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Paul Bretz, Sergeant, AF16-249-116

Paul Bretz

Villa Grove, IL-
Korean War Veteran of the United States Army Air Corp.

"While we were there we trained the Koreans how to use our equipment and that was basically about all we did."

- Paul Bretz


[KWE Note: Paul Bretz, Sergeant, U. S. Army Air Corps, July, 1947 - June, 1950 Resides in rural Villa Grove, IL.  Transcribed from a tape recording April, 2002]

I joined the Army Air Corp. and about three weeks after we were in basic training we were informed that it changed to the Air Force and the only thing that changed was our serial number from AR to AF.

I joined the service in July, 1947, when I was 17 years old. I had to get my Dad's permission and we were inducted in at Camp Grant in Chicago and went by troop train to San Antonio, Texas. After basic training, 12 or 13 weeks, I can't remember which, we took the test in the last week of basic training to see what school we were qualified for. Luckily, I qualified to enroll in any school the Air Force had. I went over the list and saw that weather school was conducted at Chanute Air Force Base so that's where I signed up for that. And low and behold, we were put on troop train and shipped to Oklahoma and had four weeks of weather school there, just an introductory school. And I probably wouldn't have passed except that the guy that sat next to me was a college graduate, he had studied some weather and helped me a lot. I passed with a 70, I think. And after weather school, I wanted to go to Chicago to O'Hare Field, a place called Orchard Place, but I didn't have a good enough score, somebody else took that and so I was shipped to McClelland Field, California for on-the-job training. We worked three shifts. One night we were on the midnight shift until 8:00 in the morning and someone called on the phone. One of the guys on the shift answered the phone and said that this was the weather service. The guy called and said he was a general and that he wanted a weather report to San Diego and nobody ever called us that late at night and so the guy that answered the phone said, "Yea, I'm Harry Truman" and hung up the phone. We had guys all the time call us up and tell us they were so and so and wanted the weather for so and so and we'd just hang up on them. Anyway, within a week, all of us on that shift were transferred overseas. We did get ten days delay in route before we departed. I got lucky and caught a flight to Chanute Air Force Base and then a cab to home and I was home for four and one-half days before I had to get back on the train and go back to San Francisco.

We loaded at San Francisco. We loaded up aboard a liberty ship and headed toward Japan. We were on there 16 days and I was sick every day. After we got to Japan, we sat around about a week waiting to find out where we were going to be transferred to or assigned to. I was in the weather service and the weather service is a bunch of people that are usually assigned all over and attached to some other outfit all over the Far East or wherever they need weather. They called three of us together one day and said we were to report to Huneata Air Base and we got there we loaded on a plane and when we ended up we were in Korea. We spent six months in Korea, it was in the winter time, and it was cold. We slept in tin Quonset huts. Our stove was made out of a 15-gallon barrel. It usually got pretty cold in there and usually the stove went out sometime during the night and nobody would go get anymore oil so that was the worse part of it.

While we were there we trained the Koreans how to use our equipment and that was basically about all we did. We didn't do much of anything really. We had an airman's club that had about $4,000 in it and we knew were going to be leaving there and turn everything over to the Koreans. So, we were told we were going to have to give the money to the Red Cross. We decided that rather than give it to the Red Cross; there was only about 100 of us there, about 100 enlisted and about 100 officers. We decided that we would just drink up the money rather than give it to the Red Cross so we had quarter night every night. You just paid a quarter and drink all you wanted and it got to be to where even the officers started coming to our club because it was so cheap.

After we left Korea, I ended up in Northern Japan, which is where Suporo is at. It's called the Island of Hokido. We were at a place called Matsashima Air Drome and we were attached to the 82nd Air Borne. The 82nd Air Borne was starting a new division called the 11th Air Borne so they were training all the recruits from all over the Army, the Air Borne, and it was pretty good duty there. We got to go up to Suporo where they held the Olympics and did a little skiing and we got to go to the hot baths and all that good stuff and it was pretty good duty there. I made Corporal while I was there. I was there about four or five months and then I got a call that I was being transferred to headquarters which is Nogoyo with the 5th Air Force to the 20th weather squadron headquarters. They had read in my transcript that I had took typing in high school and they needed a morning report clerk. So I was made the morning report clerk and I typed orders and morning reports and stuff like that. Didn't do very much of anything. I was usually done every day about 9:30 a.m. or 10:00 a.m. That was pretty good duty there. We got along well with most of the officers there because we didn't salute or any of that stuff, it was just like we were all the same bunch of people and I was there for another year. Then we got orders that we were to transfer home eight men out of our outfit and I was the ninth man on the list but because I had sixty days leave coming, and I hadn't taken any of the leave, I got to go home sixty days early and I typed up my own orders to go home and I was shipped home on a two-stacker ship which was pretty good riding. I didn't get sick at all which surprised me. That was in San Francisco, we got discharged in San Francisco, June 10, and I caught a non-stop flight out of San Francisco to Chicago which was unusual back then, there wasn't very many non-stop flights. It didn't cost much more than what the train did and it was a lot faster. The train usually took four days. I got to Chicago and took the C&EI to Villa Grove. I can't remember what the train was. Of course, then I was home and I had no intentions of staying at home. But after I got home Dad was putting up hay and it was in June, it was hot, and he asked me if I wanted to stay and help farm and I've been stuck here ever since. I got lucky, I guess, I got out about ten days before the Korean War started and I had never registered for the draft so I had to go register and I was twenty years old. I was put in 1-A and I thought maybe I might have to go back but I never did get called. That's the story of my life in the Air Force.


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