How learning to type may have saved my life

Don Jackson
Special to The Black Mountain News

My mother was a teacher and encouraged me to take a typing class. In my senior year at Black Mountain High School, I took a typing class taught by Mrs. Mary Woody, a decision that one day could save my life.

Fast forward two years. I had joined the Marine Corps and was deployed to Korea in Spring of 1952. After arriving in Korea, I was assigned to “A” Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

“A” Company was then in reserves for a few weeks of rest after being on the front line for a couple of months. The group of Marines that I was with were to bring the company back to full strength. Some of the men in “A” Company were returning to the USA on the same ship that we arrived on. “A” Company was due to go back to the front line about a week after the replacements arrived.

Two days before we were scheduled to pack up and move out. I heard “PFC Jackson, report to the CO (Commanding Officer) on the double.” On my way to the CO's tent, I was trying to think of a reason why he wanted to see me. Upon arriving, I saw my service record on his desk. He said that it showed that I could type.

In basic training (boot camp), I had taken a typing test, and the results recorded were probably about 30 words per minute. I assumed that he wanted my help preparing some forms. I was surprised by his next statement. “Regimental Headquarters needs someone who can type. You would be transferred there for permanent assignment; are you interested?”

Even though we were behind the front lines, we could hear the booming sound of artillery from our shells going out, and the enemy's coming in. Every round fired was intended to kill or destroy. Regimental Headquarters were out of danger from artillery shells. I didn't need time to even think about the offer. I told the CO that I would gladly accept.

He said to pack my duffel bag and be ready to leave in about an hour. I met the Regimental staff, took a quick typing test and was accepted. The officer in charge told me that even though I was assigned to their staff, I might be needed to temporarily fill in for a company that had suffered many casualties.

About six weeks later, exactly that happened to the same company I just left. They attacked an enemy position on Hill 104 (which I will never forget), and most of the company was either wounded or killed. Why I was spared I'll never know in this life. I'm sure that my Guardian Angel was involved.

At the 50th reunion of our high school graduation, I had the opportunity to thank Mrs. Woody for teaching me to type. It may have prevented my being wounded or killed.

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