WATERLOO — Herb Miehe had problems with his feet most of his adult life.
He had little feeling in them. He could not keep them warm. Late in life, one was amputated. Then the other.
It could have been worse. He’d seen the worst.
He’d seen thousands die in a winter hell called Chosin in the heart of North Korea.
Miehe, who passed away in 2003, was one of the “Frozen Chosin” or the “Chosin Few,” a group of U.S. Marines, including many Marine Reservists from Waterloo, who were trapped by advancing Chinese Communist forces at Chosin Reservoir in November and December of 1950. The Marines, alongside British Royal Marines, South Korean troops and others, broke out and fought their way to the port of Hungnam, taking their casualties and refugees with them.
Herb’s son, Burk “Skeet” Miehe, who operates Amercan Pattern & CNC Works in Waterloo-Cedar Falls, said his father only began to talk about his experiences later in life.
But his feet told plenty. By the time Herb emerged from Chosin, his feet were frozen and blackened from frostbite.
For his family back home, that wasn’t the worst. Herb’s folks — Herb Sr. and Luella — received a Western Union telegram stating Herb had been wounded.
“I realize your great anxiety but nature of wounds not reported and delay in receipt of details must be expected,” said the telegram from Gen. C.B. Cates, commandant of the Marine Corps. Herb Sr. knew the horrors of war; he’d been wounded in the Argonne Forest in World War I.
Skeet Miehe said it made for some anxious weeks for his grandparents.
Then they heard from Herb. He sent a message via a ham radio operator in Yokuska, Japan, who contacted another in Waterloo, R.H. Knox, via a signal relayed to him from another ham operator in Des Moines.
The message was short, but sweet news.
“Am O.K. Don’t worry. Letter follows,”…