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Jacob J. "Jake" Huffaker
"The town of Seoul in the back streets was full of the ravages of war. We walked up a steep and narrow alley one day, and across the path in front of us lay a half-naked woman, dying. A baby was sucking at her empty breasts. A scene like that sticks to a person. The people lived wherever they could find a place to lie down. They even lived on top of the great walled gate in niches and corridors cut in stone. They lived in caves in the hillsides, and they lived in the shelter of iron sheeting leaned against the city's walls."
- Jake Huffaker
From Mother's Arms to Korea
- copyright by Jacob J. Huffaker -
|Seasons||Lunar Date||Solar Date|
|New Years Day||January 1||January 24|
|Standing of Spring||January 13||February 5|
|Rainy Water (thawing)||January 28||February 20|
|Awakening of Reptiles|
|Animal hibernating||February 13||March 6|
|Spring Equinox||February 28||March 21|
|Clear Bright Season||March 14||April 5|
|Budding Showers||March 29||April 20|
|Standing of Summer||March 16||May 6|
|Little Blooming||April 1||May 21|
|Transplanting (rice)||April 17||June 6|
|Summer Solstice||May 3||June 21|
|Small Heat||May 19||July 7|
|Big Heat||June 5||July 23|
|Standing of Autumn||June 21||August 8|
|Receding of Heat||July 7||August 23|
|White Dew||July 23||September 6|
|Fall Equinox||August 5||September 23|
|Cold Dew (not frost)||August 23||October 8|
|Frost||September 8||October 23|
|Standing of Winter||September 24||November 7|
|Small Snow||October 9||November 22|
|Big Snow||October 24||December 7|
|Winter Solstice||November 9||December 22|
|Small Cold||November 25||January 6|
|Big Cold||December 10||January 21|
Three days are short of making the complete solar year and these go toward the next month that will be doubled. The calendar does not show by the names of the seasons when the rainy season comes, but it's usually when the Small Heat and the Big Heat are in force. It is real helpful for rice growing--and it sure does pour at times.
This is the way the Koreans made kimchi, Korea's favorite food:
Huge heads of celery cabbage were wilted in salt water, then washed like rags in many waters until it was clean. Large white oriental radishes, some of them three inches thick and over a foot long, were trimmed and scrubbed. A handful of seasoning mixture composed of finely chopped hot red peppers, garlic, onions, ground ginger, and a little ground cooked beef was put in the center of each cabbage head, and the leaf tops twisted together. Then the radishes and cabbage head were packed into big earthen jars (about five feet tall) in alternate layers, with salt sprinkled between the layers. Extra leaves of the radishes were placed on top, and a scrubbed rock put on top of all as a weight. Jars were then filled with water and the vegetables allowed to ferment in a way similar to kraut. It took about ten gallons of kimchi for each person in the family for a Winter.
Along the market streets during the summer months I saw fish and meat hanging in the markets. There was no glass in the windows and no refrigeration to keep it cold. Flies swarmed all over, and such a smell coming from them just about made me sick at my stomach.
Washing clothes in Korea was done almost entirely beside running streams or where there was plenty of water. Wrapping their skirts about their knees, the women squatted beside the edge of a stream, wet the clothes, and rubbed them on a flat rock with a short hardwood paddle. From time to time, they splashed more water from the stream onto the clothes, and perhaps rubbed on a little more soap. The percussion of the paddling loosened the dirt as the water was "squished" through them by it. After sufficient amount of paddling, the women leaned forward and shook the clothing in the running water, until the water was perfectly clear as they rinsed. This method really got the clothes clean, but often the women had to go long distances to find water. In the Winter they had to break the ice and freeze their fingers and toes.
The city women had it much harder to clean clothes. She soaked her clothes overnight so they washed quickly, wrung them as dry as possible, and coiled them in a wooden tub. Many times I saw a woman coming out from the city with a tub of soaked clothes on her head, a bundle of wood on top of that, a baby tied to her back, and a bucket of food in her hand. The city woman might have had to walk two or three miles with this load to get to a stream. After the washing was done, she made a fire with the wood, boiled the clothes in the washing soda, and rinsed the soda out. They were spread on a rock or grass to dry, then they were as white as snow.
Ironing was very different and interesting, too. I wondered for a long time while I was over there as to how they could get their clothes so white and ironed so beautiful that I could see every crease. The starch was made out of pounded rice to a flour and then mixed with water. A very stiff starch was made by cooking it in an iron pot. It was sprinkled on the wrong side of the dried clothes until they were wet with starch. Clothes were dried again, then sprinkled with water to moisten them. The moist clothes were smoothed out flat, which the cut of the clothes allowed, and then they were folded in squares and piled on the floor of the not-floor room. They put a clean cloth over them and by the weight of one's feet, shifting about, ran the moisture through the fibers of the materials. When they were taken up, they looked ironed except where they were folded.
There was another way for clothes to be ironed and that was by a small table, polished on the top to the smoothness of glass. A pad of folded cloth was placed on the stone table as padding, then a piece of the moistened clothing, still folded, was placed on the cloth padding. Two hardwood clubs, which resembled small baseball bats, were then used to pound the clothing, which was unfolded and refolded from time to time to get another part of the garment on top. The creases left on the folded edges were pressed out by a small, pointed, long-handled iron which was heated in glowing charcoal, usually on top of several inches of ashes in an iron pot that was brought into the room where the ironing was done.
There was still another ironing method used by Korean women. They had what looked like a very long-handled frying pan polished to a shiny smoothness on the bottom. This was filled with glowing coals of charcoal. It took two people to do ironing well by this method and to make it easy. It was used for broad, flat surfaces, such as bed covers and women's skirts. One person held it almost parallel with the floor using one hand and the toe of one foot, while she pushed the pan of hot coal up and down the length of the garment with her other hand.
The clothes of the children and young people of Korea were very colorful, but when people reached the age of 30, they were considered old, and white was the proper color for them to wear. White was the color for the mourning, and by the time a person was 30, he usually was in mourning for someone, so that men and women over 30 usually wear white even to work in the fields. To save women work, the men were nearly always careful to avoid soiling their clothes. They pulled up their trousers while they worked in the fields, and had a way of squatting when they talked or got down near the ground to work which kept their clothes from getting soiled. I saw them sit this way for hours at a time.
Footwear in Korea consisted of sewed muslin socks, padded in Winter for warmth, and shoes made from molded rubber, or rice straw. Most of the men wore some kind of hat which was usually made from black horsehair. When taking things to market, the heads of the women were shaded by the loads they carried on them. Such a method of carrying demanded a straight back and neck and a very smooth flowing movement as they walked, so that the carriage of Korean women was especially beautiful and graceful. Her style of clothing allowed this free, easy, swinging gait. The American women with their hip-swinging walk could never do that. One out of three American women complained of backache due to the way they tried to walk.
The Koreans believed in evil spirits. For example*:
"A couple was trying to have school for children who didn't have the money to go to school. Because the school was so far away, they had been having school in the house of another family. The little girl of that family became very ill. They called a sorceress. (That was a priestess of the Shamanist religion which was the native religious belief of a large portion of the population in the country). This was an animistic religion in which it was believed that everything--every stone, tree, plant, and animal--had a spirit (some were good, some were bad) that came to the house and went from room to room. Food was prepared and offered to the spirits. Then the Sorceress went into a trance, supposedly to get into communication with the spirits so that they might tell her the cause of the child's illness. Finally, she cried out, "There's something evil in this house." "What is it?" asked the mother of the child. "There's a black evil thing in this house." Again, the sorceress chanted. "I know what it is," the mother cried. "It's the blackboard which they use in the school in our house."
Coffins were made of boards and painted black, thus the sorceress saw this as she went from room to room looking for something to blame it on. The blackboard and the school were put out of the house, but the little girl grew worse and died. Then over and over the grief-stricken mother said to her husband, "Oh, why did you let that evil thing come into our house to bring the evil spirits that killed my baby?" It was useless to tell the mother that evil spirits were not in the blackboard, nor had they killed her child, for while educated Koreans understood the causes of diseases and sought medical care, the belief in evil spirits and fear of them was deeply rooted in the minds of the uneducated people who had no knowledge of modern medicine or science. They had plenty of trouble getting the Koreans to let doctors operate to correct some ailment they might have acquired. Through the long years of past experience, Koreans learned that serious cuts often became sore and swollen and eventually caused death. Since belief in evil spirits seemed to explain such misfortune, in the absence of any scientific knowledge, either of bacterial infection or antiseptics, it was not to be wondered at that people were afraid to have loved ones "cut" as operations were described.
The "Moo-dong" was a sorcerer's prayer-meeting. The sorcerer or sorceress was a priest or a priestess of the Shamanist religion, which I have said before was an animistic religion in which everything was believed to have a spirit. Evil spirits were believed the cause of all illness and misfortune. The Shamanists came to a sick house and warned that if a prayer-meeting was not held to drive out the evil spirits causing the illness, a person would die. When he still remained sick after one prayer-meeting, more were to be held because it was said there were many evil spirits and not all had been driven out.
On the theory that evil spirits came out as soon as light was gone from the sky, the rhythm of the drums to which the sorceress danced began at sunset--slowly at first, then becoming louder, booming out over the valleys and echoing back from the mountains unceasingly until daylight. As the night progressed and morning approached, the tempo of the drums increased to an almost continuous roll, and the sorceress, who had danced all night, danced wildly with the tempo of the drums. Just as the first rays of light broke through, she grabbed torches or swords and simulated the action of driving out the evil spirits within the house through a door or window."
*Source of Information Not Recalled
The biggest diseases in Korea were venereal diseases of all kinds, as well as dysentery. Many of the girls who were prostitutes often were teenage girls who had been sold by their poverty-stricken families so the family might have food to eat. These girls spread the venereal diseases as they sold themselves for food and shelter. When I was there in late '52, '53, and '54, I talked to one girl and asked her how she got started in prostitution. She told me that all her family got killed by Communists and she came to live with this Korean woman who in turn bought her Western-style clothes. In turn, she was to sell herself to GI's to pay for her stay and clothes. The Mamasans was always sure to have enough spent on her to keep her in debt. A lot more women did it to feed their families and to send kids to school. When I was there, it was estimated that there were about 360,000 prostitutes in Seoul. I sure believed it, too, as there were from 15 to 30 always along the block of a street during the daylight hours and many more at night, with "pimp" boys (boys who made a living by tips and trips with GI's back through the back alleys to houses where girls stayed) running around wanting to take GI's to see his "Cherry Sister"--who couldn't find the wrappings of her "box", let alone a "Cherry".
The reason for very much dysentery in babies and parasites in all ages of the Korans was due to the shortage of fertilizer. Human manure (shit, in American slang) was used on the fields so as to make crops grow to produce enough food to feed the people. Believe me, it sure did make it grow, too. I saw turnips over there that I didn't hardly know what they were. You could put about three or four of them in a wash tub (a tub that held about 20 gallons of waster). That's no lie either. The land was too limited to raise much stock for animal fertilizer. It had to be used to produce food for the people, as only a limited portion of the area was tillable and the rest was rocky mountain terrain.
The farmer with oxen had wooden carts. They went into the city at night and collected the human manure, carting it out to their farms where they stored it in big pits dug in the ground and applied it to the land as the crops needed it. How often as I passed these carts on the streets of Seoul did I almost got sick with such a bad smell. They came about every two weeks and cleaned out our toilet in the camp. For about four or six hours we couldn't get close to that toilet, it smelled so strong. One day, one of the carts (which we called "Honey Carts") turned over in the road that we had to travel to and from work. That really got us. Various types of parasite eggs, as well as disease germs, resided in this human soil. Leaches hooked onto the Koreans' feet and legs in the rice fields and sucked blood out of them. The Koreans' feet and legs were toughened to them so that they eventually did not have much trouble with them.
To show you how they believed in the old doctors of many ways, here is one example. A mother brought her little baby girl, about two years old, to a Korean-American educated doctor. The child's right side was badly swollen and had blue bruise-like marks and black speckles over the swelling. The child moaned when her side was touched. The doctor looked at the little girl's mother and said, "You have been taking this child to the 'Chim' doctor." "Oh, no," the mother said. "Oh, yes," the doctor relied. "These black speckles and bruises are where the "Chim" doctor has stuck needles into her side." Finally the mother admitted it. Again, the belief that evil spirits caused illness was the basis for the practice of stabbing hot needles into an afflicted part to kill the evil spirit supposed to cause the distress. This little girl had two dozen or more black specks on her side where she had been stabbed by a needle. This had also caused the bruised appearance.
Sometimes coins were heated red hot and pressed into the flesh for similar reasons. "Only an operation can save this child. If you will consent, we will operate and it will cost you nothing," said the Doctor. "Are you sure she will get well?" asked the mother. "I cannot be sure that she is strong enough to come through the operation, but it's her only chance to live. She will not live long like this." But the mother, expressing her fear that to "cut" the child would only let more evil spirits get inside it to kill the baby, would not leave the child. A few days later, I was told that the woman had taken the child to an old Korean doctor who had sold them a bite of bear lung for a yen, guaranteeing them if the child did not get better he would refund half their money. The idea behind the flesh cures was that the flesh of various animals was good for certain ailments. The part of the animal corresponding to the part of the person which was ailing was fed to the sick person and was supposed to cure him. The "Doctor" said the child's lung was ailing and hence the bite of the bear lung. According to the family, the child was much better, but she was seen upon the back of one of her sisters looking more sick than ever and every breath ended in a moan of pain. About two weeks later the infection ruptured and the child died.
The people believed that certain animals had certain healing properties and sometimes even well persons took those kinds of flesh cures to ensure staying well. The servant of one of the missionaries always asked to go to the country on a certain day each year. It was discovered that he went out to get a live lizard to swallow so that his legs would be strong. The herb doctor was well known. These doctors were sometimes quite effective in their treatments if they diagnosed the case correct and did not give improper dosages of herbs.
Among the most popular games played in Korea was "teeter-totter". A folded straw bag was placed under the center of the board. One girl standing on one end of the board was thrown up into the air when another girl jumped on the raised end. They got to be good at landing squarely on the board with their feet. I saw them go up as high as ten to twelve feet or the level with the lower edge of the house roof. I also saw GI's trying to do this with the Korean girls, but they only lasted about two jumps. The Koreans made swings out of rice straw ropes and had contests seeing what girl could swing the highest. They had a game of jacks, using different sized stones instead of jacks and a ball. They also played hop-scotch, some even with babies tied to their backs.
Buddhism was the main religious belief in Korea, mixed with Shamanism religion. On the road to the Buddhist temple usually stood a tree that came to be looked upon as a special tree on the basis of this animistic conception. People brought strips of clothing of the sick in their families and tied them to the branches of this tree with a petition to the spirit of the tree for the health of their loved ones. They also piled rocks under the tree.
The war situation was about the same during the first week of October
sides were waiting for the peace conference coming up around the 1st of
February 1954. Both sides were building defenses and pulling troops back to
training areas and going through cycles of training. I thought the
situation could blow up again
just any time.
My name had been up for R&R for three days, and on October 2nd I found out that I was finally leaving for R&R on Sunday, October 4th. Two other boys that worked in crypto were going with me. I had only saved up about $190 to make the trip over there, but the two other boys that I was going with had plenty of money, especially a boy from North Dakota. He got $600 from a Mamasan to buy some cloth to bring back to sell in the black market, and he had $200 of his own. In all, the three of us had close to $1,100.
We left the morning of October 4th by Jeep to Group 22. There we processed and they took us over to K-16 (Kimpo) airport by Jeep. We learned there that we were getting to go to Tokyo as our names hadn’t been called off to get aboard the other planes leaving for Kukura and Kobe, Japan. Those boys had to put on Mae West life jackets and parachutes to ride the small planes.
We had to wait until about 2:30 to
get aboard our plane. There was another one that loaded before we got on
our plane for Tokyo. The plane that we took was the biggest the Army
had. It was a C-124 Globemaster. We took off for Tokyo about 2:30 on a
four-hour flight to Tokyo. The big plane, with 175 boys aboard it, had a
time getting off the ground. It really lumbered down the long runway,
gaining height very slowly. Seoul faded in the background and mountains
passed below us, some covered with snow.
In about an hour and half we were over the Sea of Japan. We all hoped the plane stayed in the air, as we were not equipped to land on water. Just two or three people at the most were allowed to go to the latrine at the back of the plane as the weight in the back would make the pilot unable to maintain good control of the plane. I was in the top deck beside a window where I could see out. It wasn’t too long before we hit the Japanese mainland. Just before dark we passed the big Japanese mountain, Mt. Fuji, covered with snow. It was a sacred, famous mountain. Just after dark we landed at Tachikawa air base just outside of Tokyo.
We got off the plane and boarded some buses for Camp Drake. When we got there we ate a wonderful meal with real milk and steak. That was something we hadn’t had since we had left the States. After supper we went to a building where we turned in our fatigue clothing and got Class-A uniforms and our papers saying that we were on a seven-day R&R from Korea. As soon as we got our new clothes on and our old ones turned in, we got a cab and had the driver take us to a Japanese hotel. We knew that we couldn’t get in a Special Service hotel that late at night as the other planeload of boys had already gone to Tokyo, as well as most of this load.
Arriving at the Japanese hotel, we went into the bar and drank some whiskey and beer. The two boys I was with got to drinking pretty heavy, but I just had a whiskey and gingerale. We all got a room and finally got to bed that night. One of the boys was so drunk that during the night he wet all over the bed. The next morning he had to pay for having the bed clothes cleaned. We got a big laugh out of that.
We stayed around the hotel the next day until the afternoon. Those two boys I was with were trying to get their heads straightened up after doing all that drinking the night before. We left that hotel about 3:30 p.m. to hunt a Special Service Hotel. We couldn’t stay in the Japanese hotel long due to the money we had to spend to stay there even one night.
We got a cab and went across town to the main part of Tokyo. We tried to get in a Special Service Hotel there, but they were filled. The boy at the desk said that he knew of one next to Tokyo Bay that was just for officers mostly, but would take some GI’s at times. He called them for us and they said to come over. We went over there at that hotel and got a room for $7.00 a day for the rest of the week. Meals were 35 cents for breakfast, 50 cents for dinner, and 75 cents for supper. They fed restaurant-style and had real good food with pretty Japanese girls waiting on the tables. We ate, drank some at the bar, looked around the hotel, and got to bed about 10:30 that night.
The next morning, October 6th, we got up about 8 o’clock--or I did. The other boys didn’t get up until about dinner because of too much drinking again. I went down and ate a good breakfast, and then got out and looked around the hotel and Tokyo Bay. After dinner we went into the bar, where we drank and talked some. We went back to our room until suppertime. After supper we went uptown to the Rocker-4 Club for the GI’s and saw a good floor show put on by the Japanese, along with tricks they showed the GIs. We got back to the hotel and to bed about 12 o’clock.
The next day, I got up about 9:30, cleaned up, and ate dinner about 11:30. I laid around the hotel until about 4:30, when we all went uptown to the PX to look around. We weent to a Japanese restaurant and ate some. Eating in a Japanese restaurant, we were just about guessing as to what we were ordering and eating. We looked around town after eating, then went back to the Rocker-4 Club and saw some good boxing matches. We had our pictures taken with two other boys that worked in the crypto center in Tokyo. One of them had gone through crypto school in Camp Gordon, Georgia, the same time that I went through. We rode uptown on the Special Services buses because they were much safer than the cabs were there. When we rode with one of those reckless, left-side-of-the-road drivers, we were on the edge of our seat wondering what he was going to hit next. We got back to the hotel about 12 o’clock and went to bed.
On October 8th I got up about 9:30, cleaned up, and just looked around the hotel. It had been rainy most of the time so I had not gotten out to take any pictures yet. I wanted to do that before I left there. After dinner we all went down to the Tokyo PX and the boys did a little shopping. That sure was a big PX. It was five stories high and every floor was loaded with stuff for the GIs. After we got through looking and shopping, we went to a Special Services Hotel there in the main part of Tokyo just to see what it was like. We fooled around in the hotel talking to some of the GIs that were staying there. They seemed to like the place pretty well. We told them about our place on Tokyo Bay where we were staying. We came back to the hotel and ate supper. After supper we went to the Rocker-4 club again, but there wasn’t much going on there that time. We left there and went to another place where there were some American girls dancing. One of the boys with us got to dancing with some of the girls. After leaving there, we came back to the hotel about 12:30 and went to bed.
I got up about 8 o’clock the next morning, cleaned up, and ate. I called Betty at Kodak, Tennessee and talked to her for five minutes for $20.00. It was 9 o’clock In Tokyo and 7:30 at night the day before in Kodak. Betty sure was excited to be talking to me. One of the other boys called his wife just after I did. We had the manager of the hotel notify Betty the day before I called her that I would be making a telephone call to her the next morning.
After making the phone call, the boys had breakfast in bed and I went up to the day room at the hotel. There was a real pretty Japanese girl working in the photo shop. She sold films and had them developed and also sold a few gifts to send back home. After dinner I went back up there and got her talked into going outside and taking a picture of her. After that we went downtown and walked down Ginza Street, the main street of Tokyo, and we looked at all the shops. There was a building about ten stories high and there wasn’t a nail in that building under construction. They had a scaffold on the outside of that building and it was all tied up with ropes.
After supper we all went back downtown to another club and drank some. The boys bought some whiskey, brought it back to the hotel, and drank most of the night. I drank a little, but knew when to quit. Another boy had been staying with us some and running around with us. He was stationed in Tokyo and knew the boy from North Dakota who was supposed to get cloth with the $600 that the mamasan had given him. The North Dakota boy was spending it on us rather than cloth. He said that we were going to have a big time while we were over there. Our own money was getting low.
I got up about 8 o’clock, ate breakfast, went back to the room, and told the boys that I was going out to take some pictures of Tokyo. The day, October 10th, was the prettiest day we had had since we had been there. The boys were just getting out of bed, holding their hurting heads from all that drinking they had been doing overnight, when I left. I caught a bus and rode uptown to the PX. I got off and walked down to the main street of Tokyo and took some pictures. I walked on over to the Imperial Palace grounds, where the Emperor of Japan was supposed to live. It was a 380-acre place surrounded by water and guard gates and bridges over the water. I took pictures of the Imperial Palace grounds and guard gates (houses) and a very good picture of the heart of Tokyo. I met a GI at one of the gates and he wanted me to take a picture of him with his camera and said that he would take a picture of me with my camera. We both did that for each other. I took a picture of a Japanese girl dressed in her kimono outfit. I had a time getting the picture of her as there were so many GI’s around trying to get a picture of her, too. I saw a Japanese boy taking a picture of two Japanese girls beside one of the guard houses, so I got behind him and took a picture of them, too. Then they wanted me to take a picture with them, so I did. I went back to the Imperial Hotel where the movie stars from the States stayed when they were over there and I took a picture of it, too. I went by the Ernie Pyle theatre and took a picture of it. I walked back to the PX and caught a bus back to the hotel, getting there just at dinner time. After dinner I went outside of the hotel and took pictures of the hotel, Tokyo Bay, and a big bird in a tree beside the hotel. I didn’t know what kind of a bird it was. That night we all went down to the Rocker-4 Club and watched a band play and the people dance, getting back to the hotel about 12:30. It was Saturday night and our seven days were almost shot.
The next morning I got up about 10:30, cleaned up, and fooled around the hotel until about dinner. After dinner we just talked and laid around the hotel. I went down to the gift shop and bought some things to send back home. After supper we all went down town to a Japanese club, where we watched them dance and talked to the boys there at the club. We got back to the hotel about midnight and got to bed around 1 o’clock. That was our last full day in Tokyo on our seven-day R&R. It seemed like everyone had had a good time running around and seeing the sights. Really, I was the one that saw a lot of the sights as those other two boys did a lot of drinking and didn’t feel like getting out and seeing the sights of the town when it was pretty.
I got out of bed about 9 o’clock on October 12th and ate a little Japanese food. We ate dinner at the hotel and after dinner got things ready to give the boy to mail from Japan to the States for us. I got out and took a picture of the hotel and the girl that worked at the place where we got our gifts to mail home. About 5 o’clock we checked out of the hotel and went back to the Japanese Club until about 10:30, then caught a cab to Camp Drake in time to check-in and get our clothes. We got to bed about 2 o’clock. The next day we got up about 3:30, ate breakfast, got things together, went to the airport, and got on a C-124 for Seoul. We really had a wonderful time there in Tokyo on the seven-day R&R. We spent about $1,200 and got back with about $3 between the three of us.
Just after getting back to the 304th Signal Company from R&R, the boys told me that I had orders to go to Taegu, Korea. I went down to the office and
they said for me to turn in my stuff because I was to leave that night for
Taegu. I got my things ready and turned it in, but then they decided it was
too late for me to catch the train and for me to wait until the next
day. Richard Fidler was on the night shift, so I slept in his bed.
I got up about 6 o’clock the next morning and ate. I went to the CO’s office and caught a Jeep for the train station. U was really glad to get away from the 304th as they were getting more stateside every day with inspections every day, lockers that had to be in a certain order, beds that had to be made up good, inspections-in-ranks, shoes shined every day, reveille and retreat every day, roll call, bed check, and basic training.
I got on the train
about 7:30 and saw Koreans gathering rice as I was riding the train to
Taegu. I got off of the train about 4:30 at the Taegu train station.
I caught a ride to the KMAG replacement company, as I didn’t
know where it was in the town. When I got there I reported to the 1st
Sergeant and he assigned me a barracks. I had to go across a Korean
compound to get to the KMAG mess hall. They had Koreans working there so
all we had to do was get our plate and get the food. After eating,
the Koreans cleaned off the table. They feed us much better there than
in the 304th.
The next day I wrote a letter to Betty telling her where I was at, and I talked to the boys around there that were always coming and going from the Replacement Company. The boy that had been masturbating back in my barracks at the 304th was there in Taegu. I heard that I was supposed to go to a new ROK Corps (5th)that they were building up above the 38th parallel.
On Friday, October 16th, I got up about 6 o’clock, ate breakfast, and went to get my records checked at KMAG’s headquarters. After that I went down to the supply room and got some winter clothes. I got gloves, a big overcoat with a liner, a liner for my field jacket, a wool pile cap, and a new style of winter shirts and pants. I also got another blanket, and, boy, was my duffle bag full. I could hardly carry it. I would get a sleeping bag when I was assigned to the ROK Corps. That afternoon I went over to got my shot record checked, as well as my teeth. They told me to come back on Monday because they might fill some for me.
There was an inspection Saturday morning. We just had to make up our beds and a houseboy cleaned up the barracks. After dinner I went around the area looking it over and just laid around until supper. After supper I went over to the Service Club and watched a movie. They really had a wonderful club for the boys there in the KMAG outfit. I got to bed about 11 o’clock.
I got up about 6:30 on Sunday, ate, and fooled around talking and writing letters. That afternoon I went over to the day room and read some. That night I was on guard duty, so I ate about 5 o’clock and got ready for the guard mount. They sure checked us, too. My walk was around the KMAG headquarters area, which was about a fourth of a mile from my barracks. I had the first shift and walked around the area from 6 until 12. I watched some GI’s court some Korean girls just outside the compound in a Korean house. I didn’t get to see them make any of the girls. There was a Korean injured hospital just on the other side of the compound and a Korean hospital just across the street from the headquarters. I got to bed about 1 o’clock and I sure was looking for that bed, too, after all that walking. That day I had heard that I might get sent to one of the other ROK Corps until the 5th was ready for me. Another boy who was in the crypto was assigned to the 5th ROK Corps, too, and he had to go to another corps until they were ready for him.
Monday I got up about 6:30, ate, and cleaned up. I went to see the dentist about 9:30. I thought that he was going to fill some for me, but he just cleaned my teeth--tearing up my gums, but making my mouth feel good. He was a Korean dentist. That afternoon I just stayed around the barracks and talked. I was told late that day that I was assigned to the 5th ROK Corps, but was on temporary duty (TDY) to KMAG headquarters there in Taegu for 45 days. I had to go to work in the crypto room there the next day. The next morning I got up about 6 o’clock, cleaned up, caught a bus for the headquarters, and went to work. I didn’t do anything but break one message and meet the boys that I would be working with.
October 23rd was inspection day. I ate and went to work. We had to stand rank inspections every two weeks in the main KMAG area. I didn’t do anything at work that day but fix a message or two, read, and help a boy work crossword puzzles. I thought I was going to have to stay over in the Company area and the First Sergeant even sent me over there. The Sergeant asked me if I was going to stay there. When I told him that I was just on TDY, he sent me back over to the Replacement Company. I liked it much better there anyway, as we didn’t have to get up every morning at 5:30 for roll call and barracks inspection every day. They really had a tough CO over there. He was once a Captain before he went out and came back in the Army.
The next few days passed without any new things happening. I worked every day. They sent that boy that came from the 304th to a place up toward the front lines. I didn’t know what he would do up there. We could catch a Jeep back to our compound if the buses were not running, and could even get a Jeep to take us to downtown Taegu if we wanted one. On October 31st I stayed around the barracks until after the inspection, and then went over and got paid. They also gave us three shots. I went to work after that and got off at 5 o’clock. That night I went over to the NCO club where they were having a party for some boys going back to the States. The boys going back home got free champagne, while we got a free hour of drinks. They usually had two Saturday nights during the month where all the drinks were a nickel. The boys really get loaded during that time.
The guard duty list on the bulletin board went around about three times
the first week of November, but my name did not
come up on it. We got a day and a half off each week from work. There sure
much to do there as we had about 10 or 15 messages the whole day.
On November 4th I was getting ready to come back to the Replacement Company after work,
waiting on a Jeep to come back, when down came a Korean with a pig tied
to the back of the baggage carrier of his bicycle. I guess it weighed
out to be about 125 pounds. I sure would have given anything to have had
a picture of that sight. About a half hour later I saw a Papasan with
an A-frame on his back and sitting up in there was a Mamasan with a
white dress on. It was a pretty sight with him trotting along the
I cleaned up for inspection on the morning of November 14th. About 9:30 I went over to the main company area and stood inspection. I made out okay. That day at dinner I saw a sergeant that had been in the 304th and he said that he was glad to get out of there and to be down here. He said they were supposed to move to the new area today. The Captain said that we had to take some close-order drill next Thursday as we were getting rusty in our Army walk, I guess.
We had a real good dinner on Thanksgiving day. It was the best I
had ever eaten since that day in Seattle, Washington. Just after
Thanksgiving I went on the night shift. I had to work just a little
harder, but not near as much as I had at the 8th Army in Seoul.
I stood inspection again Saturday, November 28th, and then went up to KMAG Headquarters and heard some I&E talks. That night I went over to the club, where I drank some and watched a good movie. I had a chance to go see Marilyn Monroe, but thought I couldn’t get close to her so I just stayed there in the company area. I also had a chance to take a jet ride, but thought it wouldn’t be too long before I would be leaving this place and I didn’t want to stretch my luck.
On December 22nd I got up about 3:30 in the morning, and four more boys and I went deer hunting in the hills about eight miles southeast of the town. We got a boy to take us in a Jeep back in the hills until it was so rough that we had to get out and walk. We told him that we could find our way back and that he didn’t have to come back after us. It was breaking daylight when we got out of the Jeep. The temperature was down about 25 degrees.
We walked about two miles to a
Korean village, stopping every few minutes to rest as it was a hard
climb. As we went through the village, we started climbing the
mountain, having to stop every few yards to rest. I got sick at my
stomach about halfway up the mountain. I guess it was from not eating
anything before coming out in the cold, and then getting hot from
climbing wearing so much
clothing. I had my long-handle
underwear on, wool shirt, and field jacket with liner. I
told the others that I would go back down the mountain and wait on them
to come back at the village we came through. Another boy who
was with us had forgotten to pack his rifle the night before, so I let him have mine. It wasn’t quite daylight when I
left the boys about halfway up the mountain and started back to the
I walked back down through the rice fields (patches of land on the side of the mountain that had been dug out and leveled off in stair steps down the side of the mountain). When I got within sight of the village, I lay down on the cold, frozen ground and waited for daylight and the sun to come over the mountains. As the sun came over the mountain, a Korean boy came up the path toward me. He saw me lying on the ground and looked like he was wanting to know what was wrong with me. I motioned to my stomach and went through signs that I was sick. He wanted me to follow him back to the village, so I got up and did. He took me to the first Korean house at the edge of the village and there an old Korean motioned for me to come in and showed me where the floor was the warmest. He motioned for me to lie down there. The old Papasan felt of my head to see if I was running a temperature. I hadn’t been there long before Koreans started coming in to visit me and asking questions. I guess that boy must have told everyone in the village. After I lay there on the warm floor awhile, I got to feeling better and got to talking to the Koreans. They got interested in my army clothes.
The boys came down from the mountains about 2 o’clock and asked the Koreans where I was at. They came in and wanted to know if I was okay to move out. I got up, got outside in the fresh air, and found that I was feeling much better. We thanked the Koreans for letting me stay there until they got back. The boys said that they saw one deer a few yards away, but it ran off before they got a chance to shoot at it.
We started down the road and hadn’t gone but just about a half a mile when we ran into a bunch of pheasants. We all shot at them, but didn’t hit any. It was hard to hit a pheasant with an M-1. After running around in the rocks and bushes thinking we had hit one, we went down the road about three or four miles before stopping at a Korean house where one of the boys said he had been before. I guess he was expecting to get some from one of the Korean girls, but he got fooled. We left there and walked about three miles before we caught a Korean bus, rode into the edge of town, and got off. Talk about a rough ride in that bus--we had one. Three of us were sitting on the back seat of the bus when it hit a real rough place in the road. Our heads almost hit the top of the bus. Everybody, including the Koreans, got a big laugh out of it. We were not supposed to ride Korean buses, so we got off before we got near the compound.
There was a girl there in Taegu called “Taegu Cutie” that the boys all talked about. I had never seen her, but a boy gave me a negative of her and I made some pictures for him. The reason that she was so popular was because she had the biggest “tits” in Korea. They were the biggest ones that I had ever seen in Korea. A boy was down there at her house and he said that while he was there for half an hour he counted 16 boys going in and coming out of her room. A short-time with her cost $2.00, so she made $32 for a half hour’s work. That was pretty good money for a half hour’s work. I was over in another barracks the day that two boys had been down to see “Taegu Cutie” and had just got back. One of them asked the other, “Did you kiss Taegu Cutie?” The other one said, “Yes”. The first one said, “She just got through sucking me off.” I thought I would die laughing at them. The other boys in the barracks just whooped and hollered. The boy didn’t know what to say. There are a few sexy girls there in Taegu, but not near as many as there were in Seoul.
The night before Christmas we had a Christmas party with just us crypto
boys and Lieutenant Parker (who was executive officer of crypto). We had
it downtown at a house he knew about. We had to take our shoes off before we came inside. We had everything--nuts, cake,
candy, fixed Korean shrimp, and anything we wanted to drink. There were
not any girls there with us. About midnight part of us left, but I think
some of the others got so loaded that they were there all night. You
should have seen those boys who were about loaded looking for their own
shoes when it was time to leave.
I was off a half day on Christmas, so I just laid around the barracks as it
started to raining in the afternoon. I heard that we were not going to
have inspection the next day as most of the boys had gotten drunk on
Christmas Eve and had
had fights with each other.
The next day I was relieved from duty at KMAG crypto and told to get ready to go to the 5th ROK Corps in the Kumwha Valley. They had the camp almost ready. That morning I went to town with a boy that was pretty rough--so rough that most boys wouldn’t have anything to do with him. He was real nice to me and we got along pretty good. I got all my things ready and laundry from the Koreans and got my orders to ship out on the 30th. I talked my Sergeant into letting me ride in one of the two trucks that were going up to the 5th Corps. I didn’t want to ride the train and stay in Seoul all night waiting for someone from the 5th Corps to come down after me. The two trucks were loaded with whiskey and furniture.
We left the company area in trucks about 8
o’clock on December 30th. It was about 2:30 in the afternoon when we stopped in a company
between Taegu and Seoul to get gas and eat some dinner. The road sure
was rough and the temperature was down about 25 degrees to 30 degrees. I was
bundled up good, but my feet really got cold. We went through small
Korean villages all the way up and saw where there had been heavy
fighting in these places. There were holes and trenches everywhere,
as well as equipment that had been damaged beyond repair. There
Korean guards at outposts along the way watching out for guerrilla bands
that roamed the hills and mountains. People waved at us in the villages
as we passed by. By traveling by truck, I could see the Korean scenery
and smell the air, too.
We got to Seoul just after dark because we had to drive about 25 to 35 miles an hour all the way up due to the rough roads. I saw the big jet base at Sorwon just below Seoul where the North Koreans had landed a MiG-15 plane during the war and got $10,000. We stopped at the 22nd Signal Group where we thought we could get something to eat, but they had already eaten. I saw one of the boys at the gate that I had gone through school in Camp Gordon, Georgia with, and he was surprised to see me. He wanted to know where I was going. We went on up to the 5th Air Force compound opposite the Seoul University and got something to eat at the snack bar. I also got my feet warm.
We left there about 9 o’clock and got to the 5th ROK Corps about midnight. I was 20 miles above the 38th Parallel, 325 miles from Taegu, a mile and a half from the 9th Crops rest camp, and about three miles from the 9th Corps area. I was also about 15 miles from the front lines. They told me that I would find an empty bed in a tent just above the Company office. I found the bed, got my two blankets out, and just crawled in bed with my clothes on. That was the most miserable night I had spent yet there in Korea. I never got to sleep all night. I liked to have frozen, as the temperature was down to about 10 degrees above zero.
The next morning I got two more blankets, a good insulated lined sleeping bag, a field liner for my jacket, a pair of “Mickey Mouse boots”, and a parka outfit to wear. I was assigned to a tent where there were supposed to be five other boys. There were two oil stoves. When I arrived there was just one more crypto boy and me. The others were coming from other KMAG outfits. I was supposed to catch guard duty there about every four to six weeks.
The other crypto boy and I got the crypto room into operation. We built a table for the room and both of us together did a pretty good job, if I do say so, out of what we had to make it. We got our first message through the crypto room on January 3rd. I worked during the day and the other boy at night until the others got there. I had to stay all night while the other boy was on guard one night, so I just took my sleeping bag down there and slept some.
As of January 5, 1954, I had been on guard one time. I made it pretty
good with the Mickey Mouse boots that had insulated rubber inside them and my
parka outfit. When my hands got cold I stopped at the guard
gate where they had a fire and warmed them. One afternoon one of
the Korean houseboys and I got
some lumber, put it around the tent, dug some dirt, and piled it up
against the lumber to keep the cold air from getting up under the tent
and coming through the cracks in the floor. The temperature usually got
down to zero or below at night and up to about 20 to 25 during the day.
We had had a few light snows since I had been here.
We got messages through for several days saying that the ROK forces were not to have over a day’s food and ammo. The troops were also going through training periods, getting ready for fighting. Corps, divisions, and battalions were getting ready for re-assigned supporting and defending areas. They were going to turn the POW’s loose the 25th of the month. Rhee gave the UN 90 days after the 25th of January or he said he would attack for unification of Korea. It was January 9th and I saw on the company orders that I would be leaving for the States in February. We had a big snow that day and the boys went out and snowballed each other. The snow was about six inches deep.
On the morning of January 15th we had another big snow. It was about five inches deep. The temperature had been down around zero every night. I took some pictures of the snow and the scenery around there. I did not have to stay in the crypto room but about four hours at that time. We got another boy in so I only worked from about 5:30 until about 9 or 9:30.
We heard that Rhee was trying to stir his troops to fight over the POW issue. The United States could hold him back, as they had the upper hand over the supplies. The U.S. said it was going to pull two Divisions out of Korea as there were enough trained ROK troops to take their place.
This 5th ROK Corps was located about 15 miles from the 44th MASH where Clifford O’Dell was stationed. He lived just about a half mile from me in Kodak, Tennessee. It was still very cold with the temperature getting down to zero or below every night. There was still some snow on the ground as the mountains around there were from 4,000 to 5,000 feet high.
The war situation was still about the same on January 22nd. The Reds gave 4,000 missing
U.S. servicemen as dead or captured. They said that they died in camps
and marches. The UN decided to go ahead and get the POW’s. Rhee gave them
until the 26th
of April to get it straightened out or he said again that he was going to do it alone. Red
planes could come down this valley and hit us easy there. We had an air
alert on January 23rd about 5:30 and got in the ditches along the
compound. It was a real alert as the radar spotted one on their screen.
By the next week nothing new had happened to the war situation. The weather was very cold with temperatures getting down to -12 below zero a couple of mornings. Three big snows came during this time. One morning the stoves went out when the temperature was down to about 5 above zero outside. It was about 10 to 15 degrees inside the tent. The boys that had to go to work early had to get out of bed in that cold, get their clothes on, and see what was the matter with the stoves. They found out that the oil in the drums outside had gotten so low that it would not run into the stoves and they just went out.
On the first of February they put me in for promotion to Sergeant that month. I would have preferred that they keep the Sergeant rank and let me go home--I couldn’t use a Sergeant stripe in civilian life.
The UN shot down a Red MiG over the west coast on February 4th. Much troop movement was going on along the DMR zone. The 45th Division was due to be rotated back to the States in about six weeks. I was hoping that I might get to go back as they went. Three days later (February 7th), I heard that I was going home. I was supposed to be in Taegu by the 10th of February, on my way home. I had 73 more days in this Army. I finally got it made by getting paid for the first time since I had been up there. I got $68. I was going to go up to the front lines and I was really excited about that as I could have gotten some real pictures that day. but there were not enough boys going so the guy who was going to take us said that he would not take just two of us.
On February 10th I turned all of my clothes in and was ready to leave. It was a really funny feeling to know that it was the last night I would be staying there. We were to leave by truck to Seoul and then by train to Taegu. I bought some films and a gross of rubbers to take back home with me. They cost $2.48. I heard that we were supposed to take some Indian troops back home and were going back by the way of the Suez Canal, which would take about 50 days. I sure hoped that this was just a rumor.
We went down to see the Colonel that afternoon, thinking that he would tell us the advantages of staying in the Army and wanting us to re-up, but he just told me goodbye. He said that he was proud to have had me in this camp and that he wished me luck on my civilian life.
I cleared the Company office on February 11th and got on the truck about
9 o’clock heading for Seoul, Korea. We had a load of furniture to take to a
place in Yongdong-po. Another boy and I rode in the back of the
canvas-covered truck. It was raining and very cold as we left the 5th
ROK Corps area and drove toward Seoul.
We got in Seoul about dinner and took the furniture down to the place in Yongdong-po and unloaded it. We came back to the 22nd Signal Group, ate, and turned in our bags. Two other boys and I ran around Seoul until dark. We went down to a camp where one of the boys had been stationed while he was there in Seoul. We went back to the train station to see when we would be leaving for Taegu. It was to leave about 11 o’clock, so we just ran around in Seoul until about 10:30. We got on the sleeper train about 11 o’clock and got to bed about 11:30.
We got in Taegu about daybreak on February 12th, got off the train, and got checked in at the Replacement Company after riding there on some trucks that met us at the train station. The weather in Taegu was much warmer than up north. It was down to about 30 that morning. After breakfast we turned in most of our clothes. After I found out that we would not be doing any more processing, I went down to the PX in Taegu that afternoon and ordered about $30 worth of stuff to send home. I got a pair of pajamas for Betty, a baby warm-up jacket for Vickie, a large jacket for Robbie, and a medium warm-up jacket and sports shirt for myself. I bought Mary a pocketbook and got a pretty picture album. That night I went over to the NCO club and drank some until about 11 o’clock.
About 9:30 the next morning I went up to the KMAG headquarters and they took pictures of our Good Conduct ribbons getting pinned on us. That afternoon about 2:30 we went over to a Korean Army building and got our “Kimchi Award”. It was a big paper with Korean flags across the top of the paper talking about the KMSG origin. One side of the paper (the paper was about the size of a diploma you got at the end of high school) was written in English about our time in the KMAG outfit and how it was their honor to have had us helping them out. The other side of the paper was written in Korean, saying it was the honor the Korean Army to have had our help while we were with them. The Korean side was signed by the General of the Korean Army. I enjoyed being in the KMAG organization, what time I was with them toward the end of my tour in Korea. I went over and developed some pictures as we couldn’t get in the Club early because they were having another big “R” party for some other boys. We got in the club about 9:30 and got back to the barracks about 12.
I turned in more clothes on Valentine's Day. They told us that we would be going home by way of the Panama Canal and that we would land in New York about the last of March or the first of April. We dad our big dinner that afternoon about 4:30 and that night we had our big “R” party with free champagne and every other drink we wanted to drink. They gave us a cigarette lighter with our name on it and how long we were with the KMAG outfit on the back of it. We were to leave sometime the next day for Yongdong-po.
The next morning we got our things ready and went down to the train station about 9:30. They had a big Korean band telling us bye and lots of the boys’ Korean girls kissing and telling them bye. Some of the boys really looked like they hated to leave the girls. I just laughed at them because I was anxious to get started. We left Taegu about 10:30 and got into Seoul about 5 o’clock in the afternoon. We got on some trucks and they took us to Ascom City just outside Inchon. We got in some warm barracks about 7:30. We ate supper and after supper located about five or six boys that I had gone through Company 18 in Camp Gordon, Georgia with in another barracks just beside the one we were assigned.
The next few days we processed for our trip back to the States. We turned in clothes and were issued more, got shoes fitted, and had stripes and patches sewed on our uniforms. I was assigned to a barracks and got a meal card to have to keep up with again. I met a boy that went with us from Knoxville to Fort Jackson, South Carolina when I first came in the Army. We had been running around together ever since we got together. We heard speeches and got our shot records fixed up. We went to a Service Club one night and heard a very good “Hilly-billy band” after supper. It sure was good.
Late one afternoon I went to the PX and waited about two hours to get in so I could buy a set of silverware for $10.50. It sure was a pretty set and well worth the waiting and money to get it. February 21st was supposed to be my last day in Korea. The night before, I went over to the barracks where a boy came through Company 18 with me. He had some whiskey and wanted me to drink some of it. I took about three or four good swallows and just after I got in bed because it made me sick. I was sick most of the night and kept some of the boys awake. They asked me if I had got a hold of some Korean whiskey. I told them that I didn’t think so, but if I lived until the next morning I was going to find out. That was the sickest I had ever been so far in my life. That morning I went back over to the barracks to see that boy and found out it was American bonded whiskey. He wanted to know if wanted some more and I sure told him “No!” I had to clean the mess up that I made the night before, and that almost made me sick again just smelling it.
I saw on the bulletin board where I was to get out of the army in Fort Knox, Kentucky. That afternoon we had a shakeup of our things to see if we had any guns and drugs that we were trying to take back to the States. I had my gross of rubbers laying on top of my stuff. The boys thought he would say something to me about having them, but he didn't. They laughed at me about it. After the inspection they came around wanting to know what I would take for some of them. I just laughed at them.
We got up about 6 o'clock on February 22, ate breakfast, and turned in our bedding. We ate dinner about 11:30 and then we lined up about 12:30 to load the trucks for Inchon harbor. About 2 o’clock we got on the trucks and pulled out for Inchon with everyone hollering bye to everybody. We got there in about an hour and lined up on the harbor shores with life jackets on. In a few minutes we started getting on the LST’s and went out toward the ship anchored out in the harbor. Some of our boys were already there on the ship getting everything ready for us. It was kind of scary riding the LSTs out to the ship as they were just out of the water.
off the LST’s onto a platform built on the water and from there we
walked up the ladder to the ship, getting our meal card and carrying our
bags in our hands. We ate supper after we got the bunks
picked out that we wanted to have all the way home. I learned the names
of some of the
boys around me. Hashberger (the boy who went from Knoxville to South
Carolina with me as I came in the Army in 1952) was sleeping just over
me. A boy from just outside of Nashville who was in the same basic
company with me in Georgia was just at the side of me.
Some wanted the top bunks because it was cleaner (so they said). Others
wanted the bottom bunks because it was cooler and rode better (so they
said). But most of us didn’t care which we got, so long as it was a
bunk. Then, almost everyone went topside to bid farewell to “Frozen
Every known remedy for sea-sickness was tried by some of the boys--and some new ones, too. I made it okay this time even though the weather was a bit rough as we got past the island of Japan and out into the Pacific Ocean. The sick boys were sure they would get their sea legs sooner or later—but how much later? Before most of them had a chance to feel sorry for themselves, duties were assigned. They became busy at K.P., guard, and deck details of cleaning.
After a few days out in the Pacific Ocean, the weather began to get warmer. As the weather grew warmer, we all buried our overcoats in the bottom of our duffle bag. The next relief from the warm weather was the shedding of fatigue jackets, for which we were very thankful and willing to do. A lot of the boys wished they hadn’t after they got blistered by the sun and had to go to the ship doctor and get something done about it. The boy that slept beside me had some blisters on his back almost as big as the palm of my hand. He was in real misery about sleeping at night.
We spent days on the deck sunbathing, playing cards, writing letters,
playing checkers or chess, or just plain “shooting the bull”. Our
conversations were all inclusive—girls, baseball, girls, world affairs,
girls, war stories, girls. Not that our minds ran in one channel, mind
you, but we had been away from girls for so long and the only women we
had seen recently were on the movie screen or in magazines. Speaking of
reading, pocket books were the main source of our reading material,
the “Homeward Herald” (ship paper) supplied to us with an everyday account
of travel and goings on in the world. All of that was quite welcome.
Some of the musically-inclined boys of the “hillbilly type” got together and formed a couple of bands. They were really “number one” to us hillbilly types. Daily movies were well-appreciated, and the bingo parties with some elegant prizes for the winners were loads of fun after supper each night.
It might be well to point out that we will never forget those fire and abandon ship drills. They always seemed to come right in the middle of a good book or one of our interesting past-times. It was a bit rough reacquainting ourselves with maneuvering those life jackets again for the first couple of times, but after that we were right back in stride once more.
Some of us never did catch up on that setting the clocks ahead one hour. It seemed that we lost an hour almost every other night in the week. As far as figuring out what time it was back in Korea, or what time it was in the States, most of us gave up completely. Then, as if to throw us in an entire state of confusion in regards to the time, we crossed the International Date Line on March 3rd, thereby regaining the day we had lost going over.
As time marched on, though at times it seemed to be dragging its feet, we saw our first stop on the horizon—the Hawaiian islands. We had heard quite a bit about the “cross-roads of the Pacific”, with its pineapples, hula girls, grass skirts, and palm trees. There at the pier waiting for us were some of those hula girls with grass skirts. Making a way to the edge of the ship to see the sight was a mighty hard struggle and shoving problem. Everyone that could see them really enjoyed the fine show that they put on for us.
A day among the people of Hawaii, coupled with the stateside atmosphere, was a thrill to all of us. Souvenirs were bought, good meals were eaten, and post cards were written--many with the theme, “It won’t be long now, Mom”, or “getting closer and closer to home, Sweetheart.” As midnight approached and our passes expired, we re-boarded the Ballou, sad to leave the Paradise of the Pacific, but glad to get started again toward home.
As we sailed out of the harbor, all aboard were up on deck looking back to the town and thinking we would never forget this island in the Pacific. We settled back for about two more weeks of traveling before we would get to the Panama Canal. We had heard that we were going to get rid of the Puerto Ricans aboard at the Canal, thereby cutting our traveling time by two days getting to the States. That rumor came true and, boy, were we ever glad as they had started getting on our nerves and several fights had broken out aboard the ship over them. The water was very calm, just like a piece of glass. We could hardly tell the ship was moving in the water.
We pulled into Panama Canal just about dark on the 22nd of March, covering 9,303 miles from Inchon, Korea. It was 4,511 miles from Inchon, Korea to the Hawaiian islands. We were greeted by the post band, which furnished us with an appropriate assortment of rumbas, sambas, and mambos. We got off the ship for about 12 hours, spending our time at the post PX and stretching our legs as many of the boys looked longingly cross the bay to Balboa and Panama City.
On the morning of March 23rd, the ship took on about 25 cars that the GI’s had on the post, taking them back to the States. It was a real interesting sight to see them loading the cars down into the ship. (I have pictures of this operation.) The motors of the ship started the ship to moving in the afternoon of that day and we moved into the locks on the western side of the Pacific into the Panama Canal. Everyone aboard was out with all kinds of cameras taking pictures of the locks and the scenery of the canal. We were given maps of the canal telling how it was operated and the path through the canal. It was very interesting to follow our voyage through the canal by our maps. Dark got us about halfway through the canal.
During the next six days we traveled up the Atlantic coast from the Panama Canal to New York. We encountered pretty weather for the first three days. After that the weather changed to cold and the waves grew high, making some of the boys feel bad again. We dug our OD uniform out of the bottom of the duffle bag on the night of March 28th. We were told that we would get to the harbor of New York about midnight of March 28th.
The next day, March 29th, we docked at the docks on New York side, getting off the ship about 2 o’clock that afternoon. We were put aboard a ferry, taken across the river to the New Jersey side of the river, put aboard a train, and taken to Fort Dix. We were given a good meal about 4:30 that afternoon and put on a train about 10 o’clock that night to take the boys that were getting out at Fort Knox, Kentucky, to Indianapolis, Indiana. The trip from Inchon, Korea to New York in the U.S. was 11,327 miles. The travel from New Jersey to Fort Knox took all the next day, getting there about dark that afternoon. It was a nice, wonderful trip across the States.
The next few days were spent getting our records straightened out to be processed out of the Army by getting separation papers. We were to be assigned to a Reserve unit for six years. The day before we were to be given our release we were called down to a building where a Captain tried to get each one to stay in the Army. The Captain told me that if I would re-up I would be assigned to the office of the Army in my home town. I told him that I might look like an idiot, but I was not. I told him that I was getting out of this chicken-shit outfit. He didn’t like that statement much, but there wasn’t much he could do about it.
Betty, my wife, and my uncle came after me the next day. I was “free at last” on the afternoon of March 6, 1954. All of a sudden, there I was, having to make my own decisions as to when to get up, when to eat, what to do, and when to do it. I took a month off before going back to work. I just wanted to travel around and get used to not having someone on my back all the time. I had to teach my little 18-month old girl, whom I hadn't seen since she was five days old, who her daddy was. When I asked her about me, she would go and get a picture of me and tell me that that was her daddy.
I really did not have any trouble getting back into the stream of civilian life. Even though I knew that I could have my old job working in the knitting mill if I wanted to do the same thing that I had been doing when I went into the Army, I wanted to better myself. So I got a job with A&P Tea Company in Knoxville about the middle of May 1954. I drove to Knoxville a while before getting a house in South Knoxville close to where I worked. I stayed in that job for 26 years until they pulled out of Knoxville. From there I went to an independent grocery store in West Knoxville and worked another ten years before retiring on December 9, 1989, at the age of 62 years. I was assistant manager at the A&P store for 14 of those 26 years, and assistant manager for the ten years that I worked at the independent store.
As mentioned earlier in this memoir, our first daughter Vickie was born five days before I left home for Korea. She was born on November 18, 1952 and I left home going to Korea on November 23, 1952, not seeing my daughter until 18 months later. In November of 1955 we were blessed with another girl, Debbie. Years passed by and the girls went to school. During the years that our girls grew up, my wife Betty worked for the Standard Knitting Mill for 33 years until they closed up. She then got a job at a nursing home close to where we live and worked there until she retired in 1993.
Our first girl graduated from South High School in Knoxville in 1971, and the youngest one graduated from South High School in 1974. Vickie went to college at Tennessee Temple College in Chattanooga, Tennessee, graduated four years later, and taught school for a few years. She quit teaching and got a job with Scrugg's Restaurant Company, selling and servicing equipment they sold. Debbie didn't want to go to college, so she trained for a nursing job in Knoxville. She later went to the Methodist Medical Hospital in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, working in the operating room for 17 years. Between our two daughters we have three grandsons and two granddaughters.
During our retirement years we did a little traveling around. I went to Colorado two times on big game hunts. For many years during the Fall, I went to my brother-in-law's in Virginia for deer and turkey hunting, as well as Spring turkey hunting. Now I mow the yard in the summer months, get out and walk each day (weather permitting), do the grocery shopping, and travel to see our daughters--one in Huntsville, Texas, and the other one in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I also help my bee buddy in West Knoxville take care of his bees such as moving, feeding, and robbing them. During all those years, Betty and I have both been very lucky about not having any sickness that put us in the hospital. We have the Lord to thank for that.
Going to Korea made me appreciate home even more and my family back here while I was gone. I came back without a scratch, thank the Lord, but my wife said that I was even more bitter when I came back than when I left going over there. I was bitter about having to go when others here were getting out of going due to having a child. We were expecting one even before I was drafted and they knew that, but that didn't stop them from taking me away. Now after getting back safe, I wouldn't take anything for the learning and experiences that I got while over there. No money could have paid for what I saw.
I do think that the United States should have sent troops to Korea due to the fact that they had a treaty with the South Korean government going back to the end of the last war to come to their defense if needed. There should not have been two Koreas--North and South. This line was formed for the United States and Russia to get the foreign troops out of the areas. North and South Korea was then to be formed into one Korea. Russia and China saw to it that that didn't happen and put their own people in rule in North Korea.
I was for MacArthur going across the 38th parallel. I was for him even to win the "police action" or "conflict" and unite the whole country, but at that time politicians had already made up their minds that that was not going to happen. They got rid of the one that was causing them trouble--MacArthur, best Army General of all times.
Getting rid of MacArthur was the first mistake that the United Nations/United States made during the Korean War. The second mistake was not keeping a bigger standing army after World War II to use at the start of the invasion of South Korea by North Korea. The biggest mistake was not letting the Army generals run the show instead of the Washington politicians who were wanting to make a name for themselves. In fact, while I was working there in crypto in the 8th Army Headquarters, I read reports from the U.S. Marines on the frontline that they had to build a bunker made of heavy logs and dirt several feet thick (only a direct hit would have damaged it) for Washington "big shots" visiting to have a frontline view of the fighting. U.S. troops were ordered to attack a hill that the Chinese and North Korean troops held to show the "big shots" how the fighting was carried out. It's hard telling just how many of our boys gave their lives or got wounded just to show the "big shots" from Washington a stage-show there on the Korean hillside.
I think that the U.S. should still have troops in Korea because it was just an "armistice" that was signed, not a peace treaty. It's now over 60 years later, troops are still there, and still no peace treaty has been signed. At this time they are still talking peace terms, but I think that just talk is all that is going to come of it unless the United States President offers them the "sky" just to sign some terms before he leaves office.
When I was over in Korea, I read and heard reports about the shooting of civilians by American troops who believed that the enemy had infiltrated in a group of civilians at a place called Nogun-ri. What would you have done if, seeing civilians--women (they thought), children, and papasans coming down a road toward a roadblock, you sent a soldier out there to stop them to check them out, and he got killed by one of those "papasans" in those baggy drawers, pulling out a burp gun and just mowing him down. It's now you or them. Who wants to live the worst? You now find out that some of the children are armed with hand grenades and so-called "papasans" are actually Chinese and North Korean soldiers dressed that way to try to get through the UN/US lines. Many civilians were killed by bridge-blowings, too. When Chinese and North Korean troops moved south from Seoul, U.S. troopers set charges to blow up the bridge to stop them. Civilians kept coming across the bridge while U.S. troops were trying to stop them and blow up the bridge. Why don't the politicians say anything about all the civilians that were killed in the Balkans by UN/US forces about ten years ago?
As I mentioned in the Basic Training section of this memoir, crypto was the first thing that I seemed not interested in for advanced training. I had two other things that I thought I might like to receive training for service over there in Korea. Crypto was the last one that I put down at that time, not knowing what it was. The person that was looking at my records and test scores recommended that I take crypto training. He said that I had made good enough scores to pass the training and my life's history looked good enough to get the FBI's clearance to take the course. We had to first have a "secret" clearance to even start training for Crypto. After I was in Korea for about three months I got a "Top Secret and Personal For" clearance. I helped the Embassy worker from Washington D.C. send messages back to Washington from the peace talks going on toward the last of the war. I helped him break the messages he received from Washington. I also learned, after being over there in Korea that those Army test scores were a lot more important than I thought they were at the time I was taking the tests. I still tried to make the best that I could when I was taking them, not really knowing how important they were going to be to me later on. I was told after the test scores that if I had made just two more points I could have gone to Officers Candidate School (OCS). OCS was not for me.
I pen pal to some of my old Army buddies that I have found or already knew where they were located. Ones that I worked with in Korea and now have found include:
Ones that I would like to know of their whereabouts include:
I got a report from Army records at St. Louis that Billy Swindle died back in 1994. I was really wanting to find out if he had any living relatives and, if so, I have a tape with his voice on it that was made in Korea at the time he was working with us in the 304th operations, working in the 8th Army Headquarters. I would make a tape off of the one that I have and send it to them if located.
The Korean War carries the nickname "the Forgotten War" because it was the first war that the United States lost. When you lose something and can't get it back, you try to forget it, no matter what you had to pay for it. Boys coming back had no parades, no honors given out, no newspaper reports about them coming home, no TV shows. It was just "get them out of the Army and back in civilian life and just forget about what happened over there. We just made a mistake, so forget about it."
I hope that if a student or someone else reads this memoir they will not forget the "Forgotten Soldiers of the Forgotten War". I've told my children about my time in Korea because I didn't want them to forget them. I have told them just about all that went on during the conflict over there in Korea. My youngest girl was the most interested in what went on while I was over there. She wasn't born at that time in history making.
Another reason that the Korean War is called the Forgotten War has to do with the missing in action that are still missing. At the time of this writing, 47 years since the ending of the "police action" in Korea, there are around 8,000 missing in action personnel. At the start they said that there were around 8,100 missing. That sure doesn't sound like the government is doing a sufficient job locating them--100 found in 47 years. There have been many more than that located in the Vietnam War.
World War II veterans had more respect and appreciation than we Korean War veterans got, but they were in a world war. There was more at stake to win or lose. Korean War veterans were just in a so-called "police action" or "conflict"--just one spot on the world. I will say, though, that the Korean action--war as it's sometimes called--has been the longest war in the world. No peace treaty has been signed yet. War still exists between South Korea and North Korea.
Serving in the Army showed me how both political parties in the United States operate and make the policies for this nation and even for the world. I was against Truman getting rid of MacArthur. Then there came Ike to Korea saying, "Elect me President and I will end the war in Korea." With that promise to the people of the United States, especially U.S. troops in Korea, coming home soon was just right up their alley. When China forced the UN/US to sign the Armistice agreement, we were right back where the South Koreans were at the start of the conflict. We now had a U.S. general as President of the United Stats that was afraid to do anything to upset the apple cart.
People need to find out about the "big lie" that was told over there in Korea in 1951 during the first heavy fighting. Really, just who was the Big Liar? What about the AAA Battalion getting wiped out to the last man on the night of June 26th in the Kumwha Valley area? How did that happen and why hasn't the US public been told about it even now? Next, why was the original date set for the Armistice signing put off for another week? A real interesting outcome brought that on.
Following are technical terms and abbreviations that were used at the 8th Army Crypto Headquarters in Seoul, Korea:
Following are names of ships in Task Force 77 used in Korean waters:
All of these ships mentioned were supported by numerous supply, cargo, minesweepers, layers, oil tankers, LST's, and support ships.
A plan to land at Kojo (peninsula just south of Wonsan) was proposed as end-around landing on Korea’s eastern coast, in the vicinity of Kojo. Once ashore, the troops would drive southwestward to link up with the 8th Army and thereby cut off the North Korean Army from its source of Chinese supply. The plan was drawn up in 1951 but Omar Bradley disapproved of the idea.
For over a year, nothing more was said about Kojo until October 1952, when Vice Admiral Briscoe proposed a feinting amphibious demonstration to draw enemy troops from their underground front line positions. It was never intended to land any of our troops, but was hoped that the enemy would send his troops in defense of Kojo, and as they moved the Navy and Air Force was to destroy them.
This operation was set for October 15th. This called for Corps and Regimental landing. October 6th saw troop-loading operations commenced at Nuroran, Otaru and Hokkaido where the 8th Regimental Combat Team was located. October 15th found the troops off-shore awaiting a lull in the bombardment that had been going on for two days. The troops were on-loaded from the troop ship to the assault boat 23,000 yards off shore. Sea was calm. 5,000 yards from the beach, the wind whipped up to 35 mph to 40 mph. Boats turned back and by the time they got to the ship the wind was 55 knots. 26 boats had to be picked up during the gale. Four boats were completely destroyed during the recovery. Transport group departed for Pohang-dong in South Korea to disembark the 8th Regimental Combat Team. Bombardment of the area continued for another day. Intelligence reports disclosed that in the three months following the Kojo feint, the enemy relocated both North Korean and Chinese Communist reserve divisions from interior positions to coastal areas around Wonsan and Kojo.
This was a gilded key made at ship repair facilities in Japan. On one side was the inscription, "Welcome to Wonsan." On the other side was "The Bay of Eternal Prosperity." This key was passed from one commander to the other. Being the "Mayor of Wonsan," a person was given the task of covering destroyers and destroyer escorts, supervising mine-sweepers, and working closely with naval personnel, Marines, and Koreans on friendly islands.
This was a strip of water that U.S. mine-sweepers had cleared of mines and had marked with yellow buoys so siege ships could get closer to the shore of Wonsan. Communist gunners had "zeroed-in" the marker buoys and made it dangerous for the ships to get close.
An elite fraternity of blockade ships was organized in July, 1952, called the "Train-Busters." To become a member of this exclusive organization, a ship had to receive confirmation of a train’s destruction by their guns.
This was an approach to the main Wonsan harbor where the Communists had guns along three sides, also was dangerous from drifting mines and planted moored mines as well. If the U.S. had swept the "alley" clear of mines it would take the Reds only a few hours to re-mine the area. They would tie mines to logs and float them down the Namdae Chon River into the harbor. After they got the time (using binoculars) that it would take a log to reach the swept area, they would lash contact mines to other logs, using a pelican hook with a soluble washer. This soluble washer was timed to dissolve and deposit the mine in the swept area.
T-Bone Hill was a mountain in the western part of North Korea about 15 miles above the 38th parallel. It was named by the GIs who fought and died there. At the ending of the war the Communists erected an arch of tree limbs and called out for UN troops to "come over and we will walk through the arch as brothers." This area was defended by the 3rd Infantry Division.
This was a group of hills behind Wonsan City which the Reds had many guns on and would zero-in on ships in the harbor. In February 1953, when I was in Seoul, it was noted there was an increase in fire from that area. There were several duds dug up in the rice paddies. They were new Russian Naval 107-MM guns.
Shoestring was the way a type of mine-sweeping was carried out in the early part of 1950. There were only two groups of ships able to mine-sweep and they worked around the clock following each other in the mined areas, doing clock-sweeping operations.
This was a limited offensive opened up by the 8th Army, in early March, 1951, in the area east of Seoul. This move was to outflank the enemy and force him to abandon the capital city of Seoul. Despite some enemy counterattacks, patrols of the ROK 1st Division entered Seoul during the early morning hours of March 15, 1951, and found it almost empty of enemy troops. Seoul had changed hands four times in the course of nine months.
This was a hill that the GI’s called "Outpost Texas" because of its great view of enemy line and troop movements. In the early part of June 1953, along the central sector, about 40 miles above Seoul, in the 9th Corps, 2nd ROK Corps sector, the Chinese, after heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire, succeeded in pushing back the MLR (Main Line of Resistance) and capturing Capital Hill, Finger Ridge, Outpost "Texas" and portions of Christmas Hill.
A meeting on October 19, 1950, was held aboard the Missouri, on what to do about the mines that stopped the U.S. from going ashore and helping the fast-moving 1st ROK Corps coming up the coast. It was decided to let the convoy move up the coast and back in time to arrive off the channel entrance by Wonsan on the 21st of October. Thus began what the Marines called "Operation Yo Yo"—steam northward 12 hours, steam back southward 12 hours. On October 18th, 1950, the Marines stepped ashore at Wonsan on a non-assault landing, 22,000 strong and moving northward toward the twin cities of Hamhung and Hungnam.
On February 10, 1951, the UN forces engaged in a limited offensive known as "Operation Thunderbolt" which had outflanked and forced the evacuation of the Inchon area. The Missouri had been pounding the Inchon area for three days in a fake landing attempt which made the enemy evacuation more urgent and rapid.
This was a scheme, proposed at Gen. Ridgeway’s Headquarters, by which a line was drawn behind the Chinese lines. Portions of it were assigned to various air forces, asking them to destroy every vehicle, every bridge, and every target in their area. A one-degree strip of latitude across the narrow neck of North Korea—from 38-15N to 39-15N—just above the battle line was selected. Sections were divided in each zone, at selected defiles and passes along the important highway routes, certain areas were designated as "strangle areas" or "choke points".
Two weeks later reports told that the number of enemy troop trucks moving at night in each direction was unchanged. Trucks detoured around bombed-out roads using secondary difficult-to-hit roads. Communist resistance was intensified by more use of anti-aircraft guns on cross-Korea highway west of Wonsan. By late summer it was apparent that "Operation Strangle" had failed. The reason was simple: a bomb crater on an unpaved road could not stop a truck. The hole could be filled too quickly or bypassed.
On February 5, 1951, "Operation Roundup" was carried out. This was a small offensive opened up in the central sector of Korea, and for three days (February 5, 6, 7, 1951) UN troops moved forward without encountering major resistance. A Chinese counter-attack developed during the night of 11-12 of February, which used both mass attack and infiltration tactics. Despite some loss of ground, the UN forces had now learned to roll with the punch. The Main Line of Resistance was not penetrated, and heavy casualties were inflicted upon the attacking Chinese. By February 19th, the enemy’s advance in the central sector had come to a standstill.
During the Korean War, no night carriers were used, although a plan to do so (Operation "No-Doze") was formulated and briefly placed in effect during the last few days of the war. One ship was designated for the job, but had to go to Japan for repairs. Upon her return to Korean waters, the final days of the war were under way, requiring the all-out close air support of all carriers.
This was an exchange of the sick and wounded prisoners of both sides on April 20, 1953, at Panmunjom, Korea. 6,670 Communist personnel and 684 UN prisoners (149 of them US) were exchanged. I was there in the 8th Army Crypto at Seoul when they had the exchange. I had the chance to go up there to the exchange, but was afraid the Chinese were baiting a trap. During the last few days of the war the Chinese increased their fight and made several suicide efforts to penetrate the UN Main Line of Resistance. At one point in the 1st Marine Division sector, the Communists succeeded in gaining some ground at a fantastic cost to themselves—16,300 killed or wounded and 81 prisoners taken. It was concluded that by these victories the Chinese would claim that the UN was signing an armistice in order to keep them from "winning" the war. One GI summarized the conflict in these bitter words: "The war we can’t win, we can’t lose, we can’t quit."
On February 21, 1951, the 8th Army launched still another limited offensive known as "Operation Killer." As its name implied, the objective was to destroy as many enemy forces as possible. Operation Killer proceeded during the first few days to gain up to 10 miles a day as the enemy’s rear guard was swept aside by the 1st Marine Division, which seized the high ground overlooking Hoengsong on February 24th. The Communists fell back along the entire 60-mile front, having suffered serious casualties.
On July 18, 1951, the battleship New Jersey returned to the Wonsan harbor area after bombardment along the bomb-line area to initiate an intensified bombardment plan known as "Operation Kick-Off." For days and weeks hereafter, ships would fire at known and suspected positions of enemy harbor defenses and gun emplacements in the Wonsan harbor area with both delayed burst and air-burst shells.
This was flare-dropping missions carried out through most of the Korean War. Flares would be dropped and planes would attack by the lights of the flares. This was a popular and effective method of killing enemy troops and supplies.
In early April, 1951, a new method was worked out where the 5th Air Force worked with the Navy in bombardment of enemy positions up and down the east coast of Korea. The LSMR Division fired 12,924 five-inch rockets at Wonsan from June through September 1951. Their first and biggest day in Wonsan was the night of May 20 and 21 when "Operation Fireball" was completed. Two LSMR’s fired a total of 4,903 rockets at Wonsan targets in a 35-minute period. The 5th Air Force dropped flares and Navy shelled the coast-line targets with star shells and five-inch rockets.
The imminent invasion of Inchon, in Tokyo, Japan, became known as "Common Knowledge" because even the newspapers hinted of something afoot. Syngman Rhee said, "We are about ready to go." Gen. Walton Walker, when asked when UN forces would take the offensive, replied, "In a very short time." MacArthur’s selection of Inchon for the breaking of the Communist lines was that it would not be strongly defended. The North Koreans, he said, would consider a landing at Inchon impossible and insane. MacArthur was right, for enemy opposition to the landing was nominal. On the first two days of the Inchon landing (September 15 and 16, 1951) the 1st Marine Division had the following battle casualties: 22 KIA (killed in action), 2 DOW (died of wounds), 2 MIA (missing in action), 196 WIA (wounded in action), making a total of 222. Army leaders objected to the Inchon operation because in the event that the landing miscarried, no reserve troops could be sent to Korea for at least four months and also because of the amphibious obstacles of Inchon itself.
Old Baldy was a mountain in northeast Korea close to the "Iron Triangle" where heavy fighting for this mountain was fought as the signing of the cease-fire deadline passed. North Korean girls at the end of the war could be seen singing and dancing, while Red soldiers waved large papier-mâché Picasso Peace Doves as the hillside microphones blared out an invitation to "come over and talk."
August 16-17, 1950, found the First Provisional Marine Brigade trying to help eliminate an enemy-held bridge in the Pusan Perimeter near Yongsan. The Communist Main Line of Resistance lay to the west of Yongsan. The ridge consisted of six knolls. August 18 found the Marines holding two knolls. Enemy infiltrated additional strength onto the ridge south of the Marines during the night and was getting ready to regain the two last hills. Marines ran into four machine-gun nests and called on the Air Force to strike. Smoke bombs were shot to show planes where the enemy was. The nest was only 50 yards in front of the Marines. One plane with a 500-pound bomb was used and destroyed the entire enemy nest. The shock to the nearby Marines was intense. They then swept on to gain all the ridge.
Muffler was an approach (channel) to the Wonsan Harbor where check-sweeps were made to determine if the enemy had laid new mines.
In early 1952, a night heckling operation against railroads having the lyrical code-name "Moonlight Sonata" was begun. The purpose of this operation was to take advantage of the winter snowfall and moonlight, at which the Korean hills, valleys, rail lines stood out in bold relief. These nights were rare because of overcast, fog and snow, but this operation was partly successful resulting in five locomotives being destroyed or damaged.
During the night fighting campaign, one new type of ordnance was tried in Korea which proved highly successful: the 2.75-inch folding-fin aircraft rocket, which had the nickname "Mighty Mouse." Developed initially as an air-target weapon, this small rocket found peculiar but suitable use as a ground target weapon. The "Mighty Mouse" rockets were carried in packages of seven and six pods or packages were carried on each AD Skyrider, with flares and 250-or 500-pound bombs on remaining stations. Each package of seven was fired in a ripple with a split second between each rocket.
This alley was the Yalu River dividing North Korea and China. UN bombers were not allowed to bomb China--to do so might plunge the Free World into a global war with China and Russia. Russia has a defense pact with China. All along the Yalu River were many defense plants, ammo dumps, and many airfields loaded with MiGs that would attack UN planes in dogfights along the river. The sites—power dams and bridges which brought supplies to North Korea—were well-guarded by heavy anti-aircraft guns and automatic guns, some of them radar-controlled. The fire from these guns was intense and accurate.
"Lamp Lighters" were P4Y’s (planes) which dropped flares so the Night Fighters could see their targets to bomb. They made rendezvous with night-attack planes over the target. When this was done, a search for enemy truck lights was commenced by the intruder and the flare plane. Upon finding a suitable target, a string of four or seven flares would be dropped to illuminate the target area. The attacking plane might also ask for the flares to be dropped on a certain heading and for repeated runs.
This was a section on the Central Front in North Korea between Chorwon, Kumhwa and Pyongyang where the enemy’s main supply and assembling area was located. At the close of the cease-fire, I was sent into the Kumhwa Valley area just below the Iron Triangle to set up a crypto station in the newly organized ROK Corps. I was there for a little over 50 days.
Special night operation that commenced on May 13, 1952, had one feature which some of the earlier night missions had lacked. That was that the planes were re-shuffled so that they were over the target area by first light of the day. The Communists had noted the time pattern of the night aerial patrols and were withholding train and truck movements until the naval planes were homeward bound. "Insomnia" schedules stopped this.
These were heavy enemy batteries (155mm) which were on Mo-do Island, guarding the approaches to Wonsan harbor. They could reach all the harbor islands and were a constant irritation to UN mine-sweepers working in that area.
"Death Valley" was a road between the mountains along the route between Wonsan and Pyongyang where there were many well-concealed revetments in which a truck could be hidden quickly. Regarding locomotives and boxcars, the hundreds of tunnels were excellent hideouts, and there was room inside of them for some 8,000 cars—enough room to accommodate every train and locomotive in North Korea. Flak traps were plentiful along this road. An open parachute hung on a tree, dummy trains, trucks, tank; even troops were at key points to welcome attack. Steel cables were stretched across the narrow valleys into which our planes would sometimes fly. Each of the flak traps were ringed with well-placed and well-concealed guns.
This was an area north of Inchon in the Chinnampo area where the British Forces operated in May, 1951. This was a sea area where many mines were laid by Reds to keep off landing behind their lines on the road to their capital. Check-sweeps were made by UN Forces.
One of the tactics used to advantage by the blockading ships was the use of the ship’s whaleboats for the detection of targets along the coasts or in harbors, as well as for the direction of the ship’s gunfire and the capture of enemy supply buildup where a destroyer’s gunfire could not reach. This came to be known as "chicken stealer."
During air missions behind the bomb line it was noted that UN had many supplies, troop billets, medical centers, and ammo dumps above ground in the open. It was reasoned to believe the way the Chinese were fighting that they had to have their supplies in the open somewhere. Pictures were taken showing targets back of the artillery range of UN forces. A lot of supplies were exposed which would make excellent targets for a concentrated surprise and pinpointed attack by planes. This was the origin of what came to be known as the "Cherokee strikes," named in Clark’s honor because of his Cherokee ancestry. This system was used throughout the war. The first "Cherokee strikes" were flown on October 9, 1952.
This bridge is found in a canyon near Kilchu, in central North Korea. Planes bombing North Korea found this high bridge across a river built 60 feet high and 600 feet long. It was discovered that there were tunnels at both sides of the bridge along with two tracks for traffic both ways. Another bridge was also under construction between the bridges. LCDR Harold G. (Swede) Carlson, leading planes, dropped one span of the bridge, damaged a second, and twisted two others out of horizontal alignment. The bridge span became known as "Carlson’s Canyon." The communists repaired the damage done, working mostly at night. Using interlocking wooden beams, called "cribbing," temporary piers were quickly constructed to replace the two missing spans and to support the damaged one. Planes again bombed the bridge, blasting it into the river. Communists tried to rebuild by night but night-heckling slowed them down so they finally decided to build a bypass around the canyon on lower ground where it would be easy to repair.
"Package" was a shoreline target suitable both for ships and airplanes. The "package" targets were also ones which would be difficult for the enemy to repair. All of them were along the main east coast supply route of the enemy. If these "packages" could be stopped the flow of enemy supplies from the Manchurian sanctuary would be seriously impeded. "Derail" targets were ones to be kept destroyed solely by naval gunfire. Like the "packages" the "derail" targets were along the coast, accessible to naval gunfire and on the main Chongjin to Hungnam railroad. At each "derail", patrolling ships would fire a limited number of shells into them during each 24-hour period.
The "Bed-check Charlies" were antique aircraft of two types: YAK-18 Soviet-built training planes (a low-wing, single-engine aircraft with a cruising speed of 100 knots and a cruising radius of approximately 200 miles) and PO-2’s (a Russian-built wood and fabric bi-plane with a top speed of 110 mph). Each of these aircraft was capable of carrying one or two small bombs.
At odd intervals on dark nights (usually about 11 or 11:30 p.m. when the lights in troops billets and town-streets had just been turned off) singles or small groups of YAK-18 or PO-2s aircraft would fly from grass fields in North Korea to the Seoul area, flying as low through the valleys as possible to reduce radar detection. They didn’t come down in Seoul area during rainy, foggy nights. Buzzing low over the city in the darkness, these raids succeeded in arousing the sleepy city. I got out of my bed as much as three times during one night, put my clothes on, and went to the fox holes back of our barracks on a hill. Air raid alarms would sound off all over town and searchlights would be lit up and played around in the sky trying to spot one of the planes. Usually the planes would drop a bomb or two. From our foxholes on the hill we had a pretty good view of the city and could see all the action going on. We had raids almost every night from the middle of March until the truce terms were signed.
Shortly after midnight, May 26-27, 1953, a group of Bed-check Charlies (reason for calling them bed-check Charlies was that at about the time they arrived over the city, troops were just going to bed, CQ was checking to see if all troops can be accounted; either in their beds or at work) estimated to be six PO-2s, succeeded in dropping four small 100-pound general purpose bombs and eight 50-pound artillery shells on K-14 airfield near Inchon, puncturing the gasoline pipeline.
On the night of June 8, 1953, I saw a nine-plane raid on Seoul which killed five Koreans and injured ten. The first bomb hit only 1,000 feet from President Syngman Rhee’s residence, while another hit a school building 400 yards away. This was all within a half mile from where our compound was located. I remember that night very well as the planes were already over Seoul about 10 o’clock before any of the lights of the city or troops areas were turned off. Air raid sounded, lights went out everywhere, and we spilled out of the building and headed for the foxholes. Daylight caught us one night waiting out an air raid in the fox holes back of the building.
On the night of June 16, 1953, a 15-plane Bedcheck Charlie raid succeeded in bombing a petroleum, oil and lubrication dump near Inchon, touching off 52,000 gallons of petroleum products. I can distinctly remember that night. As they came over Seoul about 10 o’clock, we could hear them flying around overhead. It sounded like washing machine motors running. The raid continued for two hours, as searchlights and AA fire crisscrossed the skies. We could see the oil drums going off as the light got brighter. This was 40 miles away.
Fifth Air Force or the Marine Air Wing’s planes were too fast for the little planes. The Navy heard of their problem and sent a wing of slow Corsair F4USN Night Fighters to the Seoul area. It took a week to get the Navy boys familiar to the area and on the night of June 29, 1953, they shot down two Bed-check Charlie planes below Seoul around Suwon area. July 3, 1953, a fifth enemy plane was shot down. After that the enemy night raids on Seoul ceased and the city was able to sleep once more.
During the destructive attacks on Reds by UN ships and planes, the enemy suffered heavy losses in the Wonsan area. On several occasions during this period the enemy’s fire had suddenly picked up as the Communists made determined efforts to drive the siege ships out of the harbor. Following a heavy attack by UN on July 6, 1951, the Reds retaliated with an especially heavy bombardment on July 17, 1951. More than 500 splashes were counted in the water around one ship. In return, the UN’s three siege ships pumped out 2,336 rounds of 5-inch fire, in a four one half-hour exchange. This exchange was known as the "Battle of the Buzz Saw."
This was a "hill" located close to "Old Baldy" on the east central front. At the end of the Korean cease-fire, a man’s voice invited the UN soldiers to join him in the song, "My Old Kentucky Home". Other Chinese soldiers danced and sang, banged pans together, and erected huge signs proclaiming the signing of the Armistice.
Anchor Valley and Anchor Hill were the same position. Navy used one name and the Army another. This area was in the eastern sector around Capital Hill and Finger Ridge.
Horses were not the only four-footed animals used by the Communists in Korea. During the Hungnam redeployment, Naval airmen reported double-humped, long-haired Bactrian Camels; also sighted were shaggy, sure-footed Mongolian ponies.
[KWE Note: The author of this memoir believes the first of the following articles was a news release that might have been in Stars & Stripes, but he is not sure.]
At Panmunjom the day truce was to be signed there was probably no UN unit more and yet less obstructive perhaps than the 304th. As at all events of the world's importance than that of those working behind the scenes contributed in considerable measure to the smoothness of the operation; and among those diligently pursuing their jobs in the flurry of an international gathering were our camera and sound-recording men, our teletype, crypto, power-men, and others on temporary duty with the Censor's Office.
That Monday morning, Truce Day, July 27, 1953, everyone at Munsan, whether he was to go to the signing or not, rolled out early in the anticipation of an active most certainly a busier-than-usual day. At the Provisional Camp at Munsan, reporters and GI's rammed down hasty breakfasts and hurried out to jostle for places on the buses then lining up in the convoy. But once aboard they usually found themselves involved in that second and least pleasant phase of the "hurry up and wait" routine. Waiting didn't diminish the feeling of excitement, however. A cigarette or two and a little idle chatter only served to pass the time. It didn't get rid of that feeling of something extraordinary that was to come. Even those correspondents who had covered the negotiations from the beginning looked expectant, perhaps as persons who have followed an exasperating task to the point of exhaustion still manage to exert the necessary strength to see it to a conclusion.
Once on the road we settled down to watching scenery. A few civilian movie men might be seen leaning out their windows as we rounded a curve--getting some footage of the convoy or sometimes "shooting" a strip of the countryside itself. When we passed military installations by the roadside we would be closely scrutinized; for now, at least, the men had nothing more to do than to stare. They were waiting for the cease fire and apparently felt no qualms about taking that day off.
Somewhere after crossing the new Imjin River bridge the MP's checked us. A few miles beyond we passed a sign saying "M.L.R." The road was narrower from that point on and our bus scraped the leaves off trees in passing. Someone said, "I wouldn't feel safe on this road at night even after they sign a truce." Judging from the thick foliage and closeness of the trees, that remark might have been justified.
Panmunjom, when we came in sight of it, seemed to lie in the center of a flatland with valleys extending to east and west and hills rising from the valleys. Far off eastward we could see the orange and white balloon marking the end of neutral territory on that side. A helicopter was landing near the complex of tents nearest us as we came up from the south--that would be the UN campsite, of course.
MP's stopped us again before we entered the encampment looking for any weapons we might be carrying. The driver of our bus handed the guard his carbine. The rest of us had left our weapons at Munsan as we were ordered.
Photographers, both military and civilian, were already at work in the area. Most of them showed great interest in the Communist guards and Communist correspondents, crossing over at once to the northern half of the area to take pictures of them. There seemed to be no end of glaring back and forth, especially with the guards, but there was no incident. In their baggy trousers and box-like caps the Communist guards made a rather shabby (but, no doubt, sufficiently proletarian) appearance. The Communist pressmen stood out as the only civilians in the village. (UN correspondents regularly wear a species of military uniform.)
Inside the hall of the signing there were other curiosity seekers besides officials preparing for the ceremony. Newsreel and still cameras were being set up to record the actual signing. Things began to assume a more militarized appearance as dignitaries began to arrive and honor guards had been formed outside the entrance to the signing hall. As though to emphasize the need for this armistice, big guns somewhere west of the neutral zone began a sudden barrage. It came just before the time of signing--a kind of reminder.
The American news agencies set up a news-pooling arrangement to facilitate transmission of their "copy" to Tokyo. A single, continuous, telephoned bulletin covered the arrivals of the principal signatories, their entrance into the hall, their signing, and their departure. At the same time (and continuing for several hours) there was teletype and telephonic service on individual articles. The Press tents buzzed with activity well after the tie of signing.
The event itself was concluded so quickly that, to some at least, it must have been disappointing. The helicopter bringing the UN high officials hardly seemed to have arrived when it was again in the air and everything had been completed. Those who had come with anticipation of seeing some lengthy political drama felt they had hardly reached the point of anticlimax.
By noon almost everybody who had no more business at Panmunjom was on the way out. The reporters hurried along as usual hoping not to miss anything having to do with the Supreme Commander's signing of the truce terms at Munsan Base Camp in the afternoon. But our bus driver, a stoic fellow, took the same speed as coming up, stopped for his carbine on the way south. We on the bus relaxed; our disappointment at the briefness of the ceremony was balanced by our relief at knowing the firing would end in a few hours.
The same GI's who had watched us as we came up now watched us go back, their expressions seemed to indicate vaguely that they might be satisfied with what had been done by the peacemakers.
That day that peace was signed I received the message through the crypto room and relayed it on to the 7th Army Headquarters. We were all joyful over the event. Lots of the boys got dog-drunk. We saw flashes of fire from the big guns and rumble until about 10 o'clock, when the end of the firing was to stop. There is now a three-mile demilitarized zone between the UN and the Chinese Reds.
Panmunjom, Korea, July 21 - Two groups of Allied and Communist staff officers met at 10 a.m. in Panmunjom's truce hut today presumably to iron out the details remaining before an armistice an be signed. The two United Nations staff teams pushing toward peace were headed by Marine Colonel James C. Murray and Air Force Colonel Douglas M. Cairns.
Both groups met with their Communist counterparts to continue in secret staff meetings that started yesterday following the Communist decision to resume armistice discussions in return for a series of American guarantees that South Korea would abide by the truce.
Communist Laborers pushed ahead with construction of a large T-shaped wooden building that dwarfed any other structure in the Panmunjom neutral zone. The Reds resumed work on the structure yesterday and worked through the night by the light of American floodlights erected for them. North Korean workmen also were building a broad road leading off the main highway to the building.
Yesterday five teams of Allied and Communist officers held 10 truce meetings at Panmunjom in perhaps the busiest day of negotiations in the two-year history of the talks. Today, July 21, 1953, the Allied and Communist liaison officers met for 32 minutes at the Panmunjom conference site, but no announcement was made after the secret session. It is the liaison officers who arrange top-level meetings.
Tokyo, Japan, July 21st - Members of the Swiss and Swedish teams of the neutral nations supervisory commission today awaited an alert signaling the start of their ticklish task in Korea, but said "all we know is what we read in the newspapers."
Major B.A.J. Berglund, Swedish press officer, said Brig. Gen. Nils Ingvarsson, military head of the Scandinavian team, and Col. Divionaire Freiedrich Rihner, commanding the Swiss team, are in constant telephone contact with Far East Command headquarters. "There has been no break in the high command's silence regarding the truce situation," Berlund said. Both groups expressed mild surprise that a warning to prepare for the short jump to Korea had not yet been sounded.
Maj. Max Reimann, spokesman for the Swiss team, revealed that a second contingent, still in Switzerland, had not been alerted to leave for the Far East. This group, which will bring the total strength of the team up to about 80, is composed mostly of enlisted specialists, Reimann said. It is believed this group will depart when the date for signing the armistice is announced, he said.
Both offices said there has been no contact with the Polish and Czech teams, but "we understand they are in Peiping." Berglund said an advance detail probably would be sent to Korean ports of entity and to Panmunjom "to observe" and pave the way for the main party.
Meanwhile, with one ear cocked for "the word", the Scandinavians and Swiss are continuing activities scheduled for the week. The Swedes, who came from different army camps and have not worked together before, will get acquainted among themselves at a reception this afternoon. The Swiss plan a tour of the U.S. Naval Base at Tokosuka. Both are continuing morning classes at the Army Education Center.
Tokyo, Japan, July 21st - The Red China radio in Peiping said tonight Polish and Czechoslovakian representatives who will supervise an armistice in Korea have arrived in the China capital of Peiping. The broadcast, heard in Tokyo, said the two groups arrived separately. The two groups will participate on the neutral nations supervisory commission" which will police the armistice.
The broadcast said the Polish and Czechoslovakian delegates were met at the Peiping airfield by the chief of protocol of the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs, the Czech and Polish ambassadors to China, and representatives of the North Korean embassy in Peiping.
July 21, 1953 - The reported reluctance of India to enter on its neutral role in Korea through a "back door" today threatened to raise last-minute difficulties in achieving a Korean truce. Sources in the Indian delegation to the United Nations say Prime Minister Jawaharial Nehru is demanding that Indian troops be protected against any attacks by South Koreans--civilians or military. He is said to have asked the United States for specific assurances that South Korean President Syngman Rhee has agreed to the presence of Indian troops despite his bitter attacks in the past on India's government.
On the other hand, these sources also say that the Nehru government would look unfavorably on any procedure calling on an island off the mainland or in the demilitarized zone to be established above the 38th parallel. One Indian source went so far as to say that Nehru even might have some "second thoughts" about India's serving as a member of the neutral armistice commission if the unified command advanced such a plan calling for Indian force "to go furtively into Korea by the back door".
India's attitude served to make the already wary U.N. diplomats even more cautious about throwing their hats in the air over the Communists expressed willingness to sign an armistice. India previously pledged 5,000 troops, armed with "Police" weapons, to help supervise the handling of balky PW's under the direction of a neutral commission composed of Sweden, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia and Poland as well as India.
Panmunjom, Korea, July 21st - Maybe the North Koreans can't build skyscrapers, but they know how to throw a frame building together in a hurry. The Panmunjom truce hut--sometimes called the Panmunjom truce barometer--burst into shape here yesterday almost within minutes. About 200 Red workmen--boysans to papasans--sent the building skyward with wooden hammers and muscles and worked throughout the day as Communists mortar shells dropped on friendly positions about 1,000 yards southward.
At 7:30 yesterday morning, there was nothing but the crude foundation, which had been there for weeks. Before noon arrived, the blue-clad, sweating Reds had put up the frames for the walls and were working on the heavy timbered roof supports, in preparation to swing them into position with a derrick made of two wired-together telephone poles.
The Red workmen almost filled the interior of the approximately 35 by 34-yard building as they swiftly put the structure together with ancient tools and sheer power. The hut, which will be the biggest building here when completed, is presumed to be the one in which the truce-signing ceremonies will take place. At least, it will probably house some of the many truce commissions that will work here when and if peace comes.
At any rate, its sudden rise toward the sky has spurred hopes for a quick signing, especially since the construction job flared up on the heels of the Red's announcement that they were ready to talk truce business.
With the 11th ROK Division in Korea, July 21st - Vital Sangwhon Hill, overlooking the ROK central sector front line which crumbled last week, was held stubbornly by the Reds today after a two-day battle by the ROK's to get it back. The hill has been erupting with fierce hand-to-hand battles for nearly 48 hours but after an all-day fight, the hill was still in Chinese hands.
The still-advancing 11th Division South Koreans, in six strong punches north, registered gains everywhere except at Sangwhon. Advancing Allied raiding parties ran into groups of Chinese from 160-200 men groups of strength and managed to dislodge them, take up new positions, and prepare to advance further to their final objectives.
Bunker-busting tanks and artillerymen last week, knocked out 4,000 yards of the Communists' trenchline and damaged or destroyed 844 frontline bunkers. Tank fire also knocked out 16 tunnels, a sniper position, and 23 houses, while Allied big guns smashed 26 personnel shelters, two supply shelters, and set off 5 explosions. Together Allied fire broke up 82 caves, 760 weapons, 123 forward positions and 5 bridges.
A Pacific Stars and Stripes reporter at the front told of a staggering number of Chinese casualties yesterday in the center of the bulge sector. Eleventh ROK Division South Koreans killed an estimated 1,800 Reds yesterday, and had collected 625 bodies up to this morning. Nearly 900 were believed wounded. The reporter also said 450 Chinese weapons had been captured or destroyed in the hot and heavy fighting.
At the same time, the Chinese continue to hammer at the eastern anchor of the bulge near Lookout Mountain at the junction of the Pukhan and Kumsong rivers. About 750 Reds slammed into freshly dug trenches and fought hand-to-hand with the stubborn ROK's for an hour and a half. The attack had lasted nearly four hours when the South Koreans threw back the last Chinese raider.
A six-hour battle raged at Outpost Betty on the western front last night, touched off by an advancing Chinese company, but dug-in South Koreans did not budge under the fierce assault. A Marine patrol probed north of the fallen Outpost Berlin and East Berlin to grapple with 21 Chinese last night killing two and wounding four. After a 40-minute rifle fight, the Chinese quit.
Needling attacks by Chinese and North Koreans were reported from all sectors of the front, but the intensity of the fighting dropped sharply from the major drives and counter-attacks which have died down since the setting of the new line in the central sector.
Tokyo, Japan, July 21st - Far East Air Forces B-29 Superforts early this morning battled their way through enemy fighters, flak and searchlights to dump 270 tons of explosives on a pair of Communist airfields. Two mediums of the 98th Bomb Wing Flew through "torrential" rainstorms on their way to blast Uiju air field only a few miles south of the Yalu River. Meanwhile, 15 other bombers of the 307th Bomb Wing hit Sinuiji air strip six miles southwest of Uiju.
Both of the airfields were last bombed on June 20. Since then repair work has been under observation by Fifth Air Force reconnaissance planes. A 6,200-foot concrete runway was the target at Uiju while a 4,100-foot sod strip was bombed at Sinuiju. Thin overcast, reported over the targets, prevented accurate on-the-spot observation of results. One other 98th medium struck two enemy positions on the frontline while another 307th Superfort blasted a marshaling yard at Hongwon northeast of Hungnam.
In other air action yesterday and last night Fifth Air Force B-26 light bombers knocked out 97 enemy supply vehicles and raided frontline positions in the east-central and central sectors. Almost 500,000 pounds of bombs were dropped by fighter and light bombers on positions from the Berlin and East Berlin areas to Kumsong in the east. Rail and road bridges on the west coast supply route came under the fighter-bomber guns as did Red build-up areas at Sibyonani. F-86 Sabre jets patrolled the Yalu area but reported no engagements with MiGs.
Total FEAF sorties during the day reached 1,130. In a 24-hour operation combat cargo aircraft delivered 505 tons of United Nations supplies and personnel.
Tokyo, Japan, July 21st - Plagued by bad weather yesterday, four Task Force 77 Aircraft carriers took advantage of a sudden break in the later afternoon fog to launch 117 warplanes before they were decked again by fog. Panther jets from the Philippines knocked out two tanks just north of the Allied central front before winging northward to rocket buildings in Chongjin and Kyonpyong.
Greeted by a blistering barrage of enemy flak, planes from the Boxer blew up 18 out of 20 trucks in a Red convoy moving near Taejong. Princeton Corsairs, flying close support missions for Allied ground troops on the central front, struck roads, bridges, and other positions while Lake Champlain pilots blasted Communist installations near Yangdok. Damage totals for the task force include the destruction of 400 yards of trenchlines, 5 bunkers, 40 troops, and 32 trucks.
In surface action near Kosong, the heavy cruiser St. Paul and the destroyer Samuel N. Moore, chewed into Communist frontline positions in an early morning attack, which blew up five warehouses, four supply shelters, three caves, and a road junction. The Moore fired on 90 personnel and supply shelters without being able to assess damage.
On patrol near Kosong, the destroyer Hammer smashed two gun positions with direct hits and damaged three others. On the west coast, four United Nations destroyers hit Red targets from Chingangpo to Ongjin, firing on bunkers and troop billeting areas. Two New Zealand ships, the Hawea and Kaniere, teamed with the British Cossack and Athabaskan to demolish a troop billeting area near Ongjin with two direct hits.
With the 1st Marine Division, July 21st - PFC Horace Sawyer gingerly fingered the egg-sized lump on the back of his head as he told of the "damndest wrestling I ever had or hope to have." The 18-year old Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Marine was one of the handful of survivors who came off Outpost Berlin after it was attacked Sunday night by the Reds.
"Two Commies rushed me. I had thrown all my grenades and shot all my ammunitions. It was either stop them with my bare hands or get killed. They both had burp guns," Sawyer said. "I grabbed one of the Reds' burp guns and wrestled it back and forth as I tried to take it away. We were milling around so much that the other Commies apparently did not dare to fire for fear he would shoot his own buddy. Instead he started swinging his burp gun over his head at me. I saw it coming and I ducked. He pounded his buddy right smack into the ground."
Sawyer added, "Then I started for the second guy but something happened. He just sort of faded away. I don't know whether he went someplace else or whether he was afraid. Then I started down the trenchline again and I ran into almost the same thing. Another Red started at me with a burp gun. I rushed him and tried to wrestle it away from him, but this time I was not so lucky. He pulled the gun away from me, stepped back, and started to swing. He caught me once on the back of the head and I went down. Then slugged me again, almost in the same place. That's how I got these lumps. I guess he must have thought he killed me or maybe he didn't have any ammunition for his burp gun. Anyway, he didn't fire and he walked away. Later two or three Commies walked past and one kicked me."
Sawyer went on, "I didn't dare yell or move. I just lay there as if I was dead. They went on away. I lay there all night with the Reds walking around. I guess I might have still been laying there if the planes hadn't come over. I stayed there because I felt sure the Marines would counterattack and come back and kick the damned Reds off the hill. But when our own fighter-bombers came over and started bombing the hill I figured maybe there wasn't going to be any counterattack. They were dropping bombs--I guess there were five 500-pounders. One landed pretty close. It picked me up and threw me down again, quite a few feet away. I decided it was about time to get out of there. I started crawling down what was left of the trenchline and finally made it off the hill. The only injuries I've got to show for it is this lump on my head and a few scratches."
Aboard the USS Princeton, July 21st - A Navy carrier pilot parlayed a 250-pound bomb into an explosion he described as looking like a miniature atom bomb in an air strike just inland from the Northeast Korean coastline this week.
Lt. Dan C. Downs, Ogden, Utah, reported he and his crewmen completely wiped out a Communist rear area ammunition dump near Yongdong-ni in an early-morning strike. "The building was over a block and a half long," Downs said, "and looked almost square. When the bomb hit, a huge ball of fire shot up and then we saw the thick, gray smoke that made it look like an A-bomb had gone off." The smoke went up in a column about 3,000 feet, the pilot reported.
Downs' radiomen AE2 J.P. McCarter, Long Island, New York, and AE3 T.J. Joice, South Boston, Massachusetts, said the building looked like a house someone had shoved off its foundation. "It happened almost too fast," said Joice. "I saw the explosion but by the time we banked around there wasn't anything left but a lot of smoke." Ordinarily flying night missions, this was the first day mission Downs and his crewmen had flown in their night attack bomber.
Panmunjom, Korea, July 27, 1953 - Truce delegates this morning quietly wound up their two years of peace-waging and rang down the curtain of the 37-month-old shooting war in Korea.
The formal end of the war was wrapped up in 10 minutes of document signing. Chief United Nations truce delegate Lt. Gen. William K. Harrison and North Korean General Nam II sat down at 10 o'clock this morning and in a business-like manner wrote the Korean War into history. The first document of the imposing pile was signed by the opposing sides at 10:01. It took the generals 10 minutes to work their way through the war-ending papers. At 10 o'clock tonight soldiers will turn over the problems of Korea to powers of the governments concerned. The shooting phase of the bloody war will then be over.
The copies of the armistice agreement were delivered to Gen. Mark W. Clark at Munsan-ni and to the Communists at Pyongyang. General Clark signed the copies today at 1 o'clock p.m. The North Korean commander at the time of his signing was still unknown this morning.
There were 18 copies of the agreement. The U.N. prepared nine and the Reds nine. General Clark and the Communist commander signed their respective copies earlier this morning before they were brought to Panmunjom. When they signed the documents prepared by the opposing sides today the armistice was completed. The armistice was prepared in three languages: English, Korean, and Chinese. Each side got three copies of each, making a total of 18 copies that were signed this morning. The ceremony was staged in the tar-papered, straw-matted building built by the Communists last week especially for the occasion.
The delegates arrived simultaneously at 10 a.m. They immediately sat down and began the actual signing. The signatures were applied on a row of three tables that were stretched for about 30 feet. The Reds sat on the north end and the U.N. delegates on the south. In front of each senior delegate was his flag--a U.N. flag for Harrison and a North Korean one for Nam Il.
The U.N. group included Rear Adm. John C. Daniel, Brig. Gen. Ralph N. Osbourne, and Maj. Gen. George F. Finch. They sat silently at the south end of the U.N. table while Harrison put his name on the truce agreement. [Note from Jake Huffaker: I had to put my name on the truce-ending message that came to the 8th Army Headquarters there in Seoul, Korea, stating that I had received the truce-signing message from Panmunjom.]
As Harrison signed the papers, Col. James C. Murray, senior U.N. liaison officer, picked up each copy and arranged them for presentation to the Reds. High-ranking officials from both sides watched the ceremony. The Communists sat on the north side of the building and U.N. personnel were seated on the south side. The Communists split into two groups--North Koreans and Chinese. The North Koreans were dressed in red-striped blue trousers and olive drab jackets, the Chinese "volunteers" sat opposite them wearing dull olive drag trousers and tunics, minus rank insignia.
The U.N. copies were bound in blue-backed volumes. The copies prepared by the Reds came in red leather folders. U.N. correspondents almost filled the area allotted for visiting officials. Only about a dozen Red reporters were on hand. The Communist reporters, not as lucky as U.N. ones, were jammed between the right of the camera battery and the wall. Neither the flash bulbs nor the noise made by the photographers seemed to disturb Harrison and Nam Il. They signed quickly, quietly, and solemnly.
Tokyo, Japan, July 27, 1953 - At 10 o'clock tonight the fighting in Korea will be over. The guns will be silent and the bloodshed will stop for the first time in three years. The conflict that saw American soldiers fighting has the strangest peace ever witnessed. No one is dictating any peace terms. There is no so-called "unconditional surrender", and a permanent peace is a long way off. The blueprint for peace will be drawn up at the conference table--not on the battlefield.
This is what the ceasefire will mean to the man doing the fighting in Korea. All fighting will stop 12 hours after the armistice is signed. Gen. Mark W. Clark put his signature on the document this afternoon. The Communists will do the same. All outfits in Korea have been alerted, but no one has laid down his arms yet.
By 10 o'clock Thursday morning all troops and equipment must be moved back 2,000 meters--a little more than a mile. This will create a big buffer zone across the 155-mile front where prisoners who do not want to go home will be met by representatives of their country. They will be watched over by a five-nation supervisory commission. Troops occupying islands in surrounding waters have to leave within five days. No blockade of the coastline will be permitted.
No one knows how long the U.N. troops will hold their positions along the buffer zone. The Eighth Army Commander has warned that the men should not count on going home. They will have to stay until the terms of the armistice are carried out and something is done about reaching permanent peace in the little country.
General Clark said yesterday that the prisoner exchange should start right away--probably in a few days. Those who want to go home will be turned back as fast as the receiving side can handle them. The unwilling prisoners, who blocked a truce for 17 months, will be turned over to the supervisory commission. They will be held for three months while teams from their country make "explanations" to them about going home. If they still refuse repatriation after three months, their fate will be decided at a post-armistice peace conference set to be called within three months of the signing.
If this peace conference can't decide what to do with the prisoners within a month, and they still refuse to go home, they will be freed. The North Korean prisoners can stay in South Korea or go to a neutral nation that will accept them. The Chinese will go to a neutral country. At that time the repatriation commission made up of teams from Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and India will be dissolved.
Shortly after the agreement is signed, another team, composed of the same neutral countries except for India, will enter Korea to see that the terms of the armistice are carried out. They will be stationed at Korea's major ports of entry to see that no more ammunition or reinforcements are brought into the country. Some 35,000 replacements a month can come in, but both sides must stop all incoming planes, equipment, ammunition, and war supplies.
Three months from today, a third commission will be set up. They call this one a high-level political conference. It will tackle such problems as withdrawal of troops, disarmament, and what to do about a country split in half by a mile and one-quarter buffer zone. Permanent peace in Korea is in the hands of this political conference.
That's what is on paper. But to war-weary soldiers from 22 countries it means a lot more. It means no more patrols. No more incoming rounds or snipers cutting down the guy you had chow with this morning. It means peaceful, quiet nights. Those shell-pocked hills will start to look better now that they don't shelter a machinegun nest or mortar tube.
The cease fire also will mean plenty of hard work and long, boring hours. Commanders have told their troops who will guard the buffer zone that July 27th is not the beginning of a honeymoon. They've got to stay until the job is finished. We have come one step closer to that today.
Seoul, Korea, July 27 - ROK Defense Minister, Admiral Sohn Won Il, said the ROK national security council decided not to block an armistice for 180 days. Admiral Sohn indicated, in answer to newsmen's questions, that the ROK troops would pull back from the battle line to form a deneutralized zone. There had been fears that, in view of the stubborn South Korean refusal to accept an armistice, South Korean troops might, at the last minute, balk at 8th Army orders to withdraw in accordance with the armistice agreement.
The withdrawal plan is already in the hands of ROK division commanders here who will put them into effect upon an order from 8th Army. Sohn said a vast defense program has been inaugurated that would make the ROK armed forces "second to none" in the world. "My immediate job as defense minister is to build our armed force to make it second to none in the world," he said. "The plan has just been inaugurated." He said the armistice will "by no means" slow down the expansion plan. He declined to say, however, that it would accelerate it.
In a statement issued today, ROK President Syngman Rhee stated, "I have opposed the signing of the truce because of my conviction that it will prove to be the prelude to more war, no less; to more suffering and ruin; to further Communist advances by war and by subversion." "Now that it is signed, I pray that my judgment of its effect may turn out to be wrong. We shall not disturb the armistice while a political conference undertakes within a limited time to solve peacefully the problems of the liberation and reunification of Korea." "Our understanding with the U.S. insures the effective cooperation between our two nations in maintaining the security of area of our mutual interest." "Rehabilitation of South Korea will proceed promptly and effectively. Will the Communists do as much for the North?"
"To our suffering brethren who remain for a time under the Communist tyranny, we say, do not despair. We shall not forget or neglect you. The fundamental aim of the Korean nation remains and will be accomplished--to reclaim and redeem our provinces and our people in the North--with the definite pledge of United Nations cooperation to this end." "A detailed explanation of why we have adopted the changed policy of not disrupting the truce will be issued later."
Panmunjom, Korea, July 27th - Sidelights to the signing in the Panmunjom armistice-signing area:
Some 50 jeeps, trucks, and buses formed the U.N. Press Corps convoy that left Munsan-ni base camp at 7:30 a.m. It stretched for nearly a mile on the route north. The Reds had a similar number of dark green Russian-built jeeps which began arriving at 9 o'clock. U.N. personnel and press sported a blue ribbon about three inches wide on which was printed, "U.N.C. Official Badge--Korean Armistice."
An honor guard with representatives from all U.N. forces who fought in the war lined the walks and ringed the peace pagoda...the Republic of Korea had no troops in the guard...Red guards were garbed in fatigues, wore canvas rubber-soled shoes, and slouched between salutes to the leaders. Earlier they were interspaced with U.N. guards beside the building but pulled back about five yards by 9:30.
A brisk wind swept the area and the sun was bright when it managed to break through the clouds. Blue patches dotted the sky, but a huge dark cloud hung just north of the area. The blue triangle painted over the Reds peace doves was a marked contrast to the butterscotch tan of the entire building...a pool of water still remaining from yesterday's rains formed across the cross bar of the p-shaped hall.
Film cartons, flash bulbs, and tear sheets littered the packed-sand ground. Lt. Gen. William K. Harrison, Chief U.N. delegate, stepped from his helicopter at 9:30. And 10 minutes later three huge blue-covered books were carried into the building...presumably they were the armistice texts, written in North Korean, Chinese, and English.
The Red contingent pulled up a few minutes later, mostly garbed in olive drab uniforms...three females were among their press corps. At 9:43 the Communist spectators filtered into the building in orderly single file from the south end and the U.N. personnel wandered in at will. By 9:45 floodlights lit the interior and focused on a long table that had the U.N. and North Korean flag on it. Even as the signing took place mortar rounds could be heard in the distance and American jets struck a bit further off.
Seoul, Korea, July 27th - There were no ticker tape in Seoul today and no tall buildings to throw it from. The truce was the end of one more war for the people here and they went about their business as usual. In a bustling market a block from the capital they were selling fish, pots, pans, paper, and rice. "Yes," said an old man wrapping a fish in an old newspaper and handing it to customer. "I have heard the truce was signed." And he went about selling his fish.
A handsome woman sitting by racks of baby clothes said she was praying that the peace was not for just a few months. "I am sorry this truce talk was not so good," said a kitchen ware salesman. He had hoped the peace would be made at the Yalu River boundary. A war veteran, selling onions and peppers, damned the truce. "I got my family up there," he said. But the woman, who are the world's most practical people when al is said and done, were happy even in the Korean fish markets today. Carrying a bag of rice on her head, a baby on her back, and a string in her hand, one Korean mother smiled, "Everybody likes peace. Don't you?"
New Delhi, July 27, 1953 - Defense ministry spokesman said yesterday an all-India contingent, about 4,000 strong, representing a dozen famous fighting units, will be assembled and sent to guard prisoners at Panmunjom. The spokesman declared present plans provide for four battalions, each of 800 men to be drawn from the turbaned and bearded Sikh regiment, the hardy north Indian Jat regiment, Maratha light infantry, Rajputana rifles, and other crack units of the Indian army. Nearly 1,000 men will also be needed to maintain vehicles, handle supplies and operate communications, but the remainder will be infantry, the spokesman said.
The biggest problem facing Indian officials, the spokesman added, "is obtaining suitable Indian ships to transport our men to Korea. At least the first ship which lands there must be Indian, even if we have to use a British vessel for the remainder. So far nothing definite has been arranged regarding ships."
Tokyo, Japan, July 27, 1953 - The Navy yesterday hurled its mightiest air effort of the Korean War against the Communists while cruisers, destroyers, and the battleship New Jersey spent their last complete day of fighting by raking coastal targets with steady barrages.
Carrier pilots hit the Reds with 634 sorties, bringing its last three-day total to 1,841, and breaking any previous three-day record. 4 carriers, the Philippine Sea, Princeton, Boxer, and Lake Champlain, launched the record assault.
The New Jersey, meanwhile, sent her giant salvos into battered Wonsan. Red fortifications and harbor defense positions are the main targets. At Kosong the cruiser Bremerton raked bunkers and trenchlines while the cruiser St. Paul and Destroyer Moore blasted guns, caves, and bunkers at Hungnam.
In strikes against three North Korean airfields at Moeryaung, Sondok, and Hoemun pilots left runways pocked with 71 craters. Other "Champ" aircraft zoomed through heavy flak to rock industrial Sokyon.
Panther jets and Corsairs from the Philippine Sea flew across the peninsula to the extreme western sector of North Korea to smash boxcars and trucks near the Yalu River.
Tokyo, Japan, July 27, 1953 - Despite continuing stormy weather over Korea yesterday Fifth Air Force warplanes hammered the frontlines and hit assigned objectives and targets of opportunity in rear areas. Last night B-26 light bombers ranged the battleline taking up where the day-flying fighter-bombers left off.
The twin-engine invaders also struck a marshaling yard at Osan-ni near Wonsan. At midnight 10 B-29 superforts of the 307th Medium Bomb Wing flew during an eclipse of the moon as they roared into North Korea to strike at two Red airfields. Six of the mediums pummeled the 6,600-foot runway at Saamcham while four others dumped their bomb load on the Taechon strip. Three other 307th Surperforts hit Red frontline positions.
Meager flak rose to meet the bombers over Taechon while searchlights were employed at both targets. No night fighters were reported. Far East Air Forces warplanes flew a total of 720 effective sorties during the day and Combat Cargo planes airlifted 520 tons of U.N. supplies and personnel.
Panmunjom, July 27, 1953 - The reaction to the armistice announcement by American soldiers here was a unique one. Few got overly excited. Most greeted the news with quiet smiles and comments like, "Well, I will believe it when I see it." A few were jubilant.
The troops had been expectant and in turn disappointed too many times before. When the announcement of the end finally came, there just was not much emotion left. They were glad, of course, but most only smiled and commented, "I would not be surprised if something happened and it would not come off."
Their opinions were summed up by PFC Wilber West, Seattle, Washington, who said, "It is about time they ended this thing, but I still would not be surprised if they did not sign it." No one seemed surprised that the cease-fire order came out of the latest series of talks, but some said they did not expect it to come this soon.
West, a member of the 304th Radio Company, the outfit that teletypes correspondents' copy from here to Tokyo, explained: "We figured they would fool around for another couple of months." "I've been expecting it for two years," said PFC Thomas Goodteacher, an engineer who was helping install lights in the peace pagoda. But the news did not stir him one way or the other. He and his buddies would be working harder now that the many members of the various truce commissions would be working at the U.N.C. advance camp at Munsan-ni and here at Panmunjom.
Reaction to the news was so slight that reporters seeking quotes from troops in the area had to scrounge to find anyone who had anything interesting to say. Only one honest shout was heard. The Reds on the other side of the truce site seemed just as calm. Their usually blank faces were just as blank as ever. That is what happens when peace talks last two-thirds the length of the war.
Tokyo, Japan, July 27, 1953 - The first period of quiet in nearly two and a half years settled over Wonsan today. Pounded and torn with shells and bombs and rocked with explosions almost daily since February 16, 1951, Wonsan, once called the "Chicago of Korea" has been subjected to a more vicious and prolonged bombardment than any other city in history.
Once a highly industrialized city of 100,000 people, it is today only a charred and blackened remnant of a metropolis. Numerous "All-out" attacks by Navy planes and ships have rocked the city with bombs and shellfire. The Navy said its bombardments forced the Reds to keep 30,000 troops there--some 90 miles behind their own front--to guard against a constant threat of amphibious invasion. This huge force was tied up most of the time by a comparatively small Allied naval force of a destroyer or two.
Despite the incessant hammering by Allied ships and planes, the Communists at Wonsan only burrowed deeper into the rubble and tried to protect themselves with concrete shelters. For them, it was a case of having to stay to keep open their only east coast rail supply line and protect a likely invasion spot.
Throughout the war the port remained protected by scores of shoe batteries. The enemy continued to use the city. During the first year, following the opening bombardment by the destroyers Lind and Osbourn on February 26, an average of 22 shells an hour, day and night, were hurled into the city's defenses by warships of nine nations. Ships of all sizes as well as carrier planes ripped the city. It was by far the longest "siege" ever carried out by the United States Navy.
Vice Adm. Robert P. Briscoe, Far East naval commander, however, labeled the action at Wonsan a "battle". A "siege", he said, suggests a static condition, whereas active battles at Wonsan between Red guns and United Nations ships and aircraft took place constantly. Whatever historians eventually call it, though, it was the scene of more naval action than any other area in Korea.
But before Allied warships could ply Wonsan's waters with any safety, minesweepers had to carry out one of the greatest minesweeping tasks in naval history. Shortly after the war began on June 25, 1950, fleets of minesweepers labored daily to clear the entrance to Wonsan harbor. Yet in October, 1950, Vice Adm. Arthur D. Struble, then Seventh Fleet commander, estimated there were still some 1,500 to 2,000 or 2,500 mines off the port.
The minefield, according to Struble, was bigger than any similar field encountered in the Pacific during World War II. During one week in October, 1950, sweepers and gunners destroyed 96 mines. 20 U.S. warships, including the battleship New Jersey, cruiser Helena, and several destroyers, were damaged off Wonsan during the first year. Allied warships continued to catch an occasional Red shell after the first year, but not nearly as often.
Macao, July 27, 1953 - Information filtering through the bamboo curtain today said the Communists recently recruited young farmers for a job of highway construction in Southeast China. They offered to pay the equivalent of $15 a month. But the farmer lads shortly after they "enlisted" found themselves on the way to Korea to fight. Their pay there will be about 30 to 40 cents a month.
With 98th Bomb Wing, July 27, 1953 - It was one of the last B-29 missions over North Korea, yet the giant warplanes carried only paper. It was a special leaflet mission by the 98th Bomb Wing in Japan. Two planes took part in the flight to drop over 4 million specially prepared leaflets to let the Chinese Reds and North Koreans soldiers know that peace was near.
As for the crew members of the plane of Maj. Theodore W. Bowden, Bellevue, Washington, it was just another one of the "last missions" they have been flying for the past week. To them war still remained the real thing. During the intelligence briefing before the take-off, hints were dropped concerning the cherry blossom leaflets and the pictures of the Communist soldiers returning back across the hills to home and their families. "This may not be the last mission" the briefing officer said, "But this leaflet is a good indication."
As the airmen began to board their huge aircraft, Chaplains Maj. Jack P. Dalton and Maj. Christopher J. Hinckley drove out to the runway to tell them that news had just been flashed that the truce would be signed in the morning at 10 o'clock. Some of the crew members smiled and remarked, "This may be our last mission," but they still knew that their flight pattern led them over North Korea's most intensive air-defense area, the Pyongyang and Sunchon districts and the Reds have a special dislike for lone leaflet planes.
The two aircraft took off at dusk and winged their way toward Korea. Approaching its shores, they broke off, each following its own designated route; an eclipse of the moon began before the two planes crossed into enemy territory. Small flashes of mortar and artillery rounds lit the battlefield below. Thunder and lightning staged their own show over the lines, lighting up huge clouds like miniature atom bombs.
Bowden's plane droned on in the night. A2/C Kenneth Dahl, right gunner, checked his sights and then asked A2/C Donald E. Thompson, left gunner, how things were with him. "left wing just fell off," Thompson joked, "but no sweat." Capt. Leon A. Hensel, Kansas City, Missouri, radar specialist, continued checking his instruments for the first one of eight leaflet drops, "We live a simple life, but we enjoy ourselves," he said, pausing to place some cold chicken from his in-flight lunch into the plane's oven-heater.
The bomb-bay doors opened for the first drop and tiny lights could be seen flickering below oblivious to the roar of the giant engines above. The second, third, and fourth drops were made with no opposition. As the plane approached the Pyongyang area, A2/C Lauren I. Shaver, central fire control gunner, spun around in his revolving seat, his head reaching up into the plexi-glass astrodome to keep an eye out for enemy fighters that were anticipated.
But no Red fighters came and not one burst of enemy antiaircraft was fired at the bomber along the entire route over North Korea. The men didn't wait to question their luck as the plane banked sharply to head for the frontlines and home. The night grew brighter as the eclipsed moon began to peek back into the night. The men now had one question: Was this really their last mission?
A group of Air Force photographers waiting for them at the airstrip dispelled any more doubts and for the first time genuine enthusiasm took hold. But the long months of truce haggling still left its mark and the men started each sentence with "IF". "If the peace is signed, I'd like to go back to advance schooling," Bowden said. "Same for me", 1st Lt. Anthony G. Kirch, bombardier, replied. "If the peace is signed I'll have to get into a new field with these jet planes." "If the truce goes through," a pessimistic crewman stated, "they'll probably have us policing those areas where we dropped those leaflets tonight."
Headquarters, Fifth Air Force, July 27, 1953 - Mustangs of the Republic of Korea 10th Fighter Wing hammered Communist positions in the Kumsong bulge sector recently with a record 171 sorties. It was the heaviest day for F-51 prop-driven fighter-bombers of the ROK, since their entry into the Korean War.
The one-time fighter planes destroyed 20 buildings, 2 supply dumps, 10 gun positions, 16 bunkers and 2 caves. They damaged 14 buildings, 13 gun positions, and 23 bunkers. Pilots said they inflicted 20 enemy troop casualties. The ROK Air Force operate with the Fifth Air Force.
With Greek Battalion, July 27, 1953 - The Greeks, long noted for their ability to kill Communists with a minimum of loss to themselves, did it again recently. They smashed a valley full of Chinese Reds and suffered only 3 men wounded in the process.
"It was about 3 o'clock in the morning," said Sgt. George Thance, an American interpreter with the Greeks, when he described the battle. "We were just about to send out a night patrol when the outpost spotted 300 Chinese moving up the valley toward our positions." The Greeks, according to Thanos, immediately sent out two patrols along the sides of the valley and enveloped the advancing Reds. "Then at the last minute a signal was given and all hell broke loose," he continued. "The Reds, trapped on all sides, tried to shoot their way out, but only a handful got away. After it was over we counted 105 bodies and estimated another 60 bodies to 100 was wounded. We also took prisoners."
"You see," said PFC Spiros Kapotas, another interpreter with the battalion, "the Greeks use a very simple system which the Americans call "don't shoot till you see the whites of their eyes." "Fifty yards is too far away for the Greeks."
The crack little fighters, all of whom wear wide moustaches, like to go into a fight loaded with ammunition. "They looked like walking ammo depots," said Kapotas, "and when they start fighting they really believe in firepower." Kapotas said that a great deal of the spirit of the Greek Battalion is based on love of their homeland.
With U.S. 40th Division, July 27, 1953 - "I stuck a knife in his stomach and prayed to God the others wouldn't find me," was the way Lt. Richard S. Agnew, Waltham, Massachusetts, described the climax of two nights and a day in no-man's land.
Agnew, a platoon leader of Company F, 223rd Infantry Regiment, and his sergeant were 1,300 yards from friendly lines with their patrol when the sergeant fell over a cliff hidden by the inky-black night. Crawling forward to find him, Agnew felt himself slipping down the same cliff and crashed into some trees on a ledge 25 feet below. The lieutenant injured his ankle and damaged his radio. The sergeant injured his back.
When a third member of the patrol contacted them moments later, Agnew told him to take the patrol back and they would meet them the following night. "From then on," Agnew said, "we lived on luck and prayers." Hours later, the two men managed to claw their way up the rocky cliff, stopping once when they heard an enemy patrol beneath them. "We thought that was close," continued the lieutenant, "but we hadn't seen anything yet."
Reaching the top, the men crawled into some heavy brush and dawn began to break. There Agnew bathed his ankle in a small brook and the two men rested. "All day we heard sniper fire around us," he said, "and every so often we could hear the enemy moving around the edge of the brush."
When night came again, Agnew's ankle seemed to feel stronger, so they set out for the appointed meeting place. "We were sneaking back when the enemy challenged us so I pitched a hand grenade at him," said the lieutenant. "There were others though, and they started firing burp guns and throwing grenades." One of the grenades wounded both men and blew Agnew down the hill, separating the men. "When the Reds came to look for us, they were well spread out," Agnew said. "I jumped one who was carrying a knife in his hand and started choking him. Then I grabbed his knife and killed him. The others kept coming, so I pulled the pins on my last two grenades and waited for the end. They passed by, missing me by inches."
Meanwhile, 3 heavily armed patrols from the company had been scouring the area for the two men. One patrol under Lt. Andrew H. Logan, Compton, California, located the sergeant where he had fallen wounded. Another patrol led by Lt. Richard R. Alexander, Boston, Massachusetts, discovered Agnew. "I heard someone speak and it turned out to be "Little Hugh, one of our KATUSA's," said the lieutenant.
The next day Agnew received an on-the-spot promotion to first lieutenant from Maj. Gen. Ridgely Gaither, commanding general of the 40th Division. Both men have been recommended for high awards.
Munsan, Korea, July 29, 1953 - The Generals today take up the tough task of guarding the Korean truce and speeding more than 86,000 prisoners, including 3,313 Americans, to their homelands. The ponderous armistice machinery--two years and 17 days in the making--at last began to function. The military armistice commission, charged with supervising the truce, met in its opening session in Panmunjom at 11 a.m. today. Red Cross teams were expected at Panmunjom shortly. They will go into stockades in both North and South Korea to aid in the prisoner swap.
The newly revealed record showed that the Communists will return the disappointing total of only 12,763 Allied prisoners. The total U.S. alone by estimates has 13,285 men missing in action. Besides the 3,313 Americans, Red stockades will be emptied of 8,186 Koreans, 922 British, 12 French, 228 Turks, 15 Australians, 40 Filipinos, 14 Canadians, 22 Colombians, 6 South Africans, 1 Greek, 1 Belgian, and 3 Japanese. It made a total of 4,577 prisoners of non-Korean nationality to be returned.
The Communists said they will return the captives at the rate of 300 a day, including sick and wounded. This would take about 43 days. "The UN Command informed the Reds the proposed rate of 300 daily was "unduly small". The Chinese Red staff officer handling repatriation, Col. Wuang Chien, then said the Communists were "willing to complete repatriation at the earliest date" and promised a study of transportation facilities. If possible the number would be increased.
The UN Command agreed to send back 69,000 North Koreans and about 5,000 Chinese at the rate of 2,400 able bodied men and 300 wounded and sick daily. At this rate the Allied stockades would be emptied within 30 days. Another 7,800 North Korean and 14,000 Chinese prisoners who have vowed they would not return to Red rule were a separate problem, covered by a supplementary agreement to the truce.
These reluctant prisoners--object of one of the great fights of the truce negotiations and final victory by the UN Command--will not be sent home against their will. But they will be sent to the demilitarized zone for guarding by Indian troops while Red persuasion teams seek to induce them to go back home. The UN Command must turn them over to a neutral nation repatriation commission headed by India within 60 days and the Reds will have 90 days to visit their camps. Those prisoners still refusing to return will then become the problem of a post-armistice political conference for 30 days and if no solution is found, will be reclassified as civilians and allowed to go to a neutral nation.
Along the Western Front, July 28, 1953 - A rain of bursting shells was transformed quietly into a rain of eerie feeling along this Marine and Australian-held sector at the stroke of 10 last night. Green, red, and star-cluster flares in the sky heralded the first quiet night that this front has seen in more than 3 years of fighting.
A few hours earlier, screaming missiles hurled over no-man's land and exploded along the frontlines of both sides in the war's last dying effort. Then all was silent, and men came out of their bunkers to sit on top of trenches and gaze questioningly at the stilled enemy positions. Many lit cigarettes where a few minutes earlier they wouldn't have dared. Peace came under a bright, full moon, which gave vivid illumination to the valleys where, on hundreds of previous nights, patrols prowled and clashed in bloody contacts. No patrols were out last night.
Intelligence and operations sections of every unit worked all night as though there had been no armistice, except this time, they merely gathered information on enemy activities. Reports came in to the operation bunkers that the enemy was moving about, presumably collecting their dead. However, one frontline unit reported they heard the enemy "digging in".
An alert vigilance was maintained throughout the night by skeptical frontline troops who wouldn't be completely convinced the first night that the shooting was over; it was all just too sudden. Combat-schooled bunker-dwellers sat along the top of their trenches and fired red flares from hand-held flare guns. Further over, other units kept star-cluster and parachute flares in the sky continually.
Every man on the line last night "played it cool". There was a general attitude of caution. As one Marine put it, "I wouldn't want anything ironical to happen to me at the last minute--I just came to this place a few months ago, but I'm a short-timer now. Just playing it cool, Dad."
Before the assigned time to ceasefire there were a few casualties. The wounded were evacuated to one of the medical companies after the Chinese artillery gave the frontline an 11th-hour working-over. Roads throughout the western sector bore outbound truck traffic almost arteries had stopped ammunition traffic to the lines. Correspondents scurrying back and forth between the front and the Munsan press camp represented a large percentage of vehicular traffic.
Headquarters, KCOMZ, July 28, 1953 - "Your role in the Korean War--both as a combat soldier and as a prisoner of the enemy--has ended." This is a quotation from a booklet called "Welcome Back", which every American serviceman will be handed that is returned by the Communists in operation "Big Switch". The booklet tells the returning man what he can expect in the way of processing, transportation and comfort facilities on his way home. It informs him that he will travel in the best accommodations possible all the way, that the sea voyage to the States will take from 15 to 18 days.
The words quoted in the first paragraph are intended to tell him that, for the rest of the time he is in Korea, he will be an honored "guest" of the U.S. Army. At Inchon, for instance, where he will clear through administrative medical and security processing before boarding ship, every effort is being made to make his stay as short, comfortable, and enjoyable as possible.
Maj. Gen. William S. Lawton, KCOMZ commander, has directed that every facility of this far-flung logistical command be mobilized to meet the needs and wants of the repatriated servicemen. These men have been prisoners of the Communists for anywhere from a few months to three long years.
The number of days a returnee will spend in this country, between the time he leaves the reception point at Panmunjom and the time he boards ship at Inchon's Baker pier, can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. A fraction of that time he will spend in processing centers. The remaining few days while he is waiting his turn to climb the gangplank, is the time when the repatriate will see how a grateful and respectful Army can say, "Welcome back."
From the time the returnees arrive at the Korean port city until they are aboard ship, they will be the guests of the 8057th Replacement Depot and its commanding officer, Lt. Col. Edmond J. Padgett, Lebanon, Indiana. Administrative processing will be handled at the 55th Replacement Company's area at the depot. But, for the few days the returnees remain in the Inchon area after processing--estimated at only 3 or 4 days--they will be cared for, fed, billeted and entertained by the 5019th Replacement Company of the 8057th.
Under the supervision of the Company Commander, Capt. John D. Williston, Kingwood, West Virginia, the 509th is now completing a major program of renovation and redecoration in preparation for the arrival of the returnees. Radios will be placed in each room of the barracks and electric fans will be available. The returnees will sleep on a new, clean metal bunk, between fresh white sheets, on a pillow with a pillowcase. There are plenty of showers--eternal symbol of "real luxury" to a fighting man.
A newly redecorated recreation hall contains a piano, ping-pong tables, a shuffle board, a lounge, and stage for USO shows. Army service club and Red Cross hostesses will staff the hall. A post exchange in the same building will stock luxury as well as comfort items, souvenirs, cameras and etc. And the returnees will have money to spend there. At the 55th Replacement Company, each man will be issued his pay in accordance with his desires.
An awning-draped roof garden is under construction at the barracks where a man can sit at an "outdoor cafe" table, munching refreshments from the snack bar, while watching a badminton game on the rooftop court or, at night, a movie on the rooftop screen. Two other theaters are located in the company area--one in the recreation hall, one outdoors.
From an office located right in the barracks building he will be able to send a free cablegram home, courtesy of the American Red Cross. Special Services will provide four tape recorders and about 5,500 individual tapes for free voice-messages to be air-mailed home.
The mess looks more like a stateside restaurant than the conventional Army dining room four-man tables, curtains at the windows, flowers--and more food than he has seen in a long, long time. Each meal will be "special" with the best of everything. He will find steak and more steak, grilled to his personal order. Pie with ice cream.
A five-man combo from the 10th Special Services Platoon will be rushed from Taegu to Inchon to play, not only in the recreation hall, not only in the barracks but at supper in the dining room every night. All the other entertainment and recreation facilities of KCOMZ Special Services await the pleasure of the returning men. Already stock piled at Inchon are games, musical instruments, and athletic equipment.
In their billeting area, the men will find a well-stocked library, and fully nine tons of books and magazines lie in bales and boxes at the Seoul plant of Pacific Stars and Stripes, waiting to be distributed. Special Services is feverishly gathering together vast quantities of newspapers from the 25 largest cities in the U.S.
Every USO show presently touring Korea has been alerted to stand by for the start of Operation Big Switch. When the first returnees reach Inchon, they'll find a USO unit to entertain them, specially airlifted there.
In a converted Inchon factory building, five chaplains wait to minister to the returnees' spiritual needs. The building houses an altar, spacious seating facilities, and a stockpile of religious materials. The Chaplains supplies include everything the returnees could desire--from Catholic rosaries to Protestant hymnals to Jewish yarmulkes (skull caps)--Bibles, psalteries, religious literature, and medals.
The Troop Information and Education office of KCOMZ has prepared ample material for reacquainted returnees with the world to which they will return. As soon as they are returned to U.N. control, the repatriated servicemen will receive a news digest booklet entitled, "What Has Happened Since 1950". The booklet has included every important news and sports event through June 13 of this year. Every day they remain in Korea, they will receive copies of Pacific Stars and Stripes. They will receive literature bringing them up to date on the G.I Bill of Rights.
Talking of plans for the comfort and morale of these men, M/Sgt. John A. McDonald, Rochester, New York, first sergeant of the 509th, probably said the most in the fewest words. Speaking of his company's part in handling the returned U.S. prisoners, he might have been speaking for all of KCOMZ and the Army as a whole when he said: "As far as we are able, in the few days they'll be here, we aim to give them everything they've missed."
Tokyo, Japan, July 28, 1953 - "You will cease fire and return to your base." With these words Fifth Air Force last night closed shop. Broadcast by control stations for one-half hour from 9:30 p.m., they signified the U.S. Air Force's compliance with the Panmunjom truce agreement signed 11 hours and 30 minutes earlier. They also were the final operational order issued by Fifth's Joint Operational Center which, for more than 3 years, had sent Allied warplanes through war-ripped skies at targets throughout North Korea.
Yesterday morning a 25-plane flight of modern, up-to-date F-86 Sabre jets flew the first mission of the last day of the Korean War. Last night an "obsolete" propeller-driven B-26 light bomber flew the last combat mission and relinquished a stormy sky to a returning flight of doves.
The hours between those missions were busy ones for U.N. fliers. They flew 1,010 combat sorties. In the longest and one of the most spectacular strikes of the war, 24 F-84 Thunderjets roared to within only 300 feet of the Yalu river boundary where they pounded an airstrip.
In a more highly publicized and glamorous air action, Capt. Ralph S. Parr, Apple Valley, California, a F-86 Sabre jet ace, shot down the last enemy plane of the war. It was an IL-12 transport and, ironically, the first of its kind to fall in Korea.
As a pair of 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing Sabre jets landed at sundown to complete the final interceptor flight, Fifth Air Force announced that total MiG claims had reached 1,730. Of those 900 had been destroyed, 126 probably destroyed and 784 damaged. Against this figure were 58 Sabre jets lost in air-to-air combat. Twenty-four Thunderjets of the 49th Fighter-Bomber Wing smashed a Sunan airstrip while a six-plane bomber stream of the 17th Bomb Wing scored 90 percent coverage at Sinmak field.
At 9:34 the last "bombs away" was called as a lone B-26 unleashed 500 pounds of high explosives. Six minutes later Col. Robert A. Porter, director of Fifth Air Force's Joint Operational Center, lifted an aircraft position marker from the huge plotting board and placed it in a small tray. The air war was over.
Headquarters, Fifth Air Force, Seoul, Korea, July 28, 1953 - The ceasefire in Korea does not mean that the Fifth Air Force has had its wings clipped, a headquarters spokesman said today. Though the warplanes are limited to air over the U.N. side of the demilitarized zone, Security patrols are scanning the pull-back line just in case there is trouble, an official said today.
Tokyo, Japan, July 28, 1953 - Communist airfields, rail lines, frontlines, supply routes, and road systems--the principal targets of carrier Task Force 77 planes since 1950--received their last shellacking yesterday. The carrier Philippine Sea, Princeton, Boxer, and Lake Champlain, which hurled more flights against the reds the previous three days than at any other time throughout the campaign, continued their relentless hammering yesterday up to the final hours of the ceasefire time.
The battle of Wonsan also flared for the last time with the cruiser Bremerton and the destroyers Potter and Wiltsie exchanging booming salvos with Red shore guns suddenly come to life. From the carrier Bairoko off the Korean west coast Marine pilots of the "Polka Dot" Squadron flew their last sorties of the war in support of U.N. troops on the western front and ripped Pyongyang and Changyon.
Before moving up to Wonsan the Bremerton leveled her deadly guns on a familiar scene near Kosong and poured in a murderous bombardment which obliterated supply shelters, tore holes in the supply route, and sent violent explosions mushrooming.
At Wonsan, where U.N. warships have slugged it out with shore batteries since February 16, 1951, opposing gunners set up a savage cross-fire. American gunners turned a sector containing guns and bunkers into a sea of flame before the guns stopped firing and the people of Wonsan finally could burrow out of their rubble without the risk of being blasted by shellfire.
Tokyo, Japan, July 28, 1953 - When Korea's battle of the hills ended yesterday most of the knolls which were in the news throughout two years of standstill warfare fell into a 2 1/2-mile buffer zone between two armies. After pulling back two kilometers, the Reds still held Finger Ridge, Capitol Hill, towering Papsan on the central front, and Anchor Hill on the extreme eastern flank; the huge Punchbowl, key terrain feature on the eastern front, remained in Allied hands. But most of the well known outpost and hard-won hills are part of the demilitarized zone.
According to a U.S. Defense Department, estimated South Korea made a net gain of 1,500 square miles during the war. Most of the new dividing line is north of the 38th Parallel, the old political boundary. Heartbreak Ridge, scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of 1951, falls into the no-man's land dividing the two armies. Also neutralized were: Bunker Hill, Vegas, Carson, and Reno outposts, where the Marines saw some of their bitterest fighting of the year; Old Baldy; Pork Chop Hill; Sniper Hill, Jane Russell; Luke's Castle, and the weird Sandbag Castle.
The Reds will hold most of the ground they won this month in the hardest fighting in two years. The Allies must fall back south of Kumhwa in the area of the Kumsong bulge. The demarcation line is flanked on one side by the Imjin River west of Munsan and Anchor Hill near Kosong on the east coast. The line passes through Panmunjom, cuts through Korangpo just north of Chorwon and slices through Heartbreak Ridge and the Sandbag Castle.
The armistice agreement established the line to "prevent the occurrence of incidents which might lead to a resumption of hostilities". No person, military or civilian will be allowed to cross the line unless authorized by the military armistice commission. Under no circumstances will anyone be able to enter the territory under the military control of the other side unless he has permission from the commander of that side.
The boundaries of the buffer zone and the demarcation line will be clearly marked by the side bordering it. This posting of signs and warnings will be supervised by the military armistice commission. The UN already has flown signs to Korea. Written in English, Korean, and Chinese, they say: "Demilitarized Zone. Southern Limits. No admittance."
Truce supervisory teams will be set up at nine points of entry to make sure that no arms, war supplies, or reinforcements enter the country. The UN entry points are at Pusan and Kangnumg on the west coast and at Kunsan and Inchon on the east. All are sea and air entry points except for Pusan where ships alone will enter. On the Communist side, rail entry points will be established at Chongjin, Manpojin and Sinuiju. Seaports classified as Red entry points are Sinujiju and Hungnam. The only Communist airport mentioned in the agreement is Manpojin.
Seoul, Korea, July 28, 1953 - South Korean President Syngman Rhee today said in a message to the Korean people, "We have received an assurance that if the political conference breaks down the 16 U.N. nations participating in the Korean War are determined to fight with us jointly in complete unity of purpose." The aging president said in his lengthy message: "Full guarantee has been given to Korea in this respect."
Parts of the translation of his Korean text read: "President Eisenhower has expressed his firm belief that the issue of unification of Korea will be solved during the three-month political conference. From our point of view this is hardly likely to happen but we wish to have confidence in President Eisenhower's words, partly because further refusal of his solemn assurance will appear too obstinate and partly because the successful solution of problems at a political conference was truly preferable to solution by means of force."
Rhee said agreement has also been reached with regard to a defense pact with the U.S. which he said "provides that the U.S. is bound to protect us in case of outside invasion against the republic."
Pusan, Korea, July 28, 1953 - An estimated 3,000 Chinese and North Korean prisoner of war were being loaded on three U.S. Navy vessels today for shipment to Inchon and the neutral zone where they will be repatriated. The announcement was made by the Allied Prisoner of War Command.
The prisoners were being loaded in a Navy attack transport and an LST at Koje Island and in another LST at Cheju Island. The Prisoner of War Command said prisoners, en route for repatriation, would be held in groups at Yongdong-po, on outskirts of Seoul, and in the Munsan U.N. base camp vicinity. The PW Command said five Navy attack transports and 20 LST's will be used in prisoner repatriation. The command made no announcement of the relative numbers being taken today from Koje and Cheju.
Tokyo, Japan, July 28, 1953 - Truce watchmen from Switzerland and Sweden will fly to Korea tomorrow to set up machinery for their vigil which will ensure that the armistice terms are kept. Maj. Gen. Sven Grafstrom will take his entire group of some 20 Swedish military observer to the temporary camp at Munsan. (Permanent headquarters of the neutral nations supervisory commission is at Panmunjom.) The Swiss ground advance party of seven staff officers, headed by Maj. Gen. Friedrich Rihner. The Swiss representation on the NNSC was brought up to full strength with the arrival this morning of a second contingent of 64 officers and men, joining 21 staff members already here.
A Swiss spokesman said the remaining 78 members of his group would remain in Tokyo until arrangements for organizing the 10 inspection teams have been completed. Spokesmen for both overseer bodies said they anticipated little difficulty in coming out details with the phantom Czech and Polish groups, which did not reply to a message sent through truce negotiators asking for a pre-armistice confab. The Commission and Communist neutrals are expected to meet face-to-face for the first time on Thursday.
Under the armistice terms mixed teams of neutral truce observers are to be on the job at five ports of entry behind each side's lines within a week after the signing. The Swiss spokesman said major procedures had been worked out at the truce negotiator's tables.
The type of uniforms to be worn by the composite teams of inspectors may prove to be a stickler. Members of the group here differ in opinion as to whether a common uniform without insignia should be worn, or the respective national uniforms with neutral identification armbands.
Panmunjom, Korea, July 28, 1953 - The Joint military armistice commission held its first meeting at 11 a.m. today at Panmunjom. The meeting recessed for the day at 1:02 p.m. at the Reds' request. They will meet again at 11 a.m. tomorrow. The Commission is composed of U.N. and Communist military leaders who will control the truce terms.
The job of the five Allied and five Communist officers is to supervise the armistice and arbitrate violations. Maj. Gen. Blackshear M. Bryan, former commander of the U.S. 25th Division, heads the Allied team. (Bryan and Lt. Gen. Lee Sang Cho of the Communists exchanged credentials at the meeting began, INS reported.)
The U.N. Command in Tokyo announced officially, meanwhile, that all military action in Korea and surrounding waters halted at 10 o'clock last night, the effective moment of the cease-fire. The U.N.'s verification that the shooting ended on schedule--as reported previously by correspondents in the field--was contained in the communique issued by Gen. Mark Clark's headquarters in Tokyo covering the last day's fighting.
The Allies and the Reds exchanged armistice documents which their commanders had signed yesterday. Communist correspondents said the Reds documents were signed by Marshal Kim Il Sung of North Korea and Gen. Peng Ten Kuai of the Chinese Communist forces. The documents the Allies gave the Reds had been signed by General Clark after the signing at Panmunjom between Lt. Gen. William K. Harrison, Chief U.N. armistice delegate, and Gen. Nam Il, Chief Red delegate.
General Clark will now countersign the Red documents and then return them to the Reds. The Allied documents will go to Kim and Peng for their signatures and then will be returned to the U.N. command.
Panmunjom, Korea, July 30, 1953 - Red leaders in the truce teams have already accused the UN of truce violations on eight counts and the truce is only one day old. The Allied team promptly denied the Red charges and that they needed no further attention.
The Communist charges came at the second meeting of the joint military armistice commission this morning at Panmunjom. North Korean Lt. Gen. Lee Sang Cho, senior Red commissioner, leveled the charge at the Allies. The senior U.N. commissioner, Maj. Gen. Blackshear M. Bryan, after the hour and 32-minute meeting this morning, told newsmen: "We were accused of violations this morning. These were allegations, broad and general and nothing serious."
It was the first instances of alleged violations to the truce terms since the armistice went into effect Monday night at 10 p.m. Bryan described the allegation violations as random short of a couple of aircraft that supposedly infringed on the buffer zone. He added, "None has been substantiated. I consider them broad allegations and asked for additional information on which to base further action."
Later, an Allied spokesman elaborated on the charges. He said that the Reds accused the Allies of permitting three military aircraft to circle and reconnoiter the buffer zone, or firing four artillery shells after the cease-fire, and of firing three machinegun bullets after the cease-fire. The spokesman said that the Communists did not accuse the U.N. of inflicting any damage or casualties after the armistice went into effect.
Also during this morning's meeting of the armistice commission, General Bryan offered to begin the exchange of war prisoners next Sunday instead of next Wednesday, but the Communists said they would not be ready that soon.
Munsan, Korea, July 30, 1953 – Operation Big Switch—the
repatriation that would send 12,763 U.N. servicemen back to freedom—will
begin August 5, it was announced yesterday by Col. L.C. Friedersdorff,
top man of the Allied group for PW exchange. He announced the Reds would
repatriate about 400 prisoners daily while the UN would hand over
approximately 2,400 each day. Of the 12,762 U.N. prisoners, 4,577 are
non-Koreans. This includes 3,313 Americans. These are Communist-compiled
figures the U.N. emphasized.
Friedersdorff said the U.N. now holds about 74,000 prisoners who want to go home. Of these, he said, about 5,000 are Chinese and 69,000 are North Koreans. At the proposed rate of repatriation of 400 daily, it would take at least 32 days to hand them over. At the rate of 2,400 Reds daily it would take the U.N. 30 days to empty their camps. This does not include handling of prisoners who have refused to be repatriated.
Friedersdorff declared that in the early days of exchange, the U.N. would also release an additional 360 sick and wounded Communists each day until about 3,000 have been returned. The colonel said the U.N. reception center would be near the southern limit of the Panmunjom neutral circle and the Reds would assemble their repatriates somewhere just to the west.
The announcement came after Friedersdorff’s committee had completed an hour-and-30 minute meeting with their Communist counterparts. He said, “We sought to reach agreement on the earliest possible date for delivery and reception of repatriates” and at today’s meeting both sides agreed to start the exchange on August 5.” The reception centers for Big Switch are different from the ones used in Little Switch.
Army Maj. Gen. Blackshear M. Bryan Jr., head of the U.N. group, told reporters the meeting’s main objective was to arrange “to get the joint observer teams into the field to see that the armistice is not violated.” He also said the Swiss and Swedish teams of the neutral nations commission should arrive within 48 hours.
On the Western Front, July 29, 1953 – Many of the
American troops here had their first taste of the peace-time Army
yesterday and especially for those3 on the line it’s quite a relief.
Marines and soldiers took off steel helmets and flak jackets with a
heavy sigh. “That’s the first time I have had this vest off in a month,”
a 7th Division sergeant said as he discarded his jacket. Another bayonet
trooper sat on Outpost Dale directly across from Old Baldy and tried to
stare down the Reds.
Monday night and all day yesterday brazen Reds roamed through no-man’s-land, coming within 150 yards of the Australians with the 1st Commonwealth Division. Outposts there had been pulled back and the Aussies sat atop frontline bunkers and whooped it up. The Reds remained within earshot. “Come on over, Charlie, the war’s over,” the men from “down under” shouted. There were no takers, however.
In other sectors, more probing Communist Chinese were reported. Signs placed around Old Baldy in the 7th Division area, read, “GI now can go home,” and “May you get home quickly.”
The former enemies stood on the skyline of Old Baldy even with women among them, and displayed peace doves cut from cardboard. On a hill to the left, yellow, green, and orange pennants formed a triangle around a Red hammer and sickle flag. From that same hill, a serenade of drums Monday night changed to American music by yesterday morning.
Troops on a nearby outpost reported hearing recordings of Harry James, as well as “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” At first, the U.N. troops did not know how to take the truce. Some of them stopped firing at 9:45 p.m. Monday as ordered, and some at 10 p.m., as the truce required. The Reds followed suit. But the Americans seemed to sense it was not like the “unconditional surrender” of the World War II. This was a two-way deal.
Their reactions were as scattered as their locations. Certain groups—like the Aussies—celebrated a bit. Others—like the ROK’s—stood by their guns, expecting anything and yet nothing, even as late as yesterday afternoon. One unit of the 1st Marines reported incoming mortar and artillery rounds on the day of the signing and incoming mortar and artillery rounds on the day of the signing and only 5 percent of the average over the previous three days. It was a token barrage, Marine officers believed, just for heckling. But even the hardened Leathernecks refused to acknowledge that it was all over with. “I am taking my sack, my air mattress, and my blankets and I am sleeping in that tunnel tonight,” said one. They were taking no chances.
Some did not know what to think. They were grateful that firing has stopped and they pitched horseshoes instead of tents but they still were not sure. Lights were dimmed in one section while bonfires flared in another. Compared to last week, the stream of jeeps and trucks heading north was like Stateside holiday traffic. Sightseers braved roads known to be under observation with their light on even in blackout areas.
Musan, Korea, July 29, 1953 – The Allied command
announced tonight that Red Cross representatives presumably from both
sides of the iron curtain were in Korea to assist in the prisoner of war
exchange scheduled to start one week from tomorrow. Red Cross teams are
to be allowed access to PW camps in North and South Korea. Joint Allied
and Communist teams will report to the PW repatriation committee which
began its work today at Panmunjom.
The Red Cross teams will operate for the full 60 days allowed by the armistice document for the completion of war-prisoner exchange. Top Red Cross officers conferred today with Maj. Gen. Blackshear M. Bryan, the senior U.N. member of the military armistice commission which will be responsible for enforcing the Korea armistice signed yesterday.
Presumably, the Communists are also readying their Red Cross representatives to start work. The U.N. Command said that representatives from the U.S., Australia, Great Britain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, the Philippines and Turkey are in Korea. The Republic of Korea will also provide members for the joint teams.
The armistice agreement calls for 60 Red Cross members—equally divided between the Allies and the Communists—to visit camps in North and South Korea, escort the prisoners to the exchange stations, an distribute articles for their comfort.
The U.N. Command said that the senior Allied-Republic of Korea Red Cross representative will be L.W. Neatherlin, Anthony, New Mexico, who has served for 17 months in Korea as supervisor of Red Cross services to the armed forces. The chairman of the joint teams working in North Korea will come from a Communist nation. The chairman of the joint group operating in South Korea will come from a U.N. Command country.
On the Western Front, July 29, 1953 – The Dragon Lady
wears glasses, American Marines discovered yesterday. A woman in Chinese
uniform believed to be the sweet-talking propagandist who broadcast
across no-man’s-land appeared 600 yards from a Marine outpost on the
now-silent warfront. She was dressed in a khaki Chinese soldier’s
uniform with khaki cap. The pants were rolled up to her knees.
Marines who had heard the “Dragon Lady” blandishments about “Come on over and surrender” during the fighting said it was the same voice yesterday saying, “If you want gifts, come on over.” They said she appeared to be “a little slip of a thing,” but because of the distance it could not be determined if the bespectacled propagandist was “pretty”.
The “Dragon Lady” was the featured attraction in an impromptu “concert” in the open before the outpost overlooking the Panmunjom neutral zone. Using a loudspeaker, the “star” and other Chinese nearby played hillbilly songs and Chinese music. Numerous flags fluttered from bamboo poles around the “concert party”.
Seoul, Korea, July 29, 1953 – When U.N. foot soldiers
took up housekeeping on the present line of demarcation nearly two years
ago they too a look at their front yard and started calling names. As
far as most veterans can remember, Heartbreak was the first hill to get
a name, following by some bitter-sweet dirt piles called Bloody Ridge,
Irene, Caesar, and Gooseneck.
Some of the hills were named in a series. Apparently a Nevada public information officer named Reno, Carson, Elko, and Bruce on the western front. A student of Roman history must have launched Caesar, Brutus, Julius and Cassius nearby. The 1st Commonwealth Division left its mark with Churchill, Eden, Winston, Anthony (Eden), Monty, and Alex (for the famed field marshals Montgomery and Alexander of World War II), and Little Gibraltar. An old World War I veteran named one after the “Verdun” battlefield in France.
The Chaplains got in their bid for the christening of some other western hills. Guarding the one-time flanks of the Commonwealth Division were Samson and Goliath, and in between were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. David was put at the foot of Little Gibraltar, and scattered here and there were the virtues—Faith, Hope and Charity and also Patience.
The movie queens and glamour girls fared well from the start in the naming of the hills. There was Marilyn (Monroe), Betty (Grable), Corrine (Calvet), Jane Russell, Ginger (Rogers), Dagmar, and Ester (Williams). Most of the hills looked like parts of the women. The same applied to Margaret O’Brien.
Strictly in memory of their sweethearts, other infantrymen named Irene, Hilda, Flora, Tessie, Anita, and Betty. Other soldiers might have wanted a namesake when they tagged Elmer, Charlie, Felix, Nick, Kelly, Mike, Luke’s Castle, Henry, Tom, Dick, and Harry.
A dose of homesickness probably was responsible for the naming of Frisco, Detroit, Seattle, Erie, Chicago, Gary, Texas, West View, and Jackson Heights (New York). Map readers named some from a bird’s-eye viewpoint in shapes like Ronson, the Hook, Boomerang, Fish Hook, Gooseneck, Bubble, Pork chop, “T-Bone”, Sausage, the Alligator jaws, Arrowhead, White Horse (which appears on the shoulder patch of the ROK 9th Division which fought there), Mushroom Hill, and Sugar Loaf.
Others were named Rocky Point, Finger Ridge, Sandbag Castle, Bunker Hill, Horseshoe Mountain, Old Baldy, with all of its foliage shot away, Triangle Hill and Pikes Peak. Some names described the place—Arsenal, Sniper Ridge, Sandy Hill, Wire House (with its barbed wire), Iron Horse, and Corky. Near Panmunjom were Toothache and Molar. And whoever named Siberia did it on a cold winter day.
Some like indigination—like King, Love, Queen, Uncle and and Yoke—names taken from the phonetic alphabet. The Greeks had a name for a pair of hills on the western front—Big and Little Nori—but new tenants never bothered to find out what the names meant.
Others fell in the miscellaneous file, lke Berlin, Feature, East Berlin, Warsaw, The Three Sisters, and Nadacol. And some, which follow, are hills of distinction. The Punchbowl is a large grand canyon—or like a giant punch bowl. Papa-san is the granddaddy of them all on the central front and looms high over the U.N. front—in enemy hands. Christmas Hill was hit by the Communists on December 25, 1952, and the name stuck.
Capitol Hill got its name from the furiously fighting ROK division. And Yoyo got its name from a series of ups-and-downs in battle. Heartbreak was named by a wounded soldier, so the legend goes. He was being carried from the slopes in the pitched battle for the key to the eastern front some two years ago when he described the desperate fight to a medic: “It’s a heartbreaker.” He sighed. And then he died.
Those are the hills of the Korean War from Feature on the west coast to Anchor Hill holding down the eastern end of the Allied battleline. The young and the old who fought on them will never forget them.
Seoul, Korea, July 29, 1953 – Fifth Air Force said today
it lost 971 planes during the Korean War including 58 Sabre jets fallen
in air-to-air combat. 94 planes were downed in air combat, 671 knocked
out by ground fire, and 206 lost to other causes. Air Force officers
said the figures were based on unevaluated pilot claims, adding that an
official confirmation would be released later.
Korean-based planes of the Fifth Air Force launched some 624,588 sorties against the Communists during the Korean War. According to a Fifth Air Force score sheet, the war-planes as of June 15th, dropped 318,009 tons of bombs, launched 511,329 rockets and shot a staggering total of 179,293,100 bullets.
Some 328 MiGs were destroyed by Fifth Air Force planes during the war, with 800 downed by American Sabre jets. Other MiG claims were 143 probably destroyed and 929 damaged. Other Red planes destroyed, probably destroyed or damaged totaled 1,109. According to unofficial pilot estimates, the planes estroyed or damaged 2,309 tanks, 116,644 vehicles, 2,175 locomotives, and 3,228 boxcars. Also claimed were 4,255 bridges, 211,303 buildings, 31,328 gun positions, and 6,847 supply shelters.
Navy Headquarters said yesterday five U.S. Navy ships
were sunk and 83 others hit during the Korean War. Navy casualties
totaled 337 Americans killed and 1,585 wounded. The Headquarters summary
called the Korean Navy fighting a “strange war”, because of the
casualties suffered by naval craft and personnel, without participating
in a single naval engagement.”
“All action,” the headquarters said, “took place with surface ships hovering within stone’s throw of the coastline and slugging it out with heavy Communist shore batteries.”
The Naval craft sunk were four minesweepers—the Pledge, Partridge, Pirate and Magpie—and one Navy tug, the Sarsi. Two battleships, the New Jersey and the Wisconsin, were hit by Communist shore batteries. The cruisers Helena, Los Angeles, and St. Paul were hit twice and the Rochester, Bremerton, and Manchester once. Forty destroyers caught enemy fire during the war.
Headquarters, Fifth Air Force, South Korea, July 29,
1953 – The last photoflash bomb dropped cleanly, lighting up the target
and the cameras of the B-26 made the final recording of the enemy in
At a few minutes to 10, a fraction of an hour before the Korean truce went into effect, the last U.N. aircraft to fly against the enemy made its way out to sea and returned to its base. The 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, after maintaining constant unarmed surveillance of the Communists throughout the three years of the war, had its last look at North Korea through the eyes of the four-man crew of the Blackbird squadron’s B-26.
The pilot, 1st Lt. Herbert D. Olson, Los Angeles, California, said there was a gradual change in everything as the clock neared 10. “More lights than I’d ever seen before at night in North Korea began appearing,” he said. “The lights we hated, the searchlights, went out. There was no flak and the frontlines appeared very quiet. No flares went off after we dropped our last flash bomb. It was sort of eerie.”
Even South Korea appeared different, the nose navigator, Capt. Paul H. Pflung, Tampa, Florida, said. “A town on the east coast of South Korea that we’d never seen before was lit up like a Christmas tree.”
At the end of the flight—it was almost midnight—this last mission looked like it would come to a disastrous finish. While preparing to land, the crew found that the gear would not come down. It was recycled three times, once on the emergency system. When it finally dropped, Pflung had to reach down from his position in the nose and place a lock pin into the nose gear. From then on everything went right and a safe landing was made. The crew found they had obtained 100 percent coverage on their target, a successful ending to the 12,275th sortie flown by the Blackbirds and the 51,978th sortie flown by the 67th Wing since the beginning of the war.
Tokyo, Japan, July 29, 1953 – Red Cross workers from
nine U.N. countries yesterday prepared to journey to prisoner of war
camps with gifts and comfort articles. The American Red Cross has also
announced that returning prisoners would be able to contact their
families direct from Korea. As in Operation Little Switch, returnees
will be able to send home free a 50-word radiogram.
Portraits of the repatriates will be made and mailed to their next of kin. The Red Cross is also setting up facilities at Inchon—the port from which most PWs will head for the U.S.—for freed troopers to mail recorded messages.
Sick and wounded, if hospitalized in Tokyo after the switch, will have a chance to telephone their families from Japan’s capital city. It is impossible for men to phone home from Munsan or Inchon because of the lack of telephone circuits.
Each man will be given a bag of toilet articles and the agency stands ready with comic books, playing cards, and magazines at each point through which repatriates will pass.
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