Central Texas Heroes: Ruben Hinguanzo

Veteran Ruben Hinguanzo

WACO, Texas (KWTX) Ruben Hinguanzo got the shock of his life when he landed in South Korea in 1950.

He was dodging enemy fire climbing down a rope to get off the ship.

"They're firing at you, they were firing at us but we landed on the beach," he told us.

It couldn't have been more different than his life growing up picking cotton in Lacy Lakeview.

But back then he knew he wanted to see the world, and he knew just how to do it.

He was the first in his family to join the Army in 1948.

But the cotton fields couldn't prepare the 135 pound 17-year-old for infantry training with that massive rifle.

"I used to cry because that thing was heavy," he told us.

But he was given a much different job when he was sent to Okinawa, Japan in 1948 after the end of World War II.

He was working in a medical unit with highly contagious patients suffering from diseases like tuberculosis.

And Hinguanzo learned how to treat wounded soldiers which would be a necessary skill in South Korea.

He was sent there in 1950.

He made it through his violent landing, but many people died.

Initially his job was to guard a field hospital.

And when the Chinese and North Koreans attacked he spent one terrifying night in a foxhole during the battle.

"And I prayed," he told us.

Hinguanzo survived the battle but the hospital was pushed back to friendly territory. He spent a full year in Korea, guarding the hospital and its valuable supplies often targeted by thieves.

He told us when he finally got the order to return home, "that was the happiest day of my life and I thank God for that."

He left active duty in 1953 and ended up joining the reserves later for another 20 years.

And his service inspired someone else to join the military.

His granddaughter is a proud member of the Air Force protecting everything the American flag stands for.

Hinguanzo said, "that's what makes people so proud, that flag, the American flag."