“Heroes aren’t athletes who set new sports records or Hollywood actors who make ‘daring’ films, or politicians who make bold promises. Heroes are people who place themselves at risk for the benefit of others.” — Oliver North
Today I attended a memorial service for a friend who passed away ten days ago. Jimmy was the same age I am and was born in Florida. As a young boy Jimmy used to hunt snakes in the everglades with his Indian friend and take them to the local doctor who was experimenting with anti-snake venom.
As jimmy was growing up he learned to play the violin and developed a love of classical music, especially the music of Frederick Chopin. He also used to dress in costume and role play with his friends.
When jimmy was 16 (1952) he lied about his age and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He did this to help his parents financially, but more so to help his county that was fighting a war in Korea. While in the Navy Jimmy became a Navy Corpsman and was assigned to the carrier USS Essex. Later he was transferred to the USS Hornet.
At nineteen Jimmy was assisting in surgery aboard these carries and riding as the “Angel” in a helicopter hovering over the ship to retrieve aviators who crashed on landing or takeoff.
Eventually Jimmy was transferred to a Marine unit fighting in Korea. Here, as all Navy Corpsmen serve, he was the medic in a Marine combat unit where he received his Purple Heart. Jimmy related a story to me where he had managed to get 18 wounded Marines into a cave and was treating all of them when they were attacked by North Korean soldiers. Being the only able bodied person in the cave Jimmy fought off the attackers for over an hour until relief arrived. He used every gun he could lay his hands on from a .45 Colt to a Thompson submachine gun. When the relieving Marines arrived they found 30 dead North Korean soldiers in front of the cave. Jimmy saved everyone of the 18 wounded soldiers he was responsible for.
After the war Jimmy was discharged from the Navy and tried his hand in the medical field. He met his wife at a roller rink and eventually they were married, a marriage that lasted until he day he died. When he met his wife, Patricia, he told her he had lied about his age when he enlisted in the Navy and said “while his classmates were at their senior prom he was in a foxhole.”
Drawing from his Navy experience as a Navy Corpsman, Jimmy did private nursing in the Hollywood area and took care of celebrities.
Eventually Jimmy wandered into police work where he served on the Santa Monica Police Force and then on the Corona Police Force. While on the Corona force he served as an NRA rifle team advisor and instructor.
Jimmie was active in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for both of his children and even years after they had grown up. He started a troop in San Marcos and another at a school for boys with special needs.
Jimmy loved to collect police badges. He would go with his son to Police Memorabilia shows where they began a decades-long project of collecting police badges from all over the nation.
In 1985 Jimmy suffered a serious leg injury that resulted in a series of 14 surgeries and he had to adjust to living with chronic pain His leg was so badly damaged that he had to get around in one of those electric scooters.
Jimmy loved pets, especially German Shepherd dogs. He always had two or three dogs in his house. When I first meet Jimmy he had three. Even though he was homebound he would take time to call others who were also homebound and give them encouragement.
Finally Jimmy succumbed to illnesses and passed away on February 16, 2011. Jimmy was a hero not only for his actions in Korea, but for the courage he displayed in his life after sustaining a terrible injury. Jimmy was always helping others and he had a great love for this country. He was a Christian who believed in God and his son Jesus Christ. No one will ever know the number of lives he saved while serving as a combat Navy Corpsman and what those people went on to become. Only God, who Jimmy is with now, knows.
Jimmy is one of the thousands of Korean War veterans who are dying each year in this country. For many Americans this is the “forgotten war.” It was a war where so many young men went to fight on that God forsaken peninsula to stop the enslavement of the South Koreans by the communist aggression from the North. If you ask any high school or college student what the Korean War was about you will get a blank stare from at least 90 percent of them. Jimmy knew, he was there.
Jimmy is survived by his wife, a son and his wife, a daughter and her husband and three grandchildren. May Jimmy rest in the bosom of Jesus Christ where there will be no more pain.