WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — At 90 years old, Korean War veteran John Reisch remembers his time serving in the military like it was yesterday.
“We were the eyes, the ears, and the messengers to the artillery units,” Reisch said.
Reisch joined the U.S. Army in 1952 and would be deployed to Korea in February 1953. As a member of a radar set, Reisch tracked mortar projectiles on the mainline of resistance by Pork Chop Hill.
“We’d track ’em going up, and we’d track ’em going down, and then we knew exactly where it was being fired from, so we’d call in artillery to take ’em out,” Reisch said.
However, due to rapid technological improvements, Reisch’s radar set quickly became obsolete.
“So, they stopped our operation … and sent me to HQ company on … 49th Field Artillery,” Reisch said.
There, Reisch served as a radio operator near enemy lines.
“One time we was observing, and we saw this mule train,” Reisch said. “We knew that they was carrying supplies … that we called in artillery, and when it hit ’em, we knew that they were carrying ammunition because we got secondary explosions.”
At times, Reisch’s unit would go out in Jeeps to relay messages over mountains.
“‘Cuz the radio won’t go through hills, you can’t get out, so you get up on top,” Reisch said. “And sometimes we’d be fixing phone lines, repairing them — other times, we’d be observing the enemy territory.”
For Reisch, staying so close to enemy lines meant several close calls.
“One time, I was out driving the Jeep down the road going to a place where I could set up … and evidently they spotted me there, and they sent an artillery round out there … as soon as it hit, I just speeded the Jeep up so there was no way they could keep up with me,” Reisch said.
Although the Korean War has not officially come to an end, the fighting would end with an armistice in July 1953.
“I told my parents I was going over to end the war, and it did stop while I was there,” Reisch said.
Reisch would remain in Korea until October 1953. Afterward, he went to Japan to serve in an artillery unit before becoming a military police officer. After three years of active duty, Reisch would spend five years in the army reserves before going on to teach industrial education.
If you would like to nominate a veteran for our Veteran Salute, email KSN reporter Hannah Adamson at firstname.lastname@example.org.