The first major Cold War conflict lived up to its name.
Anyone who served during the Korean War, has talked with veterans or watched old newsreel footage, knows there was a silent, relentless adversary in addition to the enemy – the bone-chilling, frigid temperatures on the Korean peninsula.
Christy “Chris” Bellina, who recently returned from his Honor Flight Chicago “Day of Honor” trip to Washington, D.C., dealt with the effects of that adversary first-hand.
An Army corporal from November 1951 to November 1953, Chris served as an infantry and field medic at Brook Medical Center in San Antonio, TX. He treated incoming casualties from Korea – and many of those were frostbite cases.
Chris considers himself blessed on many fronts and is grateful for much, which may be a result of starting out with so little.
“Being born in the Depression,” he said, “our family was very poor … often my dad could not pay the $1.00 a month tuition. As a result, the nuns knew our problem and when I was in the 7th and 8th grade, they got me a job as a janitor sweeping the classrooms for $1.00 a night. True story! Being a janitor is not bad.”
Chris appreciated his Day of Honor in Washington, from the “many volunteers who could not do enough for us” to Honor Flight Chicago Co-Founder, CEO, and “Janitor” Mary Pettinato. “You will never know the joy you have brought to so many thankful vets,” Chris said. “God bless you, your family and all who helped make it the success it was. Thank you, thank you.”
The strong feelings Chris has about the Day of Honor experience probably help explain his blunt message to other veterans with a chance to make this trip:
“It would be one of the dumbest things you could do (to say no) and you would miss out on one of the greatest days of your life.”
Besides being full of gratitude, Chris has remained true to his roots. To Honor Flight Chicago he said, “If in need of a janitor, please call.”