Marine Corps Veteran Ralph Tate tells his story of fighting in the Korean War
Marine Corps Veteran Ralph Tate grew up in North Chattanooga and has lived most of his life here. The only time he didn't was three years in the early 1950's when he was serving in the Marines and fighting in the Korean War.
Mr. Tate says he joined the Marine Corps Reserves but after a while he stopped going to meetings.
"My cousin says 'you're gonna be drafted if you don't leave with our unit. So let's write the Commandant and see if they can put you on active duty," Mr. Tate said.
He got his wish. On Labor Day 1950 he boarded a train in downtown Chattanooga.
"Where the Choo Choo is now and went to California .."
He went to boot camp, and more training. He came home for a few days and got married, and was then sent to fight in the Korean War.
"We landed in Kobe, Japan," Mr. Tate said. "Left all of our gear there in a warehouse except our combat gear."
He was then sent into South Korea.
The Battle of the Chosin Reservoir was a couple months earlier. When he arrived the men who fought there were returning from battle.
"We were fighting the Chinese then really because they came across the border up there, and the Marines had to fight in all directions to get out," Mr. Tate said.
He was fighting with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. He says he had several close calls
"I jumped in a foxhole that was up there with another fella in it," Mr. Tate said. "So we started getting mortars."
The other Marine in the foxhole didn't survive the blast.
"We got out of that fight, and got into several more," Mr. Tate said.
He was at the battle of the Punch Bowl in September of 1951.
"Which was a large valley with mountains all around it. Several positions had to be taken. The Army took some of them," Mr. Tate said.
And the Marines took others.
"There was 15 KIA's. There was 141 casualties that had to be evacuated and then there was about 40 walking casualties that were able to walk off." Mr. Tate said. "There was 11 that wasn't wounded at all, and I was one of the 11."
He says he was never wounded that he was aware of, but had his knee replaced a few years ago. The doctor removed a piece of metal from his knee that he assumes was shrapnel from the war.
He has also battled hearing problems and PTSD for years.
Mr Tate is now 87 years old. He says he'll be 88 in August.
The young lady he married before the war they were married 67 years.
His wife passed a little more than a year ago.