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When Henry Revels returned from Korea in 1952, he had $26 and a medical card detailing his shoulder injury in the war.
That medical card, crucial for Revels' future medical treatment, disappeared shortly after he returned home. Last month, the card resurfaced after missing for more than 50 years, giving 79-year-old Revels a chance at the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
A medic filled out Revel's injury card on a Korean battlefield in 1952 after Revels was struck by a 55-gallon drum of fuel oil during enemy fire. The blow tore Revels' rotator cuff. He was 18 years old.
Revels returned home from Korea as a corporal in the U.S. Army after spending 11 months overseas. He kept the medical card with his personnel records as proof of his injury during battle.
Revels' rotator cuff injury, however, didn't heal completely.
"It kept getting worse and worse," he said. "I couldn't lift anything over my head."
Revels went to Veterans Affairs for help with his injury, but without the misplaced medical card, officials couldn't prove Revels sustained his shoulder injury during military service.
"They wouldn't take my word," Revels said. "You had to have proof."
Revels and his wife, Alyce Wilkinson Revels, 79, tried to locate his medical records in St. Louis, but they were unsuccessful. Officials told Revels and his wife the medic who filled out Revels' injury card could have forgotten to submit the medical records, or the records could have been lost in a St. Louis fire that destroyed many other soldiers' records.
Alyce was looking several weeks ago through Revels' military documents, when she came across a small piece of paper. It was Revels' long-lost medical card.
"I said, 'What is this?'" Alyce said. "Then I realized what it was. It was a miracle to find it."
The Revels submitted the card, with information that proved Revels was injured Nov. 2, 1952, to the appropriate officials. If the right people review the card, the Revels could receive compensation for medical expenses used to treat Revels' shoulder injury.
With Revels' wartime injury proved through the medical card, he is also eligible for a Purple Heart, the honor awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who were wounded by an instrument of war.
Senator Richard Burr and Rep. Patrick McHenry were notified of Revels' newfound discovery, and Alyce said the men are working to get Revels' the recognition he deserves.
"He's not one to pat himself on the back," Alcye said. "But he's a good man."
Revels doesn't talk much about the time he spent in Korea on combat patrol.
"It's hard to give you an answer (about what it was like)," he said.
Revels once participated on a six-man patrol in Korea as a combat leader. Revels led the way, and one of the men behind him spotted a Korean soldier hiding in the trees with a rifle. The American soldier shot and killed the Korean, who was likely lying in wait for the combat patrol, Revels said.
"That's as close as I've come to what I call 'getting it,'" he said.
After Revels returned from Korea, he met Alyce on a blind date. The two were married in 1957. Revels and Alyce enjoy annual visits to Newport, Tenn., with other military men and women.
"I enjoy getting out and seeing everyone," Revels said.
The group meets annually on the fourth week of October. Revels and Alyce, who live in Conover, just returned from their trip, and they've already made reservations for next year.