JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — A Tri-Cities veteran of the Korean War has just returned from the trip of a lifetime. 88-year-old Carl Snyder visited the Korean War Memorial in Washington D.C. for the first time.
Snyder was among the group of veterans who made the trip with Honor Flight Appalachian Highlands.
For Snyder, it was the latest chapter in a remarkable life that began with a love and respect for the United States military.
“My uncles were in World War II,” he said. “As a kid, I had airplanes hanging in my bedroom.”
Unsurprising, he was drawn to the United States Air Force and enlisted when he turned 18. In 1951, Snyder was sent to Japan to support U.S. troops on the ground in Korea.
“When I was there, I was working on the flight line,” he said. “All of a sudden, got the call and had to go to Korea.”
Snyder was a jet mechanic and repaired planes being used in the war.
“We would have contests pulling engines out of the F-86s, and we lost several times. But that’s a rough job, pulling an engine and putting one back in.”
Tough as it was, Snyder is quick to point out that the hardest job by far was done by the soldiers on the battleground.
“They were on the ground, they got there first and we never knew about it until later on,” he said.
“I wasn’t up on the front likes like some of these guys were. But it’s still a war.”
After almost seven months in Japan, Snyder had plans to go on leave and return home to see family. The Air Force had other plans.
“The commander said, ‘You’re going back where you came from,'” Snyder recalled.
Eight months later, his term of service was complete. Snyder left the military and came home to a country that didn’t understand what he had experienced.
“Most people do not know about the Korean War,” he said. “It was a war. You’re being shot at, and you gotta save your life. It’s a war.”
Even at 88, Snyder still works every day as an electrician. He’s proud of his service to his country, and he’s proud of his time in Korea.
“I’m thankful for my service, my fellow veterans, and the ones who are serving now,” he said. “Honor, country, and my God. That’s what makes a veteran.”
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