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My life began on December 9, 1927, at Kodak, Tennessee, in Sevier
County. My dad, James H. Huffaker, told me it was a very cold, snowy day. I was
not born in a hospital, but at home with Dr. Housley, a family
physician, at my bedside. There was a brother born about two years
before me, but he died shortly after birth.
My dad worked at a general merchandise store owned by his uncle, Guy
Huffaker. The store sat just off the hill back of my dad's house.
My dad had a brother who lived with my dad's parents on an 80-acre farm
about a mile out the road toward the French Broad River. He came
out in his "T" model Ford to take me out to stay all day with them
when I couldn't sit up in the car seat. He let me lean on
When I was about a year old, I went to live with my grandparents.
This was my dad's greatest mistake because I grew up to know my
parents almost as strangers. My grandparents always told me that
they were my daddy and mother, and that my parents had let me live with
my grandparents because I was almost starving and they weren't taking
care of me as my grandparents thought they should. I can remember
back to the day my sister, Betty Lou, was born (November 30, 1931). My
grandmother, whom I called "Mom", and my grandfather, whom I called
"Pop", took me out to see my new sister.
I can't remember my first trip to Knoxville, but I can remember going
to Knoxville with my Uncle Bob, who went twice a week to get
groceries for my uncle who ran the store at Kodak. Before I got back home I
almost always went to sleep riding in the "T" model
truck, and sometimes I wet my pants. Knoxville was 25 miles
from Kodak and it usually took a good half day or a little more
going down there gathering the groceries and getting back home. During
the Fall of the year or late Summer they would not let me go to town as
there was usually a crippling disease breakout about that time each year
and it was catching among small children. It is known now as
My grandparents lived on a farm of 80 acres and rented another farm
of 380 acres about two miles from Kodak adjoining our farm. We usually
raised about 50 to 75 hogs each year to sell and to eat. We had
about 20 to 30 cattle along with about 20 milking cows. For a long
time we strained the cream from the milk and sold the cream to a
creamery truck that came around about three times a week and picked it
up. We usually fed the chickens (we had about 400)
the milk that was left, along with feeding it to the pigs, too.
To show you how a boy growing up will be so mean, I was always going
out to the henhouse, getting eggs, and breaking them in the nest.
My grandmother would find them and wonder how they got broken in the
nest. I usually told her that I guessed the roosters jumping
upon the nest broke them. One day I made the mistake of
throwing some of the eggs against the wall of the henhouse. My
grandmother then found out how so many of her eggs were being broke.
After much punishment and hickory tea, I finally quit doing
this. They gave me some hens and told me to feed them. What eggs
I got from them I could sell at the store and keep the money. That
was how I learned the value of things during those depression
years when money was scarce.
My grandmother's parents lived down at a place called Bethel on the
French Broad River about ten miles from Kodak. Her daddy was Capt.
John Newman, owner and operator of a steamship that traveled up and down
the river from Knoxville to Kodak. It carried grain and cattle to
the markets and machinery to the farmers, along with other supplies.
I can only remember him when he was bedfast. When we went down
there to see him he always gave me some money. That was where
I first got to saving money. I can remember the week he died.
I was going to stay at home with Pop and Uncle Bob while Mom went down
there. When night came I started crying for her and about 10
o'clock in the night they had to take me down there to her.
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My school days began in September 1933, at Henry Crossroads
School, a two-room schoolhouse at Kodak. This school was about
a mile from home at my dad's house. I usually took my dinner, but
as I got up in the grades of school I went to my dad's
house for dinner.
My first teacher was Howard Bailey, a short man about four feet eight
inches tall, weighing about 125 pounds. He was a very good grammar
school teacher for small kids. He got out and played ball and
other games with us and, boy, could he ever run fast with those short
legs of his. If we were mean he usually whipped us with a ruler
across our hand and pulled the hair at the back of our neck. I
remember the first time that he gave me a whipping. He had to come
back to my seat and pull me out of it.
Jessie Fox was my best friend at school. For several years his
family lived on the farm that we rented and we walked to school
together. Later on they moved down the road about a mile and a
half from the school in a place called Piney toward Beech Springs.
We usually sat together in school as they had those big long desks that
seated two together.
For transportation to school I usually walked unless it was rainy
and bad, and then I usually rode a mule, sitting on the back it with my
grandfather or uncle, whichever was coming to the
store that morning. I also walked to school in the rain and
snow many a morning. Later on in school I got a bicycle and rode
it to school. leaving it at my dad's house during school hours.
For playing at school we usually played "knockout" or "scrub ball"
during the Fall and early Spring of the year. We also played
ball games with other schools and played "two-eyed cat" a lot. We
played a lot of tin can and ante-over the schoolhouse roof. Other
games we played were "drop the switch or handkerchief", "Farmer in the Dell",
jumping the rope, "Red Rover Come Over", "tin can", "cops and robbers", and
"Ole Bar" (played by a boy that was about as ugly as a bear and was a real
fast runner). For cops and robbers we used the coal house for the
jail. In the Winter we had snowball fights and made slides and
slide on them with our feet. We also made mud slides if the weather was warm.
We played a lot of "whoopie-hide" and "roll-hole" and "keeps" with marbles. We took sticks and dug up old dead stumps
on the school ground. Rainy days found us in the schoolhouse
writing on the blackboard, playing games on the board, and making
airplanes and flying them across the schoolrooms.
I had Mr. Bailey for a teacher until I got to the fourth grade.
After that I went into what we called the "big room". This was a room
much bigger than the small room that we were in for the first three
grades. Mr. James Harden was my first teacher in the big room.
I remember the first time he gave me a whipping. It was over
throwing rocks at the big school bell on top of the schoolhouse and
ringing it after school. There were three of us into it. He got a
long hickory switch and gave us five licks with it. They were hard
ones, too. I still believe it was those Schuberts that lived out
from the schoolhouse who told him about us doing that. He lived over
across the French Broad River and had plenty of time to get home.
A bunch of us had to stay in during recess and dinner periods for eating
candy during books for about two weeks that year.
From the 5th grade through the 8th grade I had Mr. J. Carroll Sims, a
teacher from across the river toward Sevierville. He was a very
good grammar school teacher who took a big interest in building up the
rating of our school by putting in window blinds, better lighting, and
air circulation in our room. He had us haul rock out of Johnie
Creek and build an underpinning around the schoolhouse to keep out the
winter cold. He made mortar out of salt and ashes. That really
worked too. My grandfather died just about a week after I got
through grammar school. During those school years my uncle had gotten
married and was living out the road from home on the rented farm.
After Pop died they moved in the house with Mom and me. They had a
little boy and he and I never did get along with each other.
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High School Years
My first year in high school I went to Carter High in Knox County.
I stayed at Grady Cox's house in Thorngrove and rode the school bus to
school with his boy, Kenneth, who was in a grade higher than me. I
helped milk from 25 to 35 cows each night and morning and cleaned up the
milk shed in exchange for staying there and going to school. I
really enjoyed going to Carter. I could have gone to school at Beech Springs High,
but it wasn't much of a rated high school so I didn't want to go there.
I played softball and basketball at school, and was a star softball player.
We really had some good times playing at Carter.
My second year at
school I started going to Carter by riding with Jewel Kyte. He drove to
work in Knoxville in the morning and then picked me up about 5 or 6
o'clock in the afternoon and brought me home. This lasted for about two months,
during which time the Beech Springs School closed down and they started
running a school bus from over there to Sevier County High up at
Sevierville about 12 miles from Kodak. After that I quit Carter and started
in at Sevierville.
During my first day out to play softball at Sevierville, I was the
last one to be picked to play. The other side didn't want to take
me as they had never seen me play before, but one or two of the side
I was on had known me. The first time at bat I hit a home run.
After that I was always taken first by that side. We had some real
good softball games and I batted close to 400 average throughout the
three years I went to school there. A few years after I graduated
they started a baseball team. I sure wish that they had started it when I was
My puppy-love girls in school were first Ruth Fox, Edna Pollard, Flora Henderson, Louise Lindsey, Maxine Dobbs, Otella Philpott, Edna Ruth Swaggerty, Anna Mae Remines, Mary Coleman, Charlene Denton, Betty Jo Henry, Edith Cates, Edith Sarten, and
Tassey Elliott. Ruth Fox was my friend Jessie's sister. Anna
Mae Remines was the sister of another one of my friends. I might
have married her except that I had a falling out with her after I
invited her to a party and she came with another boy whom she said had
just came with her sister's boyfriend. She and that boy later got
married. Charlene was a girl at Carter High. During the last
part of the last year of school I started a pen pal "penship" with girls throughout the U.S. and overseas.
I also had one in Canada.
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World War II
None of my family was in World War II. My dad's health kept him
out and my uncle was deferred due to farming commitments. Our
school put on bond drives during the war. I bought several war
bonds during that time by buying stamps until I got enough to exchange
into an $18.75 war bond that at maturity date was worth $25.00.
Our farm contributed to different shortages, such as milk, meat and
eggs, along with gathering up scrap iron for the scrap iron drives that
came along every so often during the war years.
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Six Years Following School Days
I graduated from high school at Sevier County High in the Spring of
1946, just after the close of World War II. In December 1945 I
had to go to Georgia to be examined for the Army, but didn't pass the
exam. I was glad about it, too.
The summer of 1945 found me on the farm in Kodak working for my Uncle
Bob. I wanted to go to Pontiac to work in an automobile plant, so in
the late Summer I went up there and got a job at Pontiac Motors. I
worked for about four or five months until the Spring of 1947, when I
wanted to come back to Tennessee to go to college that Fall. I
stayed with my Uncle Mel Huffaker and Aunt Allie while I was in Pontiac.
They ran a boarding house for men who were working around
the area. There was boys from everywhere living there in that
14-room house. In the Fall of 1947, I enrolled in Hiwassee College
at Madisonville, Tennessee. I went one term of school (12 weeks)
decided it wasn't for me. I worked after school hours to help me
along. I made about $100 during that period. I came back home
and helped on the farm. The day after Christmas I had an operation
for appendicitis, and was in the hospital at Jefferson City for three days
and in bed at home for about a week. I wasn't able to do much work
for about two months after the operation.
The year 1948 found me at Kodak,
working for my uncle and writing pen pal letters. I had built up a
letter writing of abut 60 girls. I played ball during the summer
months with Beech Springs of the Sevier County League. I pitched a
three-hitter against Dripping Springs, but we still got beat 6-2. In the Fall of 1948, I was writing a girl in Danielville, Georgia,
and she invited me down to see her for the weekend. I went to see
her, but was disappointed as to the looks of her (although looks don't always
count every time). She seemed like a real nice girl and her folks
were, too. I guess she would have married me if I had given her half a
chance, but she just didn't appeal to me for some reason.
After going down there I came back and got invited to go to
Tannersville, Virginia, to see another girl who had been writing to me
for about a year. Kathleen French had gotten my name out of the Southern Agricultural
magazine in school. I went to see her and really liked her a great
deal, but still not enough to marry. She didn't like me as much as
I guess she expected. There were 11 of them in her family and
about five of them still lived at home. I really enjoyed my trip
up there in October 1949 and was invited back for Christmas due to her brothers
liking me so.
In January 1949 I could tell by the letters that Kathleen and I
weren't hitting it off anymore, so I quit writing to her. In the
last part of January 1949, I went back to Pontiac, Michigan to get a job
again. For two months I tried to get a job just anywhere there, but
couldn't get one. I helped my Uncle Mel get groceries and wash
dishes, and we painted the outside house and papered all the inside
before the weather grew warmer. Finally I got a part-time job
in a meat market where my uncle traded all the time. This was in
March of 1949. In the last part of April I got a full-time job there
making $52.50 a week at the Bazley and Junedale Meat Market. I
really liked my job and pretty soon was the orderer and stocker of the
lunchmeat department besides taking care of the trade. This was
about a $1,500.00 a week sale of lunch meat, and I did all the cutting
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During this time I kept in touch with
the people that I had met in Virginia. One of the girls, Betty
Lou French, asked her mother to ask me if it would be all right if she wrote me
as she felt sorry about the way her sister Kathleen had treated me. She wrote
me, we got to corresponding, and I found myself falling in love with
her through the letters and pictures that we exchanged and phone calls
we made to each other. I talked to her for over an hour one night
and it cost me $23. It was well worth it, though. The year slipped
by fast as I found myself going on double dates with one of the boys who worked
at the market and going to ball games down at Detroit.
In April 1950, I got a two-week vacation and went to Tennessee.
Just before that my uncle had taught me how to drive. My other
uncle lived in the boarding house where I lived, and I bought his 1949 Chevrolet.
I didn't bring it to Tennessee, but came with my Uncle Mel. I
invited Betty Lou French down to spend the
weekend with me there in Tennessee. At that time Betty was staying in a home in
North Tazewell, Virginia, and keeping house for a family. She said
she would come down to see me, so the day I was to meet her in Knoxville
at the bus station I spent most of the day getting my Uncle Bob's car
cleaned up. He let me have it to drive to get her.
When I met her I hardly knew her because she had changed so.
She had gotten
prettier than the last time I saw her. We went to the Walgreen
Drug Store and ate supper. I wanted to take her to the S&W, but she saw it
and thought it was too fancy for her. After supper we went to a
movie. I don't remember what it was as I didn't have my mind on the
picture. We then drove to Kodak, getting there just before dark.
Knowing that my family hadn't got through milking or eating supper yet, I took her on
up to the Douglass Dam to let her see it. We came home and they
all gave her a nice welcome.
The next day found us up bright and early. I helped milk the
cows and then got ready to spend
the day in the mountains with Betty. We had a good time as it was Betty's first
time there and she really enjoyed it. That night we--Beecher Johnson,
Nellie Shephard, Betty and I, went to Sevierville and saw a good movie.
That night at Nellie's house I asked Betty to marry me. She agreed
to be engaged, but not to get married for about a year. The next
morning I made up an excuse to go to Sevierville and at K.
Rawlings I got her rings which cost $127.00. I came back home, put the engagement ring on her finger, and broke the news to the family.
All thought it was okay except Mom, who couldn't get used to the idea for
That night, Beecher, Nellie, Betty and I went to the
Tennessee Barn Dance. We had a wonderful time. The next day we
went to Sunday School at Henry Crossroads Church and showed Betty off to
all the people. Daddy was surprised that we were engaged, but
thought she was pretty. My sister (also named Betty Lou) said, "Are you going
to marry her?" That afternoon Uncle Bob, Auntie, Mom, Mary (Uncle
Bob's little girl) and Robby (his boy) and I took Betty back to Bristol,
Virginia to catch her bus to North Tazewell to where she was staying to
tell them that she was quitting and coming back to her mother's.
The next day I left going back to Pontiac with my Uncle Mel.
In July 1950, Betty wrote and said she would like to come up there
and get a job, but didn't have the money to come. I sent her $20 and
told her to come on up. I told her that I would find a place for her and help her find
a job. She came up there and some of the boys at the boarding
house helped find her a job at Devlin Gables (a restaurant) where she
worked until August. She got homesick, but I talked her out of
leaving and talked her into getting married. Betty and I (along
with my aunt) went to Toledo,
Ohio to get married, but Betty couldn't prove that she was 18, although she
was 20. A man in the courthouse told us that we could go to
Angola, Indiana and have my aunt pose as her mother so we could get
married. We drove to Angola, had another blood test, and got
married in a Justice of the Peace's office on August 7, 1950. We then drove back to
Pontiac. Betty and I stayed at the people's house where she was
staying for about a month, and then found a place where Betty could keep
a woman's baby in exchange for the rent of two rooms. We took it
and then made a trip to Tennessee to get some things to start housekeeping. We
made a trip to Virginia at Christmas.
In January 1951 we decided to come back to Tennessee to live. My
uncle had bought another small farm out on the main road to Knoxville,
and the Huffaker family had sold the other farm he had rented back about
six or eight years ago. I quit my job in Michigan, although I hated to do it.
They wanted me to stay and offered me a raise, but it wasn't the money.
It was that we both weren't satisfied up there. We were all the time making
expensive trips to Tennessee and Virginia. We moved back to Kodak
and stayed out at my uncle's and Mom's house. I got a job at the
Royal Manufacturing Company, where they made furniture. With a pull, I
got Betty a job at the Standard Knitting Mill. We both started saving
money to start housekeeping. We fixed the old house up out on the 57-acre farm on the main road, and in the
Summer moved into it. We
went into debt with K. Rawlings for about $13,000.00 on household items.
We both worked all that year at the two places.
In 1952 many things happened. I quit the Royal because after
working there for over a year I had only gotten a three-cent raise.
over to the Standard Knitting Mill and got a job starting out at two
cents higher than I was making at the Royal. In a month I got a
raise of five cents. I worked from January until April, when I got
my call to go into the Army as we were in a police action war in Korea
against the Chinese Reds.
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Life in the United States Army
On April 22, 1952, I was shafted--I mean, drafted into the U.S. Army.
Jesse Schubert, Harvey Whayland and I went into the Army together.
Auntie took me to Sevierville that morning to bring my car back. I
tried to get deferred, but they wouldn't listen to me. We goy on the bus that morning and went to Knoxville to be examined. I
didn't think I would pass, but I passed the exam--if you could call it one.
They said we would get another one in Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
That night we left Knoxville and got to Fort Jackson about breaking
daylight the next morning. They took us into a small building, made
us take our clothes off, and we were examined a little again. That
was all the exams we got. We filled out papers and were assigned to a tent
section to be processed into the Army. My hopes was gone then to
get out of the Army.
I was at Fort Jackson for about two weeks. During that time we
had all our personnel records straightened out, shots were taken, clothes
were given to us, and
we had two days of tests. I tried to make as much as I could on the tests,
and it was a real good thing I did. I didn't know how much they
counted until I was in basic training.
Betty came down to see me
the second weekend I was there. We had a good time staying in the
guest house on the Post while Auntie and Uncle Bob stayed at Aunt Rose's
in Columbia. Bill Huffaker was stationed there. He saw my name
in the personnel records department where he worked and came over to see
me. He told me two days before they did as to where I was going to
take my basic training. He said I was assigned to the Signal Corps
and was going to Camp Gordon to take basic training. That
was a camp in Georgia about 45 to 50 miles from Fort Jackson.
In May 1952, Harvey Whayland, Jesse Schubert and I went to Camp
Gordon, where we were assigned to Company 18 of the Signal Corps
Replacement Training Center (SCRTC). We were assigned to our
barracks and the following Monday we started our pre-cycle week of
training. We had eight weeks of basic training. During this
pre-cycle week we did almost every odd job they had around there to do, getting used to the Army way of doing things.
The next week we started our training. This consisted of
marching, close-order drill, exercises, classes on many different
subjects, movies, and tearing the M-1, carbine and machinegun down and
putting it together again. I got so I could put the M-1 together
with my eyes closed. In fact, they trained us to be able to do just that.
The second week of training had us doing close-order drill, marching and
going to classes, along with taking physical exercises. During that
week we went over to another part of the camp and filled out forms on
what training we would like to take after we completed our basic
training. I put down two things and cryptography for the last
thing. The GI said he would recommend me taking cryptography as I
had made enough on the tests to be able to pass the course. He
also thought that I should be
able to get an FBI clearance to go to that school. About two weeks
later, another boy and I in Company 18 went down to a building where we
were told that we would be able to take that course. We had to
fill out the history of our life so the FBI could check into it before
we would be able to get a clearance for the school.
The first few weeks I really hated the Army, but there was no way out
for me so I finally got adjusted to it and made the best of it. I
usually came home about every weekend with Harvey and Jesse. One
of us kept a car down there most of the time. We had a week out on
the firing range firing the M-1, machinegun and carbine. I was so
little the M-1 jumped all over my arm as I fired it and made me blue
and sore from my elbow to my shoulder.
By the week of July 4th, we lacked one week of completing our basic
training. We had already spent a week out on the range camping.
During that week the temperature got up to 115 degrees one day and about 50
of our 75 man company passed out and had to go to the hospital. I
was on KP that day, which was real lucky, as I guess I would have been
On Thursday, July 3, we got our passes to go home over
the long weekend. Harvey had his '51 Pontiac down there for us to
come home. Two other boys rode with us as far as Ashville,
North Carolina, where they got out to go home another route. It
was about 2 o'clock (a.m.) July 4th when we left them and started to
Tennessee. We were about four or five miles out of Ashville when
Harvey, who was driving, ran off the road going about 50 miles an hour.
The car went down
a small ditch and drove into a concrete drive-way. For a few minutes I
didn't know what had happened. The next thing I knew I was crawling out
of the windshield and upon the bank beside the car. I felt my
face and found out that I was cut bad across the nose. They, the
people at the house where we wrecked, brought a cold, icy towel out to me
and I held it under my nose until the ambulance came for me. Not
any of the other boys got hurt. The ambulance took me to a
hospital, but they wouldn't touch me because I was in the Army.
They took me to Otene Army Hospital outside of Ashville, where they sewed
my face up with six stitches and put me to bed. The next morning
they took X-rays of my face to see if I had anything else wrong with it. That afternoon about 3 o'clock, Uncle Bob, Auntie, Gene and
Betty got over there from Kodak after hearing that I was hurt. I
was about half asleep with blood still all over my face when they came
in the room. When Betty saw me, she thought I was hurt much worse than I was.
She was pregnant with our first child Vickie, and she said that Vickie just drew up in
a knot in her stomach when she saw how badly I was hurt. Auntie and
Uncle Bob talked the doctor into releasing me from the hospital. I
got up, washed the blood off my face, and got dressed. They
thought that I looked better then. We got to Kodak about 6 o'clock
The following Monday I was back at Camp Gordon taking basic training.
I didn't want to miss out as I just lacked a week of being through.
Jesse Schubert had his teeth pulled and he had to quit the basic
training in the sixth week and go to the hospital. When he got out
he then had to wait until another company across the road reached their
sixth week training and join them in completing his training.
After I got back from having the wreck the following Monday, I went on
sick call and they gave me a shot of penicillin. My nose still
bled some during the week. When Saturday morning came and we were to
ship out of the Company to somewhere else to take our schooling, I was
sick with a fever and bumps had broken out all over me. They had to
carry me back in the barracks after roll call that morning, as I almost
passed out. They took me to the doctor after breakfast and he said
I was having a reaction to all the penicillin that I had taken and for
me to stay in bed the rest of the day and take pills that he gave me.
I did not have to ship out that day. Besides, I was just going over on
the main post to take my cryptography training. Lots of the other
boys were going to New Jersey, including Harvey.
For the next few
days I was very sore, getting up one morning with so much soreness in my leg
that I could hardly walk. The next morning the soreness was in my arms and
the next day it was in
my shoulders. I stayed there for over a month waiting for orders
to come down from Battalion Headquarters for me to go to Company 16 in
training. There were about 300 boys in the next basic training
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Call for Cryptography
I was sent from the basic training area to The Southeastern Signal
School (TSESS) at Company 16. There I waited for two
weeks getting my clearance for the school. I worked in a battalion
office for those two weeks. I had Betty down there with me, as I
drove down to get her the week after I was sick. We had an apartment
(if you could call half of a garage one) off post for $60 a month.
When another boy got through his school and shipped out, I got his
apartment--which was much better for the same amount of money.
After those two weeks waiting I started my pre-cycle week in
cryptography. During those weeks I helped clean machines in
cryptography classes and cleaning rooms and polishing them. I started to school in August 1952, learning to type,
and studying about motors
and how they operated and ways messages could be sent. We had
classes on M209 converters (not secret, they could be bought most anywhere),
and different cycles of motors. We had tests on all the ways we learned.
This was just a build-up to crypto, as other people were taking the same
classes we were that were not going to crypto school after they completed
this course. During the course of this school we had to be able to
type 30 clear words a minute and 20 five-letter groups a minute. I
passed with 32 five-letter groups a minute and 39 clear words a minute.
After we completed this part of the school we went over into the
secret part of the school where all the crypto machines were stored.
There was a high fence around about four big buildings and electric
wires on top of the fence with guards walking around the area 24 hours a
day. There were guards at the gates, too. They were armed with live ammo.
We had our pictures taken and put on a badge which we had to show to the
guards every time we went into the school area. We started out
learning crypto by using the first system that was taught. This
was called the "one-time pad". This was a pad of paper
with letters on it that could be used just one time to send a message. It came
to the receiver of the message in five letter groups after the clear message
was put over the group of letters. This was used along
with a chart to break the message when it was received.
After this method was learned and tests given on it to see how well
we had learned, we were taught another way to send and receive message in
code. This was called "the Ouija Board". This was a metal
board with strips of letters that slid in slots on the board. We
used the date-time group of when the message was sent to see what strips
of letters were to be used first. It was similar to the one-time
pad system in the way we equaled the letters to make them equal to something
else. The next systems we learned were called "Apollo", "Baccus", "Minerva", and
"Hercules". These were called the "rod" systems. They worked by
rotors set on the machine.
The last system we learned was called "Python". This was an
online system where we could talk back and forth to the other person
without the enemy reading what we were talking about. This
couldn't be broken by the enemy powers unless they had the equipment,
and then they had to have the right send and receive numbers.
Later when I was in Korea, we had lots of trouble on the Korean telegraph lines during rainy
weather as we would get extra hits on the line and put us out of set
with the other station. Wherever the tape stopped we started at
the next tape number, never using the same set over. This was a
very interesting system to learn and it was the one that I used the most
in Korea. It was a fast system to get messages out and in secret at
the same time. The Korean bomb line was sent out to the 5th Air
Force by this system because of the speed we could get it out.
During all this school we were not allowed to take notes or to
discuss the work of the school outside the crypto compound. At the
last of the school we went out in the field for a week of training, but
the only thing we had out there was an M209 which anyone could own.
This was just a wasted week.
After coming back off that week in the field, we got our graduation
papers of completion of schooling in crypto, which had lasted ten weeks.
We got our shots for overseas and I got my orders that I was going to
Korea. I was due in Seattle, Washington, the 24th of
November. I got out of school in October, getting a 24-day pass.
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Month Leave at Kodak, Tennessee
On October 31, 1952, Betty and I packed our clothes and the next
day left Augusta, Georgia, for Kodak. During the first week at
home I just fooled around doing things like hunting, just going out in
the woods, and walking around. I got things ready for Winter for
Betty to live there at Kodak. The next two weeks we went to
Virginia and stayed about a week and a half going over to West Virginia
during the stay. We would have stayed longer, but Betty was getting
heavy with our baby and we didn't want to get caught up there in
Virginia for her to have the baby. I helped Uncle Bob gather in
corn and hay and hand off some tobacco before I left.
On Monday night, November 18, 1952, I went to the store to get some
gas for the car. I stayed up there a while talking to the boys.
When I came home, Ruby said Betty was having pains. She was in
she got up and we went to Jefferson City to the hospital. She was
hurting every nine minutes when we left and she was having her third
pain when we got to the hospital from the time we left home. It was
about 25 miles from home at Kodak to Jefferson City. It was about
9 o'clock when we got to the hospital and at 11:45 p.m., Vickie was
born. I stayed in the room until Betty went to the delivery room.
Vickie weighed seven pounds, nine ounces.
I left the hospital about 1
o'clock and came home and told Uncle Bob and the others that Betty had
had a baby
girl. I came on home and told Gene and Ruby about it. I got
to bed about 3:30 a.m. I went back to see Betty about dinner on
Tuesday. Wednesday Uncle Bob and the others came to see Betty and the
baby. Thursday it rained all day and was getting colder.
Granny and I went up to see Betty and she told us that the doctor said
she could come home today if she wanted to come. We got her and
the baby ready and Granny and I brought her home.
On November 21st, the day started out with cold rain changing to
snow by dinner. The snow got harder after dinner. By 2:30 it was
really piling up fast. By 3:30 it was about 12 inches deep.
It was snowing so fast we could see it pile up. Uncle Bob came out at
the store looking for me. He said both of the cars were down at Carter
School without chains and wanted me to take him down there to get them.
I told him I didn't have chains either, so we got a pair at the store and
put them on the car. We left to go to the school, passing cars stuck
on the way down there. We went down by the way of Thornegrove.
Auntie was sure glad to see us down there with the chains, as she was
getting worried about how she was going to get home. We started
back up the highway about 4:30, passing trucks, buses and cars stuck on
the road. We turned off the highway and there was a car stuck in the
middle of the road. We all got it started and went to the top of
the hill above Paw Paw Holler Church. There was a drink truck in the
middle of the road almost to the top of the hill The driver had
just ran off and left it there. We pushed it into the ditch and came on
up the road. At Underwood's School there were some more stuck and
we pushed them out of the road and got some of them started. We came on
up the road, getting home about dark. It was still pouring the snow.
By dark it was about 15 inches and still pouring down. The power
had gone off so I went out to Daddy's house to get a lamp to use
to get up during the night with the baby. The next morning,
Saturday, November 22, 1952, I measured the snow and it was 19 inches
deep and still snowing a little. It quit by dinner. We heard
that the airport and all bus and train service were out. I was to
leave the next day if the planes were leaving the airport.
Sunday, November 23, 1952, the weather was partly cloudy most of the day
and warmer. Snow melted on the roads and the airport was reported
in operation. We went out at the house for dinner, as all were
having a big dinner for me. We rode down the hill on the sleigh most
of the morning until the snow got so soft that it wouldn't go. We
a wonderful dinner and then came back home about 3 o'clock after telling
Mom and Daddy and all of them goodbye. I got things packed and about 5:30 Uncle Bob, Auntie,
and Gene took me to
the airport. It really was hard for me to tell Betty goodbye, and I
wondered if I would ever get to see her and Vickie again. We got to the
airport about 6:30. Uncle Bob and Auntie kissed me bye at the
plane as I was getting ready to get aboard. The plane left out
going to Cincinnati, Ohio on the first stop about 8:30.
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First Plane Ride
This was the first time I had ever been on a passenger plane. I
had been up in a small plane at the airport, but this was a Delta plane.
When I got on I went up to the front seat on the left side of the plane
and looked out at Uncle Bob and the others standing there at the side of the plane. They
had gone as far as they could go with me. I wondered then if I
would ever see them again alive. I was on my way to Korea where
there was fighting going on.
The plane cranked its four motors
one at a time, and taxied out to the end of the runway as I watched
Uncle Bob and them going back toward the airport. We got to the end of the
runway and there we sat for a few minutes as the pilot raced the engines
until the whole plane shook. It would have taken off on the spot,
I guess, if the pilot had released the brakes. He got his go-ahead
signal from the operational department of the airport and down the
runway we went gaining speed every foot. The plane raised off the
ground without its passengers hardly realizing it, circled over the airport, and
headed north. Before we took off, the orders came for us to fasten
our safety belts. The snowy night scenery was beautiful with the
lights of the villages and cities shining out from the snowy background.
We landed in Cincinnati, Ohio, about 10:30. I went into the airport
and mailed a card telling my family that I had got that far okay.
We left Cincinnati about 10:45 and landed in Chicago, Illinois about 12
o'clock. That sure was a big, beautiful airport. It was cold
there, but there was no snow on the ground as we had run out of it in the northern part
It was about 1:30 when I got aboard a Northwestern Airline plane, a four-engine job, and headed west. I didn't think it was running
like it should and about an hour after taking off we had to light from
the plane at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, wait about 15 minutes, and
get aboard another four-engine plane. It sure was cold and dry
there. I estimate the temperature was about 20 above zero.
about 3 o'clock when we left there headed west. Daylight caught us
over the North Dakota Badlands. I began to look out the window
to see the scenery and could tell where it had snowed and where it
had quit. It sure was a beautiful sight to see. I looked
ahead of the plane and I could see a big bank of clouds looming up in front
of us. It looked like we were in for some rough going. About
8 o'clock we ate breakfast on the plane. At the edge of the
Montana/North Dakota border we ran into the cloud bank that I had seen
back a ways. I could see it was snowing, as I could see it between
the window I was looking out and the engine of the plane. The
clouds closed in on us so thick I couldn't see the last engine on
the wing of the plane. I could just barely see the first one out the
window not more than 15 feet away from me. With the wind blowing
and the speed of the plane going through the air, the end of the wing of
the plane looked like it was jumping up and down at least a difference
of about three feet. They told us that in a few minutes our next
place to land would be Billings, Montana. The way this storm was, I
wondered if the pilot could see the landing field.
before we got to Billings, the clouds broke some and I could see the
town of Billings and the little airport on a plateau above the town.
The way the airport was situated above the town, it looked like we could run to the end of the runway, take a big leap,
and land right in the middle of the town of Billings. As we landed, the pilot said
that we would be grounded there for three hours due to the storm that we
had just came through and the weather ahead of us. The wind was
really blowing on the top of this plateau and snowing some. I
didn't get outside of the plane as it was too warm there to have to move.
The temperature was down to about 15 above zero. The wind was about 20 to 30 m.p.h.
We didn't have to wait the three hours out, as about two hours later
(1 o'clock) we left for the west coast. We went out to the end of
that short runway and revved the plane up. It took off down the
runway, with me hoping that we had enough room to take off. At the end of
the runway we left the ground. There was one thing about it.
At the point where we left the ground, whether we were ready or not, there
looked to be about a 500 to 1,000 foot drop to the floor of the valley
Our next landing was due to be at Great Falls, Montana. We went
through clouds all the way to Great Falls. It took us about two hours
to get there from Billings. As we landed, I looked out of the
plane's window and saw a jack rabbit running alongside of the plane in
the snow. It kept up the speed of its running with the plane's
speed for a few minutes. I got off the plane this time and went
inside and ate some dinner. I had almost gotten sick from not eating
by riding the bumpy plane run from Billings. We were there about
30 minutes. The wind was blowing and snowing with the thermometer down
about 10 above zero.
We left Great Falls, Montana about 3 o'clock, heading across the Rocky
Mountains to our next stop, which was to be Spokane, Washington.
Between Great Falls and Spokane was some of the most beautiful scenery that
I had ever seen. We flew across the mountain ranges covered with
snow and some covered with tall pine trees. We flew within five to ten
miles of the highest mountain in the United States. This was Mt. Rainier, which is
over 12,000 feet high. It was covered with snow from about halfway
up. I saw the Rocky Mountains stretching down into Wyoming and up
to Canada. We landed at the beautiful airport of Spokane,
Washington about 4 o'clock. There was no snow there and the
temperature was about 55. We could see the pretty valley that we were situated in
and across it to the snow-covered mountain range.
We ate a very good supper there, got back on the plane about 45
minutes later, and hauled out for our last landing at Boling Air Base at
Seattle, Washington on the coast. We were told about an hour's
flying time out of Seattle that the airports were almost closed due to
heavy fog coming in off the ocean and that we might have to go to
Vancouver Airport. Just before we got there, we got a report that
they would let us land at the Boling Air Base. We were due to land
at the Seattle Airport, but the fog had closed the airport. As we
came in to the airport to land, I couldn't see the ground until we made
our last circle of the airport. We were just over the housetops about a
hundred feet when I saw the ground. As my feet hit the ground, it
sure felt good that I didn't have to crawl back on a plane a few minutes
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Ft. Lawton and Navy Pier 16
After we got off the airplane and got our baggage, about four of
us boys got together and got a cab for Fort Lawton. When we got
there we reported in and were taken to a cold barracks and told to stay
there for the night. We almost froze during the night with
temperature getting down to about 35. There was no heat in the barracks and only
two blankets each to keep us warm. The next morning they got us up
about 5 o'clock to clean up and eat breakfast. We ate at a big
mess hall down at the foot of the hill that we were on. Everywhere
we went on
this camp was either uphill or downhill.
During the day we waited
around, turned our records in, and got a processing number to go by.
During the next few days we processed to go overseas by getting our
shots if we needed them, getting some other clothes and turning some in,
and watching movies of what we might see and come in contact with overseas.
They told us the way the people lived and their customs that we were to
abide by, even if we thought they were funny to us. I pulled KP for
about six hours one night and would have had to pull it all night if I
hadn't been lucky about not having my name pulled out of the jar at the
start of the selecting few. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner
there in Fort Lawton. That was the best meal I had during my whole
pull of Army duty.
The pine trees around there in the camp were very large and very
high. There was a dead one just back of our mess hall that I would
have bet if there was a squirrel at the top of it I couldn't have hit it with a
rifle. It almost went out of sight it was so high. It was either raining every day or it was
cloudy. There were two days that were rather pretty while I was there at Fort Lawton.
The temperature got down to about 35 to 40 during the night and up to
about 50 or 55 during the day. They said the weather stayed like
that most of the Winter and a lot during the Summer.
After I got used to the place and we got a flying $50, I started
going to town as the Army had buses that ran free to town and back
for the boys. I usually went to see a movie just to pass the
time. Another boy and I went to a stage show called "Oklahoma".
It lasted about three hours and cost $1.50 to see. That was the
best show-acting I have ever seen. Sometimes on Sunday afternoons
I went into town and went to the YMCA to listen to some boys play
hillbilly music. Some of them were from Virginia and Kentucky.
After about two weeks there we got our call to move out to Pier 16 to
wait for our ship. We moved down to there on Army buses one
morning. I really liked that place as it was much nicer, warmer, and convenient to
everything, including going to town. I pulled KP one time and
latrine detail one time while I was there for the two weeks. The
rest of the time I went to town and laid around my bunk shooting the
bull with the boys. The weather was rainy every day while I was
at Pier 16. Some days it just poured, while other days it just drizzled
all day. There were just three days it didn't rain
some during the day.
On December 8 our orders came that we were leaving for Japan the
next day. We all got our letter-writing completed, got our shots,
had our records
straightened out, and were ready to take off. They said it would take us
from 14 to 16 days to get to Japan. I went to town for the last
time in the United States the night of December 8, getting back to Pier 16
about 12 that night.
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My First Ocean Voyage
On December 9, 1952 (my birthday) we got up about 5:30, turned our
sheets and blankets in at the supply room and laid around the barracks
until after dinner waiting to leave for the ship. Some of the boys
had already gone ahead aboard the ship for detail duty such as guards, KP and what have you. After dinner came our call to fall out in the
front of the barracks. They called off our names and we got aboard
some buses that were waiting to take us to the dock. As we went down
through Seattle, people waved at us and the boys hollered to every girl
they saw on the way. People knew we were headed overseas and that
they might not see many of us alive again. The boys knew it, too.
A bunch of boys that came out with us from Fort Lawton had orders that they were going to Alaska. They really laughed
at us about having to go to Korea. Just at the last moment, they got
orders that they had to come to Korea on this shipment. That was
a sad-looking bunch of boys. We really ragged them back for
talking to us like they did when they thought they were going to Alaska.
There at the ship dock, we waited in the rain for orders to get
aboard the ship. The Red Cross women came by with doughnuts and
coffee for us. A lot of us didn't take any, and what did asked if
they had to pay for it and made all kinds of fun about them. Do
you know, though, that that was the only time I ever saw the Red Cross
during my time in Seattle and overseas. Finally the line began to
move aboard the ship and everyone was quiet as they thought of what lie
ahead of them, wondering if they would be alive to ever see the United States
again. I guess
everyone was like me--breathing a prayer to their God as they walked
up the gangplank to board the ship that they would be able to walk back
down the gangplank when they came back to the United States. It seemed like
everyone was choked up, as I was, about leaving.
As we went aboard the ship they checked our names off, gave us a
mess card, and told what compartment we were assigned. I had
Compartment C at the front of the ship about two decks below the top.
I got a top bunk as I thought it might lay better and ride
better. Also, I had heard that seasickness may follow as we get out at
sea and I didn't want anyone getting sick all over me. As soon as
we got situated we all went up on deck and watched the harbor patrol give
us a watershow send-off. The boat moved slowly out of the harbor
and the pier faded in the distance. I went below deck after a while
and ate supper standing up. They said we would eat that way for a
while until the water got calmer. It was calm at the present, but
we were still in the Puget Sound and would not be at sea until the next
morning. We watched through the porthole at the lights along the
shoreline until it was time to hit the sack.
The next morning came and just as I woke up I knew I was sick.
I jumped out of the bunk and ran to the latrine. As I walked
through the door, I never heard so much groaning and vomiting in my life.
Some of the boys used the toilet, and then turned around and vomited in it.
It beat anything I had ever seen. During that day I volunteered for
guard on the boat to keep from having to be a detail cleaning up all of
the sickness on the ship and not having to pull KP.
For the first
five days we went through a storm, although they said we were going
around the bigger part of it. The waves ran about 25 to 30
feet high, sometimes coming over the front of the ship as the navigator
tried to keep the ship running into the waves instead of getting in the
valleys of the waves. The water raised the ship up out of the
water at the front. Then it came down with a bang as the
waves ran under the ship and it shook all over. The
ship first rocked up and over to one side or the other each time.
At times the motion threw us up the stairs and other times we had to
pull ourselves to get up the stairs.
Officers ran all the boys out of the compartments while they had
inspection every day. The cold air hitting us in the face made us feel better after being
sick of sea-riding. The weather for the first five days was
cloudy and cold with misty rain. The temperature was around 35 most of
the time. The reason for it being so cold was because we were within 500
miles of Alaska. After five days the weather grew warmer and the
sea calmer. It helped me to get over my seasickness. I
hadn't eaten anything for the past five days, and for the first three days I
didn't drink anything.
During our trip across the Pacific we crossed the International Date
Line. We went to bed one night and when we got up it was two
days later. (Example: Got to bed on Tuesday night and got up on
Thursday morning.) During that day we got a card saying we had
crossed the International Date Line. We also got a "short-arm"
inspection that day--just to have some celebration is the only
reason I could figure out.
The rest of the trip was good except the last 700 miles out of
Yokohama, Japan, when we ran into some more
rough sea. I didn't get sick during this period. One morning
before daylight the fog was pretty thick. The pilot of the ship got a
warning from one of the deck guards that there was a ship dead ahead of
us. The pilot turned on the deck searchlight and turned the ship to the
left. We found out that it was a Japanese fishing boat.
If the ship had hit the small boat it wouldn't have hurt our ship, but
it would have cut the Japanese boat into pieces. He kept the light on
until daylight after that and the following night, too. Every few
days on the ship we had fire and abandon ship drills. This
called for putting on life jackets, going up on deck, and standing at the
assigned boat positions and wait for the drill to be over.
My mess card sure didn't have many holes punched in it by the time we
got to Japan. A boy got me a whole box of candy and I lived off of it
most of the way. We spent Christmas at sea, a lonely day. We got
a carton of cigarettes and a Christmas card from the ship. I gave
my cigarettes to another boy on the ship. We landed in Yokohama,
Japan, on the morning of December 26, 1952.
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During the day of December 26, 1952, we landed at the Yokohama ship
dock. I could see by the scenery of the houses, buildings, and
people that we were in a foreign land. We walked down the
gangplank, told our names as we were checked off the boat, walked a
little ways to a train, and got on. We left the train station about
2 o'clock, getting to Camp Drake, Japan, which was about 35 miles from
Yokohama and 15 miles from Tokyo, about 4:30. That was the slowest
train I ever saw. It stopped about every four or five miles
for about five to ten minutes waiting for other trains to come through.
Several electric trains passed us on the way and they were almost
flying they were going so fast.
On the ride to Camp Drake we took in the scenery of Japan such as the wearing of wooden shoes,
masks over faces tied to each ear to keep from spreading colds,
different costumes, public toilets for all people, Japanese signs of
many designs and colors, along with pretty flowers on the sidewalks.
We went through villages seeing girls running around on the streets
waving at us, little kids jumping up at the windows of the train getting
candy from the GIs, and how the houses were made and not painted.
(They didn't believe in it.) We passed the rice paddies (we could tell
by the smell) where they used human manure for fertilizer along with
some commercial fertilizer. We had mail call on the train to Camp
Drake and I got eight letters from home and Virginia.
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We got in Camp Drake the afternoon of December 26, 1952. They took us
to the barracks and had roll call. After the call we picked out
our beds for the night. We ate a wonderful supper for the first
time in about three weeks. After supper we had to fall out for
December 27 found us up about 5 o'clock. We ate breakfast, came
back and cleaned up barracks, and went on assignment call, but they didn't call
our number. They told some of the others that they were going to Korea
and some were staying there in Japan. During the morning we turned
in our clothes and our records were checked. That afternoon we
went over to another area and got our M-1 rifles and came back to the
barracks. We ate supper about 5:30 and had another assignment call.
On December 28, we got up about 5:30, ate
breakfast, and cleaned up. We had another assignment call. After
that we went over to another building and got a new issue of clothing.
I had to have some of them altered to fit me and got back to the barracks
about dinner. After dinner we got what money we weren't
sending back home changed to military scrip. We got our allotment fixed
and I told them the amount of money that I wanted them to take out to send to
the bank back home. I fooled around the rest of the afternoon after
going over to the barbershop and getting another GI haircut. They
told us it would be cold and dry in Korea and short hair would be easy
to keep clean. After supper, there was another assignment call and I got
my call to go to Korea and that for us to fall out the next morning for
the rifle range. We were to leave Camp Drake for Korea tomorrow.
We ate breakfast about
4:30 on December 29, cleaned up the barracks, and fell out about 5:30 to walk about half a
mile to the rifle range. We fired our rifles and pulled targets
until almost dinner. About 3 o'clock that afternoon we got on the
slow train for the Yokohama boat dock and got aboard the ship for Korea.
I got a lower bunk for the two-day trip to Pusan, Korea.
The weather during our stay in Camp Drake was fair and cold, warmer during
the day. The temperature got down to about 28 degrees to 30
degrees during the night. We could see the famous
Japanese mountain, Mt. Fuji, with its snow-covered slopes about 30 miles away from the camp.
It was beautiful.
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On to Korea
On the night of December 29, 1952, we left Yokohama, Japan, for
Pusan, Korea. We carried our rifles with us to Korea. The
next morning I got up about 5:30, ate a good breakfast, and went up on
deck to watch the ship plow through the calm water in the Sea of
Japan on her way to Korea. About 5 o'clock in the afternoon we ran into a
school of fish just about 100 miles from Korea. I never saw the
like of fish swimming around in my life; there were acres and acres of
them. I watched them until dark.
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December 30 found us just outside the harbor of Pusan, Korea. As the ship pulled into the harbor
we could smell Korea. (It was
said at the time that Korea was the only country that could be smelled
twenty miles from its
borders.) We could smell that everything was wrong with Korea.
Human excrement was used for fertilizer for rice fields because there was
no other fertilizer. There were few farm animals, and most of these
are oxen used to plow the muddy rice fields. Korean knew that
human manure was not the right fertilizer to use and that using it kept
open a running sore of many diseases. Yet that was all they had, as
North Korea had the power plants to make fertilizer and South Korea the
land for crops.
Leaving the ship at the dock, we boarded buses to take us up to the
replacement camp outside Pusan. We wound through the broken
streets, looking upon the scene of naked children in the filth of the
streets, their bellies swelled
with starvation. The narrow streets
were eddy with the sick, the half-clothed, the leprous, the mutilated of
the war, and the beggars. The gutters were market places in which
the hungry bargained for rotten fruits with currency that was almost
worthless. Many of the people were there due to the Communist
drives from the North.
As the road climbed into the hills northeast of the city toward the
Army replacement camp, we were choked with dust whipping down from the
eroded hills by the Manchurian wind, cold, and dry. It bit into our
windpipes and lungs. We passed a convoy of trucks moving with
headlights burning at high noon under a bright sun to guard against
collision. The dust was the after-effect of erosion due to the
stripping of all timber by the Japanese occupation. The cut-off of
coal supply forced the Koreans to use their green timber as it grew.
We could look across the fields and hills and see the small scrub
bushes growing. One of the main reasons for filth was due to very
little water and rarely any soap. They bathed when they had a
chance--in the sea, polluted rivers, and mud holes in the fields.
We drove up the road to the replacement camp, got our gear out of
the buses, and lined up for roll call and assignment number to be used
for processing through the replacement company. We went to a tent,
picked out a bed that we thought would be a warm one for the cold night
that was coming up, then went out and looked the compound over.
Every few hours before dark we heard a call to assemble for shipping out numbers.
Finally we were told we would not move out until the next afternoon.
We then went back to our tent and wrote a note home telling them that we
had arrived in Korea and how the place looked to us.
We got our bed fixed for the night. We had heard rumors
that there were Chinese guerillas in the area back of the compound.
Late in the night we heard the fire of a burp gun in the hills; still
closer to the area where we were. Then we heard the answer to the firing.
Some of the boys that came over on the boat with us were out there
guarding us while we tried to get some sleep in the cold night.
The next morning we were up at daylight to go to the mess hall for our
GI coffee and dried eggs or French toast, along with the old army standby,
"S.O.S." During the day more boys that came over on the ship
for the front lines, maybe never to be seen alive again. About
3:30 in the afternoon I heard my call number to shove out. We were
told to get on trucks for a ride to the train station where we were to
get a train for a ride to Seoul, Korea, about 300 to 350 miles north.
Going to the train station we saw signs along the streets saying,
"Whorehouse-First Class" or "No. 1 Intercourse". Where the
Military Police had stopped it, we saw signs reading, "Laundry-24 hour
service (formerly No. 1 Intercourse)". I heard it said in Pusan
if it were necessary to give the world an enema, it would be inserted
there. Finally we get to the train station and boarded the train for
the long ride to Seoul, Korea, wondering what lie ahead of us on the
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Night Train to Seoul
It wasn't dark when we got on the "EUSAK Express" as it was called. EUSAK, I learned later, was the Eighth United States Army of Korea.
The train was ran for and by the 8th Army. Every night it traveled
between Pusan and Seoul. It was one of those narrow gauge tracks
and old-timey coaches and cars. We ate supper out of K-cans about
5:30. After cleaning up the supper leftovers we were told that
this train might be attacked by Chinese guerillas. They had been
attacking the trains along the road to Seoul--mostly freight trains, but
sometimes passenger trains. We broke open boxes of ammo to be used
if attacked. We had a boy on our car that had a harmonica and
played it after supper. He was real good with it by mocking
different people. I watched the Korean countryside pass by before
dark, looking at the fox holes where American soldiers had died for a lost cause, tank traps,
and burned-out and destroyed bridges and equipment
along the way.
We went through many tunnels along the train track, some of them
being two to five miles long. I didn't feel too good going through
the tunnels worrying that guerillas might be waiting on the other
end. All they had to do was derail the front part of the train at
the end of the tunnel and we would be trapped back in the tunnel.
Thank goodness this never happened along the road. We made many
stops along the way at the small villages during the night.
The names of some of the bigger villages we stopped were "Miryang,
the first large village out of Pusan; "Taegu", main U.S. bomber base and
Korean Army Operational Base headquarters; "Kumchon", large village
between Taegu and Taejon; "Taejon", destroyed town about halfway between
Seoul and Pusan that was the hub of the "Tank Killer" attack of U.S. forces that
drove the Reds back in their last drive in South Korea; "Chochiwon",
a village destroyed above Taejon; "Osan", a village above Chochiwon
that was used by
U.S. forces as a jet bomber base due to such flat land close by.
Most all jet flights in 1953 were flown to North Korea were from this
base. We went through "Suwon", a village used as a supply depot by U.S. Army and ROK
forces. Acres and acres of supplies were stacked here. "Yongdong-po"
getting off place for U.S. troops coming through Seoul. There was a replacement
depot in the town.
As we came up through Korea on our way to Seoul it was
a real good night for a guerilla attack. It was cold and there was a big,
bright moon shining. We could see the hillsides and the white patches
of snow along the tops of the mountains on the way up. A little
after midnight I got down in the floor under the seat at the window and
finally got a little sleep. The train's side wasn't thick enough
to stop a bullet, but I thought maybe it would slow it down some.
It was better than a piece of glass at the side of my head.
We pulled into Yongdong-po rail station just after daylight.
The windows were frosted over so I couldn't see out. I knew it must be
real cold outside by that. The boys came in said it was five above
zero and snowing a little. I finally got some of the ice and frost
off the window and saw some Koreans running around the cars on the
train. As we piled off with our bags, the Koreans wanted to
carry them for some money. Some of the boys did let the Koreans
carry their bags and gave them some money for the service. It looked
like they needed it, too. I didn't try this as I didn't trust
We got on open trucks and almost froze riding out to the replacement
center. There we answered roll call, turned in our records, got
some more blankets, and picked out a tent. Some of the boys left
out that afternoon, but I wasn't that lucky. I had to stay all
night. I almost froze that night as I couldn't get warm enough to get
to sleep. I was on the top bunk as I thought the heat (what little the
little old stove was putting out) would make it warmer up next to the
top of the tent. I sure got fooled. The temperature got down to
above zero in the night, and to beat it all, there was an airport just
over from the compound. Every few hours some plane would take off and
come right over the compound about 100 to 200 feet high.
After breakfast the next morning, we turned in our blankets, got on a
truck, and went to the 22nd Signal Group over in Seoul, crossing the Han
River on a repaired bridge that had been blown up during the fighting around
Seoul. We arrived at the 22nd Signal Group and there I got my orders to
go to the 304th Signal Battalion Operations. Two more boys went
there with me.
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March/April 1953 in Seoul
A truck took five of us to the 304 Signal Battalion about 5 o'clock
in a school area in the northeast part of Seoul. We got signed in and
they gave us a
temporary bed in a room where there was no stove. All the old boys
there told me how the place was and what inspections they had each weekend.
They told me that they had what they called,
"Bed-check Charlie". It was a single-engine Chinese plane that came down
the valleys under the radar and dropped small bombs on the town just to
keep the troops stirred up by not getting sleep at night. I saw
where we ate. It was a gymnasium of a school. The building where we
stayed was part of the classroom building. There were about 850 to 900
boys stationed there, working in different parts of the school area and
Seoul. Most of them worked at the "Comcenter" at the Seoul University
buildings where the 8th Army General was located.
The next day, January 4, 1953, I got up about 7:30, ate and cleaned
up and went down to the Seoul University with the other boys as they
went to work and saw where I will work if I get to work my MOS.
Saw several machines that I learned how to use back into the States.
It is just about a half mile to the University from our 304th compound
area. Seoul, Korea was about 30 miles from North Korea and about
50 miles from the front lines. At night we could see the flash of the big
guns going off, and if the wind was blowing right we could hear the
bursting of shells.
We had Korean women called "Mamasans" that come in each morning.
They cleaned up the barracks and took the boys' clothes out to laundry.
It cost between 4,000 and 6,000 won to get them back. We could
give the Mamasans a one dollar military scrip (or I did when I first got
there) for 16,000 won. Cigarettes, tooth paste and soap were
scarce items here. We could get about 32,000 won for a carton of
cigarettes that cost $1.00. We got one carton of cigarettes one
week and two the next week. We had a card to do this with. I got a Korean to make me a footlocker to put my clothes in, as the
did not furnish us one. I didn't have to live out of the duffle
We had to pull guard and fire guard there, along with serving the boys
chow on our guard days. It sure was cold to pull guard. The boys
came into the barracks and warmed during their rounds of the area at
It snowed a little after I got there and the temperature got down to
-12 below zero. It was also dusty and dry at times. The boys
said it was rough there in the Summer as what time the flies were not
bothering us, the mosquitoes would. We had to have mosquito netting
up over our bed to sleep. Korea had a very pretty Spring and Fall,
but from June until the middle of September it really poured the rain.
It usually rained every day during the monsoon season.
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I finally got to go to work in the MOS that I
had studied for back in the States. I worked in the "tot" room.
This was a room where we were in direct contact with the other stations.
It was very interesting work and we knew what was going on before anyone
else knew. We had volunteer censorship of our mail back home.
We had to be careful of what we told the people back in the States.
I really don't know the reason we just had voluntary instead of
mandatory censorship over there. Maybe it was because it was never
called a "war"--just a police action or conflict. We "crypto boys"
were told to not write back home talking about what was going on where
we were working.
Crypto boys were housed in a building off from the other army
boys. I guess the reason was due to the work we were doing.
Maybe they thought that we would talk about it to the other boys in crypto, and
maybe someone from the other outfits might hear what was said and pass
it on to others--maybe even the enemy. Over there we couldn't tell
North Koreans from the South Koreans. We could go around and take
pictures of just about anything we wanted to take and nothing was said.
The only place I could not take my camera was in the crypto room where I
worked. I had to leave it with the MP guard that stood outside the
door 24 hours a day.
I hadn't been at work but about a week when we had a test run with
some of our equipment over across town to a Japanese bunker. This
was to see how quick we could get over there and get set up to send
messages in case of heavy bombing by the Reds. We made the
eight-mile run in 52 minutes one day. This bunker was built
during World War II. It was hit by a block-buster, but that just knocked a
little chunk out of the side into the steel-reinforcement of the bunker.
The walls were eight feet thick and it was big enough to hold 200 men.
We did not have to get outside the building for anything. At the back of
the bunker there was a long cave dug back into the side of a hill.
I guess this was to store ammo and other supplies. It was dug by GIs.
During the month of February 1953, we had lots of messages to
send out and receive. We sent out all types of messages such as:
- troop movements
- plans for next attacks
- bomb lines each day
to the 5th Air Force as to where to bomb next
- enemy troop movements
- bomb damage reported to us from planes that bombed North Korea
of enemy troops killed, wounded, captured
- materials destroyed
convoy movements of UN and Chinese
- reports of enemy bunkers and
trenches blown up
- planes shot down or damaged from both sides
"our Tokyo Rose" was saying to our boys from the enemy's side of the
- what we answered back
- changing outfits on the front
- moving outfits back for rest and new supplies while others took
- putting ROK outfits on the front lines between our outfits
(many times we paid dearly for doing something like that)
the end of the week (Sunday nights) we got reports from all of the
corps all across the front lines, both ROK and US, as to their positions
on the line, how many we had missing, wounded and killed. We had
to send all
of these reports to the others (each other) on the front
lines as to where they were, and then a report had to go to Tokyo, main
headquarters of all forces in Korea. From there, Washington
got its report.
There was heavy fighting along the
front lines. Our equipment gave us trouble and we got behind in sending the messages. The Koreans
changed money during this month as the other money was worthless due
to so much black marketing. The changing of the money made
the households of the Koreans unable to exchange but a set amount,
making a lot of the people lose money in the exchange. The boys
here took care of our Mamasans by taking her extra money and
changing it for her.
We heard all month that we were going to have to start
taking basic training in March. I guess they didn't want us to get
dull. On the night of February 23, I had my first experience
of an air raid and of Bed-check Charlie. Sirens went off at 1:15
and lasted until about 2:30. No bombs were dropped. I had
just gotten over my walk on guard when it happened, but didn't have to get
out in the cold. All the boys in the barracks had to get out of
bed, get dressed, and go into the fox holes back of the barracks. It was
real scary to hear the sirens whine all over town.
On February 27, as I was going to the mess hall to eat before
going to work, I saw a colored boy going into the mess hall. We
both saw each other about the same time and recognized each other.
He had worked at the Bazley Meat market in Pontiac, Michigan when I had
worked there. We sure were surprised to see each other.
During this month I got to go out and see what kind of a town Seoul
really was. From the South Mountain I looked down on Seoul,
its wide avenues, sweeping circles, modern buildings and capital
building that shined white in the sunlight. There were great
vacant spaces and disfigured brown splotches. Closer to the city I found
most of the modern buildings were gutted by shells and bombs, and the
capital was hollowed by flames. The avenues were simply military
highways. The vacant spaces were acres and acres of rubble in
which children went wild, slept and fought, and somehow ate and played.
The brown splotches were burlap-covered markets sprung up where once had
stood stores. Four times the Chinese had rolled over the city, and
it was 90 percent destroyed. This city was known as the "Pearl of
When the Chinese armies swept down from the North, and for the second
time the city was abandoned, everybody who could get out got out.
The Mamasan who washed our clothes and cleaned up our barracks told us
that the first time that the Chinese came down she got what things she
could carry and her three children, and they walked to Pusan. That
about 300 miles from Seoul. She said that the second time the
Chinese came she walked to
Taegu, which was about 220 miles from Seoul. The second drive by
the Communists brought the Seoul population of 1,000,000 down to
350,000. When I got to Seoul there were about 750,000 and about
500 to 1,000 coming back each day. They were trying to stop them
from coming back as the city's economy and food supply were very low.
They slipped around the road blocks and somehow crossed the Han River.
One day there was a round-up of 300 children on the streets of Seoul who
had no people or place to live. They were sent to Pusan and placed
in homes. Within 48 hours all but a few of them were back in
Seoul. There were 29 orphanages in Seoul, but they were all
overcrowded. The U.S. Red Cross had nothing to do with them.
They were set up by different U.S. outfits of the town and money was
brought in by the GIs. Seoul was also a city of widows as well
as orphans. It was estimated that there were 100,000 widows left
in Seoul after the first Chinese attack. Men went to work and did
not come back, and others were snatched from their beds between midnight and dawn and
were shipped north. After the Inchon Landing by U.S. troops, the
Communists knew they would have to evacuate Seoul again so they executed
one of the greatest mass kidnappings in history. They got all
young men of Seoul and marched or shipped them north. Prostitution
was the city's biggest industry after that. I heard, "These girls are the only ones who have an inexhaustible source of
Teenagers and bobby-soxers called themselves "Seikses".
Unfortunately, the pronunciation of Seikses was "sexy". They were
"Cherry" girls who went to school. They had their hair in a
single braid down the back and all wore the school uniform of black and
white. These were girls that the GIs never bothered.
There was another group of girls called "Moosie-maids".
These girls were mostly widows who were not legally widows--their husbands had
vanished to the North. A Moosie-maid was a steady girl, certainly not a
prostitute, and just as certainly not a Seikses. A Moosie-maid,
whether her soldier was American, British, Thai, Turk, French, or Korean,
gave without great love and companionship, and sought nothing except
companionship and loyalty while her soldier was in that area of Korea.
She demanded absolute fidelity. If she caught her soldier with another Korean girl, he received wounds as grave and more
embarrassing than those received in battle. A Moosie-maid
wore American sweaters and skirts. The Sears & Roebuck
catalog was the most widely circulated English language publication in
Korea. A boy got a catalog, hid himself at his girl's house, and
they spent hours deciding whether she would look
best in sweater Vt-2385 or Vt-2387. Perhaps the sweaters and
skirts would look plain, or even rustic, on 5th Avenue, but on Sejong-no
Avenue, Seoul, they were high fashion. Except in the black
markets, PX, and gambling, the troops had nowhere to spend their
take--foxhole or take-billet pay. And Korea desperately needed the
clothing and everything else in the catalog. It was an effective
economic cooperation and mutual aid.
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.
The biggest smell besides the "honey carts" was the Korean national
delicacy called kimchi. It was concocted from great quantities of garlic
and fiery peppers, in which were preserved the Summer's vegetables.
Every family put it up in big pot-bellied jars, some of them four
feet tall. Personally, I did not like to get within ten yards of a
used kimchi jar. Compared to kimchi, the hottest Mexican chili is
bland as cream soda. When you took a swallow of kimchi, you
a blow torch had been inserted in your throat, and afterwards you became
a problem to your friends because of the odor that you had.
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The Seoul PX was a great gathering place in the heart of the city at
what was once the business district. When I was there the district
was small shops and burned-out buildings. The PX was once a Japanese-owned department store.
At the entrance to the four-story PX there was a sign which read, "Clear
Your Weapons Before Entering". There were usually two to four MPs
there to see that this was carried out. This gathering place was
only an hour or two Jeep ride from a number of divisions on the front
line. Through the doors passed a procession of all those engaged
in this war, and to me it was fascinating to see all the different
patches worn by different outfits and the many different uniforms of the
nations fighting. I stood and watched them come and go. I
also saw the
stealing off of the GIs (if it wasn't tied to them) by Korean kids who
scattered like flies when an MP came, and closed back in as soon as an MP
left. The familiar talk around the Korean boys was,
"Hey, Joe! Sleep with my sister? She's cherry girl.
In the PX in downtown Seoul was found most anything a GI would need in
Korea, plus other items of less importance. On the left side of the
entrance door were Korean men and women painting
photos of billfold-sized pictures on pure silk cloth. They were
really good at it. All we had to do was tell them the color of
hair and eyes and they would do the rest. I had a picture of my
wife and baby painted on silk. The small shops outside sold little
that was useful to the soldier except second-hand cameras, crude
camera sets, and elaborate hand-tooled shoulder holsters. For
souvenirs we could buy silk scarves or printed silk flags of Korea,
the United Nations, and the Confederate States of America. The Koreans
could never understand anything about the Confederate flag except that it was saleable.
If the North won the war, why was it permissible to fly the flag of the
South? That was what they couldn't understand.
Outside the PX there was an exhibit--a crushed Jeep or a wrecked
truck with a safety slogan: "The man you kill may be your replacement"
or "Rotation Ended Here." There was one tacked to a post going to
the 304th Signal Battalion that I thought was very comical. It
said, "Drive Safe. The child's life you save may be your own."
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There is an island 60 miles off the coast of Korea called Cheju-do.
This island was also called the "Island of Women" because at one time
there were only women who lived on the island. There
were no men on the island at all except at one time during the year for
a brief period. Once each year selected Korean males were invited
to land on the remote, isolated island. After a few days the men
were taken back to the boat and were told to shove off for the mainland. At the end of the usual period, babies were born. The island
women weaned all the babies, kept the girls, and sent the boys back to
When the Japanese invaded Korea, they turned
Cheju-do into a bomber base with long runways and fancy underground
hangars, and a ground force training center. Often 200,000 troops
were stationed there. After the war the women of Cheju-do were in
command again, but not for long. The United Nations used the
island during the Korean War for a prisoner of war camp and a training
area for the U.S. and Korean troops, and 600,000 refugees are camped on
the island. The women of Cheju-do kept to themselves as much as
possible, but they began to doubt they were the master sex.
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This fire-gutted, shell-shot, machine gun-riddled theater was about
two blocks southeast of the city hall. It seated about 1,500
people. Two other GIs and I went there one afternoon to see a
movie. There was a mixture of GIs, Koreans, and ROK troops.
The seats were what impressed me the most. It really impressed a
fat person. They were small, but built like the theater seats in the United States.
I could sit in one very comfortably, but a boy who weighed about 150
pounds had a pretty good squeeze and a fat person had to sit on the edge
of the seat. The rows were plenty wide apart so we didn't have to
get up to let another person pass.
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"Have no" was a common expression in Korea used by the GIs. In
English it meant, "We haven't got it." "Etowa" meant "come here"
in Korean. "Cutta" meant "take off, leave". "Dijobie" meant
"O.K." "Debbie-john" meant "fat". "Skoshie" meant "little".
"Toxson" meant "lot" or "have much". These
were just a few of the
words that the GIs used to talk to the Koreans.
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March 1953 in Seoul
The first part of March 1953 found me still working at the crypto
center at Seoul University. We started our basic training the
first week of March. We had close-order drill and classes on Wednesday and
Thursday. The boys really bitched about it. I guess we had
to slow down in work to get results. I would have tried to get a transfer,
but we were short of help as it was so I knew that I wouldn't have had a chance. Our shift changed to the midnight shift during the month. We
only had about six days of basic training as the days picked out to have
it were either rainy or snowy.
During the month of March we had heavy fighting along the front.
We were loaded with reports to be sent and received. On Sunday
nights would be our worst night for reports as we got the daily reports
and the report of thee week's happenings from each corps in Korea.
We had to exchange these reports with each of them so the other would know what
the other corps was doing and where they were stationed.
Hank Snow and his bunch from the Grand Ole Opry at Nashville,
Tennessee were over here to cheer us up. They were supposed to put on a
show at the 304th but never got up there. They put on a show at EUSAK theater one afternoon and night and ate midnight supper with us
before we went to work the night they put the show on at EUSAK theater.
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April 1953 in Seoul
Bed-Check Charlie got started harassing us in the first part of
April. He visited us each night about 11 o'clock, just as all the
lights in the compounds and city was turned out. We had to
get out of bed and get in the foxholes back of the barracks.
Also in the first part of April 1953, there was heavy fighting along the front
lines. I was off one night, so I went to the mess hall and saw a movie.
I got to bed about 11:30, but about 2 o'clock our trick chief woke me up
and wanted me to come down and help them as they were covered up with
work. I went down there and we didn't get caught up until about 7
o'clock the next morning. The trick chief let me off the next
night for having to get out that night and work. Peace talks went on again in the first part of this month,
so we had more
messages to send from Kumson-ni to Tokyo.
We crypto guys laid out of basic training again so they decided to have it every day,
as well as character guidance talks for
men who stayed out with the girls all night. That was a good one,
wasn't it? The Sergeant came around one day and said for us not to fall
out for basic training. We told him we weren't planning on it
anyway. They took the basic training list down from the bulletin
board about the middle of the month. We heard they were going to give
us a two-week cycle starting in May. The boys said that last
year they were off two weeks from work during the cycle.
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Peace talks were held again in April and a lot of messages went back and forth from Seoul to Panmunjom (Kaeson).
They agreed to have a prisoner exchange called "Little Switch", so
some of the boys in crypto had to go up there and work. I could
have gone up there, but I was a little afraid as the Reds had been
fighting heavy around the area. They held all sides of the
"Neutral Zone" except the south side held by the 1st Marine Division.
This Neutral Zone was only a circle a thousand yards in diameter in
no-man's land. From the "tent" in the "zone" we could see Chinese
trenches curling like a red-brown snake across the chain of hills, but
we never saw a Chinese soldier as they kept their heads down. Not
so with the U.S. troops. They could be seen popping up on the
ridgeline. A group of men could be seen looking upon the scenes
below. They vanished and in a moment mortar and shell bursts at
the place where they just were could be seen. A train could be
ridden from Seoul to Munsan-ni, and from there it was about 50 minutes ride by Jeep to
During the meetings of the two governments, the Chinese troops attacked the line with heavy firepower to make their point at the peace
conference. If things didn't go to suit them, there were heavy
attacks along the line in the next day or so. It was amazing as to
how they could use so much ammo and during the day no truck movements
could be seen on the roads. At night even the U.S. bombers stopped
the movement. The answer was that tens of thousands of North
Koreans had been trained as pack animals, carrying ammo on wooden
frames strapped to their backs. There was a saying in the 8th Army
Headquarters that, "We'll never stop their ammo supply until we have a
guided missile that will seek out an A-frame."
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The Marines had an observation post that they called "the VIP
Bunker". This bunker was roofed with heavy thick beams and topped
with layers of sandbags. Nothing less than a direct hit could hurt
its occupants. Visiting men from U.S. Congress and other countries
came there to watch air strikes and Chinese positions through
field glasses. Many times the Marines had to put on a show using
U.S. boys as actors and attacking the lines just so the VIPs could see
how the war was carried out.
There was a man at Panmunjom that was a British newspaper man before
he turned Communist and wrote for the London Daily Worker. The
intelligence officers credited Alan Winnington of being the propaganda
brain of the Chinese and North Koreans, and the man who originated the
germ warfare line, "The Big Lie of the Korean War". Willington was
good at dishing out news, but wouldn't take it. He talked about
prison riots on Koje island and how we scattered disease bugs
across the land. For weeks around the area, North Korean security
guards had been coming over to U.S. lines. They then sent new
security guards to watch the old ones and four of the new ones came
over. They asked Winnington when he was coming over. They
said to him, "When you do come over, come through the Commonwealth
Division. They'll take care of you." There wasn't anything
else better they would have liked than to get a hold of him--and he knew it,
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Syngman Rhee, President of Korea, was a man of about 80 years old in 1953.
wrinkled, tough, and dried out. I was about 50 feet from him at
the 8th Army Headquarters one afternoon as he gave out medals to
Korean outfits for their gallant fighting in the front lines. When
he was excited he blew on the tips of his fingers. I found out the
reason for that was that he had been tortured by the Japanese Secret Police
during World War II. They burned bamboo slivers under his
fingernails. After that, when he was excited, he blew on his nails.
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Flying Black Cat Squadron
The Black Cats were two-motored transports that did all sorts of odd
jobs at night in Korea. Their bellies were painted black for
camouflage reasons. The planes were equipped with loudspeakers and
three Korean girls that sang. They flew over the enemy
positions at night and the girls sang to the Koreans and told them
to come back to their Fatherland and the fighting would end. The
Chinese used loudspeakers on the ground with American-speaking people to
discourage the UN troops. This was dangerous work and the Chinese
soon got tired of it and used 20mm stuff and heavy caliber machine
guns to drive the planes higher. The flying high lost its
effectiveness and the Flying Squadron was grounded and loudspeakers were
used from the ground.
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Parties and Dances
During April of 1953 I went out over the town
taking pictures of the scenery and people in Seoul.
There really were interesting sights to see there. One night there
big party up at the mess hall. One of the boys got drunk (a lot of
them did that) and took his Korean girl home. (They were told not to do
that after a big party.) MPs spotted him coming back and
tried to catch him. He jumped in a creek and later another boy pulled him
out. Jumping in a creek in Korea was just like jumping into a
toilet back in the States. You smelled just as bad. We really
laughed when they told about it.
On April 28th, we had a dance up at the mess hall. I went up
there to see what was going on and met a boy that worked at the same work
I did, only on another shift. He was off that night. We
walked around talking and watching the GIs and Korean girls dance and
watched a stage show. They had a pretty Korean girl up there dancing
and a good band playing, too. We were watching them dance when this
Korean girl and her boyfriend stopped dancing and came over and stood in
front of us. They were holding hands, but the GI let go of her hand
and stepped back from her so he could go over to the table at the side and get
a beer. She was still watching them dance and thought he was still
slightly behind her, so she reached back to grab his hand. Instead
of her boyfriend's hand she grabbed
this boy's peter that was with me and squeezed it. She looked
around to see what she had a hold of and she sure was surprised.
So was the boy that was with me. I thought I would have to lay down
on the floor I laughed so much. We came back to the barracks
and told the other boys about it. They really kidded him about
it. They said they heard me laughing on the way back from the mess
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Month of May
There are Red demonstration posters out all over town saying, "Give
us unification or give us death." We knew this was going to happen
about two weeks ago and had been getting prepared for it. The last
day of April three boys and I were assigned to clean out all the
foxholes back of the barracks in preparation for attacks by Red planes.
We were to stay on this job until all the holes were cleaned out and
maybe a few more dug. The first day of May 1953 found me and the three other boys back of
the barracks cleaning out the foxholes. During the day we could
see the 304th getting patrols gathered up and going out into the streets
of Seoul hunting for demonstrators to break up. We got most of the
foxholes cleaned out by the middle of the afternoon. We started to go
out the gate, but seeing a machine gun set up just inside the gate made me
change my mind. GI patrols were out all over town, but there was no trouble yet.
I hid out most of the afternoon after we got the holes cleaned out as
the company was getting up patrols and going outside the compound.
I didn't care to join them.
On May 19th my full clearance came through from Washington. I
handle "top secret" and "personal for" messages. Our work
speeded up as the fighting had stepped up along the front line.
Planes spotted from 1200 to 1500 enemy truck traffic moving south.
We had air raids every night except when the clouds were so low they
could not fly through the valleys. During the rainy nights and days,
too, we had lots of trouble getting messages through to other stations.
We had a GI show at the 304th on May 26th. It featured the "big
draft-dodger" Dick Constino and his band. (Dick Constino was an
accordionist.) He told a good joke during the show about a GI who
had been told by the Army not to write home and tell where he was
stationed. He wrote home and said he had shot a polar bear.
His mother said, "I know where he is at; he's in Alaska." A few
days later he wrote home and said that he was having a good time hugging
a hula hula girl. His mother said, "I know where he's at; he's in
the Hawaiian Islands." A few weeks later he wrote home and said
that he was in the hospital. He said he wished he had shot that
hula hula girl and hugged that polar bear.
May 29th and the 30th found us back of the barracks again on
detail doing odd jobs and cleaning out the foxholes. On the 30th
fighting broke out again on the front lines. Reds were putting the
pressure on the UN to come to their own truce terms. In the night,
15,000 Reds hit the lines about 35 miles from Seoul, but had not broken
through yet. US forces had two defense lines besides the front
line to fall back to; one line was about 20 miles from the front
lines and the other was south of the Han River. Heavy fighting
raged in the 9th Corps area in the Kumwha Valley. One of the
crypto guys up there wanted us to call him every half hour and he said
he would call us
every fifteen minutes to see if we were still in contact with each other.
He said he was expecting to have to leave there any time.
Fighting slowed down on May 31st along the front. The
9th Corps crypto boy really appreciated us keeping in contact with him
all night. One time I was a little late in answering his belling
on the machine and when I did get there and got him stopped he said,
"Boy, where have you been? I thought the Gooks had got around us
Back to Memoir Contents
June/July 1953 in Seoul
The first half of June went by without much excitement. We were
still taking basic training and were still short of help in getting the
messages out. On June 7th rumors came around about peace between UN and China.
South Korea wanted all of Korea, but China wanted it divided at the front
lines. One day the peace talks looked good and were progressing, and then
the Reds came up with something else and down went the hopes of the
We had an air raid on June 13th for about two hours so we were in
our foxholes back of the barracks. Red planes were overhead.
Searchlights lit up the sky, but we didn't spot them. Anti-aircraft
fire was also heard from the Kimpo airport area. They sounded like
a washing machine motor running. We could tell them from our small
They finally stopped basic training again because they said it was
interfering with our work at the Com center. We had a civilian
crypto man working at our place by then. He sent messages from
there to Washington. As I was cleared to top secret, I got to read some of
the messages and help him send the messages. He had a sending and
receiving roll of tape that he used himself. He went from our
crypto room to the Embassy with messages.
June 15th found me still working at the 8th Army crypto room.
The next night I had guard duty all night and an air raid came about 11:30.
It lasted about an hour. A few minutes later as the boys got settled
down, we had another one that lasted about 45 minutes. A few minutes
later we had a "yellow" alert. I wore a coat most of the night and stayed
warm. The weather got cool there at night as a cool wind blew down from
the north just after the sun went down. It was nothing unusual to see
the boys wearing coats after dark to keep warm. On June 17 we started our
12-hour day shifts. We knew this was coming as we were getting short
of help and there were no new ones coming in to help. We got a
commendation from Colonel True (Signal Officer) about the work we had
been doing during our short-help situation and the big
flood of messages we had to send and receive at that time.
Syngman Rhee released 27,000 Red prisoners of war on the
morning of June 19th. That really put things in a mess. He said he did that
because he didn't want a divided Korea or any armistice peace.
They used tanks at some places to get them out. The U.S. called a
division (18,000 troops) back from the front lines to try to catch some
of the prisoners and also to take over guarding the prisoners at the
camps. We were very busy that day sending messages back and forth to Tokyo
and other points in Korea about the release of the prisoners. Peace
talks at Panmunjom broke down. Reds said if we couldn't get Syngman
Rhee in line then, we couldn't if peace was signed. An order from
the U.S. forces went out that the ROK troops were not to have
but day-to-day rations and ammo.
As of June 21st the Army stopped R&R as they were using the planes to bring
troops for guard duty on prisoners and camps and also supplies for the
front lines. Fighting stepped up along the front lines.
Reds were putting pressure on the UN for the UN to put pressure on Rhee.
Papers back home were really playing up the bombing the Bed-Check Charlies
gave us the night before. They dropped one close to Syngman
Rhee's home and killed three Koreans. That was just about two miles
away from where we were. They went on to Kimpo airport (K-16) and dropped a few more
bombs. Those bombs weighed about 100 pounds. Radio and papers
in the United States said they dropped close to 8th Army billets. That covered
the whole town and on the outside of the town. They were scattered
out all over town. The capital building was just about two miles away
from where we were located.
We were still busy getting messages about the heavy attacks by the
Reds along the front line and about peace talks. It was June 24th. U.S. forces
rounded up about 15 to 18,000 of the Red prisoners that were turned loose
by Rhee's forces. They also had trouble on Koje-do
Island with the prisoners. Prisoners captured some of the
officers and wouldn't let them go. U.S. troops went inside the camp
and killed some of the prisoners to show them that they meant business,
so the prisoners let the officers loose. Guerrilla bands wrecked a
freight train between Pusan and Taegu and held up the traffic along the
line. We got messages through about it.
By June 26th we were having at least two to three air raids each night.
The war situation didn't look much better. The night before, an AAA Battalion
was wiped out to the last man as the Korean troops on both sides of them
ran and left them there by themselves. If Rhee would have agreed with
the UN, peace would have been signed, but he wouldn't do it. He
said that he wanted to
march north. "Unification or Die" were his words. Reds said
they were afraid that the United Nations couldn't hold Rhee back if they signed the
Over the next few days there were still more air raids. An R&R plane crashed on take-off
at Tokyo on the way back to Korea with 129 boys getting killed in the
crash. No one at the 304th was on the plane since they were still using the planes
to bring in supplies for the front line. Fighting was still heavy.
There were many planes flying north early every morning to bomb the Reds.
Back to Memoir Contents
Peace Talks Continue
We were still having air raids during the first week of July. No damage
was done. The Reds were just keeping us all
on edge and mad at them. Marine planes downed two Red Bed-Check
Charlie-type of planes about
40 miles south of Seoul and then there were no air raids for a few days
after that because it was too rainy for
them to find their way down through the valleys.
The State Department man got messages about what to do and
took them to Briggs and Rhee. Rhee said he was going to pull out
his troops if he couldn't have what he wanted. The U.S. told him
that if he did, they would leave Korea and let him get slaughtered by the Reds.
Peace talks were going little better on July 6th. We got another
commendation from the Company officer and our Signal officer about our
good work during those busy days when we were short of help. The
next day we were told that we were going to have to move from the school
area to a new place they were building for us next to the Han River
in an old Japanese headquarters of World War II. On July 9th we
busy as work piled up about the peace talks and heavy fighting that
had broken out up north again.
We got messages from Panmunjom on July 10th that the UN had been talking
to the Reds about how they were to settle the peace. They talked
about where the demilitarized zone would run, and what equipment and
supplies and how many troops would be brought into Korea and taken out of
On July 11th we learned that the tape relay boys were getting an 8th Army clearance to "tot"
to help us out a little while. That afternoon I went
after something for us to eat down at the snack bar and as I was going
down there I saw Syngman Rhee just outside the building where we worked,
giving out rewards for outstanding fighting to different outfits.
I was about 50 yards from him. I sure wished that I had brought along my
camera, but it was back at the barracks.
They were talking about the peace again at Panjunjom and had
almost agreed on every detail except the time set to sign the papers.
On July 12th Syngman Rhee agreed to sign the peace treaty with Red
China and the UN was just waiting on the Reds to agree on everything.
The next day heavy fighting broke out in the central sector; from
30,000 to 50,000 Reds were pushing UN forces back. They were trying to
straighten out the front lines before they signed the peace and to gain
all the land they could before the signing. There was still talk
and arguing at
Panmunjom about who would be repatriated first and where they would go (the
ones that didn't want to go back to their own country.)
All truck drivers were put on alert July 14th for possible ammo
driving to the front lines. A boy in crypto could drive an Army
truck and had an Army license, so he got his clothes packed ready to go
if they called him. The Reds had from 50,000 to 60,000 troops driving
on an eight-mile front in the Kumwha Valley area route to Seoul.
We were really busy at work because of that heavy fighting and so many
movements along the front that we had to report. Reds still argued
over the peace terms and were using the new drive to make their point.
I saw at work where they had set the time for peace-signing to be
July 21st at 10 o'clock.
The Reds were still driving hard on the Central Front on July 15th.
The heavy fighting was because the Reds had in the peace agreements that
wherever the line of fighting was on the day peace was signed, there was
what they would own. The Reds pushed the South Koreans back
seven miles in one place. UN troops and equipment losses were
running high as South Koreans left UN forces along the front line
without support on each side. A lot of bombers and planes were going
back and forth to the front all day bombing and bringing wounded back.
For the next four days there was heavy fighting. Red troops
were still driving UN and South Koreans back on the
Central Front and they were still having
peace talks. The South Koreans
fell back 125 miles in one day. UN troops rushed in and stopped it
from being a general break-through. We had to keep 9th Corps called
in all day as they thought the lines would be cut any time. There
was heavy fighting around the Kumwha Valley area. Everything was
almost ready for the signing of the peace treaty on July 21st.
They had almost agreed on all military matters and
repatriation of prisoners.
While the heavy continued July 20th through July 22, the Reds were
fussing about minor details at Panmunjom. The Reds were supposed
to sign the peace terms, but wouldn't agree on who was
to pay for lighting of the peace building. The building
was almost ready but the Reds continued to fuss about building materials
and lights. The Reds and the UN fussed over who would furnish and equip
the peace building. Meanwhile, Red troops were still pressing hard on UN and
South Korean forces in the central sector.
We were still having air raids, but on July 23rd the Reds said
they were going to sign a peace agreement at 10 o'clock on July 27th.
The truce called for 35,000
troops to enter Korea in a month's period. No new equipment was to
come into Korea. They were going to have a supervisory team watch at certain
ports of entry to see that this was carried out. By July 25th everything
was almost ready for peace signing.
Newspaper men and reporters were at Munsan-ni ready for the signing.
My shift would change on July 27th, which meant that I would get to take the
message from Munsan-ni to the 8th Army that the peace was signed.
It was to be signed at 10 o'clock and the firing and fighting was to
stop at 10 o'clock that same night.
Back to Memoir Contents
August/September 1953 - Seoul, Korea
This month started out by us having to do all the stuff that we
did back in the States, like having reveille, retreat, roll call,
bed-check, and inspections every morning. On August 1st we had a
big parade down at the ball field next to the gate and all in the 304th Battalion were awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation by General Taylor as the best operative unit in Korea.
Papers in the States said that we would be going home shortly, but we who were in Korea knew better. The only way we were going to get to leave that place before our 16 months were up or
our time in the Army was up would be if all withdrew to Japan or back to the States. The big reason we knew that we would not leave Korea very fast was because, according to the peace
terms, they could only send or receive into Korea 35,000 men a month. The UN also doubted and didn't trust the Reds. They were afraid they would attack again, and they had to have
enough to keep Rhee in line, too.
They told us that we were going to be moved from our current location to our new Headquarters at Yangson in the southeast part of Seoul
next to the Han River by the 15th of the month. We knew that it would sure be a big job moving all our stuff
in the camp and all the equipment that we used in our work. I was glad
that I was no maintenance man because I would really have had a time getting everything set up
at the new place.
We stopped carrying our rifles to work. We didn’t see any need of them
anyway as we didn’t have any ammo for them. Our ammo was taken
away from us to keep the words of the peace terms. Stands were
made to keep our rifles locked up. Now that was really getting
stateside. I hoped that I would get transferred out of there before I
had to spend the whole term over there in the 304th.
They started exchanging prisoners at Munsan the 5th of the month.
Most of the prisoners coming back told weird stories about killings,
beatings, starvation, and forced marches in the Communist North Korea
and Chinese prison camps. On August 8th and 9th, Rhee stated that if
North and South Korea were not united
within 180 days, he would withdraw his troops and go at it alone.
General Clark said that if Rhee
pulled out, the UN would pull its troops out of Korea and let the
Chinese slaughter him.
We had a little trouble at our crypto one night. An electric fire got
started from our telephone to the Com center and burned out one of our
stations. It took about an hour to get it fixed. We were still busy at
times with the exchange of prisoners and other movements of troops along
There was a hard rain on the morning of August 13th about daylight. It really poured.
It ran over a 10-foot high bridge going up to the
mess hall. We knew that the Han River would be rolling by night.
Water was so deep in the streets of Seoul that it was going through one door of a jeep and running out the other.
South Korea had a big celebration that day because it was the birthday of the Republic of
Korea. We are off guard again as we were short of help again.
There were boys
leaving for home and no one taking their place.
A week later they were still exchanging prisoners in Munsan, some of them are not
wanting to go back to China and some U.S. boys not wanting to come
home because they had been brain-washed into believing the Communist way
of seeing things and way of life. On August 25th we got reports
from the front lines about Chinese troop movements. They were digging tunnels along the front
lines, there were movements of troops and equipment, and a few patrols
across no-man’s land between the forces. Intelligent reports showed
Reds digging in to hold the line and that they were still bringing in more troops and
equipment into Korea. Fighting could break out most any moment.
These reports continued through August 30th. They said that more
men were moving down from Manchuria. Reports from Formosa said
that seasoned Red troops were stationed in South China and that new
troops had been rotated to North Korea.
August 26th I had 293 points. Because crypto was short of help,
our boys were not sent on R&R. They started R&R again for us
Crypto boys on this date. They upped the days of R&R from five to seven
Back to Memoir Contents
We got several messages from Munsan-ni about
repatriation of prisoners of each side on September 2nd, but by
September 6th they had stopped swapping POWs, so it was hard telling
what might happen next. One of the boys in crypto went up to the
prisoner exchange and got some pictures of the exchange. I got the
negatives and made some pictures off of them.
We were supposed to go over across town to watch how they laid mines
on September 14th, but a lot of us didn’t fall out to go. I went to work
at our new place in Yongson that night. I liked the new place pretty
good as it was much easier and handier to send and receive messages. Our
place was a big Quonset hut built back of a brick building. I got a big
desk to work at. They really built a pretty chapel and PX over there
with about anything we were looking for in the PX. We got five new
boys in crypto from the States. They said they would get out in
1955, which made me feel good as I was to get out in 1954. I found
out that I was second from the top for R&R. Some left the day
before going on R&R. We heard a rumor that we would have to take basic
On September 15th the office clerk came and told me that I would be
going on R&R the next week. He asked me if I wanted to go to Tokyo
or someplace else. I said I wanted to go to Tokyo if there weren't
too many wanting to go to the same place. Two other guys and I
went over to Yongson to see if we needed any shots for R&R and to take a
short-arm inspection on September 20th. As it turned out, I just
had to take one shot and they didn't give us a short-arm inspection.
I borrowed $30 from a boy so I could have $150 when I went to Tokyo.
War news was silent. They were waiting to see what would happen
at the UN peace conference. I had planned to leave for R&R on September
23rd, but they put us off a few days longer saying a storm in the Tokyo
area had held up plane flights and got the boys behind in getting back to Korea. One
of our maintenance men (a boy from Alabama) had been laying around for
about a week on his bunk. He was not eating much and just kept looking up at the top
of the room most of the day. We all talked to him to try to find
out what was troubling him and see if we could help any way.
I guess he just lost faith in life. We told the Sergeant about it
and he told the CO. The boy was called down to the office and he told
the officer that he was homesick, he had been masturbating, and he didn't want
to go out with the girls in Korea. They let him do
odd jobs around the Company area and told him that if they got the chance and
another place needed a guy, he would be the first one to leave.
The place where we used to work was reopened to school students and
they were going back to college again. A lot of
people were moving back to Seoul, cleaning and rebuilding again. SFC Trick Chief
told a crypto boy the other day that if he stayed over there in
Korea a while longer he would see that he made Sergeant before he left.
The boy told him to take his gift and ram it up his ass. He said
that he was going
home and that he wanted to live his own life. We really laughed at
Back to Memoir Contents
Hot Floor Plan
Hot Floor Plan
(Click picture for a larger view)
This diagram is of the Korean hot floor plan. It was the way the
Koreans heated their houses during the Winter. Smoke from the
kitchen, used to cook, passed under the stones through the flues, heated
them and made the whole floor hot. This hot room was covered with
paper over the mud covering of the rock layer. Before entering
shoes were taken off and left outside. As the houses were very
dirty and filthy outside, we were really be amazed to find how clean
they were inside.
Back to Memoir Contents
Koreans use the lunar calendar for crop planting. The calendar
is covered in cycles of 60 years, with an extra month added to a year
every few years. The months are doubled every year being two
months to the same during that year. The only month never doubled
is November, for some unknown reason. The 60 year cycle is divided
into five different smaller cycles of 12 years each, and each of these
years of the smaller cycle is named for an animal. The animals
included are the rat, cow, tiger, pig, dragon, snake, goat, monkey, dog,
hog, chicken, and horse. Persons born in these years are called by
that animal name. The old people hold very firmly to the belief
that a person born in any animal year takes on the characteristic nature
of that animal. According to old Korean custom, a man should never
marry a woman whose birth year animal is larger and stronger than his.
Thus, a woman born in horse year can only marry dragon-year men and many
of them are never able to marry at all.
There are other interesting things about the lunar calendar.
Instead of four seasons, it has 24. This is an example of the
names and dates of 1936. Other years and dates vary, and these
dates would not correspond again for 60 years or until 1996.
|New Years Day
|Standing of Spring
|Rainy Water (thawing)
||Awakening of Reptiles
|Clear Bright Season
|Standing of Summer
|Standing of Autumn
|Receding of Heat
|Cold Dew (not frost)
|Standing of Winter
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.
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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.
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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
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
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,
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.
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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.
Back to Memoir Contents
Doctors & Diseases
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
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
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The biggest diseases in Korea were venereal diseases of all kinds, 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 GIs to pay for her stay and clothes. The Mamasan 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 GIs back through the back alleys to houses where girls
stayed) running around wanting to take GIs to see his "Cherry Sister"--who couldn't find the wrappings of her "box", let alone a "Cherry".
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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
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
Sometimes coins were heated red hot and pressed into the flesh for
similar reasons. "Only an operation can save this child.
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.
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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 GIs 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.
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Buddhism in Korea
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.
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“Little R&R” to Tokyo, Japan
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
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 ginger ale. 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
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
went 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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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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
over to the main company area and stood inspection. I made out okay.
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,
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.
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.
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,
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
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
$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
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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.
Back to Memoir Contents
45 Days in North Korea
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
A Brand New Year - 1954
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
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.
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.
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
The Big “R”
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
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
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
Free at Last
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 LSTs 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.
Back to Memoir Contents
off the LSTs 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
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
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
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
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
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
Life After Korea
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
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.
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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
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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.
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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
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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?
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Crypto in Korea
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
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.
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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:
- Elwyn Mackey - He and I stayed in touch with each other through
the years. He is from Texas.
- Richard Fidler - He lived in Illinois, but moved to Mountain
- Larry Glick - He is now living in Illinois.
- Dale Henshaw - He lives in Indiana.
- John "Biff" Miller - He lives in Michigan.
Ones that I would like to know of their whereabouts include:
- Robert J. Curto - Michigan
- Charles Standfield - address unknown
- Richard Rood - address unknown
- Art Hall - D.C. area
- Leonard Nygren - D.C. area
- Louis Parga - New York State
- George McAllister - Michigan
- Donald Beard -Indiana
- Jack Harris - Kansas
- Billy Grant - Texas
- Manson Rearden - address unknown
- Billy P. Swindle - Texas
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.
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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
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How Political Parties Operate
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.
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Technical Terms & Abbreviations
Following are technical terms and abbreviations that were used at the
8th Army Crypto Headquarters in Seoul, Korea:
- AH = Hospital Ship
- AM = Minesweeper
- AP = Transport
- CA = Heavy Cruiser
- Cin CFE = Commander-in-Chief, Far East
- Cin CPac Flt = Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet
- CMC = Commandant of the Marine Corps
- CNO = Chief of Naval Operations
- CO = Commanding Officer
- COMNAVFE = Commander Navy Far East
- CTF = Commander Task Force
- DD = Destroyer
- EUSAK = Eighth United States Army in Korea, later changed (while
I was over there) to USAK (United States Army)
- FAFIK = Fifth Air Force in Korea
- FEAF = Far East Air Force
- FECOM = Far East Command
- GHQ = General Headquarters
- JCS = Joint Chiefs of Staff
- JOC = Joint Operations Center
- KMAG = Korean Military Advisory Group (I was assigned to this
group for six of my 15 months in Korea. Another boy and I set
up the 5th ROK Corps.)
- LCM = Landing Craft, Mechanized
- LSM = Landing Ship, Medium
- LST = Landing Ship, Tank
- LSU = Landing Ship, Utility
- MAG = Marine Air Group
- NGF = Naval Gunfire
- NK = North Korea
- NKPA = North Korean Peoples Army
- PAC = Pacific
- POL = Petroleum, Oil, Lubricants
- POW = Prisoner of War
- RCT = Regimental Combat Team
- ROK = Republic of Korea
- SCAJAP = Supreme Commander Allied Powers, Japan
- TAC = Tactical Air Coordinator
- TG = Task Group
- TF = Task Force
- UN = United Nations
- UNC = United Nations Command
- USA = United States Army
- USAF = United States Air Force
- USMC = United States Marine Corps
- USN = United States Navy
- WP = White Phosphorous
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Ships of Task Force 77
Following are names of ships in Task Force 77 used in Korean waters:
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- Valley Forge
- Philippine Sea
- Bon Homme Richard
- Lake Champalin
- Badoeng Strait
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Carrier Ships and Their Escorts
- Valley Forge
- 1 CA - Rochester
- 8 DDs - Shelton, Eversole, Fletcher, Radford, Maddox, S.N.
Moore, Brush and Taussiz
- Philippine Sea
- 1 CA - Pledge
- 6 DDs - Partridge, Kite, Osprey, Redhead, Chatterer,
- 1 CA - Missouri
- 8 DDs - Charles S. Sperry, Zellars, Bataan, Foss,
Forrestal, Royal Norris, Borie and English
- 1 CA - St. Paul
- 6 DDs - Toledo, Osbourn, Hollister, Makeen, Frank Knox and
- 1 CA - Mount McKinley
- 6 DDs - Lind, Hank, Massey, Merganser, Pelican, and
- Bon Homme Richard
- 1 CA - New Jersey
- 6 DDs - Wisconsin, Rowan, Shelton, Porterfield, Redstart
- 1 CA - Helena
- 6 DDs - Boyd, Magpie, Pirate, Walke, Brinkley, Bass and
- 1 CA - Bremerton
- 5 DDs - Taussig, Halsey Powell, Uhlmann, Lewis, Perkins and
- 1 CA - Bremerton
- 5 DDs - S.N. Moore, Brush, Swift, Wiltsie and Henderson
- 1 CA - Saint Paul
- 4 DDs - Irwin, John W. Thomasom, Gurke, and Rowan
- Lake Champlain
- 1 CA - Union
- 4 DDs - Maddox, James E. Kyes, Orleck and McDermat
- 1 CA - Epperson
- 4 DDs - Lind, Hank, Massey and Douglas H. Fox
- Badoeng Strait
- 1 CA - Murrelet
- 5 DDs - Curlew, Current, Bolster, Cabildo and Sarsi
All of these ships mentioned were supported by numerous supply,
cargo, minesweepers, layers, oil tankers, LSTs, and support ships.
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Methods of Fighting, Operations, and Where They Were Used in Korea
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.
"The Mayor of Wonsan" -
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
"Ulcer Gulch" -
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.
"Tin Pan Alley" -
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" -
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
"Shooting Gallery" -
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.
"Outpost Texas" -
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.
"Operation Yo Yo" -
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.
"Operation Thunderbolt" -
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.
"Operation Strangle" -
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.
"Operation Roundup" -
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.
"Operation No-Doze" -
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.
"Operation Little Switch" -
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."
"Operation Killer" -
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
"Operation Kick-Off" -
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.
"Operation Firefly" -
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.
"Operation Fireball" -
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 LSMRs 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.
"Operation Common Knowledge" -
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" -
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."
"No-Name" Ridge -
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.
"Moonlight Sonata" -
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.
"Mighty Mouse" -
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.
"MiG Alley" -
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" -
"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
"Iron Triangle" -
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
"Ink Spots" -
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" -
"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.
"Chicken Stealer" -
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
"Carlson’s Canyon or Bridge of Toko-Ri" -
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 & Derails" -
"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
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.
"Bed-check Charlies" -
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
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
"Battle of the Buzz Saw" -
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."
"Arsenal Hill" -
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 Hill or Anchor Valley" -
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.
"Chinese Horsemen" -
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
Back to Memoir Contents
Articles from the Pacific Stars and Stripes (Korean Edition)
[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.]
Back to Memoir Contents
Peace Signed/Atmosphere Tense
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
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 GIs 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
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 MPs 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
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.
MPs 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 GIs 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.
Back to Memoir Contents
Staff Aides Rush Details of Truce
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
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U.N., Red Armistice Overseers Stand By
Swiss, Swedish Negotiators await call to Peace Site
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
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
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
Back to Memoir Contents
Communists Say Czech, Polish Truce Teams in Peiping
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
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India Reluctance May Hinder Truce
Nehru demands protection for troops before accepting
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 PWs under the direction of a neutral
commission composed of Sweden, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia and Poland as
well as India.
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200 Reds Swarm Over Hut Project
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
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ROKs Fight to Retake Vital Hill
Stubborn Reds Hang on Despite High Death Rate
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 ROKs 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
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 ROKs 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.
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Forts Rock 2 Airfields Despite Flak
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
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
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.
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Fog Break Allows Carrier-Based Planes to Fly 117
Sorties Over Red Frontlines
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
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.
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Marine Nets Lump in Wrestling Bout
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."
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Navy Pilot Claims "Atom" Strike on Northeast Korea
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
Truce Signed - Korean Fighting Ends
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
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
Truce Triggers Pullback, "Switch"
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
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
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
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.
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ROKs Plan to Cooperate on Truce for 180 Days
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
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Newsmen, Honor Guards Flock to Panmunjom Signing Site
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
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
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.
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Seoulites Calm After Truce
Marketplace runs business as usual
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?"
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India Readies Unite for Korean Duty
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."
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Navy Unleashes Heaviest Air Assault
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
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
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.
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AF Batters Airfields, Frontline Positions
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
Little Emotion Greets Armistice News
U.N. Troops Think of Past Disappointments, Just Smile
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
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
Back to Memoir Contents
Truce Brings Unique Quiet to Shell-Scared Wonsan
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
China Reds Dupe Boys with Job Offer
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.
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B-29s Drop "Peace Near" Leaflets on Communists in
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
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 Plexiglas 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."
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ROK Mustangs Hammer Bulge, Set Sortie Record
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.
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Red Horde Smashed By Gallant Greeks
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
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Knifing Ends Threat to Cut-off Patroller
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
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 KATUSAs," said the
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
July 29, 1953
Armies Release "Switch" Totals
Reds Plan to Return 12,763; List 3,313 Americans
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
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
Quiet Blankets War-Torn Front
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
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
Back to Memoir Contents
UN Readies Welcome For "Switch" Returnees
Quick, easy, enjoyable processing planned for freed prisoners
on way to United States
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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 GI 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."
Back to Memoir Contents
Air War Ends As Planes Roam From Front to Yalu
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
AF Planes to Patrol Korea Pullback Line
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
Navy Planes, Ships Get in Final Licks
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
UN, Reds Lose Historic Battle Sites
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
Rhee Tells of Allied Pledge to Fight If Truce
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
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
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."
Back to Memoir Contents
Koje, Cheju PWs Sailing for Inchon
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 LSTs will be used in prisoner repatriation.
The command made no announcement of the relative numbers being taken
today from Koje and Cheju.
Back to Memoir Contents
Truce Guardians Ready for Task in Korea
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
Back to Memoir Contents
Armistice Commissions Meet, Swap Credentials
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
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
Reds Charge Truce Violations
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
"Big Switch" Start Set for August 5
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.
Back to Memoir Contents
Troops Take Off Armor As Reds Shout Greetings
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 ROKs—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.
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RC Ready for Role in Korea PW Exchange
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.
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Bespectacled “Dragon Lady” Stars in Neutral Zone Show
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
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”.
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Foot Soldiers Immortalized Battle Hills
Fighters Culled Labels From Memories, Casual Whims,
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
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 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, like 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.
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AF, Navy Disclose Losses in War
5th AF Tally Shows 971 Planes Lost, Five Ships Sunk, 82 Hit in Conflict
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
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 destroyed 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.
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Yokosuka, Japan – July 29, 1953
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
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.
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B-26 Snaps Communists in War’s Last Photo Flight
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
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.
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Red Cross Workers Prepare PW Visit
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
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.