Donald Jay Wierenga was born in July 1932 in Jenison, Michigan. Toward the end of the Korean War in 1953, he received a draft notice and subsequently joined the Army. He completed induction at Fort Wayne in Detroit, Michigan then departed for Fort Custer in Michigan. Wierenga eventually arrived at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he completed basic training as a member of the Charlie 509 company.
When the time came to head out to Korea, he departed from San Francisco, California, aboard the General Gordon troop ship. The ship arrived at Yokohama, Japan, after a week and a half at sea. Wierenga finally arrived in Incheon, Korea, in early May 1953. He served with the 25th Infantry Division, 35th Infantry Regiment, Company K as a rifle infantryman. His first assignment took him to the main line of resistance at Munsan-Ni, where the Army held the line in case peace talks fell through.
Wierenga then served at outpost Ginger and its corresponding listening post. He could not shower for an entire month. When he turned over patrol to take a shower, he learned the remainder of his patrol got hit while he was away, resulting in 13 men suffering shrapnel wounds. Wierenga also served as a wireman for six months and as a sniper on a machine gun, during which he narrowly avoided being shot by a North Korean tank.
After serving in Korea for 12 months, Wierenga returned to Fort Carson, Colorado. Under his leadership during two different maneuver exercises, his team located an enemy force within an hour. Wierenga promoted to sergeant. He then served as platoon sergeant, field first sergeant and first sergeant of a company while in Colorado. He discharged Nov. 17, 1954.
Although Wierenga considered making a career out of the Army, he returned to Michigan. He worked for nine years at local churches assisting with the youth and speaking at rest homes. Wierenga also worked as a factory inspector and stock chaser at Keeler Brass Company in Grand Rapids. He later joined his brother and father in the construction business to build and remodel homes.
We honor his service.
More of his story is at http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/bib/loc.natlib.afc2001001.26462.
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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/.
Writer: Adelaide Choi
Editor: Joseph Cardinal
Fact checker: Michaela Yesis
Graphic artist: Deanna Cannon