Korean War Veteran takes physical for twin brother's entry into Air Force
As Americans across the country honor those who paid the ultimate price, one local veteran shares the story of how he helped his twin make it into the Air Force.
Wilbourne Markham served in the Korean War with his twin brother, Weldon.
But in order for the brothers to serve together, Wilbourne had to take matters into his own hands.
“He wanted to go and the Korean War was going on. I really didn't want to go. But he was a little more patriotic than me. I always laughed and said you've seen too many John Wayne movies,” Markham said.
He and twin brother Weldon drove up to Knoxville to take the physical. Wilbourne passed the test, but his brother was a different story.
"And he said 'they don't want me. I have a heart murmur.' I said 'if they don't want you buddy, then they don't get me,” Markham said.
So, Wilbourne decided what the military didn't know, wouldn't hurt them.
"We came back to Chattanooga, and two weeks later we decide we'd go back, and we went back and I took the physical for him. And I passed it again,” Markham said.
He and his brother served in the Air Force for more than 40 years at each other’s side, which meant he was never alone.
"Having a twin brother that you are closed to, you're never home sick. You always have family with you,” Markham said.
Once when orders came down to split them up, Wilbourne immediately told his commanding officer they were a package deal.
"He said 'well, I think we are going to have to get him over here with us because I like your southern accent and I don't have too many fellas in a group that have that accent,” Markham said.
Weldon Markham died back in 2013.
He's buried at the Chattanooga National Cemetery with his oldest brother Clyde Leslie Markham who served in the Navy.
Wilbourne said it never crossed his mind they would be caught and he wouldn't hesitate to do it again.
"I wasn't worried about getting in trouble. We never thought we were going to get in trouble. Just never occurred to us. Well, it worked,” Markham said.
Wilbourne Markham volunteers at the cemetery every Thursday.
He goes by Weldon and Les's headstones whenever he can, saying it's the best job he's ever had.