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Part Three of Four: A Veteran remembers…
A veteran remembers
‘A VETERAN REMEMBERS’ is a segmented story about Eugene Schmid, an army veteran who served in the Korean War. The story will appear in four weekly segments. Schmid is shown here on leave with his younger brother. He is also a brother to Gays Mills resident Virginia Murphy. Eugene Schmid was born and raised in Plain, Wisconsin.

On the morning of May 29, 1951, our forces met resistance at the point of a hill. My squad was ordered to swing around to the left. Something that I can’t explain to this day is, I don’t remember shooting at anyone but remember clearly that I only had two rounds left in my clip. I laid down on my left side and proceeded to change my clip when I felt a sharp sting in my left shoulder. I did not see him, the shooter, but he obviously had me in his sights. I doubled back to the medic and he cut off my shirt and undershirt. He said I had two holes, one where it entered and then glanced off the shoulder blade and exited about four inches down. I was very lucky again. It was not bleeding as it dragged some clothing material into the wound. It was about 9:30 in the morning. He placed an army wool blanket over my shoulders as it was raining. Another soldier was wounded in his arm, we carried rifles and escorted a third soldier who was shot in the upper leg and was carried by a four man Korean team down the mountain. It took until 4:30 p.m. to get to the aid station. The medic who cleaned me up remarked that he needn’t tell me how dirty I was. I don’t think he understood our sanitary conditions on the line. I was transferred to a hospital in Japan. The first chance I got I sent a letter home telling them of y condition and that it was not life threatening. The letter was not soon enough. As I said earlier combat is chaos, the army reported me killed. It was not directed to my family, but the American Legion went to my folk’s home to plan to make funeral arrangements. It was even on the Richland Center radio station. My folks received my letter a day or two later. At the hospital in Japan, they cut open the wound from end to end and removed all the damaged tissue. Then they closed it by drawing it together with big c-clamps and stitching around each end. I was put on a daily injection of Penicillin which did not contain Novocain and I got these injections for about five weeks. Whenever the nurse found me in the hall or in my room she greeted me with “Schmid drop your drawers”. About the middle of July I was ordered back to Korea. A neighbor that I grew up with was stationed about 300 miles north of the hospital. Unknown to me he received a pass and came to see me at the hospital. He caught up to me about fifteen minutes before I boarded a truck to leave. Back in Korea my company was in reserve. I immediately inquired about my fellow volunteer and was informed, “Oh, he got it.” I took that to mean he was killed. I agonized over whether to write to his family or hold off. Luckily that I held off as I found out later that he was badly wounded but survived; badly disabled for the next sixty four years of his life. I decided at that time I would never advise another person to go into the service with a close friend. Being in reserve, we had a welcome ail call. I had a girlfriend from Madison after high school and she kept my morale up with letters. My uncle on informed me that he didn’t wasn’t to make my teeth long but he had fresh strawberries and ice cream for supper. “Thanks.” My sister sent a letter stating that she thought she would send a line. No news, just a straight line from the top of the page to the bottom. Being in reserve we were suddenly called up to support a company in distress. My machine gun squad was hunkered down in a gulley to provide cover fire as the company advanced up the hill. There was not any enemy fire so we were ordered up the hill. Just as we arrived enemy mortar arrived also. I was digging hard and praying harder when my 100 lb. ammo bearer arrived and asked where he should dig. About that time another round came in. After it exploded I looked up and he was just standing there. I pointed to the new crater and said right there. He crawled in and it possibly saved his life. The next month was kind of uneventful. We soldiers were not informed of what was going on but the governments were trying to negotiate a truce. When they couldn’t agree we put on more military pressure. This one hill was contested for several weeks. The allies would control it every day and the Chinese would take it at night. Finally, my company was ordered to take it and hold it that night at all costs because they were starting a new offensive the next day. That night my machine gunners were on the point and I was in a foxhole fifteen yards off the right side. About eleven o’clock heavy shelling started and soon after my gunners opened up. Then silence. About fifteen minutes later I observed a group of Chinese coming around my side of the hill. Trying to conceal my position, I heaved a hand grenade at them. There followed a lot of chatter. I then raised my rifle and started shooting intermittently. Holding the rifle too close to the ground it sucked up dirt and jammed after only three shots. I was then down to only one grenade, pulled the pin and got up to throw it and was struck by a concussion grenade mostly in the face. There was possibly damage to my right eye. As I went down I scraped my right thigh which had significance later on. The Chinese retreated and I called up to my gunners to give me fire cover as I was coming out. They didn’t respond but I found out later that they had burned out their barrel and couldn’t get it replaced. If the Chinese would have only known they could have walked right over us. The offensive took off as planned but turned out to be very costly in lives. I was treated at an aid station and sent back to a hospital. An elderly colonel treated the eye but after a week said he would have to send me back to duty. I said ok but I had this bandage on my thigh which had not been looked at. He took the bandage off and the wound was infected so he put me on an antibiotic for another week. He reluctantly sent me back to duty. I arrived back on the afternoon of October 28. The platoon sergeant informed me he was going to rotate home and I would have to take his position. He said they had suffered badly in casualties in the past two weeks. They received eighty replacements and it was chaotic. He told me to position myself with 2 black machine gunners on the left side of the hill. About midnight I observed an artillery flash in the distance. I woke up the other two guys and told them to get ready. In a few minutes there was an exchange of fire out on the point. A little later I observed two guys running back toward the rear. I called to them to get their behind off the skyline, as that makes a distinct silhouette. Almost immediately the grenade came sizzling toward us and landed directly in our foxhole. We scrambled to get out but it exploded before we got out. I received shrapnel in my calf, right hip and forearm. One of the other guys was hit in the arm and hip also. This was obviously friendly fire. Two inexperienced replacements abandoned their position, firing at someone speaking English. For the third time in seven months I headed toward an aid station. You might think “unlucky” but I say very lucky. At the aid station they probed the wounds. I thought they had removed all the shrapnel. My forearm was very tender after that. I could always feel a lump in there. I thought that I had punctured the bone and this was just a growth. That arm was very weak. I was sent to a hospital where infection set in the wound in my calf. I was then sent to a hospital in Japan where they wrapped it in a watertight bandage with a tube into it where they pumped in distilled sea water. When they removed the bandage, about a week later, the infection was all cleared up. My luck kept getting better. Regulations were, you had to have 24 points to rotate home from Korea, only 20 from Japan. I’m going home! I kind of “lived the good life” for the next month. I made a leather billfold at the activity center to give my Dad. I exchanged a twenty dollar bill for Japanese yen, about a bushel basket full and did my Christmas shopping. I received my Purple Heart while there. I left Japan on a commercial Pan American flight on December 16. We landed on Wake Island and then Hawaii. At Honolulu they informed us that there was strong headwinds toward the mainland. They would have to shed six persons. I was the lowest ranking person on the flight. There were a lot of high ranking military wanting to get home for Christmas. My luck again, I had an “H” hospital rotation in front of my number. We were to land at Los Angeles which was fogged in so we were diverted to San Francisco. I had to pull a four hour shift of fire guard at 30 degrees and fog. I thought I would freeze to death. I was sent by train to Ft. McCoy and arrived there on December 24. While being processed a two star General came in and said to get us out that day. A sergeant hauled us to La Crosse in his private car. We boarded a Greyhound bus for Spring Green. On the way Dad’s billfold got passed around and I don’t know where it ended up. That was my only disappointment as I got home for Christmas Eve.