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Veteran of the Week: John Cummins

Moores Hill blacksmith served in Vietnam in 1968

(MOORES HILL, Ind.) -- Long before John Thomas Cummins took up blacksmithing, he was served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

Cummins arrived in Pleiku, Vietnam in January of 1968. While serving overseas, the Moores Hill resident became close friends with another solider, Ralph Fremin, of Louisiana.

Cummins recalls one night when the enemy was targeting an air strip that he and Ralph were close to.

"There was a rocket attack and one that came in was right between Ralph and I," Cummins recalls. "He was in a tower that had sandbags in the floor which saved him and I had just driven a heavy-duty forklift right behind a pile of sandbags."

Cummins jumped in a culvert for safety as additional rocket launches came in.

"There were debris over the culvert and my buddies eventually helped to get me out," Cummins said.

After the all-clear was given to the soldiers, John's friend, Ralph, found a fragment from one of the rockets.

"Ralph said he was going to bring it home although you're really not supposed to do that," John said.

Ralph brought this rocket fragment home from Vietnam

After serving in Vietnam, John and Ralph remained close friends and even visited each other in their respective states.

"My wife and I actually went down to Louisiana to visit Ralph and his wife, and that was a real good experience, we were just going to say hello but stayed for several days," John said.

The veterans kept in contact through the years and eventually that rocket fragment became a topic of conversation.

"I thought I could take a piece of it and put it with some knife steel and make a Damascus blade," the blacksmith said.

Cummins welded the steel together and that old rocket fragment was made into a knife exactly 50 years after the friends served in Vietnam.

Ralph was so impressed with John's work that he shared photos of the knife on Facebook.

It caught the attention of some other Vietnam veterans who also wanted a similar knife.

"Ralph said there was this one particular guy from Oklahoma who was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam," John said.

Cummins says the Oklahoma man served two tours in Vietnam as a Huey helicopter pilot. The narrowly escaped death as his co-pilots were killed in both tours.

"I decided to I would make him a knife and I sent it on Monday and he should get it today," John said.

Cummins estimates that he has made over 1,000 knives as a blacksmith.

"It's a hobby that supports itself and I enjoy being creative and making something that nobody else has," he says.

Cummins is a member of the North Vernon chapter of the Indiana Blacksmithing Association.



Each week we feature a Veteran of the Week in Southeast Indiana. This is sponsored by StoneBridge Trucking in Greensburg. Click here to learn about the Veteran-owned and Veteran-driven company.

HOW TO NOMINATE: Send an email to with the following information:

  • A picture(s) of the Veteran

  • Name, location and service branch of the Veteran

  • Why are you nominating this Veteran

  • Tell us about the Veteran (military and non-military life)

  • Your name and phone number

1 comentario

Bob Wire
Bob Wire
12 nov 2023

Very good John!!

You are one my favorite humans, and Veteran to boot. Helluva story.

Gary J.

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