SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa (KCAU) – For nearly 13 months, Ray Wink was on the front lines as a gunner in the Korean War.
“When Korea came up, I was one of the first to call. I had ten days to get my stuff squared away and be in Omaha,” Korean War Veteran Ray Wink said.
Just weeks after his wedding, 19-year-old Wink joined the U.S. Marines. The Korean War started a short time later.
“We went out of San Diego and it took us 15 days to go over,” Wink said.
It was only after Wink landed in Korea that he received his duties.
“They said oh, I shot a pretty high score when I was in bootcamp, and they noticed that. And they said as long as you have got this high score, you’ll be one of our gunners,” Wink exclaimed.
During Wink’s tour in Korea, he survived multiple firefights.
“When I got to Korea, regardless of the fire direction center, the FDC would call you, maybe 2 o’clock in the morning they were having people coming in, North Koreans or Chinese coming in and we had to get up right now,” Wink said.
Wink became close friends with a man from Waterloo, Iowa.
“This here Norman Hughes was with me and he got in the same outfit we did. You know, you just, you get pretty close to each other. You know, you’re together night and day,” Wink said.
Norman Hughes was killed during a firefight with Wink by his side.
“I was right there when he passed away. Yes, yes I was. That’s how I came to make that sign out there,” said Wink.
Wink says the sign outside of his home is his way of honoring his friend.
“I was dog gone lucky because there was a lot of people…that had their injuries and I was very lucky. The good Lord was with me,” Wink said.
His final involvement in the Korean War would be during another bloody battle.
“They call it the punchbowl and that was a long place where the North Koreans and the Chinese were on the other side and we were on the other side. A lot of people got shot there,” Wink said.
It was during this battle when Wink got word his service was over. Two weeks later, he was reunited with his newlywed wife.
“She met me in Omaha. Oh yes, I’ll never forget it. Never forget it,” said an emotional Wink.
Wink says the only injury he sustained in Korea was when a piece of shrapnel cut his knee. However, he says he refused a Purple Heart because other soldiers deserved it more.