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Charles L. Brown
"The demolition job was exciting and scary, like driving extra adrenalin into my system. It was dangerous, but very controllable. The unknown factor about snipers and booby traps really kept us alert and time seemed to pass a lot faster."
- Charles L. Brown
I am Charles Lee Brown, and I was born on August 08, 1932, in Dallas, Texas. My natural parents were Charles Leonadas and Lois G. Armstrong Burney. My father was a marble mason and army engineer. My parents divorced when I was about two or three years old and then Mother married Omas Lee Brown, who adopted me. My stepfather was in the U.S. Navy on the USS Arizona prior to World War II. He was also in plant security for North American Aviation in 1939-43. A retired captain of the US Naval Reserves, he was a US Maritime Officer in 1944. From 1940 to 1945, Mother was in investigation (FBI office) for North American Aviation.
Both my father and stepfather were in World War II. Omas Brown was an officer on cargo ships on the North Atlantic, and Lee Burney was an officer assigned to Ft. Leonard Wood, then India, as an engineer. I lost contact with my natural father until my mother convinced me to visit him in the early 1990s. I had several visits with him before he died, and learned about his World War II service. My stepfather and I got along great and he lived about a mile from me until he died in 1998. He really was my friend, but could never understand my love of the military service, even though he served for thirty years. He was very happy when I retired and returned to school to get my degree, especially after I got my Masters of Science in Anesthesia. I helped him get started on computers when he was 80 years old.
All of my siblings--Jeanette G. Brown Ruffing, Gilbert B. Brown, Cathey Brown Green, and Laura Brown Longmeir--were younger than me. We grew up during World War II. I attended grade school at Lida Hoe School, City Park, Dallas, Texas. We had tin can drives, paper drives, and helped with ration stamp sign-ups. I was also a Dallas Morning News carrier at that time, and received a "War News Service Award" and certificate for supporting the war as a carrier. The certificate read:
I continued at that job until my junior year, attending high school at Sunset High in Dallas. I went to work after school at Boundry Pharmacy as a soda clerk/delivery boy. I was a Boy Scout from 1944 until 1948. I held several leadership positions and worked two summers at scout camps as a dish washer and finally Nature Boy and Firing Range Instructor.
In 1950, I graduated from high school and started school at Rice Institute in Houston as a "science/engineer" freshman. Prior to that, I had applied for the Naval Academy, but failed the physical due to being underweight. I actually wanted to do pre-med in college, but that was not an option at Rice. I was alone at college when I enlisted in the Army, and my parents had to come to Houston to sign my papers. Dad wasn't real pleased since he had "invested" a year's expenses at college. Of course, my mother wasn't happy, but she had the rest of the family to worry about. At the time I joined, I didn't have to have a parent's signature. I was 17 and eligible to join on my own.
The Korean War had just started when I graduated from high school, but I had already been accepted at Rice. Since Rice had a competitive entrance exam, I was fortunate to have been accepted. The enrollment fee was $187.00 at that time, and that was the best my parents could afford then. After mid-terms, I had played too much and school and my grades were down. I had heard the bad news about the winter of 1950 in Korea, so I went down to speak with the recruiters. I was still underweight and the Marines said no, so I went to the Army.
I did not know much about the Korean War until I saw newsreels of the fighting. We also received the news via papers and radio. My classmates and I didn't really follow it too well since football was the big thing, not war. I knew where Korea was, that the Japs had occupied it for many years, and that at the end of World War II, the country was divided by Russia and the United States, but I didn't really give it much more thought. I don't know that I wanted to go to war, but I grew up during World War II and my dad was on the North Atlantic during World War II. I had been in ROTC in high school, so I felt comfortable joining the Army. Besides, I could walk a lot further than I could swim. At the time, I wasn't interested in the Air Force or Navy. I enlisted to go to Hawaii and Korea with a special, all-volunteer organization. I was "gung-ho" at the time. I had no thoughts about the Korean War and the outcome. I just knew we would win and we had been told that after nine months, we would rotate back to the states.
I learned about the Hawaii Training Center when I went down to the recruiting office. Everyone was informed that we would be taking basic in Hawaii, training for Korea. Those who didn't wish to go to Hawaii were sent to other bases in the United States. I felt that the training would at least be in good weather--no hot Texas summer and no cold northern winter. As far as I know, none of my college classmates joined. However, if they failed at Rice, they were eligible for the draft. I didn't have time to check the news about what was happening in Korea after I joined the military. I enlisted on Friday, and was sworn in that night on 5 April 1951 at Houston. In 1950, most 17-year olds didn't have cars. None of my friends were married and most of my high school classmates were in school. My mother came down to pick up my clothes and such at Rice, and then she took me down to the train station that evening before returning home. Dad was at sea and my brother and sisters were at home with my grandmother. Once we began processing, no one was allowed leave until completion of basic.
The other recruits and I traveled by train that same night to San Antonio, Texas. When the 15 to 20 of us who had been sworn in got on the train, I was assigned as "meal ticket man." The trip was overnight. We left Houston on Friday evening and arrived at Ft. Sam Houston the next morning. There we picked up several more enlistees. We spent several days processing and receiving further physicals and immunizations. We took two days of batteries of IQ and aptitude tests, and then received our uniform issue. From San Antonio we were bussed to Dallas, Texas, from which we were to be flown to San Francisco, California. I saw my mother and siblings again at the airport in Dallas for about an hour before we left. Many of us had our parents and some high school friends meet us at the airport.
At San Francisco, we were bussed to the ship and sailed that same evening for Hawaii. The ship was loaded with over 2600 men who were going to be the first all-volunteer training unit in Hawaii. The unit was the 30th Battalion of the Hawaiian Infantry Training Center at Scofield Barracks on Oahu Island. I believe that we departed San Francisco about the 12th of April 1951.
Training in Hawaii
The trip to Hawaii, which was my first outside of the mainland of the United States, took five days. The troop ship was operated by MATS (the military transport system) and could handle about 5,000 troops. We had canvas cot/racks to sleep on, and during the trip men were assigned to fire watch in two-hour shifts. Nearly everyone got to pull at least two shifts during the trip. I had been on my dad's ship for short trips along the gulf coast, but this was my first trip on the ocean. As we left San Francisco Bay, the ship ran into a small squall. I had already eaten. I put on my poncho and steel pot, then headed topside to get the spray coming over the bow of the ship. I had been on deck for a while when a 2nd Lieutenant found me and saw that I wasn't sick, so he found a detail for me. Most of the men down below had gotten sick and the showers and bathrooms were floating in the evening's dinner of beanie weenie. The Lieutenant found a couple more men who were not sick and we had to clean up the mess. Then we had to go down to the chow room and clean up there. It took most of the night, and by the time we got to bed, it was a short sleep. The next morning, the weather was fine and the men were taken top side by sections and we did PT for an hour. Every day on the journey to Hawaii we had the hour of PT, and then most of the rest of the time we had to stay in our sections below deck. There were a lot of card games and dice games, but most of us didn't have any money, so we just watched. I can't remember the name of the ship.
When we arrived in Hawaii, we received a big welcome with an army band and native girls who put leas around our necks. We then were loaded onto trucks with our 60-pound duffle bags and were driven up into the hills to Scofield Barracks. It was located in the highland northwest of Honolulu. The area was similar to Korea except the hills were not as high. We were offloaded, assigned to companies and platoons, and were taken into the barracks. We were in "C" Quadrangle and assigned to the 35th Company, 30th Battalion, Hawaii Infantry Training Center. Since all of us on the ship came from different places, we started with all new friends, and during basic we made a few more friendships, although not lasting ones. Our company was assigned to the "south building" of the Quadrangle. After being assigned to the second floor and leaving our gear, we went to the mess hall for lunch. After lunch, we were told how to set up our clothes in footlockers and on the hanger racks. The rest of the day was spent being shown around the company area and in orientation.
Our instructors were mostly Korea vets who had been wounded, healed, and returned to duty. Most were Corporal with one Sergeant per platoon. As far as I remember, we had a company commander, 1st Lieutenant, and Executive Officer. We really liked our instructors. Some of them were even younger than we were. I believe the oldest was only 21. Most of our Cadre were vets who had survived the first winter in Korea. Few would talk about their time over there. They just kept telling us to learn all we could and stay in shape.
We got some information on Korea at Scofield, but only training was pushed. I never had any second thoughts about joining. I was one of the "Gung Ho" group. All of us in Hawaii had that attitude. We knew we could do it. We were integrated, but again we were all volunteers and considered ourselves "special." We were a "team." Everyone helped those who had problems in any of the training.
The basic training program for the H.I.T.C. was 16 weeks of aggressive combat infantry training, and most was done in the mountains to strengthen our legs. They were trying to get us into shape for the hills in Korea. We went up and down hills, and across valleys during our training. In fact, the hardest thing in basic for me was building up my legs to climb the hills. I only weighed 130 pounds, and our equipment was close to 75 pounds, so I had to work into shape. We did a lot of marching and going through the obstacle courses. The last two weeks, we spent on bivouac in the northern hills of the island.
At that time, the standard basic was eight weeks, then another eight weeks of advanced training on weapons. The only classroom training I can remember was the combat wound treatment and other first aid films. I also remember films on combat maneuvers, tactics, "booby traps", and enemy vehicle identification. But most of our training was in the field. We learned about all the shoulder weapons from the .45 pistol, carbine, BAR, 45 Tompson submachine gun, M3, .45 grease gun, M11918 and 1919 .30 caliber machinegun. We also trained on the bazooka, 60mm and 81mm mortar, 57mm and 75mm recoilless rifles, flame thrower, rifle grenades, and 1917 .30 caliber heavy water-cooled machinegun. We practiced firing them as well. It may have been the standard training, but everyone had to pass the tests on each weapon to advance.
I can't remember the exact time of reveille each morning, but it was between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. The Quadrangle P.A. system played bugle calls as needed. Beds were made, showers were taken, we dressed, and were in ranks for roll call in 30 minutes. Then we had breakfast and went back to clean billets. As soon as it was light, we marched to the day's training area. We ate lunch in the field--usually C-rations--and then went to afternoon classes. We went back to the Quadrangle for supper, showers, and bed (Taps). On some days, we had parades and a retreat ceremony. Only for early training or night training were we awakened at night. We had several night compass training sessions, night infiltration, and "quiet training." We had rain at noon nearly every day at lunch, but very good temperatures. It was never too hot and never cold. We had no problems with insects, and Hawaii doesn't have snakes.
We had proficiency tests on all weapons, manual of arms, first aid, general orders, map reading, compass reading, and, of course, inspections every Saturday morning. Everyone had to be able to field strip and assemble each weapon, and we learned to do it blindfolded. I set a record on the Carbine and M1 Garand of 30 seconds each way.
We had fun in different ways. We had contests on the weapons, and competition between companies on forced marches. Our company finally held the record for forced march of five miles in 35 minutes (with full gear). We also formed a "drill team" and I was a member of it. The last five weeks of basic, our team won three weeks and was second the other two weeks. The team members were exempt from inspection for the week and had three-day passes.
Since our unit was all volunteer, only regular training was conducted. I guess the instructors were as strict as necessary, but other than making sure everyone learned the lesson of the day, there was no harassment. The only "punishment" that I can remember was men having to do push-ups if they made a mistake. The most common error was when we were learning to march together. Some men had problems with left-right-left. The only group discipline was failure to complete a forced march in a certain time, and then we had to do it all over again. I don't remember any troublemakers, and I do not know of anyone who did not complete the 16-week training. Again, I never regretted joining the Army. Actually, I liked everything I was learning.
As far as meals were concerned, actually in basic we ate too well. The only time we didn't get plenty of food was during the last two weeks at bivouac. We had C-rations, one box for two men (actual ration was designed for one man all day). To supplement the rations we sneaked into the pineapple fields and got fresh pineapple. We had regular meals with every kind of tropical fruit on the side. We were served eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, SOS, steak, potatoes (I got to peel a few of those), all types of vegetables, plenty of desserts, and plenty choices of drink.
Every Sunday morning, the Company was marched to Chapel. Everyone went, including the instructors. During basic, as we progressed we also had parades to commemorate our progress. At the end of basic, we were presented certificates. Those of us on the drill team received special certificates and, of course, there was the regimental parade. On the 4th of July 1951, our drill team was in the parade in downtown WaiWa. We performed our drills before the civilians in town.
When we left Hawaii on the way to Japan, we thought we were the best trained of any Army units. Everyone knew tactics, their weapons, and we were in good physical condition. We knew a lot more about our weapons and thought we could "take care" of ourselves. The next weekend after basic, we were loaded onto a troop ship and headed to Japan. No one went home on leave, but we had one member who was sent back stateside to attend OCS. I can't remember the names and faces of my fellow company members, but I still have the booklet from "graduation" with all of our pictures and names. After the graduation parade on the 3rd of August, we had a couple of days off to go to town.
I think that the running up and down hills in Hawaii really helped get me in shape to do the same in Korea. I know we lost 60-plus percent of the men I trained with in Hawaii, but they got to Korea at a bad time and it didn't make any difference where one had been trained under those conditions. I have an official report from the Department of Defense that says there were 635 Killed in Action on Bloody Ridge from the 2nd Division. If I had not been sent to CBR school, I would have been with that group that took that hill.
I left Hawaii on the USS Pickaway, a World War II troop ship, on the 8th of August 1951, my 19th birthday. We arrived at Yokohama, Japan, about the 20th of August 1951, and then we were trucked to an Army base between Yokohama and Tokyo that had been the home of the 1st Cavalry Division. Their insignia (the yellow patch with the black horse) was on all the smokestacks and buildings. We were issued M-1 Garands and taken to a 1000 inch range to sight in the rifles. We were due to leave in a couple of days for Korea, but first there were more immunizations and some interviews.
At my interview, the Sergeant asked me if I had taken any chemistry in school and I told him yes. I had had one year of chemistry in high school and six months at college. The next day, my name was posted to leave for Chemical, Biological, and Radiological Warfare school at Gifu, Japan. I was loaded on a train with about ten other men and we left for Gifu, which we found out was located down south near Osaka, Japan. We arrived that afternoon and marched from the station to the barracks. Gifu had been the air base where the Japanese had trained some of their Kamikaze pilots. The runways and hangers were still there and we were to live in the barracks that had been the home of the Japanese airmen. It was beautiful country around that area of Japan, but nearly everything was still off limits to U.S. troops. The cities and towns were still in ruins.
I was excited to get to the school, but we didn't know what it was going to cover. I had a background in chemistry and biology, so didn't have much trouble with the program. Again, all of the men assigned to my class were strangers to me and each other, but we had similar science backgrounds. We were instructed on most of the World War II chemical agents that might be used and were holdovers from World War I. Mustard, phosgene, CS, and chlorine were the main gases we learned about. We learned how to detect them with a chemical kit that was the standard field issue for each company. I never saw one after school.
We visited the site at Hiroshima and had a survivor speak to us at the school. During training, we had radioactive "seeds" planted in an area. We were taught to register a safe distance from the source and mark it off as with a mine field, but with the radiation triangle. The biological agents mentioned and discussed were anthrax, the flu, bubonic plague, lice, and rats. We were informed that many of the agents could be delivered by munitions, but as far as they knew, the North Koreans and Chinese were not using them. They just had the capability to use them. We were taught how to set up napalm booby traps and how to set white phosphorus grenades for trip mines. The Geiger counter training was the most difficult of the training. Finding the source in an about 50 to 100-acre area was hard, then setting a perimeter at a safe level.
The class work was very basic for me. We studied the elements, where radiation came from, the types of heavy metal, basic physiology of the lungs, and how the different agents could affect them. How to decontaminate an individual or vehicle that received a dose of an agent was a chance to get wet and have fun while training. One weekend, our class was bussed to Osaka. It was a ride by dirt road to one of Japan's larger cities. There was not much there. Several restaurants and one department store had been rebuilt, but most of the city was still in ruins. The local people were doing the rebuilding as fast as possible, but there was no heavy equipment and everything was done by hand with wheel barrels and buckets. The people did not seem to have any bad feelings for us, and they were glad to get our money to help support their families.
On to Korea
Graduation came on September 21, 1951. The next day we loaded on the train again and went south to Sasebo. About 100 of us were loaded onto a Japanese ferryboat. We slept a miserable night on the deck (it was very cold without blankets) and arrived at Pusan, Korea, when it was just getting light the next morning. We were immediately offloaded into a warehouse-type building where we were served a hot breakfast of excellent, hot SOS. We even got seconds. After being cold the whole night, it was great.
After breakfast we were trucked to the repo depot at Pusan. Along with probably three or four hundred other men, I was issued fatigues and basic combat equipment, and listened to orientation talks. We turned in our duffle bags and all Class "A" uniforms. We spent one full day there and did a forced march up and around the closest hill to get our legs working again. We spent two nights at the depot and then marched to the railhead. Pusan was very crowded and busy with incoming supplies, but we had no time to observe the area further because we were loaded onto "cattle cars" for transport north. They had constructed plank racks on each side of the cars for us to lay on during the trip. Several of the men were issued one clip of ammo for their M-1 rifles and set on guard duty in case of infiltrators along the rail line. We didn't think about the country we had just arrived in too much, just that the Chinese were trying to beat us and change the country over to communism.
We arrived at the northern railhead of Chunchon that evening and were marched to 2nd Division Headquarters replacement section. We had supper, spent the night, and got rid of all the duffel bags of extra gear. From then on, we only had what was on our backs and in our combat packs. We actually received an ammo ration of 240 rounds and a box of C-rations, too. We still didn't have assignments to individual companies. At this time, the battle for Heartbreak Ridge was taking place and we had arrived in the middle of it. Many of the group were chosen to go to the front as replacements in the rifle companies. Twenty-five of us from the train were separated out to become temporary "choggie boys" or ammo bearers. We marched for one day north from Chunchon, crossing a river that the engineers were building a bridge across. We crossed by foot and were wet up to our knees. We then marched several more miles and were told to set up our pup tents for the night. We were instructed to "trench the tents" in case of rain. We had ground cloths, sleeping mats, and sleeping bags. During the night it rained, and the trenching didn't do much good. The next morning it was wet, muddy, and cold. My "paratrooper boots" with the zippers had gotten very wet, so they stayed with some local South Korean choggie boys.
We loaded up with a vest ammo carrier and three rounds of 4.2 mortar at 26 pounds each, plus a full load of rifle ammo and our weapons. We were divided into groups with five South Korean civilian carriers and one U.S., and were to make three trips a day up the mountain. The first trip up, a sergeant led the way to show us the trail. We were warned not to get off of the trail marked by the white engineer tape due to mines. The first day was uneventful. There were about 50 of us, including South Korean choggie boys, to carry the ammunition for that particular crew. That gave them about 450 rounds per day. When we finished for the day, we were informed that there was a rations shortage and we would receive only one set of C-rations for each two persons. The set normally was one day for one person. My tent mate and I split the rations for the next five days.
On Day Two, we made our morning run up the mountain. It took about two hours to get to the mortar section, and on the way back down, I came upon my first dead enemy. The body was in the creek and fairly decomposed. We were getting our drinking water from this same creek at the bottom of the hill. At least we were putting the Halizone tabs in our canteens as instructed. The second evening, we traded with the South Korean civilians to get rice. We boiled it in our canteen cups and supplemented our C-rations. I didn't see any dead Americans during my stay in Korea, although I saw many injured ones.
The third day there was a casualty in our group. One of the men decided to get off the trail to have a BM and as he squatted, his heel hit a shoe mine. He was evacuated and that was the last we saw of him. Needless to say, no one else got off the trail. We continued to carry ammo for about a week, then learned that the main battle for Heartbreak Ridge was over. The battery that we were supporting had captured the ridge. We cleaned up the area where we had been staying, put our gear into the packs, then marched back toward 2nd Division rear at Chunchon. When we arrived, we were broken up into groups with other replacements that had arrived from the south. Our group of 25 was assigned to Company G, 9th Infantry Regiment, and again a Sergeant led us back up the mountains. We marched until dusk and then set up our tents again for the night.
The next morning, we were given assignments in the company. We marched toward the front but stopped about an hour into the march and the Sergeant in charge told us that from that point on, we were within enemy sight and range. We were to march single file at 25 foot intervals, with no loud talking. About a quarter of a mile from the company area, we came under our first enemy fire. Two mortar rounds came in and bracketed me, one on each side of the path. Both were duds. I could see the fins on the round sticking out of the mud. I kind of sped up my step and had gone only a few more yards when the third round came in. It was not a dud and went off about 50 yards behind me. The man that was following me was injured (hit in the stomach) and the medics had to evacuate him. We did not know his name since he was sent home afterwards. The rest of the trip to the front line was uneventful. Our 24 joined a company that had only 27 men left.
The only civilians we encountered were the "choggie boys." We had instructions that any civilians in our area were probably North Korean infiltrators and as such were to be taken prisoner or, if resisting, shot. The only people I was familiar with were the ones that had helped on the ammo carry, but those had been split up to different companies. Everyone in our unit was a stranger. Our group stayed together for the next few months.
I was assigned to the 60mm mortar section and was told to begin building a bunker. My bunker mate and I spent the rest of the day digging and filling sandbags for our bunker, and by dark we had four walls about two sandbags thick, but no top. It was to be done the next day. Early the next morning, our section leader came around and told me I was to go to the rear for a shower, change of clothes, and hot meal. It would be my first shower since reaching Korea and leaving Pusan. It was the 3rd of October 1951.
That day passed rapidly with a march to the rear, getting on trucks, riding to showers, getting a clean uniform, and the ride back to march up to the front. On the way back to the line, we were moved off into a small valley for hot food. I was one of the last men to arrive and found there was no mess gear. I found a spoon and got my canteen cup out to go through the line. The cooks were serving mashed potatoes, gravy, and peas. I don't remember what the meat was that day. As I got in line next to the jeep trailer, we received three incoming mortar rounds. What followed was like a cartoon. The men in front of me disappeared, and the mess gear seemed to hang in the air. When the smoke cleared, I had a complete mess kit, including silverware, and was second in line for food. A couple of the men had been sitting in front of the opening to a bunker with their food in their laps. The one directly in front of the opening had a dazed look on his face and a big footprint in his mashed potatoes. There was no more harassing fire and I got to enjoy my first hot meal since Pusan.
I headed back up the trail with the others to the front and at the base of our hill, I met my bunker mate. His head was bandaged and he had a wound tag on his jacket. I asked what had happened and found out that he had disregarded basic rules. He had taken off his helmet and was sitting on it writing a letter home, when the earlier round had come into our area. The Chinese had also thrown a few at our positions and several of the men at the top of the hill had run for cover. In running, one of them had kicked a large stone loose. It came down the hill and bounced into our unfinished bunker right on top of his exposed head. We heard that he had a fractured skull and after hospitalization in a MASH unit, he got the Purple Heart for wounds received from enemy fire and eventually was reassigned to 2nd Division Headquarters.
My assignment to the mortar section was weird. As I stated, the first few days were spent building a bunker. The third night, I was assigned to guard a barbed wire detachment setting up wire in front of our positions. Two other men from the section and I were assigned to go down the front of the hill for about 50-75 yards and watch for enemy while the crew was building the fence. We could hear the men doing the fence, pounding the stakes and moving along setting the wire. This was a double apron four-foot high fence. The crew spent a long time building the fence. Things went well for a couple of hours and the fence was complete except for a small opening to allow patrols in and out. Just as they were putting all the equipment together to stop, the Chinese decided to harass us again. Two enemy mortar rounds landed behind us on the hill. The Sergeant in charge of the group told us to get back into the lines and the barbed wire detail went back to their bunkers.
It didn't take anyone to tell us to get out of there. The three of us down below began running back up the hill and another round hit where we had been. It made our legs move a bit faster and then out of the darkness, all of a sudden there was the barbed wire. One of the men with me found the fence the hard way and made a bunch of racket telling us to jump high since they had not left an opening for us to come back through. Running up hill and jumping is something else, but I guess the adrenaline was pumping. We jumped and almost cleared the fence. The other man caught his leg in the lower strand of wire on the apron, and I caught my arm on the top strand. The barb cut from my elbow to my wrist, just enough to really bleed. It tore my fatigue jacket and I had just gotten a clean set that morning. When we got to safety, the medic applied sulfa powder and a bandage to my arm, but I didn't get a new fatigue top. I still have the scar today, but no Purple Heart. It seems that one has to put in for one, and I was too busy the next few days just doing my job.
The next morning, we were relieved by the 7th Division and we went into reserve to get new replacements and equipment. I had started out in Korea with Company G, 9th Infantry, at Heartbreak Ridge. After that battle was over, I moved to the perimeter of the Punchbowl. We pulled back in reserve in the Kumwha Valley between the 2nd and 9th of October, returning to the line north of Kumwha for just a short time before we pulled back into reserve again for Thanksgiving. We moved into a large valley, set up a battalion area with squad tents, and again got clean uniforms. We were issued our Combat Infantryman Badges, field jackets, and there was a parade during the time we were there. Several Bronze Stars and Silver Stars were awarded. The parade was a full Division thing with the band and all. Some generals gave out the awards.
Until we pulled back in reserve, we didn't see any officers. I understand that on the line when we joined the company, only one officer was still alive. We had little contact with the "vets" until we pulled into reserve. There we met the NCOs and few survivors in their sections. I remember that during the December-January period, our Company Commander was due for rotation and he stayed in his bunker with guards 24 hours. He wouldn't come out. Even his meals had to be taken in to him. After he left, I can't remember who was the CO. When we pulled back in March, 1st Lieutenant Hinton became our CO. We had a black 2nd Lieutenant assigned to the company, but I can't remember his name. For the most part, the company daily routine was handled by the NCOs. The only World War II veteran in our unit was SFC Fraser. He was very quiet and soft spoken. He was also one of the oldest of our company. He had won the Silver Star in May and had been wounded a couple of times.
Two days after we were pulled into reserve, the first snow came. That same day, I received word to report to the company commander. I wondered what I had done wrong now. I had picked up a couple of extra weapons from the line when others were wounded and sent back, but everyone was doing that. We had acquired a couple of .45 pistols, several M-2 carbines, and some M-1 rifles. At the Headquarters tent, I was informed that my dad was in Pusan and was asked would I like to have three days to visit him. I couldn't believe that was what all the commotion was about. I was glad to agree and was told to get my gear to report to the battalion headquarters ASAP.
I grabbed an M-1 and my ammo (including grenades), and reported to battalion. There was an L-19 single engine aircraft and pilot there, and they were going back to Chunchon. I was to ride "shotgun" and the pilot told me to keep my rifle out the side window while we followed the river south in case of snipers or infiltrators that liked to pot-shot at the small plane. We seemed to be flying only several hundred feet off the water, and he had to fly up to go over bridges. I arrived in Chunchon shortly and was told that a C-47 would be leaving in several hours for Pusan and to get something to eat while I was waiting (C-rations).
The C-47 departed early the next morning and arrived at Pusan just after daybreak. I was given an address of my dad's ship and told to go. How, I wondered. The clerk at the airport said to get on the local bus and show the address to the driver. I didn't speak Korean, and most of the people on the bus didn't speak English. The driver took me to the dock area and pointed in the general direction and I was off on foot. I guess that the people were used to seeing GI's with dirt and grime, walking around with weapons, so no one paid any attention to me. I got to the guard at the gate of the docks and told him where I was supposed to go. He sent me in the right direction and I climbed the gangway to my dad's ship. The duty officer stopped me at the top of the gangway and called my Dad.
Dad was the captain of a merchant ship. They were activated during the Korean War for transport of supplies. He was Coast Guard Reserve and a Maritime Officer. He served on the North Atlantic during World War II, saw duty in the Korean War, and finally, the Vietnam War. My mother telegrammed his employer, Lykes Brothers Steamship Company, giving them the information that I was assigned to the 9th Infantry and to pass the information on to Dad. He was a captain aboard the SS Brazil Victory merchant ship, which docked in Pusan while I was serving in Korea. I guess the Red Cross did the rest and made arrangements for me to leave and go meet my dad in Pusan. Dad swore until his death that he had never seen or smelled anyone as bad as I that day. He took me below, had me get out of all my gear and clothes, and take a shower (with hot water!). He had the steward bring up some clothes from the locker.
While I was aboard his ship, I spent most of my time sleeping. I watched them unload cargo and did a lot of eating eggs, milk, toast, and pork chops. After two months of short rations, it was really nice. It was also great to be able to sleep and not worry about incoming artillery. I have a picture taken of me onboard the ship, and in it, I am wearing civilian clothes. That is because my dad took my uniform and sent it to the ship's laundry. He said it smelled too bad for me to wear.
The way back to the front was slow. When my visit was over, I left from the port by bus to Pusan air base, then took a C-46 from Pusan to Kimpo. From Kimpo back to Chunchon it was a C-47 again. I hitchhiked a ride from Chunchon back to regiment at Kumwha, then went by foot to the company. When I left to go to Pusan, I was carrying a full load of ammo, rifle, and grenades. On the way back to my unit, I only had my web gear and grenades. The rifle I left in Pusan since I had another one at the company.
In all, I had been gone five days. The company had received new shoepacks and winter gear while I was gone. In the following days, we had several field exercises. By then we had received enough replacements to be a full company. I don't remember the exact date, but I remember that the first snowfall came about the third week of October 1951. We were still in reserve and I took a lot of pictures of members of the 4th platoon, company G, 9th Infantry. The snow was very heavy for about 24 hours, and wet enough to pack into snowballs. The guys from Hawaii had a ball playing in the snow since they had never been in any before. The supply sergeant issued the standard winter gear to me: long johns, a winter cap, gloves, a field jacket, and the shoepacs. We still had a change of underwear and two pair of socks.
We were in the Kumwha Valley and spent the next two weeks doing training to get the new replacements adjusted. We trained in the mountains, just like the ones we had just left in the Punchbowl area. We practiced live fire with the weapons platoon, and taught the new personnel to dig foxholes in the hard rocky dirt. The mountains had little left on top of them due to artillery fire. We had blown everything away. We ran night exercises and such through the rice paddies to get everyone used to night patrol duties. We tried to teach the new people in our group the proper way to set and fire the 60mm mortar. We then played and horsed around for several days before receiving word that we were going back on line. It was then the end of October or early November.
At this time, we also lost a .30 caliber machinegun due to the gunner and assistant gunner falling into a "honey bucket"--the large holes that the civilians dug and stored human waste in or fertilizer. This particular one was about six to eight foot deep, and when they fell into it, they lost the gun and tripod. We could smell them across the field. They had to go back to the company area and down to the river, break the ice, then wash up. At least they got clean clothes, but they smelled for several days.
We had stayed in reserve for three to four weeks before moving back on the line to relieve a unit (the 45th Division, I think) in a static position. The bunkers we moved into were "plush." The men who had been there had built bunks from tree limbs and military communication wire. Old C-ration cartons had been opened and the cardboard had been put on top of the wire. All we had to do was put our sleeping bags in the bunker and we were high and dry. I also cheated a bit. I still had the air mattress that we had been issued. Most of the men had lost them over the last few months and the newcomers had not had them issued. We only spent about three weeks in these positions.
I was assigned to the 60mm mortar section for the months of October, November, and December. My primary weapon was the M-1 Garand (US Rifle, cal 30, M-1). I also had a carbine (US Carbine cal 30 M-2), which was fully automatic. The Garand was probably the best infantry rifle ever issued to troops. It was rugged, very accurate, and I still have one today. It would stop just about anything. After I was assigned to the Third Platoon, I had a 1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) for a couple of weeks. I was then assigned as a platoon runner and also given the job as company sniper. I was issued an M-1C Garand with a four-power scope. I carried the sniper rifle until I went on R&R in Japan in February. When I returned from R&R, I learned that there had been a fire in the supply bunker and my sniper rifle had been burned. I was then issued another M-2 Carbine, which I carried for the remainder of my time in Korea.
The third week of November, we were again relieved and moved to the rear for training with a tank unit and to have Thanksgiving Dinner. The snow was gone by Thanksgiving. Afterward, we returned to the line the first week of December and stayed until March. We were across from Hill 1062, I think still north of the 38th. During the month of December, there was just small patrol action and a lot of mortar and artillery duels. Some of the bad things that happened during that time when we should not have had casualties were minor, but caused by failure to follow standard orders. A new man assigned to the mortar section was on his first day as assistant gunner and dropped a round down the tube during firing. I heard a "warble round" and looked down the hill to the pits. About the same time, the round exploded at the top of the hill near the Forward Observer. I saw someone on the ground in the mortar pit and went to check. The man had dropped the round with his right hand (standard procedure was to use the left hand) and the fins on the round had caught his trigger finger on firing. The finger was severed and we bandaged the hand. The medic took him back to the aid station and he was sent home. We also found his finger and sent it with him, but there was no way to repair it.
Several other men received minor wounds during patrol action and "The Chief", an Indian from Oklahoma, was injured while setting out "bouncing Betty" flares. As he armed it, he leaned over it. When he removed the safety pin after setting it, it misfired and the projectile hit him in the shoulder, shattering the bone. He was black and blue from the shoulder to the waist. He was out for a couple of weeks and couldn't fire a rifle for several more. It was a good thing it was a flare instead of the anti-personnel frag type. Another time, a member of the 3rd platoon took of his helmet, set it outside his bunker, and was inside writing a letter when a sniper shot at his helmet. The round bounced off the helmet into the bunker and hit him in the lower back. It paralyzed him and he was shipped back to Japan. We didn't learn anything else about him. Everyone along the Main Line of Resistance (MLR) was supposed to wear their helmet at all times, including my bunker mate who was injured on my first night on the front line.
Also in December, the real snow came. Around Christmas, the enemy dropped propaganda leaflets on us. They featured a picture of "Mr. Money Bags in Florida" having drinks by the pool, with a picture of soldiers trudging through a snowy landscape below the Money Bags picture. Mostly we used the leaflets for toilet paper since that commodity was scarce and some people had diarrhea. After the Christmas break, we were assigned a ridge across from Hill 1062, and we remained in that position until March of 1952.
The following is a complete eye description of the hill where we stayed most of the winter, written from a 1951/52 perspective:
Approaching the hill from the south through a long valley with a stream (creek). The valley is about 200 yards wide and almost a mile from the rear area to the edge of the hill. At the base of the hill is an opening for patrols to pass through. On each side is an oversized bunker with about four men in each. They have machine guns and 75mm recoilless rifles. Fox Company is deployed on the right and George Company to the left. There is a long depression or valley south of the hill with paths running up through it for the choggie boys and runners to traverse the hill without being exposed to enemy view. About 100 yards up this valley and on the back side of the hill, approximately 50 yards up the side, the 60mm mortars are dug into pits, surrounded with sandbags.
Back to the beginning of the ridge where F and G Companies meet. There is a sharp climb to the east. The elevation goes from creek to about 700 meters. (I think the Hill is called 639.) There are bunkers along the ridge with trenches connected to them. The bunkers are two-man and about 20 yards apart. The hill levels at about half way and about 25 yards below the tip is the command bunker for the company commander and orderly. Twenty-five yards to the east and at the same level is the supply bunker. The supply bunker has an east and west entrance and is about eight foot tall built of logs and sandbags. There is a double turn at each entrance to block shrapnel in case of artillery.
Running along the ridgeline above the supply bunker is a small peak. On the peak is the forward observer and communication or com man. He has field telephone and radio connected to the 60mm mortars, back to the heavy weapons (81mm mortars), and also to the regimental artillery that is three miles back. We always hoped the lines for the field phone would work. Every day, one of the linemen had to run the line to check for breaks. The lines were on the ground, so any vehicle or enemy fire could knock them out. Our radios were short range. About one to two miles line of sight. If a hill was in between, no luck.
Past the forward observer, the line of bunkers went east about 100 yards, then there was another sharp rise. There were a couple of bunkers on the rise and then the top of our hill. The third platoon had the most eastern end of the ridge and were the most far from the CO's bunker. I Company of the 3rd battalion was on our right flank. The runner from our 3rd platoon could communicate with the runner from their 1st platoon. The ridgeline was probably a total of 1000 yards in our sector. When I was assigned for the short time to the 3rd platoon, my bunker was right at the midpoint in their area. There was a drop off to my left of about 15 feet and the next bunker to my left was down below that. The opening to my bunker was into a long trench about 20 foot to the next bunker. That area was flat and we had firing positions along the trench. We had sandbags along the top at least three deep and the firing positions were built up so we had a hole through several sandbags which served as the firing positions.
As runner and mail carrier, I went first to the far end of the 3rd platoon and worked down the hill. I would meet the choggie boys at the bottom back at the valley behind the hill. Then we would travel back south to the rear area where the cooks and company HQ was located. After I dropped off the choggie boys, I would have to rush back to the hill to get there before dark. I can still see in my mind the hill and the setup, where things were, the barbed wire, and the paths to get from one place to another.
That January, I was sent back to the engineers for demolition training and I became the company demolitions man. The 1st Sergeant asked for volunteers from the runners to participate in this training. It was a three-day program where I was taught how to use explosives for destroying enemy bunkers. I thought that most of the three days were wasted in the training. The basics that we needed were given in the first day and then we stood around watching the slower learners get everything right before they hurt themselves or someone else. A couple of the men at the training were sent back as not qualified. The information was so simple that I thought anyone could have done it, but I guess I was lucky to have an easy "pick up" of the system.
I returned to the line after being issued a set of demolition pliers (for cutting fuse and crimping blasting caps) and a 10-pound sack of Tetratal. I received ten blasting caps, a roll of fuse, and a roll of primer cord. The next five or six weeks, a team of two for cover support and I went out into No Man's Land to destroy enemy bunkers. I destroyed about ten bunkers per day. The two men with me had "snow whites" and we moved out in the daylight, watching for mines, booby traps, and snipers. Most of the time, trip wires were in the entrance of bunkers just far enough inside to be out of the light. At each bunker, I had to check the entrance for trip wires. It was easy to find the trip wires. We had flashlights that were not too bright (I still have one) and we used them to look inside. It didn't seem that the enemy really tried to hide them. They just put them there to harass anyone coming into the bunker. I guess that if someone wasn't not looking for them, it could have been bad. The ones I found just had a grenade on them and when the demolition charge went off, it got rid of the problem. We just stepped over the trip wires, set our charges, and then left. Before going inside to set the charge, I also had to inspect for booby traps in the bunker. I then set the charge with a 10-second fuse. We measured the fuse by two lengths of the pliers. That was supposed to give us time to get back from the explosion. I usually gave myself a couple of extra inches of fuse to get out of the bunker so I wouldn't be rushed and accidentally trip one of the wire. The ten pounds of Tetratal usually destroyed about six bunkers.
The mission each day probably took four hours. We left just after good light and tried to be back by lunch. We were fired on by snipers only once, but nobody was hit. One of the men was always a BARman and the other a rifleman. I carried an M-2 carbine during that time. The object of the demolitions was to blow the top off the bunker and knock down part of the side. After several trips, I put just a little too much explosive in a large bunker and when it blew up, part of the top, a large rock, came down within a few feet of my BARman. To say the least, he was upset and said he would never come out with me again because I was too dangerous. He got over it and continued to be on the team until we stopped the operation in late February. Meanwhile, most of the members of the platoons where I slept stayed pretty clear of me because I always had several pounds of Tetratal and primmer cord with me at all times. I also carried White Phosphorus grenades and detonator caps. They figured that if something hit any of that, it would go off and get several of them. I actually didn't worry about it since it would take a direct hit on the detonators to set them off.
The napalm we used was pre-mixed in the rear and was in a flat, one-gallon tin can, something like a large Spam can. They were sealed, so I don't know how they mixed and filled them. At the front, we just had several guys carry the cans out to where we were going to "plant" them. The cans were not handled in any special way. I think that if a can punctured, we would have just put it out a ways and shot it with a tracer to set it off. I think the napalm we used was just a jellied gasoline. They put some type of powder in the gasoline and mixed it before filling the cans. When the napalm was used to destroy the enemy, once the explosive charge went off, it threw a ball of flaming napalm in the direction of advancing troops. The explosion ruptured the can.
The demolition job was exciting and scary, like driving extra adrenalin into my system. It was dangerous, but very controllable. The unknown factor about snipers and booby traps really kept us alert and time seemed to pass a lot faster. With one trip a day, when we got back to the lines, it was time to eat dinner and then it got dark. That really made the days pass. This only lasted about six weeks and then all of the enemy bunkers in No Man's Land in front of us were all destroyed. After that, I was just on call in case they found anything new. Even after the demolitions program to eliminate old bunkers was terminated, I still carried primer cord and fussed detonators until May, when we pulled back into reserve for rotation and replacements.
About the time we stopped actively destroying enemy bunkers, several of us from the company were sent back to Division Headquarters for training on the new M-3 Snooper Scope and infra-red equipped M-2 Carbine. It had a twenty-pound battery pack (wet acid battery) and an effective range of 100 yards It was to be used for night patrols so we could see the enemy. The program was a test and it flunked. The batteries would only last about 30 minutes in use and they had to be sent back to Division Headquarters for recharging. We carried an extra battery (on another person's back), but it was still too short-lived for general use. I did two night patrols with it and didn't ever see anything except our own men.
At night up on the line, everyone had to pull guard duty--on two hours and off four hours. We received mortar and artillery shelling during the day and at night. I can remember being bounced off the ground by the explosions. We slept in our helmets and that was to keep shrapnel injuries down. We were all scared all the time while on the front, and even when we were in reserve there was the possibility of infiltration from the enemy. We had guards posted around the perimeter at all times in the rear, and at night on the line we had an "on two, off two" buddy system for watch. We developed pretty good reflexes and could be in a bunker or trench instantly. At night there was almost always incoming artillery and we learned to sleep through it. It was not uncommon to wake in the morning and find that someone during the night had been wounded or killed by the artillery. As stated, we slept in our helmets, and even in the sleeping bags we had our clothes on and our rifles close by. Before I joined the unit, there had been several cases of people being killed in their sleeping bags by infiltrators. We were lucky in that the weather for the first week was dry and cool. We figured that we were in the most danger during the night patrols. We couldn't see them and they couldn't see us, so we never knew when we would meet the enemy. I can remember that when we had any type of probing action, it seemed that it was almost a panic response. Now when I think of it, it was just natural reflexes taking over. Fear and excitement at the same time. Even now when I really think about it, my heart still seems to speed up.
We did not have any troops from other nations assigned directly to our unit. We had South Korean service troops (choggie boys) assigned to the company for supply duties. I escorted them up to the line daily with supplies and food, took them back, and then returned to the line for the night. I did this daily until we pulled back in March. We only took Korean/Chinese prisoners once. They seemed to be in worse shape than we were for clothing and supplies. They had tennis shoes and quilted uniforms, but had severe problems with frozen feet. The Chinese were opposite us in the line for the whole time. We were lucky during that time in that the peace talks were starting and no new offensives were started by the enemy. We did not see any hand to hand action--only direct fire from Hill 1062.
Our first support consisted of four levels: Our 60mm mortars, the weapons company 81mm mortars, the 105mm howitzers, the 155mm artillery, and Air Force or Navy fighter support. We had a Navy Corsair damaged and shot down in our area in front of the lines in early 1952. We had lost two men in patrol action on the side of the hill, and the medics were trying to recover the bodies. On one of these strafing runs, the Corsair was hit and the pilot bailed out. We sent a patrol out to pick him up. They made it back without problems since the planes had already torched most of the top of the hill, and I am sure the Chinese had withdrawn temporarily to the cover on back of the hill. It took several weeks for Search and Recovery teams to recover the bodies of the Americans on the side of the enemy hill.
I received a slight injury during shelling one morning. I was on the way to the command bunker when a round came in above me on the hill. I took off running with my head down and my carbine in front at port arms. I got about halfway down to the bunker when I was clothes-lined by a strand of communication wire. The wiremen had strung the wire during the night and didn't have any markers on it. With my head down, I didn't see it and it caught me just under my nose on the left side. The wire took the skin off the side of my face, my helmet and my carbine. I was flipped flat on my back. I had just hit the ground when two more shells came in and exploded on each side of me within 20 yards. If I had still been running, I would have been hit. The company medic cleaned me up and put sulfa powder on the wound, then sent me to the aid station. They looked and said it was okay and sent me to the company rear where I was supposed to have been going anyway. I took the mail, choggie boys, and supplies back up the hill and continued with regular duties. Again, God was watching over me when those rounds came in.
Since we stayed in position for several months, we had two complete double apron barbed wire fences in front of us. We had mine fields and firing paths all along the front. Later in 1952, we received a new personal mine about the size of a can of shoe polish. Several were issued for each person. At night we could open the can, turn over the firing pin, close the can, and place them around our positions. These mines were for temporary deployment. We picked them up in the morning and reversed the firing pin, then we could carry them in our pack. These new mines were only used when the unit moved into a new position that wasn't protected.
Everywhere we moved, we needed supplies. We had little contact with the South Koreans except for the choggie boys who helped us carry our supplies. My job taking the choggie boys up to the line daily gave me a chance to be friends with them, but I couldn't speak Korean and they didn't speak English. Without their help, we would have been very short in supplies. They carried everything from food to ammo, water, parts, and the wounded. We didn't have to have supplies airlifted to our unit. They always came to us by ground.
There were no other civilians in our area. If anyone in civilian clothing was found, they were either captured and returned to the rear, or shot if they were in front of the lines. No civilians were allowed within ten miles of the reserve area. As far as I know, we were never in an area where there were prostitutes, either.
We had tank support training in November, and when we were across from Hill 1062, a couple of tanks came up to use direct fire to knock out enemy bunkers on 1062. When we were in the Punchbowl area, there were two tanks that zigzagged up the back of the hill to fire over the top. In March, when we shifted to the area north of Uijombu, we had a tank company dug in behind the rail line and a AAA quad-fifty half-track unit assigned for support.
I saw an article in the news recently saying that some doctor had told a Korean veteran that it wasn't cold in Korea. He must have had his head someplace. He said the winter of 1951-52 was not as cold as the winter of 1950-51, but I know that we had recorded temperatures of 30 degrees below freezing. Beer froze solid and split the cans. It stayed cold from December until the middle of March. We used empty ammo cans and made small stoves that we put into our bunkers. We scrounged wood everywhere--from the shattered trees, empty ammo boxes, C-ration cardboard covers--anything that would burn. Keep in mind that we had approximately 70 bunkers, and all their occupants were looking for fuel. It was a never ending job.
Our Mickey Mouse boots were lifesavers and because of them we had no more problems with bad feet. It is too bad we didn't get them for the first part of the cold weather. During the snowstorms, we could not see 50 feet down the hill and it was very touchy trying to watch for the enemy. I think they were having the same problem, so there were no attacks. The wind blew and the snow shifted. It sometimes set off mines out in front of the lines due to the pressure change with the snow pack. We had been taught to keep our weapons dry and apply no oil to them during the cold. Only a few cases were reported in our company where someone got snow in the receiver of their rifle and didn't dry it, so it froze. They had to take it to the supply bunker, thaw it, then clean and dry it to correct the problem.
I was treated for pneumonia with a penicillin injection during January of 1952. Nearly everyone on the line either had pneumonia or a severe cold that winter. No one was excused from the line due to these problems. General winter clothing was: regular underwear (shorts and shirt), long johns (top and bottom), regular fatigues, our field jackets, and Mickey Mouse boots. Some guys had an extra sweater, and some field jackets had liners while some did not. We also wore a winter cap under the helmet, glove liners, and glove shells. There were a lot of cold noses and our hands were always cold. They had not developed thermal gloves at that time. During the warmer weather (September, October, March, April, May) we had our regular underwear, the long johns until it was warm enough, and our regular fatigues and leather boots.
Most of the static exchange of fire between the enemy and us was during the day. Patrols were at night and artillery was day and night. We never knew when a few harassing rounds would come. The enemy used snipers and probing patrols just as we did. They also liked to send in a few mortar rounds every day. We were lucky in that we were to stay in our bunkers during the day where only a direct hit could cause casualties. The Chinese had 120mm mortars that were very accurate. They had the 9mm burp gun, the .31 caliber rifle, 82mm mortars, T-34 tanks, and artillery. We were lucky and did not have heavy casualties after Bloody Ridge.
We had no POWs during my time with the unit. Everyone feared being taken captive, however. The tales of the treatment of the earlier prisoners gave us every reason to be fearful. Some of our older members had seen the problems at Kunu-ri. They had seen the dead with their hands tied behind their backs. Many of the wounded during the time of April-May 1951 had been captured by the North Koreans and bayoneted.
We got to go to the rear area about once a month for a shower and change of clothes. We went into one end of a tent, removed everything, showered, shaved, and went to an attached tent to get all clean clothing. We also got dusted with DDT after the shower to keep any vermin off that we might encounter. Daily, we only had enough water for brushing teeth and to drink. The choggie boys brought water up daily with the rations and ammo.
One of the medics assigned to the 4th platoon was from Utah and did not carry a weapon. I don't remember his name. We also had a black medic with the 3rd platoon. He also ran the "barber shop." When we needed a haircut, he had the equipment to do it. When we went into reserve and had power, he found a pair of clippers somewhere and we built a small shelter for him to use as a barbershop. His name was Brown, too.
On the line, we had a hot meal every fourth day. That is, one platoon a day got the hot chow and the rest of us ate C-rations. We got one box per day that contained three meals. Each meal was a can of crackers, a can of extras such as gum, cigarettes, toilet paper pack, and some dessert. We also had dessert cans and one fruit can of either peaches, pears, or fruit cocktail. The main course was a can of meat, beans, or hash. When we were in reserve, the cooks did a great job and we had hot rolls, pies, cake, plus the staples of meat, potatoes, vegetables, and gravy. We probably got ice cream about once a month if we were in reserve. Only in January and February did they send it up to the front. The daily ration of hot food on the line was usually beans or peas, potatoes, and some type of meat. The only food we ate from the South Koreans was rice that we traded to supplement when we had short rations. We cooked the rice in our canteen cups. Probably the best meal we had while I was in Korea was on Thanksgiving Day 1951. We had been on short rations during the last of October and early November when on the line, and we pulled back into reserve for Thanksgiving. A listing of what we had to eat that Thanksgiving Day is in the Addendum of my memoir. Milk was the biggest thing we missed in Korea. In reserve we sometimes had powdered milk, but only on R&R and when I went to visit Dad did I get fresh milk.
I really didn't get "buddy-buddy" with anyone over there. The men I was closest to were the 1st Sergeant M/Sgt Robert Beevers, our 4th platoon leader SFC Irwin Fraser, and the 60mm mortar section leader Sgt. John Flowers. The two 4th platoon men rotated home before me, and Sergeant Beevers was still there when I left. The 1st Sergeant didn't collect the four points per month that we did on the line.
I don't think anything was serious in Korea until it was time to go on patrol or out in No Man's Land. The rest of the time, the men on the front either slept during the day or, if they were not on lookout, they went to the supply bunker and played cards or listened to the radio. We had two of the shortwave civilian radios that could pick up Japan and the North Korean stations. After we got the deep snow, it could be packed and the Hawaiian guys played in it. I remember that one of the guys slide down the back of the hill on C-ration boxes and straddled a rock or short stump. It left him unable to walk for a couple of hours.
We had regular mail nearly every day. After I became the runner/mail clerk, I took mail to the front line daily. I started at the highest point on the line and worked down to the lowest in the valley. We got packages, letters, and I received the Dallas Morning News about a week after each issue was published. My grandmother worked for the News and she had them send them to me. Packages were limited in size and we usually got different types of candy and cookies. My special monthly shipment was a carton of Juicy Fruit gum. Most of my mail came from the family and occasionally from one of the girls from my high school. The only bad news I remember was about the death of one of my girl friends. She was a member of our church group and she came down with acute leukemia. She died within a month of getting sick.
In Korea, we had church service when we were in reserve. On the line, it was every man for himself. It has been said that there are no atheists in a foxhole. When the shells are flying, I think everyone prayed.
The only American women I saw in Korea were with the USO shows. I made it to two of the shows while I was there. The first was Ted Louis and a group. Then we had, I think, the Bob Hope group. I think Jimmy Durante was with him and a couple of the girls. The show lasted about an hour and then we left and the next group came in to see it. If I remember correctly, the USO troupe did about four shows a day.
Our bunkers were pretty well built after we left the Punchbowl area. There, we had just begun to build them and when we left, most were incomplete. The area we moved into after Christmas was like first class to us. The bunkers on the line had room for two, and were about 7x7 foot. We had an opening in to the back (we hung sand bag material over it), a sleeping shelf just below the level of the ground), a firing slit to the front so we could see down the front of the hill, and two layers of sandbags around and on top of them. Only a direct hit from large artillery would cause casualties.
It was so cold that field mice and such were not out. We didn't have any trouble all winter with vermin. When we pulled back for reserve at division HQ, the men ran into straw mats to sleep on and the next morning, most had lice. That meant turning in our clothing, even if we were not infected, burning the mats and clothes, getting a special shower, then the complete delousing of DDT and Lindane. We had no problems during the winter with wet. It was too cold. I didn't have the "pleasure" of having to live in a foxhole or trench. We had trenches running from one bunker to the next, but we lived in the bunkers. We even had small stoves made of large ammo cans and the smoke stack was made from C-ration cans.
R&R was about a week. We were allowed whatever time it took to get to Japan, then five days and nights in Japan. Afterward, we had to scramble to get back. Normally we waited at the base for a couple of days, had good food, slept, and waited for an empty plane to take us back. Everyone looked forward to going on R&R. It meant we had hot and cold running water, as much food as we wanted to eat, sleeping in a real bed, and to a lot of the guys, getting to spend five days with one of the Japanese happy girls. They went out at night, drank, danced, and partied until early in the morning. Japan was still under curfew, so they had to be back to the hotel by one a.m.
When I joined the Army, I didn't drink, smoke or horse around with girls. I traded my beer ration for Coke, and while I was on R&R, I bought a whiskey ration to take back to Korea so I could trade for other things. I also traded or gave away my cigarettes. I didn't do any gambling over there because I didn't want to lose my money.
I didn't run into anyone that I knew from home while I was in Korea. Not many guys from my area made it to Korea. The friends I had that were in high school were drafted and got there before I did. Many of them didn't make it back. When we had our last school reunion, I found out that several had been killed over there.
Old Baldy Area
During the months of December 1951 and January through April 1952, I was moved into several different jobs within the company. In December, I was assigned to the 3rd Platoon as a BARman. I was then made platoon runner about the end of December and traded my BAR for a Sniper M-1D Garand. I remained in that duty until the middle of January. I was transferred to the 2nd platoon, still as a sniper and runner, with additional duties to stand guard outside the company commander's bunker. About the middle of February, I received orders for R&R in Tokyo, Japan. That was two weeks total away from the line. When I returned, I found that the storage bunker where my gear and sniper rifle had been stored burned to the ground and all was destroyed. I was sent back to company HQ in the rear and received new issue and an M2 Carbine. The company commander called me into the office and told me I was going to be the company runner and mail clerk for the line. I stayed on the line during the night, went back to HQ each morning, and brought the mail and the "hot lunch" choggie boys back to the front. The afternoon was spent returning the choggie boys to the rear, and then I had to trudge back up the hill.
We moved in March (1952) to a new location north of Uijombu and just south of Old Baldy. It was along an old railroad line. The tracks were gone and the jeeps used the bed for a road (out of the mud). I was then assigned to company HQ and didn't have a position on the line. I was company mail clerk and had to go by jeep daily to division headquarters to pick up the mail and any correspondence for the company. It was while I was on this duty that I learned to drive a jeep. The company had two jeeps most of the time and an extra one was assigned to the supply section and cooks.
One morning, the supply jeep was loaded with a stack of barbed wire rolls. The driver was to take them up to the forward area along the railway bed to be used to build a new fence in front of our positions. The Chinese had been sending patrols against our new area and we were stringing new wire and mine fields for protection. As the driver approached the company area driving on the old rail bed, the Chinese opened fire on him with their "elephant gun"--a .51 caliber sniper rifle. The first round went over his head and got his attention, but what really got him was the second round as it went through his windshield. He left the jeep while it was still rolling and dropped into the ditch behind the rail bed. The third round went through the seat where he had been and the jeep left the road, dropping barbed wire, tangling the transmission, and finally tearing the rear out. We had lost a jeep, but no one was injured. About half the rolls of barbed wire were "strung out" as a result, and had to be written off.
Soon thereafter, I was to set up napalm cans in front of the lines. These consisted of a gallon can of jellied fuel with several coils of primer cord taped on one side. An electrical blasting cap was attached and the can partially buried at about a 45-degree angle pointing out toward the Chinese. After setting several of these along the company front, the electrical wires were joined at platoon level and run back to the platoon sergeant's bunker. In case of a mass attack, he could set them off with a battery. We moved into reserve before any of them were used, and they were turned over to the relieving company. My unit spent the entire time I had remaining in Korea there above the 38th parallel and generally in the central/eastern area. I learned afterward that it was part of the "Iron Triangle."
When I was the mail carrier, they got me to help around company headquarters while I was waiting for the cooks to get things loaded for the choggie boys. I watched the company clerk make out the reports and he taught me how to keep up with the personnel. Some would be on R&R, some in hospital, some detached, and so on. After we pulled back in May of 1952, I worked almost all of the time with the clerk. Then when he left, I did the work until my orders to go home came through. It meant that I didn't have to go up to the line when the company moved back up. The clerk job was a lot safer. It was also nice in that I got to sleep on a cot and had hot food nearly every day. This was only about one month. During that time, the new permanent company clerk was assigned and I worked with him on morning reports.
The morning reports were supposed to be made out in five or seven copies. I can't remember which one for sure. We did most of the typing by hunt and peck. I had had about six weeks of typing class in high school, but only knew where the keys were. Most of the time, the reports were done in pencil and sent back to battalion where they were typed. Questions and answers were by field telephone. All platoons on line had them. We received reports daily and supply requests that way. We made a note of what was needed and passed it on to the cooks, supply sergeant, or whoever to get it ready for the choggie boys. The company CP had a switchboard that was hooked to battalion. The company field phones were by direct land lines that our guys ran from point to point. The first sergeant was really in charge of the use of phones, but they could be used by anyone who needed them. The phones were not used for general conversation--just business.
1st Lieutenant Hinton was our company commander after the last of April 1952. He was a real go getter and was the first officer that I knew who went up on the line to check the troops. He did all he could for the company to keep the men with good food.
While in the rear, we had squad tents for the Headquarters personnel. The cooks, drivers, telephone wiremen, and such were all together. The fictional "Radar O'Reilly" was in a MASH unit that had more access to things. The company clerk in infantry units usually did paperwork all day while the 1st Sergeant ran the unit. In the TV series, there was no 1st Sergeant and that was an error. All units had a 1st Sergeant. "Radar" did take care of all the paperwork, but he didn't have a true filing system like we did. We had to keep the files just like a regular office and everything was in its place.
During the middle of May, the company moved into a position where the engineers had built several corrugated metal buildings. We used one for a kitchen and the other for a mess hall. The buildings had been wired and the lights were there but there was no power. The CO decided that we needed power and a place to put the generator. Several men were assigned to dig a new sump hole for a generator. A jeep driver, Sergeant, and I were assigned to go scouting for a generator. We drove back past Division HQ looking around, and spotted one of the small Auxiliary Power Units (APU's) at a MASH unit. It was about 10 feet inside their barbed wire. We scouted the area and discovered that they didn't have guards posted as required. We went back and reported to the CO and he said to return after dark and liberate it. That night, with one extra man and a jeep trailer and a tarp, we returned. Two of us crawled into the compound past their fence and appropriated the APU. We had to cut a couple of strands of barbed wire to get it back to the jeep trailer, but managed.
After returning to our area with the "liberated" generator, the APU was put into the sump hole, the wires to the building were attached, the motor started, and we had lights. During the day, the sump was closed with rocks and such on top of the cover. The wires were disconnected and moved, and there was no evidence that anything was different about the sump. Two days later, a group of MPs with an officer came around checking. It seemed that someone had "stolen" a generator from a MASH unit and they were checking all the infantry companies. The CO said he didn't know anything about it. The MPs searched the camp area and then left. When I left at the end of May, we were still using the unit and no one had found the "missing generator." At night, our wiremen lifted off the cover and ran the unit so that we had light until 2200 hours. The men then sat in the buildings and wrote letters, read, and listened to their radios. After taps, the wires were disconnected and the cover put back on the sump.
About two weeks before I left Korea, my rotation orders came down from HQ. Nearly everyone kept a short calendar the last few months we were there. We knew we got four points per month and when I got to Korea I already had four points. That left only eight months to be in Korea. About the 15th of May 1952, I received my orders to return home. At the same time, my orders came through for promotion to Corporal. I was to depart the unit on the 22nd and report to Division Headquarters.
The last few days, I gave other members of the unit my hoarded items. I still had my air mattress and somebody got that. I don't remember who. I gave one of the runners my primer cord roll in case he had to go to demolition school. My M-2 Carbine went to one of the guys in the 4th platoon. I turned in to supply most of my gear and left with only one set of fatigues, boots, and underwear. I can't say that I was sad. I hated to leave the guys I knew--thank goodness I didn't get real close to any of them--but I was glad to be leaving since it had been over a year since I left home.
Several of us left at the same time. From Division HQ we were trucked to Inchon in a 2 1/2 ton truck. We picked up others from different companies on the way, arriving at Inchon with a full truck. There, we were loaded onto a landing craft that took us out to a troop/cargo ship in the bay. We went to Japan that night, along with equipment that was going to Japan for repair. The next morning we arrived in Sasebo and went to a processing camp.
We went through a "receiving line" at the base. We had to strip, leave everything we had except valuables (including old clothes, boots, and all), run through a shower, get sprayed with DDT, and have a medical check. We received a complete issue of new uniforms (two sets of dress uniforms), new boots and shoes, and a whole duffle bag of the standard issue. We processed at the camp for several days, but were not allowed to go into the local village because we were under quarantine.
Finally we boarded the USS Pickaway for the trip back to the States. It was a 14-day trip. Everyone was glad to be headed home. We didn't have any rough weather and there was very little seasickness. I didn't know any of the other men on the ship coming home. We didn't have any duties aboard the ship, so I just sat around, slept, and ate. We had movies aboard ship on deck at night.
We arrived in Seattle, Washington, on the 22nd of June 1952. As we approached land, everyone was ordered back below decks until we docked. With us in khakis and no coats, it was a bit warmer below deck. After we docked, we were ordered to get our bags and we processed out through the side entrance of the ship directly onto the dock. Several lines were leaving at the same time and there were men checking our names off the list as we debarked. I don't know if any of the men had relatives at the dock, but there was a large crowd on the docks when we arrived. It was very cool, windy, and foggy. They had a band and busses to take us to the military base. I never can remember the name of the base.
There, we were put in barracks and then had breakfast. We spent the day and night in the barracks on bare mattresses. During the night, orders were made up for us to process for leave and home. Some of the men were called during the night to leave for home. Three or four of us were told the next morning that we would be going on a C-47 to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. I sent word to my folks that I was back and would be at Ft. Sill in two days. We flew from Seattle to Wyoming for refueling. The base was empty and it was flat as far as we could see (quite a contrast to Korea). From Wyoming, we flew south to Ft. Sill and arrived about noon. We were processed, fed, and given our orders for our next assignment (mine were to report to Camp Polk, Louisiana, after a 30-day leave), then allowed to leave. My mother and two sisters came up to meet me and took me home to Dallas, Texas.
After my 30-day leave, I reported to Camp Polk, Louisiana. I was assigned to C Company, 147th Infantry Regiment, 37th Division. We trained basics for shipment overseas. I spent the rest of my time in the active army at Camp Polk. When I arrived, I was a Corporal. My first job was assistant platoon leader. The next set of basics to come down to Camp Polk came from New York and that area. I was platoon leader for a short time and also the company mail clerk. I was sent to basic typing school and then took over as company clerk. I was company clerk for several months and made Sergeant. I then became assistant Supply Sergeant. I learned the supply job and when the old supply sergeant was transferred, I got the job. I was the battalion scrounger and "gopher." When something came up missing or short on an inventory, I was the one to go find a replacement by trade or whatever. No questions asked.
After the Korean Armistice, a letter came down to let Regular Army men terminate their enlistments if they had completed at least two years service. I put in my paperwork and was released from active duty on the 24th of January 1954. I got the early release to return to college at SMU. I was in the reserves for about a year and talked with the Air Force about flight school. I was discharged from the Army on 16 June 1955 and enlisted in the Air Force on the 17th of June. When I switched to the Air Force, it was like moving back into the barracks. We didn't have to keep a pack or rifle, but the same duties were there. We had formation at 0700 instead of 0500, and we ate three times a day in a mess hall. We didn't have field training. It was almost like an 8 to 5 job, except it was 7 to 3.
I was assigned to Carswell AFB, Ft. Worth, Texas, just 60 miles from home. I was assigned as a personnel specialist while awaiting entrance to the Aviation Cadets. In January 1956, I was in a severe automobile accident that disqualified me from the program. I was in the hospital for over three months and couldn't return to duty for about two more after that. While in the hospital, my mother, sister, and one of her schoolmates visited me at Sheppard. When I got out of the hospital and while home on leave, I got my sister to arrange a date with her friend Donna. She and I dated from then on. I had returned to the personnel specialist job in June 1956 and remained in that line of work until 1959. In September 1956, I received orders for St. Johns, Newfoundland. I was to join the 1997th AACS at Pepperell AFB.
Before I left, I asked Donna to marry me, and she said yes. She was only 17, so I went to Newfoundland without her. She was in her senior year at school and wanted to be there for the dances and such. I flew back from Newfoundland in April 1957 and we were married. We had three days together and then I had to go back. I returned in May 1957 for the end of school and we went to all the activities. Then she left with me and we drove to New York to fly back to Newfoundland. We spent the winter there and had a lot of fun in the snow and going places around St. Johns when the weather was good. We went out and cut our first Christmas tree in the snow, took it home, and did the decorations. The next morning, we got up and there was nothing but the stem of the tree. It seemed that we had cut a salt water tree and they don't survive in fresh water. We went back the next day during a snowstorm, cut a regular blue spruce, and did it all over again. We went with friends to cod fish during the fishing season and had groups over for fried fish.
After I returned from one of my inspection trips up in Iceland, we decided to try and have a baby. It worked and about the same time I received orders to leave Newfoundland for OCS at Lackland AFB. We left Newfoundland in April of 1958 and returned to Texas. I was off until August 1958, so she had the baby in Dallas at Methodist Hospital, which was the same place I had been born. Our first baby boy was born June 23, 1958. His name is Charles Howell Brown.
In 1959, I transferred into the newly-formed USAF Marksmanship Training Center, a special unit formed by Gen. Curtis LeMay. Our headquarters were at Lackland AFB, Texas, and our job was to train the Air Force to defend itself and its bases. Prior to that time, several Air Force bases during the various wars had been overrun and the personnel had to depend on other branches of the service to defend them. We rebuilt military weapons for our Air Force Rifle and Pistol teams to compete in national and international competition.
I was first assigned to the rifle instructor phase of the Marksmanship school. I then went through the three-month school as a student and then back to teaching. I helped develop the M-16 rifle for the Air Force and wrote the first manual for it. I later became the testing NCO for the Rifle Build-up section and ammo tester for the competition teams. I worked in an underground 100-yard test tunnel, firing the weapons to check for accuracy. We were first issued ear plugs and then the sound ear muffs. The concussion in the tunnel was strong and we could feel every shot fired. We used a fixed machine mount for each weapon. The weapon was put in the mount, tightened up, and 20 rounds fired for grouping. If the 20 rounds didn't stay within 1 1/2 inches, the weapon was sent back for more tuning.
After five years at Lackland, I applied for transfer to Perrin AFB in Denison, Texas. My wife's parents were from that area and we had decided to try to get back up there. Our second son, Carlton, was born at Perrin AFB Hospital on May 8, 1966. Later, we learned that Donna has a hereditary disease called retinitis pigmentosis. She is now 100% blind. Our first son does not have the disease, but Carlton does. He is now legally blind, but can still see. He has what used to be called "tunnel vision." It is progressive and eventually he will be in the same shape as Donna.
I was transferred in July 1963 and became a small arms instructor for the base. We had five men assigned to the section. I fired on the base rifle, pistol, and small bore team with a master rating in small bore, an expert in rifle, and a sharpshooter in pistol. I worked at that job until early 1966, when I began having trouble with my right ear. I was sent to the flight surgeon for a checkup and then to Sheppard AFB where they did a stapidectomy on my right ear. I was off for six weeks, then returned to work on the range. The first day down on the range while they were firing, I began to bleed from the ear. I was sent back to Sheppard and they had to redo the operation. The doctor told me to find a new job. Since I had the two years of college as a pre-med, they sent me to the hospital and assigned me to the pharmacy. I attended Pharmacy Tech school at Sheppard and made E-6 (Tech Sergeant). I returned to Perrin and then finished my service as a Pharmacy Tech. I had a good series of jobs in the Air Force and retired as an E-7 (Master Sergeant) in 1972.
Medicine & Retirement
I applied for and was granted retirement in 1972 to attend Physicians Assistant School at the University of Texas Southwest Medical School in Dallas. At the interview, I was told that they were only taking college graduates and that I should apply down the hall at the nursing school. At the time, they were trying to get males into nursing. I interviewed with the nursing school director and she said I was accepted. I retired the 31st of August 1973 and entered Dallas Baptist College as a sophomore nursing student. I received my BS in nursing in May 1975 as an honor graduate.
I went to work the next Monday at Parkland Hospital in Dallas in the emergency room. It was scarier than Korea. I delivered my first baby within a week. I worked at Parkland for six months and then moved to be night nurse in an emergency room in Mesquite, Texas. I had applied for anesthesia school and in August 1976, I was accepted. I attended anesthesia school and residency at Harris Methodist in Ft. Worth, Texas, and graduated in August 1978 with a 96 overall average. It resulted in the award of a Master's Degree at a later date when the school was absorbed by Texas Wesleyan College. I worked as a Nurse Anesthetist until October 1992, when I retired for medical reasons. I had arthritis in my hands and fingers.
Since I retired from the hospital, I have continued to work with the American Iris society, the local iris club, and the Reblooming Iris Society. I was president of the Reblooming Society for three years, and have been membership chairman since 1996. I am president of the Red River Valley Chapter of the Military Vehicle Preservation Association, and enjoy doing parades and get-togethers with members to show our vehicles. Our club has over 40 active vehicles. I have a 1968 M-725 Kaiser/Jeep Ambulance. The last three years since I got my vehicle, I have done presentations at local schools about the Korean War and I am an active partner with the DoD Korean War Commemoration Program. I have done presentations at four conventions and have managed to get a uniform that fits which is a duplicate of the last army uniform I wore. It is now a size 42 chest and 36 waist in comparison of the 33 inch chest and 28 inch waist I had in 1955.
I joined the 2nd Division Association in 1999. Since then, I have found five people who were with the company, but I didn't know them. One was a truck driver and he is still alive. One was my platoon sergeant at the end of Heartbreak Ridge and the second day after I joined the company in the Punchbowl, he was wounded and came back to the states. He died a year ago after a couple of years of bad health. When I returned to Korea in 2001 for the Heartbreak Ridge Commemoration, I was the only one from my regiment. There were 28 of us from the 2nd Division, but I was the only one from the 9th. Most were from the 23rd and 38th. We still enjoyed the trip and were amazed with the modernization of South Korea. As far as other reunions, I have to judge each by where it is and what other things are going on at the time.
I am also a member of the USS Arizona Reunion Association. My dad was a crew member on the USS Arizona before the war. I attended the 60th anniversary at Pearl Harbor in 2001 on 7 December. It was very moving and I got to spend a day at Scofield Barracks where I took basic. The quadrangle where I trained is still the same and I took matching photos of the one I took in 1951. The trees had grown and there were things on the parade ground, but not much else had changed in 50 years. I wonder where all those men are now and what happened to them.
The hills and cold are the things I remember about Korea. It seemed that after one hill there was always another. I spent most of my time going up and down the hills over there and developed some pretty good legs. I only weighed 135 pounds when I left. The worst thing over there was the cold and not being able to really get warm. The time I spent in Korea was almost all winter. It was still a little warm when I arrived and it was beginning to warm when I left. I don't know if what they say about the cold over there creating problems with arthritis is true, but the VA is now giving compensation for it.
I think being in the Korean War allowed me to learn more easily in my Air Force and medical careers. I guess I had grown a little and school seemed so easy. When I returned, my reflexes were sharper. I don't know that there was a great change in me, I just seemed to always be busy doing something. I worked when I was going to school, and it seemed I could not never learn as much as I wanted to learn.
When we were just young kids 18 and 19 years old and serving in Korea, we thought we were saving the world. Even now, I don't know whether or not MacArthur made the right decision to go as far north into Korea as he did. We had problems with 300,000 Chinese. What would we have done with 200,000,000? After returning to Korea in 2001, however, I am sure that we did the right thing by going to South Korea's aid when the North Koreans invaded in 1950. The only real mistake that I think the United States made was in trying to take more unimportant ground during 1952 and early 1953, getting many more killed, and then giving the territory back with the armistice. The Korea today that I visited--Seoul, Uijombu, and along the DMZ, is a modern civilization. The people in 50 years had emerged from a feudal culture to a modern society. There are new super highways, toll roads, and an industrial nation. They replanted the bare hills and now there are beautiful pine forests. The people themselves have changed due to modern medicine and diet. They are for the most part three to four inches taller than their northern families. They live a healthier life.
There are only 38,000 American troops left over there. The South Korean Armed Forces number about 2,000,000 now, and they can mobilize twice that many. It may be time for Americans to leave, but the Koreans that I spoke with don't want us to go. They are afraid that if we do, North Korea will start again, even though they would lose. It would mean more killing of civilians. Seoul has 12,000,000 people there and they are within artillery range of the North. They would have a six-second warning if the guns fired.
In Truman's own words, American troops were only in a "police action" in Korea from 1950 to 1953. At the time, it was not declared a war. As a result, when most of us came home, only our families knew about it. There was no big return like after World War II. The troops from Korea trickled back to the States and then Vietnam came along.
The Nogun-ri deal was a real mistake by the press. Associated Press reporters said that American soldiers fired on civilians unnecessarily in what they called a "massacre" in a village called Nogun-ri. A few months after the story broke, it was discovered that the guy who supposedly witnessed the event was not even there. I know that during the first few months of the war in 1950, many civilians were killed. The North Koreans overran everything and killed anyone in their way. They took the young men and used them as "soldiers" to run through the mine fields and lead attacks on the troops retreating south. The early troops sent by the U.S. were under gunned, poorly equipped (they only had the 2.36 bazookas), and had no artillery or armor. You can't stop a modern army with rifles and grenades. All they could do was buy time until reinforcements got there. I am sure some of the troops fired into civilians since the North Koreans often put on civilian clothes to get close to the American troops.
In later years, I would hope that the people who read this memoir will understand that Korea is where the Kremlin dream of world takeover stopped. Stalin was stunned when the United Nations and the United States came to help South Korea.
My boys and my wife have heard a bit about my time in Korea. They got me to write a little book about my experiences, and I still add to it from time to time when I remember something more. My grandson, who is 7, wants me to go out and show him how I can shoot. He has seen all the shooting medals I won, and it would take days to tell him of each one. I have been almost around the world, only missing Russia and anything south of the Equator.
We still have 8,000 MIAs in Korea. The North Koreans for years would not even let the Red Cross search for them. We now are able to get two teams a year over there to look, and they have been cooperating pretty well.
I received 10% disability when I retired, but the members of my chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association have been after me to visit the VA in Dallas and get an upgrade to at least 30%. I will have to think about it and maybe this spring I'll try.
I really can look back on Korea and say it was a time of learning. It was scary--probably dangerous--but we had a lot of fun for that short time. I don't regret it at all. I am just sorry that I lost contact with the guys that stayed there when I left. I have tried to find more of the men, but have not been successful. I have tried to find SFC Fraser, Sgt. Flowers, PFC DeDonado (from Boston) and a few more names on the Thanksgiving roster. I have photos of everyone in the mortar section taken during October 1951. I have one set of photos without the negatives of one squad of the 3rd platoon. It has been so long that I just can't remember all the names.
Company "G" Ninth Infantry Roster
|Cpl Charles Bitner||Cpl Gerald M. Blaski|
|Sgt Isaac P. Blue||Sgt Ralph A. Bolton|
|Pfc John A. Coombes||Cpl Curtis D. Burtness|
|Pfc Raymond D. Cotta||Pfc Sidney Halbersma|
|M/Sgt Frank G. Holzer||Pfc Henry Horn|
|Pfc Albert E. Hume||Cpl Leslie E. Johnson|
|SFC Francis C. Koors||Pfc Westly L. Landry|
|Cpl Robert C. Lee||Cpl James E. Leitwein|
|Cpl John S. Luis||Cpl Anthony S. Marcone|
|SFC John Martin||Cpl John McQuillan|
|PFC Charles K. Meadors||Sgt Willie O. Nickelberry|
|Pfc Oliver Mackford||Cpl Norbert J. Ososkie|
|Pfc Angelo S. Passafiume||Cpl R.L. Patton|
|Cpl Thomas Prentice||Sgt Bill Rankin|
|Pvt Robert Scheire||Pfc Francis P. Schurpf|
|Cpl Hobert J. Sharpton||Sgt Jess L. Stallings|
|Pvt Lauro Valadez||Sgt Jerry L. Wetzel|
|Cpl Lamar W. Yoder|
Pvt Louis Adams Sgt Robert G. Adams Pfc Anthony L. Barbato Pfc Leo E. Batholomay Pvt Everett K. Bedley Sgt Joe W. Boothe Pfc Richard Clark Jr. Pfc charles K. Davis Cpl Robert A. Dupler Pfc Frank V. Edwards Pfc Burnell E. Forry Cpl Everett R. Grider Pfc Vernon J. Helgeson SFC Earl G. Heltzel Pfc Willard Hotakainen Pvt Stanley N. Jurewicz Sgt Delbert J. Kasperbauer Cpl Abraham Margosian Pfc Francis A. Meyer Pfc James G. McKee Cpl John a. Mendoza SFC Robert R. Morgan SFC Clarence L. Morrison Jr. PFC Sidney C. Page Sgt Benjamin A. Pippinger Cpl Calvin D. Reverts SFC Vernon Rucks Pfc Charles E. Smith Pfc Harry D. Stiteler Pfc Orville Vandehei SFC Vernon D. Volney Pfc James A. Ward
Cpl Agustin Arvelo Pfc J.T. Badgett Jr Pfc Howard Barboe Pfc Herbert V. Barger Pvt Lewis J. Bejeck Pfc Francis Blanchard Pfc Jack D. Blodgett Pfc Andrew W. Bogdonoff Pfc Herman E. Buckler Pvt Thomas H. Cohoon Pvt Harvie P. Clements Cpl Ernest T. Conrad Pvt Anthony Drago Pfc Kenneth S. Fike Pfc Cirilo N. Garcia Pfc Humbarto Gonzalez Pfc Leon Hamilton Sgt Edward B. Harden Pfc Rubin G. Hofer Sgt John E. Humkey Cpl Lawrence G. Jones SFC Richard D. Kuhar Pfc Robert R. Kuss Cpl Thomas G. McGaha Pvt Robert A. Minton Pfc Charles J. Moysis Cpl Guadalupe P. Nunes SFC Tadeass Piankowski Cpl Gerard L. Plante Pfc Paul L. Schuler Cpl Patrick L. Senac Pvt Shageru Tamashire Cpl Mario L. Tomarelli Pfc Kenneth E. VanDyke Sgt William F. Wells Pfc Hubert F. Wente Pfc Nelson J. Wormwood
Pvt Jennings B. Abner Pfc Amos J. Beaudoin Pvt Carl R. Blakeman Cpl Andrew Bonilla Pfc Clifford Butler Cpl George Darrer Cpl Phillip Dawson Pvt Jerry Dodge Pfc Shirley D. Griebe Pfc Robert L. Harden Cpl Royce Hazlett Pfc Charles Hill Pfc Michael E. Hogan Pvt Clarence L. Jackson Cpl Christopher Johnson Pfc Paul L. Krunocs Pvt Bobby J. Langston Pvt William J. McDonough Pfc James G. Olive Pfc Gasper Perez Pvt Edward E. Peterson Pfc Anthony A. Ricci Cpl Gilbert P. Riddick M/Sgt Albert L. Ross Cpl Celedonio G. Salazar Cpl Edward C. Saleido Pfc Wayne C. Schafer Sgt David H. Sharkey Pfc Nelson C. Spanfeller Pfc Ivan L. Thomas Pvt James F. Vella Cpl Doward Wiggins Cpl Donald Williams Sgt Arthur L. Willings Pfc Hebert L. Willis Pvt Leonard J. Witkowski
Pvt James L. Adams [1st Platoon] Pvt Balistereri M/Sgt Richard B. Beevers Pvt George E. Bluebird Pvt George C. Boyd Pfc Charles L. Brown SFC Jack L. Brown Pfc Robert W. Bushner Sgt William Bryne Pvt Thomas Costello Pfc Frank P. DeDonato Pfc Manual P. DeHerrera Pfc Leroy L. Ferris Sgt John W. Flowers SFC Irwin R. Fraser Pfc Elzy R. Givhan Pfc Richard R. Greene Pvt John Kornaszewski Pvt Melvin L. Laviolette Pvt Nick J. Lanford Pfc Aurelio Lopez Pvt Andrew Lueni Pvt Clyde H. Martin Pvt Robert S. Miley Pfc Amos T. Nanone Pfc Henry Navaja Pfc Richard E. Nelson Pfc John Nicholson Pfc Dennis O'Driscoll Pfc Patrick O'Sullivan Pfc Richard G. Rainel Pfc Howard J. Rossmeissel Pfc Charles T. White Pfc James Y. Yamada Pfc James Y. Yamomoto Pvt Wladyslaw Zawisza
Pvt Wladyslaw Zawisza Pfc Delbert Gautney Sgt Paul L. Hoyt Cpl Roger C. Moody Cpl Maynard G. Morrow M/Sgt Lauren Overby Sgt George A. Rowlette Sfc Ray H. Wolfe
Stuffed celery hearts, olives and pickles, shrimp cocktail, crackers, roast young Tom turkey, poultry dressing, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, buttered peas, buttered whole grain corn, snow flake potatoes, candied yams, cole slaw with dressing, hot rolls, fruit cake, mincemeat pie, fresh apples, pumpkin pie, fresh oranges, fruit punch, coffee, hard candy, nuts
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