This was the conversation I had with 84 year old Joseph Polifronio at
the South Hackensack VFW Christmas party at
Dolce Novita Restaurant 107 Moonachie Road, Moonachie, New Jersey
on December 3, 2014 where he told me of his
experience while in combat during the Korean War.

“I was drafted into the service in 1951 I was 21 years old". I asked what branch of service and he said, "I was in the Marines I became a Marine. Once a Marine always a Marine, you develop a special bond. The Marines needed to make a quota and out of 300 men they picked 25 of us to be Marines and I was one of them. I had signed up to be in the Army artillery, but when they put me in the Marines I became a machine gunner". I asked Joseph Polifronio if he had been in combat and he replied, “Oh yes I was on Bunker Hill and was shot in the chest and the bullet came out my back by a sniper". I asked him if he remembered what happened on that day assuming he was not conscious after getting hit in the chest by gun fire and exiting ones back but to my surprise he responded, “I remember it like it was yesterday. We were on this hill and we were getting ready to try in break through to get out of there as we were getting surrounded. We were in Bunkers with four guys in each, a gunner, I was a gunner I fired the machine gun then there was the assistant who oiled and maintained the gun and then two ammunition runners. The assistant gunner had to oil this one spot by going outside the bunker and this one day he just started shaking and was so undone he said he just couldn’t do it he just couldn’t go out there that day so I said I would go. So I go out and oil the spot and as I turn a shot goes off and I feel as though I am being pushed back but I have no pain. A Corpsmen known as a medic in the Army saw what happened and screams ‘he’s been hit!’ They got me into the bunker and the sergeant says we got to get him out of here and to a hospital and the medic responds he will never make it. They had to get me to the helicopter which was about a hundred yards away and the sergeant asked for 4 volunteers to carry me to the copter. I was still conscious and did not feel any pain. They got me on the helicopter",  I then asked if they got shot at as they brought him to the copter and he said, “Oh yes, all hell broke lose our guys shot everywhere they told me they had gotten the guy who hit me. We made it to the helicopter and I was awake the whole time. They took me to a Mash Unit field hospital, I was still awake getting weaker though once they started operation I was unconscious. I was operated on in the Mash Unit and they cut open my whole right side where they patched me up as best as they could. The bullet past through my lung my liver and my spleen, they saved my life. While I was in the hospital, the guy I had gone out to oil the gun for came and
he just could not stop apologizing, he was so upset. He was so glad I made it.

          The Marine Corp then brought me state side where I went through several operations.
I was medically discharged as a Corporal in 1953. I had been in combat for
about 4½ months. 
I used the GI Bill to go to Engraving school in Hoboken and
I started my own business which my son continues to this day.
My wife who has past away and I have four wonderful children".

One thing Joseph Polifronio who received the Purple Heart for this incident said was
how grateful the South Korean people are even to this day for the
American GI’s who fought for their freedom during the Korean War.

I would like to add our thanks for your and the other fellow GI’s service.

Written By:
Bob Meli
December 4, 2014