Biography of Grady H. Flook
Cpl, 24th Inf Div, USA
I never had the chance to know my uncle. When he was 17yrs.old, he was caught sneaking out of a girl's bedroom window by the police. This was back in 1948. He was given the chance to either go to work camp, or enroll in the service. He chose the latter.
Grady (my uncle) loved the Army. He took to it right away. He had top grades and scores in everything he took part of. After his term was up, he re-enlisted because he enjoyed it so much. While stationed in Japan, he was offered a full scholarship to attend WestPoint Academy. He was transferred from his 24th Division of Artilliary to the 21st Division until he could be flown home to attend WestPoint. Before that happened, the war broke out. Grady had the chance to leave and be stationed with officers but he chose not to. He wanted to be with the men he had trained with so he transferred out of the 21st Division and back to the 24th. They were the first to be sent to Korea.
Cpl.Grady Flook was captured on July 5, 1950. Word was sent home to his mother, father, and brother (my father). For the remainder of the war, the family received so many conflicting stories. First he was POW, then MIA, then dead, alive, escaped, etc. back & forth throughout the whole war. The Govt. could not give my father's family any answers. G.I.'s said they were almost sure they saw him in prison camps. The North Koreans said he was dead. No one could say for sure where he was. This was hell on the family. My father's mother refused to believe he was dead. In fact, she was briefly institutionalized because of that. Days turned into months, months into years, so they just gave up.
Move ahead over 40 years. One day, my father was home watching a T.V.show on the Korean War. The show was about POW's who had been sent to Siberia to work in slave labor camps. As my father was watching this show, he saw old film footage of his brother. The footage was of men who were serving in the war. This was an absolute shock to my father. The last time he had seen his brother was over 40yrs. ago! The only thing he had was old b&w photos. But here was his brother in real film footage moving! It was very emotional for my dad. This sparked a whole new search for my father. He decided he had to find out what had happened to his only sibling. Could he have possibly been taken to Russia and used as slave labor? We knew it was next to impossible, but there was that big IF. So we started our own search. It took many months, and a lot of phone calls. My father was finally put in touch with the Tiger Survivor group. Through this group, we were put in contact with a man who not only knew Cpl.Grady Flook, but was also with him when he died.
After his capture in July of 1950, he was forced to march over 300 miles in what has come to be known as the Death March. The North Koreans had stolen his boots, all he had on his feet were the flimsy Korean shoes that did not fit. He marched all the way to the Manchurian border, in snow, with pneumonia. They did not feed my uncle. He died in November 1950 in a prison camp at the Manchurian border of pneumonia and starvation. A survivor of this camp had written the names of the dead on the inside of a toothpaste tube. Grady was only 19.
My father finally got some closure. It was not what we had wished for. I know it bothers him that his body was never recovered, but at least he has answers. It only took 40 years to get them. My father's parents are both dead. They died without ever learning the truth. This whole experience has brought me so much closer to my father. It has taught me who our real heroes are, it's not the politicians, actors, or musicians that our society admires so much. The real heroes are those who have served for and given their lives for this country. These are the ones who are worthy of our adoration.
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