Korean War medic risks life and limb to protect fellow soldiers

Cape May, NJ

As the battle for the T-Bone Hill area began in North Korea, former Staff Sgt. Patrick “King” Sbarra, who served as a combat medic/rifleman helped a wounded soldier move to safety behind a knocked-out friendly tank, where Sbarra treated and bandaged the wound. En route back to friendly lines, enemy shells exploded close by, and Sbarra used his own body to shield the wounded soldier until they reached American lines.

There, Sbarra volunteered to lead a squad of ammo bearers back out across the valley floor to the battle area. The logistics officer had informed him that enemy forces were counterattacking Americans and had just captured Hill Eerie, part of the T-Bone Hill area.

During the trip out, Sbarra and the ammo squad made an attractive target and were under constant artillery and mortar fire. When he led the team down the slope of front lines, enemy shells rained down. He ordered the squad to lie down in a shallow path, eventually leading them into a creek bed for protection.

While leading the squad out of the creekbed, Sbarra was wounded. But because the mission was critical, he refused medical treatment and refused to be evacuated. He was wounded a second time and still forewent aid and escape.

By the time Sbarra had led his troops to the top of Hill Eerie, where they placed the ammo boxes around the circular trench that had been held by enemy forces just an hour before, he heard an enemy plane. He saw it drop a string of napalm bombs on American soldiers trying to reach T-Bone Hill to support in the attack - to capture and hold these two battle positions. Many of the men were on fire. Several were lying on the ground in flames and burning, and Sbarra could hear them screaming in pain from the burns.

As an enemy plane swooped over Hill Eerie to make a second attack, Sbarra swung his carbine around and fired at the plane. He could see his bullets striking the plane’s undercarriage right under the pilot’s position. It aborted its attack on the Americans and turned back northward.

Shortly afterward, three soldiers climbed the hill carrying a wounded soldier. Sbarra ran to examine him, found he was unconscious and had a sucking chest wound and administered medical treatment. All the while, enemy fire continued, bursting and throwing debris. With Albumen, which he’d used to treat the soldier, in one hand, the litter with the soldier on it in the other, he directed the soldiers down the backside of the hill and into the valley.

Exploding enemy shells followed them - so nearby that the wounded man was jolted from the litter and began to roll down the hilly ground. Sbarra, realizing the soldier’s life could be ended by the enemy or his fall, ran after him, through enemy fire. He caught up to the soldier, threw his body over him and dug his boots into the ground to stop either of them from rolling any further.

Finally, there was a lull in enemy fire, and Sbarra directed the three soldiers to bring the litter and help him carry the wounded soldier back toward American lines. He stayed with the soldier on the litter until a Jeep arrived to transport him to a hospital with surgeons.

Sbarra received orders to bring more ammo to Hill Eerie, where it was needed to defend the position during the night and for an attack the following day. He held his position there, even volunteering to stay with the lone night squad, anticipating enemy attack. A corporal would could not stay awake any longer asked Sbarra to fill in his BAR position. Sbarra agreed and dug out a hole so the corporal could sleep safely.

Sbarra saw enemy soldiers climbing the hill and fired the BAR. The corporal awoke at the sound and wielded Sbarra’s carbine. Together, they drove off the enemy.

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