one Roanoke native, it was not a choice, but a calling.
In this installment of Hometown Veterans: Honoring Our Heroes, we meet a man who volunteered for the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War.
The Korean War was a battle between North and South Korea. It was 1950 and American troops entered the war to protect South Korea.
Frank Kingery was one of the brave Americans fighting in the Korean War. Seventy-one years have passed, but the pain from what his eyes witnessed feels fresh. “The weather was so cold. There were monsoon rains. It would get really cold, sometimes thirty below zero, even colder,” explained Kingery. “Thousands of Koreans had been slaughtered and they were laying on the ground. That upset me. If you take a person’s life, you’re robbing them. It’s one of those things that bothers me. I’m bothered today about it.”
Mr. Frank is a soulful man and that same spirit was present at the young age of nine—when he made one of the biggest decisions of his life. His brother, Claude, was fighting in WWII. His mother, Ada Marie, was sweeping the front porch on a beautiful day in August. “My mother received a telegram and when she read it, she just bowed her head,” said Kingery.
Claude was gone.
A young Frank decided he would join the United States Marine Corps the moment he turned 18.
By then the Korean War was in full swing. Frank volunteered to take his brother’s place. He was called directly to the front lines and assigned to one of the first things an enemy tries to take out—the tank crew.
Corporal Frank Kingery. First Tank Battalion, First Marine Division. He is 88 years old now, but still holds the proud title Marine. He also holds the title “husband” to his wife Rebecca Jean of 66 years. He still giggles when he talks about her! “I thought she was the prettiest thing in the world!”
These days you won’t find him in a tank. Instead, he’s cuddled up and holding hands with his bride. They live with their daughter, Dreama Overfelt, who is honored to take care of a living hero. “I’m very thankful for my dad and the fact that’s he’s a Marine, a very proud Marine. But the life he lives as a Christian, a godly man, is what I’m most proud of,” explained Overfelt.
The Korean War is often referred to as the “Forgotten War”, but Frank has no intention of forgetting those who served alongside him. “The Korean War, not a forgotten war. It will never be forgotten by anybody who served in the military or in the Korean War. It will never be forgotten. So, I changed the slogan: the forgotten war that will never be forgotten.”
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