Story of Month – May 2015

Integrity in War


Army-1Today, classrooms are filled with lessons about American military history. Still though, Korea remains the “Forgotten War.” It was 1950 when a twenty-two-year-old from Pennsylvania was called into active duty. Sergeant John Austin Touey never could foresee the reality of war. He was in Officer Training School at Fort Reilly, Kansas, when President Truman declared America’s involvement in the Korea Conflict. By November 1950, Touey was fully active in the war and soon was bestowed with the Bronze Star medal. His Bronze Star plaque read:

Sergeant John A Touey, United States Army, member of Company G, 23

Infantry distinguished himself by heroic achievement on 25 November 1950 in the vicinity of Kugang-dong, Korea. Company G had launched an assault against an enemy held hill but because of the numerical superiority of the enemy was forced to withdraw. During the withdrawal, the gunner and assistant gunner in Sergeant Touey’s machine gun squad were wounded, Sergeant Touey picked up the machine gun, moved it to an exposed position and effectively engaged the enemy. Under this cover fire, the company evacuated its casualties and effected an orderly withdraw. The heroism and devotion to duty displayed by Sergeant Touey reflects great credit upon himself and the military service.

Touey would soon land in a Prisoner of War camp, where he would remain for the next thirty-three months. Touey sacrificed his life to protect his fellow man. At night he would sneak into the kitchen for some proper food to bring back. Eventually, Touey

would escape, only to be recaptured twice. Upon his return, he was thrown into “the hole” in a basement, as friends cracked under the pressure, giving away Touey’s secrets. Touey was eventually released in August 1953 to return to Kingston, Pennsylvania, where he returned unnoticed. Touey was honored for his service by receiving a host of medals, including the Purple Heart, the highest military medal. The memories of Korea remained an active aspect of Touey’s life, he was often quoted as saying, “There are those who are lucky in battle and those who are not”. Sergeant Touey proved to be a success by serving his country in a dignified manor.

Strength is a key to success. Buried in a “hole,” beaten, and being fed horse food did not make Sergeant John Austin Touey crack. Touey remained brave for his fellow men. He showed them strength in numbers and mostly strength in integrity. Many men crack under the pressures of war, yet Touey survived 33 months in a Prisoner of War camp. Sergeant John Austin Touey is my grandfather. He taught me humility, dignity, strength, and unselfishness. He taught me to fight for others and never look down on them unless picking them up. Touey easily could have abandoned the weak of camp; instead, he carried them to safety. My grandfather fought for this nation with love and dignity, he loved America so much that he risked himself to bring health and freedom to his fellow men. Humility is a just a small word to describe the sacrifices and choices my grandfather made while defending America and its citizens.


By Sarah Touey