EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. -- His voice becomes quiet. He pauses frequently to clear his throat and look away when he talks about the friend who died.
Alphonso Harris did his best to save the New Jersey soldier he only knew as Eisenhardt.
"I put him under my jacket to try to keep him warm and tried to stop the bleeding and he kept saying 'I'm gonna die. I'm gonna die,' and that just ate me up because he had a little girl at home he had never seen," Harris said. "We got him up on that stretcher and he kept falling off and he kept saying, 'I'm not going to make it home. I'm not going to get the chance to see my daughter.'"
An exploding mine killed eight men in Harris' company and seriously maimed Eisenhardt during the Korean War while they were laying a communication line on the side of a frozen mountain. They were near the Punch Bowl -- site of some of the war's most vicious battles -- and what is now the Demilitarized Zone.
"He had one of those steel-covered Bibles in his pocket over his heart," Harris said. "But he didn't get hit there. It messed up his legs bad, it messed up his arm bad and he was bleeding bad. I couldn't stop the bleeding."
When a crew of medical workers arrived they started picking up bodies of the dead soldiers, leaving Harris holding Eisenhardt. When the commanding medic realized Eisenhardt was still alive he yelled at the rest of the men to leave the dead alone and attend to Eisenhardt.
"He pointed his carbine at them and told them to get Eisenhardt or he'd kill them all," Harris said. "That scared me."
The soldiers battled the cold, ice and snow on the slippery mountainside to get the wounded man onto a stretcher.
"We finally get him up on that stretcher. It was hard. You got to hang on to that rope, keep him on the stretcher and keep him warm," Harris said. "We kept slipping every time we tried to make a step. We finally got him up that mountain but by the time we got him to the aid station he was dead."
Harris regrets that after he returned from the Korean War he was never able to find Eisenhardt's daughter to tell her about her father.
"I hurt so bad about that that I didn't know what to do," Harris said. "He was a good man with a good sense of humor working a very dangerous job laying that communication cable."
Harris is now 81 and lives in East St. Louis.
A search through the National Archives showed that the soldier Harris only knew as "Eisenhardt" from New Jersey was actually Pfc. Kenneth Roger Eisenhardt, of Salem, N.J., who was killed in action Nov. 25, 1951. Public records and a memorial page to Eisenhardt on the Korean War Project website led to his daughter. She left this message on the website in May: "I was a little over four months old when my father, Kenneth Roger Eisenhardt, was killed."
Public records led to Bea Harrison, 59, of Irwin, Pa. She said the revelation that Harris was seeking her, and the details about her father's last thoughts of her, were very emotional.
Harris was excited that his friend's daughter had been found. He asked a reporter to forward his cell phone number to Harrison.
As of press time, the pair had yet to talk.
Read the full story at bnd.com