The Service of Fred Shea

Parker Watts

From 1951 to 1954, Fred Shea served in The Korean War. For the four years he served, Shea says that he enjoyed his time in the war.

“My wife says I enjoyed every bit of it. Partially she is right”, says Shea

Fred Shea did not experience any combat during the war. In fact, the closest he came to combat was in a North Africa air strip. Men were stationed on machine guns to protect the plane from the nearby village. If it wasn’t for those guns, the civilians would have striped apart the planes.

Shea spent his time during the war performing maintenance and inspections on planes. When asked about joining the Air Force, Shea said he had two choices in mind. Air force or Navy. He chose the Air force over being sea sick.

Shea adapted easily to the Air Force. When he joined, he was told, “you’re in the Air Force and you’re gonna be for the rest of your life… Don’t fight it.” Shea never fought it. He obeyed his orders and got his work done. He did his job.

After asking Shea what he did for recreation while off duty, he comically  responded with, “You really don’t wanna know.” During their service, Fred Shea and his buddies did a lot of drinking.

He and the men he served with messed around a lot during their free time. Once his pilots delayed two nights for technical difficulties. In reality they just really wanted to play golf longer. Just for fun Shea had once stolen a cardboard cutout of Marilyn Monroe so he could take a picture that looked like he was with Marilyn Monroe.

Fred Shea is a man who knows how to have fun. He gave four years of his life to the military and managed to enjoy it.

Shea was able to come home a month early. A buddy needed another month to get dental work so he got a month off his service. No one at home knew about Shea’s early return. He expected to surprise his dad but when his father opened the door he said “Oh, it’s you!” and when his girl friend saw him she was “aghast”.

After the military Shea was not ready to get married. He wanted to enjoy civilian life  first. He got a job in a similar field to what he had been doing in the Air Force. He became product manager of a delay line for saddles missile. “We were money making machines.” said Shea.

Shea says he was not to affected from his service. Korean war vets were treated well by the government. Shea said vietnam war vets “got treated like sh**”.

On the topic of war shea says war is unfortunate, a “necessary evil”. And then said “not necessarily evil… a brutal necessity”. Shea’s advice about war is “Pray we do not kill ourselves… Do anything possible to avoid that”.