Chesterton Tribune

Wayne Noel saw war duty with the Navy

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 Wayne Noel graduated from high school in 1948 and, in 1949, volunteered for the United States Navy.

He volunteered for one year, but ended up serving for four years.

He was a young man who lived on his father's farm in Sullivan County, Indiana, and visualized traveling around the world on a Naval ship.

He did his basic training in San Diego where he was assigned to commissary school. From there, he was sent to Norfolk, Va. to board the U.S.S. Sicily.

The ship was loaded for a two-year world cruise, but on June 25, 1950, President Harry Truman promised aid to Korea and changed the plans for the U.S.S. Sicily.

"We loaded bombs and rockets on the aircraft carrier," he said.

The ship was always strategically positioned off the shores of Korea, so that the planes could safely return after a bombing attack. North Korea did not have a naval fleet, which gave the U.S. an advantage.

He recalled the planes being catapulted into the air from the carrier.

"It would be dead still, and then, like a shot out of a gun, they'd take off," he said.

Although the planes were flown by Marines, he did have occasion once to be catapulted into the air. When his father died, he was granted an emergency discharge to get home for the funeral He was flown off the ship in one of the defense planes.

Noel's job was to serve as the cook, baker, butcher and Jack of the Dust. As Jack of the Dust, it was his job to order supplies for the kitchen.

Life on the ship was pretty good duty. As he looked through a yearbook with photos of life on the U.S.S. Sicily, he could point to roast turkeys the galley crew prepared, sheet cakes and pies.

"We baked 100 loaves of bread a day," he said, adding that they had machines to slice them. There were approximately 1,200 men in the squadron. Four cooks took care of cooking. They did have help with preparation, he said.

"It was good food," he said. They carried enough supplies for six to seven months.

One photo shows the sailors getting an autograph from Jane Russell, a Hollywood pin-up of the times.

While his ship was fortunate not to be in the thick of battle, he did help with the evacuation of Inchon.

"They wanted me to go in the landing party with a 45 (caliber weapon), but I refused. I didn't care if they put me in the brig. I demanded an M-1. They gave me one and I went in," Noel said.

The rescue was successful, however, it was not bloodless. He had to use the weapon.

"It was either them or me," he said.

Most of the casualties were Koreans, he added.

"Everyone had their battle stations," he continued. The ship was armed with pom pom guns and 40 mm cannons, he said. Some 16 cannons protected the ship.

"We were called the Black Sheep Squadron," he explained.

When he returned to Indiana, he went to Indiana State University where he graduated with a degree in Industrial Arts and Social Studies Education. His teaching career lasted for 26 years. He taught in what is now called Kankakee Valley, but 19 years of his career was in Merrillville schools.

In 1955, he married Marjorie, his neighbor from Shelborn, Ind.

"Their farm was next to ours," he said. When he would come home to visit, he would also visit Marjorie. And as fate would have it, she moved to Hammond and got a job working in an office in the steel mills.

The two courted, married, and in 1959, moved to Chesterton where they raised their family. They have two daughters.

When asked if he helps cooking at home, he at first denied it. But Marjorie proudly said he helped her through the years.

"He got home from work first and would start the dinner. He really is a better cook than me," she said as she gave him a bear hug.

Noel said if he had had the opportunity, he would have liked to have served the Navy in a submarine.

"I do regret that I didn't get to do that," he said.

He is an active member of the American Legion Post 170 in Chesterton, and he said he has kept in touch with some of his squadron. Without question, he will take the time to remember his fellow Veterans on their Day. A day that men who have served their country, truly deserve to be remembered.


Korea not forgotten



Many have called Korea The Forgotten War.

Actually, it was never declared a war. It was called a conflict and, later, a police action.

The conflict was about separating Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) from the Republic of Korea (South Korea) at the 38th Parallel, a 200-mile border.

Harry Truman was in the White House.

The North Koreans crossed the parallel on June 25, 1950 to invade South Korea. As tracked by the government, U.S. battle casualties reported during the three year conflict were comparable to Viet Nam. A Cease-fire agreement was signed on July 27, 1953.

Nevertheless, the U.S. Military has been stationed in South Korea ever since.

Many local residents served in Korea including two men profiled in today's Tribune. They were young men, both of whom enlisted to serve their country. Their stories differ, but their cause was the same.

The Korean Conflict was 50 years ago. With Veteran's Day approaching, when asked, they shared their stories with the Chesterton Tribune.