Indiana veteran leaves college to join Marines, later earns Purple Heart in Korean War

BROWNSBURG, Ind. -- We're honoring a true Hoosier Hero who volunteered to fight the spread of Communism in South Korea and earned the Purple Heart for his service.

At the start of the Korean War in 1950, Cecil Wilson was in college studying pre-med. However, struggles with schoolwork and a long talk with a friend sent his life in a very different direction.

"We talked for a while and I said, 'What are we going to do?' My friend said, 'Do you want to enlist in the Marine Corps?'" Wilson recalled. "So we went to Kansas City, Missouri, and enlisted in the Marines."

Wilson was deployed to North Korea doing reconnaissance on the North Koreans and the Chinese. While he was on a mission during the Battle of the Chosen Reservoir, Wilson was injured by shrapnel.

"Communist Chinese came in and it was midnight, really dark and they threw these grenades and they exploded, melting four feet of ice and snow," Wilson said. "So I played possum and just laid there in its pitch darkness. And when they quit jabbering I knew they had left."

Wilson was flown to Fukuoka Hospital in South Korea where the Secretary of the Navy awarded him his Purple Heart.

"He picked me and six other guys and took the seven of us to a different room and he made a speech, thanked us for our service and pinned our Purple Hearts on us." Wilson said.

Wilson spoke to us from his home at the American Senior Community, Brownsburg Meadows. He says he still has a great admiration for his comrades in arms and is proud of his service.

"I love the Marines," he said.

After his service, Wilson went back to college, earning a degree in accounting and finance. He served as the chief of accounting for the VA Regional hospital here in Indianapolis for 30 years.