One thing that Charlie Boyd vividly remembers about his service as a Marine during the Korean War is the weather.
“It was cold. It rained for months. You didn’t get your clothes changed,” said Boyd, commander of Williston Park VFW Post 1688.
As a replacement in the legendary First Division of the U.S. Marines, another stark recollection is the grim fighting he participated in during the aftermath of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Chosin_Reservoir“>Chosin Reservoir campaign in late 1950.
The Marines’ mission once they struggled to reach the 38th parallel line – the latitude line that ultimately became the border between North Korea and South Korea – was to hold that line in what has been called America’s forgotten war.
“We fought our way up to the 38th parallel and that was it,” Boyd said. “The big thing for us was to hold the line. When the Marines told you to hold the line, you didn’t run.”
By the time he joined the fighting in the spring of 1951, the Marines and other UN forces faced attacks from the Chinese in an offensive involving 500,000 enemy troops until June. The war then turned into an artillery slugfest, according to Boyd, which didn’t make it any less lethal for the troops on both sides.
“Both lines were set up so close, we got slaughtered,” he recalled.
Like many war veterans, Boyd isn’t very forthcoming in talking about the war or his service record as a sergeant in the http://www.marines.com/“>Marine Corps.
“I was just another Marine,” he said.
But the 79-year-old veteran is still doing service, driving fellow vets to the Northport Veterans Hospital each Thursday for medical treatment. It’s a mission he’s been on for the past 14 years. He said he plans to hand it off to someone else when he hits 80 next year, but he’s said that to himself before.
“When I was 75, I said, ‘I’m going to quit this’,” Boyd recounted, but the Northport dispatcher, a woman 10 years his senior at the time, dissuaded him because, as he recalls her saying, “There’s no one else to do it.”
Part of what’s kept him going is the satisfaction he gets from helping other veterans. “I feel great when I help them. They wouldn’t have any other way to get there,” he said.
He also spends some of his time singing as a solo act or playing trumpet in a group called the Commanche Raider Band at nursing homes and volunteer Fire Department events. And he belongs to the Citizen Emergency Response Team.
He’s also a former youth counselor and usher at St. Aidan’s R.C. Church in Williston Park.
And next year, Boyd will be taking on a new set of responsibilities as VFW county commander.