First Lieutenant | Field Artillery

After six agonizing hours and seven pints worth of blood transfusions, Sam Hoover finally reached a hospital after being evacuated from Obong-ni Ridge on August 6, 1950.  He was tearing down the fire direction center of B Battery, 13th Field Artillery when they were overrun by North Korean forces that had plowed through the 34th Infantry’s front lines around 0930 that morning, leaving the gunners to defend their pieces at close range.  The gunners were ordered to withdraw, but when Sergeant First Class James D. Andrews was hit, Hoover refused and dashed into the fray to help him.  He was struck with fragments from a mortar that tore through the flesh above his left armpit, lodging into his humerus and severing a major artery along with vital nerves.  He hardly felt the other shards of metal embedded in his leg, hip, side, face and deep in his shoulder.

Marvin Koppelman is credited with saving Hoover’s life along with many others, including Sergeant Andrews.  Marvin found an unattended ambulance and commandeered it to load wounded men and evacuate them from the mayhem.  Sam may have bled out on that ridge had it not been for Marvin, and Andrews may have died at the hands of the Koreans as well had it not been for Hoover.

A week later, gangrene had set in.  Though he was fortunate to make it off the hill alive, Sam’s hand was dying even though the doctors had repaired his brachial artery and after a week in the hospital they had to amputate his arm below the elbow.  After about one month of combat in Korea, he was flown home where he would see months of operations and rehabilitation with a prosthetic arm. Despite his tragic situation, the young lieutenant was lucky to have survived and in his own words, "An arm was a good trade for the life of a fellow soldier."


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