Korean War veteran surprised to learn his friend lived through the war

8:11 PM, Nov 24, 2013   |    comments
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PERU, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A few weeks ago, we introduced you to Glen Tompkins. Tompkins is one of more than 11,000 living Maine veterans of the Korean War. When the story aired on Veterans Day, another Maine vet recognized him from combat. Turns out the two haven't seen each other since a deadly firefight in 1951.

At Age 82, Glen Tompkins still runs his woodworking business in the small town of Peru. Tompkins was a radio operator in the Army's 7th Div. Landed in the invasion at Inchon. Tompkins says that division fought its way up North Korea almost to China when a bad firefight nearly took his life.

"I had a bullet went in right there. Just about my belt line, and came out there. And the graves registration picked me up, because they had put so much morphine into me the grave registration picked me up for dead and as the they were carrying me across the Yellow River I jumped off the stretcher," says Tompkins. "That's what the story I got."

A Medic in the Army's 2nd Div. says he was overseeing Tompkins' outfit that day. Don Chadbourne of Wells was Tompkins' friend as well, and recalls carrying his body after he'd been shot.

"We got him across the river and thought he was dead," says Chadbourne. "Took him to graves registration."

All these years, Chadbourne believed Tompkins had died that day. It wasn't until he saw him in a WCSH-6 story, Veterans day... All that changed.

"I'm just sitting there watching the news. They're interviewing this guy and showing the parades," says Chadbourne. "I'm just watching it blank-like and all of a sudden they start telling his story of what happened to him over there, my ears perked up."

He told his wife Darlene what had happened and so she commented to the story online. Tompkins granddaughter replied and the two arranged for a surprise reunion.

"Expression of relief and gratitude after he saw you on that television show on Veterans Day," says Darlene. "He couldn't stop the tears telling me about it because he was so relieved that you were alive."

Tompkins at his wood shop had no idea who had arrived.

"I figured you wanted to look at some furniture or something," says Tompkins. "I didn't recognize him until he said something about an old Model A Ford driving from Seattle Washington to Maine and then I knew exactly who it was," says Tompkins.

"I knew you would," says Chadbourne. "I knew you would."

Tompkins says he's been looking for Chadbourne in the town he remembers he'd enlisted, Sanford. Turns out Chadbourne did enlist there but walked from the next town over through a blizzard in order to sign-up.

"Well, the next time I'm in Wells you're going to get a visitor," says Tompkins. "If you ever see a white mustang convertible in your driveway, go hide."

Chadbourne says, "I'll see if I can lock the door before you get there."

Reminiscing like old friends as if not a day has gone by.

Tompkins says, "Harold and I had taken and old Model A Ford..."

Chadbourne says, "No, not Harold, me! Me, Don!"

"Yuht, yuht," says Tompkins. "I headed from Seattle, Wa. Home in a Model A Ford through the Rocky Mountains and broke down in Butte, Montana and sold it for 10 dollars."

Chadbourne says, "Did you? Well, where's my 10 dollars?"

Although Chadbourne believed Tompkins was dead, Tompkins on the other hand had searched for Chadbourne in Sanford. Turns out Chandbourne resides in Wells but signed on to the Army in Sanford.

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