Today marks 60 years since the truce that ended the Korean War.
For Spring, who served in the U.S. Army on the frontlines when he was 18, the memories of the war and truce remain clear today. The Grand Haven resident said everything stopped and changed once the truce began.
“It was just like somebody had turned the lights on and the water off,” he said.
Spring, now 80, went to the Korean peninsula on Jan. 1, 1953. He stayed until September 1953.
Throughout his seven months on the frontlines, army life consisted of sleeping during the day and fighting at night. Spring said the enemy was positioned just 1,000 to 1,500 yards away.
“We just fought,” he said.
Fruitport resident Gary Byl was in Korea just one month after fighting broke out in June 1950.
Byl, now 83, served as a forward observer for a U.S. Marine Corps mortar company. He called in heavy mortars to protect areas from enemy advances.
Throughout his five months in the war zone, temperatures often dipped below freezing.
“It wasn’t very pleasant,” he said.
Byl’s battle service ended after he was hit with a mortar shell blast that killed others in his unit. Byl wasn’t hit with large chunks of shrapnel.
“That’s what saved my life,” he said.
After the truce was signed in the morning of July 27, 1953, Spring said they had been warned that the hours leading up to the time the truce went into effect could be dangerous, as the enemy would use up the rest of its ammunition. Throughout the next 12 hours, North Korean soldiers unleashed cannons and machine guns.
To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.