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Veterans day heroes: Elyria veteran finds peace with relics of war (with video)


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ELYRIA — Though he calls it his “War Room,” it is one of the only places Korean War veteran Phil Hahn finds peace.


As America celebrates Veterans Day today, Hahn has found his own way of coping with the memories of war while at the same time honoring his military experience and the experiences of other veterans.


“Mentally, I’m still in the Corps,” the 83-year-old Elyrian said. “I don’t get it out of my head; I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.”


Even now, 64 years after a 19-year-old Hahn was inspired to join the Marine Corps, he feels a looming sense of nervousness — a sometimes debilitating, uncomfortable feeling in the back of his head.


“It is hard to get over this,” he said.


Tucked in the basement of his Augusta Drive home, the relics of both his and the military’s past bring him comfort — a temporary cure for his anxiety.


Hahn seemed to relax after sitting in the red recliner in his War Room.


At the entrance to the room, Hahn’s original dress blues — sent to his mother before he landed in Korea — rest on a mannequin near the sea bag he carried. Right next to it is a decommissioned M20 bazooka with a replica of its 8 pound rocket.


These are Hahn’s past.


Rather than bury his memories — the Chinese officer charging at him as he tried to fire his frozen carbine, the back-breaking weight and frightening combustibility of the M2-2 flamethrower he carried, the fighting over food rations in the bitter cold of the Chosin Reservoir, the burning of the white phosphorous mortar round which took him out of the fighting — Hahn has embraced them and created a personal monument to both the horrors and triumphs he experienced.


“I’ve got to keep a history of it,” Hahn said of the engagement often referred to as “The Forgotten War.” “I feel like I went through hell.”


Pictures from his stint in the military cover his walls, chronicling both the good and the bad.


On one side, a fresh-faced Hahn stands beside his friend William Baugh. On the other, a document recounts Baugh’s death. Private First Class Baugh threw himself on a grenade to save his squad during the Chosin Reservoir Campaign, a roughly 20-day battle in sub-zero temperatures that ended with nearly 10,000 U.S. casualties. He would receive the Medal of Honor posthumously.


A white phosphorous mortar round exploded near Hahn in the same battle, burning his ears and hands and igniting his winter parka. Surrounded by an estimated 100,000 Chinese soldiers, roughly 30,000 United Nations soldiers fought their way out of the reservoir and Hahn would become one of the “Chosin Few,” the nickname for the survivors of the attack.


“We were told we weren’t going to get out,” he said. “I walked out of the mountains on my feet.


“I was one of the lucky ones,” he said.


Every picture, every item in his War Room has a story.


“They would not let us shave,” he said of a picture showing Hahn with a beard, taken in Chosin. Temperatures were estimated to be 30-40 degrees below zero.


“That bazooka, it was sent through the mail,” he said. A hole was cut in it and it was welded to be inoperable, he added. He even has the letter his parents received notify them of his injuries on Nov. 20. It states little more than that he was injured, not even saying how extensive or serious the wounds were.


Not all of the items in Hahn’s basement are part of his life story. A number of artifacts honor Medal of Honor receipients and men and women from all branches. He has been collecting since he was honorably discharged in 1952 and spends a lot of his time at military conventions, searching for the next addition to his collection.

“This is my life, besides my wife and kids,” he said.


In his basement, Hahn feels he gets the recognition few soldiers have received since World War II. For Hahn, the heroic receptions for the return of soldiers disappeared as combat switched from frontlines of World War II to the guerilla warfare fought since.


“A lot of this is my feeling, ‘we didn’t get it before, but it is here now,’” he said, looking around his room. “It means something to me.”


Hahn defended veterans coming home, saying the soldiers should never be blamed for the wars they fight.


“I just don’t think anyone appreciates the veterans like they should,” he said.


When Hahn returned from Korea, there was no reception, no welcoming. He’d marry a nurse, Catherine, and the couple would have four children. Hahn spent 25 years as a city of Elyria firefighter before working part time for 14 years driving the Lorain County Veterans Van, which took veterans to area hospitals.


Hahn credits his wife as giving him strength and comfort and praises her understanding of Hahn’s need to collect military items.


“I’m very proud of him, he has earned everything he has down there,” she said.


Whether it is the Marine Corp flag that Hahn fought to hang in front of his condominium or the red H2 Hummer that shows his name and rank and broadcasts the Marine Corps anthem, Hahn continues to embrace his history.

“I’m still in the Corps,” he said. “I’ve never left it.”


video of story at the link posted above!





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"I’m still in the Corps,” he said. “I’ve never left it.” Once a Marine always a Marine. My dad is the same way. Great article.





GOD Bless Texas And All That Serve Her

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