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(Lem circa 1944)

Lemuel Clemuel Goode

Fresno, CA-
World War II veteran of the United States Navy
Korean War Veteran of the United States Marine Corps

"My time in Korea was very, very trying.  It tore me to pieces.  The things I saw were horrible."

- Lem Goode


[The following is the result of an online interview between Lem Goode and Lynnita (Sommer) Brown.  Lem was assisted by his wife, Barbara.]

Memoir Contents:


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Pre-Military

My name is Lemuel Clemuel Goode of Fresno, California.  I was born January 31, 1927 in Marmaduke, Arkansas, a son of Clemuel Organ Goode and Maude Jane Johnson Goode.  My father was a gardener.  My siblings were Lloyd, Calvin, Marion, Hazel and Edress.  They were all older than I am.

I attended grade school at Standard School in Oildale, California and then high school at Bakersfield High School in Bakersfield.  I graduated in 1947.  During my school years I had a paper route and I delivered Western Union telegrams.  I remember that the school held drives to collect aluminum, rubber, etc.  I bought war bonds and I was an air raid warden.


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Joining the Navy

When I was 17, I was not doing well in school, so I decided to enlist in the service. I wanted to enlist in the Marine Corps, but I was too short. The next desk over at the recruiting office was the Navy recruiter, so I stepped over there and enlisted. When I joined the Navy, I had to have my parents' permission because of my age. My dad cried, but gave his permission.

I joined the Navy in 1944. Navy boot camp was at Farragut, Idaho (Farragut Naval Training Station). My brother lived in the Los Angeles area. He drove me from Bakersfield (my home) to his house. In Los Angeles, I traveled by Red Car to the train depot where I boarded a troop train to Farragut. On the troop train we were fed box lunches. At each stop the men went to a liquor store and purchased liquor to bring back on the train. When the conductor found out, he locked the doors at each stop. At Seattle a new engine was attached to the train and we traveled right to Farragut Naval Training Station.

We arrived at night. I thought I saw one-story buildings, however I discovered that the snow was so deep that it covered the first floors of the buildings. I was billeted on the second floor. After breakfast the first day we were issued uniforms, including galoshes. The camp was in a forested area by a beautiful lake near Sandpoint, Idaho. It was winter and it was very cold.

In the Navy we did not have drill instructors (DIs). Our Company Commander was Chief Petty Officer Dobish. There were two men who had seen prior Navy service. These two were given a rank and they pretty much ran the company. Our company number was 182.  Two young men at boot camp were under age. After a couple of weeks they were sent home.

Boot camp was six weeks. During that time we saw lots of movies of different jobs onboard ship. At 6 a.m. the lights were turned on and someone yelled "Get up!" We made our beds, showered and shaved, and ate breakfast at 7:30. After breakfast we brushed our teeth and then fell out for calisthenics for an hour. It was so cold that we did calisthenics wearing our Pea coats. Then there were marching drills with our galoshes on. These were frequently stepped on by the man behind us and men were often stepping out of line to put their galoshes back on. Instructional films were usually viewed before lunch at 11:30. The films we saw were mainly about life aboard ship, how to treat officers, etc. At 1 p.m. there was more marching, row boat instruction on the lake, instructions on firing an .03, bugle calls, tying knots, etc. We learned to swim. (I was a non-swimmer and I had to pass a test to swim 100 yards.) The lessons were given during our free time. Supper was at 4 p.m. From about 4:00 to 5:00 we did our laundry, and after 5:00 it was free time for writing letters, etc. Lights out was at 10:00 p.m. Hollywood movies were shown in the evenings. I remember especially "The Sullivan Brothers."

I don't remember any punishment being necessary. I was a non-smoker and one time was ordered to clean up after the smokers, which I refused to do. I was brought before Company Commander Dobish and he agreed with me.

Meals were good in boot camp. Sunday evening meal was sandwiches and lemonade. Saturday morning breakfasts were always beans and cornbread. Church was offered at 10 a.m. on Sunday. Most did not attend. Instead they wrote letters, etc.

I was never sorry that I joined the Navy. I was young, away from home for the first time, and having an adventure. I was accomplishing something and thought it was great. When boot camp was completed, group and individual pictures were taken and then we were given our leave papers. We took a bus to Spokane. From there I took the train to Bakersfield, California for nine days leave. I felt very much a sailor. I had accomplished something and was proud of my uniform. I had gained weight. I thought I was handsome in my uniform. I was more confident because of my successful accomplishment. During my nine days leave I visited family and friends. It was required that uniforms were to be worn at all times. I received comments from family, friends, and local merchants.

After my leave I went to Seattle, Washington by passenger train. From Seattle I went by troop train to Seaside, Oregon for gunnery training. At the camp, "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" woke us up every morning at 3 a.m. We learned to fire a 40mm gun. All of the training took place on the base. When I had liberty I went to town to see a movie or USO show. I was too young to go into a bar and was also young enough not to know better.  A buddy and I asked a guy to go into a liquor store and buy some rum for us.  We drank the entire bottle of rum! I don't remember how I got back to the ship. I had already been assigned to the jeep carrier USS Admiralty Island CV99, so when my training ended I was sent back to Tacoma, Washington and to the carrier. Once onboard I was assigned my general quarters station and given the starboard watch.


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World War II Duties

I was on the USS Admiralty Island from sometime in June 1944 for the seven-day trip to Pearl Harbor. The ship was a jeep carrier, probably about half the size of the large carriers. When the big carriers lost planes, the jeep carriers replaced them. I boarded the ship at Puget Sound at the commissioning, so I was in the first crew on this ship. We sailed to Seaside, Oregon to load ammunition. We worked 24 hours around the clock to load the ammunition, and I recall that this took about two days. We then set sail for Pearl Harbor. This took seven days and I was very, very, very seasick the whole time! We tied up at a pier ahead of the Arizona. The Arizona was laying on its side facing away from the pier on Ford Island. There was a metal building on shore by our ship and we could observe people working there. We were taken by shuttle to the island of Oahu. This was the first and only time I saw Japanese prisoners of war. They were Imperial Marines. I was always told that the Japanese were small people, but these Imperial Marines were very large men. We had daytime liberty from 8 to 4, so we caught the narrow gauge train in to Honolulu.

I was in the first deck division. I was on the starboard watch. We stood watch for four hours. My duty was as a side cleaner. When I asked what that duty was, I was told that when the ship was underway I would be lowered over the side to paint the ship! I spliced line all day long making eyes in the line for tying up at a dock. The Admiralty Island at this time had no airplanes on board. One day we went out to sea (maybe 100 miles) and about ten airplanes practiced landing. Probably this was practice for the ship's crew to land, refuel, and launch the planes.

Back to Pearl Harbor, we tied up ahead of the USS Enterprise CV6. An announcement was made that some of the men would be transferred to the Enterprise. I was on that list. We mustered on the Admiralty and after roll call we walked to the Enterprise where we mustered again. The Enterprise was Admiral Halsey's flag ship. Admiral Nimitz was sometimes aboard. I was told that Pappy Boyington was also aboard one time.

The flight deck of the USS Enterprise was 1900 feet, four inches long and 109 feet, 4 inches wide. There were 3,000 enlisted men and 2,500 officers aboard. The Enterprise was engaged in the following battles: Marshall Islands, Saipan, Tinian, Guam, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. We stayed in the Pacific Ocean and made ports of call at Ulithi (sp?), Guam, Pearl Harbor, and Saipan. Sometimes we would go ashore and have a beer party. We were allowed two beers and one Coke. My best friend aboard the ship was George Hon.

I worked in the laundry room from 8 to 4. My battle station was as first loader on a quad 40. For entertainment I read, played board games, played cards, and watched movies. Breakfast was about 7 a.m. We had powdered eggs, bread, powdered potatoes, bacon or ham. Lunch was at 12 to 1. Dinner was from 4 to 5. The meals were always very good.

The ship reported to Wake Island to pick up 180 Marines to return them to the states. They were bunked on the hanger deck. They ate after the ship's company had eaten. They had no duties. They were pleased to be returning home on a ship with a large library, and where they could shower, watch movies and read.

We were in the typhoon sometime in March 1945 as we left Iwo Jima to go to Okinawa. Then on May 14, 1945 near Nahajima (sp?), Okinawa, a kamikaze plane hit the ship just above the water line below my gun mount and we were blown out into the ocean. Some of the men were dead, some severely injured. Life rafts were thrown out to us (each holding about 20 men). I helped some of the injured into the life rafts. We feared shark attacks, however there were none. We were in the water about five hours. A destroyer (possibly the Howe) picked us up. They tended the wounded. We showered and were issued clean clothes. I learned later that when a ship picked up surviving sailors from the sea, the ship was given gallons of ice cream. After about a day we were transferred back to the Enterprise. After about two weeks on the Enterprise, I was transferred to a hospital ship which returned to Treasure Island and I was sent to Oak Knoll Naval Hospital. I stayed in the hospital about three months, after which I was given leave and went home for 30 days.

After my leave I reported to the mine sweeper USS Inflict at Cerritos Channel, Long Beach, California. This ship never left the dock.  When World War II ended, the ships in the harbor blew their whistles. After maybe two or three months, I went to San Pedro, California to be discharged


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Marine Corps Reserves

After the Navy I worked for Southern Pacific Railroad and went to Bakersfield College to get my high school diploma. I then took the GED and received it.

I joined the Marine Corps Reserves in 1950 for some income while I was attending junior college. I heard on the radio that war had broken out in Korea. Guess what? About six weeks later I was called in for the Korean Conflict. In no way did I want to go to war. Been there. Done that! My brother, Marion, was in the Army stationed in Japan and I thought he would be involved in this war. I had no idea I would be involved.

I was working at DiGeorgio Farms in Bakersfield when we were first told that we were on standby. When the unit was called, we had 72 hours to report for duty. I left my car with my parents. The war broke out on June 25 and I was on my way to Camp Pendleton by June 27. During the six weeks at Pendleton we loaded trucks with supplies which were then loaded aboard ship. I went home once and picked up my car. When I shipped out I had another Marine (a sole survivor of his family) take my car to my folks.

I did not go to boot camp in the Marine Corps. When I was called in it was decided that since I had attended boot camp in the Navy, I did not need to go to Marine Corps boot camp.

In August 1950 the USS Okanogan APA-220 loaded part of the 1st Marine Division at San Diego for Japan and then went on to Inchon. Besides the ship's crew there were only Marines on board plus cargo. The Okanogan was launched 26 October 1944 and commissioned 03 December 1944. The ship's complement was 692. It could carry 1,562 troops. It was 455 feet long and 24 feet wide.

I don't remember how long it took to get to Korea, but I do remember that we didn't hit any rough weather along the way. There was not much in the way of entertainment on the trip over and I didn't know anyone else on the ship. I read books, but most of the time was taken up with training. I had to stand compartment watch one time, but again, most of the time was taken up with training. I had never fired a bazooka. We practiced firing off the fantail of the ship. Nothing eventful that I remember happened on the trip.

The Navy personnel treated the Marines terribly. During the mornings we had classes but our afternoons were free. The Marines went to the forward deck to sit, chat and relax. The Navy personnel turned the hoses on the Marines (supposedly to wash down the deck). At Kobe, Japan we were on work details and when we returned to the ship the mess halls were closed and they would not feed us. Why? I don't know!

While at Kobe we dropped off our sea bags. As I remember, we were there two days. I had liberty and on one of the days I rode a rickshaw.


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Inchon to Seoul

The Okanogan then took us to Korea where we participated in the Inchon Invasion. I landed on Green Beach in an LCVP at night about four hours after the first units went in. The day had been sunny and warm. I think that it had been 100 degrees. No one briefed us on what was to take place just up ahead. Our ship went right up the channel. The next morning the ship was sitting upright on land because the tide had gone out. During the invasion, destroyers and the battleship Missouri were firing, aircraft were strafing and bombing and there was mortar fire coming toward us. We received air support from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, and Australia. The beach was pretty well secured by time I landed. Supplies were being brought ashore. My company took no casualties during the landing. I remember that there was a big white antebellum style house over to my left and there were long warehouses.

After we landed, we were on the northern path toward Uijongbu. Because the other Marine units were ahead of us, we saw very little resistance. The rifle company was ahead of us. I was in weapons company, so we only fired when called upon. We had flame throwers, heavy machine guns, bazookas, etc. We walked up a dusty road and I remember that it was very hot. We stopped by a hill while digging in for the night and an artillery barrage came in. We sat and watched. The next morning we ate C rations for the first time. Then we walked and fought our way to Uijongbu. Again, resistance was very light. There was an occasional firefight, mostly in the daytime. Guerillas fired at us from a hill until tanks took them out.

We moved on to Seoul. Since I was in an assault platoon, we only saw action when called upon to blow up a building, clear a road block, or destroy tanks. The fighting for us was sporadic, generally always in the daytime, and mostly from sniper fire. I was not new to war. I was reliving World War II. I was one of the "old salts," so most came to me for help. They asked how one feels when under attack and wanted advice on their feelings and the right thing to do. The fighting in the two wars that I was in (World War II and Korea) was different. On board ship in World War II, the attacks were longer. In Korea the fights were brief, but worse than I expected.

I remember seeing civilians as we passed through to get to Seoul. They were standing and watching us. Once inside Seoul, I fought in front of the Capital building and the palace. Seoul was torn to hell! Corsairs strafed and bombed and tanks blew up buildings where the enemy was thought to be, as well as destroyed road blocks. I remember railroad tracks sticking up in the air.

My platoon took casualties during the liberation of Seoul itself, but I did not know any of them. At Uijongbu, when we came under artillery barrage, I jumped into a bushy area and a shell went off about three feet in front of me. No damage! We fought on up to Uijongbu and then returned to Inchon by truck in the rain. Once back at Inchon, we had some free time. There was liberty to downtown Inchon and downtown Seoul.


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Wonsan to the Reservoir

During my time in Korea, I was at both the east coast and the west coast. I was in Pusan, Inchon, Seoul, Hagaru-ri, Wonju, Hill 99, Fox Hill and Pohang. The company commander stayed the same but the battalion commander changed from Major Vorhees to Major Abel. Abel was from the South and he had a pronounced southern drawl. He was a very capable leader. My buddy in Korea was David Dyson. He spoke first to me and we became friends. We went all the way through the war together and both of us made it out. We slept in the same pup tent, shared a foxhole, etc.

From Inchon we boarded an LST that had a Japanese crew. Besides troops there were tanks, ducks, jeeps, etc. on board. The LSTs traveled in pairs and were the only ships that I saw on the journey to Wonsan. The trip was uneventful. We just rested and talked. The Army occupied the town when we arrived. Bob Hope had already been there to entertain the troops. The first night in North Korea, we bedded down, bivouacking in an apple orchard. (I never stayed in a bunker. I was always in a foxhole or a two-man tent). From Wonsan we went to Hungnam, traveling by foot. There were large hills and no villages. We got as far north as Yudam-ni in the Chosin Reservoir area. We were the head unit.

When we first arrived, the weather was around 10 to 15 degrees below zero, but there was no snow. This changed at Koto-ri to snow on the ground. At Sudong we met the Chinese enemy. We had stopped at Sudong for Thanksgiving. Eating native food was not allowed because the Koreans used human fertilizer. In reserves the kitchen cooked a lot of rice and salty beef and gravy. The food was not very good. (I missed that good steak and green onions that I loved back in the States.)  Our Thanksgiving meal was frozen turkey and all the trimmings, which was at least a change from our regular meal of C-rations. The next day we started our advance toward the reservoir. On November 26 and 27 the Chinese attacked.

About 3 a.m. a tank came into our compound. David and I were told to destroy the tank. We had been asleep in a house and had to put on our shoes, get behind the tank, and shoot it. We did not know whether we got it or not. After everything calmed down, David told me that I had my shoes on the wrong feet!

There was a narrow gauge railroad track below a cliff and we were told that the Chinese were on the track. When the mist cleared we saw that the Chinese were holding roll call right in front of us, so we opened fire on them. We annihilated the Chinese 445 Night Fighters Brigade. Our casualties included 17 killed and 21 wounded. This was our first encounter with the Chinese.

My weapons company merged into a rifle company. (I was attached to so many companies I had no idea who or what they were.) I believe that about 3 p.m. on November 30 we were told to assemble on the road. I was then a rifleman. We were told to get two bandoliers of ammo, two HE grenades, two white phosphorus grenades, and one round of 81 mortar. We were told to relieve Fox Company. I was not involved in the first resistance. We passed Chinese campfires, but they did not see us. When we got to the top of Fox Hill (Toktong Pass) we had been up for 23 hours. Five hundred Marines started up the hill, but only 250 made it to the top.

I gave my one round of mortar to someone in Fox Company. David Dyson, two other men, and I were talking and one of the men began to scream and run. We never found out what happened to him. There were four of us sharing the same foxhole. No shot was fired all night. A helicopter was bringing in batteries and the Chinese shot it down. It just missed a tent with about 80 wounded inside. The next morning we started down the road.

The night spent there was a memorable one. We bedded down in our sleeping bags and when I awoke the next morning, I was covered in ice. I could breathe and I could hear men talking, but I could not discern which way was up or down. I needed to alert someone that I was there by firing my rifle, but which way? Finally someone remembered that I was there and dug me out.

We were told that there were about 120,000 Chinese. They dressed in quilted pants, quilted jacket, quilted cap with ear flaps, rubber loafers, and no socks. They carried a blanket over their shoulders. They were excellent fighters. They were armed with rifles, American Tommy guns and Russian burp guns, and the officers had pistols. They were young--maybe 16 to 22 years old. These good fighters fought in a pincer movement.

When my squad received word that a withdrawal from the area was ordered, my reaction was that we were just fighting in a different direction. In clear weather we had air support, otherwise there was none. I remember Marine Corsairs dropping napalm, seeing bombs burst, and then seconds later hearing the sound.

The officers who led us out of the Chosin Reservoir were excellent. General Ray Davis, my commander, became a Medal of Honor recipient because of the actions at the Reservoir. He was someone who went beyond the call of duty defending his fellow man. That is the type of person I consider to be a hero. As to the Marines who went through this ordeal, I consider them all heroes. We were a cohesive group. We fought together.

The disadvantage that we faced was fighting in such miserable weather conditions against such overwhelming odds. By this time the temperature was 30 to 49 degrees below zero. The ground was frozen (we couldn't dig foxholes) and it snowed often. The snow was three to four feet deep in places. We walked, but one time I saw a brand new Army truck parked with the keys in it. My buddy and I got in and started it. We drove a short distance and then we were told to get out!

We had to keep our weapons clean or they would jam up in the cold. We fired them often to keep them clean and dry. Our food and water supply was frozen and they had to run the engines of the vehicles at least 15 minutes every hour (even though they had anti-freeze). I wore shoe packs, heavy socks, utility trousers, shorts, T-shirt, utility jacket and parka, but they did not adequately keep me warm because the weather was too cold. We were cold all of the time and never got warm except at Koto-ri. There we found a maze of tunnels dug by the Chinese. There were places dug out on the sides of the tunnels for people to sleep. We slept there warm for maybe 12 hours. On top of a hill at Koto-ri, airplanes were evacuating the wounded. The Chinese were shooting the planes down and the wounded were being wounded again. So we went up the hill and took it. That night we slept there. We put shelter halves over us and each man took an hour watch. There was a house on fire and we saw a little boy and a little girl come out. We covered the children with blankets and put them on a truck. The civilians who were caught in these circumstances are one of the tragedies of the Chosin Reservoir campaign.

If we saw someone turning blue from the cold we shook them and rubbed them to keep them from freezing. Sometimes when told to rest, individuals used a weapon as a cane and caused it to accidentally fire. The cold weather made us tired and made it difficult to think. What was happening was hard to comprehend and I was frightened.

We got all of our supplies (medicine, food, ammo, etc.) by air drop. The pilots tried dropping the supplies in our perimeter. Sometimes they missed, but the Chinese would let us retrieve the supplies, although they would destroy the food. Supplies were generally in good condition and timely.

The Chinese attacked at night. On December 8, 1950 we set up a field of fire behind a raised road because we were receiving a lot of sniper fire (small arms fire). Richard Smart, age 17, raised up to see what I was doing when he shouldn't have and he was shot in the forehead temple to temple. I think about this often. The first sergeant wanted me to write to Richard's mother and I did so. Years later I looked up the circumstances of Richard's death when we were in Washington D.C. I printed out the information, framed it, and hung it over my desk at home. I feel somewhat responsible because this kid attached himself to me and when I left my position during a fight one night Richard raised his head to see what I was doing and was shot. This has haunted me all these years.

That same day that Richard was killed, we came upon Chinese tanks that were firing automatic weapons. I could see the flames going past my face. The enemy was attacking the sides of the convoy. I just made up my mind to get through it and did what I had to do. The Chinese were everywhere and we killed them and did what was necessary to survive. The journey out of the Reservoir area took approximately 14 days. I don't remember being in the convoy. I remember being out front in a skirmish line. I had frost-bitten hands and feet with large blisters on my feet. My shoes had to be cut off.

During my ordeal at the Chosin Reservoir, sometimes I thought of home. I asked myself, "What am I doing here?" I hoped I would get back home to see my family and my girlfriend. Faith entered my thoughts as well. Church was offered during my tour of duty in Korea, but I did not attend. However, there are no atheists in foxholes!


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Return to Pusan

Our destination out of the Chosin Reservoir was Hungnam. When we got there we boarded the SS Sultan and sailed to Pusan. It was a wonder to me that I was still alive. Near Pusan we stayed in an area known as the Bean Patch resting for six or seven weeks. One of the reasons we rested was to try to get our feet well. The Bean Patch was an area with the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other. We spent Christmas there. Church was held on Christmas Day, then we got extra beer and whiskey, ham, turkey and beef. On January 31, 1951, I turned 23 years old. I had saved beer rations until I had a case and on that date I gave a dime to the March of Dimes. I won a 5th of Seagrams VO and six of us went to our tents and got drunk on whiskey and beer.  Some of the whiskey was spilled on Eugene Suter's letter to his girlfriend and future wife.  She was not told about this until we met at one of the Chosin Few reunions years later.

There was supposed to be an awards ceremony at the Bean Patch with General MacArthur coming to decorate everyone, but he never showed up. From the Bean Patch we began what was known as the Pohang Guerrilla Hunt. The guerrillas were North Koreans who had been cut off from their outfits and were trapped in South Korea. We went out on patrols to find them, but my company never fired a shot during that one month. We lived in foxholes and tents, always ate the same greasy food, and had no leisure time. During February, March and April 1951. there was heavy rain.

We did not keep clean. We heated water in a C-ration can to shave, and once a portable shower was brought up. I received mail from my girlfriend Barbara, who sent a package of cigars to me. I smoked cigars during and after my tour of duty in Korea. Mother sent my pipes. My sister-in-law sent divinity. The packages arrived in good condition. Other guys in my squad received packages that generally contained cookies and new underwear. Some guys got "Dear John" letters that they passed around for everyone to read.

Troops of other nationalities served near our company. The Turks fought with swords and were led by whistle commands. The British 41 Royal Marines were excellent fighters. The Canadian Queen Anne Brigade was also made up of excellent fighters. I remember that the Thailanders carried all of their possessions with them. I also remember the people of Korea. They were rebuilding their destroyed homes. The children came to our area looking for food.

I was sent home from Korea earlier than most and was told later that after I left a lot of guys were killed. The 1st Marine Division received two Presidential Unit Citations and one Korean Presidential Unit Citation for its efforts in Korea. I personally received the Silver Star and I thought that David should have received one too, but he did not. We did the same things. For me personally, the hardest thing about being in Korea was being away from family and loved ones.

I spent all of my time in Korea without any dog tags. If I had been killed or wounded, I would not have been identified. I told this story to the head of San Francisco's Marine Memorial Club. From his help my dog tags arrived shortly thereafter--53 years later!


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Back in the States

When it was time for me to return to the States, I was notified at dinner the day before I was to leave. I was extremely happy. I left my unit by air to Pusan and then went be truck to the ship, the SS General Sultan. David Dyson and Lt. Colonel Raymond Davis were among those on the ship with me. The mood on the ship was a happy one. I had no duty and it was a very smooth journey. We stopped in Kobe, Japan to pick up our sea bags that had been in storage there and then we proceeded with the 31-day trip to get home.

We disembarked at Treasure Island, San Francisco, California. No one was waiting at the dock when the ship arrived. It was so foggy we could not see anything as the ship drew near the land. When we finally arrived, there were boats shooting water everywhere and, of course, we were very happy. They called roll to process us off the ship and then assigned us to barracks. We were quarantined for five days. Because my sea bag had been stolen, I had no clothes. I bought a set of dress blues for $15.00. I went to Market Street to the first bar for a drink. I walked around and rode the cable car. The people of San Francisco were very cordial and eager to see that we had a good time.

From there I was sent to Camp Pendleton to await my discharge from active duty. I did not even think about re-enlisting. Absolutely not! I got married to my girlfriend Barbara on June 8, 1951. I remained in the Reserves until July 14, 1958, when I was discharged.

My first job after being discharged from active duty was delivering furniture. The main job I eventually settled into was as a clerk for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Barbara and I have two sons, Michael and Patrick. I retired in 1987 and now travel and work with veterans organizations. I also volunteer at the local Veterans Administration Hospital.


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Final Reflections

Through the years I have frequently thought about the Chosin Reservoir campaign. What triggers my memory of it is television, books, and when people ask about it. I don't think I would ever go back to the Chosin area if North Korea opened it up to visitors. However, I might. It would depend on the circumstances.

At first I did not think that the United States should have sent troops to Korea. But now I do. We saved a country from Communism and the people are very grateful. My strongest memories of Korea are that it was a poor country with cows pulling plows and human waste being used as fertilizer. I also remember the atrocities that were committed against women there. I have had migraine headaches for years and I have a permanent disability from the Korean War in the form of cold weather injury. The Veterans Administration denied my claim for about ten years.

I don't think that MacArthur should have ordered troops north of the 38th parallel. Many were killed and nothing was accomplished. In 1986 and three other times I have returned to Korea. I have taken my wife and both of our sons there. I observed a country that was destroyed by war grow into a highly industrialized and civilized society. When we visited the country, older people told us 'thanks' with tears in their eyes. South Korea is a country that is now free to develop and for its citizens to raise their families in peace. Having American troops there makes Korea stronger to resist invasion from the north.

Compared to World War II and Vietnam, the Korean War is seldom mentioned. That is why it is called the "Forgotten War." But future generations need to know that the Korean War was all about saving a country from Communist control to allow people to be free. I've told my children and my wife about Korea and at least 200 fourth grade students every year at the Dos Palos Marks Elementary School Veterans Day celebration.

I used to think that World War II veterans were treated with more respect and appreciation than Korean War veterans, but I think that times have changed and this is no longer true. Barbara and I have attended all of the Chosin Few reunions--San Diego, Fort Myers, San Antonio, Washington, DC, and Bournemouth, England, as well as battalion reunions in Palm Springs, San Diego, etc. I have met some of my buddies from the Korean War at Chosin Few reunions, including Ralph Boelk, Rudy Fritz, Warrand Kirsch, Gene Suter, J.R. Irby, General Ray Davis, and Don Floyd. Many are quite active in the Marine Corps League.

I think that the Marine Corps should have sent me to boot camp instead of getting my experience by on-the-job training. Remember, I learned to fire a bazooka on board ship on the way to Korea. I had no advance training in land warfare. My training was Navy--ship fighting. My time in Korea was very, very trying. It tore me to pieces. The things that I saw were horrible.


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Barbara

[KWE Note: Barbara Heckert met Lem Goode when she was only 16 years old.  She wrote to him every day while he was in Korea.  Her comments about living with a Korean War combat Marine are noteworthy and thus are posted along with her husband's memoir.  The wives of veterans well understand the permanent effects that war has on our young American servicemen.]

My name is Barbara Anne Heckert Goode of Fresno, California. I am the daughter of Alva Dean Heckert and Leona Emfinger Heckert Lay. I was born and grew up in Bakersfield, California. I attended Fremont Elementary School.

During World War II we moved to Salinas, California. I attended Washington Jr. High School there. When we moved back to Bakersfield, I attended Emerson Jr. High, Bakersfield High School and Bakersfield College.  While attending school in Salinas, California, I remember the Japanese students were sent to internment camps. One day they were in class and the next day they were gone. We studied Red Cross First Aid, collected metal and rubber, and bought war bonds and savings stamps. Meat and sugar were rationed. I remember blackouts and riding in the car without the headlights on.

I first saw Lemuel at a high school dance after a football game when I was in the 9th grade. He was too shy to ask me to dance. He stood in the corner of the gym at all times. He was a skinny young man. When he was in the Navy he was my best girlfriend's boyfriend. I met him at her house. I did not know Lem well then. We really began dating during the interval between World War II and Korea. I was 16 years old. He was always very attentive and very good to me and, I might add, very persistent.

When the Korean War broke out, I did not know anything about Korea. Lem and I had already planned to marry, but we had not set a date. Everything happened so suddenly when the war started that we did not have time to think about whether or not Lemuel would be at war.  When Lem's Marine Reserve Unit was called up (he had only 72 hours notice to report) I saw him off to Camp Pendleton on the Southern Pacific train from East Bakersfield. I tried to telephone him at Camp Pendleton, but he was already at Tent Camp 2 getting ready to ship out and they would not connect me.

While he was gone, I transferred to the University of California at Los Angeles. I lived at 1017 Tiverton Ave., Westwood, California. Since I was away from Bakersfield, I did not have the privilege of hearing the local news.  I followed the events of the war on the radio. The boys (men really) were supposed to be home by Christmas. The papers were full of it. General MacArthur was the one who originally stated this. Not much news was reported about the Chosin Reservoir. I just knew that the Marines were there. I did not know where Lem was.  Here in the States there was no civilian war effort as there was during World War II. I don't remember people talking about the war either, so I really think that no one cared.  During his stint in Korea, I wrote to him every day. I also sent him a box of cigars. He wrote to me about every other week, but he did not write about his experiences there. I still have those letters.

Lemuel was slightly wounded about December 5, 1950 as his unit was going to rescue Fox Company at Toktong Pass (now called Fox Hill).  He was not injured enough to require hospitalization. He was give morphine and kept on going. We did not receive notice of his injury and did not know about it until he came home.

He telephoned me on his arrival in the States. He called collect from a pay phone to my dorm at UCLA. I had to visit every room in the dorm to get change to pay the collect call. I was a nickel short of change. When I told the operator this she let the call go through anyway.  A week or two later he came to visit and WOW he had gained weight.

We were married upon his return from Korea when I graduated from college. We were married at El Toro Marine Base in Tustin, California on June 8, 1951. We were married by Navy Chaplain Anderson in a base chapel that was decorated for a wedding to take place the next day. The chaplain took us to his home and counseled us about marriage. We think that he thought that this was a spur of the moment decision. He soon found out that we had gone together for five years. We married with a fellow Marine, Peter Buccoliero, as best man and my college roommate, Vaudine Thompson, as maid of honor. No one else was present.

I had signed a contract to teach at Fresno High School, so after Lem's discharge from the Marine Corps we moved to Fresno, California. I had a job but he had none. While Lem was looking for permanent employment he delivered furniture. Lem then started working for Southern Pacific Railroad where he worked for 36 years.

Lem did not talk about the Korean War until some 20 years later when we started going to veterans reunions. Since then I have learned practically the whole story about his stint in Korea. The best thing that ever happened to him was attending the reunions (especially the Chosin Few reunions) and making return visits to Korea. Through the years Lem experienced many migraine headaches and still has trouble sleeping through the night. He got frostbite on his hands and feet in Korea and after ten years of seeking help from the Veterans Administration he now has 100% disability. (But what a struggle it was to get it!)

The relatively little that has been said about the Korean War through the years bothers Lemuel since the Vietnam veterans have made such a big deal about their return.

We were married 55 years as of June 8, 2006. Lem died August 26, 2006. He was a man who served his country well and he was proud to have done so. His family is also proud of him.


Back to Memoir Contents

Addendum

Obituary - Lem Goode

Presidential Unit Citation

Korean Presidential Unit Citation

Correspondence

 

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