Robert Burr of Delaware is an 87-year-old Korean War veteran who saw battle on both Bloody Ridge and Heartbreak Ridge.

Just before joining the U.S. Army in 1951, Burr was quarreling with his girlfriend and didn't like his job, he said. He had intended to join the U.S. Air Force, he said, but the recruiting officer told him the Air Force's quota had been met.

"But if I joined the Army, I could get training in any specialty I wanted," he recalled the officer telling him. "I foolishly believed him."

Burr took infantry basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, before being sent to Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division, 38th Infantry Regiment.

He was a gunner on the 57mm recoilless rifle -- a 45-pound, 5-foot-long gun that shot 6-pound projectiles.

"When you fired it, you had better be ready to run, as everyone would direct their fire on your position," Burr said.

He volunteered for the front lines as a way to score points, he said.

"If you were front line, you got 4 points per month," Burr said. "And it took 36 points to rotate out and go home."

Burr was involved in two fierce battles in 1951 -- Bloody Ridge, where he became a squad leader after his leader was wounded, and Heartbreak Ridge, where he was wounded in October.

Many of his comrades had fallen, and only a handful remained when a mortar shell landed behind him, showering him with shrapnel.

Burr returned to Fort Knox and was assigned as a field first sergeant in a training company. He continued serving in the Army as an infantry-tactics instructor, training young soldiers, until 1954. He retired as a master sergeant.

His decorations include the Combat Infantry Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Medal, the Good Conduct Ribbon and the Purple Heart.

Burr was born in Clinton Township in Columbus and lived there until he was 14. He then moved to Pataskala and graduated from Pataskala High School in 1950 and went on to attend Bliss Business College in Columbus.

By the way, after his military career, he married the girl with whom he was quarreling and returned to the job he didn't like, retiring there after 34 years.

His wife died, and he later married Barbara. He has three children, two of whom have died.

Burr returned to Korea in September 2001 on the week of 9/11. His stay lasted longer than intended because no one was permitted to fly out, he said.

shummel@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNews

Marching Orders playlist