HARLEY P. HOLDEN

Sergeant | Medical Corps

 

Harley Paul, born April 15, 1931, grew up on a small farm in rural Cowee, North Carolina.  He was the youngest of two brothers and three sisters born to Rev. Norman and Martha Jane.  His older brothers, Coburn and Gardner, nearly 20 years his seniors, both served in WWII.  Harley no doubt handled a majority of work on the farm while both brothers were away.  After the war in Korea broke out, Harley had his chance to serve when he was drafted on August 23, 1951.

 

Before assignment in Korea, Harley completed the 33 day medical aidman course in Japan.  He began his combat service on May 1, 1952 with Medical Company, 14th Infantry Regiment near the Mundung-ni valley.  The war had entered a stalemate and fighting on the front was limited to stagnant positions in bunkers and trenches with occasional skirmishes, regular artillery bombardments, and routine patrols.  

 

Over the next several weeks, Harley assimilated to the grim conditions.  By the end of July he made Corporal and the turn of the new year, he received Sergeant stripes after returning from R&R in Japan.

 

As a medic attached to a front line infantry company, Holden's responsibilities could range from treating trench foot to dashing across the ridge line at the sound of someone calling for aid.  It was not unusual for medics in Korea to assume the complete look of a regular infantryman.  The attitude of the enemy was similar to that of the Japanese during WWII.  They simply didn't recognize medical personnel as non-combatants.  If the medics didn't conceal what their occupation really was, they may actually be targeted rather than spared.  In addition to all of their first aid supplies and gear, many medics also carried a rifle or carbine despite the rules of the Geneva convention.

 

Harley spent the next year in the Korean hills, dodging bullets and shrapnel after jumping out of foxholes and trenches in the midst of havoc when everyone else had to keep their heads down.  I can only imagine how often he braved the pandemonium to respond to the call of "Medic!" to save another wounded soldier.

    EXHAUSTING & DIRTY WORK - THE RCM COLLECTION

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