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Norman Spring

Norman Spring

Grand Haven, MI-
Korean War Veteran of the United States Army

"Our commander came and warned us that the next 12 hours would probably be dangerous since the North Koreans might throw their remaining ammunition at us before the truce went into effect. He told us this had happened in the last hours of World War II."

- Norman Spring

 



2003 50th Anniversary Korean Truce Remembered

Today Norm Spring, 70, is a retired teacher from the Grand Haven school system who enjoys hunting, fishing and his family. But on July 27, 1953, he was huddled on the back side of a hill in Korea waiting an agonizing 12 hours for the truce to go into effect so the shelling would stop.  I'd been on the front line in Korea since January 1, 1953. On July 27, we heard from the company commander that a truce had been signed that morning at 10 a.m.


Our bunker just after
mortar shell hit.

I was in the 31st Infantry Regiment of the 7th Division called the Bayonet Division, and we were repairing trenches in an area adjacent to Old Baldy and Pork Chop Hill in the Iron Triangle area.

Our commander came and warned us that the next 12 hours would probably be dangerous since the North Koreans might throw their remaining ammunition at us before the truce went into effect. He told us this had happened in the last hours of World War II.

Our division moved back to a blocking position approximately a quarter of a mile from the front line trenches. We sat on the back side of a steep hill.

As predicted, shelling went on all day. Someone sitting right next to me got shrapnel in his leg from a cannon shell. No one in our company fired back. We just sat waiting.

Finally at 10 that night the firing stopped as if someone had turned off a water tap. Then we saw lights coming on both sides of the front line - truck lights, flashlights, candles and lanterns. It was a strange experience because we had worked in the dark for so many months.

Then some of us were surprised when we looked at the North Koreans; we hadn't known the size of their army until we saw all those lights come on. It was big.

North Korean loudspeakers invited our soldiers to cross the line and join in a party. A few of our men did go over. They came back, but were court marshaled afterward for fraternizing with the enemy.


Norman Spring  at the 2013 Memorial Day parade in Grand Haven, MI
(Click picture for a larger view)

I thought we'd be sent home right away so I gave away my air mattress. It was an unlucky choice; it was not until the end of August that I was able to leave. The loss of men just three days prior to the 27th had been so heavy there was a shortage of man power.

However, I was happy to celebrate my 21st birthday in the United States. Now, 50 years later, a statement I made to my hometown newspaper, the Ann Arbor News, after my return to the states seems in a way prophetic.

A reporter had asked me why there wasn't more rejoicing after the truce was signed. I told him that the settlement had been expected for a long time and besides, we feared that the fighting in Korea was not over yet.

For many it didn't seem as if war had ended.

 

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