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Veteran wounded in Korean War needs help

Veteran wounded in Korean War needs help
July 02
00:00 2015

In above photo: Dock Dodd has been trying to get VA compensation for 16 years. (Photo by Todd Luck)

VA has denied Dock Dodd money despite shrapnel in his body

Ret. Sgt. Dock C. Dodd fought in the Korean War 65 years ago. For the last 16 years, he’s been fighting for compensation from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

It can take years for some veterans to get their benefits because of the sometimes serpentine way they have to prove their current ailments stem from their time in combat. But Greensboro NABVets (National Association of Black Veterans) Commander Jamaal Muhammad said this case is unusually difficult.

Dodd, a local veteran, has paperwork placing him at Fort Lewis in Washington where soldiers were sent to be deployed to Korea. Doctors have documented not only his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but also the shrapnel still in his body from the mortar round that struck him during the war.

However, because no one can find documentation – including the Purple Heart for his war injuries – that says he was in Korea, he has been denied his benefits.

“I’ve never seen one like this,” said Muhammad.

Dodd who was born and raised in Spartanburg, SC, was drafted into the Army and served from 1950-1952 in Company D of the 24th Infantry Division. Back then the Army was segregated, so he served with black soldiers in combat. He said during his basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, white trainees would taunt him with racial epithets and start fights with him.

He was shipped off to Korea, and when he arrived his sergeant made it clear some of the soldiers who stepped off the boat wouldn’t live to get back on it. He said the thought of dying over there brought him to tears. He still volunteered to do battle on the front line so he could get some “quick rank” since soldiers in combat were promoted faster.

“I was scared, but I did my country good,” he said.

He can still vividly recall the dead bodies lying everywhere on the front lines, some of which were there for days. He said he’d never been more scared.

“That does something to you,” Dodd said. “It does something to your mind, it does something to your head, it does something to you all over. You can’t hardly stand that.”

The soldiers with him were terrified, too. During a barrage where mortar rounds were falling all around their position, one tried to run away. Dodd grabbed him and pulled him back in the foxhole. As Dodd was doing that, he was struck by a mortar. A first he didn’t even know he was hit and then saw blood running down his leg. Blood filled his shoes. A medic was called and he was brought via helicopter to a Navy ship, where he was treated. On top of his injuries, his feet were frozen and frost bitten in the Korean winter. At one point, he said, doctors almost amputated his feet, but he told them not to.

Dodd said that as he was recovering, he was given his Purple Heart, which he held in his hand. He figured he’d have a hard keeping up with it and gave it back so it could to be kept with his records. He never saw the medal again.

Dodd healed and was sent back to the frontline. He said his records must have been lost as he transferred from place to place during the war.

Now at the age of 85, Dodd still experiences pain and swelling from that old war injury and shrapnel still remains in his body. PTSD still makes recalling the war a traumatic experience for him.

He gets care from VA doctors, but cannot get VA compensation for his injuries.

The search for proof that he was in Korea has been extensive, with a congressional review and an extensive search for Dodd’s records.

At this point, Muhammad said that he’s scouring the Internet and social media hoping to find someone who served with Dodd in Korea. It’s a long shot because it’s been 65 years, but if he could find a witness that places Dodd there during the war, he said Dodd finally would receive compensation.

“I wasn’t there by myself,” Dodd said.

Anyone who served with Dock C. Dodd in Korea can contact Commander Jamaal Muhammad at nabvetsgso0077@nullyahoo.com.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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