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John Medaugh National Guard

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John Medaugh - 815 Views
honored by Michael Ford


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Assigned: 3rd Battalion, 148th Regiment
Location of Service: Korean
Gender: male
From State: Ohio
Current City: Venedocia
Current State: Ohio
My War Stories
  
  1948 (Courtesy Michael Ford, Delphos Herald). Though it’s common for one’s march through life to take unexpected turns, the contrasts can be astounding. The Rev. John Medaugh, 74, decided on ministry as a profession after starting on a very different path with the Ohio National Guard. “In war, I found I was proficient at destruction; you can be a destroyer or you can be a builder,” he said. Though not so religious when he was 14 years old, Medaugh was patriotic. He had an older friend who had enlisted in “the guards” at age 17 and Medaugh decided to do the same. However, he chose not to wait. “They didn’t have computers then like they do now and all you had to do was have your parents sign off that you were 17. I got the form and had a girl at school forge my mother’s signature,” he said. Medaugh said he grew up thinking of the military as a way for those of lower economic status to get ahead in life. He revealed his decision to his parents, John and Hazel, when he came home one day in 1948 wearing his dress greens. Assigned to an armory in Spencerville, Medaugh was in summer training near Indianapolis when the Korean War broke out in 1950. The 3rd Battalion, 148th Regiment thought they would go to the peninsula as a unit but that was not the case. Some scattered, some went home and others went to war. “We went to Japan for a week to prepare to go to Korea. We landed at Pusan and they put us on trains for Seoul to be frontline replacements. However, 18 of us were pulled off the train to be advisors to the Korean army. So, I was pulled off the train and sent back to a Korean unit to prepare them for the frontline. Then they flew me in a plane up to the line,” he said. As a combat engineer, Medaugh’s specialty was building and tearing down land mines. “I cleared the mines, then when the company came in three weeks later I lead them up a mountain where we set up camp and that’s where we were for the rest of the war, he said. “We supported the ROK (Republic of Korea) 20th Infantry Division. If they were going to make a push, they would find the mines and I disarmed them. If we thought the Chinese were going to make a push, we set mines to stabilize the frontline.” Medaugh said Korean soldiers got on the ground shoulder to shoulder and poked in front of them at a .45 degree angle to locate mines. They also looked for trip wires before Medaugh disarmed the mines. This is when he often came under attack. “We got fired upon because they didn’t like us taking up their mines. After all, they put them out for their protection, so they weren’t very appreciative. Sometimes, we had to call in jets to lay down ‘smokes’ so we could work without them seeing us,” he said. Base camp was a safe distance behind the line and Medaugh compares this to living in Delphos but working in the closest larger city. “We lived 18 miles behind the line, so it’s like living in Delphos and working in Lima. At times, we were under fire but we didn’t live under it constantly. It was risky but it was no different than living here and having a risky job in Lima,” he said. Medaugh said the three months before the truce was a time of heavy fighting. “I was there at the tail-end of the war and the Chinese were making pushes because we were in the North Korean area. They wanted to push us back behind the 38th Parallel but they had no air power to amount to anything. Airplanes would fly over and we always used to joke that they would, pretty much, just roll down a window and throw out a bomb. It was more of a nuisance than anything,” he said. When lines were not advanced upon by either side, conditions were calm. On those days, Medaugh transported bulldozers and jeeps and surveyed roads. Combat engineers build bridges, drainage systems, cut down trees and the like. Rainfall often caused roadways to “wash out,” so Medaugh sometimes called in a bulldozer to maintain access in and out of the area. From the time he was called to active duty in January 1952, Medaugh only took one day off while in Korea. When he left in September 1953, he returned to his National Guard unit for approximately one year. He married his wife, Ruby when he got home and left the National Guard the following year. The father of 4 and grandfather of 13 went to work at Buckeye Piping for the company and for a private contractor before enrolling at Ohio Northern University in 1959. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from the Methodist Theological School of Ohio and began vocational ministry. He retired from the church in 1996 and has since filled four interim pastoral posts. He returned to Korea in 2003 to receive the Ambassador of Peace Medal from the South Korean government. With dramatic development in the 50 years since the war ended, many Koreans are very appreciative to the United States. “Koreans my age are very grateful; they said they wouldn’t have what they have had we not been there but the younger generation doesn’t know what their parents went through,” he said. Medaugh also has been awarded the United States Defense Medal, the Korean Service Medal and the United Nations Service Medal.