The Hero in the Gunner

December 15, 2012

The Hero in the Gunner

Gregg Y.  Malavé

            “I still remember like it was yesterday. We were doing our normal patrols when all of a sudden bullets start flying b,y so we started to return fire. I was the gunner of the bazooka, when I load the first round. I heard that word grenade! Everything stops in that moment. The only thing I could think of was to take the soldier in front me “Private Martinez” out to cover. I grab him by his jacket and pull him out of the way. The loud explosion was the last thing I remember” said Jesus when ask about his time in Korea.

Jesus born in Maricao, PR in the 30’s had to struggle with poverty like many other people. When he was young war in Korea broke lose; with no money or food he decided to enlist in the US Army to serve his nation and in search for a better future. During this time heroes rose from necessity. A time where the struggles to survives dictated drastic changes and so many heroes where born. Jesus is one of those heroes, he took the challenge life gave him and rose above it.

Many men did not made it back home, but he was one of the lucky one to return. The number of death was high “…during the three-year conflict to the more than 33,000 U.S. battlefield fatalities” as seen in CNN.com. Jesus may have gotten home but not without some deep scars.

“My knees still hurt to these day from that grenade explosion, but that doesn’t compare to pain I feel for the friends and soldiers we lost during that time” he added to the conversation.

He’s injuries trying to save Martinez left him hospitalize for 1 month “I had grenade fragments in my face all most lost my eye and in my knee” Jesus said. Private Martinez wasn’t as lucky as Jesus. Even though he tried to save him “it wasn’t enough, he lost most of his legs dying later on and that’s something I have to live with every day” Jesus said.

Many things can happen in three years from wining a battle against the North Korean and Soviet Army to the loss of friends for the freedom of a nation and others. One of the thing Jesus enjoys and proudly tells about his two years of service in Korea is the liberation of a small village near Seoul. Where the North Koreans started pushing their lines forward “War broke out along the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950. On that day, North Korean troops coordinated an attack at several strategic points along the parallel and headed south toward Seoul” as seen on http://www.archives.gov/

“We had been fighting for days I was the gunner of the bazooka and I lost count of how many trucks I destroyed, it was something hard to do pulling that trigger” Jesus adds mumbling his words “none the less it had to be done and I remember that day we liberated the village the children were singing and celebrating but this little girl maybe six or eight. Walks up to me and she gives me a necklace wile thanking me for getting rid of the bad men. The girl left and sat beside two bodies” he added. He says his day went from good too horrible in a second.

Jesus learned that this girl’s parents were executed for defending their most beloved creation their daughter. “This type of war horrors were quite normal” adds Jesus. War is a terrible thing that can change many men but Jesus stayed the same.

When Jesus came back from the war he had six mouths to feed. He manage to finish his studies and support his family. The scars the war left weren’t only physical but emotionally too. Jesus like many others is a hero that during a time of need he rose up to defend the freedom of our nation and the survival of others.  This soldiers are the forgotten heroes that still stand proudly and they will not hesitate do the same thing again.

When Jesus was ask if he regrets anything he did during that time, his answer was firm “I will go back right know if I had to” a hero’s true response.

Young Jesus as a soldier ready fight for what is right.

Young Jesus as a soldier ready to fight for what is right.

An old but still strong Jesus Caraballo, a life worth of memories and still a proud soldier.

An old but still strong Jesus Caraballo, a life worth of memories and still a proud soldier.

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