During the Korean War, Leroy Chamberlain served up chow for his fellow soldiers.
|Honor Flight recipient Leroy Chamberlain is seen in his home in Bowling Green, Ohio on May 24, 2013. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
On Wednesday, his country returned the favor and served him.
Chamberlain, Bowling Green, was among 71 veterans of World War II and Korea flown to Washington, D.C., as part of the second Honor Flight Northwest Ohio trip of the 2013 season.
"It's great," he said. "I think anybody that has a chance to go should go."
Originally from Rudolph, Chamberlain entered the United States Army in February of 1952 and was stationed in Seoul, part of the Headquarters Company of the 8th Army.
"Talk to most guys, I had it made," he said. "I was a cook."
Among his first assignments was to set up a mess hall to feed hungry ambulance drivers as they worked during a mission to bring back wounded soldiers. He later worked for a month in the senior officers' mess.
"When I came back from Panmunjom, I went to the bunker area and made coffee in the morning and afternoon for people that worked there, for coffee breaks."
His service in Korea totaled about 14 months.
"Couldn't have been soon enough, but then it was time to come home."
The trip to Korea and back by boat took a total of one month - two weeks each way.
"That's my Caribbean cruise," he joked.
"As the old saying goes, I wouldn't take a million dollars for the memories, but I wouldn't take a nickle for another shot at it."
After returning to the United States, Chamberlain worked for what is now Mid-Wood for 41 years, and moved to Bowling Green in 1999.
Reflecting on the United States' current difficult relations with North Korea, which was created as a part of the armistice which ended hostilities in the conflict, he said "we didn't do a good enough job, I don't think, the way they're acting now, 50 years later."
Honor Flight left Wednesday morning from the Grand Aire Hangar, Swanton.
"They treat you like kings, coming and going," Chamberlain said. "My hands wore out from shaking hands all (day), and even walking around the Mall in D.C., everybody wanted to shake your hands."
Chamberlain and the other veterans saw the numerous war memorials in the city, including the World War II Memorial and the Korean War Memorial - which features statues representing a platoon of soldiers in ponchos marching through rugged terrain.
"I thought it was great," he said of the monument.
"The best part for me was when we got back to Toledo, coming back through the people. Why, my 6-year-old grandson run and jumped on my lap."