[The following memoir was written and submitted to the Korean War Educator by Frank McGill.]
- Welcome to Your Local Draft Board
- Fort Devens, MA - A Sheet of Ice
- Alabama, Here We Come
- My Fellow Soldiers at Camp Rucker, AL
- Basic and Advanced Infantry Training at Camp Rucker
- Some Weekend Passes
- Intelligence and Reconnaissance Training at Fort Benning, GA
- Truck Convoy to Infantry Maneuvers at Fort Hood, TX
- Infantry Maneuvers in and Around Fort Hood, TX
- Home for 30-day Leave Before Going Overseas
- Far East, Here I come
- Across the Pacific on an MSTS Troop Transport Ship
- Tokyo Bay and the Port of Yokohama
- Repo Depot at Camp Drake, North of City of Tokyo
- Here Come the Marines
- Inchon to Chunchon, Korea by Train
- 45th Infantry Division Replacement Company, Northeast of Chunchon
- History of the 45th Infantry Thunderbird Division
- The Soyang River
- Glossary for US Army Topographical Maps of Korea
- The Town of Inje
- My Bullet Proof Vest
- My Career on the Vice Squad
- Slugfest on Line Kansas
- NCO School at Chunchon
- Welcome to Line Minnesota
- Codes Used in the Daily Journals of the Command Reports
- 2nd Battalion Observation Post on Hill 749 at DT29754560
- Attack on F (Fox) Company Outpost
- History of the North Korean 45th Infantry Division
- Map Overlay of Enemy Positions on Line
- Aircraft Support
- Attack on Hill 812
- Life on the Line
- G (George) Company, 179th Infantry Regiment, Here I Come
- Three-man Daylight Observation Patrol
- Thanksgiving Day, 1952
- Back in the Front Line Trench
- Winter in the Trench
- Time to Go Home
- Chunchon to Seoul by Train
- 45th Infantry Division Replacement Company near Seoul
- Replacement Depot at Sasebo, Kyushu Island, Japan
- My One Day of Leave in the Shopping District of Sasebo, Japan
- Back Across the Pacific, Sasebo to San Francisco
- Camp Stoneman, CA to Fort Devens, MA
- Separation from the US Army at Fort Devens, MA
- Campaigns, US Military in Korea
- Addendum (Enclosures)
Back to Memoir Contents
My Two Years as an Infantryman
in the United States Army
Written 2 July 2005 for my grandchildren
The originals for the command reports, reference (a), and the topographical maps, reference (b), are located in
the National Archives at 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, Maryland 20740-6001. We know this federal government
archive and research center as Archives II. Archives II operates under the National Archives and Records
Administration. See enclosure (14).
Monthly Command Reports contain a considerable amount of information relating to the everyday activities of
an infantry regiment while it is in combat. The report is composed of seven sections. Those sections are:
- Narrative of Activities
- Daily Journals
Most of a report is devoted to its Section VII, the Daily Journals. This journal is a minute by minute log of
messages within the regiment from 0000 to 2400 each day of the month. See sample, enclosure (13). The
messages in these journals were typed up at the regimental headquarters for the 179th Infantry as the events
were occurring. The map location for each event mentioned in the message is identified in the journal by a six
digit set of longitude and latitude coordinates. See enclosure 13 for a typical day's journal entries.
During October, November and December 1952 the typist for the 179th Infantry was at the regimental
headquarters in the village of Kajon-Ni. Kajon-Ni was on the west side of the Soyang River at coordinates
DT310406. This was about two miles behind our position on the Main Line of Resistance (MLR), the Minnesota Line.
The originals for the command reports are under the control of Maria T Hanna, Modern Military Records (NWCTM),
Textual Archives Services Division. They can be viewed and copied in the Textual Research Room on the second
floor of the archives. They are filed among the:
- Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1917- (Record Group 407).
- Folder: 345 - INF (179) Command Reports, October/November/December 1952
- Box #: 4342
- Location: 270/68/12/05
They total 700 pages: 100 for October, 300 for November and 300 for December. Excerpts from these reports are
in enclosure (13). The originals at the Archives II were typed on legal size pages, i.e., 8 1/2" X 14". They
have been modified by me, so that they fit on the 8 1/2" x 11" pages of this report to my grandchildren.
It is sad that the originals of these command reports are turning yellow and are becoming very brittle. The
corners of the documents are beginning to break off because of this brittleness. I questioned the young lady,
who oversees these records, as to when they would be microfilmed. She said that there is no plan to microfilm
them. That was in either 1996 or 1998.
When originally typed in 1952, these reports were stamped SECRET SECURITY INFORMATION. In 1996 and later, as
I was making copies of the reports, a declassification sticker 3/4" x 2" was affixed to the glass on the copy
machine. As each copy was made, the declassification information was transposed onto each page. The guard at
Archives II looked for this stamp on each page, as I left the building. He also made certain that none of the
originals were inadvertently carried from the building.
Originals for the Army Map Service (AMS) topographical maps of Korea, reference (b), and enclosures (5), (6)
and (7), are in the Cartographic & Architectural Research Room on the third floor of Archives II. The originals
are among the records of the Chief of Engineers, Records Group 77. A topographical map, in this report, is only
a portion of the original map. The size of an original map is 22" x 29". Distances and elevations on these maps
are in meters. They have a contour interval of ten meters. They date from the 1950's and do not show troop
positions or troop movements.
The AMS topographic maps in this report are as follows:
- The 1:50,000 map for Inje, enclosure (5), is sheeting 6828 III of Army Map Service series (AMS) L 751.
- The 1:50,000 map for Mandae-Ri, enclosure (6), the stretch of road between Inje and the Main Line of
Resistance (MLR), is sheet 6828 IV of AMS series L 751.
- The 1:50,000 map for Sint'An-Ni, enclosure (7), the 179th INF sector on the MLR, the Minnesota Line, is
sheet 6829 III of AMS series L 751.
- The 1:25,000 map for Sint'An-Ni SE, enclosure (7), the 179th INF sector on the MLR is sheet 6829 III SE of
AMS series L 851.
These topographical maps were compiled in 1947 by the US Army Map Service (AMS&S) Corps of Engineers from the
Japanese Imperial Land Survey, Sint'An-Ni, of the year 1918. They had been updated, but not verified, by
reconnaissance. A more precise description of the Sint'An-Ni 1:50,000 map and our location is Sint'An-Ni, Korea;
The map overlay of enemy positions, enclosure (8), has been reduced to 64 percent of its original size. That
reduction was done so that the overlay will fit on an 8.5' x 11" page of this report. This overlay was Annex #1
to the Intelligence Section of the 179th Inf Command Report for the month of December 1952.
The Still Picture Research Room on the 5th floor of the Archives II has thousands of Army Signal Corps photos
taken during the war in Korea. I think that the photos are divided into two sections. One section is for
individuals as they are presented medals. The other section contains views of the battlefield and is filed by
geographical areas in Korea. If they are, we should look for photos taken in and around the area of Sint'An-Ni.
I will do more research in the Still Picture Room in the future. The photo of the sniper in B CO, 179th Inf
taken on 22 Nov 1952 was filed by geographical area.
I want a photograph, an aerial view, of Hill 749 and the adjacent Hill 812 for this report. Those two hills
are still on the front line between North and South Korea. At this moment, I do not know where to obtain such a
photo. Such a photo may be classified.
Hill 749 and Hill 812 were originally captured by the United States Marines during the period 11 to 20 Sep
1951. They were taken by the 1st, 5th and 7th Regiments of the 1st Marine Division. The source for information
on their fighting is the five volume report entitled "U. S. Marine Operations in Korea," published in 1962. The
capture of Hills 749 and 812 are described in detail on pages 173 to 198 of Volume IV of that five-volume set.
Volume IV is entitled "The East Central Front."
These two hills were captured in four days by the Marines in late 1951 during the warfare of "movement" in
Korea. They were held by the 179th Inf during October, November and December of 1952 during the warfare of
"position" in Korea.
An unanswered question is whether the Archives II has rosters for the enlisted troops assigned to the 179th
Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division during 1952.
It is worth mentioning. The employees at Archives II are helpful and will guide you; however, you will do all
of the research. See enclosure (14), if you are planning on doing US Army Command Report research at Archives
Back to Memoir Contents
Welcome to Your Local Draft Board
Sunday 25 Jun 1951 at 0400 in the morning, the North Korean People's Army, with seven infantry divisions and
one armored brigade in the line, and with two more infantry divisions in reserve, struck across the 38th parallel
in Korea. Their move would affect my life for the next couple of years. On Thursday 27 Jun 1950 the House of
Representatives extended the Selective Service by a vote of 315 to 4. In the Senate the action was unanimous.
When the incursion took place, I was working as a shipping clerk at the Fram Corporation in Pawtucket, Rhode
Island. Fram manufactured a complete line of automobile filters. The fellows with whom I worked were veterans of
World War II. Around August or September, the word went out from the Selective Service Board in Pawtucket. All
young men of a particular age had to come forward and identify themselves at an American Legion post somewhere
around Weeden and Dexter Streets. One night I went over by bus and registered. They assigned me the Selective
Service Number 37-5-29-114. Naturally, I gave no other thought to the matter. A young person usually lives for the
present. He assumes that something adverse will always happen to another person, never to him. Another
consideration was that I had no strong feeling either way as to being drafted. Lo and behold, about two weeks
later, I received a notice to come to the draft board on High Street in Pawtucket. They would transport me to and
from Fields Point in Providence for a physical and whatever else that they examined. The examiners, the draft
board or both gave me a draft qualification of 1-A.
Most of what occurred that day is vague, but I do remember an incident toward the end. After all of the
examinations had taken place, we went up individually to a desk. We sat in a chair on the right side of the desk
and faced the right side of the individual seated behind the desk. He was glancing down at the paperwork lying on
the desk in front of him. He had a pen or pencil in his hand. I mentioned that I would like to go into the
infantry. Without looking up, he lay down the pen or pencil. He picked up an eraser and proceeded to erase
something on the paper. He wrote something else in its place. Could my offhand remark have affected my two years
in the army?
A selective service board was comprised of citizens of the local community. In Pawtucket, the chairperson was a
fellow with a surname of Blais. He was the owner of the New England Bakery and employed a few hundred people. He
was very active in the local Franco-American community. His bakery was a few blocks from my home in the South
Woodlawn section of the city. I had worked there during school vacations when I was fifteen and sixteen years of
age. Maybe his business had something to do with our being served coffee and doughnuts on the morning when the
Army inducted us.
I would like to note here that they also examined a former classmate from St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket on
the same day. His name was Grant and he was studying law at Harvard. Another fellow had been an outstanding
football athlete at either Tolman or West High School. Our draft board never inducted either of them. I should
also note that a few of my friends had brothers who were very seriously injured while in the military during World
War II. Since the incursion by the North Koreans, my friends had joined the Navy or the Air Force. At the prodding
of their concerned parents, they volunteered for a much longer tour of four years. They did that to avoid this
draft into the Army. During the Vietnam War, I was uneasy when I saw veterans of the Navy, Air Force, National
Guard and members of the reserves pointing their fingers at others. They would deride others for not being willing
to give their all for their country. They, themselves, had taken steps to reduce the probability that they would
be in harm's way.
Around November, I received a letter stating that I must return to High Street on 2 February 1951 and be sworn
into the US Army at Fields Point. I was a young fellow of twenty-one years, six feet tall, weighed 190 lbs. and
had a waist of about thirty inches. I figured that I could handle just about anything that came my way. No
girlfriend or a wife with children was being left behind. I thought, "Let me see what the Army is like." At the
time, the tour was supposed to be for either eighteen or twenty-one months. See my photo in enclosure (1).
While in the building at Fields Point, we were formed into single lines. A formal document was read to us by an
individual facing us at our front. At the conclusion of his reading, we were asked to take one step forward. I
understand that by taking that one step, we showed our acquiescence to being inducted.
Back to Memoir Contents
Fort Devens, MA - A sheet of Ice
On 2 February 1951, I rode on a bus to Fort Devens, Massachusetts with a group of about forty-eight young
fellows. See the Fort Devens group photo, enclosure (1). We were from the draft boards in Pawtucket-Central
Falls and Newport-Tiverton, Rhode Island. One fellow from Central Falls complained that he was a Canadian citizen
and should not be inducted. He ranted and raved on High Street and later at Fields Point as we were sworn in. They
told him to take it up at the next station. They also told him the same thing at Devens when they shipped him to
his next camp for basic training. I found this interesting. I was already learning how the military works.
At the Reception Center in Devens, they put us on the second floor in a two-story barracks. The bunks were
stacked two high. There were fifteen sets of bunks on each side of the room, sleeping sixty draftees on that
floor. At about 7:00 P.M. another large group arrived from a draft board in downtown Manhattan, New York. Was the
name of the location of their draft board Whitehall Street? They took over the first floor. Many of the New
Yorkers were black.
During those first few days we were always apprehensive. We wanted to know what was going on. We wanted to be
up on all of the current rumors in case we had to make a quick decision. We need not have been concerned. For the
next couple of years, most decisions would be made for us by others.
I can identify only a handful of the draftees in the photo. Some of the draftees signed the back side of the
photo. See enclosure (1). Duggan is third from left in the front row. He was from Pawtucket and he is
mentioned later in this report. Fenton Mulligan, from Pawtucket, is fifth from left in the front row. Is the
eighth man from the left in the front row Ray Massey from Pawtucket? Paul Bachand from Pawtucket is the first
draftee on the left in the second row. John Methinos from Newport is the thirteenth draftee from the left in the
middle row. John was in my squad in the 135th INF in Alabama. He ended up in the 3rd Infantry Division in Korea. I
saw him at his father's shipyard on Thames Street in Newport about ten years after the war, so he came through all
right. I am the last draftee on the right in the back row.
The draftee in the middle of the back row is a big fellow from Central Falls. He was wearing civilian clothes
because Devens had no clothes to fit him. Later during basic training, he was assigned to a rifle company in the
135th Infantry and was still wearing civilian clothing. One day I noticed him hiking on those Rucker roads in
civvies. Eventually, I did see him in uniform.
Some other draftees in the photo whom I cannot identify are: Louie Amoruso, Allan Manuel, Manuel G. Arruda,
Renato Ray Giglio, Robert "Tucker" Sullivan, John Furtado, Tom Moon, Bento Aguiar, Mike Fitzgerald, Gino
DeAsceates, Marco Rospole and Chester J Greene Jr.
I was now McGill, Francis J, US 51016597, a private in the United States Army.
Imagine how cold Devens was in early February. We lined up outside our barracks in the darkness at five or six
in the morning. The place was a sheet of ice and extremely cold. I could see the lights of our distant mess hall
reflecting off the field of ice between it and our formation. At moments like that, I wondered what the future
held. The mess hall had a sign above the serving counter that read, "Take all you can eat, but eat all you take."
Years later, in our Naval Aviation Depots, I saw a sign over the tool cribs. It read, "We have replacements for
your every need except eyes, fingers, toes, hands and feet."
I will always remember a comment made by an officer at the Reception Center at Devens. They seated a large
group of us in an auditorium. We were wearing our brand-new fatigues (GI), so we all looked alike. He was an older
man in his Class A or dress uniform all covered with gold and medals. The coat or jacket was a dark khaki or dark
brown and the trousers were sort of a pinkish tan. He said, "Let me offer to you a word of advice. Try to maintain
a sense of humor during your time in the Army. It will get you over the rough times and through your tour."
I pulled one day of KP at Devens. The shift ran from 4 a.m. until about 8 p.m. I had to work till about 10:00
p.m., because I had mouthed off to an NCO of the mess hall. The top of his head came to about the middle of my
chest, but he had stripes on his arm. I was not accustomed to taking orders. We learned fast or else.
When I returned from Korea, I worked a few months back at Fram. At the time, a federal law stipulated that a
draftee be given back his old job, if he so desired it. One of my co-workers told me that he was a cook at that
chow hall when I pulled KP. His name was Ed Bianchini. He said that he could have taken care of me.
We spent about four or five days at Devens. They gave us a series of written tests. I had not slept at all the
night prior to the tests. My discharge paper states that I was in Aptitude Area I with a score of 118 because of
those tests. Apparently, this meant that I could also apply for Officer Candidate School (OCS) if I were so
inclined. This was something to think about.
Back to Memoir Contents
Alabama, Here We Come
We stood in formation on the outside of our barracks. One of the cadre announced the name of an Army unit
somewhere in the United States. He then read the name of those in the formation who were going to that unit. I was
one of many who were being sent to an infantry training division at Camp Rucker in Alabama.
A locomotive backed some Pullman sleepers into Devens. It took a few hundred of us to Camp Rucker, Alabama for
basic training with the 47th Infantry Division. The DOD had recently activated the 47th, the "Viking" Division, a
National Guard unit from South Dakota and Minnesota. It was a training unit for the duration of the Korean
conflict. The sleeper to which they assigned me contained mostly draftees from Manhattan. I noticed that none of
the black draftees were accompanying us to the 47th in Alabama. This division for trainees eventually rose to a
complement of about 18,000 men, but none of them were black. How ironic when you consider that the first two men
killed or wounded with me in Korea were black. A couple of months later, an all black engineering unit came hiking
down the main road through our regimental area. They looked sharp and were singing a catchy marching tune.
On the train, my draftee buddies passed the time by playing cards. Two seats faced two seats with a small table
in the center. They never seemed to look at the scenery passing outside the windows. These New Yorkers were a
strange crowd. The earth gradually changed color from the gray of New England to a reddish orange. The rivers
turned from a bluish green to a muddy brown.
We were aboard this train for about four days. As we worked our way south, they pushed us off onto a siding.
There we sat for hours waiting for a new steam locomotive to be hooked up to our Pullmans. At night the black
porter converted our seats to upper and lower bunks.
I spent most of my time talking to a Manhattan fellow who was born in Greece. We stood in the area between the
cars, above the coupling, and had a smoke. He had spent a few years in the Merchant Marine. He could speak a few
languages. I met him later when he was in a unit that used his talent in linguistics. Another fellow with whom I
spent time on the train apparently had some connections. This draftee lived on Fifth Avenue. His family also had a
home in Scotland. He told me that he was going to be with us for only a short time. When we got to Rucker, he
repeated the statement that he would be leaving shortly. The morning after our arrival, the draftee grabbed his
duffle bag and left. He said that he was going either to a special school or for special training. He was a quiet
fellow and seemed very refined. At Devens, after we had completed our testing, they asked all those with
doctorates to raise their hands. About ten or twelve raised their hands. They moved them to another room. So the
difference for this fellow was not his higher learning. He was not going to be pulling KP and going through
bayonet practice. In the US we may be "created equal," but that does not mean that we will receive equal
treatment. Apparently, we are not all pawns when it comes to war. Who did this guy know?
As I said, we had steam locomotives. At night, we lay in our bunks. We listened to the wail of the steam
whistle as we passed through those crossroads in all of those southern towns. Years later, that sound was gone
after the diesel came on line. Too bad that younger people will never hear the sound of a locomotive steam
This sound differed slightly from the sound we heard at my home on Glenwood Avenue in Pawtucket. When the
weather was warm, our bedroom windows were open at night. I could hear the boxcars being hooked together down at
the freight train yards in the valley beyond North Main Street in Providence. Steam engines gave the boxcars a
push. We heard the "choo, choo" of the steam engine and then we heard the "clunk" as another boxcar was added to
make a freight train. Sound is also a part of a person's history.
Two of the fellows on the train had attended St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket with me. One was Paul Bachand, a
Pawtucket school teacher, and the other was Fenton Mulligan. Paul's parents owned and operated a small hotel on
Times Square in Pawtucket. They assigned us to the same regiment when we arrived at Rucker. I believe that they
assigned Paul to the regiment's headquarters company and Fenton to a rifle company. After basic training, Fenton
served as a topographical draftsman. Did Paul Massey, another draftee who attended St Raphael Academy, also
accompany us to Alabama?
Back to Memoir Contents
My Fellow Soldiers at Camp Rucker
The train finally pulled into Camp Rucker. I looked out the window and saw a couple of men who were walking
around in T shirts. Welcome to the Southland, Yankee. The dirt was red and hard as a rock. We could see few trees.
The camp had been in semi retirement since World War II, and was undergoing renovation. The two-story wooden
barracks were newly painted a light tan or very light yellow color on the exterior. The interiors of the barracks
were unpainted. Later, the camp became Fort Rucker. They trained helicopter pilots there during the Vietnam War.
They assigned me to Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 135th Infantry Regiment, 47th Infantry Division. I was
a private in an Intelligence and Reconnaissance squad with a military occupation specialty number or MOS of 1814.
This meant that I was to be trained as an infantry Intelligence and Reconnaissance (I&R) Scout. (Dummy, that was
the reason all of your buddies had avoided the infantry by volunteering for a stretch of four years in either the
Navy or the Air Force.)
Other draftees assigned to the I&R squad were John E Mathinos, whose father owned and operated a shipyard on
historic Thames Street in Newport, Rhode Island; Lynn Andersen, a lanky fellow from Utah; Swartzaffle who had been
a dance instructor and a musician (saxophone) in Manhattan (he said his name was the Germanic translation for
black apple); Phil O'Hara of Tucson, Arizona; Robert G Sullivan from Manhattan, who was married with no children;
John B. Ekin, a tall fellow; and Leonard M. Brodsky from Manhattan, who ironically looked like an Aryan trooper.
See the five photos in enclosure (1) of the officers and enlisted men in the Headquarters and the Headquarters
Company of the 3rd Battalion, 135th Infantry. Phil O'Hara, Swartzaffle, and I are not in these photos. We must
have been on leave when they were taken around June 1952.
The strength of our company was about 140 men. I think that the strength of each of the other three rifle
companies and one heavy weapons company in our battalion was closer to 200 men.
I was with these fellows for about a year. Mathinos and Sullivan ended up serving together as I&R scouts
in the 3rd Infantry Division in Korea. Sullivan was sent and Mathinos volunteered to go over there. Both of them
went to Korea four or five months before me. I stopped in the Mathinos shipyard about ten years after the war.
Mathinos was working away and just as intensely as ever. It was during an America Cup Yacht Race and his yard on
Thames Street was extremely busy. At Rucker, he was always hyperactive. He had asked to go to Korea. They sent
O'Hara to Austria as an intelligence analyst when we split up. He later married a girl he met while on duty there.
Andersen remained with the training cadre at Rucker. Swartzaffle moved to the regimental band. I eventually
ran into him in Korea. He had a job at the 45th Infantry Division Replacement Company north of Chunchon. I wonder
if he still had the MOS of an I&R Scout. All of these fellows were ready and eager to be good soldiers.
Thomas J. Chakos joined us after a few months. He was transferred from the regimental headquarters company. He
was a graduate engineer (mechanical?) from Gary, Indiana. He gave us a few lectures on the need for the US to join
the newly formed NATO. Later when we were on maneuvers in Texas, Tom left us in order to attend OCS at Fort Bliss,
Texas. He received his commission in Class #07-52 as a lieutenant at Bliss in November 1952.
The one with whom I spent most of my time was Phil O'Hara. He had been attending the University of Arizona. He
was extremely bright. His mother and stepfather were professors at that university. When he was a teenager, the
group that put on the radio show "Quiz Kids" wanted him as a contestant. However, his parents rejected the idea.
His shoulder joint was constantly coming out of its socket. He would lie flat on the ground, raise his arm and
bend it to a right angle at the elbow. I put either my foot or my knee in the center of his chest and pulled
straight up. The arm bone snapped back into the shoulder socket. He told me a couple of times that his mother's
surname was no longer O'Hara. He said to use her correct surname when she came to visit him one weekend. So
naturally, to O'Hara's consternation, when he introduced me to her, I called her Mrs. O'Hara.
Andersen was a pushy guy. He was taller than I. Later, he and I got into a fist fight. I can still recall the
hollow sound when my fists hit his chest. We were still good friends. We had to be. We spent twenty four hours a
day together for seven days a week. Later, he got upset with me when we were on leave in Dallas, Texas. We were in
a bar. The owners covered the whole wall behind the bar with brass knuckles, pistols, and rifles. They were for
sale to the customers. One was a World War II German officer's Luger pistol with its regulation holster. The
holster had an engraved swastika. It had a good feel when he held it in his hand. I would not lend him the
purchase price of fifty dollars. Being from the city, I was not into guns.
The company and most of its compliment were from Luverne, a small farming community in the southwest corner of
Minnesota. Some of them were from nearby South Dakota. At night after lights out, these National Guard farmers
discussed the merits of the John Deere versus the Ford farm tractors. The soldiers on the second floor of that
barracks listened to these discussions as they fell asleep. One of the fellows who discussed the tractors was
Verlyn L. Hagen. He was always smiling, cheery, and of the impression that his family had the largest farm.
For some reason the radios in our barracks were manufactured so that they played only country music. I can
still hear the lyrics, "Ah got a hot rod Ford and a two-dolla bill and ah got a gal rot over the hill. Hey good
lookin. Wacha got cookin? How bout cookin somthin up with me?" The radio commercials were either "Lil Ole Women"
relating how Hadacol had turned their lives around or someone from "Cincinnati One Ohio" selling "unsexed"
chickens. Years later the State of Louisiana required that Hadacol be sold only in liquor stores because of its
liquor content. As I remember, a family with the name LeBlanc was the manufacturer of Hadacol.
Our company commander was a tall, blond National Guard captain with the name of Lester U. Tollefson. He was the
publisher/editor of the local newspaper in Luverne. Other National Guard troopers from Luverne and nearby
communities were Corporal Norman F. Larsan, the company clerk; Msgt. Stanley A. Arends, the NCO for the pioneers'
platoon; and James B. Fleming, a school teacher. Jim Fleming returned to teaching and school administration
when he returned to Minnesota. He stayed active with the engineers in the National Guard. He later returned to
active duty and retired as a full colonel in 1986. Two additional photos in enclosure (1) are of Jim Fleming, Phil
O'Hara, and Bob Sullivan
We had two Arends brothers, Stan and Steve. Later, Stan delivered mail in Luverne for thirty-plus years. Around
1960, I wrote a letter to another guardsman from Luverne by the name of Stu Adams. He wrote back. He said that
some of our fellow Luverne area soldiers in the company had met violent deaths. One had died in a crop spraying
plane accident and another in an auto accident shortly after our separation from the service.
We had two fellows in the Pioneer Platoon who constantly competed with each other. Their names were Richard O.
Karli and Clarence V. Franka. One day the two of them were competing to see who could do the most squat jumps. The
younger of the two ended up on the ground with his legs all cramped up. A Helverson was also from Luverne. We had
two Gibson brothers, Earl and Gene. One was an NCO. We had an Art Rogness. He was an NCO in Blue 2. Sgt. Warren
Herreid was our communications platoon NCO and the battalion communications sergeant.
Robert H. Schlotfeldt, a young enlisted guardsman from our company, was killed in action in Korea before the
end of our first year. His home had been a farm outside of Hills, Minnesota. He was a short, powerfully-built farm
boy, with red hair, who had graduated high school in 1947. I do not know whether we have other men from our
company who were also killed in action, wounded in action, or missing in action.
Our battalion commander was a National Guard lieutenant colonel. His name was William G. "Wild Bill" Kreger. He
was a crotchety old guy who came out of his office in the morning when the five companies lined up in the
quadrangle for roll call. He went back into his office after roll call. In civilian life, Kreger was a judge
somewhere in Minnesota or South Dakota. He was more than likely qualified as a commander of a battalion devoted
solely to training. Kreger was much different from the younger aggressive Major we had as a battalion commander in
Korea. Our commander in Korea spent most of his time walking the front line trenches and little time in his
forward and rear CPs. Kreger later became a brigadier general. He wrote a history of the 135th Infantry Regiment.
The battalion operations officer, the Blue 3, was a major named Paul V. Meyer. He was a tall, thin,
scholarly-looking guy with dark horn-rimmed glasses who was also from the Luverne area. O'Hara opined that he
would rather go into combat under Major Meyer than the regular army major who replaced him. The regular army major
had recently returned from serving with the 1st Cavalry Division in Korea. How is that for a couple of rank
amateurs rating their superiors? Meyer later became a major general in command of the 47th Infantry Division.
In those days, Luverne was also a major builder of fire fighting truck bodies. In 1987 the town, which is
situated on Interstate 90, had a population of 4568.
Before being drafted, my breakfast consisted of a bowl of cold cereal prior to starting work. My workday
started at 10 a.m.. At 6:00 or 7:00 p.m., we went to a pub near Fram. I had a glass of beer and two pork pies
loaded with ketchup for supper. So imagine the improvement in my diet. Now I got three square meals a day.
I can remember being the last one in the mess hall on a morning when we had pancakes. I kept on going back for
more. Three cooks stood behind the serving counter. They watched me as I ate pile after pile. They cooked them; I
ate them. They must have felt a sense of accomplishment. One of them, a big kid of Italian descent named Nick R.
Lauritano, had been a cab driver in New York City. I think that his family ran a deli in the Bronx. He had come
into the company with the group from Manhattan. Later, he and I took the same plane out of New York heading for
Korea. I made sure that I did not sit next to him. He had sat next to me on the plane when we flew north to go
home on leave. He was a big guy and overflowed into my seat. He wrote a letter to the fellows back at Rucker
shortly after he arrived in Korea. He wrote that a young Korean had offered to have his mother wash Nick's clothes
for some cigarettes. Nick never again saw his clothes or the young Korean.
On some nights, I walked a block to the post exchange. I bought a package of Fig Newtons to eat while laying on
Quite a few times as I moved through a chow line, a cook dressed in white and standing behind the food said
something to me. It sounded like, "Do you want some Grrrr?" He repeated the question. I said no and move on. It
finally dawned on me. He was offering me a scoop of grits. I had never eaten grits before. It took a while before
I tasted grits--I would say about 1997.
A post beer hall was a couple of blocks down the road from our barracks. They sold beer only by the quart. I do
not remember any glasses. We drank out of the bottle. The soldiers sat on the floor with their backs against the
unpainted walls while drinking. The beer hall had no furniture.
Occasionally after lights out, a group of draftees from Tennessee came back to the barracks after drinking. The
gang was looking for a fight. Their leader was a fellow called "Blue." Was his name Curtis O. Ballew? He was
about six bunks down from me on the second floor of the barracks. His buddy was a husky Tennessean. His bunk was
on the lower floor in our barracks. Everyone else and I sort of stayed out of their way when they wanted to fight.
"Blue" kept picking on a very young guardsman who was very homesick. The army in all of its wisdom knew how to
handle this type of a situation. The company brass decided that we would hold boxing bouts at night in the
company day room.
Weight paired me against Blue's right-hand man. Blue probably weighed fifty pounds less than me. We held two or
three bouts a night. We stripped to our waist, wearing only fatigue trousers and combat boots. Most of the bouts
consisted of sparring. The opponents danced around and threw an occasional jab. I could not do that. When I took
off my glasses, I could just about see my opponent. So I knew that I had to stay in close, maintain contact
always, and slug it out. That is what I did. As a result, we shattered the full-length mirror that the troops used
to view appearance before inspections. One of us landed on top of the ping pong table and broke that in two. Other
items in this large room were also broken. Those who watched the bout were yelling at the top of their lungs. He
kept trying to back away and spar, but I knew that I had to stay with him. I don't know how many rounds we went. I
believe we had three rounds for each bout. At the end, I put my arms around him and gave him a hug. The guy did
not know that if I had let him back away, I would not have seen his punches coming. After those bouts, "Blue" and
his buddies did not come into our barracks looking for a fight. The army knows its business.
A draftee from New York named Art Mascarella had been a professional or a semi professional baseball player and
property of the New York Giants. He was always pulling duty around the barracks. He was never out in the field
with the rest of us. I thought that odd. He was of Italian descent and a very cool customer. As I remember, he
wanted to be involved with athletics while in the service. After a while he just disappeared. He must have found a
duty more to his liking. I hear that he fell on his shoulder while playing baseball at Rucker. The fall ruined his
Letter writing was not my thing while in the service. I probably wrote five or six letters and received about
the same number. I never went out and stood near the day room each afternoon during mail call. Later, I probably
received one letter and two packages while in Korea. My sister Patsy says that she wrote a few letters to me. She
says also that she made chocolate chip cookies and sent them to me while I was in Korea.
My father was a friend of a Duggan family on West Avenue in Pawtucket. They had a son in a rifle company in our
regiment. See his photo among the draftees in Enclosure (1). He was very homesick. Occasionally, he came over at
night and sat on the end of my bunk. When O'Hara saw him coming, he said with an Irish accent, "Here comes Duuugan."
Duggan and I walked down the road to the beer hall. We sat on the floor in the hall and leaned against the
building's outer walls. When we wanted a beer, we walked over to the huge cooler, reached down and grabbed a
quart, and then paid the clerk. We drank one, two, or three quarts of "3.2" beer. It was called "3.2" because that
was the percent of alcohol that it contained. The only item sold was beer and it was sold in only quart bottles.
After I came home from Korea, I spoke with Duggan. I saw him at a bus stop in front of Shartenburg's Department
Store in downtown Pawtucket. He came through all right.
As I remember, we had two other fellows in the company from New England. One was John E. Maguire from the
Boston, Massachusetts area. The other was Romeo L. Lassard from Maine.
Back to Memoir Contents
Basic and Advanced Infantry Training at Camp Rucker
We went through the standard infantry basic training, then we went into the advanced infantry training which
meant exercises on the platoon and company level. One night while waiting in line to go into the mess hall, I
bought a newspaper from a local paper carrier. An article was in the paper stating that Congress had extended the
time to be served by draftees to two years. No one had commented on the extension. No one knew about the
extension. They never notified us before, during, or after the extension. So much for a policy of informing the
troops. No one in the barracks ever mentioned it. Around the same time, the US had signed the NATO pact. We were
given regular lectures on the impact of NATO on the defense of the US. I would have preferred to hear word one
about the extension of my army life.
The heat must have been intense. After the long hikes, my leather rifle strap and my leather boots were white
from the salt in my sweat. The barracks must have been hot, as we had no air conditioning. We were young and
usually exhausted, so we probably did not notice. We got to the point where we stayed in the field even on
weekends. The only thing between us and the ground when we slept was our shelter half. We never put up our pup
tents. Camp Rucker must have been huge because we hiked every day and the dirt roads always seemed different. We
took a ten minute break every hour. Most of us smoked a cigarette. We sat in our steel helmets. Alabama had a very
small ant. Most of the time, if we sat directly on the ground or with our back against a tree, that small ant gave
us a very painful bite. Was it the infamous Fire Ant?
Between the hiking and the hours of calisthenics every day, we must have been as hard as rocks. We had
calisthenics after breakfast and after lunch every day. The calisthenics that were the most strenuous were the
ones called the squat jump (I think). We crouched down into a squatting position with one leg forward of the
other. Our hands were locked behind our head. Then we leaped into the air and landed in the same spot, but with
our opposite leg in the forward position. Try about thirty repetitions of that exercise up to four times a day.
My personal weapon ("piece") was the US rifle caliber .30 M-1 Garand, not the lighter carbine. I carried it in
the US and in Korea. It was semiautomatic, single shot and self loaded after each shot fired. It weighed 9 pounds,
eight ounces and was 43.5 inches long. It was equipped with a stud for the attachment of a standard bayonet with a
9.75 inch blade. We carried our bayonet in an aluminum sheath on the side of our cartridge belt. The M-1 held an
eight round clip of .30 caliber ammunition. The clip automatically ejected through the open top of the receiver
after the last round in the clip was fired. This rifle became a part of my body. In the infantry it is "you and
your rifle". We lived with it and we slept with it. It was all that we had. When I first fired the M-1, the
explosive kick of the ammunition surprised me. In a navy, it is "you and your ship". In an air force, it is "you
and your aircraft." In the infantry we held tight to our personal weapon. However, it was not much protection when
the big stuff came in.
At the time, I liked the army. Later in Korea, I changed my mind. There, I found out the psychological reason
for the close order drill. I realized that an army career was not for me. In combat everything that is human
within you tells you to turn around and go the other way. However, the close order drill in training, the hiking,
and following the one in front of you affects you to such an extent that you keep moving forward. Most people do
not realize the psychological implications of a marching band and close order drill.
Each soldier had to be able to recite a list of rules. One of the items on the list was "I will walk my post in
a military manner." About once a month, our company pulled guard duty for a twenty-four hour period for the entire
regimental area. While walking our posts during that period, we were dressed in "Class A" uniform. We were
expected to look and act very professional. We had a husky nineteen year old kid with rosy cheeks who drew a
walking post along the main road. We also had a few very small trees newly planted along the same road. The
Colonel called our CO and told him that the kid was sitting up in one of those trees. He was as big as the tree. I
guess that the tree was a challenge to him.
One day I ran a fever. At lunch when we came in from the field, I went to the dispensary rather than to the
mess hall. I felt terrible. After taking my temperature, which was more than one hundred, the doctor or corpsman
gave me duty rather than the cot. He also gave me APC (all purpose) capsules. There was no way that I could go
back to the field that afternoon. I spoke to one officer. He told me to spend the afternoon working in the supply
room. I worked there for about fifteen minutes. The National Guard supply sergeant, named Russell Swenson,
understood my predicament. I then sat on the floor in a corner and shook with my back against the wall for about
four or five hours. When the troops came in from the field, I was permitted to get into my bunk. I slept until the
next morning, and the fever was gone. Why did the medics not allow me to lie down and get under cover immediately
when I was running a fever?
Corporal Larsen, our company clerk from Luverne, told me that I had to go to an eight-hour film projectionist
school. The company needed someone to run a Bell and Howell 16-mm movie projector. However, all of those
sprockets, film loops, lens adjustments, pulleys, take-up reels, and settings were still a mystery to me. I lived
in fear of the day when I was to use my newly-acquired talent. Sure enough, that day came. I had a hall filled
with about two hundred troops who were to view a film on intelligence gathering. My buddy Lynn Anderson was giving
them a short lecture on military intelligence. They were also about to view my first attempt to run this intricate
monster. I could not get the damn thing to work properly. I stood back from this little brown monster. What do I
do now? Suddenly, an NCO from the rifle company came to my rescue. With a couple of adjustments he saved my butt.
Another day, this same Olsen told me that I was to go to a four-hour school to be a fireman. That is to shovel
coal into boilers to keep the water hot for showers in the barracks and provide heat in the winter. A fireman
caught about a day of work once every couple of months. He hauled coal into the boiler room and ashes out for a
twenty-four-hour period. At the end of the twenty-four hours, the fireman looked like a piece of coal. Why was
this guy Larsen, with his pudgy nose, so interested in my education?
On the night of the second occasion that I pulled this duty, I went into town. That was a no no. I figured that
there was enough coal in the boiler. I was wrong. The fire to heat the water decided to go out. The Master
Sergeant for the company caught up with me the next day. His name was Dale E. Opsata. He knew that I had gone to
town. My punishment was an extra day of duty using this highly technical knowledge that I had obtained at the
four-hour fireman school. How many more of these wonderful career enhancing opportunities would I be offered
in this man's army?
At one point, someone in the regiment came up with an idea. The regiment would give ranger training to those
who volunteered for the training. This was supposed to be strictly voluntary. One day as we were standing in
formation, I heard Master Sergeant Opsata make an announcement. "McGill" was to be the man from our company to
take this ranger training. Our company had no one who was foolish enough to volunteer. Apparently, the other
companies within the regiment had a similar problem. About two weeks after we started this rigorous,
physically-demanding training, the program ended. Shortly after this occurred, the same Sergeant Opsata was
transferred to the division tank unit. One night I was sitting on the back steps of the barracks. Sergeant Opsata
had come back for a visit. He came out to where I was sitting. He asked me if I wanted to go into the tank unit
with him. I told him that I was not interested.
We spent many days on the firing range. There was a very tight control over everything that occurred while on
the range for safety reasons. We fired in a standing position, a kneeling position and a prone position. At the
end of the day, after firing our weapons, we had to pick up all empty shells lying on the ground. No live
ammunition was allowed off the range.
Occasionally, we "pulled targets" for those on the firing line. This meant that we were in a deep concrete
walled trench below the targets. We attached the target to a frame. We pulled the target by way of a pulley
arrangement into the air above the trench. After the troops fired, the target was lowered into the trench. We then
marked the hole and again raised the target. If I remember right, we then raised a long pole with a pie
plate-sized object on its end to show the shooter where his bullet had entered the target. There was a long line
of men firing their weapons. They all fired at the same instant. A loudspeaker announced when to fire. The long
line of men in the concrete trench also pulled their targets at the same time. Those on the firing line fired
their weapons. We heard a pop as the slug passed seven or eight feet above our head.
I never paid much attention to that popping sound while pulling targets. I thought that it was the slug hitting
the target. When I got to Korea, I heard that popping sound again. Two other fellows and I were on a daylight
patrol. We went down the hill to a river named the Soyang. The river was forward of the trench on the main line of
resistance (MLR). Four North Koreans had set up a machine gun a few hundred feet below our line. They were between
us and our line. As we worked our way back up, I heard pop, pop, pop and the branches were falling from the trees
above our heads. The pop was the sound of the air as it filled the void after a slug had passed. I assume this is
similar to an aircraft sonic boom.
In the middle of one night, I pulled guard duty by myself on the firing range ammunition bunker. There were no
lights. I sat on the ground with my back against the bunker and kept my eyes on the unlit road. I fell asleep. I
did not hear or see the Jeep approaching. I woke with a lieutenant standing in front of me. He smiled, said stay
awake, and drove off.
Some of the troops were more daring than me in their handling of snakes. I observed the following incidents.
Some troops put a King snake into a trash barrel with a rattlesnake. The King swallowed the rattler until only a
few inches of the rattler were sticking out of its mouth. They then poked the King with their rifle butts until
the King regurgitated the rattler. I saw one fellow tie the tail of a rattler to the rear view mirror of his
2-1/2 ton truck. The snake was long enough so that its head lie along the ground. As our I&R squad was
moving through the woods one day, we came upon a group of snakes wrapped around the trunks of trees. There must
have been six of them. Each had its own tree in the cluster. They were wrapped about a foot or two above the
ground. I thought that the situation was dangerous and I wanted out of there. O'Hara and Anderson loved it and had
to examine closely every tree and every snake.
Our I&R squad was the point early one morning as a couple of companies were moving along a grassy road. Lying
coiled on the grass in the center was a green rattlesnake. Two or three of us had passed within a foot of him
before he was spotted. I was fascinated as the troops held their rifle butts in front of him. He struck the wooden
butts and we saw the venom running down the wood. They killed him. We had to keep moving. On another
occasion we came to a small stream which we had to cross. A water moccasin stuck its head about six or eight
inches above the water and looked right at us. We moved downstream to cross at another point. We had a young
Floridian lieutenant leading us. He stressed that we had to be very careful when confronting moccasins. As we
moved along the stream bank, I could see the moccasin moving with us.
We had a couple of classes on snakes. At one class, the instructor mentioned that we had two bites from coral
snakes within the regiment. Corals were about a foot long, an inch wide, and had multicolored rings encircling
their bodies. There were venomous and non-venomous coral snakes. The venomous ones had a thin, red ring between
each of the red, black, and yellow rings that encircled their body. They did not have fangs and had a small mouth.
He mentioned that they would prefer chewing on the thin skin between our fingers and toes
During one of our field exercises, I was assigned to "ride shotgun" on our battalion commander Kreiger. This
duty required me to stay one step behind him and protect him no matter where he went. "Wild Bill" Krieger was not
the kind of a guy who wanted a young soldier following him around all day and night. A couple of hours after my
assignment, he and I were walking through the woods with no one else in sight. Wild Bill said that he heard voices
off to our right. He told me to go over toward the sound of the voices and make a determination as to whether the
troops were friend or foe. I went off through the woods as he requested, saw that they were the foe, and within
ten or fifteen minutes returned to where I last saw him. Naturally, Wild Bill was not there. He was long gone.
On Friday nights we prepared for our weekly inspections. These were held every Saturday morning. We polished
our boots, cleaned our rifles, cleaned the barracks, straightened out our foot locker, and lined up our uniforms.
The uniforms hung below the shelf on the wall behind our bunk. Nobody went on leave on a Friday night. On
Saturday morning, we stood at attention at the front of our bunk as the company CO inspected each one of us, our
equipment, and our barracks. We were dressed in our "class A" uniforms. Our company then formed up with our
personal weapons on the quadrangle in front of our barracks. An officer walked the lines in the formation and
inspected every soldier and weapon for cleanliness. No oil was allowed on the weapon during this inspection. We
re-oiled them when this inspection was completed.
The officer approached from my right and stopped in front of me. He then made a sharp left turn to face me. I
brought my weapon from "shoulder arms" to "inspection arms." At "inspection arms" our weapon was held at a
forty-five degree angle forward of our chest. As we positioned the rifle, we pushed the bolt (firing mechanism)
into the open position with our left hand. The officer stared us straight in the eyes. When he was ready, he
quickly brought his right hand up and grasped the rifle out of our two hands. We had to release the rifle a
moment before his hand grabbed it. For a fraction of a second the weapon was not in our hands nor in his right
hand. If we did not release before his hand hit it, we felt a jolt throughout our body. He then swung it in an arc
up into the air and looked up the barrel for any signs of pitting. If he did not grasp the weapon firmly during
that fraction of a second and dropped the weapon, than he was required to have it cleaned. Around noon after
inspections, we were off until Monday morning. If we were in the field, we went for seven days. There were no
Back to Memoir Contents
Some Weekend Passes
Occasionally on a weekend I took a bus trip into Dothan, the nearest town. Dothan was known as "The Peanut
Capital of The World." I had my first piece of pecan pie at a lunch counter in Dothan one Saturday afternoon. Then
it was back to the camp. Two other close towns were Ozark and Enterprise.
Once I took a bus to Tampa for a long weekend. I had to get as far as possible away from things military when
on leave. I rented a hotel room and that night went over into Ybor City. I sat in a bar drinking beer with a young
Cuban woman. She rolled cigars during the day. We were the only patrons in the bar. The bartender kept coming over
and asking her if everything was Okay. For the curious, I did go back to the hotel by myself and I had drunk quite
a bit of beer.
I went down to Panama City, Florida three or four times on weekend passes. Once I thumbed a ride with two
middle-aged Alabama men who were going down to Panama City to look for work. They had worked in a shipyard there
during World War II. One had the surname of Cotton. It was interesting listening to them for a few hours. My usual
sources for conversations were other young army draftees.
One weekend four of us were on leave together. We spent the night sleeping on the beach near Panama City. We
were in our sleeping bags on the sand about thirty feet from O'Hara's car. I would not advise anyone to do the
same. The flying bugs made sleep almost impossible. Insect repellant did not work. At that time the state used
convicts to clean the beaches early in the morning. When we awoke, five or six of them were standing next to our
auto and peering inside. Unfortunately, O'Hara had left his brand new loaded twenty-two Winchester rifle laying on
the rear seat. Fortunately, their armed guard was facing them at a distance of about twenty feet.
On one long weekend I thumbed a ride over to Thomasville, Georgia, and checked into a hotel room. The room
contained a ceiling fan. I had never seen a ceiling fan before. That night, I went into a local pub. Where else
was an army private going to go when he was in a strange town for only one or two nights? I sat at the bar for a
few hours nursing my beer. Eventually I talked with some woman at the bar. Would you believe me if I told you that
she paid for the beer? We flipped a coin to see who would pay for the beer. Every time we flipped, she lost.
Toward the end of the evening, when I told her that I was part Indian (not true), she got very upset.
On the outside of our company day room was a bulletin board. Establishments and localities around Rucker that
could be harmful to the troops were listed on the board. Shortly after my visit to Thomasville, its name appeared
on the board as a locality to avoid while on leave. It seems that the police and cab drivers were in cahoots to
shake down the troops on leave. A soldier would ride in a cab. The driver would accuse him of damaging the rear
seat of the cab. The police would pick up the soldier and put him in a cell. He would be released upon payment of
a fine and for the repair of the interior of the cab.
NOTE: You will need to read the next volume of my biography if you are interested in matters of a romantic
nature that occurred during my two-year military career. I have not thought of a title for that volume, but I am
open to ideas from my readers.
During one period, a toilet in our barracks head was reserved for a young fellow from West Virginia. He had
come back from leave with a case of gonorrhea. The toilets were all in one room with no partitions. Four or five
toilets faced four or five toilets. This was not very private for the private of privates. One had a sign on it
that said "Reserved Venereal Disease." The sign stayed on the toilet until his treatment was completed.
I can remember only one "short arm" inspection while in the army. During this inspection in Alabama, we were
required to wear only our poncho and boots. We stood at the foot of our bunk. The medic and one other came down
the line and stopped at each man. We raised the poncho and were told to "milk it down." For the uninitiated, the
medic was looking for symptoms of venereal disease.
A Catholic chapel was in our regimental area. I attended Mass on every Sunday that we were not in the field.
The civilian priests who occasionally said the Masses were usually from Alabama communities outside the camp. By
saying Mass in the camp, they had the opportunity to raise money for their small rural churches. The percentage of
Catholics in Alabama must have been very low. Was it considered a mission area?
A fellow on the first floor of our barracks had a problem in his family back in his home state. He went to the
Red Cross to obtain money so that he could return home. They agreed to lend him the money, but he had to wait to
get that money. I loaned one hundred dollars to him so that he could return home immediately. When he returned
from leave, he was in no hurry to return my money. I approached him and told him that I wanted the money now. He
handed me one hundred dollars the next day.
Back to Memoir Contents
Intelligence and Reconnaissance Training at Fort Benning, GA
In the fall I traveled by bus to Fort Benning, Georgia, the infantry school, for thirteen weeks of schooling as
an intelligence and reconnaissance scout. We had no one in our unit who could train us in that specialty. I was
accompanied by two young regular army corporals from my company. It was more of the same--rifles and bayonets, but
included much more classroom training. We had no hiking and calisthenics, but plenty of map making and reading.
On Thanksgiving Day, I went to town with these two fellows. They had recently returned from Korea. One of them
was a Latino paratrooper from New Mexico who had been in the 1st Cavalry Division. The other was a Franco-American
kid with the surname Pariseau. He was from the Albany, New York area. He had been in the "Hourglass"
Infantry Division. Was that the 2nd Infantry Division? We took a bus into Columbus, Georgia. We walked across the
bridge over the Chattahoochee river into Phoenix City, Alabama, and visited a couple of places that were off
limits. After we spent most of our money, we re-crossed the bridge back into Columbus.
We went into a tavern named the You and Me Club. It was located on the second floor of a building in downtown
Columbus. The three of us were standing at the bar. I could see no other patrons. About three women were sitting
around a table in a room behind the bar. One of us (I think it was me) made a comment about the probable morals of
the women. A few moments later, I came to as I was falling to the floor. As I came to, I saw my overseas cap with
its blue piping on the floor in front of me. It was laying next to a piece of wood. I grabbed my hat and stood up.
The bartender had hit me on the upper right-hand side of my head with a baseball bat. The bat had broken in two.
He was hitting the Latino kid over the head with the butt of a pistol. The next thing I knew, I was standing at
the top of the stairway with my two buddies laying at the bottom. A couple pairs of hands gave me a push and I was
laying there with them. We hightailed it back to the bus station and got the hell out of Columbus. I had a lump on
the side of my head for quite a while. You live and learn, or is it that you learn and live. The following
incident did not help us either. A young paratrooper had either tried or succeeded in throwing a Columbus police
officer over the rail of the bridge we had crossed. Years later I read that General Patton had placed the
city of Columbus off limits for a short period during World War II. His gripe was the maltreatment of his troops
by the citizenry.
One morning as we were standing in formation, the commander asked for volunteers to give blood. My Latino
paratrooper drinking buddy at the other end of the line yelled out the name "McGill." I would have had a difficult
time if I had walked up to the officer after the formation and tried to explain that it was not me who had called
out my name.
On the way back from the hospital, I walked by the site where Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were filming a scene
for a paratroop movie. Was the film called "Jumping Jacks?" Naturally on an army post in the middle of the day, no
spectators were standing around. I walked over to observe. The site was the bus station for Fort Benning. Martin
was off to the side. He was by himself and leaning against a fence. Lewis in all of his foolishness was acting out
a scene. I told Martin that I did not care for their brand of humor. I do not remember his response. I do know
that he just stared at me. At the time, I was not particularly interested in his response.
We had classes in hand to hand combat. The idea was to take another man out using only our hands. After the
instructor demonstrated the various movements, we then used them ourselves on a partner. This was interesting. In
some of the movements one picked his partner up and threw him to the ground. We had an unfortunate accident during
this training. The accident victim was a young master sergeant of the Rainbow Division (the Fighting 69th?) from
New York City. He was a National Guard soldier and was on active duty only for the duration of this training. He
was a garrulous, well-liked Jewish fellow. During that phase of training, we had hand to hand combat
training during the early hours. We then had rifle training during the latter part of the day. On the field where
we had the rifle training, 1" x 2" stakes were driven into the ground. They stuck up about 12" above the ground.
Once an hour or so we took a ten minute break. During one of those breaks the young Master Sergeant and another
fellow were practicing some of the hand to hand movements we had learned. His partner flung him into the air and
he came down on one of those stakes. The stake did a job on either his kidneys or his intestines. We never saw him
Back to Memoir Contents
Truck Convoy to Infantry Maneuvers at Fort Hood, TX
When I returned to Rucker, the unit was preparing for maneuvers in and around Fort Hood about fifty miles
southwest of Waco, Texas. Two infantry divisions defended against the aggressor. The defenders were the 47th and
the 30th or the 31st from Fort Jackson in South Carolina. The aggressor was to be the 82nd Airborne Division from
Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I think that the 2nd or 3rd Armored Division stationed at Fort Hood also participated.
Our division traveled in the back of 2-1/2 ton trucks across the western part of Alabama, across Mississippi,
across Louisiana, and finally across the eastern part of Texas into Fort Hood. We must have followed interstate
route 84 from Dothan, Alabama all the way to state route 28 northwest of Alexandria, Louisiana. See map
enclosure (2). Route 28 would have taken us down into Fort Polk. I do not know the exact route we traveled across
eastern Texas. We did pass the front gate of a Texas state prison in Huntsville.
Each truck pulled a canvas-covered trailer. The trailer contained our duffle bags. We left as though we would
not return. Either eight or ten of us sat in the back of each truck. We sat facing each other on two long
wooden seats. At night we slept either under the truck or on top of the canvas strung above our heads. The canvas
lay over the top of five or six thin rails, like an umbrella. One of us slept in each portion that was between the
rails. There were four or five of these portions. During the night with our weight as we lay there, we could hear
the canvas go rip, rip, rip. If it had let go, we would have been seriously hurt.
This trip was fascinating to me. Talk about seeing the deep South. We rolled the sides of the truck canvas up
so that it provided only a roof over our heads. There was no effort to limit our mingling with the civilians as we
crossed those states. But then again, during the day we were in the back of those trucks. At night we bivouacked
in a field beside the highway many miles from any town.
On one occasion we were sitting at a standstill. Some high school girls were selling soda or ice cream to the
troops sitting up in the trucks. One young girl had very pretty eyes. I mentioned this to the fellow who was
sitting next to me. Another of the girls must have heard me, because the girl with the eyes came back and said
that she would never forget me. Well, I haven't forgotten. Has she?
The first night out, we stopped in Alabama. The next night we stopped in Mississippi. Was the stop near Laurel?
I think we made two stops in Mississippi. One night we stopped at a ball field on the Natchez side of the
Mississippi River. After chow we thumbed a ride into Natchez and went to a group of nightclubs in an historic area
called "Below the Hill." A sedan with about three blacks gave us a ride into town. I remember a girl passenger
saying, if I can paraphrase, "They're all right, they're from the North." In one tavern, I noticed that there was
a partition between the dancers and the black musicians. The partition had a hole cut at the level of a person's
chest. The hole was about a foot high and twelve feet long. The dancers could not see the musicians playing in the
darkness beyond the cutout. For some reason, I almost got into a fistfight with a young Second Lieutenant at the
bar. The next morning our trucks crossed the bridge over the Mississippi River into Louisiana.
The trip to Fort Hood probably took close to a week. A convoy did not travel very fast. One night we stopped at
Fort Polk, Louisiana, five miles southeast of Leesville. I remember that stop. The next morning as we left the
mess hall, I filled the inside of my fatigue shirt with many, many doughnuts. I usually let the bottom of my
fatigue shirt hang out over my cartridge belt. That morning I tucked my shirt inside of my trouser belt. I ate
them all that day as we rode in the back of the truck. The troops on the other seat watched me as I ate doughnut
after doughnut. The army made great big doughnuts with a very thick crust. I loved them.
I was surprised at the large number of Brahman beef cattle along the highway. They began to appear as we moved
across Louisiana. Large herds of all kinds of beef cattle were in Louisiana. I thought that we would have seen
beef cattle only in Texas. Later in Texas, we tried to creep up on the steers to ride them. They always moved away
from us. We could not get close to them, no matter how hard we tried. Apparently the Brahman beef cattle thrive on
the type of terrain that is in that part of our country.
Back to Memoir Contents
Infantry Maneuvers In and Around Fort Hood, TX
Fort Hood is between Killeen and Gatesville. Hood is an armored power concentration. The maneuvers lasted for
two or three weeks. We walked forever across the fort and those ranches surrounding Hood. The ranchers had an
agreement with the army. The army would come back at the end of the maneuvers and repair any damaged property. The
weather was cold and damp. We could not find any wood to build a fire. This part of Texas had no trees. Also,
orders were that we will build no fires.
One day we had a demonstration put on by the Air Force. We sat on the side of a hill and watched them drop
napalm and bombs. Did they also fire rockets? After the demonstration, we walked back down a road to where
our pup tents were pitched. Some wise-guy jet pilot came at us from the rear. We did not know that he was coming.
He was flying very low and must have broken the sound barrier. The "wham" really shocked me. He could not have
been more than a couple hundred feet above our heads. Even after over fifty years, I can still feel that shock
today. Recently, the city council here in Chesapeake voted on a rezoning. They okayed the building of 240 homes in
a high military jet engine noise area near Fentress Auxiliary Airfield. It is an ACUZ zone with a 3-noise level.
Two of the nine council members are medical doctors. These two doctors voted to go ahead with the home building.
We went a couple of days with very little food. In the darkness one morning, I was on guard duty while the rest
of the unit slept. We were assigned to the battalion headquarters. A three-quarter ton truck pulled up and
unloaded three or four thermal food containers. It was about three in the morning. After the two cooks(?) left, I
walked over to the containers. One of them contained hot meat. One of them contained large chunks of warm bread.
The last contained hot cocoa. I sat on a container and ate a piece of meat. Now remember, I had eaten very little
in the last few days. I just kept eating more and more. A while later, it was time for me to awaken the fellow who
would replace me on guard duty. Then I rolled up in my bag and went to sleep. When daylight came, I awoke to the
sound of one battalion officer yelling. He said that someone had eaten all of the meat or that the cooks had not
delivered enough meat. I pulled my bag tight and went back to sleep.
Tom Chakos, a draftee from Gary, Indiana, had joined our squad before we left Alabama. He was a very intense
kid and had recently graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. He was of Greek descent. He had moved into
our company from the regimental headquarters. He, like Mathinos, had to be active all of the time. He was a camera
bug. I had never owned a camera in my life. In Texas he experimented with his camera by taking many individual
photos of us when we were not hiking. He experimented with differing types of lighting with that big sky and
beautiful sunsets. Nothing was in sight for him to film on those ranches. I mean nothing. So he took photos of us.
Today I would like to get my hands on those photos. Toward the end of the maneuvers, they told him to pack his
bags. They had accepted him for officer candidate school at Fort Bliss, Texas (missiles). I hope that he found his
niche. OCS was supposed to be one tough grind. He was commissioned a lieutenant in November 1952.
After a day or two of cold rain, we were soaked. The weather was bad and we were confined to the back of a
2-1/2 ton truck. They moved us from one area to another. They stuck a newly recruited young Catholic chaplain in
the truck with us. He was just another soldier to O'Hara, Anderson, and Chakos. I don't think that O'Hara was too
fond of things Roman Catholic. I think that Chakos was Greek Orthodox. Religion was never a topic of conversation
among these fellows. We were cold and damp and spent the day playing the word game "Ghost." One day we
rested near a river bed. Many scorpions ran back and forth on the bank. They told us to always shake out our
sleeping bags and boots before use because of their sting.
The Army policy was that at the conclusion of an exercise, all involved were to come together and critique the
exercise. For these maneuvers, the critique had to take place at a much higher level. We, at my level, had no idea
as to the plans, the movement of the troops, or the disposition of the opposing forces. We had no maps and were
completely in the dark. We were moved around in trucks or through long hikes. We covered many miles. Our
discussion each day dealt with our running into the paratroopers (the aggressors). Rumor had it that when we met
up, they wanted to get into fist fights on the field. Maybe all of that movement was to keep the opposing forces
apart. At the end of the exercise, three or four of us went north by bus to Dallas for a three or four-day
leave. We slept the first night at a motel in Waco.
At the time, the talk was that they would send our regiment or battalion from Texas to Nevada or New Mexico.
There we would participate in some nuclear tests. Fortunately, we did not go. Years later, I read that members of
the participating unit suffered ill effects from the blast fallout. If in the service for a short period, one is
truly a pawn with no say as he is moved around to suit a higher command's purposes. Maybe a career soldier has
We returned to Rucker by the same route. When we arrived, they told us that they were shipping most of us out
to other commands. We had earlier calls for troops from this division. They were never as large as this call. They
sent most to either the Far East Command (FECOM) or the European Command (EUCOM). My destination was to be FECOM.
The day after we learned where we were going, a young lieutenant came to me on the second floor of the barracks.
He said that he was sorry they had given me FECOM as my assignment. I thought at the time that his remark was out
of character for an officer.
They shipped none of the National Guard troops out with this batch. I believe that they held the decision to
ship in abeyance until the National Guard troops had too little time left in the service. I believe that they made
that decision because of political pressure. Earlier they had shipped about twenty National Guard rifle company
sergeants from our regiment to Korea on one day. Not long after, word started coming back that some of these
troops were killed. The folks at home in Minnesota and South Dakota would not like that.
Back to Memoir Contents
Home for Thirty Day Leave Before Going Overseas
They gave anyone headed for Korea (FECOM) a thirty-day leave before departure, so it was home to 253 Glenwood
Avenue, Pawtucket, Rhode Island for me. They gave me my plane tickets from Providence to Fort Lawton, Washington
on the west coast. Fort Lawton was a few miles north of downtown Seattle. On the way home, I took a plane to
LaGuardia. I then rode a cab from LaGuardia to either Grand Central or Pennsylvania Station for the trip to
In those days, a soldier had a small leather kit in which he carried his shaving equipment and whatever else he
could fit inside. It measured about 10" x 6" x 4" and had a zipper across the top. I had also put my billfold, my
advance money of three or four hundred dollars, my coast to coast airline tickets, and my travel orders into the
kit. I jumped out of the cab, grabbed my duffle bag and walked into the train station. As I walked to the ticket
window, my hand went for my billfold. I realized that I had left the kit in the cab. I ran back to the street. The
cab was gone and so was my money and tickets to the west coast. A cop came by and I told him my story. He told me
to walk a couple of blocks to the nearest police station and file a report. I stood at the curb in a state of
shock. That was probably the first time in my life that I used the word "shoulda." Like, I shoulda kept my money
in my pocket. I've been using "shoulda" ever since. Suddenly a cab pulled up in front of me. The passenger side
window opened up and the cab driver handed my kit to me. Did he know the contents of the kit? I opened the kit and
gave him about twenty dollars in appreciation. I still wonder if he had opened the kit. On the drive from the
airport, I had talked to him about Korea. During that conversation he mentioned that he was a World War II vet.
Back to Memoir Contents
Far East, Here I Come
This was my second or third time home since going into the army. The thirty days went fast. I spent a couple of
days laying in the bathtub. One day my father and I went quahauging in either Barrington or Bristol. Swarms of
flying bugs were above the water and landed on our skin. When we returned home that evening, my torso broke out in
a rash from the waist up. The skin doctor near the tunnel in Providence took many photos of my rash. Could it have
been water pollution? I told him that I was headed to Korea. He did not charge for the visit or the solution added
to the bath water. He did get a dozen or so photos of my bitten, itchy torso.
I flew out of Hillsgrove Airport to LaGuardia in New York. It was the first leg of my trip to Korea. Pop
McGill, my brother Tom and sister Marie or Dorothy accompanied me to the airport. Many other troops and I were
flying out of LaGuardia that night on a charter flight. The troops sat around the airport terminal for hours
waiting for the chartered plane to come in. We left New York late in the evening. We stopped in Montana--I believe
Billings. I walked outside the terminal to look around. Nothing was to be seen. I looked in every direction.
Nothing was there. I could see no buildings, no trees, and the place was flat as a pancake. We then flew from
Montana into Seattle, Washington. We crossed high hills or mountains just before coming down into Seattle in the
They called the unit at Fort Lawton to which I reported a Replacement Depot (REPO DEPOT). Today, Fort Lawton
does not exist. It has been deactivated. Today the fort is called Discovery Park and is in the Magnolia
neighborhood of Seattle. It overlooks and has a beautiful view of Puget Sound. The United States Army relied
on individual rather than the unit replacement system for their manpower needs in Korea. For that reason REPO
DEPOTS were set up at Fort Lawton near Seattle, Washington; Camp Drake near the port of Yokohama, Japan; Camp
Mower, near the port of Sasebo in southern Japan; and Camp Stoneman near San Francisco in Pittsburgh, CA. That was
the order in which I hit them.
The land around Fort Lawton, five miles northwest of downtown Seattle, was very hilly. The high hills seemed to
run right down into Puget Sound at a forty-five-degree angle, leaving no beach. While on guard duty (fire watch),
I stood among some trees and looked down at the ocean going ships sailing north through the sound.
We had received a series of shots before leaving Rucker. We received another whole series of shots at Fort
Lawton. Was this an error? The medic looked at our paperwork and then dabbed colors on our arms as our line moved
forward. These colors showed the shooter the shots needed. We stayed at Fort Lawton for only a couple of
One night I went into downtown Seattle. I walked around and eventually ended up in a bar, naturally. I sat
there talking to a woman who worked as an attendant aboard the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) ships
that crossed the Pacific. That same evening, I ended up buying beer for a woman who claimed to be a member of some
local Indian tribe. A fellow sitting on the other side of her tried to talk her into riding in his truck to a
local mountain. He wanted her to see the inside of this gorgeous cave that he had discovered. She was more
interested in me. She had a tattoo on her leg. This was forty-five years before a tattoo was the 'in' thing for a
woman. So much for my social life in Seattle.
One night I thumbed a ride back to Lawton from downtown Seattle. A homosexual gave me a lift. I told him that I
was not interested. The same thing had happened a couple of months before when I was passing through a train
station in New York City. I "shoulda" asked them if they had any sisters. In Alabama we had two draftees in our
communications platoon who were using the same pup tent. In the infantry we carried one half a pup tent wrapped
around our backpack. This oiled rectangle of canvas was called a shelter half. In foul weather we teamed up with
another soldier. When our two shelter halves were buttoned together, we had one whole pup tent. One of them woke
up to find the other guy touching him. The young fellow reported the incident the next day. The homosexual draftee
said that his family would feel bad after they discharged him and he returned home to the DC area. He said that
his parents knew his brother was homosexual. They did not know that he was also.
Back to Memoir Contents
Across the Pacific on an MSTS Troop Transport Ship
Hundreds of us were moved by bus or truck a couple of miles to a barracks at the point of embarkation (POE).
The POE where we waited to board a ship was Pier 91 on the waterfront in Elliott Bay near downtown Seattle. It was
at the intersection of 15th Avenue West and Elliot Avenue West. See enclosure (3). Today it is referred to
as T (terminal) 91. Pier 90 (I think) was next to Pier 91 on the waterfront, but I believe we sailed from Pier 91.
We must have traveled south along the water down Magnolia Boulevard. After a day or two in those barracks on the
pier, we boarded a Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS) troop transport. On the pier beside the ship were
Red Cross women passing out doughnuts and cocoa as we went aboard. I believe that was the only time I ever saw
members of the Red Cross. I think that they had an office at each of the camps where I had been stationed.
The day was in either late June or early July 1952.
MSTS included civil-service manned (USNS) transport and cargo ships. Its name may have been the "Marine Adder"
a World War II Victory Ship. Maybe it was on the "Marine Adder" that I came back across the Pacific. Were the MSTS
transports and cargo ships designated USNS? I sailed on two MSTS ships on the way to Korea: one from Seattle to
Yokohama and one from Yokohama to Inchon. I sailed on two MSTS ships coming home from Korea: one from Inchon to
Sasebo and the last from Sasebo to San Francisco. Though the skipper and crew were civilian, these ships had a
handful of naval personnel also attached.
I have tried to find the names of the four MSTS ships on which I sailed. I have not been successful. Recently,
I attended the twenty-fifth anniversary of the closing of Naval Air Rework Facility Quonset Point in Rhode Island.
I met an old apprentice buddy, Carlton Florence, who had been an artillery forward observer in Korea during the
war. He said that he was a passenger on the General Buckner, General Walker, and Marine Adder. Was I a passenger
on one of these ships? At a recent reunion of Korean War vets in Virginia Beach, one fellow told me that he sailed
on the General Walton N. Walker from Seattle to Yokohama.
The ship had a strong smell of diesel oil. Our route was to be north along the coast. We must have gone north
on Puget Sound. We went through the Strait of Juan De Fuca and sailed northwest across the Pacific to a ship
refueling station on Adak Island. Adak Island lies on the great circle navigation route halfway between Seattle
and Japan. It is in Alaska's Aleutian Islands and is 1300 miles southwest of Anchorage.
At first, we had long mess lines on the ship. The word got around that in time the long lines for chow would
disappear. After a couple of days, the waves got higher and the weather got bad. I stood in the center of the ship
and faced forward. I watched the bow first go down into a trough and then come back up while the ship slowly
rolled from one side to the other side. Luckily my compartment was in the center of the ship. I went forward to
see how bad it was for the men in the compartment at the bow of the ship. The smell of vomit was overwhelming. So
history should include that which we see, that which we hear (steam train whistles), and that which we smell,
diesel oil and vomit.
They stacked our canvas bunks either four or five high. The holes or compartments could carry either bulk cargo
or troops. Each morning all troops had to go on deck while the compartments were cleaned and inspected. Those
troops who were seasick were laying face down on the steel deck in the rain. They would lay there all day for day
after day. For some reason, I was not subject to sea sickness. Now I could walk right into the mess hall without
waiting in a line. We had plenty of food. We had some difficulty when we stood at a table to eat the chow. The
tray slid all over the place. On a troop ship, one did not sit while eating. On rough days one had to hold on to
the table with one hand. Some troops also got sick in the mess hall, so one had the smell of vomit and the smell
of food. Was it six, seven, eight or more days going across? At night, while laying in the bunk, we could hear the
sound of the diesel engines. Occasionally one heard a "thunk" on some rough nights. I wonder if that was the screw
or propeller rising out of the water.
On some rough days I started walking up a stairwell holding on to rails on each side. As I went up, the ship
started to roll, the rails became more vertical, and I was climbing straight up. Then the ship rolled the other
way, the rails were more horizontal, and I was walking as though on a level surface. Quite a sensation.
We also had some pleasant days and nights. We had some beautiful sights. At night when looking into the water,
one saw the green-white phosphorescence. We had several days of cloudy and foggy weather as we approached Adak.
Suddenly, a small clearing appeared high in the sky. Way off in the distance in that small clearing, I could see
the peak of a mountain. The peak was covered with snow. As the sun hit, it shone like gold.
All of the troops got down on the pier and went through calisthenics while we waited for the ship to refuel at
Adak. We were docked there for four or five hours. It was a cold and barren looking place. Not a tree or a bush
was in sight. I could see a low building about the size of a house and a single gray pickup truck or Jeep parked
next to it. That was the only sign of life. After refueling at Adak, we sailed south toward the Japanese
Islands. At a Sunday Mass, the chaplain said that we were passing about thirty miles off Siberia, but not to
We finally pulled into Tokyo Bay. We sailed up Tokyo Bay to dock at the Port of Yokohama. See map enclosure (3)
for our sailing route across the Pacific. To understand the route or the curvature of the earth, one needs to be
holding a globe of the earth in one's hand.
Back to Memoir Contents
Tokyo Bay and the Port of Yokohama
We sailed up Tokyo Bay and the terrain was the same as on our Pacific coast. The land was hilly and sloped down
at a steep grade into the water. That did not leave much of a beach. It was so different from the east coast of
the US. Was it caused by a volcanic past? Was that why we heard the term "Pacific Rim?" The weather was warmer and
I got a sunburn on deck. As we got closer to Yokohama, the shoreline came in close around the ship.
I understand that when Japan surrendered at the end of World War II, they still had heavy anti-ship weapons dug
in on these same hillsides. As the first American ships came up the bay, they were under these guns. For that
reason, each gun emplacement was required to be covered with white sheets. They could be more easily identified.
For the last couple of days I had been talking to a draftee from Manhattan. He had been a trainee cop in New
York City before being drafted. His father, a NYC police officer, had been shot and killed while on duty. His
brother was also a NYC police officer. The job was his if he wanted it because of his father. He was of
Irish-American descent. His surname probably started with "Mc", as we were bunking near each other. He was
concerned about the conduct of the police officers with whom he patrolled. While on duty, they went into a barn in
Central Park and "cooped." Cooping is a NYC police term for hiding out and loafing while on duty. They expected
him to do the same.
At the pier in Yokohama, we stayed aboard as women and children debarked. I never even knew that they were on
board. How could all of those women and children have been aboard that ship for all of that time without the
troops hearing or seeing them? We watched as autos and other cargo were lifted out of the holes.
Down on the pier, the Japanese stevedores sat and ate their lunches from what looked like rolled up newspaper.
They held the opened paper in the heel of one hand up close to their mouth. They held the chopsticks so that they
were pointed straight down into the fish and rice. They then pushed the food into their mouths. I watched our
civilian crew go ashore and walk away from the ship.
In Oct 2002, I asked the Japanese Embassy in DC if they could help me in identifying the exact pier to which we
were tied up. On 11 November 2002, I received a response from Osamu Ichise, Manager, Marine Affairs Division, Port
& Harbor Bureau City of Yokohama. Mr. Ichise wrote, "We regrettably have no record from those days. All of the
port of Yokohama facilities were requisitioned and administered by the US Army after World War II, so the City did
not have access to ship records. Our guess is that your troop ship most likely docked at Mizuho Pier (Yokohama
North Dock). Mizuho Pier, completed in 1945, was the main pier used by warships. It is still used by the US
We loaded aboard trains and headed for the Replacement Depot at Camp Drake just north of the city of Tokyo.
Camp Drake was in the city of Asaka, in the Prefecture of Saitama near a city named Ikabukaru. Today this camp is
deactivated. While en route to the camp, we passed slowly through many subway stations. We must have gone through
the city of Tokyo. The windows on our cars were open and many troops yelled obscenities in Japanese at the men,
women, and children standing on the subway platforms. I thought it was deplorable conduct. They yelled an
obscenity that sounded like "---- a harchee." They yelled the same things at the men who were working in the rail
yards. One worker got very upset and reached up to grab a soldier.
I noticed people exercising in the squares early in the morning. They exercised in time with music coming from
loudspeakers. Was the exercise Tai chi? Those scenes were much different from downtown Pawtucket, Rhode Island at
seven or eight in the morning. As the train went to and from Camp Drake, we could see down into the homes of the
families who lived along the tracks. The houses were very close to the tracks. I could see the families sitting
around their tables. I never saw a scrap of paper or piece of trash on the ground.
Back to Memoir Contents
Repo Depot at Camp Drake, North of City of Tokyo
Camp Drake had been a military installation before and during World War II. Officers for the Japanese Imperial
Army had trained here. We were to process at the Repo Depot here for two or three days. It was either the 8068th
or 8069th Replacement unit. We got rid of unnecessary clothing and made out our wills. They issued to us a
rifle, bayonet, cartridge belt with an aluminum water canteen and bandage container, and field equipment. Our
field equipment included such things as backpack, trenching tool, mess kit, steel helmet, plastic helmet liner,
shelter half, sleeping bag, and rain poncho.
The Korean War Memorial in Washington, DC depicts riflemen wearing rain ponchos. I do not believe that the
wearing of a poncho gives a realistic picture of a rifleman in Korea. He wore the poncho when it was raining. What
percentage of the time was it raining in Korea?
We zeroed in our rifles, converted our money into script, and were assigned to our unit in Korea. I was issued
an M-1 rifle, not the carbine. Later I found that my M-1 was not working properly. I think it was an intermittent
fault in the return spring. This spring was located inside the gas chamber. It was part of the mechanism that
re-cocked the rifle after one fired each round in the clip. I was not aware of this intermittent malfunction until
I was on my first patrol in Korea.
Our paperwork was processed in an office in which all of the girls were Japanese civilians. The American NCO in
charge was of Japanese descent. Each of us sat at a desk with one of the girls as she processed our paperwork.
While standing in formation, we were told the infantry division to which we were assigned. I do not know if we
were told our regiment within that division. My unit was to be the 45th Infantry Division, the "Thunderbird"
Division. This unit, a former National Guard division from Oklahoma, had been in Korea since late 1951. It had
been in a few battles. Between 5 December and 29 December 1951, the 45th Division had replaced the 1st Cavalry
Division on the Main Line of Resistance (MLR).
Years later while working at Quonset Point in Rhode Island, we had a fellow passenger in our car pool named
Alex Paulucci. Al told me that at the time that I went through Drake, he was in the assignment section of the Repo
Depot at the base. He said that he could have pulled my jacket and given me a choice assignment in FECOM. He said
that he had posted his phone number and a message on the bulletin board in the post exchange. The message was for
troops from Rhode Island to give him a call. I never visited the post exchange during the two or three days that
we were at Camp Drake.
We were marched into a field on the day we got rid of our excess gear. We were told to dump everything in our
duffle bag onto the ground. Then we were told the items of clothing that were to be put back into the duffle bag.
As I remember, we kept very few items: a couple pairs of socks, a couple pairs of underwear, one or two pairs of
fatigues, and a fatigue jacket. We were then marched out of the field. Our duffle bags were full when we marched
into the field. They were less than a quarter full when we marched out. We left everything on the ground. All of
the brand-new dress uniforms that I was ordered to purchase a month earlier were left on the ground in that field.
Later when we went up on line, we never even saw our duffle bags. We had whatever could be carried in our
backpack. Civilian Japanese women employees were standing at the edges of the field ready to walk in and collect
our clothing that was left in piles on the field.
The army owes me some money for the following reason. Before we left Camp Rucker in Alabama, we had to have all
of our clothing--both summer and winter issues--in our duffle bag. We had to have all dress and fatigue clothing.
Anything we were short we had to buy at Rucker. Now we dumped all of that clothing we had bought and carried
halfway round the world. Later when I left Korea and was going home, I was at the Repo Depot at Camp Mower near
Sasebo in southern Japan. I was given one winter dress uniform, one set of fatigues, one pair of high boots, and
no dress shoes. I want either all of my uniforms and dress shoes back or the money I paid for them at Rucker. If I
am given the money, I want the interest that has accrued since 1952. If I am given the uniforms dumped on that
field, I want them tailored to my present size. Do you think that the US Army will satisfy either of my requests?
Listen up, Secretary of Defense Cohen!
A mandatory tax was levied by the command on every soldier who came through Camp Drake. The levy was to be
donated to a local orphanage to help in the care of their children. The fathers of these children were American
soldiers who had come this way before us.
We were briefed on items to consider while in Korea, the "Land of the Morning Calm." Those words of advice
- Do not eat any locally grown vegetables. A harmful parasite is in the vegetables. It is caused by the use of
human excrement for fertilizer.
- Dip the bottoms of all trousers in a readily available chemical in order to combat the same parasite. I do
not remember seeing those barrels.
- Take good care of boots because of their need if taken prisoner.
- When questioned, if taken prisoner by the Chinese, stress that you are of the working class in the US.
- Elderly men wear small black hats with a wide brim and small perforations in the top. The perforations allow
their wisdom to flow out and into the heads of younger people.
- If taken a prisoner, your Chinese interrogators will show surprise that anyone would have the nerve to
oppose such a vast and ancient nation as China.
- If taken a prisoner, the only information that you had to give (international law) was your name, rank and
- Be careful while driving on the highways. The peasants will leap into the path of your vehicle and then
quickly leap back out. They believed that the vehicle would run over their evil spirits.
- Do not buy and consume any alcoholic beverages brewed or distilled and bottled in Korea. Some troops died or
were hospitalized because of their toxic nature.
In the evening, Japanese guards were posted around the perimeter of this Repo Depot. Their assignment was to
stop any troops from leaving the camp. Those enlisted troops headed for Korea were ordered to stay in the camp.
The guards were spaced about 100 feet apart and carried shotguns, which I believe held no shells. Facing the
guards were hundreds of troops who wanted to get out. Occasionally a trooper ran for the wire fence, leaped over,
and ran for town. Sometimes the guards threw their rifles at the runners. It was like a game.
When a couple of men near me made a break for the fence, I went with them, naturally. It was dark and I started
walking through the lanes of the community. I noticed that the people were very short. The smell was awful as I
walked down the lanes between the homes. Many families were cooking over fires on the exterior of their homes. The
homes were constructed much different from the way we build them in New England. After a couple of hours, I went
back and climbed through the fence into the camp. Welcome to the Far East, Yankee.
Back to Memoir Contents
Here Come the Marines
After two or three days, we headed back to the Yokohama port to board an MSTS troop ship. The ship was carrying
two or three thousand US Marines to the port of Inchon on the Yellow Sea side of South Korea. They were coming
from Twenty-Nine Palms in California. I believe Twenty-Nine Palms was a training or staging area for Marines
headed overseas. I also believe that they stayed aboard the ship while in Yokohama. The trip from Yokohama to
Inchon was to take two or three days. So here we were, about two hundred draftees, all Army infantry, among
thousands of gung ho leathernecks. The Marines spent much of their time oiling their weapons and sharpening their
bayonets. They talked about how many "gooks" they were going to kill. Gook was a Korean or Japanese term for
One evening I was sitting on a hatch smoking a cigarette. When I finished the cigarette, I flipped the butt on
the steel deck in front of me. I knew that was a no-no. A young Marine officer happened to be walking by. The butt
landed in front of him. He stopped, turned, and gave me a withering look. With that, I jumped down. I picked up
the butt, stripped it and threw the rolled up paper over the side of the ship. As I remember, stripping was the
term used for removing the remaining tobacco from a used cigarette.
When the ship got to Inchon, we walked down a stairway attached to the outside of the ship and jumped into a
landing barge. The barges moved fifty to a hundred men at a time. Inchon did not have a pier. The water was
shallow and the troop ships had to stand offshore. At the time, the front lines were thirty or forty miles north
of Inchon. We were not in danger. All of the Marines disembarked before they unloaded the Army infantrymen. The
ship loudspeaker called out the units in Korea to which the Marines were headed so that they could be assembled.
Would you believe that not one of those ferocious Marines was going into an infantry outfit? They were all going
into laundry companies, transportation companies, air squadrons, medical units, etc., etc., but not one infantry
unit. So much for their ferociousness.
The two hills that I later served on--Hill 749 and Hill 812--had originally been captured in September 1951 by
the Marines. They fought ferociously for Hill 749 and suffered 90 KIA, 714 WIA, and 1 MIA in that one action. Two
of them were awarded the Medal Of Honor.
In the harbor at Inchon, a large white hospital ship was sitting off to our right with huge red crosses painted
on its sides. It was sitting further off the beach than our ship. Were there helicopter pads positioned on the
water next to that ship? Was it the hospital ship USS Haven (AH)?
Back to Memoir Contents
Inchon to Chunchon, Korea by Train
When the barge touched the beach, the front end dropped down and we walked up onto the beach. Off to our left
were hundreds of troops bunched together and sitting on the ground. They were waiting to go aboard the same barges
for the trip back out to the ship. They had served their time in Korea. They were yelling, "You'll be sorry" and
"Take good care of your boots." As we moved away from the beach, I saw an old Korean fellow pulling a wagonload of
dogs. Someone said that dog meat was considered food in Korea.
I cannot remember where we were when we were first issued ammo. The United States Army kept very tight control
over ammo that was in the hands of their young troops. In the US, the only time we had ammo was on the rifle range
or when guarding a working prisoner outside a stockade while on post guard duty. While guarding those prisoners,
they allowed us only one round for our rifle.
This was where I said goodbye to my police officer buddy from NYC. We were in a train station. All men going to
the 45th Infantry Division were loaded into one grouping of passenger cars. He was going into the 7th Infantry
Division that was loading further to the rear or on a lower platform. We may have been loaded onto the same train.
My train was headed northeasterly for the city of Chunchon. It was in the center of the country. See map
enclosure (4). We had to pass through the capital of Korea, the city of Seoul. We must have had ammo because they
positioned guards at the ends of each car. Each of us was issued a small box lunch with two large slices of bread.
Inside the bread was a slab of cheese and a slab of meat. Every so often the train came to a stop and people ran
up to the train selling food. I remembered the parasite. The windows must have been of a type that can be opened.
Every so often we passed trains heading in the opposite directions. Some trains were carrying military vehicles
and others were hospital trains. I do not know how they built those hospital cars, but it seems to me that I could
see the full length of the soldiers' bodies as they lie on their hospital bunks. I looked at a map today and the
symbol for that line is for a single track, so one of us had to be on a siding as the other passed. The train
passed through tunnels and crossed a few bridges. When we went through tunnels, the smoke from the steam engines
came back into the coaches. I do not know how many hours we were aboard that train. We traveled about eighty
miles. When we arrived at Chunchon, the 2-1/2 ton trucks were waiting to carry us to the 45th Infantry Division
replacement company. The camp was on the north side of the Soyang River, a few miles north of Chunchon. We crossed
a bridge and went to the right along the river.
Back to Memoir Contents
45th Infantry Division Replacement Company, Northeast of Chunchon
The replacement company for the 45th Infantry Division was on the left side of the road headed northeast out of
Chunchon. Barbed wire surrounded it. The camp consisted of tropical huts (corrugated buildings) and squad tents.
They gave us our company assignment at this site, I believe. They assigned me to the Intelligence and
Reconnaissance Section of the Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment. At the time, the 179th
was in reserve. Part of it was encamped along the Soyang river at a town called Inje. Inje was about forty miles
to the northeast of this replacement company. See map enclosure (5).
General David Ruffner was the 45th Infantry Division Commander (Code name Power). Colonel Jefferson Irvin was
the 179th Infantry Regiment Commander (Pagan6). I believe that a Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Sandlin had been the
179th Regiment Commander in June of 1952. I do not know the name of the major or lieutenant colonel who was our
2nd Battalion Commander. His rank and name may have been Major Naughton (White 6).
The length of time that a soldier spent in Korea depended on the type of unit to which they assigned him. He
had to earn thirty-six points to leave the war zone. He earned four points a month if he was on the line fighting
in an infantry battalion and his life was in danger. In units behind the line, he earned fewer points per month
and he was in the war zone for longer periods. I earned four points per month.
We stayed at the replacement company for a couple of days. It was here that I ran into my old buddy Swartzaffle.
He said that he was billeted at the Replacement Company and had a job that involved finance or payroll. I wonder
if he still had the MOS of a scout. We had some training at that site. I think we went over to a hill and fired
our rifles into the side of the hill. I think we had to charge up the hill with a tank firing over our heads.
We occasionally sat on the side of a hill in a graveyard. On each grave was a mound of dirt rising up about a
foot above the ground. Rumor had it that people were buried in a sitting position with their head inside that
mound, so that after death they could observe those they left behind. Was that an accurate explanation?
Civilians were living around this camp. We had guards posted inside the wire. These civilians still came
through the barbed wire during the night and stole one or two duffle bags from the cots near me. At Inje we had no
civilians. They were not allowed within thirty miles of the front lines. No civilians were permitted north of the
"N Farm Line." Some civilians lived between the camp and the river. I took a walk down in that area. Their homes
were hovels. The top of their roofs came to below my chest. They were all dressed in GI fatigues. Some of them
made money washing fatigues for the GIs. Some worked as prostitutes. At chow time men, women and children stood
outside the wire near the point where the troops dumped their garbage and cleaned their mess kits. They thrust
their empty army mess kits through the wire asking for the food the troops were dumping into the garbage cans.
While at the replacement company, I took a bath and shaved in the Soyang river. Many troops did the same. The
Korean women gathered around as we sat naked in the water. Their trousers or skirts were rolled up and the troops
could see their bare legs. They wanted to wash our fatigues to make money while we sat naked in the water. We
thought that this was great fun. We were in the water naked with all of those young women giggling around us.
It was here that I had a strange experience. I was sitting in a latrine having a bowel movement, while someone
below me was shoveling the excrement into a bucket. The excrement was used for fertilizer. I remembered the
I pulled a couple hours of guard duty while at the replacement company. It was at night and a club for officers
was within my post. The club was either a tropical hut or a squad tent where they could have a beer, relax, and
shoot the breeze. At about 10 p.m., a 3/4-ton truck pulled in with four or five young women wearing kimonos riding
in the back. The women were led into the club where loud music was being played and plenty of beer was being
consumed. After a while, an officer and a woman left the tent arm in arm and walked over to a darkened tent where
the officers were billeted. I also found a young Korean woman dressed in fatigues among some 2-1/2 ton trucks that
night. She was in the same line of work and propositioned me. The trucks were also on my walking post.
Back to Memoir Contents
History of the 45th Infantry "Thunderbird" Division
"Organized in 1920 as part of the Oklahoma National Guard, the 45th 'Thunderbird' Infantry Division was called
to active duty in September 1940 as part of America's mobilization for World War II. It served during eight
campaigns in the European Theater of Operations, including assault landings at Sicily, Naples- Foggia, and
Southern France, and the campaign at Anzio. In 1946 it returned to state control as part of the Oklahoma National
"On September 1, 1950, the 45th Infantry Division was once again called into active federal service, this time
for the Korean War. It consisted of the 179th, 180th, and 279th Infantry Regiments; the 105-mm howitzer battalions
of the 158th, 160th and 171st Field Artillery Battalions and the 155-mm howitzers of the 189th Field Artillery
Battalion; the 14th Anti-aircraft Artillery Battalion (Automatic Weapons); the 245th Medium Tank Battalion; the
45th Reconnaissance Company; and the 120th Engineer Battalion. The division arrived in Japan in April 1951 and
began an intensive training program.
"In December 1951 the 45th Infantry Division replaced the First Cavalry Division on the front line in Korea.
From December 1951 until the armistice in July 1953 the division participated in four campaigns. It fought in the
Chongjamal area east of Chorwon in the central sector, helped defend Heartbreak Ridge and fought in the Punchbowl
area in the eastern sector.
"For its actions in Korea the 45th Infantry Division was awarded the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit
Citation. In addition to other awards won by members of the division, one 'Thunderbird' Division soldier won the
Medal of Honor for conspicuous bravery on the battlefield. During the course of the war the division suffered
4,038 casualties, including 834 soldiers killed in action or died of wounds, 3170 wounded in action, 1 missing in
action and 33 prisoners of war."
Source: Korean War Almanac
Harry G Summers
Back to Memoir Contents
The Soyang River
I never gave any thought to the name of the Soyang river until 26 Nov 1996, when I obtained the military
topographic maps at Archives II in College Park, Maryland. Some maps identify the river as the Soyang and others
identify it as the Soyang Gang. Gang is the Korean word for river. We climbed into the 2-1/2 ton trucks for the
ride to our units. The trip was northeasterly along the north side of the Soyang river to Inje. The forty miles of
roads were dusty. At one point we rode behind a honey wagon. A honey wagon was a cart filled with human excrement
and pulled by an ox. The smell was awful. They spread excrement on the vegetable fields as fertilizer. I
remembered the advice on parasites. We were getting up into the hills. I did not feel too comfortable with those
young army drivers on those winding narrow roads cut into the hillsides. In places with tight curves and steep
drops we saw five or six steel helmets on sticks beside the road. These were reminders to the drivers of accidents
and resultant fatalities at those points.
I was close to the Soyang river until it was time for me to leave Korea. I was probably within a couple hundred
yards of it during this whole period. We followed the Soyang to the town of Inje. Inje was beside and to the north
of the river at coordinates vicinity DT282132 on map enclosure (5).
To find this point on the map, read right to the longitude line 28 and then estimate the additional 2. Then
read vertical up the latitude lines to 13 and then estimate the additional 2. Later, we traveled thirty miles
north along the Soyang to get to the front. See map enclosures (6) and (7). There we pulled patrols from the
main line of resistance (MLR) down to the Soyang. See map enclosure (7). At that point it curved back toward
the northwest behind the enemy lines. They named the MLR (main line of resistance the Line Minnesota. For some
reason, from Inje north the map called the Soyang the Soyang Gang.
Back to Memoir Contents
Glossary for US Army Topographical Maps of Korea
||primary administrative division
||secondary administrative division
||settlement, village or valley
||secondary administrative division
Back to Memoir Contents
The Town of Inje
At Inje, personnel and staff sections were quartered in squad tents. Mess halls were in tropical huts. We were
encamped between the road that ran through the town and the river. I think that the only building left standing in
the town was the gutted Catholic church on the west side of the highway. Someone must have directed me to the
squad tent, where I put my duffle bag next to a canvas army cot. Very few cots were in the tent. It had a dirt
floor. The tent for the battalion headquarters was nearby. That tent contained a table for the White 2, the 2nd
Battalion Intelligence Officer, Captain Carl Oja and a table for White 3 the 2nd Battalion Operations Officer (?).
This tent was on a raised wooden platform. I guess that this tent and the tent for the 2nd Battalion Commander
were the only ones on wooden platforms. All others were on the ground.
When someone was an intelligence and reconnaissance scout attached to a battalion headquarters, his duties were
different from those of a rifleman in a rifle company. A rifleman did everything in unison with his squad. A scout
operated more or less on his own. We had about four men in our I&R squad. When we got to the front line, we
briefed and debriefed patrols, manned the battalion observation post, went out on patrol, and rode shotgun to
protect the battalion commander. One of us went to each rifle company command post each night and told them in
person the password for that night. That was something that could not be spread via the radio or telephone.
During this period while we were in reserve, we did not have much to do. Captain Oja, our boss, spent most of
his time in a Jeep inspecting the check points for the "No Farm Line." One scout had the assignment of
riding shotgun for the battalion commander. He had the same assignment later when we were on line. He was a very
mild-mannered kid of Italian-American extraction. He was in E Company with Oja when they were on line in the
spring. When we got up on line later, he came to the observation post at night to sleep. The battalion CO's
walking through the hills exhausted him. Was Ackerman the name of another man who was not a scout? He was
assigned to the Operations Section (White 3) and had been with Oja in E Company in an earlier battle.
We had a young North Korean fellow attached to our battalion headquarters. He wore a fatigue uniform but he did
not carry a weapon. He was about twenty-five years of age. He could speak perfect English. He had been educated in
North Korea to the university level. I enjoyed talking to him. I believe his duties were those of an interpreter
and also of an intelligence nature. He was born and raised in North Korea. His parents and siblings were still
there. He was in North Korea when the first Russian troops liberated that country at the end of World War II. He
was a clean-cut, nice looking fellow, but his teeth were in terrible condition. He said that the Russian ground
units had many women in their ranks. I especially enjoyed his stories relating to how the Russian women soldiers
rode through the streets of his hometown to pick up young North Koreans like himself for purposes of making love.
I never did see him after we went on line. The rifle company troops of the 2nd Battalion were improving Line
Kansas near Pyongchon. See map enclosure (6).
Other enlisted men in the squad had been with Captain Oja when he was the E Company commander. They had gone
through a battle while on line a couple of months earlier in the spring of 1952. The company had suffered many
casualties. Now Oja was White 2, the Intelligence Officer for the battalion. Later when we got on line, they moved
him to the position of White 3, the Operations Officer. He was from Minnesota and much shorter than me. See his
photo in Enclosure (1). He stood in front of me, looked up at me, and said something like, "McGill, you do not
know what it is like." He had a picture in his billfold that he showed to everyone. It was a picture of him on a
bucking bronco, but I believe that it was a fake. It seems to me I saw the same bucking bronco on a pedestal in
front of a photo shop near Fort Hood in Texas. You will see his name mentioned quite often as the White 3, in the
Daily Journals of enclosure (13). In 1952, Captain Oja was about thirty-one years of age. He saw service in World
War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
Mickey Rooney put on a show for us one night. He went through his regular routine with the tall girls. I felt
very apprehensive as we walked back to our tents after the show was over. The show was presented on the other side
of the highway that runs through Inje. I think that I was able to see the ruins of the Inje Catholic Church from
the field where we sat and watched the show. When we were on maneuvers in Texas, a professional army
entertainment group also put on a show. It was a musical comedy about a preacher. It was really great rollicking
Back to Memoir Contents
My Bullet Proof Vest
"From Cpl Campbell, White 3: 426 vests worn, 10 hit while wearing vests: 2 vests hit, 1 WIA, 0 KIA through
Daily Journal Message No 44, at 0915 hours, 7 Nov 1952.
At Inje they issued my armored or bulletproof vest to me. The thing did not fit. It was too small and they did
not have a larger size. My boss, Captain Oja, said, "McGill, zip up that vest." The vest had a zipper plus snaps
at the front. It was a couple of inches thick. If we did not zip it up, it hung open for about a foot across at
the front of our chest. We were supposed to wear it over our outside garments. When we went on line, I wore mine
over my underwear. I put my shirt on over it. Even then, if I took a deep breath I could not expand my chest.
Later when we were on line, I went out on patrol. The enemy started shooting at us. When someone is frightened, he
needs to take a deep breath. At the same time, we ran up the side of a hill. With being frightened and the
exertion, I could not expand my chest. I could not get to the vest. It was zipped up and next to my skin. It was
under my fatigue shirt and two bandoliers of ammunition that were crosswise on my chest. After that, I always wore
the thing outside and wide open. Not the best situation. I never did get one that fit.
They constructed the armored vest of flexible pads of basket weave nylon with curved overlapping Doron plates.
Doron plates were plastic armor plates made of laminated layers of glass cloth filaments bonded under heavy
pressure to form a thick rigid slab. The vest could stop a .45 caliber bullet, all fragments of a hand grenade, 75
percent of fragments from a US 81-mm mortar, or the full thrust of a US bayonet.
Back to Memoir Contents
My Career on the 'Vice' Squad
The Soyang river was just a few yards from our tents. It was very swift because the land was much higher to the
north of us. If you look at the map of Inje, enclosure (5), you will see that the contour lines on the south side
of the river are very close together. The vertical distance between these contour lines is ten meters or more than
thirty feet. That means that a steep cliff exists on that side along the river. The cliff is about one hundred and
fifty feet high. We were on the north side when we saw a couple of women standing on the top of the cliff. They
allowed no civilians north of the "No Farm Line." The women should not have been there. A couple of the troops
were missing for a few days. They could have drowned in the swift current trying to get to those women. One day
Oja said to me, "McGill, get those people out of there." So the next day a rifle squad showed up looking for
"McGill." The squad leader directed his men. Had I come up with the "plan of attack?" We waded across the river
and started walking up a valley toward the abandoned town of Chaeudok, in the vicinity of coordinates DT291117.
See map enclosure (5).
About a mile up an old overgrown road, a couple of the young women came walking toward us. They apparently
thought that we were coming to do business. We eventually rounded up about five or six of them. They were dressed
in army fatigues many sizes too large for them. The young women looked like duffle bags with little red lips at
the top. I do not know what they used for lipstick, but it was brilliant. The mamma-san was an older woman and the
young women looked to be in their early teens. The young soldiers wanted to stay there with the young women. They
wanted us to go back without them. I told the sergeant that we were bringing all of them back and turning them all
over to the CID unit in Inje.
When we got back to the river, it was swift and at chest level for the troops. It was over the heads of the
women. At our crossing point the river was about one hundred feet wide. We got back to the river after chow, just
before nightfall. About a hundred of our troops lined up along the other side of the river. They hooted and howled
at us for taking away their women. Our squad had a difficult time carrying both the young women and our weapons
across the river at the same time. At one point I thought that I would have to get a rope for the men to hang onto
while carrying the young women across. We finally got them across and through the angry troops to the CID unit.
Later when I was a rifleman in a rifle company, a cook in the chow line recognized me. He said to me, "Are you the
guy who took our girls down in Inje?" Army trucks were constantly carrying supplies north toward the front
on the road through Inje. The women must have come north while hidden in the backs of those trucks.
Back to Memoir Contents
Slugfest on Line Kansas
One day another scout and I were sent up to the Line Kansas to find a good location and start building a
battalion observation post. Line Kansas was to be the drop back position in case the enemy overran Line Minnesota.
The Kansas line ran through Pyongchon, in the vicinity of coordinates DT 303343. See map enclosure (6). It
must have followed Route 96. I do not know where we were that day along that backup line. The other fellow was a
corporal or a sergeant from Michigan, I think. Was his name Brodniak? He had been in OCS at the Infantry School at
Fort Benning. For some reason, he had dropped out. He was an overbearing type of guy. I was a private first class.
We were both scouts and had the same duties. We found a spot that had good observation forward of the trench that
was under construction. The shovels we had to dig wit were the small trenching tools carried on backpacks.
Brodniak said to me, "Start digging." I dug. After a while, I told him that it was his turn to dig. He said that I
would do the digging. He threw the first punch and with that we were slugging it out on the side of the hill.
After a while we quit fighting. Anyone--friend or enemy--who might have been watching us would have thought that
we were some sort of a comedy act. We sat. Neither of us did any digging. Later that afternoon, a Jeep brought us
back down to Inje. Since neither of us had a black eye, they asked no questions.
Back to Memoir Contents
NCO School at Chunchon
Around this time they sent me back to the 45th Division Replacement Company near Chunchon. I was to receive
about a week or two of training as a non-commissioned officer (NCO). Another rugged young fellow, undergoing the
same training was an actor on Broadway before they drafted him. His surname was McDaniel. Years later he appeared
in a stage production in Boston. McDaniel had the same job in either the 1st or 3rd battalion as I had in the 2nd
battalion. How different his experience in Korea was from that of the singer Eddie Fisher. Fisher was an Army
entertainer in Korea. He was separated from the army at Devens on the same day as I. On the ride home to Pawtucket
in an auto that day, I heard him interviewed by a Boston radio station. The interviewer mentioned that his
(Fisher's) life had been in danger while in Korea. Fisher said nothing to correct that misinformation.
Toward the end of my week of NCO training, we got word that the 179th Infantry was moving up to the Minnesota
Line. So we broke open wooden boxes. We loaded up with bandoliers of ammunition and grenades. Then we climbed back
into the 2-1/2 ton trucks. This time we bypassed Inje and rode straight through to what I believe was the
headquarters for the 179th while it was on line. The location was on Route 291, about twenty-five miles north of
Inje. It was on the west side of the Soyang Gang at a place called Kajon-Ni. It was in the vicinity of coordinates
DT 310408. See map enclosure (7). The map on enclosure (6) shows Route 291, the approximately fourteen miles
of loose surface road that was just to the south of Kajon-Ni. This was the road on which we traveled north in
Back to Memoir Contents
Welcome to Line Minnesota
"On the night of 24-25 October the 1st Battalion relieved the 3rd Battalion, 279th Infantry in the left
sector of the 45th Division sector of Line Minnesota. On the following night, the 2nd Battalion relieved the 3rd
Battalion, 279th Infantry in the right half the regimental sector. At 0015 hours, 27 October, upon completion of
this relief, responsibility for the regimental sector was passed to the 179th Infantry by the 279th Infantry."
Command Report, 179th INF, APO 86
Part I - Introduction
1 October - 31 October 1952
"Opposing the Regiment were the 89th and 90th Regiments of the 45th NK Division."
Command Report, 179th INF, APO 86}
Part III- Intelligence
1 October - 31 October 1952
At or near Kajon-Ni to the left of the Soyang Gang, our battalion commander briefed the officers of the 2nd
battalion on our movement up to the front lines during the coming night. I am not sure of his name. I believe it
was Major Noughton. I attended the meeting. Everyone seemed apprehensive. He told the platoon commanders to
accompany all patrols sent out that night by the battalion we were replacing. This was necessary so that they
would be familiar with terrain forward of their positions in the front line trench. The question arose about what
should be their responsibility if their patrol unit got hit. These men were officers and the leaders of the
patrols going out would be NCOs. The battalion commander said that he would leave it up to their judgment. I
threw my duffle bag onto a pile of other duffle bags that night. It was about a quarter full. I did not see it
again until I was leaving Korea. I lived out of my backpack. We traveled light.
For the 179th Infantry, the front ran in more of a North Northeast to South Southwest direction than in an east
to west direction. See maps in enclosure (4). To our left and southwest of us was the US 40th Infantry
Division and the Punchbowl. The Philippine 10th Infantry Battalion Combat Team occupied the position
immediately to the right of the 179th Infantry on the Minnesota line. They were northeast of us. They were
attached to our 45th Infantry Division. I think that they were regular army troops and signed up for many years
when enlisting. We were part of X Corps. Beyond the Philippinos to our right was the South Korean (ROK) 11th
Infantry Division. Beyond the ROK 11th Division to our right was the ROK 5th Infantry Division. The front line for
the 5th ran all the way to the Sea of Japan. The front line for those two ROK divisions ran in a SSW to NNE
Trucks carrying our battalion of troops moved up Route 291 during the night. The job for the three or four
scouts in my squad was to make sure that the drivers did not make a wrong turn. The North Koreans held hills that
were much higher than ours. They could see down onto the road behind the hills that we occupied. The hill that I
was on was 749 meters or 2,434 feet above sea level. They had a hill that was about three miles north of us that
was 1320 meters or about 4490 feet above sea level. We called that piece of road behind us the "mad mile." Our
trucks could not use their headlights. They positioned me at a Y intersection. They told me to make sure that the
drivers went to the right. They told me that a Jeep would be the last vehicle in the convoy and that it would give
me a lift. I 'shoulda' asked how the troops in the Jeep would see me in the darkness.
A military policeman had a permanent position at that intersection. I chewed the fat with him for a few hours,
as the battalion convoy passed through the intersection. He said that he was afraid that he was to be put into the
infantry. His command used that threat with the troops under their control. He said that he was a "sole survivor."
A sole survivor was one who was in the service and whose only brother had already been killed in the service. The
DOD policy was that they would not endanger the lives of sole survivors.
After a few hours, no more vehicles came through. No Jeep stopped to pick up Private First Class Frank McGill.
Eventually I stopped a vehicle going forward. It was a 3/4-ton truck and belonged to a mortar outfit. I jumped
into the back. I had no idea where it or I was going. Eventually that vehicle stopped. The driver said that he was
going no farther forward, so I got out and walked. I came to some troops who were well dug in manning large
caliber mortars. I asked where my unit was and they said that they knew nothing about it. They pointed the
direction to the front lines and I started walking up a road or path between two hills.
The road started at DT292436 and ran more or less north. It turned into a path and ran to the right of Hill 812
and to the left of Hill 749. The path ended at the Soyang river at DT292476. It ran for about two and one quarter
miles. I was within a mile of this road/path until I left the MLR in December. First I was in the White
observation post (OP) to the right of it as an I&R scout. Then I was a rifleman in G Company on a hill to
the left of it.
No one was anywhere in sight. Even in daylight, no one was in sight on the front line, because they are all dug
into the ground. Eventually, I came to a 'hoochee' dug into the side of the hill. I started walking around it
looking for a door. I called out to the occupants, but they would not answer. I could not find a door. The hoochee
was filled with KSCs. They would not open a door. They yelled, "Go away." The Korean Service Corps (KSC) consisted
of older, unarmed, uniformed Korean men who were used for carrying meals, logs, ammo, etc., etc. up the hill to
the troops. A KSC was usually seen walking with an "A" frame on his back. The device was peculiar to Korea.
The frame was made of wood and it was shaped like the capital letter "A." It had shoulder straps of woven straw
and could carry very heavy loads.
When there was trench warfare, everything on the MLR was underground. Nothing stuck up into the air. If it must
rise above ground level it was embedded in layers of sandbags. Even the 105 and 155 artillery pieces in Artillery
Valley behind the line were dug in. I could see the ends of their barrels sticking up above the ground.
Further up the road between those hills, I found three or four men with a phone or radio. I asked them to get
the White CP (forward command post) on the phone. Red was the code for 1st Battalion, White was the code for 2nd
Battalion, and Blue was for 3rd Battalion. White 2 was the 2nd battalion Intelligence Officer. They got the
battalion forward CP on the phone. The CP gave me the directions to the observation post where I was to work and
sleep. I continued up the hill. I could not see a soul anywhere. Everything and every man was underground.
We had powerful search lights positioned many miles behind our lines shining into the eyes of the enemy. The
enemy had the higher ground. As I got further along the dirt road or path, I could see the enemy hill spread out
across the front of me all lit up. Suddenly, a machine gun and a recoilless rifle erupted from the higher ground
behind me and to my right. Tracers went off over my head toward the enemy positions. Maybe I had gone too far
forward. I went back down the road and found a path that ran up behind those guns. I eventually found our
observation post on the top of Hill 749. The time was a little before daylight on 26 Oct 1952. Like I said, I&R
scouts operate more or less on their own.
In a war of position or trench warfare everything was underground or under sandbags. If someone looked around
during the day, he or she would see no troops and no structures. Everything and every man was in a trench, dug
into the side of hills, or under the cover of logs and sandbags.
Back to Memoir Contents
Codes Used in the Daily Journals of the Command Reports
When reading the daily journals in the command reports (see enclosure 13), remember that code words were used
for individuals and units within the regiment. Some examples of these code words are as follows:
- Red - 1st Battalion, 179th Inf, includes A, B and C (rifle) Companies and D (heavy weapons) Company
- White - 2nd Battalion, 179th Inf, includes E, F and G (rifle) Companies and H (heavy weapons) Company
- Blue - 3rd Battalion, l179th Inf, includes I, K and L (rifle) Companies and M (heavy weapons) Company
- Gibraltar - Headquarters, ? Inf Regiment
- White2 - 2nd Battalion, Intelligence Officer
- White3 - 2nd Battalion, Operations Officer
- White6 - 2nd Battalion, Commanding Officer
- Pagan - Headquarters, 179th Inf Regiment
- Pagan2 - 179th Inf Reg, Intelligence Officer, also known as S2
- Pagan3 - 179th Inf Reg, Operations Officer, also known as S3
- Pagan Green - 179th Inf Reg, Tank Company
- Pagan Brown - 179th Inf Reg, 4.2-inch Mortar Company
- Poison - 279th Infantry Regiment
- Poison Green - Tank Company 279th Inf
- Polish - Artillery
- Power - Headquarters, 45th Infantry Division
- Power2 - 45th Inf Division, Intelligence Officer, also known as G2
- Power3 - 45th Inf Division, Operations Officer, also known as G3
- Plunder Passport - ?, 180th Infantry Regiment
See Enclosure (12) for the organization of the various units within our division. This enclosure also shows the
equipment used by these units.
Back to Memoir Contents
2nd Battalion Observation Post on Hill 749 at DT29754560
"From White-2: White OP picking up flashes (muzzle) approx 3000 yds, az 316 deg, White OP at DT 29754560."
Command Report, 179th Inf, APO 86
Journal Message No 73, at 2205 hours,
28 Oct 1952
Our observation post, White OP, was the highest point on Hill 749. The observation post was ordinarily located
by the six digit coordinates of DT 297456. By adding the fourth digit 5 and the eighth digit 0, i.e., DT29754560,
a more precise location for our observation post was sent to the regimental headquarters by the 2nd Battalion
Intelligence Officer (White 2). I think that White 2 was a Captain Wendt, but I am not sure. Did Wendt take over E
Company a couple of days later? I did not know that the White 2 who replaced Captain Oja had come into the
battalion within the last couple of days.
On the army topographic map, the number 749 is written. That number is the number of meters above sea level for
that location. In many cases rather than using Korean geographical names the hill height was used to identify a
I do know why the White 2 was that exact on giving the map coordinates for our observation post position. When
we sent a piece of information on enemy activity to the battalion forward command post (White Forward CP), we
always gave the direction in degrees and the estimated distance. With those three pieces of information: our
position, an azimuth reading and a distance, the counter-fire platoon within the regiment had a target for our
mortar or artillery fire. We also had the same map that is in this report for identifying the coordinates of the
enemy positions. I do not remember whether it was the 1:50,000 or the 1:25,000 map. We watched everything the
enemy was doing and relayed the information by phone back to the 2nd Battalion forward command post. The battalion
forward command post was about one hundred feet behind us on the back side of our Hill 749. No wonder the daily
journal messages in the command reports, are stamped SECRET.
For a roof, our observation post (OP) had logs with about three or four feet of dirt on top. The interior was
about six feet by six feet square and about four feet high. The slit for observation was about three feet wide and
about a foot high. It was there that the observer positioned himself. The position was manned twenty-four hours a
day. The logs with dirt on top extended about six feet toward the front above the slit, like a visor on a cap.
This visor-like protrusion made it more difficult for the enemy to fire a shell from a flat trajectory weapon
through the slit or fire a mortar round to land close to the slit.
A tunnel from behind the hill led to the OP. On the sides of the tunnel were two small alcoves for us to sleep.
The alcove in which I slept had a huge hole in the roof. I could see the sky. Our bunks consisted of telephone
wire strung across two tree branches. These branches were positioned about four inches above the ground. This
portion of the MLR was occupied by the South Korean Army when the trenches were dug and the hooches were built.
For that reason, everything was constructed on a smaller scale. Our bunks were about four feet long. We had a
choice of either letting our head hang off the end or we could let our feet hang off the end.
We manned the post around the clock. We reported everything we saw. On a couple of occasions I watched the
enemy digging trenches toward our lines during the day. We called in the coordinates and the distance to where the
digging was taking place. We had a pair of powerful artillery binoculars, a map of the area, and a hand-held
compass. The binoculars were built like a periscope. They were built somewhat like a Z. During the night we could
see the flashes when the enemy fired his mortars and artillery. We called in the azimuth reading from the OP to
the flash. Using the map we also gave the approximate coordinates for the position from which they fired. This was
important work. The enemy fired 966 rounds of mortar and artillery into our regimental sector during the last six
days of October 1952. We received 41,393 rounds during November and 23,978 rounds during December. Maybe this
amount of incoming meant that our efforts and those of our regimental counter fire platoon were not very effective
or efficient. At times it was frustrating. We saw the muzzle flashes from their mortars or artillery coming
from the same locations every night. We called in the location of those flashes continuously night after night.
Why were they not knocked out?
I am quite sure that our map showed an enemy hill more than 3000 meters high. It was a few miles north of our
position. The highest point in our regimental area was 812 meters. In addition to our regular maps, our battalion
forward CP also had one three dimensional map of the area. This was the only such map that I saw while in the
Army. I saw that three dimensional map only one time. It was laying on a table in the battalion forward CP.
They could not knock us out with a mortar because of that long overhang on the front of our observation post.
The one that we had to worry about was their 76mm recoilless rifle with its flat trajectory. We worried that
they would put one through the slit.
We could tell which nights they would attack. Their incoming knocked out much of our wire communications during
the previous day. We buried our phone wires about a foot under the ground in our trenches. During the day we
looked for enemy activity such as the digging of trenches. At night we looked for their flashes.
Hill 749 had originally been captured from the NKPA (North Koreans Peoples Army) by the United States 1st
Marine Division during the period 13 through 16 September 1951. A detailed description of their action is in
Chapter IX, pages 190 through194 in Volume IV of the five volume "US Marine Operations In Korea." Volume IV is
entitled "The East-Central Front." Excerpts from the section entitled, "The Fight for Hill 749" in Chapter
IX are as follows:
"Casualties of the 1st Marine Division during the four-day fight for Hill 749, most of them suffered by the
attacking regiment, were 90 KIA, 714 WIA, and 1 MIA. Enemy loses for the same period were 771 counted KIA
(although more than twice that number were estimated KIA) and 81 prisoners.
"Vittorio (Corporal Joseph Vittorio of Fox Company) was mortally wounded, thus becoming the second Marine of
2/1 in a twenty-four hour period to win the Medal of Honor. His predecessor was Pfc Edward Gomez of Easy
I had no idea, until early 2003, that the Marines had suffered such a high number of casualties in taking this
Back to Memoir Contents
Attack on F (Fox) Company Outpost
"On 29 Oct at 0440, an outpost from F Company engaged approximately ten (10) enemy in a firefight of 30
minutes duration. In this action three (3) enemy were killed and one (1) additional enemy was estimated killed
and one estimated wounded. Friendly casualties were two (2) killed, four (4) wounded and one (1) missing from
the outpost, with one additional killed from a relief unit en route to the outpost and three (3) men were hit
from litter teams evacuating wounded."
Part II - Narrative of Activities
1 October - 31 October 1952
Around 0700 or 0800 on 29 Oct a call came telling me to accompany White 2 and another fellow down to the
outpost. I think that the other fellow was my 'slugfest' buddy, Brodniak. On the outpost, a draftee from Puerto
Rico had killed and wounded the enemy with his Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). He was the only one on the outpost
not killed, wounded, or missing. He said that the enemy had "come down from our lines." We figured that many of
our other men on the outpost had been asleep when the enemy hit. The enemy had dropped a white phosphorus grenade
in each of their holes. The only way to stop white phosphorus from burning is to stop oxygen from getting to the
wound. How are you going to do that in a fox hole on an outpost in front of the line? White 2 said that the other
fellow and I were to find out how the enemy had gotten through the minefields. He then returned to the battalion
CP. I am not sure, but I think that he was Captain Wendt. He was new. He had been with us since we came on line. I
never saw him again. He was kind of chubby. I think that he later became the CO of Easy Company.
The CO of F Company was First Lieutenant Pedro Schirra, a 1950 graduate of West Point. He was considered
to be one of the best officers in the battalion. He like the kid with the BAR who was a resident of Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico, because of its relationship to the US, also drafted men for the Korean War.
White 2, the other fellow, and I climbed out of the F Company trench and started going down the hill to the
outpost. The coordinates for the outpost were vicinity DT303467. See map enclosure (7). This was the first
time that I had been forward of the front line trench. I felt very exposed. As we worked our way down the steep
hill, we came to a rest. Within a few inches of my left hand was an army boot. I sat there looking at the boot and
marveled at how shiny it was. One spends a lot of time in the army shining boots. I suddenly realized that the
boot was on a dead American GI. He was partly hidden by a bush. The reason I say American is that most of the
squads in the rifle companies had one or two Republic of Korea (ROK) troops integrated into them. They were
referred to as KATUSAS. We got to the outpost and it consisted of about seven or eight single man holes around a
slight knoll. They positioned the holes in the shape of a horseshoe with the open end facing the enemy. They
wanted the enemy to walk inside the horseshoe and then they had them.
The smell of burnt powder, excrement, white phosphorus and whatever was awful. The ravines on both sides of
this knoll were supposed to be mined. Suddenly, we heard a whisssh as a flat trajectory shell went past us and
exploded in the ravine to our right. I jumped into a hole with a young black kid. He was bigger than me. They dug
the hole for one man. I think that the only phone to the outpost was in this hole. I do not know whether the phone
at the other end of the line was in the Fox Company CP or the platoon CP. The enemy kept on trying to hit us with
that 76mm recoilless rifle. Most of the rounds were slamming into the ravine to our right. We were on a knoll, so
when they missed with a flat trajectory round, it hit far behind us.
I did see the squad leader and some other members of his squad when we first got to the outpost. After the
rounds started coming in, I saw none of them. He kept yelling to his men to keep their heads up so they could see
if the enemy was coming. I kept telling this kid to keep his head down. The enemy from the earlier attack were
laying on the ground around us. Apparently the Puerto Rican kid with the BAR had cut them across their stomachs
with his BAR. They were holding their stomachs. A little red star was above the brim on one of their cloth caps. I
did not know if any of them were still alive. We later found that two were officers. The young guy in my hole
asked if he could use my toothbrush to clean his M1. A weapon had a light coating of oil. It was always in the
dirt. Our weapon always needed cleaning, whether in this hole or in the trench.
After a while, 82mm mortar rounds started coming in. The enemy was more accurate with mortars. When they
missed, they could see where they landed. They could then walk them around until they were on target. By this time
I was on the phone. I was laying in the bottom of the hole. The other guy kept lifting his head up to see if the
enemy was coming. I told the guy on the other end of the line that we needed smoke. The enemy would not see where
their rounds were landing if we had smoke. I also told him that I was one scared soldier. He told me to keep
talking, if that would help.
I must have moved up to near the top of the hole. Suddenly, I felt something. The other guy fell over on top of
me. The blood was coming out of the side of his head. A mortar round had landed about a foot from the edge of our
hole. I could see wisps of smoke coming out of the ground in the indentation it had made in the earth. I was back
on the bottom of the hole. The kid was laying on top of me. His blood was running down all over me. I told the guy
on the other end of the line that we needed a medic. The mortar rounds were landing and I was under him. I kept
thinking that I should be on the top protecting him. Whoever had the responsibility for firing the smoke mortars
was dropping them downwind from us. I told the guy on the phone that they had to drop them upwind, which would
have been to our left.
Suddenly, a tall thin medic appeared in front of me. He was carrying a rolled up canvas stretcher. I yelled at
him to get down. The mortars were still coming in. I think that I poked him in the legs with the butt of my rifle,
to get him to drop. By this time the smoke was helping us. I pulled the kid out of the hole and strapped him into
the stretcher while the medic connected something to him and held it high in the air. I started dragging the
stretcher up the steep hill. See the closeness of the contour lines on the map, enclosure (7). He kept sliding out
of the stretcher. It kept getting tangled in the bushes and the telephone lines that ran everywhere. I took him
out of the stretcher and tried pulling him by the back of his shirt. He slid down out of his shirt. I tried
pulling him by one of his legs and his other leg kept getting entangled in the bushes. The blood started to fill
his mouth. He was gurgling. The medic disappeared. I do not know what happened to the medic. I turned him on his
stomach, grabbed him by both of his boots, and with both of our M1s slung over my shoulder, I dragged him up to
the trench. As I dragged him, I was wondering if he was still alive. We eventually got to the trench. I sat him up
against the wall in the trench.
I went to an F Company CP behind the hill to tell them that they had to take care of their man. About four men
were sitting outside of the hoochee in a daze and they would not respond. Finally, someone stuck his head out from
behind sandbags at the CP and said that they would take care of him. I had to go back down to the outpost. As I
passed by the kid lying in the trench, I reached down and got my toothbrush out of his shirt pocket. I do not know
whether he was alive. I often wonder if he stayed alive. Later that day, my buddy and I got word to come back. My
helmet had a slight dent in the side. I must have had my head slightly above ground when that mortar round hit.
Later that day, a short black sergeant from an engineering outfit came to our observation post. He had to
answer questions as to the existence and location of minefields in front of F Company. A career man, his wife and
children were back in Germany. We admired a pair of binoculars that he had recently purchased while on R&R in
Japan. He was an upbeat guy and slept in our tunnel. A couple of days later a mine went off below him. He was
alive, but the bottom of his torso was in bad shape.
Back to Memoir Contents
History of the North Korean 45th Infantry Division
Opposing the 179th Infantry Regiment were the 89th and 90th Regiments of the 45th North Korean Infantry
NK 45th Infantry Division
- August - December 1950: Formed in the Nampo area where it trained and had a coastal defense mission. Routed
by UNC forces in October, it withdrew to Manchuria.
- January - May 1951: Reconstituted under VIII Corps in eastern sector. Fought until April when it suffered
heavy losses in personnel and equipment. Withdrew to the Kumgang Mountain area for rest, reorganization and
- July - August 1951: Relieved the 15th Infantry Division, III Corps in the eastern sector. Later it was
relieved by elements from the VI Corps.
- August 1951 - January 1952: III Corps reserve, involved in training.
- January 1952-53: Recommitted to combat, again relieving the 15th Infantry Division, III Corps in the eastern
Source: The Korean War, an Encyclopedia, Stanley Sandler, 1990
Back to Memoir Contents
Map Overlay of Enemy Positions on Line
"One prisoner of war identified the 9th Company, Third Battalion, 89th Regiment; one identified the Heavy
Machine Gun Company, Second Battalion 90th Regiment and two identified the 7th Company Third Battalion, 89th
Regiment. The latter two were captured by L Company in an assault on an enemy outpost. The other two surrendered
voluntarily, being dissatisfied with conditions in the NKPA . . .
"The Regimental Counterfire Platoon fixed 15 enemy weapon positions during the period, of which 2 were 60 mm
mortar positions, 6 were 82 mm mortar positions, 1 was a 120 mm mortar position, 4 were 76mm artillery
positions, and 2 were 57mm recoilless rifle positions...."
Section III, Intelligence
1 Dec 1952 to 31 Dec 1952
See the map overlay enclosure (8) for the disposition of the North Korean 89th and 90th Infantry Regiments of
their 45th Infantry Division. It also shows some units of the North Korean 91st Regiment. This overlay was drawn
up either by or for Colonel Irvin, the commander of the 179th Infantry Regiment on 1 January 1953 after the
regiment headquarters had pulled back to Kowontong at DT348216 around 29 December 1952.
The original overlay is in the folder at Archives II. It was made of a translucent plastic material. It would
lay over Map Korea 1:25,000, sheets 6829 III SE, 6828 IV NE. I have reduced the overlay to 65 percent of its
original size so that it will fit on an 81/2" x 11" page in this report. If a reader wants to reproduce the
original from this copy, he needs to return it to its original size. The overlay was Annex #1 to the Intelligence
Section III of the December 1952 Command Report for the 179th Infantry Regiment.
Back to Memoir Contents
From Lt Runyon: Re: Air Activity
- Planes 3 AD (Navy) carrying 9, 500 lb GP bombs 18,260 frag bombs. 12 HUAR (rockets) max ld. 20mm. On tgt
0931 off at 0941. 100% coverage of tgt; 85% eff use of ordinance. 4 bunkers damaged. 4 mortar position damaged.
1 secondary explosion. Tgt DT297482.
- 4 F84's, 8 napalm on at 1442 off at 1450, 100% coverage, 80% use of ordnance. 11 pers shelters damaged; 8
small fires. DT280535.
- 4 F84's, 8 napalms on tgt DT283951103; 100% coverage and 80% eff use of ordinance - hazy smoke could not
Journal Message No. 52, at 1650 hours
6 Nov 1952
Occasionally, small aircraft dropped napalm and bombs on the enemy on the other side of the Soyang Gang. These
aircraft were of a silver or white color. Puffs of smoke appeared around the planes as they made their dives. The
puffs were from enemy anti-aircraft guns positioned in front of our lines. I never realized that those type of
guns were forward of our lines. We could hear but could not see the heavy bombers as they dropped their
heavy loads beyond the enemy hills. We heard a continuous rumble. Occasionally on some nights, a large Air
Force plane dropped a huge flare behind the enemy lines and take photos.
Back to Memoir Contents
Attack on Hill 812
"The night of 6-7 Nov produced the heaviest action of the month . . . An enemy force . . . a reinforced
battalion attacked along . . . two thirds of the regimental front . . . Beginning at 060800 Nov . . . a total of
1625 mortar and artillery fire was received in the 2nd Battalion sector. The attack began at 2300, hours when a
selected force of approximately 75 enemy attacked Hill 812 . . . The initial attack of this force was made
through their own mortar and artillery fire . . . Friendly casualties totaled 1 killed and 10 wounded, while
those inflicted on the enemy were 9 known killed, 11 additional believed killed, and 18 estimated wounded."
Part II - Narrative of Activities
1 Nov - 31 Nov 1952
"From Major Naughton, White 6 : Commo out fr all Cos to White CP; serious probe in White area, Blue alerted,
Bn Commander estimated it as heavy atk. (Lt Anderson)"
Part VII - Daily Journal
Message No. 103 at 2330
6 Nov 1952
"From White: HILL 812, half overrun. (Lt Anderson)"
Part VII - Daily Journal
Message No. 108 at 2340
6 Nov 1952
"From Major Naughton, White 6, large force in front of F Co, waiting for situation to crystallize before
firing; 3 platoons fixed bayonets, have moved half way up hill. (Lt Anderson)"
Part VII, Daily Journal
Message No. 112 at 2345
6 Nov 1952
I remember that day and night. During the daylight hours so much artillery came in that our telephone lines,
buried in the bottom of our trenches, were blown up. As a result, we were limited in our communications. They
attacked before midnight and overran our front trench. They sat up a machine gun on top of the platoon CP on the
rear side of the hill (with the Lieutenant on his radio inside), fired and moved down the back side of the hill.
Our battalion commander was on the other end of our phone line wanting to know whether the artillery rounds
coming in were from our guns or their guns. I told him that I did not know. He kept after me for an answer. I
really could not tell the difference. The next day he crawled up into our observation post.
The hills were lit up as though it was daylight. Huge flares were slowly coming down from the sky. They must
have been fired from artillery pieces and attached to parachutes. All of those huge searchlights miles behind our
lines were also concentrated on our area. Anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) searchlight batteries behind our
lines bounced searchlight beams off low-lying clouds and that light was reflected onto enemy positions. I tried to
crawl out of the observation post through the slit with the phone in order to answer the questions from our
battalion forward CP. I think that they plugged us through to the regimental CP so that we could answer their
questions also. I heard later that our battalion commander wanted to lead the troops in the push to take back our
trench. I heard also that he was ordered by the regimental commander to stay in the battalion forward CP.
When the enemy was pushed back off the hill, they took our apple butter and crackers with them. I was concerned
that the enemy could toss a grenade through our slit from the side. One kid positioned himself so that he could
get any of them coming up our tunnel from the rear. If I remember right, some incoming were air bursts. Could some
of the incoming also have been white phosphorus? The command report states that over 200 enemy troops hit our
We usually had mortar rounds coming in, but this time it was heavy artillery rounds. Some of them landed near
us and the ground shook. One large shell landed forward of our OP and it looked like white phosphorous. Some of
them must have had proximity fuses, as they seemed to burst above the ground.
Back to Memoir Contents
Life on the Line
One scout manning the OP was an older career man. Earlier he had been stationed in Panama. He had six or
eight years in the army. He often used someone else's sleeping bag. He then urinated in the bag. After a while,
our bags smelled terrible. Used mortar tubes were driven down into the sides of the trenches for urinating. Slit
trenches for bowel movements were behind the hill. One night I saw an officer squatting over the slit trench
behind our OP. He had a pistol on his hip and no other weapon. His left arm was missing. His shirt sleeve was
rolled up and pined at the top. I spoke to him and gave him some of our rations. He was sleeping in an abandoned
hoochee just behind our OP. I could not figure what a guy with no arm could be doing on line. I believe he was
connected to some artillery unit.
The guys in our I&R squad were assigned a short stretch of trench which we were supposed to keep clean. I made
a small sign. The sign read "Keep this trench clean. Cleanliness is next to Godliness." I pinned the sign to a log
that ran over the trench. The next day my sign was gone.
As I remember, we used two different types of sleeping bags. In the warmer weather, it seems to me that we had
a woolen bag with a cloth cover. When the weather got very cold, we had a very large, quilted, down-filled,
mummy-shaped bag. This bag was big and bulky. We could climb into it with helmet and weapon and wearing all of our
winter clothes and boots.
We did not have a source for meals for the first couple of weeks. The rifle companies around us had their meals
carried up the hill by the KSCs. We were told to walk over to the rifle companies for our meals. We never knew
when they were being fed. Instead, we ate C rations, or maybe they were called assault rations. We stole cases of
these rations from an artillery forward observation post. Their observation post was on a hill near us. They
stored their cases of C rations in an alcove outside of their hoochee. About twelve boxes/meals were in a case. A
case was about the size of a suitcase. A black quarter moon shaped like a C was stenciled on the outside of the
case. We stole a case or two a week. We stored these cases of rations in an abandoned hoochee behind our OP.
These rations were very rich. Each box contained a large round bar (chunk) of cocoa, a sealed can of food, a
large round cracker, toilet paper, and a can of Sterno for heating. A bar of soap must have been in there also.
The sealed cans contained a variety of food. As I remember, they were ham and eggs, pork and beans, and maybe one
other meal. Were matches in there also? I ate the chunk of cocoa without water. Later during the physical when I
was separated from the army the dentist said, "You have excellent teeth. Take care of them." We stored the toilet
paper inside of our helmet liner. I ate the sealed cans of food cold. They usually contained meat. I opened box
after box looking for a meal that I liked. The sealed tin that contained eggs and ham was the best. After a while,
these sealed cans were always frozen. I ate them while frozen. It was too much of an effort to heat the cans over
the Sterno. The large cracker was similar to a Uneeda biscuit and made to expand in the stomach, I think. I lived
on these rations until I went into a rifle company on 16 November 1952. As I remember, the constant diet of this
rich food made us very gassy. Every night at seven they also gave each of us two candy bars.
The enemy played oriental music on loudspeakers during some nights. They then spoke in the Korean language to
the KATUSAS in our rifle squads. Some days they sent mortars over us that made a whirling sound before exploding
in the air. The whirling sound attracted our attention. After the round exploded in the air above our heads, their
propaganda pamphlets fell into our trenches. I remember one with a fellow laying on the beach in Miami. He was
laying back on a chaise lounge and holding a drink. A bevy of young women in bathing suits were around him. The
wording was something to the effect of why should that guy be there and you here.
While in Korea, I had my first bath in a river with women around me wanting to wash my clothes. That was at the
45th Division Replacement Company back near Chunchon. It was quite a thrill to be sitting in the river naked and
shaving with young Korean women giggling around you wanting to wash your clothes. Their clothing was tied up in
such a way that we could see their smooth, bare legs.
After we went on line, we went to the rear once to take a shower. On that day it was snowing. We stacked our
rifles, shed our clothes, put our billfolds in our helmets, and carried only our helmets into the shower tent. I
got all soaped up under a trickle of water and they shut the water off. Our time was up. We came out the opposite
end of the tent where there were piles of clean, used clothing. We poked through the piles until we found
something that fit. Any other bath that I took in Korea was in my steel helmet. I used the can of Sterno
from the rations to heat the water in the helmet only one time. Not much heat, not much water.
Our battalion commander came down our trench on an inspection trip. The rumor was that he would levy a fifty
dollar fine on anyone who did not shave. I was always fully clothed when getting washed. A couple of times I tried
to shave by splashing cold, soapy water on my face and then using the razor. After a while, I dry shaved without
soap or water. My third bath--a cold, saltwater shower--was on a troop ship headed back to Japan. It was not worth
a hoot. Hill 812 was 812 meters above sea level. That was 2652 feet. If we wanted water, WE walked down the back
of the hill to the bottom. Then WE hauled that can back up the hill. We did not have any KSCs assigned to us. The
enemy had the higher ground and could walk his mortar rounds along those paths. We did not waste water on staying
We could hear the shells from the heavy artillery passing in both directions high over our heads. We could tell
which way they were going. They made a shhh sound and must have been of a very large caliber. I think they were
trying to knock out those huge floodlights. The lights were positioned many miles behind our lines. Down behind us
was a place we called "Artillery Valley." It had many well-dug-in 105 and 155 artillery pieces. The artillerymen
covered the valley with a heavy smog. They burned some kind of chemical in 50 gallon drums. This created the smog.
The smog hindered the enemy in seeing where their rounds were landing. The hills of the enemy were higher than
ours. I often wonder if those artillerymen suffer ill effects today from breathing that burning chemical month
The walls of the trench were about five to seven feet high. Every fifty to sixty feet along the trench, a log
roof with three or four feet of dirt was placed atop the trench. This roof ran for six to ten feet. They dug
hooches into the walls at these points for the troops to sleep and take cover from incoming artillery. Later, when
I was assigned to a rifle platoon, for some reason I was the assistant squad leader. My position when we ran down
that trench at night was at the rear end. As we ran, our spacing was subject to the accordion affect. It was dark
and we could not lose touch with the man in front of us. The logs across the trench were never at the same height.
Remember also that these trenches had been dug by South Korean soldiers for a South Korean Infantry Division. They
were much smaller than Americans. I ran as fast as I could in a stooped-over position. I ran into one of those low
slung logs at full speed. Though I wore that steel helmet, the jolt left me staggering. At night we were running
through a strange tunnel. The tunnel sometimes made a sharp turn. We ran bent over and head first at full speed
into a wall. We were always concerned about getting dirt in our weapon.
The closest I came to a "Purple Heart" was on two occasions. One night another fellow and I were carrying a
stretcher with an F Company man down the trench. We were running as fast as we could with our rifle slung over our
shoulder. The trench was a couple of inches wider then the handles on the stretcher. My knuckles rubbed the sides
of the trench as we ran. They were very raw by the time we got the guy behind the hill. The second time was when I
was opening a C ration can of food. We used a little metal key to puncture and peel back the thin metal cover on
the can. I gouged my thumb on my left-hand knuckle on the sharp blade attached by a hinge to the small metal key.
The key was about 1-1/2 inches by 2 an inch. Attached by a hinge to it was a small blade 2 inch by 2 inch. The
army nomenclature for this little devil was "P-38." As I am typing this, I look at the scar. It is still there. My
war wound? At the time it seemed to take forever for these cuts to heal.
The KSC carried the enemy dead off our hills. The KSC tied the enemy's two hands together. They used telephone
wire. They also tied the dead's two ankles together. They then slide a pole about eight or ten feet long through
the arms and then the legs. With a KSC on each end of the pole and the pole on their shoulder, they walked the
body off the hill. The head of the enemy dead hung and bounced as they walked. Our dead were not handled that way.
At one point, a curious thing was happening and for days I could not figure it out. Occasionally, I saw a
yellow drop at the front brim of my helmet. While wearing the helmet, I stared at this drop in wonder. I sat in
the sun in the trench and looked at the sun shining through this yellow spot. After a few days, the reason for
this yellow spot dawned on me. In the cold weather, we had the mummy style, down-filled sleeping bag. When we
needed to urinate, we removed our plastic helmet liner from inside the steel helmet. We then positioned the steel
helmet in the bag and we urinated into it. Then we poked the steel helmet out of the bag and dumped it out. We
left the wet steel helmet outside the bag with the open side facing down. The remaining urine turned to ice on the
inside of the steel helmet. I never noticed the ice when I inserted the plastic liner. During the day the weather
warmed up, and the ice melted and started dripping from my brim. Dummy!
We had mice in the hoochees. The hoochees were dug into the sides of the trench and used for sleeping and cover
from artillery. They were about four feet high, four feet wide and seven feet long. A sandbag, slit open along its
seam and hung over the opening, gave us a door. A slight mound was just inside the door. If the enemy threw a
grenade into the hoochee, the blast was reflected upward and back toward the opening by the mound.
We did not sleep during the night. At daybreak we caught a couple hours of sleep. That also meant no breakfast.
During the whole period that we were on line, the longest sleep I had was two hours. Actually, I felt better when
I was exhausted. When rested, I started thinking about going home. That hurt because I was always very frightened.
In the colder weather, my hoochee also had stalactites and stalagmites of ice.
I received one letter while in Korea. It was sent to me by my sister Marie. She enclosed a picture of the
family. Apparently, the negative was not the best. Most of the family did not have heads. At that time, I was in
the rifle squad. I showed the picture of my family to the other fellows. Enclosed with the picture was a small
prayer card entitled "Prayer of a Soldier." On the reverse side of the prayer card, I started checking off the
days I had remaining in Korea. See copy enclosure (9).
When I was in the rifle squad, I sent about three hundred dollars home. We were going out on patrol every three
or four nights in the "No Man's Land" forward of the trench. I was afraid of getting hit with all of that money in
my pocket. I was afraid to leave the money in my backpack back in the trench. There was always the possibility
that we would not return to that same position on line when we came back in from a patrol. My sister Marie bought
a sofa for the living room in our home in Pawtucket with that money.
I went to a Catholic Mass once the whole time that I was in Korea. That was at Inje and before we went on line.
The Mass was held in a tent and there were no seats. We had no idea as to the days of the week. At the time,
I could not have told you whether the day was a Monday or a Thursday. The day of the week had no relevance. I saw
the Catholic chaplain one other time. We had a contact patrol going out that night. He had come up to hear the
confession of any kid so inclined. His head was all wrapped in white bandages. His Jeep had recently turned over
on the side of a hill. A contact patrol kept going forward until it met the enemy. It was heavily armed. The
combat patrol that night was armed with a mortar, a light machine gun, and also had an artillery forward observer
among the troops.
When the weather got very cold, we were issued the recently invented Mickey Mouse boots to stop our feet from
freezing. These rubber boots had an air pocket that made all of its surfaces about an inch thick. So as you can
imagine, my size 13 Mickey Mouse boots were gigantic. Every one of my buddies had received their boots. They told
me that they could not find a pair big enough to fit me. One day after about a week, two KSCs came up the hill.
Each of them was carrying one boot for me. Imagine! When I walked through the snow, I left very large footprints
when wearing those boots. When I went into the rifle squad on 16 November, the medic checked our feet every couple
of nights for frostbite. We removed our boots and he stuck a pin into each of our toes. Every night he handed us a
clean dry pair of socks and the two bars of candy.
Years later, I learned that the brother of a fellow naval aviation depot employee, Bruno Tassone, designed and
oversaw the manufacture of the first Mickey Mouse boot for the army. He was employed at a US Army research lab up
outside of Boston. These boots were good when staying in one position. They could not have been used for hiking
over long distances. Our socks seemed to be always wet in the boots, but our feet were not cold and they did not
freeze. We wore them in the trench and on patrol.
The snow melted during the day and the water ran down the walls of the trench. At night, the water froze and
the walls turned to ice. After a while, the crust of ice on the walls of the trench built up. The ice got to be
five or six inches thick. I can remember one night standing in the trench with my back against the icy wall. I
fell asleep while standing upright. When I awoke with a jolt after a few moments, my legs seemed locked at the
knees. That was the only time in my life that such a thing has happened. On one occasion, I awoke to see a
stalagmite sticking up inside of one of my boots.
We never spoke to each other about our families back home, politics, religion or any matter relating to our
personal lives. Even when two of us were in the trench together, we never communicated to each other anything
other than that which was occurring then and now. This must be the reason that I do not know anything about the
names or lives of the men I served with in Korea. We never engaged in small talk. That is sad.
Back to Memoir Contents
G (George Company, 179th Infantry Regiment), Here I Come
"On 15 November the first of 3 additional rifle platoons in the regiment became operative in I Company. 2nd
Battalion organized a similar platoon in G Company on 16 November and 1st Battalion in B Company on 18 November
. . . Third Battalion relieved Second Battalion on the MLR on the morning of 16 November . . . G Company moved
into blocking position at DT286440 . . . "
Part II - Narrative of Activities
1 November to 31 November 1952
On 15 November I was told that I was going into the G Company fifth rifle platoon mentioned above. (Ernie Pyle
the newspaper correspondent/columnist had written a few columns on the men in G Company, 179th Infantry while it
was in action in Italy during World War II.) I was the one in my unit with the least time left in Korea. That
night I grabbed my sleeping bag and backpack and went to the back of the hill where the platoon was being put
together. About six men were assigned to my squad. I do not know any of their names. I know that our squad leader
was a corporal and that his father was the distribution manager for the newspaper in Detroit, Michigan. Two of the
fellows were draftees from Puerto Rico. One of the two remaining was a tall thin kid and the other was a short
rugged kid. Most of them had just come on line that night. When I approached the lieutenant, it was very dark. He
said that he thought that he had seen me before. I did not like that, so I did not respond. There are times when
the less you know the better off you are.
Our battalion was now in reserve. That meant that we pulled daylight security patrols behind our line. We also
pulled observation and contact patrols in front of our line. Our squad walked the hills behind our lines,
constantly looking for enemy who may have penetrated our lines. This was more relaxing than patrolling in "no
man's land" in front of the lines. The only times that I was really concerned were the two or three times that our
young squad leader led us into possible minefields. He carried the map which identified those fields. We were
walking along and he suddenly stopped. He said something like, "I think we're in a minefield." Then he
started studying the map. Other than that, I believe that he was a good squad leader.
On one cold day we were pulling a patrol behind our line. We came to a road where four or five troops were
standing around trying to keep warm. Laying nearby was a pile of Munroe-shaped charges. A Munroe-shaped charge was
an explosive; however, it needed an igniter in order to explode. The charges were about the size of a one gallon
paint can. The "shaped" came from the fact that at one end it had an indentation shaped like and larger than the
size of an ice cream cone. When a Munroe charge exploded, all of the force was exerted at a point in the center of
the opening in that cone. When positioned right and backed up by sandbags, it could blow a hole through steel or a
couple feet of concrete. I was introduced to this explosive during my intelligence & reconnaissance training at
One of the troops placed one on the road and other troops broke it into smaller pieces by pounding it with the
butts of their rifles. I do not know how, but someone then ignited those pieces. They burned with a brilliant
light and we all stood as near as we could to capture some of the heat. I do not think that they gave off much
heat. Could we have been hurt doing this?
On one patrol behind the line, I remember seeing a cave dug into the side of a hill. The cave was small and
black inside. Someone mentioned that it was an old oven in which the Korean civilians had made their charcoal. On
another one of those patrols, we came upon a road being built for better access to the front trench. No one
was working on it. On another occasion we searched the hill above the artillery positions.
Back to Memoir Contents
Three-Man Daylight Observation Patrol
One foggy morning the platoon sergeant, accompanied by a fellow with a radio on his back, came up to me. He
said that the three of us were going down in front of our line, "no man's land", to the Soyang Gang river on a
three-man daylight observation patrol. We were to go forward of the MLR at the trench held by the 3rd Battalion.
We also were to avoid any contact with the enemy. Both of them carried the light carbines and I had my M-1. This
was to be strictly an observation patrol. Some light snow was falling and it was very foggy. The sergeant
was the point man. The radioman was in the center and I was in the rear. The radio was carried on his back. It was
about 18'x12'x6', as I remember. It was heavy. Most of the weight must have been the battery. It had a hand-held
phone attached to it by a cord.
We went down a finger to near the river. I estimate that we went down to the vicinity of coordinates DT293473.
See map enclosure (7). I had never been that far forward of the front lines. The fog gradually lifted and after a
while the light snow stopped. We took cover and stayed there for quite a while. I could hear the water flowing in
the river which was about twenty feet in front of us.. We listened for sounds of the enemy. A log was laying in
the water for use in crossing. The Soyang Gang was very narrow at this point--maybe twenty feet across. It ran in
a west to east direction. Actually, not much cover existed because at that time of the year no leaves were on the
trees. We moved to the left along the river. We had been out for three or four hours. There was no enemy activity
from what we could see or hear. Their trench was on the other side of the river. It was at a higher elevation than
where we stood. We moved further to the right along the river. Did we plan to return up a different finger than
the one we had come down?
We started moving back up the ravine toward our own lines with the sergeant in the lead, the fellow with the
radio in the middle, and me in the rear. Suddenly I heard pop, pop, pop...and I noticed branches were falling from
the trees over our heads. We hit the ground. In front of us was an enemy machine gun. Two of them were crouched
over the gun. Off on each side was a man with a rifle. They were well dug in. Our rifles were no match for their
machine gun. We could not have reached them with a grenade. They were between us and our lines. The sergeant said
to run up the hill to our left and get to the other side. As the kid with the radio ran in front of me, I thought
I saw the radio on his back take a few rounds. It was tough running up that hill and I was one scared soldier.
I soon realized that I was in trouble. I could not expand my chest. The damn armored vest was beneath my
clothing. It was atop my T shirt and zipped up. There was no way I could get to it through the layers of clothing
and bandoliers of ammunition, while I ran up the hill. I could not see the sergeant and I could not see the
radioman. I had to do something. So I slowed, laid down on the ground, and eventually crawled to the top. I moved
beyond the view of the machine gun and lay on the ground. I got below the layers of clothing and opened the vest
so that I could take a deep breath.
We were still quite a distance below our line and did not know if there were other enemy in the area. I spotted
the Sarge and we moved closer together. We could not see the fellow with the radio. We could not leave him. We
looked for about a half an hour, but could not find him. We worked our way back up to the outpost in front of the
At the outpost we picked up about six more men. Some carried BARs. The Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) carries a
clip of twenty rounds of .30 caliber bullets. It could fire a single shot or at the rates of 350 or 550 rounds a
minute. When empty, the BAR weighed sixteen pounds. We had to go back down and find the kid with the radio. I
don't think that the battalion would have dropped any mortar rounds on the MG until we found him. The mortars of
the battalion's heavy weapons company would take care of the enemy machine gun, not us.
We found him sitting against a tree down almost to the river. He apparently turned left when he ran up the side
of the ravine to the top of the finger and headed back down to the river. He seemed pretty relaxed. He was a cool
customer. Why didn't he try to work his way back up to the line?
Back to Memoir Contents
Thanksgiving Day 1952
We had turkey for Thanksgiving Day. Usually we had two meals a day. The KSCs carried one meal to the top of the
hill just after sunrise. I usually missed the morning meal. The only time that we could sleep was for a couple of
hours just after sunrise. They brought the evening meal up just before sundown. We were going out on patrol that
night and I was very apprehensive. Later I saw a copy of the Army Times. It mentioned that the troops were
well-fed that day and were being supplied with charcoal for heat. We never saw our first piece of charcoal. The
day was cold with half rain and half snow coming down.
The KSCs carried the containers of food up the hill. The meal was served in the usual place--a very shallow
(two or three foot deep) trench that ran just behind the hill. We took turns leaving our positions to go back and
eat. That was our usual procedure. Very few men were allowed to be in the chow line at one time. The NCO running
the chow line was constantly yelling, "Don't bunch up" or "One round will get you all." The enemy knew how to walk
their mortars right down that trench. We got our chow and move away from the area as quickly as possible.
A mess kit had two halves. The KSCs brought all mess gear back down the hill after each feeding to be cleaned.
We grabbed half a mess kit at the beginning of the chow line. They were carried in wooden crates, so we did not
have our own mess kit. We did have our own metal cup, which we rarely cleaned. The bottom of the trench had about
four or five inches of mud.
When it was my turn to eat, the mess kit halves that were left in the crate were the smaller of the two. I
started through the line and the first KSC was serving mashed potatoes. The next one was serving yellow turnip . .
. next cranberries . . . next gravy . . . next turkey. The rain was coming down and the food was all soupy in the
tray. They then put a scoop of ice cream on the top with small jelly beans. I then moved down the trench with this
soupy mixture. I promptly tripped over a telephone wire in the trench and the whole thing landed in the mud at the
bottom of the trench. I scooped as much of it as I could back into the tray and leaned against the side of the
trench and ate it. So much for the Army Times and their reporting. I then went back to the trench on the front of
the hill and sat there worrying about the patrol that night.
Back to Memoir Contents
Back in the Front Line Trench
"The First Battalion was relieved in the left Battalion sector by the Second Battalion on the night 6-7
December. Responsibility for the sector changed hands at 070357 December 1952."
Narrative of Activities
1 December 1952 to 31 December 1952
On the night of 6 December, we grabbed our bed rolls and knapsacks and moved from our trench into the front
line trench. I estimate that our squad had about one hundred feet of the line.
Either the G Company Weapons Platoon or H Company, the heavy weapons company, had a belt-fed 30-caliber machine
gun in the center of our squad's sector. When swung either to the left or the right, this gun was interconnected
with another machine gun further to the left or to the right. They provided a crossfire in the form of an X. The
MG was manned by two men. At least one of them was at that gun every minute of the day and night. That was their
fighting position. They rarely had to go out on patrol. Sometimes an air-cooled 30 caliber machine gun was brought
along on a heavily armed platoon size combat patrol that was going forward until contact was made. Such a patrol
also on occasion brought along a 60mm mortar.
I cannot identify the belt-fed machine gun that was near and to the right of me. At that time the light machine
gun in the weapons squad of an infantry platoon was the belt-fed Browning .30-caliber air-cooled M-1919A6 machine
gun. It had a shoulder stock and bipod. The machine gun squads in the infantry battalion weapons company (which in
combat was attached to the rifle companies) had the M-1919A4 machine-gun. It was identical to the A6 except
that it was tripod-mounted and had no shoulder stock or bipod. Those squads also had the extremely accurate
belt-fed Browning .30-caliber water cooled M1917A1 machine gun. See enclosure (12) for further information on our
The incoming that I hated the most were those that we received from the 76mm recoilless rifles. This was a
direct fire weapon. They started at one end of our trench and worked their way down to the other end. First, one
heard a bang. One then heard a long "shoo" as the projectile approached our trench, and finally a boom as it hit
our trench. As the enemy worked their way toward us, the "shoo" got shorter. The boom got louder. Then one hit
near us. We did not hear the bang or the "shoo" on that one. Then we heard the bang, the "shoo" and the boom as
they went further down the trench. This was a psychological effort by the enemy. We crawled up inside of our steel
Another soldier and I were at the far left in our squad's sector. Another rifle company held the line to our
left. Our platoon CP was on the back side of our hill. The trench dipped or ran downhill to the left of our
hoochee. For that reason the enemy on Hill 1052 (Luke The Gook's Castle) could see right to the bottom of our
trench at that point.
On the two topographical map enclosures to this report, the altitude of Luke the Gook's Castle is given as Hill
1052 or 1052 meters. That height is based on a Japanese land survey conducted in 1918. A more recent survey was in
the Global Gazetteer by Falling Rock Genomics, Inc dated 18 Jan 2001. It states that Luke the Gook's Castle had an
altitude of 1035 meters. It gives its position as 38.4281 degrees North 128.1531 degrees East.
We had a phone at our position. The platoon CP got our attention by whistling into the mouthpiece of their
phone. We got their attention by blowing into the mouthpiece of our phone. The phone wire was buried about a foot
under the ground in the trench.
We never saw a soul come down that trench. The battalion commander came by once. He was concerned because the
enemy on Sniper Rock could see right to the bottom of the trench for about forty feet at the left of our position.
Was Luke the Gook's Castle another name for Sniper Rock? Sniper Rock at 1052 meters was 720 feet higher than our
highest hill at 812 meters. At a sprint it would take the enemy a couple of minutes to cover the distance from his
trench to our trench at their nearest points. Or vice versa. This was at Sniper Rock/Luke The Gook's Castle.
The battalion commander Major Naughton was upset because we had new dirt on the trench bottom. I had shoveled
the dirt out of our hoochee. The young Italian-American kid, who I knew, was standing behind Naughton and our G
Company commander (?). He was "riding shotgun" for Naughton. I remembered the comments the kid made back in the
battalion observation post after his days with the CO. Any officer who came up with an excuse to Naughton was
always in trouble. I told the CO where the dirt came from and that we would get rid of it this instant. Then the
CO inquired about my welfare. I had a piece of sandbag attached to my helmet as camouflage. He told the company CO
to get a piece of netting for me to replace the piece of sandbag. He knew me from the battalion headquarters. They
moved on. We shoveled the dirt over the side of the trench. The only problem was that the enemy could see the new
dirt on top of the snow. That could bring in a few mortar rounds.
The second or third night back in the front line trench, I heard voices to our front. The talking continue, so
I blew into the phone. The platoon sergeant came on the line. I told him that I heard voices to our front. In a
couple of minutes he was in the trench with me. He asked if it could be one of our own patrols from the company to
our left. I told him that they ran their patrols further to our left. We started throwing grenades forward of our
position. Each of us threw about four. One of them did not explode. A couple of them were white phosphorus. The
phosphorus grenades were shaped like soda cans. We had barbed wire about fifteen or twenty feet in front of our
Another visitor was a new platoon sergeant who was lost. I believe that he was coming into a platoon in our
company. He was so drunk that he fell against the side of the trench. The smell of alcohol coming from him was
awful. Two or three KSCs were carrying his personal gear for him. We carried our own gear. If there was any place
in the United States Army that needed able-bodied men, it was in those units on the front line. We could not
function with misfits that officers in units in the rear sent to the front lines as punishment. How many men were
sent to the front lines as punishment? What a lousy way to treat the young men in those units who were already
operating at the extremes of their endurance.
Back to Memoir Contents
Winter in the Trench
We had no heat on line. As already mentioned, around Thanksgiving Day I saw a copy of the Army Times. An
article mentioned that the troops were being supplied with charcoal. Which troops? What charcoal?
As the weather got colder, we were issued heavier clothing. During the whole time that I was at the front I had
no heat. Earlier, when I was in the observation post we tried to heat it, but were not successful. I wore two sets
of winter underwear, a woolen shirt, a woolen pullover sweater, a fatigue shirt, a fatigue jacket, a parka liner
and a parka with a fur hood. Somewhere in there also was that armored vest that did not fit. We wore a fur-lined
hat under our helmet liner and steel helmet. The hat had fur earlaps. We wore woolen gloves with five fingers.
Over these we wore a heavier mitten that had a trigger finger. Over these two pair of gloves we wore white
silk-like mittens for camouflage. We wore those white camouflage silk-like mittens while on patrol forward of the
trench with snow on the ground.
When the snow came and we went out on patrol, we also wore a snowsuit. Before a patrol, they handed us a small
packet about the size of a small laptop computer. The packet contained four white silk-like items that were for
camouflage. One was a pair of trousers with a drawstring. One was a pullover jacket with a hood. We also got a
pair of white pullover gloves. The hood had a drawstring so that the enemy could see only our eyes. That caused a
problem for me later. Over the top of all of this were two bandoliers of ammunition crosswise on our chest and a
cartridge belt with a bayonet. Our big pockets held four or six grenades. We wrapped our rifles in white adhesive
medical tape when snow was on the ground. The enemy could not see our rifle against the snowy background or when
laying on the ground during a patrol. They could see only the soles of our Mickey Mouse boots when we were laying
in the snow.
Back to Memoir Contents
"A total of 289 patrols were prescribed and executed during the period (1 - 30 Dec), of which 58 were
daylight security patrols, 56 were daylight observation patrols, 4 were special patrols, and 171 were night
combat patrols, from which resulted 31 contacts."
Part III - Intelligence
1 Dec - 30 Dec 1952
We pulled patrols forward of the line into "No Man's Land" about once every four nights. These were combat
patrols that consisted of about six men. The point man walked about fifty to a hundred feet in front of the
others. The distance in front depended on the darkness of the night. He drew fire in case of an ambush. The other
five were well behind him. I pulled point man two or three times, and I was one scared soldier.
Abbreviations used in the Daily Journals of the command reports:
- AW = automatic weapons
- Cal = caliber
- Cas = casualties
- Degs = degrees
- En = enemy
- FDC = fire direction center
- FF = firefight
- HE = high explosive
- HG = hand grenades
- KIA = killed in action
- LD = line of departure
- MG = machine gun
- OP = observation post
- Pt = point
- Ptl = patrol
- RD = round
- RR = recoilless rifle
- SA = small arms
- TKS = tanks
- UNK = unknown
- Vic = vicinity
- WIA = wounded in action
- WP = white phosphorus
At least two of the six were carrying Browning Automatic Rifles (BARs). The M-1918A2 Browning automatic rifles
could fire full automatic. Those not armed with BARs carried two sandbags containing extra cartridge cases of ammo
for the BARs. The BAR cartridge cases held twenty rounds. The BAR was the best friend that an infantry squad had.
It made the enemy take cover and stop firing at us.
The squad leader was usually in the center with the radioman immediately behind him. Did our night patrol carry
one phone in addition to the radio? The wire for the phone came out of a spool he carried on a back. When coming
back in, he cut and left the wire. For some reason, I seemed to end up as the assistant squad leader. I brought up
the rear and make certain that everyone got where we were going. We always had a medic with us on these night
We climbed up out of the trench. We then went down about the length of a couple football fields toward the
enemy. At that point was a slight knoll. As mentioned earlier, at the site of the knoll, small foxholes were dug
in the form of a horseshoe. The open end of the horseshoe faced the enemy. The squad leader was positioned at the
back of the horseshoe and was the first to fire. We wanted the center of the enemy patrol in the horseshoe when we
opened fire. The weather was getting cold, so we spent about half the night down there. For either the first half
or the second half of the night, the position was held by a different squad. The first time down there, I lay in
the bottom of the hole looking up at the sky, scared to death. I could not see any trees--just the sky filled with
stars. I had a grenade in my hand with my finger through the pull ring.
We also pulled patrols beyond that point. One night the patrol at the outpost said that they had seen about
five or six of the enemy in front of their position. My squad was told to go down and check it out. I was the
point man. The point man walked quite a distance out in front of the rest of the troops. We were wearing our
snowsuits. We could pull our hood tight so that only our eyes could be seen. I had a small hole for my eyes. The
rest of my face was covered. We moved through the men at the outpost and continued going down toward the enemy. As
I passed the men at the outpost, they told me that they had seen five or six of the enemy down the hill among the
trees in front of their position. They said that they could see one of them near a tree. That made me move a
little more carefully. On this patrol we were accompanied by the platoon lieutenant, for some reason. It was
unusual for him to go out on patrol. His position was halfway back in the patrol. He kept saying, "Move faster,
McGill." The problem was that my glasses were fogging up because of the small opening in the snow hood, and I
could just about see. The fact that I was taking deeper breaths did not help matters. The guy just behind me was
carrying a BAR. I had confidence in him. I thought that I saw one of the enemy next to a tree on a slight
rise in front of me, and I went down on one knee. I pulled the damn hood off so that my glasses would clear up. We
continued down another couple hundred feet or so, but could find no enemy.
One night as I looked down from the trench, I saw what I thought were two men carrying something between them.
I watched them as they moved through the trees. After a while, I realized that I was watching a deer.
We had to go out on patrol just at night fall so that the enemy could not set up an ambush before we got out
there. I remember one night with snow on the ground that had turned to ice. The temperature was extremely cold.
The path that we were following was a sheet of ice. When we climbed out of the trench and started to go down the
hill, we had problems. One fellow tripped over some telephone wire and his helmet went clanging on the ice down
the side of the hill. We were not supposed to make any noise. We went past the outpost where the foxholes were
situated. When we got to the site where we set up our horseshoe ambush positions, we had to lay on top of the
ground on the ice-covered snow. We stayed out there without moving for about six hours. I actually froze to the
ground. At one point I removed my glove for some reason. I could feel my hand start to freeze. We saw no enemy. It
was extremely cold.
Back to Memoir Contents
Time to Go Home
One morning we came in from patrol. It must have been around 20 December 1952. It was just about at sunrise. I
heard a whistle on the phone in the trench. I picked up the phone and it was the platoon sergeant. He said
"McGill, pack up your stuff and report to the G Company forward command post at the bottom of the hill. You are
I gave my candles to one guy. My brother Tom had sent a battery-operated hand warmer to me. I gave that to
another guy. I told them that I would try to find some more candles for them behind the line. Our big parka with
the fur-lined hood was the warmest garment that we had. I gave mine to another fellow and took his. His parka had
a sleeve that was badly torn. My platoon sergeant gave his Worcester, Massachusetts phone number for his
girlfriend to me. He asked me to give her a call and tell her how he was doing. When I got back to Rhode Island, I
never gave her a call. Why did I not call the girlfriend of my platoon sergeant, when I got back to Rhode Island?
Did I lose her phone number? I grabbed my backpack and sleeping bag and went down the back side of the hill.
I do not know the names of these men. Why do I not know the names of any of the enlisted men I served with in
Korea? We never carried on small talk while on line. I will continue to try and find rosters that will contain
their names. The names in this report relating to events in Korea came from the daily journals of the command
reports, so they would have been only of battalion officers and not enlisted men.
I had an indescribable feeling when I found out that I was going home. I felt like a tremendous load had been
taken off my shoulders. I was floating on air. This feeling stayed with me for many months. At the command post
they told me that I would stay there until the next day. They said that a vehicle would take me to the G Company
or the 2nd Battalion Headquarters Company rear command post. I do not know which unit I was permanently assigned
to while in this G Company, 5th Platoon. The 5th Platoon was a temporary creation because of the additional trench
line we had to man.
I was given the job of walking shotgun on KSCs. They carried logs up the hill to be used for fortifications.
Two of them were abreast at the front of the log and two abreast at the rear. A rope was across their shoulders
with the log hanging between them. On our first trip back up the hill, a couple of mortar rounds came in and the
KSCs disappeared. I spent some time trying to round them back up. We probably made one trip. Did I make another
trip up with them when they carried the evening meal up to the troops?
That night I slept at the bottom of the hill in a hoochee used by G Company for storage. Also sleeping in the
hoochee with me was a platoon Master Sergeant. He had come into the company a few days earlier. He was in big
trouble. He had refused to take command of one of the G Company platoons on the line. He refused to lead a patrol
out in front of the line. He said that he had a wife and five children at home and did not want to be killed. He
said that he would probably be asked to lead a platoon in a different company, but that he would still refuse. The
only weapon he had was a pistol. He sat there cleaning his pistol. His previous assignment had been in some kind
of finance unit in Japan. He had been a machine gunner in the infantry in Germany during World War II. When an NCO
headed a platoon on line, he was always required to lead or be part of at least one patrol forward of that line so
that he was knowledgeable about the terrain forward of his position. I wonder how he made out.
My father had sent a small bottle of whisky to me for Christmas. My younger brother Tommy had put it in the
center of a loaf of Italian bread so that it would not break. He wrapped the loaf in tinfoil. The outside wrapping
was a heavy brown paper. I received it that day I came off the hill. The wrapping was open and I could actually
see the pint or half pint bottle, yet nobody had taken it. I do not know the brand. There was a picture of a late
1800's gentleman in a suit on the label. Each of us drank half of the bottle. I did not feel any effects from the
alcohol. I don't think that the other poor guy who was in big trouble did either.
In the darkness the next morning, I started toward the rear in a vehicle. We had to travel the first piece of
road in the darkness. The enemy, with higher hills than us, had it under surveillance. The road was heavily
pockmarked from mortar and artillery rounds. We arrived at a rear command post. I sat or stood across the table
from an officer. He could have been a G Company officer or a 2nd Battalion Headquarters Company officer. He had a
list of company gear checked out to me. He wanted them back. Was one item the parka with the fur-lined hood and
the torn arm? The one that I was wearing had a badly torn arm. I think that another item was the armored vest that
did not fit. This was where I was given back my duffle bag that had little or nothing in it. After a while, he
said to forget about any other gear that I might owe them. I did not have any other gear that belonged to them.
He told me that he was sorry to see me leaving. He said that he had put me in for promotion to corporal. That
was one promotion that I did not mind losing. I wanted out of the US Army. Could it have been on this
occasion that I was handed my Combat Infantryman Badge?
During my time in Korea, I had never pointed my M1 at an enemy soldier, pulled the trigger, or seen him wounded
or killed. I had thrown grenades at them, but even then I could not determine whether I wounded or killed an enemy
soldier. There probably were many enemy troops killed or wounded from my pinpointing them while assigned to the
2nd Battalion observation post.
Three of us climbed into the back of a 2-1/2 ton truck for our continuing trip south toward the rear. If you
look at the map enclosure (6), you will have an idea of the route that we took. The other two guys were smarter
than I was. They bundled up in their sleeping bags on the steel floor behind the cab of the truck. The cargo area
of the truck was wide open with no cover. It was a wild, cold, dusty, and long ride, but I was one happy guy. You
can imagine how those young army kids drove those trucks on those icy mountain roads.
At the time, I thought about the army's way of handling some things. On our way going forward into battle, they
kept tight control over our whereabouts at all times. We had constant roll calls. Now that we were going home and
of no value to them, we made our way to the rear the best way that we could. It was all right with me. I was one
When it got dark, the driver pulled into some type of encampment on the left side of the road. As he walked
away from the truck, he said that we would continue our ride in a couple of hours. I grabbed my rifle, my duffle
bag, into which I had put my knapsack, and my sleeping bag, and looked for a place to lie down for a couple of
hours. I noticed a large tent. The door flap was hanging open, so I went inside. I saw these sleeping bags all
lined up neatly. As I remember, there were about four rows with ten or fifteen in a row. I thought that the
neatness of the rows and the door flaps wide open was strange, but I needed to sleep. I put my stuff down and
climbed into my bag. Suddenly it dawned on me that the place was a morgue. That was why the flaps were wide open
in December and the men had no gear laying outside their bags. I grabbed my stuff and went back and slept on the
floor in the back of the truck. A couple of hours later, the driver continued our trip to Chunchon. Chunchon was
at the north end of the railroad tracks. We pulled in there about nine in the morning.
Back to Memoir Contents
Chunchon to Seoul by Train
I had not eaten for a couple of days. A mess tent for officers was sitting near the tracks. I walked into the
tent. I was the only customer. One mess sergeant ran the operation and a Korean girl took my order. They were
serving pancakes. I ate and I ate. I loved those Army pancakes. When I finished, I picked up my gear and walked
toward the door flap. The Sergeant handed me a clipboard to sign. I signed, "Lieutenant Frank McGill, 179th INF."
Before boarding the train, I disassembled my rifle and put the two pieces into my duffle bag. I still had
grenades and two bandoliers of ammo crisscrossing my chest. The train headed southwest across Korea to Seoul. It
was the same train that I had come to Chunchon on. See map enclosure (4). Most of the soldiers on board were
from rear units and stared at me. I was filthy. I had not had a bath or shower for a couple of months. My clothes
were the same ones that I had put on after that last shower a few months earlier. I was wearing my Mickey Mouse
boots. The other troops on the train from front line units looked and smelled just as bad as I did. I was sitting
on the sunny side of the train. I took up two seats and slept all the way into Seoul. I could feel the warm sun,
and I was in heaven.
Darkness had fallen and it was late at night by the time that we pulled into the train station in Seoul. About
twenty troops from the train were headed with me to the 45th Infantry Division Replacement Company somewhere near
Seoul. They were also from front line companies and looked it. We were told where to wait in the station. Trucks
from the replacement company came to pick us up. We lay down on the floor and all went to sleep. I remember how
strange it felt having a roof over my head and not being scared. I woke up around sunrise. There was a crowd of
military standing around looking down at us. They must have been attached to rear units because they had pistols
on their hips, clean clothes, and polished boots. We must have looked strange to them with months of dirt, torn
clothing, filthy boots and dusty weapons. We just laid there and let them look at us. After a while, the 2-1/2 ton
trucks came to take us to the replacement company somewhere in Seoul. As we climbed into the trucks, young people
ran up to us and asked the name of the unit to which we belonged. The response they got from those who were wiser
than me was, "If we told you, you would know."
Back to Memoir Contents
445th Infantry Division Replacement Company Near Seoul
At the replacement company we were ordered to turn in all of our weapons, ammo, grenades and field equipment.
Field equipment consisted of such things as cartridge belt, knap sack, shovel, canteen, and Mickey Mouse boots.
Maybe it was here that I turned in my parka with one sleeve and my armored vest. No wonder they looked at us in
the train station. They also made their first pitch at trying to talk us into staying in the army. We were also
asked whether we wanted to join the 45th Infantry Division Association. I wanted no part of any offer to join
anything. We may have slept one night there and then loaded aboard 2-1/2 ton trucks for the ride to Inchon the
At Inchon it was our turn to sit in a group on the beach to wait for the landing boats to bring us back out to
the troop ship. Again we were told one last time to get rid of all contraband or be in big trouble. No contraband
was to be taken out of Korea. Contraband included weapons, ammo, and grenades. We were told to throw it into a
pile. A pile began to grow. It included grenades, rifles, pistols and ammo.
We watched the landing craft as they came to shore. The new troops came out of the boats and walked up onto the
beach. They were greeted by cries of, "You'll be sorry" from my group. We climbed into the boats and rode out to
the ship. The ocean at Inchon was very shallow. There was no pier. Troops came and went in those landing
Back to Memoir Contents
Replacement Depot at Sasebo, Kyushu Island, Japan
The trip aboard the ship to Sasebo in the southern part of Japan took about twenty-four hours. There was a
problem with the showers aboard the ship. I think that there was no warm water. I think that Sasebo was about six
hundred nautical miles east southeast from Inchon. It was in the prefecture of Nagasaki and was on the west side
of the island of Kyushu. It was the second largest Japanese naval base during World War II. During that war,
60,000 people were employed at the base. The land closed in around the ship. I could see down into the heavy
manufacturing plants close to the shore. I could see the men at work. I asked myself how they had the nerve to
challenge us in the early 1940's.
Sasebo was a major port in support of the UN troops in Korea. Over one hundred cargo ships were unloaded or
loaded on a typical day. It was then and still is a major port in support of the US Navy. We must have come
into Sasebo Bay from the South China Sea. The hills were very high on both sides of the bay. We headed north in
the bay and docked in the India Basin.
The day was 24 December 1952, Christmas Eve, and it was about eight in the evening. We came down out of the
ship carrying our duffle bags. We were to climb up into the back of trucks for the ride to the Repo Depot. I was
told recently that the name of the Army Camp was Camp Mower. The Replacement Depot designation was either 8068th
AU or Company B 8069th Replacement Battalion, Sasebo, Japan. The trucks were built different than the others in
which I had been riding. They were longer than the 2-1/2 ton trucks. We stood in lines as we loaded into the
trucks. When it was my turn to climb up into the truck, I said "Merry Christmas" to the Japanese truck driver. He
then said to me, "Wait, you ride up front with me." We talked about his family on the ride to the army camp.
At the Repo Depot within the Army camp, we were assigned to tents that contained army cots. We were told that
the only thing we could keep was our billfold. Everything else had to be turned in before taking showers. I hid my
parka liner under my mattress on the army cot. I liked the feel of it and wanted to take it home. While we turned
in everything we had, stripped, and went to the showers, our tent was searched for anything that we left behind. I
hoped that the searchers would not find my parka liner. They did not find it.
The shower was my first good cleaning since I took a bath in the Soyang River back in the summer. It was about
10 p.m. Around midnight we were issued new clothing. I received one winter class A uniform, a couple sets of
fatigues, and one pair of high boots, no low quarters. That was about a quarter of the clothing that I had to buy
and turn in at Camp Drake. Around 1:00 a.m., we had a steak dinner with all of the milk we wanted to drink. It was
either then or the next morning that I got a shave and a haircut in a barber chair. The Japanese barber did not
give me a close shave.
This may have been the place where I was given the medals that I had earned in Korea. The one that I was proud
of was the Combat Infantryman Badge. To earn this badge, one had to have been an infantry man and under enemy fire
for at least thirty days. The medal is rectangular about three inches long and an inch high. It has a silver rifle
on a blue background and a silver wreath around the edges. They are worn above the campaign medals on a soldier's
left chest. I also received the Korean Service Medal with one bronze service star and the United Nations Service
Medal. Today, whenever I see a member of the United States Army on television, I look to see if he has that blue
Combat Infantry Badge at the top of his medals on his left chest.
During World War II, American military prisoners were used as labor to tunnel into the sides of the hills at
Camp Mower. I understand that they were subjected to harsh treatment and that many of them died because of the
harsh conditions. Was one of those hills referred to as the Witch's Teat?
Back to Memoir Contents
My One Day of Leave in the Shopping District of Sasebo, Japan
Our ship was to leave for the United States in a couple of days. The next day I went into the shopping district
of Sasebo to look around. As I remember, it was not within walking distance of the reception center in the Army
camp at Camp Mower. As I approached the business area, I remember two American women in Red Cross uniforms
walking in front of me. As we passed a business establishment, there was a statue standing at ground level at the
front door. It was about four feet tall and similar to the Indians that had been traditionally placed in the front
of tobacco shops in the U.S. The difference with this statue was that it had what looked like a Samurai sword that
stuck out into the sidewalk. The two women had to walk out and around it as they continued down the sidewalk.
I had a meal in a second floor restaurant. A place of business that sold food not grown using human fertilizer
displayed a special sign out front. The waiters actually ran back and forth between the kitchen and the tables.
The streets were crowded with Japanese people. Most of the women wore the kimono. The tops of the people's heads
came to about the middle of my chest. I stopped in a small bakery shop, sat at a low table, and ate a small piece
of cake. The cake tasted like sawdust.
I visited many shops. Some of the shops contained pachinko games. These were similar to the one arm bandit in
the US. Most of the games had a Japanese person standing in front of them. They inserted a coin and then pulled
down on the handle.
On the side streets there were red light districts with big signs beside the road saying "Off Limits to US
Military Personnel." I ended up in a bar, naturally. A US Navy man was sitting in a booth with a
Japanese girl. The girl was sobbing. He must have been telling her "Sayonara." The fellow who operated the bar
kept asking me if I wanted a girl.
Back to Memoir Contents
Back Across the Pacific--Sasebo to San Francisco
The Military Sea Transportation Service ship that we came back on could have been named the "Sea Serpent."
Could it have been the General Polk? I enjoyed that trip home. It felt so good not to be scared. I was
floating on air, not water. Our sleeping bunks were stacked four or five high. The fellow who slept in the bunk
next to mine was an army staff sergeant from northern New England. His surname must have also started with an M,
since we were bunking that close. He had a wife and four or five children at home. He had ten or twelve years in
the army. He had to decide whether to stay in the service. I believe that he was in the Army Signal Corps in
Korea. He and I spent time talking on that voyage home.
My two years were up in a couple of weeks. I thought about getting discharged in California and finding a job
on the west coast. However, if I did that, I would never get to see family and friends back in Rhode Island.
Our ship passed about one hundred miles either north or south of the Hawaiian Islands. We had many troops of a
Columbian Infantry Battalion aboard ship. They were also returning home from being on line in Korea. I do not know
which US infantry division they were attached to while in Korea. They were a little shorter in stature than the
At one meal in the mess hall, a young fellow was eating at the same table as I. He was wearing a medal on his
left chest. The medal looked similar to a Combat Infantryman Badge, the difference being that the background was
red and the weapon an artillery gun barrel. I told him that the US Army did not confer such a medal. He got very
mad at me. He was just a little fellow. I repeated my statement that there was no such medal. He said that it was
a Combat Artilleryman Badge. I said that there was no such thing. His buddies huddled around him and glared at me.
Every time we ran into each other on the ship, he was with his buddies and he gave me an angry look.
Every morning we had to go up on deck while the berthing area was cleaned and inspected. We repositioned our
bunk so that it was at a forty-five degree angle before going on deck. One morning, my buddy the staff sergeant
said to me, "Let's stay in our bunks and continue to sleep. We had top bunks and we figured that no one would
notice us. With that, I went back to sleep. About an hour later, I awoke to the sound of voices. When I opened my
eyes, I saw all of this gold on the top of the visor of a cap. The cap was about two feet from me. I was above his
head. I also heard, "Put them on report." With that the NCO with the inspecting officer asked us for our names. He
told us to report to an office.
When the Sarge and I reported to the office, we were told that we had to sweep down one of the stairwells every
night after lights out. We figured that this was a piece of cake, as we were now about two days out of San
Francisco. Men played cards in the stairwells after lights out, but that was no problem. We could work around
them. That night after we had completed our sweep down, I took every broom in the locker and threw them over the
side of the ship. The next night when we reported for work, the closet was filled with brand-new brooms.
As we came under the Golden Gate bridge, many small boats came out to welcome us home. One of those water
spouting fireboats may have been there also. We pulled into a pier at Fort Mason. Fort Mason was on the right
about a mile past the Golden Gate bridge.
The Sarge and I stood at the rail as the ship tied up. A band was playing on the pier. Down on the pier was a
nice-looking blond waving to someone on board the ship. The Sarge said something like, "Here she is welcoming him
home, when she has probably been playing around ever since he has left." As we were lined up to go ashore, I
heard someone yelling that such and such a stairwell had not been cleaned and who was responsible. The Sarge and I
looked at each other, but we never said a word. We were standing in line and were about to go down the gangplank.
We were supposed to have swept it down that morning. The troops went down the gangplank one at a time. When I got
to the bottom of the gangplank, I reached down and patted the ground. My Army separation paper (enclosure
10) states that I had been overseas for five months and twenty-nine days.
From the ship we went through a large door into a huge terminal building. Many people viewed us as we came off
the ship. A welcoming band was playing music. Someone gave a speech. As we lined up in formation inside the
terminal, we could see ferry boats through the other door that would take us inland to a Repo Depot at Camp
Stoneman, in Pittsburgh, California. They seemed to be rising and falling in the swells. Fort Mason and Camp
Stoneman were part of the San Francisco Port of Embarkation.
We went about thirty miles northeast. We then went about thirty miles east and docked at Camp Stoneman on the
San Joaquin River. As the ferry boat took us inland, we passed under the Richmond, Lake Rafael Bridge. I could see
Mare Island way over on our left. We passed through a narrow inlet into Susen Bay. We must have been on the ferry
for a couple of hours. It was daylight and this was my first close look at the countryside of California.
Back to Memoir Contents
Camp Stoneman, CA to Fort Devens, MA
The weather was sunny and warm at Camp Stoneman. We stayed there for one or two days. On one occasion, we sat
in a large auditorium while some highly polished officer on the stage tried to talk us into staying in the army.
He was met by catcalls and boos. Someone yelled to him, "Why are you not over there." He finally left the stage. I
ran into a few fellows there who had been with me in the 135th INF at Camp Rucker, Alabama. One of them was a
quiet, blond-haired fellow named Olsen who was headed home to either Utah or Colorado. It made me feel good to see
that they had come through all right.
We traveled by bus to San Francisco, where we boarded a plane for Logan Airport in Boston. I believe that we
were flying around the time that Eisenhower was to be inaugurated for his first term as president. As I remember,
either all or most of the passengers were soldiers headed for Fort Devens, Massachusetts.
The plane made a stop in Chicago. We were delayed in getting back into the air. The aircraft had a problem. We
were told that it would take a few hours to make the repair. Most of the soldiers decided to do a little
sightseeing while we waited. The Sarge and I and a couple of other fellows went by cab to a bar near the airport.
The bar was huge. We had a few beers and after a couple of hours went back to the airport. The plane was taking
off sooner than we had been told. Most of the passengers were left in Chicago. Their luggage on the seats
continued on to Logan Airport in Boston, MA. I could see items of clothing that they had left in their empty
seats. At Logan, we switched to buses and continued our trip in the snow to Fort Devens in Ayer, MA.
Back to Memoir Contents
Separation from the US Army at Fort Devens, MA
The first thing that I did at Devens was buy a pair of shoes. The army had given me only boots in Japan. I was
given a weekend pass, so I headed to Pawtucket, Rhode Island to see how everyone was doing. On a Sunday I took a
train back to Boston and a bus from there to Devens to be discharged.
A physical was part of the discharge procedure. As I moved through the line, I passed a young doctor who was
reading a soft-covered pocketbook. Without looking up, he said, "----- degree flat feet," as I passed him. I
thought that I deserved a closer scrutiny than that.
When it came time for the eye exam, I had a plan. I did not want to go back into the army, so I made my
eyesight seem as bad as possible. The eye doctor examined me, and then he reexamined me. He came back to me and
said that something did not seem right. That was when I told him about my plan to avoid re-induction into the army
by not being able to read the eye chart. He sent me on my way. The standard response from the medics to any query
about physical matters was "See your local VA." VA is the acronym for the Veterans Administration.
I was separated from the Army on 27 January 1953 at the age of twenty-three years and ten months. See
Report of Separation, enclosure (10). I rode back to Pawtucket in an auto with a couple of fellows from
Providence. They were separated on the same day as I was.
By law, I remained in the United States Army Enlisted Ready Reserve until 4 February 1957. On that day, I
received my discharge from the Armed Forces of the United States of America. See enclosure (11). Once a year
between 1953 and 1957, I received a questionnaire from a Ready Reserve office. I never filled out and return that
paperwork. I received a few letters threatening to call me back into uniform if I did not fill out and return the
forms. I still did not comply.
The singer Eddie Fisher was separated from the Army at Devens on the same day as the three of us in the car. As
we rode back to Rhode Island, we heard him as he was interviewed at a Boston radio station. The interviewer
mentioned that Fisher's life had been endangered while he was in Korea. Fisher said nothing to correct this
statement. Fisher had been an entertainer in Korea. Entertainment took place well behind the lines.
Within a couple of days after separation, I rented a typewriter from a shop in downtown Pawtucket. I sat at the
dining room table at 253 Glenwood Avenue teaching myself how to type. Is it possible that I worked it up to sixty
words a minute using all of the proper fingers? I wanted to make certain that I could type. Never again would I
stand in ranks, be asked if anyone can type, and not be able to say yes. That happened to me two or three times as
they were moving me ever closer to the front in Korea.
Back to Memoir Contents
Campaigns, US Military in Korea
"The US military categorizes each war it has been involved in terms of a series of campaigns, defined as a
connected series of military operations forming a distinct ___ of a war. For units involved in these operations,
a streamer embroidered with the name of the particular campaign is displayed along with the unit's colors (its
official flag). Those individuals who have participated are entitled to wear a bronze battle star for each
campaign . . . Ten campaigns were authorized for the Korean War.
Campaign Inclusive Dates
- UN defensive June 27-September 15, 1950
- UN offensive September 16-November 2, 1950
- CCF intervention November 3, 1950-January 24, 1951
- First UN counteroffensive January 25-April 21, 1951
- CCF spring offensive April 22-July 8, 1951
- UN summer-fall offensive July 9-November 27, 1951
- Second Korean winter November 28, 1951-April 30, 1952
- Korea summer-fall 1952 May 1-November 30, 1952
- Third Korean winter December 1, 1952-April 30, 1953
- Korea summer-fall 1953 May 1-July 27, 1953
Source: Korean War Almanac, 1990
Harry G Summers
I believe that I am entitled to wear two bronze battle stars. I was on line during the Korea summer-fall 1952
campaign and on line during the Third Korean winter campaign. My separation paper, enclosure (10), states that I
am entitled to one bronze battle star. Maybe the reason for the discrepancy is because I was separated on 27
January 1952 and the parameters for the Third Korean winter campaign had not been established.
During the Korean War, a soldier received about $50 a month extra if he was in a front line unit. I believe
that it was referred to as combat pay. I was out of the service for about a year before I received all of that
money. So the US Army owes me money for the clothing they took from me in that parade field in the Repo
Depot at Camp Drake near Tokyo, Japan. They also owe me one additional battle star for the Third Korean winter
Campaign. I expect an accounting by the 50th anniversary of these events, i.e. the year 2002. Listen up, Secretary
of Defense Cohen!
Back to Memoir Contents
- Monthly Command Reports, 45th Infantry Division, 179th Infantry Regiment, APO 86, for October, November
and December 1952
- Topographic Maps, Army Map Service, Korea, L751 and L851
- Photographs, seventeen
- Maps, round trip road route of troop truck convoy, Camp Rucker, Alabama to Fort Hood, TX
- Maps, route of troop train from Inchon to Chunchon in Korea and truck route from Chunchon to Line
Minnesota, the front line
- Maps, AMS topographic, 179th Inf in reserve, Inje area in Korea, 1:50,000
- Maps, AMS topographic, road route for trucks from Inje north to Line Minnesota in Korea, 1:50,000
- Maps, AMS topographic, 179th Inf regimental sector on Line Minnesota, the front line in Korea, 1:50,000
- Map Overlay, Enemy Positions, Annex #1 to Intelligence Section III, December 1952 Command Report, 179th
- Copy, prayer card entitled, "Prayer of a Soldier" and handmade calendar
- Copy, DD Form 24, Report of Separation from the Armed Forces of the United States, 27 Jan 1953
- Copy, Discharge Certificate, United States Army Ready Reserve, 4 Feb. 1957
- Table of Organization and Equipment, 45th Inf Div, Korean War
- Copy, Daily Journal for 29 Oct 1952, Monthly Command Report, 179th Infantry Regiment, APO 86
- Information for Researchers at Archives II in College Park, MD