Serving in the Korean War as a Senior U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, George Bible, of Conway, saw much of the war through the eyes of the injured and hurting.
But one bright spot in his service that he enjoys talking about was falling in love with his wife, Beverly.
“I had to grow up, but the best thing about the military was meeting my wife and marrying the love of my life,” he says. “She has been my 5-foot, 2-inch, eyes of blue gal for 66 years.”
Beverly traveled 3,000 miles from Grimes, Iowa, to San Diego, Calif., when she turned 18 to marry George, and the couple eventually had two children together.
A daughter, LaDonna, is still living, but George and Beverly lost an adult son who had disabilities in 2012. He was 49 years old.
There are other children, too — 20 of them. George and Beverly fostered children through many years of their marriage.
George followed the path of service not unlike other family members, although not necessarily by choice.
“I was drafted to serve in the Army on Dec. 26, 1950, and did not want to join the Army,” he says. “So, I joined the Navy. I had two uncles in the Navy, so it was kind of a family tradition.”
Boot camp was a wake-up call, and George admits he had to learn the ropes.
“Boot camp was very tiring and full of
discipline,” he says.
Primarily, George became a hospital corpsman at San Diego Balboa Naval Hospital. However, he also served aboard a ship attached to the atomic energy commission — both unique experiences.
“I was assigned to the neurosurgeon ward and took care of paraplegics and quadriplegics as an X-ray tech,” he explains. “I was in charge of hospital documentation, blood draws and IVs.”
But much time was spent on the ship headed to the Marshall Islands where atomic bombs were tested.
George doesn’t share too much about his service time (he served until December 1955) and doesn’t boast about awards and honors. And although he was happy to receive the rank of Buck Sergeant 3rd Class, he says, every other honor earned was like the one before it.
”I can’t tell you which was most important to me,” he says.
But the stories he does share, even in context of the situation, are worth a smile.
“While trying to cheer up a paraplegic 19-year-old,” George says, “I told him a funny joke without realizing he was having a stomach problem at the time, so it turned out bad for both of us!”
George had the pleasure, he says, of meeting celebrities from USO shows to include Forrest Tucker, Andy Griffith and others. He’ll tell you about the food. …
“In the Navy, the best meal was always the hot meals, and the worst was finding bugs in the cornbread,” he laughs.