Dr. Tom Clark had just successfully started practicing medicine and had a happy home life with his pregnant wife when he got called for active duty in 1954.
Clark, a 92-year-old army veteran and resident at Primrose Retirement Community in Newburgh, was honored Monday with other veteran residents in celebration of Veterans Day.
Clark was practicing internal medicine and hematology at the time he was called to serve.
"All physicians who had not been active in World War II we're required to obtain commissions," he said.
Clark said although he had wanted to serve in WW II, he was too young, at age 17, to join. But when it was finally his time, he was already in the middle of starting his life.
"My wife was expecting our first baby," he said. "I had to close my practice and stop everything."
Clark said he got his combat training at Fort. Sam Houston. Afterwards, he got his assignment to Korea.
"I was assigned to an evacuation hospital," he said. "We had a very active hospital regiment there."
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Clark said some physicians saw more combat than others.
"Some physicians were on the front lines and would triage the wounded," he said, "and then go back to the holding camp where they would make the decision if they could go back to duty or be sent home to the United States."
Clark said he was lucky that the truce between the two countries was signed while he was in Korea.
"I was well behind combat lines," he said. "We were never in any danger of the hospital being infiltrated."
After serving in Korea, Clark got word from his commanding officer that he was to take a command position at a dispensary with a lab for four months.
"I had to assign everyone there and then close it down," he said.
Clark said after the hospital closed down, he had the option of going back to the U.S. or getting assigned in Yokohama, Japan.
Clark put the decision up to his wife through a letter, who gave birth to their baby girl Robin a few months into his duty.
"So they came to Japan," Clark said. "She went by herself with the baby on a boat, which was very stressful."
Clark said he had a lot of unique experiences serving as a physician abroad.
"I had to deliver a lot of babies at night," he said. "And one time in Korea, they brought in a young boy who was riding his bicycle when he got hit by a jeep and had a skull fracture."
Clark said he didn't want to send the boy to any of the other local hospitals because he knew he'd die there.
"So we operated on him right then in a room that was anything but sterile," he said. "We didn't have any antibiotics except for soap and penicillin so we had to make the best of a bad situation. He came in two weeks later and was healthy."
Clark's time of active duty lasted 18 months.
"In 1956, I went back to Louisville and spent a year at the VA on staff."
Clark then went onto work at a multispeciality clinic in Evansville for 32 years, retiring in 1988.
Clark said Veterans Day gives him a feeling of satisfaction.
"I really didn't have that dramatic of a combat experience," he said. "But I had friends that were killed in WW II and this day is for them."
Barb Verley, retired Castle North Middle School music teacher spoke of the history and importance of Veterans Day to the Primrose vets and said she has noticed over the years of attending Veterans Day programs just how shy and unwanting of attention the vets are.
"They might ask the veterans to stand," she said. "Every year, I have to elbow my husband, 'get up'."
Verley said her husband's hesitation comes from him not feeling worthy enough.
"I say, 'get up on your dang feet,' " she said. "'You wore that uniform for four years.' And he'd do it again, like I know all of you would."
Verley said her husband, like many vets, don't feel they deserve the recognition on Veterans Day because they didn't serve in combat.
"I said, 'no but you worked on the fighter jets at Victorville, Georgia Air Force Base for four years," she said. "Somebody had to work on them. And it was you and your comrades."
Verley said it's not just her husband who feels or acts this way.
"Sometimes, someone will say, 'I was just a cook,' " she said, "Well, they had to eat."
Verley said every vet played an important role.
"It doesn't matter if you're a high ranking general or if you're cleaning the latrines," she said. "It has to be done."
Verley said that is why civilians are so grateful.
"If it weren't for the choices that you all made," she said, "we wouldn't be living the lives that we are today."
Veteran and Primrose resident Jim Hummel, 81, who served for six years in the Indiana National Guard and six months in active duty, said although standing up on Veterans Day for recognition doesn't make him uncomfortable, he believes that he is not deserving of the same recognition as other veterans who have seen more action, like Clark.
"I'm not on the same level as those who put themselves in harms way," he said. "I don't think I'm a first class vet like Dr. Clark who was a medicine man and served the country and saved lives."
But Hummel said Veterans Day makes him proud to be an American.
"And we should give recognition to the veterans that faced the supreme consequence," he said. "I feel fortunate that all the people, who came before me and after me, could give their lives so we could live such prosperous ones."