“It was a rescue mission. Only 12 men knew about it. There was no way he could have known what happened,” Bates said.
Bates contacted Cannon for an explanation of his drawing and the accompanying story he wrote. Cannon had been sent to Korea initially as a combat artist. Upon arrival, he was converted to a sniper.
“He said he saw the whole thing,” Bates said. “He had been sitting on top of that mountain with a sniper rifle and saw everything clear as day. When I finally located him, he told me he had been shot through the face, and that he was the ugliest man in Albuquerque,” he said with a grin.
“The picture is one of the most precious things he has,” Hollingsworth said.
Bates said Frazzini and Henry were both decorated for hauling Bates out after he was injured. When he tried to contact Frazzini later, he learned that he was killed by a mortar round shortly after Bates’ rescue.
As for Henry, Bates met with him in Florida years later for a tearful reunion, complete with news crews and close family.
Bates’ legacy has been passed down to his grandsons, one of whom is a Marine and the other two are in the Army. Bates and his wife frame the boys’ pictures proudly in their living room.
“He wants there to be honor given to everyone,” Hollingsworth said. “We know he wasn’t the only one that was a hero, but honor just comes his way. People don’t forget him.”
As for his flag, Bates plans to have it professionally framed.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” he said about receiving the flag. “I never expected it. I¿wish it could happen to everybody. I’m just thrilled and appreciative.”