Ed Butler was a young Marine when 76,000 U.S. troops landed at Inchon, a few months after North Korea invaded South Korea and seized Seoul, the capital.

Once the North Koreans were driven back into the mountains on the Korean Peninsula, the war entered a new phase. Marines like Sgt. Butler, who is now 85, lived in bunkers. The real enemy was rats, not North Korean soldiers across the Han River.

He remembers almost being taken prisoner when his four-man patrol topped a ridge, and looked down to see hundreds of North Koreans running uphill towards them.

“We didn’t hang around,” Butler said. “We started running down the other side of the mountain, firing our M-1 Garand rifles over our shoulders.” 

Butler, who lives in Gaithersburg, said they didn’t hit any of the enemy, but they scared them.

After serving more than 20 years in the Marine Corps, Butler, who also did a tour during the Vietnam War, got a job as a shift supervisor with the Montgomery County Department of Corrections. Butler now likes to tell friends and acquaintances that he met his wife in jail.