American Legion Post 93 in Buchanan will hold the annual Memorial Day observance on Monday, May 31 at 11 a.m. at Fairview/Mountain View Cemetery. The guest speaker will be Korean War veteran and author Robert “Bob” VandeLinde.
Bob VandeLinde was born on December 20, 1929, in Hamlin, W.Va., and graduated from Hamlin High School in 1947 where he participated in baseball, basketball, football and boxing. At the age of 17, VandeLinde entered Marshall College where he made the varsity football team that played in the 1947 Tangerine Bowl.
He then enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1948 and took his basic training under the famed 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C. He was awarded his Airborne and Glider Wings on April 1, 1949, at Fort Benning, Ga., and was then assigned to Company K, 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Fort Campbell, Ky.
SFC VandeLinde’s regiment landed in Korea on September 25, 1950, three months after the start of the Korean War. While behind enemy lines, VandeLinde made two combat jumps. The first jump was north of Pyongyang at Sukchon and Sunchon and their mission included recapturing American prisoners while engaging 6,000 enemy troops. VandeLinde was wounded on October 22, 1950, while serving with Company K, 3d Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, near Sukchon, Korea, while leading an eight-man forward outpost and protecting his company from a surprise attack.
Some 60 years later, his actions on that night were recognized when VandeLinde was awarded the prestigious Silver Star in a July 22, 2011 ceremony at the National D-Day Memorial.
VandeLinde made his second combat jump on March 23, 1951, at Munsan-ni, approximately 20 miles from Seoul. His company fought in many other battles including Bloody Inji, Hill 342-Wonju, and Punggi Pass, and he was wounded on two other occasions.
VandeLinde is the recipient of many awards, including the Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge, Korean Presidential Citation, Navy/Marine Citation, Korean Service Medal with four combat stars and one arrow head; Korean War Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Army of Occupation Medal.
VandeLinde is the author of three books on the military. The first, “A Tribute to Lincoln County Veterans,” covers Lincoln County veterans from the Civil War to the Vietnam War, and the proceeds from the sale of this book were donated to assist Lincoln County band students. The second book, “RESPECT: Forgotten Heroes,” features the stories and experiences of 40 individual veterans. The third book, “KOREA: Why Were We There? What Were We Fighting For?” was partly autobiographical and written to help people realize the sacrifices that service members made.
VandeLinde was declared “Warrior of the Day” by the Wounded Warriors organization on August 12, 2011. The next day, 59 years after he last donned a parachute during the Korean War, he was a guest of the Wounded Warriors and jumped out of an airplane in tandem with a U.S. Navy seal.
VandeLinde, who now lives in Bedford, enjoys speaking to service clubs, VFWs, American Legions schools and other gatherings about patriotism, military history and personal experiences.