WARREN - Dick Litton's ''man cave'' in the basement of his home on Oak Knoll Avenue N.E. is a combination library and a shrine to the U.S. Marine Corps.
Sure, there's a bar in the corner with the usual knickknacks. There's a comfortable couch and coffee table, perfect for sitting down and reading one of the biographies of Harry Truman or a book about battleships.
Don't forget the sign that reads: ''Once a Marine, Always a Marine!''
Tribune Chronicle / Christopher Bobby
Dick Litton served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War.
Next to the bar is a framed map of Korea with stars stuck on particular sites where Litton led a group of Marines on special missions, spotting enemy targets.
''Not bad for a kid who was 17 years old and had to lie about his age for awhile,'' Litton said.
He said his family moved from the Canton area to Warren after his stepfather was recruited in the early 1940s to work in the area's newest steel mill - Copperweld.
Litton actually enlisted in the Marines before he finished high school, getting a taste of Parris Island and later Quantico, a special place he developed a fondness for and continues to treasure today.
''It got to be a joke. We'd go on family vacations to Washington, D.C., and everybody knew we were headed to Quantico before heading home,'' Litton said. ''Quantico is only 28 miles from Washington and it's where the U.S. Marine Corps National Museum is.''
But when he reflects on his days in the military, Litton - who did a stint as a Warren police officer from 1953 to 1960 - has memories that span from the tropical temperatures of Key West to the freezing coastlines of Korea.
After basic training, Litton came back to Warren and he finished high school, graduating from Harding High School before being called back to service in June 1950. A car accident delayed his return, but eventually he made it back to Camp Lejeune.
Among the keepsakes in the basement, Litton has snapshots taken by himself and others of Harry Truman and his regular visits to what was known as the Little White House in Key West.
''I was assigned there in January of 1951 on a presidential detail that the Marines worked with Secret Service,'' he said.
Physically exhausted after 19 months in office, Truman was urged by a doctor to rest in a warm climate. So the president spent some 175 days in the beachfront location, referring to it as U.S. Naval Station, Key West.
Besides regular visits from cabinet members and foreign dignitaries and the fishing trips and poker games, Truman met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff to hammer out the creation of the Department of Defense - known as the Key West Agreement.
''There was always one of us at each corner of the home where the president stayed. I occasionally worked the front door. Truman would come out in the morning and shake the hand of anyone posted there,'' Litton said.
Then in July 1951, Litton was tapped to take the place of another Marine heading overseas to Korea.
''There was this procedure that if a guy was married and had a child, another Marine could take his place. This guy already had one child and he and his wife were expecting another, so I was headed over there,'' Litton said.
After overseas training and a shaky boat ride that was delayed from nine to 12 days due to a typhoon, Litton landed in Socho-Ko-Ri, where he began heading up a group of seven other Marines and an attached Naval lieutenant.
It was one of the elite units from the Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) trained to coordinate air, naval gunfire, artillery and other support to the U.S. forces.
As team chief, Litton led the group north up the coast. Using spotters in observation planes above, the team pinpointed targets, and then with communication to the USS Iowa or the USS Wisconsin, would direct air strikes from the war ships hitting enemy air strips and encampments. The ANGLICO groups worked alone on their search missions.
''One time the Wisconsin sent over 103 rounds. We waited out there for a week while the ship went back to Japan to re-load,'' he said.
''Since we weren't in the first wave over there, we were equipped with the thermal boots and better clothing that kept us warm during those winters,'' he said. ''There had been a lot of frostbite suffered by the first guys over there.''
During downtime, Litton said the eight guys would read each other their mail from home.
''I would get the occasional letter from Ruth LaPolla, my social studies teacher at Harding and then there were those cookies from Grandma that would arrive in the old Quaker Oats boxes,'' Litton said.