Marine veteran was cook in Korea

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple Korean War veteran Robert Dailey of Warren served in the Marine Corps as a cook and supply officer during the war. During his service he was in typhoons, one on land and one at sea.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series published every Monday between Memorial Day and Veterans Day honoring local veterans.

WARREN — Robert Dailey has been legally blind in one eye since the age of 8.

When he enlisted in the Marine Corps at the age of 17, he lied about his age and he covered the same eye twice for his vision test.

Dailey, 84, a lifetime resident of Warren, served as a cook and supply officer in Korea. He was honorably discharged in 1954.

“I have known his whole family since I was 12,” his wife, Kay, said. “His niece was my best friend. We knew a lot of the same people.”

The couple married in 1975.

Dailey has eight brothers and three sisters and every brother but one served in the military — two in the Navy and four in the Army. The other brother was a missionary priest in El Salvador and Guatemala for 29 years. One of his sisters was in the Peace Corps.

When Dailey’s mother found out he had enlisted, he said she had a fit. Trying to be comforting, his father said, “They will never take that skinny M’link,” Dailey said. Soon afterward, he said he was shipped to Camp Pendleton in California for basic training.

“As soon as the train started moving, I thought my geography was bad,” Dailey said. At that time, most recruits were sent to Parris Island, S.C.

“His battalion was the first to be sent west of the Mississippi,” Kay said.

After basic training, Dailey said he was sent to cooking school for three months.

“It was really funny how I became a cook,” Dailey said. When he went down to the naval reserve station with his buddy, Dailey said someone told him “whatever your first choice is, put it down third because that is what you are going to get.”

“That is exactly what I did,” Dailey said.

Dailey recalled several times during cooking school where 2,000 meals had to be prepared in three hours. He has a fond memory of the time he put too much cornstarch in the beets and “they stood up straight at attention.”

During his service, Dailey survived two typhoons — one on land, and the other at sea.

“The waves were really high. Half the guys didn’t want to be up top. They were down below sick, throwing up. Everyone took their turn,” he said.

“His mother used to do all the cooking. She hardly waited for him to get out of his uniform, and she turned her kitchen over to him. He was a bachelor for many years,” Kay said.

During his service, Dailey received the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal and the U.N. Service medal. He also has a brick downtown at the Trumbull County Veterans Memorial.

“Once a Marine, always a Marine” holds true in the Dailey household with military and American flags always on display.