Korean War veteran Doug Hussey

Korean War veteran Doug Hussey looks at a composite photo of his Lackland Air Force Base training class at his Ida Grove, Iowa, home. Hussey served in the Air Force as a flight mechanic on board a B-26 bomber.

IDA GROVE, Iowa | Doug Hussey's military career began long before he knew it.

"I was a student at Storm Lake High School and I got a job at the Storm Lake airport," said Hussey. "Instead of getting paid to work there, I took it out in flying lessons."

Hussey became a pilot around 1949, likely one of the youngest men in Iowa at the time to be flying. Naturally, he sought out the U.S. Air Force about the time he was going to be drafted for military service, just one year after graduating from high school on May 1951.

He married Marjorie Wilson, a native of Schaller, Iowa, on Feb. 1, 1952. He and buddy Harold Redenbaugh joined the Air Force five months later. They soon headed to an Air Force mechanics' school in Oklahoma where Hussey was assigned to serve as a flight mechanic on the B-26 Douglas aircraft.

"I had to learn all I could about that plane," he said.

Hussey eventually had a choice: Serve for two years in Paris, or serve a shorter stint in Korea.

"Like many young people, I was excited about war," he said. "So, Harold and I volunteered to go to Korea."

The pair boarded an old troop transport ship in San Francisco and headed toward Japan, making it there on May 1, 1953. After a three-day wait, Hussey flew to a base at Seoul.

"I served as a flight mechanic on a B-26 that flew north out of Seoul," he said. "My plane's bombay had been converted to seats, allowing us to carry an additional 10 persons as all the guns and armaments were taken out."

Hussey's plane would fly north into North Korea and drop what amounted to its cargo: Ten South Korean men, dressed as civilians, who landed in North Korea and went to work infiltrating, supposedly.

"We usually dropped them low," said Hussey, noting how every mission was done after midnight. Some flights attracted small enemy fire from the ground. Never did the plane limp back to base.

"From the base, we could hear the larger guns, kind of like a thunderstorm coming from the 38th Parallel," he said. "The North Koreans did bomb us and we had to flee to our bomb shelter, sometimes three or four times in a night."

Hussey didn't sleep in the barracks, as there wasn't room. Instead, he stayed in a 10-man tent set up near the runway. On his first night there, he recalled, the concussion from a North Korean bomb nearly blew him over as he tied his boots in preparation for a dash to the bomb shelter.

When the war ended, Hussey was sent to Bowling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., where Marjorie joined him. He was promoted to Airman First Class by the time of his discharge on June 5, 1956. All told, he served four years.

The Husseys had four children and raised them in Ida Grove and Omaha, where Doug worked in various jobs, ranging from the manager of the airport in Ida Grove to a pilot to a member of the Teamsters. For years, he instructed young pilots.

"I worked for Sky Harbor and then the Commodore Corporation in Omaha, flying a twin-engine Cessna to 18 plants located throughout the U.S. and into Canada," he said. "I quit that job to be closer to home."

The Husseys moved back to Ida Grove in 1990, after having lived in the Ida County seat from 1960-67 the first time around. Doug is retired from the Teamsters, while Marjorie retired after a long career working for K-Mart. They will celebrate their 65th anniversary on Feb. 1, 2017.

"I learned a lot in the military, especially at mechanics' school," Hussey said. "On the war itself, I'm not sure what to tell you, other than this: We sure did a lot of flying."

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