NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) - Dick Nooe wasn't making the grade at the University of Oregon in 1953. With the U.S. involved in the Korean War, he says his next stop was a no brainer.
"And they were starting to draft right out of college," he says. "So I just quit. I was young and looking for excitement."
After basic training at Camp Pendleton, California, Nooe was assigned to the Howe Company, Third Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment. His battalion was dispatched along the 38th Parallel: The front line of the Korean War. They were assigned to Outpost Esther in July 1953 just as Chinese military forces came to the aid of North Korea.
"The Chinese just swarmed and there were hundreds of them," Nooe says. "They attacked our outpost."
Dick Nooe sustained shrapnel wounds to his legs and face from grenades, that was before his was found by enemy soldiers.
"The Chinese got me and just started beating on me with rifle butts and boots. And that's when my face got all messed up and I've got several fractures up around there."
Nooe was eventually left by his attackers. He was airlifted to the first of several hospitals, eventually getting plastic surgery. But the attack robbed Nooe of his eyesight. He was sent to a blindness therapy program, which Nooe calls the greatest thing to ever happen.
"First of all, it was a great program," Nooe says. "But secondly, that's where I met my wife to be. And we've been married for 57-and-a half years."
With Sara's support, Dick returned to school, became a psychotherapist and got involved in Big Brothers. He also found his war time experience helpful in bringing Vietnam veterans home from their war.
Talking about it crucial because then you've got an opportunity to take a look at it and readjust your thinking. If you just bury it, it's going to give you a lot of trouble."