Eclipse Magazine - Produced by NABVETS 2015 First Edition | Page 8

Congressman Rangel with his gavel as the first African American Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. C 8 ongressman Charles Rangel (D-NY) can describe the night of November 29, 1950— when he and the rest of the 2nd Infantry were surrounded by the Chinese Army near Kunu-ri—as if it were yesterday. “It was a waking nightmare, pitch dark and 20 below zero…I could see the flares, hear the terrible screams of all those men wounded and dying, hear the Chinese bugles sounding,” he says. An artillery operations specialist with the all-black 503rd Field Artillery Battalion, Rangel was hit in the back by shrapnel during the intense battle to evict Communist Chinese forces from Korea. Lying in a ditch, afraid to try to move, Rangel drew upon the survival instincts he had honed growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in East Harlem. The 20-year-old private first class nicknamed “Sarge” for his leadership skills, forced himself into action, leading over 40 of his fellow soldiers behind enemy lines to escape rather than surrender. That wasn’t the scene Rangel had anticipated when, after dropping out of high school, he had gone down to the Harlem recruiter’s office to follow in his brother’s footsteps and enlist in the Army. “It was just me and my mom, and I knew how important the check my brother had sent home was when he volunteered for the Army before WWII. I thought that going into the Army for one year to avoid the draft was a plan,” he says. Rangel