Born and raised in Ooltewah, Tennessee, Asa “Bud” Ball worked as a mechanic at his father’s garage until he was 22. He entered the Army, reporting for the draft in 1950. For basic training, he went to Fort Pickett with the National Guard’s 43rd Division. As he was a little older than his fellow soldiers, they called him ‘the old man.” He was not a fan of the Army’s rules during training and thought of himself as a misfits. After a few weeks, his destination was Busan, South Korea.
Ball was a part of the first of draftees deployed to South Korea. Once they landed, they received orders to move to the front. He started in the service company. On his second day he drove behind enemy lines. Their driver had gone the wrong way, but they made it back. Ball remembered that they did not know what they were up against when arriving in Busan. The living conditions were harsh. He believed that he had dogs that lived better than he had. They were living in ditches and trenches. Some soldiers got lice.
For Ball, the most important take away was his rediscovery of his faith. He found it after he went across the Chinese lines. While running up the side of a hill, something came up from underneath him. The force sent him flying dozens of feet away. Ball knew he had to get up and keep going. After securing the top of the hill, he was on guard duty but had fallen asleep. At this moment, he believed that he was “in God’s hands.” A Veteran chaplain provided Ball with the 23rd Psalm to recite. Ball thought that this hymn was how he and others were able to survive.
Ball created many lasting relationships during his 21 months in service. He would bring home a variety of keepsakes from South Korea. Additionally, he received a medal from the Korean government. His former Korean interpreter delivered it to him, 50 years later. He would also receive a Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Stars, an Occupation of Japan medal and a UN Service medal.
Looking back, Ball said keeping up each other’s spirits was how they were able to keep each other going.
After the war, he returned to Ooltewah. He married his wife June, who he had met during the war through letters sent between friends. He retired from the Electric Power Board and stayed active in the community. The Ooltewah High School Baseball team now plays on a field called the A.C. Bud Ball Field.
Ball passed away in April 2005.
We honor his service.
More of his story is at http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.05944/#vhp:personal.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Editor: Joseph Cardinal
Fact checker: Giancarlo Gilbert-Igelsrud