Homer Cauffiel was born in Snomac, Oklahoma, in March 1931. Cauffiel graduated from Wewoka High School in 1949, before relocating to Oklahoma City that same year. When the Korean War began in 1950, Cauffiel debated on which branch of the military he wanted to serve in. He had always been interested in aviation and even joined Aviation Explorers when he was a boy. Therefore, he first thought to join the Air Force. However, when he and a friend went to join the Air Force, there were no slots available.
Upon checking the Army and Navy centers and the massive lines, Cauffiel and his buddy found themselves approached by a Marine Corps recruiter, who had no line for his branch. They explained to the recruiter that they were deciding between the Army and Navy. The recruiter retorted with, “You can join the Girl Scouts or you can sign up with the real soldiers.” Cauffiel called his brother, who was a Marine Corps Veteran of World War II. His brother said to join, “if you think you’re man enough.” That was the final nail in the coffin to convince Cauffiel, and he enlisted into the Marine Corps that day.
After completing his basic training at Camp Pendleton, California, Cauffiel served with Baker Company, 1st Marine Division, 5th Regiment. The 1st Marine Division arrived by ship, landing on the eastern coast of Korea. The 1st Marine Division spent a year in Korea before boarding a ship on the western coast one year later. Cauffiel, a corporal, rode on a tank for six miles of the journey and then walked the rest of the way. In October 1951, he participated in the first helicopter troop transport in combat. They transported his rifle company to the top of a roadless mountain.
Cauffiel went on 57 combat patrols. During a mortar attack, he was wounded and found that the radio he had been carrying did not survive. However, he discovered that the radio absorbed most of the explosion from the mortar shell, saving his life. While he was injured and received a Purple Heart, he was not wounded enough to be sent home.
Cauffiel honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1954. He passed on Oct. 22, 2020, in Midwest City, Oklahoma, surrounded by friends and family.
We honor his service.
Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Writer: Alexander Boucher
Editor: Rachel Falconer
Fact checker: Kinsley Ballas
Graphic artist: Grace Yang