In honor of Veteran’s Day this month, we are proud to present a glimpse of Lew Bradley’s experience while serving during the Korean War.
What led you to enlist in the Marine Corps?
I enlisted in the Marine Corps on my 17th birthday because my father had kicked me out three months prior. After leaving home, I stayed with a high school friend whose older brother had a restaurant that served lunch to employees from the Fisher Body plant. I had been helping his brother for several months in the restaurant during the day, and he would allow me to stay in the back room and use his home for cleaning up. The brother was a WWII Marine and I was so impressed with his stories, as well as the movie Sands of Iwo Jjima, that I enlisted.
What areas of service were you in and what was your highest ranking?
My highest rank was Sergeant, and I served a total of four years. I was in the National Defense Service, Korean Service with three star, United Nations Service and the ROK War Service.
What was one of your proudest moments while serving your country?
My proudest moment was at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island rifle range. We had just completed training for the day and faced the U.S. flag to salute. The sun was directly behind the flag and all the white stripes and stars seemed to be silver, which filled me with pride.
Would you share some of your feelings about what it was like serving during war time?
All Marines know that they are part of the greatest fighting force on Earth. We all know that we are brothers and will never leave a Marine behind during battle; we take our dead and wounded with us. Our motto Semper Filelis (Always Faithful) is always in our mind. Honor, courage, commitment is our personality.
What did you bring back from your experience serving the country?
I had a very high mechanical ability due to taking auto mechanics in high school. Although being classified as a radioman, I spent most of my working day with our aircraft mechanics and learned much about aircraft engines. While in Korea, my unit lost their Air-Sea Rescue helicopter mechanic. I volunteered to be his replacement and was accepted. Subsequently, I maintained the helicopter and flew with it on all pilot recoveries.
After I was discharged, I found employment with Garrett AiResearch, where I started in the assembly of auxiliary power units, then Quality Control and Field Service. I then spent 28 years on an overseas assignment in the Far East and Southeast Asia for operators of Garrett-powered aircrafts, which included the 42 turbo-prop aircraft with Air America, the famous “Ghost Airline.”