In a recent interview on National Public Radio’s Story Corps, Walter Dixon, a 90-year-old veteran of three wars, spoke to his son Russ Dixon about how, after a case of mistaken identity, he returned home to find that his world had moved on without him.
Walter Dixon had been married for just five days when he was shipped off to Korea for his second war deployment. About a year later, at age 22, he was declared dead. When they published his obituary in the local paper, his wife back home in Waynesville, MO., had no way of knowing that this news was premature. In reality, the enemy captured Dixon as a prisoner.
Dixon was captured while trying to aid his fellow comrades. He saw five men from his unit get hit by hostile fire. One soldier had both legs broken, so he took his field jacket off and wrapped it around his legs to hold them together. When he returned to his weapon, the Chinese forces supporting the North Koreans came up behind him.
When the bodies were later found, Dixon’s jacket, which carried letters from his wife in the pockets, was the evidence that mistakenly counted him as a deceased soldier. For the next two and a-half-years, he was held a prisoner in a North Korean camp. It was a harrowing experience.
Dixon escaped five times, but each time they caught and punished him. When the fighting ended, the Red Cross arrived at the camp and notified the prisoners of their release.
Meanwhile, because they had reported Dixon as killed in action, his wife had moved on. She remarried and had a child with another man. At that time, Dixon did not have much to say. He just wanted to find peace.
“I can’t blame her,” he said. “When she found out I was alive, the only obvious thing to do was to divorce one of us.”
Dixon and his wife would divorce but he said he could not resent her.
“Anger don’t do you any good on something like that; you can’t do nothing about it,” he says. “You just gotta handle it the best way you know how.”
Russ Dixon said he is proud of his dad, who went on to serve in Vietnam.
“I tell a lot of people about your seven Purple Hearts and all that, and I brag about it just about every day,” he told his father.
As for that local obituary writer, Dixon ended up marrying her and having three children together, including Russ.
The wisest people on earth are those who have a hard time recalling their worries and an easy time remembering their blessings.
Thomas Edison once said, “If we did all of the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves.”
The person who sincerely wants to do something finds a way; all the others find an excuse for why they cannot do something.
St. Paul talked about his own adversities in life. In Romans he says, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:33-39)
We have to make a choice in everything we do. The choices we make make us. If we keep our feet planted on solid ground and if we never give up, we will find true peace and happiness.
Posted on Fri, August 16, 2019
by The Lafourche Gazette