Local Korean War veteran tells POW tale of survival

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On the second Friday of each month, we highlight a local veteran who served our country or efforts made to help veterans.

This month we feature a Korean War veteran who survived the war and nearly three years in a North Korean prison camp.

Gene Johnson, 81, of Carlisle served in the Army in the Korean War. He also served in the Vietnam War.

He still feels the effects of frostbite on his arms and legs that he suffered while locked up in a prisoner of war camp.

He credits a medic with coming up with an idea that likely saved him and his buddy from losing any fingers or toes.

“We'd just rub one another's hands and legs and we survived,” Johnson said. “Otherwise you would have lost them. The Chinese just cut them off.”

Johnson said at one point he was down to 100 or 110 pounds. An amazing part of this is that it all happened before he turned 21.

“I was in Japan when I was 16, and the Korean War broke out I just turned 18,” he said. “I got captured after three years in there I almost came out. I was 21 years old.”

If you want to help support our vets, look for the Return the Favor feature on our web page so you can contribute to the VFW and their efforts to help veterans.

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