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Hometown Hero - Joe Rabalais

Updated: Apr. 16, 2020 at 7:50 AM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Early in the 1950s, thousands of U-S service members were called to the military action in Korea. Historians call the conflict the “forgotten” war. Joe Rabalais left Alexandria and began training on LST 772, a Navy transport ship. Before he knew it, he was in Korea.

"We had a lot of North Korean and Chinese prisoners that we would load up on the top of the deck of the ship," recalled Rabalais. We would take them down to a little island which was about 200 or 300 miles from Pusan."

Rabalais says most of his time was spent taking care of electronics on board the WWII era vessel.

"We were not in real shooting action much, but we were carrying a lot of prisoners. There was one of them that jumped off ship one time and we circled around and had to pick him up."

Rabalais recently got to share his story with students at CPSB-TV, as part of a history project on Korea. He says coming back home was surreal.

"You think it's kind of like a dream and when you get back you kind of wake up and say this is what I've been gone from and I miss this. I didn't even know that I did. You know? Probably one of the first things I wanted to get when I got back was a good hamburger," laughed Rabalais.

Joe continued his career in electronics and retired in Lake Charles. Rabalais is an active member of the American Legion and VFW and is always looking for younger members of both organizations.

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