Korean War POW honored

Aug. 06, 2014 @ 11:35 AM

For 1,013 days Bailey Gillespie lived in horror.

On Nov. 27, 1950 Gillespie was captured by the Chinese as they were pushing into South Korea from the north. It wasn’t until after an armistice was signed that U.S. Army Sgt. Gillespie tasted freedom.

Monday night, Gillespie was honored by Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, and the Rutherford County Commission for his service.

“I tell people how hard I have it but when you hear the story of Bailey Gilespie you realize you’re on vacation,” Hager said.

Hager presented Gillespie with a United States flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol and a State of North Carolina flag flown over the state capitol in Raleigh.

Gillespie received a standing ovation following the presentation in the County Commission meeting room in Rutherfordton.

In 1998, Gillespie, with his wife Joy,  authored the book “Korean War Remembered: Prisoner of War, 1013 Days of Hell, But for the Grace of God” which chronicled his nearly three years of captivity.

“I appreciate being here after 84 1/2 years,” Bailey Gilespie said Monday night. “I encourage everyone to put your faith in God and he will see you through whatever you face in life.”

According to the website www.koreanwarpow.org, Gillespie was a surgical technician with the 25th Infantry Division. He was captured when his unit was overrun by the Chinese. From there, he spent his captivity in the Korean War POW camp known as Pyok-Dong, located in North Korea along the Yalu River just across from Manchuria, China.

According to the book “Rutherford County in the Korean War,” Gillespie was awarded the Purple Heart Medal by former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms. He was also awarded with the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with four bronze service stars, the United Nations Service Medal, the Occupation Medal (Japan), the POW Medal and the Combat Medical Badge.

“We have true American heroes in Rutherford County and it’s an honor to know them,” Hager said. “His story is amazing about what he’s done for this country,”

The honor came after the remains of another Rutherford County soldier in Korea were identified. The family of Cameron Morrison Flack received confirmation last week from the U.S. Department of Defense that his remains will be returned to Rutherford County later this year. Flack went missing just after arriving in Korea — 54 years ago.

“I want to thank you for all you have done for this country and thank all of the veterans for their service,” said County Commission Chairman Bill Eckler to Gillespie.