Francis Wenthold was born March 26, 1932 in Festina, IA. Shortly after his 20th birthday in 1952, Francis and a group of his friends believing they would be drafted, voluntarily enlisted in the Army. They hoped to serve together, but before they arrived at boot camp in Fort Riley, Kansas, they were split up. Due to how badly things were going in Korea at the time, his division was quickly shipped overseas. Before arriving in Korea, Francis and the 24th division were brought to Japan. It took 27 days to arrive. Once there, some of his comrades shipped to Korea. Francis’ was kept behind. His rank changed from Private First Class to Sergeant, and he was transferred to the 25th Division. The 25th Division had taken some heavy losses and they needed replacements. Francis was trained to become a forward observer of a platoon. When Francis arrived in Korea he was sent to the front line. He would sit at the top of the hill and direct where the shells should land as the men shot over his head. He served on the front line for 31 days. During his time he saw unimaginable horrors and thought he wouldn’t make it out alive. As the terror continued, he hoped it would be sooner rather than later. He spent November and December at the front line in frigid temperatures with only one pair of socks and without insulated boots. His feet turned black from frostbite. After the truce was signed, Francis still had time remaining of his enlistment. He was stationed in Colorado Springs, CO. He shared that it was the cushiest job he had in his life. He sat behind a desk and wrote orders for the guys. In 1954, Francis was discharged and his dad had lined up a job as a mechanic with his brother in law. He worked as a Mechanic in Ossian, Iowa for 40 some years and was a founding member of the local ambulance service. Francis and his wife JoAnn spent much of their lives giving back to their community. It wasn’t until much later in life that Francis would speak of his time in Korea. Francis Wenthold passed away on October 21, 2020.
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Korean War - Key Events
June 25, 1950
A massive artillery barrage from the North signals the beginning of the Korean War. Roughly 100,000 North Korean troops pour across the 38th parallel, and, although South Korean forces are driven back, they retire in good order.
These events are taken from the Encyclopedia Britannica