That warm Summer morning in 1949, Judy Farias remembers well. Her older brother, Lino Farias, was going to the Army. Perhaps it was a premonition, for she doted on him. She refused to let him go. Three times the four year old climbed out of a bedroom window to run after him, bawling, before finally being restrained. Jesus (Jessie) Farias Jr. was sixteen years old that Summer. He remembers driving his older brother to the bus station on Seguin Street in New Braunfels, Texas on his bicycle. He recounted, with sadness on his face, “I got him to the bus station, and before he got on the bus, we hugged each other. It was really sad. When the bus pulled away, I kept waving until he was out of sight. That was the last time any of us ever saw him alive.”
At 4:00 AM Korea time, June 25, 1950, 135,000 North Korean soldiers, backed by tanks and 180 new aircraft, swarmed over the 38th Parallel, completely overwhelming the unsuspecting South Koreans. Private First Class Lino Farias was part of the ill prepared, poorly equipped, 34th Infantry Regiment of the 24th Infantry Division, which with its sister 21st Infantry Regiment, was ordered to get to Korea as quickly as possible to stop the North Koreans. With no reserves, and only lightly armed, they were constantly moving, half asleep on their feet, in a fight against a horde backed by powerful T-34 tanks whose progress the Americans were powerless to impede; bazooka teams fired from up close, only to watch their shells bounce off the tanks. They had last been soldiers of occupation, and now they were thrown into a cauldron, fighting for their lives. They fought five major delaying actions, in seventeen days, while falling back seventy miles These delaying actions took place at Osan on July 5 and 6, near Chonan on the 8th, and between Chonui and Chochiwon on the 11th.
On the 12th of July, 1950, near the Kum River, according to Army records researched by this writer, PFC Lino Farias was seriously wounded. Of this fact, his family was unaware until this article appeared in the August 6, 2012 issue of the New Braunfels Herald. The battered 24th Division fought another bitter delaying action at Taejon, abandoning the city on the 20th. What was left of the casualty riddled division was shifted to the south bank of the Naktong River, where the 34th Infantry Regiment was ordered to block enemy attempts to flank the southern portion of a sixteen mile front. On July 24, 1950 the wounded Private First Class Farias, a much need Browning Automatic Rifleman, returned to the fight. In the absence of a heavy machine gun, a good BAR man scrambles to make up for the deficiency, given the rate of firepower of nigh 500 .30 caliber rounds per minute his 16 pound weapon spews out.
At midnight, August 5, into the morning of August 6, the North Koreans crossed the river, spoiling for a fight. This time, the war weary soldiers of the 34th Regiment managed to consolidate their position and hold their ground, finally ending their long retreat, but only after some companies had amassed a fifty percent casualty rate. And on this day, August 6, 1950, Private First Class Lino Farias, thirty six days short of his twenty first birthday, lay down his life for his country
Judy recalled that her father, Jesus Farias Sr. had taken the family out for ice cream, and when they returned home, there was an Army sedan parked in front of their home. She knew something terrible had happened, because when her mother saw the sedan, she screamed. She began sobbing and could not be consoled, causing a chain reaction of hysteria amongst her children. Her father drove on by, and continued driving around town until almost 2:00 AM. Shortly after they walked into their home, the Army sedan returned, bearing news of Lino’s death. Felix, who was ten at the time, could not have imagined that it would be given him to repeat the scene some sixty years later, with his own son, twenty one year old Marine Lance Corporal John Felix Farias, killed in action in Afghanistan. Wherein thousands lined the streets of New Braunfels to receive his son’s flag draped casket, in the first instance, only the family was on hand to greet the closed casket bearing the body of Private First Class Lino Farias, and accompany it to burial. The casket remained closed.
Who can measure the nigh insurmountable grief of a parent over the loss of a child? We read in holy writ of David of old lamenting the death of his son: “Oh my son Absalom, my son Absalom, would God I had died for thee!” (2 Samuel 18:33)