Korean War veteran of Girard was destined to join Marines

Submitted photo Albert Arquilla, 92, of Girard, served in the Marine Corps from 1951-1954. The Korean War veteran says the Marine reputation is true. “Marines are tough,” he said.

GIRARD — At 92 years old, Cpl. Albert Arquilla recalls many stories from his time in the Marine Corps, and they all have one thing in common — he is proud to be a Marine.

Although joining the Marine Corps was not his first choice, Arquilla was destined to join the Marines and fight in Korea.

“They had a draft on when the Korean War was going on. So, four or five of us buddies from high school, we graduated together and we went to join the Army. We went to the Army and they refused us because they were booked. They said, ‘Go around the corner.’ So we went around the corner to the Navy,” Arquilla said. “They said the same thing. They said, ‘We have so many draftees, you’ll have to wait.’ So we went around the corner again to the Marine Corps, and they grabbed us and pulled us in. They were shorthanded. We didn’t pick the Marines, it just happened to fall that way.”

Even though Arquilla does not know why the Army or Navy were full, he has some guesses. “People used to hear things about the Marine Corps, that they were tough,” Arquilla said. “I guess people didn’t want to rough it in the Marine Corps. They took the easiest way out.”

Arquilla soon found out that the Marine Corps’ reputation was true: The Marines are tough.

“What’s the difference between a Marine and somebody else? A Marine goes as far as any human being can, then he’ll get up and go some more,” Arquilla said. “There were times when it got pretty tough, but they make a strong person out of you.”

Arquilla served in the Marine Corps from 1951 to 1954. Before deploying to Korea, he trained in South Carolina, Quantico and California. He trained in all kinds of weather and terrain to prepare him for Korea.

Although he was ready to fight in Korea, Arquilla, who was a skilled boxer throughout his youth, wanted to join the military boxing club to defer his deployment.

“I asked the coach to join the boxing club and he said, ‘I’m sorry son, we’re all booked up,'” he said. “I guess everyone wanted to get out.”

In Korea, Arquilla was in the artillery where he worked with a variety of weapons like the 155mm Howitzer machine guns, rocket launchers and tanks. He was also one of the men who would check the land for mines and how to clear them. Arquilla was stationed in Korea for a little over two years before relocating to Puerto Rico, where he was discharged in 1954.

Arquilla’s destiny didn’t end with his service. After returning to the Mahoning Valley, Arquilla met his wife, Anna Lovitz. Despite their different religious backgrounds, they were meant to be together.

“I said, ‘Lord, I only want one woman in my life.’ I didn’t ask him who, he could send me whoever he wanted,” Arquilla said. They were together for 67 years until her passing in December.

Now Arquilla has several grandchildren serving in various branches of the military. His advice to them is, “If you have to go, join the Marines.”

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