Fred Lund – Korean War

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A survivor of the Korean War and a recipient of the Purple Heart, Fred Lund of Pembroke now recalls his time in the service and in recovery with a mixture of humor and acceptance. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

It’s never easy to see unpleasant history repeated, and with so much of the country’s attention now focused on the Korean peninsula, the thoughts of many have turned six decades back to the Korean War. For some in the region, including Fred Lund of Pembroke, the Korean War remains a vivid memory punctuated by the chronic pain of injuries sustained in combat.

Born in July of 1930, Lund was raised in Pembroke, and it was there that he attended school until the 8th grade. At that point, he decided it was time to enter the workforce rather than to continue his education. “I probably made a mistake, I don’t know,” Lund said in retrospect. Either way, he made his way down to Connecticut to work in a hot dog manufacturing plant. 

Over the next few years, Lund took other odd jobs, including one working for a tree management company in Portland. He remembers that the Saturday he had planned to quit that particular job he received a call in the morning notifying him he had been drafted. “I had to report to Connecticut on Monday morning,” Lund recalls. At 21, Lund felt like it was hardly different than his past experience of traveling to new places and taking on new jobs. “I didn’t much care at the time,” Lund said. “As long as it was something different.”

Shortly thereafter, Lund found himself in Hawaii at basic training. “It was very easy,” Lund said of the experience. “The only thing I didn’t like was all the rice we had to eat.” After completing basic training, Lund was assigned to the Army’s 31st Infantry Regiment and flown to Japan. From there, he and his unit boarded a boat that would take them to the Korean peninsula. 

Lund would spend the next year on the frontlines. “We all fired back and forth at one another,” he summarized succinctly. Lund’s experience was relatively unremarkable until one fateful day when the North Korean army made a push toward his unit’s position. “They were coming up the hill at us, and I was out there in front,” Lund said, explaining that he was a squad leader. “They were shooting at us up the hill. I said to the commander, ‘Let’s get out of here, we’re going to get shot!’ He turned to me and said, ‘I think you’re right.’” Lund said the commander was “big and long-legged” and he quickly vacated the area. “He made it, and I didn’t.

“I got shot right in the d--- rear,” said Lund, who recalls his injury with a measure of humor today. “It just missed my spine by a fraction of an inch.” He remembers being picked up by the commander, who proceeded to remove his pants to determine where Lund had been shot. “They had medics right there,” Lund said, recalling how he was quickly moved down to the bottom of the hill.

In the care of the medics and nurses, Lund said it wasn’t an easy experience for him or those around him. “I got the devil in there a few times. I gave the nurses a hard time.” Lund was unable to urinate normally or walk, and he remembers the unsuccessful efforts of the nurses to attempt to restore his mobility. 

Lund was sent back to the United States where he would spend the next fourteen months at a hospital in Massachusetts. His condition required multiple surgeries to correct, and even after being released from the hospital he would be a frequent visitor to the Veterans’ clinic in Togus. “I’ve been treated very good at Togus,” Lund said. 

After being discharged from the hospital in Massachusetts, Lund returned to Pembroke where his mother lived. When his mother moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, he followed her, soon proceeding to start and operate his own tree management business. He serviced trees in Massachusetts for the next several decades before retiring to Pembroke once again with his wife, Marguerite. Today, Lund continues to offer a stump grinding service to keep himself busy.

 

The recent situation in Korea has brought Lund’s own experiences to the forefront of his mind. “We may have another war over there. I don’t know how it will go,” Lund said. “It’s going to be all the high-tech weapons. It isn’t going to be fun for anybody.”