SUTHERLIN – “I wanted to see the world. And I was young and foolish!”
While recently recalling his days in military service, Bud Faria explained why he enlisted after graduating from high school in Hayward, California. He joined the Army several months after his 1950 graduation despite the escalation of the Korean Conflict, or as many who were actively involved would say, the Korean War.
Faria, now a 90-year-old resident of Sutherlin, spent a year in combat zones in South Korea after his processing at Fort Ord, California, his basic training at Camp Roberts, California, and his machine gun schooling at Fort Bliss, Texas.
“It’s war when thousands are killed,” he said. “There were three times as many deaths every day as compared to the Vietnam War. Nobody knows that. It was called a police action at the time.”
According to data from the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. suffered 33,686 battle deaths, 2,830 non-battle deaths and 17,730 other deaths.
The United States never formally declared war and the operation was conducted under the guidance of the United Nations. It has been referred to as “The Forgotten War” or “The Unknown War.”
Being in combat had not been Faria’s initial desire. He had hoped to be in the submarine service. But the Navy wasn’t accepting new recruits at the time so Faria signed up with the Army. And then he believes because of his lean 5-foot, 7-inch stature that allowed him into tight places, he was assigned to machine gun duty.
During his first six months in Korea, he manned a quad 50-caliber machine gun for an anti-aircraft unit. The unit’s mission was to protect the bigger anti-aircraft guns from a ground attack.
He then spent his second six months in the seat behind a quad 50 machine gun mounted on a half-track truck. His unit was involved in ground combat.
“With the airplanes you were detached,” Faria explained of shooting his gun at the enemy. “It was different with the ground combat. I can’t say I enjoyed it too much shooting at someone.”
Faria said he has no regrets about serving in Korea.
“We were there to help liberate the South Koreans,” he said. “It worked out. I have feelings about the action part of it, but as for the purpose, I’m glad we did it.”
Following his year in Korea, Faria opted to go to Japan and work as a radio man for a radio control airplane unit rather than return to the states. He said he believes that transition time between combat and civilian life helped him to adjust to life after being a soldier.
Faria was discharged from the Army as a corporal in 1954, leaving just days before the paperwork to upgrade him to sergeant was completed.
Upon his return to the states, Faria married, drove truck for a bit and then became a constructional iron worker on high rise buildings. He likes to say he made it out of Korea in one piece, but suffered injuries in several accidents in his civilian work.
While trucking, he had a train knock the trailer off his tractor cab at a crossing. He suffered only a cut knee. In construction, a roof collapsed and he fell one story. He was unconscious for about an hour and then it took 40 stitches to close the wound on his head. Later, he suffered a 15-foot fall, breaking a wrist and suffering a back injury.
Faria retired as an iron worker in 1974 and transitioned to working in the house building industry.
In 1995, Faria and his wife Norma of 66 years retired to Sutherlin to be near a Veterans Affairs facility. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder about 40 years after his military service, but said his PTSD was not serious like it is for many other people.
In 2015, Faria was selected for a Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials on the National Mall. Norma Faria was selected to make the trip as a chaperone.
“I was really impressed,” Bud Faria said of the Korean War Veterans Memorial. “It was so realistic. I just about cried.”
On that trip while at a Washington, D.C., airport, a woman with a teenage Korean girl came up to Faria and said, “If not for you, I wouldn’t have her.”
“She made me cry,” he said, adding the short conversation emphasized to him the value of his military service.