Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

July 6, 2013

VETERAN PROFILE: Surprise, you’re going to Korea

GOSHEN —  When Phil Whitehead enlisted in September 1951, he was told by the U.S. Army recruiter that he’d never be sent to Korea.

He was 17 at the time.

“After basic training, I was in Korea and driving a tank on my 18th birthday,” said Whitehead, a Goshen native. “I was in Korea from May 1952 to June 1953.”

His mother had to sign for him to be able to enlist with his group of friends, all from Goshen. He was the youngest.

“I felt obligated to do something and my friends had wanted me to join,” Whitehead said. “All five us enlisted together and then they separated us after that.”

Whitehead said he didn’t have a choice in his military training after boot camp.

“They needed people in the area to drive a tank. They pulled a name out of a hat and put us there,” said Whitehead, a member of the 245th Tank Battalion — 45th Infantry Division.

He shared his military experience in four sentences.

“I liked driving the tank,” he explained. “I just drove it. I didn’t have a choice. I was told what to do and I just done it.”

There are stories and experiences that Whitehead encountered in battles like Old Baldy and Heartbreak Ridge, but they remain untold except when he gets together with fellow comrades during a reunion held each year. He says most of what they talk about wouldn’t be good for print. He became aware of the reunions about five or six years ago and has attended each year since then.

“And there’s not many of us left, I’m sorry to say,” he said.

The veteran did share his impressions of the South Koreans.

“The people were poor and destitute in that time,” Whitehead said. “They would beg for candy or anything to eat.”

After his tour in Korea, Whitehead was stationed at Camp Roberts in California as an instructor for four months. He was also stationed in Seattle, Wash., and tested tanks in the Mojave Desert for the rest of his time in the service.

“I thought it would be nice and warm testing tanks in the desert,” he said. “It was cold, not warm at all.”

He was discharged in 1954.

“Back then, if you enlisted, it was for three years and if you were drafted, it was for two years,” he added.

And because he joined the Army at 17, Whitehead never graduated from high school.

It took him 60 years to receive his diploma.

His son, David Whitehead, found out about a program through the Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs for issuance of an high school diploma for World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam veterans.

“I got to graduate last year,” Whitehead said, smiling.

Korea has been known and referred to as “The Forgotten War” and Whitehead was asked if he felt that way.

“Yes, I do feel I was forgotten as a vet,” he said, “but nobody speaks about it, amongst us anyway.”

As a member of VFW Post 985 Honor Guard, Whitehead helps honor veterans who have passed away by playing echo taps at graveside services in and around Elkhart County.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Hanna Zook A.jpg 9 vie for Distinguished Young Women title MIDDLEBURY — Nine contestants will be competing in Middlebury’s Distinguished Young Women program, formerly known as Middlebury’s Junior Miss program.The theme for this year is “Shine Your Way” and the program will be held at the Northridge High Scho

    July 31, 2014 9 Photos

  • GN140731 Old fashioned farming days 00070.jpg Shipshewana hosts “Old Fashion Farming Days” SHIPSHEWANA — What began 10 years ago as a small exhibition of six or seven farming items dating from the 1800s and 1900s has grown into a yearly festival celebrating the unique histories of more than 400 pieces of antique faming equipment.According

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • NWS GN0731 boys and girls club 01 Boys & Girls Club seeking $1.4M to expand GOSHEN — The Goshen Boys & Girls Club is a bustling place.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • BIZ GN0730 Growing kids daycare image New day care center will open in August GOSHEN — There’s a Main Street in downtown Goshen and now there’s another, shorter Main Street in Goshen. The new road is located inside the new Growing Kids Learning Center.The newly-built center is located at Elkhart Road and C.R. 17. The day care

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140730 Spore mug Child's death prompts carbon monoxide awareness SYRACUSE — In the wake of the carbon monoxide poisoning death of 12-year-old Skyler Spore, the Syracuse community is raising awareness about the dangers of the deadly gas.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS GN140730 stormwater board Orchard annexation gets $500,000 boost Stormwater board increases contribution toward $7.5 million project

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140730 city council summit 01 Street chief says more money needed to avoid cutting services GOSHEN — The last year has been a particularly rough one for the Goshen Street Department, and the budget for 2015 is likely going to reflect much of that pain in the form of a significant increase in funding requests.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Jace Michael Mast TOPEKA — Jace Michael Mast, infant son of Earl and Esther (Lambright) Mast of Topeka, was stillborn at 9:40 p.m. Monday at Dupont Hospital, Fort Wayne. In addition to his parents, he is survived by a brother, Evan Wade Mast, at home; grandparents, Ri

    July 29, 2014

  • nipsco property Construction to close N. Fifth St. for most of a year

    GOSHEN — Motorists who use North Fifth Street should plan to find a new route for the coming year. Monday the Goshen Board of Works and Safety members accepted bids for a North Fifth Street reconstruction project from Clinton Street to Crescent Stree

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • SLIDESHOW: Pets of the Week Cats and dogs looking for loving homes at the Humane Society of Elkhart County. These are the final days of the HSEC's July special: adopt in July and receive 25 percent off your adoption fee for dogs and cats under 5 years old or 50 percent off those 5-years-old or better.

    July 29, 2014 11 Photos

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

With military action and tensions escalating between Russia and Ukraine, as well as Israel and Palestine, are you worried that the U.S. and other nations may get drawn into these conflicts?

Yes, it is a great concern of mine
I’m a little worried, but not too much
No, I’m not worried at all
     View Results
AP Video
Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii