This undated photo shows Charles Shipman, who will join other veterans who will board one of three honor flights to Washington, D.C. (Courtesy of Charles Shipman via AP)
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Charles Shipman is photographed Monday in his home in Fremont, Neb. (Tammy Real-McKeighan / AP)
FREMONT, NEB. — A Fremont man who vividly remembers the pain of being shot in battle six decades ago will be among hundreds of Nebraska veterans of the Korean War boarding honor flights to Washington D.C. this week.
“When you get shot, it feels like you got kicked by a mule with a hot poker on its foot. You go into shock,” Charles Shipman told the Fremont Tribune.
Shipman is among 460 veterans, along with family members and volunteers, who will fly to the nation’s capital early Tuesday to visit memorials and other sights as well as share their experiences as young soldiers fighting a war half a world away. Around $500,000 was raised to charter the three planes and cover other expenses for the travelers.
Shipman said it was about 11 o’clock the night of Sept. 6, 1951, when he was wounded. His 7th Cavalry Regiment company was a couple of miles ahead of other units when the Chinese attacked in force.
“I was wounded by a Chinese burp gun that fires 800 rounds per minute,” he said, recalling the intense pain from two bullets penetrating his body, including his stomach, liver and a kidney.
Shipman fell forward to his knees with his head against the side of a hole that he and another wounded soldier occupied. They pretended to be dead as Chinese soldiers ran over them.
Two of the enemy soldiers were soon sitting in the hole, going through Shipman’s pockets, taking his cigarettes and billfold.
When the soldiers left, Shipman and the other soldier got up to find safety with their own units.
Eventually they came upon a Jeep with stretchers on it. Shipman ended up at a mobile Army surgical hospital where he spent a week before being sent to a Swedish hospital ship, then to a hospital in Japan. He spent a couple of months healing there before being flown back to the United States.
“The night I was shot and I thought I was going to die, my concern wasn’t for myself. It was for how my family was going to take my death,” he said in the text of a speech he delivered at his church a few years ago. “To me, it was at that point of nearly dying that I found out what is really important in life — my family, my friends, my country and my God. Nothing else had meaning.”