Korean War Legacy Project

​Herbert Spiese

Bio

Herbert Spiese is a Korean War Era Navy Veteran who served on the USS Alameda County (LST-32), in Mediterranean Sea during the Korean War. Consequently, he did not see any Korean War action. Above all though, his role was vital in the greater Cold War as he traveled to many nations in Europe and North Africa where communism could take hold. Nicknamed “Cubby,” he grew up in a large family of thirteen before joining the Navy in 1952. Aboard the USS Alameda County, he was a store keeper, one of the very few services offered aboard the ship. He recalls the living conditions on the ship, including where the crew slept and the clothes they wore, the crew’s nickname the being “Dungaree Navy,” due to the worn out clothing. He is extremely proud of his service and how well his crew worked together to accomplish things during difficult times.

Video Clips

The Dungaree Navy

Herbert Spiese describes the living conditions aboard their small ship, the USS Alameda County that offered no services in contrast to an aircraft carrier. He explains how there was no pay master, no barbers, and no small stores. Herbert Spiese remembers how crewmen were forced to repair their clothes when worn out and this led to the crew being called the “Dungaree Navy.” One crewman even had to paint his worn-out, threadbare shirt to keep it from ripping even more.

Tags: Living conditions,Pride

Share this Clip +


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGz-S5I5U5w&start=544&end=676

“It Was Like a Palace”

Herbert Spiese describes the conditions on the ship. He explains how the ship was so small that they didn’t have great mattresses, no store, and only one cook. He states that when he was on an aircraft carrier it felt like a palace in comparison. Herbert Spiese's ship was more fit for the NATO Navy insignia, not the United States.

Tags: Living conditions,Pride

Share this Clip +


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGz-S5I5U5w&start=677&end=740

Proud of Our Teamwork

Herbert Spiese is very proud of his Navy service, including the camaraderie and support of his fellow crewmen. He describes of how his fellow crewmen had to work together to build a bridge to support the Marines in an amphibious mission. The bridge was quite an undertaking and many did not feel the bridge could be built, however the bridge was built.

Tags: Living conditions,Pride

Share this Clip +


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGz-S5I5U5w&start=1830&end=1983

Video Transcript

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

H:        My name is Herbert Spiese. I’m, uh.

I:          What is your middle name?

H:        Oh, Donald.

I:          Donald?

H:        Um hm.

I:          But you, your nickname is

H:        D O N A L D, Donald

I:          But your, uh, nickname.

H         Is Cubby.

I:          Cubby.  Alright. And could you spell your last name?

H:        S P I E S E.

I:          Good.  Spiese.

0:00:30

H:        Um hm.

I:          Spice or Spees?

H:        Spiese.

I:          Spiese.  What is your birthday?

H:        March 21, 1932.

I:          And where were you born?

H:        Columbia, Pennsylvania.

I:          Oh.   And tell me about your family when you were growing up, uh including your siblings.

H:        Okay.  I had a mother and a father, and I had 12 brothers and sisters.

I:          Twelve brothers and sisters?

H:        Yes.  And

0:01:00

eight of them went to college

I:          Uh huh,

H:        and got their PhD’s.

I:          Eight of them?

H:        Um hm.  The brighter ones, you know.

I:          Yeah.  And where are you located among those 12?

H:        I’m right in the middle.

I:          Right in the middle.

H:        I have five younger than me and about seven older than me or something.  There’s 13 of us.

I:          Wow.  And eight of them got the PhD.

H:        Yes.

0:01:30

I:          That’s fabulous.

H:        Um hm.

I:          And tell me about the school you went through.

H:        I went to Columbia High School.  I didn’t go to college.

I:          Um hm.

H:        I told

I:          When did you graduate?

H:        I quit when I was a sophomore.

I:          [LAUGHS]

H:        Uh, you, I knew everything by then I thought, you know.  I was bull headed. You couldn’t tell me anything.  Among my brothers, most of them made all A’s and B’s’, but I, uh, I never made good

0:02:00

marks in school.  So, but it turned out I think I had this, the, you look at the letters, and they’re different than what you see. Now they have a fancy name for it. My one teacher, history teacher, he give me my tests orally, and I’d get straight A’s, and in those days if your teacher wanted to do that, they could.  But it wasn’t required by the State.  So the other teachers wouldn’t do it.   So I got A’s and then E’s

0:02:30

the rest, you know. So I thought this is a waste of time for me.

I:          Uh huh.

H:        And I quit.  And I joined the Navy.

I:          When was it?

H:        Pardon me?

I:          When was it?

H:        Uh, I joined the Navy in December the 7thin 1952, and I got out in, uh, December the 7th  in 1956.  The Korean War ended, or didn’t’ end.  They signed the Armistice in

0:03:00

in June or July of, of uh,

I:          July.

H:        So I was in the, the last part of the war.

I:          Uh huh.  And so you enlisted into Navy.

H:        Yes.

I:          Where did you get the basic military training?

H:        At San Diego.

I:          Um hm.  And from there, where, where did you go?

H:        I was assigned to a ship.  LST 32 it was called.

I:          Um hm.

H:        And, uh, it had a crew of 120

0:03:30

men and five officers. We were a small ship.  We were assigned to, uh, the Mediterranean and uh, we were sent over for 13 months, and, uh, we operated by our self where there was never a convoy with us because our flank speed was only, uh, 12 knots an hour which, a knot

0:04:00

is 1 and 1/8 mile per hour, and the cruisers and the destroyers, they could do 35, 40, and the atomic ships of today, they do much more than that.  So if they operated with us, they would have to speed ahead and wait there for three days till we caught up.  So we operated by our self.  There was no other ship maybe within 500 miles of us.  We, if we, we got in any trouble, we’d have to wait a day or so before

0:04:30

we got any help.

I:          What was your mission then? What did you do in the Mediterranean?

H:        Uh, we would, uh, deliver supplies to other bases.  We went up to Thule Air Force Base.  That’s up in Greenland.  We went to, uh, Tunisia and, uh, we were stationed in Naples.

I:          Um hm.

H:        And we were there for 13 months.  We did get, we didn’t get rotated back for leave or anything.

0:05:00

If somebody died in our family, they would notify the Red Cross, and the Red Cross would get words to us, and that happened a couple times, and by the time they got to the people, words back to us, the funeral and everything was over.  And they’d fly the guy home, you know, for emergency leave and then fly him back again.  Our job was to, if a jet crashed anywhere in, uh, England or France or anything, they would tow it to our ship

0:05:30

and, uh, they’d have factory reps come if there was anything new, and we would repair the, the, the, the jets on our ship.  A jet airplane don’t have as many parts as a propeller.  It just has a turbine on it with blades on it, and they, the, the, uh, the fuel goes in there and turns the turbine around.

I:          Um hm.

H:        It does, it’s not as complicated as what a prop job is.

I:          What was your unit?

H:        I was a FASRON.

0:06:00

I:          What?

H:        A  FASRON. F A S R O N.  It’s Fleet Air Supply Re, Repair Squadron.  That’s what it’s

I:          Could you repeat that?

H:        Fleet, Fleet Air, uh, Repair Squadron.

I:          Um hm.

H:        FASRON.

I:          Um hm.

H:        F A S.  The initials were F A S R O N.

I:          Um hm.  And they would belong to what, uh, fleet?  Was a

H:        It’s a, uh, we belonged

0:06:30

to the 6thFleet, Atlantic Fleet.  Our Admiral was Admiral Felix King.

I:          Um hm.  And what was your rank?

H:        I was Seaman.

I:          Seaman?  And what was your, uh, MOS?

H:        MR

I:          The specialty?

H:        Oh, I was store keeper.

I:          Store keeper.

H:        I ordered stuff.

I:          Um hm.  And you knew that Korean War

0:07:00

broke out at the time, right?

H:        Yes.

I:          Um hm.

H:        Yes.

I:          And you were not dispatched to Korea?

H:        No.

I:          No.

H:        I was a, we were dispatched to the Atlantic Fleet.

I:          Um hm.

H:        The only time we got transferred, if we were in Atlantic Fleet and, uh, a lot of us, they [INAUDIBLE] mate or gunner mate, got out of the Navy.  They needed someone on a base on the West Coast.  They would transfer you that way, take one person and transfer him to,

0:07:30

and they’d transfer you from ship to ship.

I:          Um hm.

H:        Sometimes if they needed your, your rank, your rating, they would transfer you to another ship.  But I was on my ship for, uh, 2 ½ years.  Then I was stationed down at Jacksonville, Florida my last years I was in.

I:          Um hm.  And how much were you paid at the time?  Do you remember?

H:        I don’t remember.

0:08:00

I don’t remember. But I didn’t, I’ve, I’d have $20 a month to live on because my dad had a heart attack while I was in the Navy, and then he had, I had five brothers younger than me, and I thought they’re having a rough time paying their bills, so I applied for a, uh, where the government pays so much, and you, you have it taken off your

I:          Um hm.

H:        You have it taken off your pay.

I:          Um hm.

H:        But he said

0:08:30

since you’re not married to, the government is not gonna pay anything.  You just take it off your pay.  So I had over $100 taken off and, uh, I had $20 a month to live on.

I:          Uh huh.

H:        I had my meals, and I lived on a ship.  That $20

I:          Do you have to buy?

H:        We had to buy soap and, and, uh, if you went on liberty, you’d have to pay for your

I:          But you don’t have, you do not have to buy meals, right?

H:        No, no, no.

I:          No.

H:        Not when you’re on a ship, no.

I:          And you slept in the ship, right?

0:09:00

H:        Yes.

I:          How was it?  How big was that ship?

H:        Uh, wasn’t too big.  It might have been 100 feet.

I:          100 feet?

H:        Maybe.

I:          Um hm.

H:        Yep.  Yeah and, uh, we didn’t have, out of all the thingswe were entitled to, since we were, uh, had a small crew, we had no pay master.  We were supposed to get paid every two weeks, but they’d fly a pay master from Naples down to us, and he

0:09:30

had to, and he was a nervous wreck when he went back to Naples because some guys were leaving money on the books.  They wouldn’t draw all their pay, and if he had a, a mistake, he had to make it good on his records.  So we had no pay master.  We had no barbers, and we couldn’t, we weren’t allowed to carry any small stores on our ship.  We couldn’t go down and buy a new shirt at the store on the ship

0:10:00

because the ship was that small, they weren’t allowed to carry them.

I:          Um hm.

H:        And so when our clothes wore out, we had a bank, too. One guy’s dungaree shirt wore out, he cut the sleeves off and painted a yellow and sewed it up the back, and painted a yellow stripe on the back so it wouldn’t rip any more.  Some of the guys wore shower shoes.  We were in what they called the Dungaree Navy.  When we got in port,

0:10:30

our ship had big jeeps and everything on the main deck setting there, and we had to chain them down with turnbuckles, and we would paint the ship and take one of those turn, chains and drag it over the main deck to chain the jeeps down, and then a week or so rust would be running down off the main deck.  When we were in Naples, our ship was that greasy and dirty work that we didn’t have to change into

0:11:00

undressed blues. After 1600, they have to change from dungarees, and when you’re in port to undressed blues.  The uniform don’t have any white stripes on the sleeve.

I:          Um hm.

H:        And we were allowed to wear dungarees for the, all the time. We only had one cook.  He made the bread and everything and, uh, we, our, I visited a aircraft carrier, and it was like a palace.  They

0:11:30

I:          Um hm.

H:        had mattresses this thick, and they had a locker three feet by three feet and, uh, everything nice.  We had a piece of canvas, we had a piece of canvas with eyelets on the edge and a rope going through, and then a mattress about two inches thick.

I:          Um hm.

H:        And we didn’t have a locker.  We just had a little steaming locker that was big enough to put a pair of stockings in and shaving gear, and our seed bag was, was, uh,

0:12:00

tied to our, to our bunk.

I:          Um hm.

H:        We didn’t have any, and they had a, a, a little, like a soda fountain on each deck. If you wanted to go up there and get a milkshake on the aircraft carrier, you went up and got a milkshake.  We had no thing on our ship.  We didn’t have a ship store, too small.  So one day the Admiral got us, he got his Cadillac in, and he was down looking at it, and in Naples they had a sea wall

0:12:30

that if you wanted to refuel your ship, you had to go out beyond the sea wall, and he had his command ship anchored, the, the bow anchor was in the, in, in the deck, in the cement, and he couldn’t go anywhere.  So we had to go out and get fuel for his ship and transfer on so they had, uh, hot water and all.   So, uh, we had a, the guys were down there refueling, and an Admiral said that must be the NATO Navy, he said, down there.

0:13:00

I’m gonna go down and thank the guys for refueling my ship.  One guy had a white hat on so old it had little, little threads sticking out of the top.  The guy had that shirt with a yellow stripe on it.  A couple of our guys had wooden shower shoes, clacks,

I:          Um hm.

H:        like because we didn’t carry any sup, any, uh, small stores.

I:          Um hm.

H:        So he, he started talking to the guys in broken English.  He said what Navy you from?

I:          [LAUGHS]

H:        The guy turned around so an Admiral, we’re from the U.S. LST 32.

0:13:30
Tell your captain  you’re gonna have an Admiral’s inspection on Friday.  Needless to say, we flunked.  We had no barber.  We had to get our haircuts at a Italian barbershop, and at that time, your hair was only allowed to be five inches long.  So we, we had no campaign ribbons.  You weren’t allowed to carry them.  When we got new, uh, dungarees, you had to either cut them off with a scissors, we had no tailor.

0:14:00

We had one guy that did the laundry on our ship. On the aircraft carrier they had about 20, and their uniforms, they had 12 guys that all they did all day was press the uniform in the laundry.  And, uh, we never had our clothes pressed or anything like that, yeah.

I:          Uh, Covey, did you learn anything about Korea from the school at the time that you graduate?  I mean, you stop, Sophomore?

H:        I, uh,

I:          Did you

H:        I, when I was younger,

0:14:30

I was a perfect reader.  Not only that, I read a lot.  But, uh, uh, I read about the, the Japanese, uh, occupation of Korea for 33 years, you know. I read all kinds of books.  But when it came to a test and all, I’d read you what you were assigning when I wrote it down it would be different, and I’d flunk them.  Yeah.  I wouldn’t pass.

I:          So you didn’t know much about Korea?

H:        Well, I knew about, uh,

0:15:00

some things

I:          Uh huh.

H:        I had read, you know.

I:          What did you know about the Japanese colonial control?

H:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

H:        Yeah.

I:          That’s pretty good.  Uh, so you never been in Korea, right?

H:        No.

I:          So you are the Korean War era veteran.

H:        Yes.

I:          Yes.  So those are the people who served in the same period of the Korean War

H:        the war was going, yeah.

I:          But were not in Korea.

H:        Not in a battle or anything, no.

I:          Right, right.  And how many countries you’ve been

H         Oh, I was in the

I:          on tour?

0:15:30

H:        In Germany.  I was in France.  I was in Italy.  I was in Tunisia, and I was in Greenland where Thule Air Force Base is.  That’s on top of the rock or mountain, above that. And then, uh, Tunisia, uh, Babia.  We’d deliver supplies to them.  If they wanted to build an air strip, those metal strips that have holes in that you put down when you put the cement down.  We delivered them to the bases.

I:          But where did you get the supplies from?

0:16:00

H:        Oh, they’d come and we were safe in Naple, Naples, and they would load us up before we left port.

I:          In the Naples.

H:        Uh huh.

I:          In It, in Italy, right?

H:        Yes.

I:          Yes.

H:        And I went to Germany.  They’d give us R and R because when we were over for, we were supposed to be over for 18 months.  R and R, rest and recreation it was called.  It wasn’t counted as leave. They’d send us to Naples

I:          Um hm.

H:        Uh, you, you’d go to Rome, and they’d pay for your hotel room and your meals and stuff.

0:16:30

I:          That’s nice.

H:        Yes because you weren’t allowed to go home on leave.

I:          [LAUGHS]

H:        The rest of the fleet got transferred every six months.  They would go back to the United States.  We stayed over for 18.  So, yep.

I:          So you were paid to serve in the military while you going all around these European countries

H:        Yeah.

I:          How was it?  Which country did you like most?

H:        I liked Germany.

0:17:00

Germany was so neat. They had street sweepers and stuff. Italy had street sweepers.  They were these great big long brooms, and that was their job.  They would swee, uh, clean the street, uh, streets every day.

I:          Uh.

H:        And, but Italy still had a lot of paper and stuff laying on their street.  Germany was spotless.

I:          So quite different, right?

H:        Yeah.

I:          It, Italians and Germans.

H:        Yeah.  And, uh, when we got over there, I

0:17:30

sprang from the Pennsylvania Dutch, you know.

I:          Uh huh.

H:        And somebody said you go over to Germany, and you speak Pennsylvania Dutch to you, they won’t understand.  Why I joined the Navy with a guy from Schoeneck, a little town up above Lancaster, and he was really Dutchified.  Even though his grandfather came here, he, he spoke with a Dutch accent, and his nickname was Dutch, and the guys would say when did you come to the United States, and the, his family was in America

0:18:00

for about 100 years. But, uh, he was, he’d say but my shoe broke, and my company commander would say please get up here and see if you can understand what he’s saying, you know, because he talked, he was really Dutchified.  So we were over in, uh, Berlin at a hotel and, uh, a German couple was talking.  I said Dutch, you should go up and talk, go up and talk to them people, see if they understand you.  So he went up, and he started talking German to them,

0:18:30

and I said did they understand you?  He said a couple words.

I:          Um hm.

H:        They couldn’t quite make out.

I:          [LAUGHS]

H:        But people had told him, that Pennsylvania Dutch you go over and talk, and German people won’t understand it.  But they did.  And they teach it in Millersville, now.

I:          Uh huh.

H:        So it doesn’t die out.

I:          Okay.

H:        They have a college course in it.

I:          What about, do you know anything about Korea now, Korean economy, how, how well the Korean economy is and so on?

H:        Well, I think they’re 20thin the world now, and

I:          11th.

H:        Is it 11thnow?

0:19:00

I:          Yeah, yeah.

H:        Well, the, they’re, they’re really moving up, and they’re even gonna go up higher.  Technology they have a lit, a lot of rockets, er, I mean, a lot of robots and stuff like that.  They’re very, you know, electronically minded you might say.  And big hotels and, and, uh, a guy told me when he was in the, one of the cities, all the bridges were bombed out.  now the city has about 30 bridges.

I:          31.

H:        Yes.

I:          Bridges.

H:        Yeah.

I:          So isn’t it amazing?

0:19:30

H:        Pardon?

I:          Isn’t that amazing.

H:        Yes.  I think it is.  I think because Korea suffered a lot, different occupations and stuff, they really were kept down.  So when they said, looked around and saw all those buildings were gone, they have said we hit bottom.  The only way to go is up.

I:          [LAUGHS]

H:        And they’re hard working people.  And American over, they, they have these trips where the government, you pay your flight over, and then you’re guests of theirs for a couple weeks.

0:20:00

They take you different places.  They have banquets now and, uh, they, the guy said a hotel guy was tearing some towels, and he saw him and he said, he knew he was a tourist, and he said you American, and he, yes, and the guy started bowing to him and everything.  He said there wouldn’t be no Korea if it wouldn’t have been for the troops that came in and fought in a war.

I:          Right.

H:        So, my brother is a Korean, they said it’s an honorary.

I:          Ah.

0:20:30

H:        He got a certificate from your, from the President, and a, he sent help over to them, you know, money and other, and it says, uh

I:          Why?   Why did he get that?

H:        Why?

I:          Your brother.

H:        Well, I guess because we were raised poor.

I:          Huh.

H:        And we believe in helping people.

I:          Okay.

H:        You know.  If you always have everything, a lot of times you don’t care for anybody else. But if you’re rich and see another poor person, you say they’re like us.  So Korea was like us, only worse off,

0:21:00

you know what I mean.

I:          You said your brother got the citizen

H:        Uh huh.

I:          ship of Korea?

H:        Um hm.

I:          Why?

H:        Because he’s on financial help after he was out of the Navy and all.  He continued doing it.

I:          He was Korean War veteran?

H:        Yes.  He was in the Inchon Landing.

I:          Hey.  Tell me about it.  What’s his name?

H:        His name was John Spiese.  He has two, he had, uh, went onto college and got two degrees; one degree in European History, PhD, and he became a lawyer

0:21:30

and did everything pro bono.

I:          And he’s

H:        He taught at Temple for 35

I:          Elder than you or younger than you?

H:        He’s, uh, three years older than me.

I:          Um. And he was in Inchon Landing?

H:        Yeah.  He said they took about 10,000 civilians that didn’t want the north to stay in North Korea. They took them down to South Korea, and he was on a ship he said, it wasn’t meant for that many people.  They had them stacked so they were standing shoulder to shoulder in the elevators.

0:22:00

He said it’s a wonder the ship didn’t sink from all the weight.  It wasn’t meant to carry that many people, you know.

I:          But he was Marine?

H:        He was in the Navy.

I:          Navy.  And Inchon Landing?

H:        Huh?

I:          And he was in the Inchon Landing?

H:        Yeah.

I:          Okay.  So, so how long did he serve there in Korea?

H:        He, well, well till the war was over.  I mean, uh, he was on a, uh, attack transport.

0:22:30

It carried troops, AKA it was called, McGovern.  AKA and McGovern.  You might have heard of it, and the guys on that ship, they formed a, a, like a Welfare committee and, and the whole crew sent money and stuff and, and did what they could when they were in Korea.

I:          Um hm.

H:        That helped the people, you know.

I:          Um hm.

H:        Yep.

I:          I see.  And so, since when did you join

0:23:00

the chapter?

H:        When did I what?

I:          When did you join the chapter?

H:        Oh, I’ve belonged for about two years now.

I:          Only two years.

H:        Yeah.  It was, it’s only maybe 2 ½ years old.

I:          Uh huh.

H:        It’s not very old.

I:          So before that, did you have any association with any other Korean War Veterans Organization?

H:        No.

I:          No.

H:        No.

I:          So you didn’t talk about that, either.

H:        No.

I:          Much.

H:        Not much.

I:          Ah.

H:        But, uh, yeah.  That, that, uh, you know there’s a move to, move to get in, to get

0:23:30

reunited with the North.

I:          Yes.

H:        And that would really benefit the North.  I mean it’s gonna benefit the North a heck of a lot more than it will the South.

I:          That, that’s right.

H:        They don’t have any, when you fly over Korea people tell me, you gotta go over North Korea when you’re flying in, and North Korea’s all dark.

I:          Yeah.

H:        But as soon as you hit the, the whole sky lights up because all the lights are on in South Korea.

I:          Yes.  That is the legacy,

0:24:00

and so are you proud of, to be the Korean War era veteran?

H:        Yes, I am.

I:          Um hm.

H:        Yes, I am.

I:          Um hm.

H:        I had 10 brothers and sisters that were in the service.  All the nine boys joined the service and, uh, my sister joined the WAVES, the, the, in the Navy.

I:          Um hm.  Any of your brothers were in Korea other than John?

H:        No.

I:          No.

H:        Uh, he’s, he’s the only one.

I:          Um.  Is he alive?

H:        He died of cancer.

I:          Oh.  I’m sorry to hear that.

H:        Yeah.  He died of cancer.

0:24:30

I:          Um.

H:        But he was very religious, and, uh, he had a girlfriend that had MS, and they went together for years and years, and then she died.  So he never got married.  But he gave everything he, he was what you would call pauper, even though he was an educated person.  He didn’t own anything.

I:          Um.

H:        And we’d walk down the street.  Of course he got his pension from, from, uh, the Social Security and from Temple.

0:25:00

He taught Law there for 35 years.  And he, he’d see somebody and call me how you doing, and the person would know him. They come wandering up on a bicycle or something, I don’t know how it’s gonna, I’m gonna make it over the weekend. He’d reach in the pocket, give him money.  I said no wonder you never have anything.

I:          Hm.

H:        You give every penny away.  Well, he said it says in the Bible it’s alright to be rich while you’re living.  But when you die, you shouldn’t own anything.

I:          Um hm.

H:        You should have gave it all away by the time you die.

0:25:30

I:          Very nice.

H:        Yeah.

I:          Did John talk about his, uh, um,

H:        Korean experience?

I:          Yeah, yeah.

H:        Yeah, he, he talked about it.  He said the big difference in the, in the Korean War. One time they got a great big bag of candy.  It’s, I saw it in the video.  It’s in the video.  They got a great big bag of candy, and this soldier took it up and dumped it on the ground and these Korean kids were

0:26:00

standing around, and they was all candy bars and chewing gum, you know, wrapped up.  And he looked at it.  They didn’t know what it was.  So this soldier that dumped it on the ground, he grabs a candy bar and opens it up and starts eating.  All those kids,

I:          [LAUGHS]

H:        they jumped on it then.

I:          Yeah.   That’s how poor Korean War

H:        Yeah.

I:          At the time.

H:        And when North Korea would go through a village in South Korea, see, uh, North Korea wasn’t, uh, the South Korean troops weren’t in North Korea that much.

0:26:30

I:          Um hm.

H:        They were invaded.  North Korea invaded them.  So when they came to a village, the North Koreans would burn it and treat the people mean.  But when the American troops would go by, they’d just walk on each side of the road and not touch anything, you know.  And some of them villages never saw an American before or, and the, they were amazed at, they didn’t treat them mean when they came through their village. When they would, took over a village or something.

0:27:00

And then they would give them stuff.  But, uh, it was cold in Korea.  Thirty-five below zero different ones told me, and it said that, in the morning you, if you had a diesel truck, you could have let them run all night because the motor didn’t overheat from idling.  But, uh, the gasoline motors, you had to shut them off.  So in the morning you took a, a metal poker, a solid piece of metal, and stick it in the oil pan so the oil, you, wouldn’t be frozen anymore.

I:          [LAUGHS]

0:27:30

And when they got stockings from home, they would take and wrap them around their waist.  That would keep them warm, and the darn, where they had their barracks, you know, was all swampy.  The floors were always wet.  You couldn’t keep anything dry, you know.  And, uh, when they were treated, MacArthur went up there with, uh, 50,000 troops, and the North Koreans and the Chinese had a half a million.  They were outnumbered 10 to 1.

0:28:00

So we had to retreat, and when they, uh, saw American dead soldiers, they would take the coats off of them to keep warmer.  Our troops would take the dead people’s coats when they, and then the ambulance crew would come and gather up the bodies.  They didn’t leave any bodies laying there.  They took them with them, you know, no, in fact.  But it’d be a good thing.

I:          Um.

H:        To, for us, I think for Korea to reunite like it was because they’re a proud people, and they were

0:28:30

a nice nation, and then, I don’t know why that, I guess because they border on China, North Korea, that, uh, the, they turned Communist, you know, and had Communist rulers

I:          Um hm, um hm.

H:        for years.  But, uh, yes.  Korean people good people.   Yep.

I:          What is the legacy of the Korean War you think?

0:29:00

H:        Well, I think the legacy of the Korean War was that it wasn’t reunite.  It reunite your country.  I’m the, I’m looking for that maybe 20 years it’d be one country.

I:          Yeah.  That’s a good point.

H:        Yeah.

I:          Yes.

H:        And you have a [INAUDIBLE], uh, President right now that is really, uh, he’s really for that.

I:          You mean the Korean President?  Oh.  You know about that?

H:        Um hm.

I:          How do you know that?

H:        Like I say, I read a lot.

I:          Oh, that’s right.

0:29:30

H:        Yeah.

I:          President Moon Jae-in is really into the, the dialogue with North Korea

H:        Yeah.

I:          right now

H:        Yeah.

I:          and see if we can maintain the peace and then have a more exchanges and, and

H:        Um hm.

I:          collaborations so that we can increase the interdependency.

H:        The poor North Koreans, they sent a team down to the Olympics.

I:          Yes.

H:        They didn’t score a point.  In nothing.

I:          Right.  Did you watch the PyeongChang Winter Olympics?

H:        Yes.

I:          How was it?

H:        Well, uh, I like the Summer because I like, uh, all that, uh, snow and everything and the people that are in those sports,

0:30:00

they really like it. They drop around in it and, you know. I like the Summer Olympics, you know, all the

I:          Yeah.

H:        The running and all.

I:          Um hm.  Um, any other message you want to leave to this interview, Herbert, about your, um, experience as a Korean War era veteran?

0:30:30

H:        Well, I was proud I was in the Navy, and the guys on our ship, uh, they really had your back.  One thing we did one time was we took a bunch of Marines on amphibious operations where they teach them how to land on beaches and all.  And, uh, we, on our ship the doors open up in the front, and you drive your trucks and everything onto the beach.  Well, there was a sand bar there that wasn’t on the charts, and it

0:31:00

ran for 10 miles so we couldn’t go around it.  So when we pulled the ship up, we couldn’t put it up on the beach and open up our doors, so the Marines could drive their trucks out and all.  We were on the sand bar.  So we took the bow anchor and put it on the sand bar and took the stern anchor and put it out, and we were like this.   They, you couldn’t go off that.  It had you by the front and the back and, uh, our Captain got a commendation from the Navy for discovering it.  So it wasn’t on their chart, it wasn’t on their charts nowhere.

0:31:30

So we had to build a bridge.

I:          Uh.

H:        The water was about 6, 7

I:          Where was it?

H:        On, on the, uh, Crete, the Island of Crete.

I:          Where?

H:        In Greece.

I:          Greece?

H:        Yeah.  They were on operation in Greece and, uh, you remember the fairy tale where the king touches everything, King Midas?

I:          Um hm.

H:        That was a real king.  King Midas, and his palace is on Crete.  And, uh, he’d touch everything and it’d turn to gold and he wish

I:          Yeah.

H:        he had a lot of gold.

I:          Midas touch.

0:32:00

H:        Yeah.  Well, uh, we were there.  So we had to build a bridge.  I said no way is this bunch of redneck sailors know how to build a bridge.  We had no engineering officer.  So we took these metal strips that you put down when you’re building an airport.  They’re metal strips with holes in them.  You put them down before you put a cement.  So we had cable, and we took these metal strips and put the cables through the old.  Then we had spikes.  It looked like circus spikes.

0:32:30

We had a lot of them on the ship.  We drove them into the shore into the ocean and wrapped them around and then put them through these holes and took a C-clamp.  A C-clamp is

I:          [LAUGHS]

H:        Like that, and then you tighten it up.

I:          Um hm.

H:        And, and we built this bridge, and they drove their trucks through it.  That was one of the amazing things out of it, in experience in the Navy.

I:          Wow.

H:        That was a bunch of dumb old bums gonna build a bridge, you know.  Of course we were all rednecks.  I mean, you only had four officers and if they didn’t do what we wanted, we threw them over board, you know.

I:          Yeah ha.

0:33:00

Wow.  What a interesting story, and you had the wonderful time in Navy.

H:        Yeah.

I:          Going around these European countries.

H:        Um hm.

I:          That’s, uh, that must be an, an, on the experience, and this is my great pleasure and honor to be able to listen from you, and I want to thank you as a Korean War era veteran that you served for this nation.

H:        Alright.  Thank you.

I:          Thank you.

H:        Thank you for your service.  You know, uh, when somebody looks at me when I tell them that, but they say thank you for your service, and I, I thank you for yours. If you’re a citizen of the United States or any country, you’re doing a service.  You’re doing a service as a father, as a taxpayer for your country, you know. Everybody serves.

I:          Absolutely.

H:        Everybody serves.

I:          Yes.  Great. Thank you.

H:        Okay.

I:          Yep.

[End of Recorded Material]