Intermission Stories (7)

Harold Selley receiving his Bronze Star

Harold Selley receiving his Bronze Star

Medic, Harold Selley

Harold Selley was in the Medical Company of the 7th Cavalry Regiment from the time time he arrived in Korea, July 1950.  He would remain there for 11 months as a medic in a Forward Collecting Station.

Selley related in an interview,” Several times my collecting station was surrounded by the enemy and we were unable to get our wounded to the rear.  Most of the time, we medics provided our own perimeter security for the station.  That meant we took turns in staying in foxholes guarding our station.  Usually we were far enough to the rear of the actual small arms fire that we could operate the station without the enemy invading the area.  Since we received wounded from the entire regiment, we saw practically everyone who was wounded in the entire regiment.”

A medical HQ in Korea

A medical HQ in Korea

Selley was the main person who saw that the proper tag was given to each casualty.  The tag was for identification, brief explanation of the injuries and a record for the regiment.  Such records were essential for future medals, disability pensions, statistics, Army files and family information.

Emphasis was on teamwork. “All of us medics in the station were part of a team,” he said.  “We knew what to do when a wounded man was sent to us.  Often I performed emergency treatment and procedures that the assigned doctor in our station could not do.  He was too busy to do it all.  We had to pitch in and do everything we could.  Often the doctor went from one casualty to another giving advice to the medic as to what should be done.

Medics Crit Nash, Harry Kane & Harold Selley in Korea

Medics Crit Nash, Harry Kane & Harold Selley in Korea

“The doctor knew the medic’s capabilities.  This is not meant to be arrogant in nature.  It simply means that we medics treated so many casualties (hundreds) that we became rather proficient.  We performed emergency amputations, treated spinal injuries, worked on *pneumothoraxes, did emergency repairs on fractured bones, stopped bleeding, removed shrapnel and attended to shock (most were in shock!).

” Many died before we could get them evacuated to the rear.  Dead and wounded were all around us daily.  Often we went without sleep during a heavy fighting.  I went without sleep for 4 days once, working continuously on wounded.”  Selley knew of course that the infantrymen in the frontline battles also went long periods without sleep – for days on end!

“My medical company lost several aid stations, including the doctors and medical personnel.  We were always in danger of being attacked by the enemy.  The medics assigned to the aid stations in the battalions knew their life expectancy was short.  Memory of these men should always heralded as valor and total allegiance to the fighting men, Army and United States.”

doctor and medic w/ wounded soldier

doctor and medic w/ wounded soldier

For Selley, the memories of being under artillery fire, strafed by planes several times and close to small arms fire will always be remembered.  But for him, the most memorable thoughts are the wounded.  “I saw about every possible injury that could happen.  I got to the point that no injury was too tough to handle, that is, too tough to examine or treat.  But, when the wounded died in my hands, that is when I realized I was so inadequate in helping someone.  I was drenched in blood most of the time.  I tried with all my being to help people live, and when they died, I felt so helpless.  I didn’t have time to feel sad or even weep over them.  That came later, much later, after I returned from Korea – and still to this day.”

Selley returned to his home and college only to find the younger students did not share his thoughts on America.  They had not been through a war and were conditioned to be isolated from the unpleasantries of life.  The final line of his story reads  – “Let us not make this a forgotten war!”____Harold Selley 2001

*pneumothoraxes: an abnormal collection of air in the area between the lung and chest wall; usually caused by blunt force trauma during combat.

This story was taken and condensed from HERE>

This site is large enough and interesting enough to get lost in for days – enjoy!

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Farewell Salutes -

Alwyn Berland – Toronto, Canada & Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

George Allen – Bethesda, MD; US Army, WWII, ETO

U.S. Navy emblem

U.S. Navy emblem

Leonard Coleman – Delray Beach, FL; US Army, WWII

Walter “Mick” Hocker – Portland, ME; US Navy, Capt. (Ret.)

Colin G. Mitchel – New Zealand; Australian Imperial Force, WWII # 120010, Cpl., Sig. 35th Infantry Battalion

Raymond Monte – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII

William Ridenour – Wilshire, OH & Lake Worth, FL; US Navy, WWII

James Skene – Fairview, TX; US Navy, Korea

Edward K. Steffen – Ahwatukee, AZ; US Navy, Vietnam

Andrew A. Turner – Auckland, NZ; Regt. # 596141v, SA Air Force

Nicholas Vitucci – Riverhead, NY; US Navy, SeaBee

Richard J. Watkins – Papatoetoe, NZ; RAF # 4078049, Korea

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About gpcox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on March 31, 2014, in Korean War and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 70 Comments.

  1. So good to give credit to all our brave men!

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  2. A wonderful post on the people who saved lives and restored health. Treating the badly wounded had to be so hard…day in and day out. Looking at the ones who probably seemed impossible to save at first glance only to see them fully recover later must also have been so rewarding for them.I imagine that alone had to make the effort worth getting up for each and every day.

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    • I think the medics were very special in their own right. Often without a weapon in combat, I still never heard one say he regretted what he did in the service. Thank you for reading this story, Morguie.

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  3. One of the most hardest trades in the army is that of being a Medic, either in the front line or in the casualty clearing stations or field hospital, the pressure of the job does certainly follow you the rest of your life.
    I can relate to their situation from my own experiences.
    Medics are unsung heroes most of the time.
    Ian

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    • I believe I still have a story or two to go with medics – they were incredible (still are I would say)!! Were you a medic in Nam? (I apologize that I don’t recall, just too old for my own good)

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  4. You’ve conveyed the story of Harold Selley in a way that is quite moving. I imagine that being a medic during his time and experiences would have been such a self sacrificing responsibility to have. The amount of pain, suffering and death would have been left a permanent mark on his heart, no doubt.

    Beautifully written and shared, thank you again for painting these pictures to help us remember and reflect.

    ML

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  5. I did not know aid stations were lost. None whatsoever. And the doctors too? That is beyond belief.

    Medic, corpsman… They also suffered greatly.

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  6. Amazing memories. I don’t know how to make the necessity of war real for those who have lived their entire life at peace. It just doesn’t click.

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    • I think only being in any dire circumstance is unique and no one can judge how they will react during it. I think discipline needs to be instilled on the onset, I’m talking beyond what parents give – there are ROTC programs in high schools and college, but recreating combat is impossible. If they don’t feel it, I don’t know if it can be taught.

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  7. As a nurse it is hard for me to comprehend the conditions these medics, nurses, physicians worked under. As someone else mentioned imagine jumping into a fox hole at one moment and then giving care the next. thank you for sharing these amazing stories of bravery and courage.

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  8. God Bless. “We stand on the backs of their sacrifice. Their history is our tradition, as long as there are Americans to remember…”

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    • Very well said, Karen. I thank you for taking the time to read and to REMEMBER.

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      • Thank you for your veterans’ site, as well as the posts on WWII Pacific service. I remain very proud of my own family of veterans – including my father, a WWII PT boat skipper and Silver Star recipient, and two uncles who also served in the Pacific arena.

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        • How great to hear, Karen. We’ll be getting back into WWII shortly. Do you happen to be aware of your father’s unit and/or exact locations? Feel free to include anything you know about him here in the comments or if you have your own post or site for him, please give us the link so that all can read. Thank you.

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          • He was a WWII Skipper of PT-161 assigned to Squadron Ron 9, PT Boat Base 11, Rendova Island, South Pacific. Additionally, one of three PT boats participating in the rescue of John F. Kennedy and the crew of PT 109. He’s first mentioned in “Hometown Heroes” and then in “Family Veterans.” He made an oral history of WWII which is not onsite at this time.

            http://www.evanskaren.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/hometown-heroes-2
            http://www.evanskaren.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/family-veterans

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            • As you can tell, I have read and commented on both posts, but could not express totally how much I liked them. You do great honor to the men in uniform and your family. I sincerely hope you receive more visitors to your site thru this one. You certainly have my recommendation of the highest regard.

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              • Thank you for the kind words and wonderful comments on my effort in honoring not only my own but all veterans. Your response means a great deal if my work is being perceived in that respect. Having admiration for those who serve, my ongoing attempt is to stir emotions in doing them justice. With a present focus in striving for Congressional Gold to WWII Tokyo Raiders, it is hoped others become involved while the few remaining are still among us.

                I certainly appreciate you taking the time to visit my blog and any traffic from your site would be welcomed. We always strive for an audience, especially when trying to make a difference.

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  9. It’s really unthinkable. The bloodshed, the triage, the race against death. I appreciate how critical teamwork was here.

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    • Thank you, Wayfarer. An entire network of unsung heroes works behind the scenes. [off topic - are you planning to ever post again? Miss you.]

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      • Are you supposed to be getting my posts on your Reader? Bc you’re the umpteenth reader to find I’ve disappeared off it, even seasons at a time. SIGH.

        A H Journey has been incredibly busy. A lot going on. And actually, if you missed it, I wrote on the experience of being Korean-American (parts 1-3).

        Thanks for the sweet chk-in. =)

        Missed you, too. Why I came by.

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        • I can’t imagine how that has happened. I’ve looked for you a number of times, but it shows your last post was in January. I’ve missed you or I wouldn’t be making a fuss.

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          • So you (used to) read me off the Reader, not by email, right? You can tap open any open title to open up my sidebar and follow by email. Or first see on the top bar if you’re checked off as following or unfollowing, on my home page before refollowing. Several subscribers have done that. I’d love to know the status. Thanks, buddy.

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  10. So many men like this are totally unsung heroes.

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  11. Another wonderful example of the amazing strength and bravery of our service me and women. Praise God for all of them. RIP to all who gone on to their heavenly home.

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  12. Medics, corpspeople are such amazing heroes! So talented, so smart, and so humane. The best of the best! Thanks for posting!

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  13. Was surprised that the medics were also guards for the camp. Hard to imagine being a medic one moment and hiding in a foxhole the next. They were pretty diverse in their abilitity to treat everything, but the heartache of losing so many patients. They should be so proud of all the lives they saved.

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    • Good to see you, Bev. Glad you came to see this one, can you just imagine being that young and being forced to grow up that fast under those circumstances? Humans are capable of much more than they realize.

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  14. Beautifully done. And suddenly I had the feeling I was watching MASH, one of my all time favorite shows. Of course MASH couldn’t capture the true horror of what went on and survive as a TV program at the time, but I always believed that the writers and actors wanted to give a feel of what really happened. –Curt

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  15. For someone to understand they need to be going on the same river and experiencing the same currents. Yet even then the conversation dims for the talk becomes bitter and does not help.

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    • It is true that no one knows what these troops felt except each one of them, Barry. But, I feel if they talk about it, they are able to release at least a little of that bitterness they’ve been holding inside, some of the pressure they bottle up gets out.

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  16. And such sad memories, heartbreaking suffering and precious lives lost must indeed be a burden for the whole lifetime. I always stand in awe from profound respect of medical personnel during war, especially the wars of the past where conditions were not always in aid of helping…such frustration must have added to the pain of watching someone die

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    • Thank you for you heartfelt sentiment to these men. You know how war tears apart families, Ina. And you seem to have put yourself in Harold’s shoes for your comment.

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      • Indeed I have, gpcox. Warm regards and I need to say: your work on your blog is so very important – a permanent record and reminder of those who lived through sheer courage and suffered for the freedom and for their country.

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  17. I don’t think anyone can truly appreciate what soldiers in a real shooting war go through. As long as they return home in one piece, people tend to overlook the trauma they carry – quite often for the rest of their lives.

    Watching documentaries that feature fighting men, quite often they break into spontaneous tears. Decades after the cessation of hostilities – these men carry the burden.

    The debt which society owes these men is never repaid – never.

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    • Well said, Eric and very true. How does one erase seeing things like this, living for months covered in blood and dirt with the odors of death and ammo?

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  18. Thanks for helping us remember another hero. I shook my head at the expression “Forward Collecting Station” – I realize that the military plans for war and that those plans must include wounded soldiers, but it seems harsh, as if they were inventory items. I guess the only thing that kept them human were men like Harold.

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    • I think many probably thought of them as items in their effort to stay sane. Even Harold didn’t have time to feel and cry, but kept them distant, until he got home. If only the politicians could experience some of this part of war, would they be so eager to start another one?

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  19. Great post,,,yes a short edit in where this was extracted would clarify it a bit…I did have that question when I got to the bottom.

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  20. People forget the emotional toll suffered by medical staff in the field. This is a good reminder of that fact.

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  21. Great story with sentiments that hit close to home.

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  22. Pierre Lagacé

    Reblogged this on Lest We Forget and commented:
    Why we should never forget…

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    • I thought the last line would get you. Wasn’t expecting a reblog, tho. Thank you, you honor the men everyday! Sorry, but I forgot to add that the story was condensed from his memoir at “The Korean War Educator” – think I should edit the post?

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  23. Pierre Lagacé

    What can I say…

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