Jim Beuter, at age 22, was drafted into the Korean War in June of 1951. At the time, he considered himself to be an “Iowa Farm Boy,” an association which led to friendships with other farming soldiers later on.
“I arrived in Korea in January of 1952 and left in May of 1953,” said Jim Beuter, Korean War Veteran. “Some of the most fierce fighting in that war occurred during that time because they knew there was going to be a peace treaty of some kind.”
Beuter was ready for the war, and his title of Forward Observer left him without a sense of fear: the title was his destiny, he described.
“Life expectancy of a Forward Observer at that time was two weeks,” Beuter said.
Today, at 88, Beuter has been accepted as one of the passengers aboard the Central Iowa Honor Flight, which embarks on a journey from Des Moines to Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Sept 12.
Beuter’s friends who were invited to attend the recognition ceremony and urged him to apply for the trip.
This year, 250 veterans will be boarding the Central Iowa Honor Flight, which will allow them to visit the World War 2, Korean War and Vietnam War memorials. Before their flight, veterans are invited to a dinner on Monday, Sept. 11, at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center at Veteran’s Memorial, according to a press release.
During the flight, medical equipment will be made accessible for veterans, and family members are asked to fly separate in order to designate more room for veterans.
Beuter is excited to meet more veterans, and will be wearing a cap with patches that detail specifics during his time.
“I hope to run into some other who were in the division during the same time I was,” Beuter said.
With only a high school education, Beuter felt well-educated due to his high school in Iowa City’s reputation of being the finest in the state during that time.
“I’ve been eternally grateful for that school because I didn’t go to college, and when I took the aptitude test to get into the service, I tried really hard and I did really well,” Beuter said.
After scoring high in math, Beuter skidded around before finding his set position, which led him to survive the war, he described.
“They assigned me to artillery because it requires a lot of math, and that’s why I got trained to be a forward observer,” Beuter said. “On my way over to Korea, they pulled me off of the pipeline and retrained me in personal and administration.”
“Because I had that high score, they trained me again, so I ended up in division headquarters back in the front lines,” Beuter said.
“That’s how I survived.”
During the war, the Forward Observer has to be quick, constantly thinking on the spot and using calculations to help out those in artillery. Oftentimes, they are positioned out in the open, resulting in the on-average two-week life expectancy of the soldier.
“You work fast and you move,” Beuter described. “You get your readings quick and get out of there because you know the enemy over there is doing the same thing to us.”
“The enemy knows you’re up there and they just pound the hell out of you.”
There is a lot Beuter remembers about the war: his continued faith which later led to a life filled with a need to volunteer and give back, friends he met whom later continued post war, as well as an unexpected hobby.
Without any prior photography experience, Beuter decided to help out a guy who previously lost all of his money to gambling, which resulted in the purchase of a camera for $30 dollars.
“I threw it in my duffle bag and it banged around the front lines for a month before I used it,” Beuter laughed.
Later, while visiting Japan, he gathered other pieces of equipment for his camera: a manual, a light meter, a flash.
“While I was up there on the front lines, I took a whole bunch of slides,” Beuter said. “I didn’t know anything about photography.”
Buter still has all of the photographs during his time, along with a set of china he purchased in Japan to court his now-wife, Loretta.
Following his year in Korea, Beuter married a week after he arrived home. Later, he would farm for a while before starting a wonderful career in sales, Beuter describes.
“I was really grateful for having survived the Korean conflict and ending up with a good career,” Beuter explained about his life following the war. “I got involved in a lot of volunteer work at church and I was involved in Perry economic development for quite a few years, and Perry’s Industries Board of Directors.”
He is the father of four children, and the grandfather to seven children.
“I was raised in a Catholic home and prayed every night,” Beuter said. “I kept my faith and that’s a big part of my life now.”
Today, Beuter sits comfortably at his dining room table, stationed in his house which sits at the entrance of Perry.
After registering for the draft at 18, Beuter was farming with his family when he received notice he would become a soldier.
When asked about his fears after being drafted in the Korean War, he explains there wasn’t any.
“I was actually looking forward to it,” Beuter said. “Loretta and I were just beginning our courtship and we kept writing.”
Loretta will be waiting for Beuter to arrive home after the Washington D.C. visit, but his daughter will fly out to meet him at the Korean Veteran Memorial.
Beuter wants to thank those who continue to sponsor this flight and provide veterans with this specific opportunity.
The flight will take off at 6:15 a.m., and veterans will return to Iowa around 11 p.m. that evening.