If his father hadn’t fallen ill, Eolia farmer and Korean War veteran John Hood probably wouldn’t be here today.
Hood, 84, recently gave an account of his experiences in the Korean War at the Elsberry Nutrition Center.
Hood was drafted in 1951 and said he experienced a number of heavy battles during his time in Korea, a stay that was much shorter than for most other soldiers.
Early in 1952, Hood received word that his father was seriously ill and needed him to return home as soon as possible to help on the family farm.
Hood’s commanding officer told him that arrangements could be made to get him home if he desired to go. He even offered to drive him to Seoul, Korea so that he could catch a plane and begin his journey back to the farm he had grown up on.
After thinking the matter over, Hood decided to accept the offer.
It isn’t getting to leave Korea early that stands out in Hood’s mind all these years later, however.
Rather, it’s the fact that he was the only member of his platoon to leave alive.
“While I was waiting to get on the plane someone came up and told us that my entire unit had been wiped out not long after I had left for Seoul,” said Hood. “I told my commanding officer that I’d go back with him if he wanted me to but he told me to get on the plane and go on home.”
Hood said he never learned the exact details of the fate that befell his platoon but he was very grateful to have escaped Korea alive.
That gratitude is something that Hood said has stayed with him for the last 62 years.
While he was ready and able to come to the aid of his country, Hood said he never accepted the necessity of the war from a philosophical standpoint.
“I’m not sure we should’ve been over there,” said Hood.
During his presentation at the Nutrition Center Hood shared a number of artifacts with visitors, including two 40-millimeter anti-aircraft shells from the USS Missouri, grenades, a shell helmet, a canteen and a picture taken of himself the day he got out of the service.
Although he is a veteran of the Korean War, Hood also has a copy of the surrender agreement signed by Japan at the end of WWII.
He shared that document with the crowd as well.