Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stories of Honor Week #19: Ray Bohn (U.S. ARMY)

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stories of Honor Week #19: Ray Bohn (U.S. ARMY)

Article excerpt

The picture hanging on the wall in Ray Bohn's room in the Missouri Veterans Home could easily be an exhibit in a Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum. It's a picture of a cross on a grave on a Korean hillside. On top of the cross, one doesn't need to look too hard to see the faint image of Bohn's face on it. To understand the picture's full significance requires context.

It was May 11, 1952. Bohn found himself on the front line in northern Korea with the 27th Regiment, Infantry Headquarters Company, also known as the Wolfhounds. The Chinese let loose with a heavy barrage of artillery at 10 a.m. Bohn found himself in a slit trench, a temporary trench dug the night before, with shells exploding all around him. Many of the trenches were collapsing, causing even more casualties.

Bohn knew he had to get across a valley to safety and he had to time it perfectly in between fire. He attempted to make his run when a hand grabbed him from behind and pulled him back. "Jimmy pulled me back, I didn't know it was him, he pulled my back and I fell back into the trench and he started running," Bohn said. "I didn't know who it was and I started cursing. I got up and I started running right after him."

Jimmy's real name was Yon Duk Man, a 17-year-old South Korean there to help the troops. "He gets down to the bottom where there's a road almost to where he would be up on the other side," Bohn said. "More shells hit him and I could see him just flying through the air. He was dead, no doubt about it."

A few days later, Bohn asked Jimmy's brother to take him to the grave. It was there that he found the cross and took a picture of it. When Bohn got the picture back, he couldn't believe his eyes. His face was on the cross. "Damn, that's my picture in there," Bohn said. "My face is in his cross. That's an omen, I'm not going to get back home."

After Bohn did go back home, he gave the picture to the Post- Dispatch. After running every test available at the time, they deemed the photo authentic and that it wasn't doctored.

Bohn was a courier, meaning he had to hand-deliver extremely important information that the United States couldn't risk putting over a wire where the enemy could listen in. Danger was a constant companion. "I had to do this travelling twice a day, early morning and late afternoon," Bohn said. "I was on the road, exposed to the enemy at times to where they could fire at us if they wanted to."

The danger was at its highest at night or during bad weather when Bohn not only had to evade the enemy, but ran the risk of not hearing a password call from the friendly troops he was approaching. "You could easily get shot by your own guys," Bohn said.

One night, Bohn went to get two Chinese soldiers taken prisoner. He was returning to headquarters with the prisoners, his supervisor a lieutenant and another G. …

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