NEWELL – Coming down out of the Chosin Reservoir region in December 1950, Marine Corps Pfc. Tom Powers and his cohorts in George Company were set upon by thousands of Chinese soldiers who were using North Korean civilians as human shields.
Powers, 83, of Newell, shot one enemy soldier in the face and, after using up all his ammunition, choked another with his bare hands.
That man’s face, especially the image of his bulging eyes, accompanied Powers almost nightly for more than 60 years – until he followed the advice of a therapist at the Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Calcutta.
“I’d see him at night. I’d see him not only in my dreams; I’d wake up and I’d see him in the air,” Powers said. “I couldn’t get him out of my head. (The therapist) told me that I should start to talk to him and make friends with him. And I did, and he went away.”
Powers still has nightmares about his combat experiences in the Korean War – as well as other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder – but not nearly as frequently as he used to. “Now, it’s once every couple of months,” he said. “So many veterans used to come back from wars and had problems and never talked about them. The VA says, ‘Talk about it.’ ”
Powers is less reticent than he used to be. Because of his willingness to share his stories, he was featured in a 2010 book about George Company and interviewed for a TV special that is scheduled to air at 10 p.m. March 31.
“Bloody George at the Chosin Reservoir,” episode five of the six-part series “Against the Odds,” will air on the American Heroes Channel next Monday. Formerly the Military Channel, the American Heroes Channel debuted on March 3 and is available on some DirecTV and Dish Network packages.
A camera crew from the 43 Films production company interviewed Powers for the special at his Newell home in April 2013…