‘I’ve been blessed to live a long time’: 90-year-old Indiana Navy Korean War veteran shares his story

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CULVER, Ind. – It’s important that we listen to our veterans, especially those who served in wars from decades ago. Those service members aren’t getting any younger, and their stories tell us about their bravery and their sacrifice.

At 17 years old, Charles Nix decided he wanted to represent our country.

“I enlisted in the Navy in 1948, just three years after World War II,” said Nix.

Now, nearly 91 years old, Nix is reflecting on his time in the Navy. As a young teenager during World War II, he knew he wanted to help.

“I can recall headlines like, ‘Marine’s landing on certain islands in the South Pacific.’ I remember feeling so bad for those people.” He added, “And when I would go to the movies they would have this short news reel before the movie, and it would show actual footage of some of those battles.”

He trained in San Diego before serving more than two years at Pearl Harbor. After that, he was transferred back for more training and assigned to the USS Iowa during the Korean War. Nix would remain there until his enlistment was completed. His job was to protect the carriers and other ships, while supporting the ground troops.

“Those big guns would reach over 20 miles, and they had to fire over a range,” said Nix.“Our ship did a lot of damage during the summer of 1952.”

Years later, Nix is surprised how much he remembers from the Korean War. To help, he keeps large books nearby filled with history and photos.

“I have forgotten so many names, but I could still remember certain faces,” he said.

That motivated him to write his own book about his story about the USS Iowa. He read some of it for us.

“I just started writing one day and I didn’t plan it that way, but it turns out it’s as if the ship itself is telling the story,” said Nix.

Nix’s family supported and encouraged him along the way.

“I’m so proud. It’s hard for me not to cry,” said Donna Cummings, his youngest daughter.

She hopes her father’s story inspires people to start a conversation with a veteran, so stories like his are never forgotten.

“I’m very glad he can tell his story and that other people can learn not just about the ship but become aware of the Korean War and increase their knowledge,” said Cummings.

When Nix isn’t flipping through old photos, you’ll find him visiting the local VFW, watching movies, visiting with family and friends, or believe it or not – making his own geometry or trigonometry problems to keep his mind sharp.

He’s a veteran that’s proud to share his role in history.

“I’ve been blessed to live a long time,” said Nix, “I wouldn’t trade my Navy career for anything.”

If you’re interested in getting a copy of Charles Nix’s book, you can e-mail him here: cjn126@gmail.com

The USS Iowa is now a museum at the port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California.

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