Korean War veteran Clyde Papakee says he received quite a surprise recently. His niece sent him a copy of the October, 2012, issue of Leatherneck - Magazine of the Marines. A photo of Clyde carrying the tripod for a machine gun up a hill in Korea in September, 1951, accompanied an article in the magazine entitled "The Last Hill."
Papakee, a Marine Corps Corporal, and fellow Corporal J.J. (Jack) Rafferty are identified by name. The photo description tells the two "took part in Operation Summit, the first helicopter vertical envelopment in a combat zone."
Papakee, 80, Meskwaki Settlement resident, says of a third Marine, unidentified in the photo, "As soon as we took the hill, he was killed."
Clyde Papakee, Meskwaki Settlement resident, holds the Oct., 2012, issue of Marine magazine Leatherneck open to a page which carries a photo of him taken in combat in Korea in 1951.
Papakee was a machine gunner. He says, "I put the tripod down and Jack put the gun on and I'm already sitting down, ready to fire."
He said a photographer always accompanied his outfit. In this case the photogpraher was U.S. Marine Korean War photographer Technical Sergeant V. Murdutt.
Papakee spent a total of 13 months, all in combat, in Korea.
Maj. Allan C. Bevilacqua, USMC (Ret) in his account of "The Last Hill" says, "Every Marine earns the sheer physical strain of hill climbing. Doing that with burning legs and gasping lungs, at the same time being the central target in a shooting gallery, is a special form of agony."
Clyde Papakee was 17-years-old when he enlisted in July, 1950.
After basic training at San Diego he was assigned to the Weapons Company 2nd Battalion 7th Marines. They were soon flown from San Francisco to Japan and then sent to Korea.
After service there he spent more years in the Marine Corps with some of the stops at Camp Pendleteon, Calif., Quantico, Va. and Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Clyde says he hasn't been aboard one of the Eastern Iowa Honor Flights for veterans to Washington D.C. but might consider it in the future. He said he does definately plan to subscribe to Leatherneck.