With a friendly, laid back personality, tonight’s veteran salute was told he didn’t fit the image of the U.S. Marines.
But he would soon prove those people wrong, because since the end of WWII, becoming a Marine was always in the back of his mind.
Loren Tracy says he wasn’t ready for college and didn’t have much direction after high school. But he had at least a year of a military obligation to fill and enlisted in the Marines in 1949. Turns out it was the perfect place for Loren to find his direction.
“Physically and mentally, the marines tear you clear down and then rebuild you,” said Loren Tracy, Korean War veteran.
Loren says his start in the Marines was a rough one. But he loved a challenge, and knew he could do better. During his training in California he would end up being chosen as the outstanding recruit for his platoon.
Loren would end up heading to Korea as part of a replacement draft for another unit of Marines that had taken some bad casualties. It was a 15-day ride on a troop ship with bunk beds stacked six high.
“You always hoped whoever got that top bunk didn’t get seasick and a lot of them did,” said Tracy.
Loren eventually arrived to brutally cold weather in Pohang, South Korea. After six weeks he earned his first Purple Heart when artillery shell fragments ripped holes in his jacket and Loren lost a finger.
“I had a finger,” said Tracy. “That the worst of my wounds, I was very fortunate.”
After recovering in a hospital in Japan, Loren would come back for more. His squad was assigned to cut off enemy troops coming off the hill. He was serving as the fire team leader when he got hit in the chest.
“The corpsman said ‘do you need to go back?’ I said ‘no, I’ll stay here. i’m all right,'” said Loren.
Loren then led his team forward and knocked out two bunkers with grenades and took two prisoners before his corpsman ordered him to get medical treatment. The bravery earned Loren another Purple Heart and a Silver Star.
“A courageous and daring leader he pressed forward in the face of intense hostile fire and personally knocked out two enemy bunkers with grenades.”
Loren returned to the states in 1952 and got married in 1953. They came back to Wichita where they had three kids and Loren worked for the post office for 35 years. Over the years he’s enjoyed gardening and painting, and hunting and fishing. But at the end of the day, Loren’s a family man.
“The joy of my life now is my great-grandkids,” said Loren. “We have 23.”