The Korean War had already begun when 18-year-old Thomas O. Black enlisted in the U.S. Army. Born to a family of farmers in Walker County, Georgia, Black left the only place he had ever known to serve his country.
Black completed basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Afterwards, he remained at Fort Knox for extended training in heavy weaponry, where he learned how to drive tanks and operate machine guns. After concluding his training, Black sailed on a cargo ship to Japan, and ultimately to Korea.
Once in Korea, Black served with the Third Battalion, Second Infantry Division. This was a heavy weapons company that served alongside a French battalion. Black’s first experience with combat was at the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, which was one of several major engagements that took place in the hills of North Korea known for their high casualty rates. After the battle, hardly a day went by when Black’s division was not under enemy fire. After six months in Korea, Black moved to the motor pool, where he operated a machine gun attached to a Jeep.
Black was in Korea for a total of nine months and ten days before he went home on rotation. He married his childhood sweetheart upon returning and completed his remaining year in the service at Fort Benning, Georgia. Afterward, Black worked as a truck driver for 29 years before he ultimately retired to run a heavy equipment company with his brother.
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Robert Terry
Graphic artist: Deanna Cannon