August 1, 2023 - Stories
Richard Brinkley, also a Korean veteran, was a law enforcement officer and later in healthcare. He entered the Army at age 19 because as he says “I wasn’t ready for college.” Because of his high scores, he went to Officer Candidate School and became part of the 82nd Airborne. He was sent to Korea in 1968 as a Platoon Leader responsible for forward patrolling to the DMZ going out late in the afternoon to reinforce positions and the towers. He later became a Company Commander and was responsible for his sector of the DMZ.
During January 1968, 31 North Korean commandos disguised as South Korean soldiers crossed the DMZ to assassinate Korean President Park. The result was 28 North Koreans killed, one captured. There were 68 South Koreans killed and 66 wounded. Three Americans were killed and three wounded. In July of that year, North Korean soldiers ambushed one of his patrols killing one American soldier and wounding another. Richard said “One never knows when or where the North Koreans will strike.” He commented on life in the DMZ “It is manned 24/7 and nightly patrols are conducted.” During his time in Korea he lost people. He commented that he still could not speak about those losses, but said “Korea is the forgotten war.” “There is no bullet with your name on it – it only says ‘to whom it may concern’.” He said that the Korean tensions continue today.
He retired in 1971 as a Captain and went into law enforcement in San Mateo, CA. for 6 years. He earned a Masters degree in Public Administration and taught at a community college and Belmont College. He went on to become the Finance Director for Blue Cross and finished his career as the Vice President of a medical device company.
We closed our time together with his advice on service. “Service is not only in the military. It is in service to your community and to people.” He continues to serve the community today.