Reporter: Lauren Compton l Videographer: Jemon Haskins
Moneta, VA - It was a three year battle many have called "The Forgotten War." In 1950, U.S. soldiers went to protect the South Korean border from invasion by North Korea. More than 30,000 Americans soldiers died.
Bob VandeLinde, 81, from Hamlin, West Virginia fought in the Korean War. He now lives in Moneta, and has dedicated his life to making sure no other veteran is forgotten.
VandeLinde still has scars from combat in the Korean War. There's a scar under his chin from a bayonet, and there are still pieces of scrap metal in his right leg. But, the wounds that hurt the most you can't see.
"We lost 39 men from my company, and I think about them all the time," said VandeLinde with tears welling up in his eyes.
At the age of 19 VandeLinde didn't know where South Korea was when he was sent over, but he knew his duty.
"We went there to keep North Korea from taking over and turning South Korea into a communist country," said VandeLinde.
VandeLinde served as a paratrooper with the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team from 1950 to 1951.
"I never once concerned myself about getting killed or thinking I wasn't going to make it," said VandeLinde.
On the night VandeLinde was injured his bravery was put to the test. It was just him and eight other soldiers when they were ambushed by 200 enemy troops.
"I don't know how we survived the eight of us," said VandeLinde.
Even with his injuries, VandeLinde left the hospital to return to combat.
"I had to go back to my outfit," said VandeLinde.
VandeLinde returned to South Korea more than forty years later. Pictures of that visit hang on his wall.
"I take a tremendous amount of pride going back and seeing these people free, happy, and productive," said VandeLinde.
VandeLinde has several awards for his bravery in battle, including a Purple Heart, and two Presidential unit citations. But, it's his life work preserving the memories of other heroes that he values most.
"If you don't capture these stories they go to the grave, a lot of these veterans won't talk to their families," said VandeLinde.
He has written two books about veterans: A Tribute to Lincoln County Veterans and Respect: Forgotten Heroes.
VandeLinde says it's his way of giving back to the brave men who gave everything to our country.
Al the proceeds from VandeLinde's book 'Respect:Forgotten Heroes' goes to the D-Day Memorial in Bedford County.
The Blue Ridge All American 82nd Airborne Division Association named VandeLinde Paratrooper of the Half Century in 2006.
To share your hero's story with us, visit our Heroes from the Heart of Virginia page.