It's truly is a story of how life comes full circle and how freedom isn't free.
Army veterans Jim Brock and Jack West fought not far from each other in the Korean War, but never knew one another. Despite both being injured, they survived. As life would have it, they now can reflect on their experience and be each other's support system, calling Samaritas Senior Living of Grand Rapids, 2000 32nd St. their home.
Both West and Brock were drafted. Being drafted meant you only had to serve two years and not four. After basic training, both were on the battlefield. You could see their expression change and their minds going back to a dark time when I asked about their service. Through it all, they both are very proud of serving our country.
Brock recalls his first involvement was loading officers and non-com officers that had been hit by shrapnel onto a personnel carrier. Most of those men did not survive. The Chinese were always after U.S. troops and vice versa. Tears started to welt up in his eyes, his voice shaky, when he explained that in a three-day period an average company of 150 men would have about 25 killed and 25 wounded.
One particular story that left a lump in my throat, was when Brock explained how they were always out patrolling "no man's land" to see what the Chinese were doing. He was a radio operator at that time. At the last-minute, patrol orders changed. The radio operator, which would have been him, was ambushed and killed in action.
"So you get a very sense that life can be very narrow. God moves in mysterious ways and it was there that I learned to appreciate life in many ways." Brock added.
A piece of the war will always physically be with Jim. Shrapnel, the size of his thumb remains in his left leg because it was too deep to remove without doing more damage. He kind of chuckles and jokes that he thinks he got a shot of penicillin every four hours for an entire week!
Brock completed his service and spent his life in auto repair. He has been at Samaritas for about a year and that's about the same time that fellow Korean War Army Veteran Jack West showed up, too.
"I'm like Jim; I relished my experience. I got hurt and I got hurt bad!" West exclaimed.
There are some days he doesn't like to think about it. The day he literally got blown up, is one.
"I was blown up in the air came down on my face and I was one-armed. My other arm was gone. It was just useless. Absolutely useless." West said. So they sent me to the hospital when we go my wound under control thought they could finally sew me up they sewed me up. I`m like every other guy. You want to go back to your company. That is so important get back with the guys that you knew you fought with." West explained.
After months of healing, West was sent back to fight with his company. After the war, he sold insurance for 38 years.
Imagine going through all of that and having it referred to as The Forgotten War. To Jack, Jim and all who serve, thank you from all of us here at FOX 17.
Samaritas has 50 veterans living in their Grand Rapids location. They get together often for coffee and donuts to reflect on their service.
To honor them, on Friday, Nov. 9, a pancake breakfast was held for veterans and their spouses. At 2p.m. the community is invited to take part in the Wall of Honor dedication right in the lobby. It will have pictures, names and dates of service for Samaritas veterans.