Heroism, courage, devotion
It has been 60 years since the Korean War, often referred to as “the forgotten war.”
“The Korean War was like second page news — nobody knew where it was exactly or who was fighting who,” said Rutherford County veteran Keith Price, who served in the U.S. Navy during the conflict. “We were high on the euphoria of World War II and if you go back and look at history, the war was never really completed.”
Price, who joined the Navy when he was 23 years old, recalled how the Korean War had taken off a few years earlier when he graduated high school from Cool Springs High in 1950.
“It was like a continuation of World War II and they needed all the people they could get,” he said. “The odd part about the war was that most people came out of World War II in standby or the reserves, attempting to continue on with their lives. But then they were yanked back into combat for another tour in Korea.”
Price was stationed in Little Creek, Va. during his first four years of military service and then was attached to an Army Reserve unit at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Ala. — home to the U.S. Army Military Police and U.S. Army Chemical Schools.
During his military service, Price was an instructor and simulated various nuclear attacks as part of the Navy’s atomic, biological, chemical and natural disaster preparation course for officers of all services, including civil service and foreign national officers.
The month-long course at the Army’s Chemical Corps School facility, where the Naval Unit was located, was the longest cooperative Navy-Army collaboration which began at Edgewood Arsenal in Md.
“Although I never had duty in Korea and never saw combat, no matter what phase of the military or service you are in it is a risky business,” Price said. “If you’re serving your country you’re in arms way. Being in the military is an honor and a great opportunity — it is so meaningful and teaches you discipline and responsibility.”
Perhaps one of Price’s greatest memories from the Korean War time period was fellow schoolmate Jerry Kirt Crump and R-S Central graduate Bryant Homer Womack, who were both awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award, for “conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty in combat” during the Korean conflict.
Pfc. Bryant Homer Womack
Bryant Homer Womack was born on May 12, 1931 in the Green Hill community of Rutherford County. He attended school in Polk County and spent his youth helping on his family’s farm, hunting and fishing, before joining the Army.
Womack, a member of Medical Company, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, distinguished himself in action against the enemy on March 12, 1952 near Sokso-Ri, Korea.
He was the only medical aidman attached to a night combat patrol when sudden contact with a superior enemy produced numerous casualties. Womack went immediately to the patrol’s aid, exposing himself to a hail of enemy fire during which he was seriously wounded. He continued moving among his comrades to administer medical treatment, refusing aid for himself.
While aiding one soldier, Womack was struck by enemy mortar fire and suffered the loss of his right arm. Although he was aware of the consequences if he did not immediately tend to his own wounds, he still refused aid and insisted that all efforts be made for the benefit of others that were wounded.
Womack’s wounds eventually caused him to be unable to administer aid, yet he remained on the scene and directed others in providing first aid. He was the last man to withdraw, walking until he collapsed from loss of blood. He died a few minutes later while being carried by his comrades.
He was buried at Lebanon Methodist Church in Mill Spring with full military honors.
Womack’s extraordinary heroism and courage and unyielding faith and dedication uphold the esteemed traditions of the United States Army.
Womack Army Hospital at Fort Bragg was named in honor of Pfc. Womack.
Cpl. Jerry Kirt Crump
Jerry Kirt Crump was born on Feb. 18, 1933 in Charlotte. He grew up in Caroleen and attended Tri-High School.
When he was just 18 years old, Crump joined the Army and was deployed to Korea.
Crump, a member of Company L, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, distinguished himself in action against the enemy on Sept. 6-7, 1951 near Chorwon, Korea.
During the night a large, superior hostile force launched an assault against his platoon on Hill 284, swarming into the area and overrunning troop positions. Crump repeatedly exposed himself to the enemy, delivering effective fire into the ranks of the assailants.
When he observed two enemy soldiers attempting to seize a machine gun, he charged and killed both with his bayonet. Soon after, an enemy soldier hurled a grenade towards Crump and his comrades’ position. Crump flung himself over the approaching grenade, absorbing the explosion with his body and saving his comrades from death or serious injury.
His actions inspired his fellow soldiers and led them into a spirited counterattack that drove the enemy from the perimeter.
His twin brother, Harry, was also wounded in Korea in 1950 and received a Purple Heart.
Crump later died in a tragic automobile accident on Jan. 11, 1977.
He was buried at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Cornelius with full military honors.
Crump’s dedication to duty, heroic fighting spirit and willingness to sacrifice himself to save his comrades reflect the ideals of the United States Army.
Source: Information on Pfc. Womack and Cpl. Crump acquired from “The Heritage of Rutherford County North Carolina, Volume I, 1984,” published by the Geneological Society of Old Tryon County.