One of the kids I looked up to  while growing up at the Methodist Home in Versailles will be among the Medal of Honor recipients being honored during the University of Louisville-Marshall football game. He’s in town this week, largely neglected by the media because his sagging glass eye is not media friendly.

Ernest West was probably 10 years older and played football. He was in the Big Boys building, I was 7 years old in the Little Boys section. The dining hall was across campus, requiring our group to walk past their building. One of the guys tried to trip me once, only to meet the ire of Ernest. It would never happen again.

West was presented the medal by President Eisenhower in 1954 for his actions following an ambush in Korea in 1952, described thusly in the Courier-Journal:

Suddenly, they saw grenades rolling downhill toward his unit. When they exploded, several of the men were seriously wounded, including West.

“I got blowed up in the air six or eight foot,” he said. “And I lost an eye and had shrapnel all up my back.”

West raced downhill for cover but saw several wounded men on the hill, including his commander. Despite his injuries, and the bullets flying and grenades exploding, he went back up and carried his commander to safety as he fired at three attackers. West retrieved two more comrades from the hill, killing a handful of enemy soldiers in the process.

Thanks again, Ernie.

Share this

By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.