Albert McCarthy enlisted in the Korean War after the 1953 Armistice, serving in the United States Air Force. His responsibilities were centered on gathering air intelligence about enemy troops. He was a part of the Korean Defense Forces, who protected the war effort after the official fighting had ended. He served after the attack and capture of the USS Pueblo by the North Korean troops. Albert McCarthy today is heavily involved in preserving not just the legacy of Korean War veterans, but particularly Korean Defense Veterans. Today, he serves as the National Director of the Korean War Veteran Association and was a past President of Chapter 299 devoted to Korean War Defense Veterans.
Infiltrators Hiding in Barrels
Albert McCarthy recalls an incident that happened when he worked for the security agency. Intelligence came in that there were 12 North Korean infiltrators sneaking into South Korea through the Han River hiding in barrels. Once caught, the infiltrators were killed that night. He also recalls receiving intelligence of a school bus filled with infiltrators heading to kill the South Korean president. They also blew up at least two gunboats a week.
Code Names, Signals, and Spies
Albert McCarthy describes working with a North Korean spy. He details having to use code names and signals. He also elaborates on how this spy helped alleviate a set up from the North Koreans that almost occured in the Chorwon Valley.
This Information is Classified
Albert McCarthy outlines his job responsibilities as a part of the National Security Agency. They had to assess whether the intelligence was covert or not. Many of the intelligence he was a part of collecting is still not classified information today. Due to this, he uses many metaphors to describe certain situations he was involved in.
[Beginning of Recorded Material]
A: My name is Albert McCarthy, and A L B E R T McCarthy. M c C A R T H Y.
I: Um hm.
A: And uh, I’m the, uh National Director of the Korean War Veterans Association and Past President of Chapter 299.
I: So tell me about this reunion. Is there any unique about this reunion?
A: Well, every reunion we have is unique in itself because so many new people come together, uh, at one place, and although they don’t know each other on a first name basis or they may not have ever met each other, the fact that they have a common experience is the important part. Uh, there’s an immediate, uh, brotherhood, a relationship that’s, that’s there. So is it unique? It is unique. Uh, there’s nothing routine
about these things because each person shares with the other people that are, uh, attending. The personal stories, if you will, but they may not have told even their families and, and yet they’ll, they’ll get together and talk about it. We did that at lunch today. Uh, six of us sat together, and, and shared, uh, what our experiences were, and it was just like you were talking to a brother.
I: And you are the National Director to KWVA as Korea
Defense veteran, right?
A: That, that’s correct.
I: Could you explain about what Korea Defense veteran means?
A: Sure. Um, obviously there was the active war from ’50 to ’53, and then everyone who came to Korea after, after, um, the Armistice was signed, everyone that means they were there in defense of the country, uh
and it wasn’t clear whether or not there would be any active combat going on. And as it turned out, all of the time period from the Armistice to the present, uh, there had been these periods of time where things got pretty aggressive. The, uh, capture of the USS Pueblo, the shooting of the EC121 was
I: 1968 – ’69.
A: 64 lives. But, uh, what people don’t usually know is
even though we’re considered Defense veterans, 1,947 Americans and over 2,000 South Koreans have died in, in Korea, uh, since
I: So far.
A: So far since the Armistice.
I: Um hm.
A: And it doesn’t look like, um, that’s going to, uh, be abated, uh. You never know what the regime in the North is planning. Now, there was a period of time when the Defense veterans were in Korea that, uh, is now referred to as the Second
Korean War, and that was from ’64 through ’72. And during that period of time, uh, the, uh, People’s Republic of North Korea, uh, became very aggressive sending infiltrators down almost on a nightly basis, either to blow things up, uh, take people hostage of poison water supplies like, uh, a village, uh, well, that sort of thing.
I: From ’64 to ’72.
A: ’72. Yes.
I: That you call as a Second Wave of the Korean War?
A: And the, and the United States government issued, uh, a medal called the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service during that period of time. I have one myself, and what that does is it qualifies you as a war veteran.
I: Army Forces Expeditionary
A: Uh, Armed Forces Expeditionary
A: Um, Service Medal.
I: Uh huh. And?
A: And that qualifies you as a war veteran. So even though people are in general classified as a Defense veteran, there was that period of time when they were classified as war veterans, even though we are Defense veterans, too. Kind of unusual. Um, now the people who are Defense veterans, um, run into some difficulty because there hasn’t been a lot of information about
Korea since the end of the war. And that’s what makes it difficult to recruit other people into the organization, uh. First because people don’t know, uh, who they are, what they’ve done, why they were even in Korea, um. Secondly, the United States government really didn’t try to help the issue at all because they didn’t want people knowing that we had such a large presence in Korea at the same time as the Vietnam War. So they played up the Vietnam War
and played down anything that went on in Korea. So when the Pueblo occurred, it tried to, to push that to the back pages of, of history and, and the newspapers. The EC121, they just kind of wrote off the facts 64 people died in that attack. Had gunboat attacks, uh. My experience with design was assigned to the National Security Agency when I was, uh, in Korea, was, um, we would, uh,
have knowledge of all the different, uh, events that were going on around Korea. I’ll give you an example, um, even though it was supposedly a Defense veteran period. Uh, there were 12 barrels floating in the Hahn River, and we were informed that these barrels were floating in with the tide. Well obviously why would barrels be floating in with the tide unless some ships sank or something like that. Well, what the North Koreans had done is they had, uh, taken 55 gallon drums.
They found, um, members of the military forces that were a certain weight plus their armament was a certain weight and put them in the drums with a lid on it, and the drums would float down the Hahn River, and they would only be like four inches above the water. The rest of it would be submerged, uh, and it was just a fisherman who sold, who saw the barrels, uh, called the local police. The local police called the Katusa. The Katusa called us,
And, um, we worked in the battle staff at, at Ulsan and, uh, we contacted the ROK Navy, and they and the ROK Marines went out to investigate. Well, it turned out it was 12 infiltrators, and, uh, so they, they all died that night. Uh, there was the, a bus that was commandeered, uh, in, um, just outside of Seoul and, uh, there was, I forget at the time, three, no, there might have been as many as
six infiltrators on it. They killed the school children, uh, and they were driving the bus supposedly to, um, to go and kill the President of South Korea. Uh, and we had learned about it and, uh, so we coordinated everything with the, uh, ROK government and, uh, the infiltrators were intercepted and killed. Um, we certainly with, we blow up gunboats like almost two a week. Uh, that happened all the time, uh.
We hope, one, one interesting thing. I used to, uh, have to go to a, a meeting in Japan, uh, so that it was away from, uh, the Korean Peninsula, and we would discuss all of the, um, NSA activities that would occur in all of Asia, and, um, and one of the people that I would meet would be a person whose name, who’s code name, uh, was, uh, Bird Cage 22 cause
we couldn’t use his name. We actually, uh, would use the numbers so they didn’t have to say him or her. I was talking with 22, and 22 said, and, uh, he was quite interesting, uh. He, he told me that he was a citizen. He’s dead now. He was, he was killed. But he would come down from North Korea, um,
I: From North Korea?
A: From North Korea.
I: So he lived in North Korea?
A: He, he lived in North Korea. He, he was a spy, and he lived in North Korea and had the ability to go between the North and the South.
He was supposedly a Swiss citizen. So in any event, he would come down, and we would fly over to, to Japan. And, uh, that was pretty routine for a few months. But then he had to broadcast in the clear, uh, that there was a setup taking place, that what happened was they sent two, uh, MIIG 17s which were at that point in time, were very old and slow, uh, vehicles. So they sent two
MIG 17s down to Chorwon Valley to try and draw up the Blue Dragons, uh, who were in, um, in the Northeast part of [INAUDIBLE] and they were trying to overfly the base to get the, the Korean government to send up the, the, uh, uh, the blue Dragons which was the premiere group of, of the Korean Air Force, and as they were going up the, the Chorwon Valley after these aircraft, um, our, our guy, 22, broadcast
to us that it was a setup because on the other side of the mountains, uh, they had, uh, two MIG 21s waiting, and so it would be four on four, uh. But they didn’t know that, at the time, that he broadcast in the clear. So we broadcast to the Koreans that it was a setup so that they were already armed, uh, by the time the others, uh, uh, showed up, uh, and we, we actually averted it because once the,
the, four, uh, planes saw that they were outgunned by the, the, uh, Blue Dragons, uh, they turned tails and run, and they were asking for permission to shoot them down. But, uh, the General wouldn’t, uh, give them permission because they would have gone down inside North Korea. But, uh, there was a lot of activity like that that went on, but absolutely nobody was allowed to, to talk about it, um. It never appeared in the press. No one ever knew that it, that it happened, um. And it was just one of those things.
Even the unit that I was assigned to which was, uh, the, the 5thAir Force 314 [INAUDIBLE] Division Command Advisory Function, uh, you can’t find any information that it even existed in Korea because the NSA, we used to kid that it stands for No Such Agency. Fifth Air Force is all of Asia
A: 314thAir Division
I: Um hm
A: Is Korea. Command Advisory Function is the unit
that, uh, was assigned to the National Security Agency to provide command overview to the Americans and to provide information to the Korean government, and we ran special projects, whether, technically the United States doesn’t overfly the other countries. So obviously, uh, that would be a, a difficult situation. But we were there to, uh, perform missions that, uh,
were highly classified and that probably will never be declassified to a level you can talk about. But, uh, it was an exciting time I’ll tell you. But Defense veterans, um, are probably the, uh, the least recognized group that is in the military, uh. They go over there to protect what was won at great costs by the, the Korean War veterans, and you take a look at Iraq, once our people left, we, we had virtually won the war,
and once our people left and the vacuum existed, Iraq, uh, erupted. The same thing would have happened to Korea if it weren’t for the Defense veterans. Um, excuse me. So Defense veterans, I think, are a natural extension of the war that, that took place. We’re there to guarantee the existence of the, of the government and, uh, I’ve got to say that there isn’t anybody that served in Korea that I know that doesn’t
have the highest regard for the Korean people as a people, uh. The governments come and go, but the Korean people, um, I, I ask you what country has ever shown the kind of loyalty back to America that Korea has. It just has never happened. And has anyone ever been as grateful? Never happened.
I: Why is that?
A: I think because, uh, if you take the occupation of Korea by the Japanese and how
they were, um, so brutalized as a, as a people, um, that it, it damaged the psyche of, of the Korean people, uh. It kind of colluded the Korean culture, um, and then when they were, the Japanese were driven out and the Americans came in, people, for the first time, saw possibilities, um. They, they saw that anything could be done now that they had freedom, and
they used that opportunity to just seize on all the things that had been kind of pent up as a country, and because everyone has gone through the same kind of, of, uh, cultural repression, uh, that, that they had gone through, that they all rose up at the same time and allowed a focus that few countries have ever had. So they all were very focused on succeeding, on being, uh, able to, to
develop their economy, and they saw that freedom allowed their children to actually have a future that they could determine because they were free people, um. We have, um, Korean children that, uh, come over, uh, every year to the Andover area in Massachusetts, and the one thing that strikes all the Korean War veterans and Korea Defense veterans that are there are the smiles on their faces because you never saw smiles on their faces, uh,
during the time period that we were there, and people were there in the 50’s and the 60’s, um. It just wasn’t there. I mean, they were, they were starting to realize that things were changing. But now these kids come over, and it’s no, almost no difference between them and American kids. You know, they enjoy life. They smile. They, they play. Uh, it’s, it’s, it’s heartwarming to us to know that we had a hand in Korea and that kind of freedom, too.
I: So let’s put it in this, uh, phrase.
The Korea Defense veteran is the U.S. Forces stationed in Korea officially, theoretically after February of 1955 because the Korean War officially ended in 1955 by January 31st, and how many do you think there has been in, in the Korean theater as a Korea Defense veteran?
A: I would guess about
2 ½ million.
I: 2 ½, how do you calculate it? What is the basis of your calculation that you think there has been 2.5 million?
A: Uh, at any given time, uh, since the signing of the Armistice, you had, well during the time I was there, there were about 45,000, uh, troops. Um, the years before that
I: When was it?
A: I was there in, uh, 19, all of 1970 and part of 1971.
And, uh, most of the time, we had 40 to maybe 50 or possibly more, uh, thousands of, of veterans they, or military people there. So if you add it up over a half century or more, um, you have about 2 ½ million people.
I: But it’s not annual. The officers and non-officers, what is their, uh, rotation? How
many, how many years are they supposed to station in Korea to, to qualify?
A: So the greatest length of time was just one year. The 45,000 would come in, they’d spend one year, 45,00 would leave, and another 45,000
I: Is the same for Officer and non?
I: Same? I heard that the, just for soldier, uh, for six month and then Officers for a year.
A: That may be now, but when I was there, everybody was there for a year.
I: Just for a year?
A: Thirteen months actually.
I: Thirteen month?
I: Okay. So that’s how you calculate it?
A: Yeah. Um, and, and that doesn’t take into account all the support functions, uh, that, that would be there. For instance, when we would do, uh, combat air patrols in the, uh, uh, the sea or opposite, uh, Korea, uh, they would have to be supported by tankers that came out of, uh, Kadena, um. We
would have on occasion a, uh, reason to, to, uh,
I: You mean temporarily.
A: Temporarily, yes.
A: We would fly out.
A: Um, if we, uh, encountered any kind of, uh, hostility from the North, we would send up our fighters to take positions which were called Combat Air Patrols, and they would, they would take up positions in various areas so that if anything came down from the North, they would be intercepted. Well, they can’t stay
up there forever. So, uh, they would burn fuel to get to the Combat Air Patrols base or camp, um. They would, uh, need to have fuel to return so they could, the tankers would come out of Kadena, we’d fuel them airborne so they could stay up longer depending on what the threat was. Um.
I: Um, how many National Directors in the Korean War Veterans Association total? Do you have any idea, about 20?
R: Uh, I think the number
all totaled is 18.
I: 18. And how many Korean, Korea Defense veterans?
I: Four, five?
R: No, there are about seven.
R: Yeah. Um, we actually took pictures of them today, um, but there, there were seven that were in the picture.
I: Um hm.
R: Um, as, as members of the Board, you know. I did myself as Second Vice-President Jeff Roduer, uh, is Korean, uh,
Defense veteran, um. And the other fellows I don’t know, um, uh, by name because we have some new directors, uh, on board. But, uh, oh, Colonel Clark, um. He’s a Korean Defense veteran, uh, the fellow that just took over as the editor of Gray Beards is a Korean Defense veteran.
R: Um, I, I don’t know his name. Works for Warren Weedham, um. But, uh, there, there are, uh, uh, seven of t hem that, that were in the picture.
Uh, and this time around, um, we have between four and six director positions coming open and, um, so we’re looking forward to, uh, filling those positions with Korean Defense veterans.
I: Um hm. What’s going on in KWVA? KWVA is basically, was formed for the Korean War veteran. Now what should be the future, and what’s going on, and what are the issues here? Please summarize it.
A: Okay. Um,
the Korean War veterans, uh, came together many years after the Korean War because no one really paid attention to them when they came home, so they were motivated in, in the 70’s to, to form the organization, and in their mind it was necessary to draw together all those who had the experience in the war. But, um, as they get older, uh, and the Defense veterans become greater in number, and war veterans become smaller in number, the,
question came up what about the legacy of the Korean War veterans and, uh, they came to the conclusion that the Korean Defense veteran is literally the legacy of the Korean War veterans much like the country of Korea recognizes the Defense veterans are the legacy. So there was a, a beginning of an overlap, and at first you had only one which is, uh, Jeff Roduer. Uh, then, uh,
I: As a Director?
R: As a, as a director, and then
Art Griffith, uh, joined the Board in, uh, as a Director of Finances, and then Art died, and then I, uh, was brought onto the Board, and now we’ve added these other, uh, gentlemen who are Korean Defense and probably more because the average age of the Korean War veterans right now is 85. So it’s the whole idea of legacy, um. You had, just as an example, and I try to cite this whenever I speak, uh, to a group. You had the folks who were in Korea from ’45, uh,
to ’50 who liberated Korea and helped to reestablish its nationhood. Then you had the people from ’50 to, if you want to use ’55 as the, the number, uh, ’50 to ’55 who protected it and, uh, and guaranteed that it existed. They had the Defense veterans who make sure that it, it continues to perpetuate itself, and that, that’s our role as Korea Defense veterans, the ones who go there and become Defense veterans
and who join our organization on the legacy of both Korean War veterans and the country of Korea.
I: So did you change the, are you going to change the name from Korean War Veterans Association to Korean War Veteran and Korea Defense Veteran Association?
R: That came up at our annual meeting this week and, uh, it’s, it’s going to be “studied”, uh, but I think it, it’s actually gonna happen. Um, they’ve asked Jeff Roduer, uh, to come
up with, um, designs of the, uh, the, the patch for the Korea Veterans saying Korean War and Korea Defense Veterans. That way they’re recognized. The Korea service, uh, the idea of Korea War and Korea Service Veterans, um, didn’t quite address the, the purpose, uh. So we’re trying to rectify that now.
A: There, there wasn’t a lot of, of
pushback. So I expect it’s gonna change.
I: Um hm. And there are some resistance in the sight of Korean War veterans that they don’t want to see the name change at all, and they see that, KWVA has to expire when Korean War veterans pass away.
A: Well, yeah. The, the really hardcore people who believe that, um, are now fewer in number and are generally not on the Board anymore. Uh, they, they’ve gone away.
The people that are now, Korean War veterans who are, are now on the Board, uh, are very, uh, solicitous of Korea Defense veterans. So I think the, the days of, of separation are actually numbered at this point. I think it’s, this is the last year you’re gonna see any pushback, and I think by this time next year, it’ll be, uh, Korea War and Korea Defense Veterans.
I: Um hm.
A: Um, it has to. Uh, otherwise Korean
War veterans will become a, a, a last man standing organization, and, and that, they, they’re killing their own legacy.
I: So what is your vision as a Korea Defense veteran? I see the emphasis, I mean, the importance of Korea Defense veteran contributed to the Korean economic development and the global partnership between U.S. and Korea. This is amazing. It’s never been really properly
illuminated even academically not in research about it. That’s why I’m very interested in doing research about it. I’m doing study, and I’m going to include a chapters in my book about the Korean War and after
A: Um hm.
I: How do you, h ow do you want to mobilize this, uh, uncultivated territories? There are so many according to your projection, about 2.5
million. That means that there are at least 10 million Korea Defense veteran community including their family members. Very conservatively.
I: And how do you want to, how do you want to cultivate this?
A: Well, actually again this week, uh, we had, uh, a woman, um, Mary Chaney, who came in and spoke to the group, uh. She is a very, uh,
well-known, uh, political marketing person. She helps, um, those running for Office to, uh, come up with the strategies to run for office and, uh, she came in and talked to us because she had a relative in her, her, uh, family who was in Korea, and, uh, she became interested in, in Koreans, uh and also in the, in the Korean veterans. And when she heard that we were here, uh, she put her proposal together,
and she, she looked at how we were going out trying to recruit and said essentially we were doing it all wrong, and, uh, she came in and gave a one-hour presentation on how, uh, we could use social media, how we could leverage newspapers, magazines, uh, television, um, community, uh, tv programs, uh. What she wanted to do was that I h ad suggested a few years back, but we had
the hardcore war people, um. I had suggested that we use focus groups to find out among the Korean Defense veterans, what’s important to them. Why would they join the organization? She wants to do that, and then based on that, put together a plan, what do they read, what do they look at, how do they communicate with each other and that sort of thing, and then use those medias to get back out to them. And her, uh, organization, uh, would provide us with the sophisticated, um,
marketing tech, uh, techniques, and people that help guide us in that direction. But, uh, it would be extremely expensive, uh, what she put down. So then the question is how to, how to fund that. Well, I, I brought up the objection, um, that another organization was being formed in, in Korea, uh, to address Korea Defense veterans, um. Do you want me to talk about that?
I: Yes, please. Who is that? What, what is that?
A: General Sharp.
I: Yeah? And what’s going on?
A: Okay. So General Sharp, um, was the, the four-star general that was in charge of all forces in Korea. So he is, um, very well known, uh. He had a lot of, of influence, not only on the military but the government in Korea, and that can’t happen unless you also have influence on the economy of Korea and the companies that make that economy vibrant and who depend upon the protection from the military. So there’s a
synergy between them and, uh, a comfort level that, uh, uh, his knowledge, his connections, his power, um, in the government even though he’s retired now, uh, hasn’t waned. It’s still uh, effective, and he’s going about trying to organize a Korea Defense Veterans Association because, uh, he was under the impression that the Korea War Veterans Association was a last man standing
organization, and he was going to come in and presented himself as the hero. I will come in, and I will protect your legacy, and I’m going to form this organization. But the whole thing is I’m going to do this. I’m going to do that without realizing that he’s talking to people with Korean, you know, Defense veterans in the room, and we brought that to his, his, um, attention that you’re going off to create an organization that essentially is going to kill the KWVA,
and he was shocked, and he, without comment, he just left the room, um. So he’s gone off to do it anyway. But being Generals, that’s what they do, right, what, whatever they think is, I now I’m slamming Generals, but, uh, you know, they, they, uh, uh, people who are catered to for so long, they become their, their rank. So he’s off, um, using his connections to raise money that he would then have the ability to
pay people to do the things that he personally doesn’t either want to do or he doesn’t know anything about. But he uses leadership ability, uh, to get money and then to fund an organization, um. We’re, uh, a group of people who do everything ourselves. We don’t’ have that kind of, uh, funding and backing. So he will have the definite advantage. I brought that up at the meeting saying that if we don’t do something like what Mary Chaney has
suggested, um, he is going to be able to outspend us and consequently use resources to get more people that will be attracted away from us, uh, even just changing our name from Korea War and Service to Korea War and Korea Defense, is a nice step in the right direction, but he’s gonna have the resources to do it financially where we don’t. So I said, you know, he’s talking about creating an umbrella and assuming the
Korea War veterans under his umbrella, uh. That doesn’t go over very well with the Korean War veterans. Uh, Korea Defense, you can go either way because either way, you’re with your brothers that you served with during that period of time after the, uh, the Armistice, um. But either we get to the, the public first and, and get the Defense veterans thinking in our direction, or he’ll just flat out take it away from us.
I: So what if he’s successful? What do you want to do? You going to join them?
A: Well, if he’s successful, then what will happen is the Korea War Veterans Association will continue to diminish, and within it there is one chapter, 299 which is the largest chapter that is made up of Korea Defense veterans so that it, the Korea War veterans and Korea Defense veterans will devolve in size and bring it down
to 299, and then we have to try and build 299 or continue with. Uh, if that can’t be done, then I think you’ll find people migrating to his organization, uh. So really the next year is, is very key. We’d either take it away from him, that ability to, to get Korea Defense veterans or you virtually lose it forever.
R: That’s my hypothetical on the situation.
I: Let’s go back to your personal veteran’s experience. So please tell me, when were you born? What is your birthday?
A: Uh, I was born in May of 1944.
A: I usually don’t publicize it because then people can get into your personal, uh, information.
I: So May of 1940?
A: May of 1944.
I: ’44. Ah, thank you for revealing the month. [LAUGHS]
A: You can’t do much with that.
I: Where were you born?
A: I was born in the same city I live in now, Wooster, Massachusetts.
I: Could you spell it?
A: W O R C E S T E R, Massachusetts.
I: Tel me about what, what school did you go through?
A: I went to the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.
I: Um hm.
A: A Jesuit, uh, college.
I: Um hm.
A: I received my, uh, Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, uh, which I felt would help me understand groups and how they think and how they, uh, they organize and they operate, um.
I: American Sociology.
A: American Sociology.
I: A lot of European.
A: Well, Americans. Uh, because we were going to dominate the world. [LAUGHS], So in any event, uh, while I was in college, I was also in ROTC, and, uh, and I was married,
and h ad a, a daughter. So, uh, I completed college while my wife completed her college, uh. She was a year ahead of me in school, so in her Senior year, uh, we, we were already married, so, uh, in her Senior year she was, uh, before she graduated, she was pregnant. So her, our daughter was born, um, uh, our oldest daughter was born, uh, after her graduation, and she started teaching school to help support the family while I finished up.
But while I was in college, I went through the Flight Indoctrination Program, uh, to become a pilot. So I was in the Air Force ROTC. I went through flight school, uh, while I was in college. So when I graduated I was commissioned and, an Officer in the Air Force, and I was sent directly to pilot training, and so my wife and my daughter and, and I all reported for pilot training because the family is in the military, too, [INAUDIBLE]
I: When was it?
A: Uh, 1968.
I: That’s the year that the Pueblo was abducted, right? And where did you get the basic, I mean the air, pilot training?
A: In Valdosta, Georgia.
I: Uh huh.
A: And, uh, that’s where, um, one of the major, uh, training bases was and, uh, so I went through, uh, pilot training while I was, uh, was there, um. Unfortunately, uh, that was the same time that my brother-in-law who was a Navy pilot was killed, uh, in Vietnam.
So my wife, uh, was very distraught to say the least, he, because he being another pilot, too, um. And she was very distraught about the situation. So, um, in order to, you have to make decisions. So I decided that it was more important for her that I not be a pilot, um. But I guess she thought they should have more opportunity to hold on to me than, uh,
sending me to a, a grave like her brother. So in any event, um. I, uh, left pilot training and went to, um, Panama City, Florida where I, uh, was trained as a, uh, Forward Air Controller, and
I: What is it?
A: Forward Air Controller
A: Like going out. Air Controller.
I: Uh huh.
A: Which means that, um, you’re controlling a radar site that is
out toward the, the front of the battle area, and you would, uh, essentially bring aircraft in for ground attacks, air attacks, refueling, rescue missions, uh, bombing, straping, all that sort of thing. And, uh, so I was, I was trained as a Forward Air Controller, and then I was made an instructor, uh, at the school with Advanced, uh, Air Controller. Um, at that point I was at, I was approached by the, uh, National Security Agency,
uh, to be attached to them in Korea. Well as luck would have it, the day that my second, uh, daughter was born was the same day I got orders to go to Korea. Was my wife upset. So in any event
I: I bet.
A: I said, uh, well, we have two weeks. Uh, what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna move you back to Worcester so you can be close to your, your mother and your sister, um, and, and your aunts and your family, and they can help you
deal with, uh, post-partum depression and, you know, help you raise, uh, the girls while I’m overseas. So then I left and went to Korea. And, uh, you know, we’ve, we’ve talked about, um, the things that I did while I was attached to NSA in Korea. Um, by the time I got through in Korea, um, my, my period of, uh, enlistment if you will with the military was ending. So I was discharged,
uh, from the Air Force, and I went home to begin my civilian career.
I: When did you leave for Korea?
A: For Korea?
I: For Korea, yeah.
A: Uh, October, I think it was like, [INAUDIBLE] this week. I’ll be darned. Uh, October 10th, 10/10, October 10th, 1970
A: Six, 60, had to be October of ’69, um, because I was here
all of ’70 and came back in, I think it was January of ’70, ’71. Huh, I’ll be darned. It was this week. Well,
I: So what did you do there? Where were you, and what did you do?
A: I was in Ulsan. As I mentioned, I was assigned to the National Security Agency and, uh, we essentially, uh, processed all the intelligence community
information, um, handled all intelligence, uh, gathering and, whether it was covert or, or not and, um, sometimes we were very obvious, like over, uh, over the whole Eastern, uh, part of the world, uh, we had satellites. We’d have SR71s, uh, and a number of what we call Aerial Platforms, uh. Some of them were
manned. Some were unmanned. All of them were under our control, uh, gathering intelligence of various kinds and
I: I don’t want you to reveal the secret but
A: No, people know that.
I: In addition to SR71 and satellite and, you know, human intelligence,
I: Is there any other way that you were able to collect information about North Korea?
A: Well, we had unmanned platforms.
I: Like what?
A: Unmanned platforms.
I: Like what?
A: Unmanned platforms.
I: [LAUGHS] That’s so, you passed the test, okay? And what’s been change to the contemporary? Do you, are you aware of the way that we collect? Now there’s not much from the human intelligence.
A: Um, well, you, if you were to see the movie Snowden, um, what he reveals, uh, although earth shaking to people who have no knowledge is like the tip of the
iceberg. Uh, just to give you one example because it’s not classified to my knowledge, at least at this point, um, there’s a thing called exobytes, and one exobyte is equal to every word that has been spoken in the history of humanity. NSA has facilities, the capacity of five exobytes, and, uh,
so they do, as Snowden was alluding to, monitor every voice, video and visual communication in the world simultaneously.
A: And, uh, it, it goes beyond that, but they can do that with relative ease. So there’s, there’s not much that they, uh, can’t know about. It’s a question on, um, operational requirements.
I: So you think that current Obama Administration and all the intelligence agency knew when North Korea were testing the nuclear weapons and testing their missile capabilities but just pretend not to know about that?
A: I’ll leave it up to you to extrapolate from what I said, whether or not that’s true. But there’s no way in Hell I would talk about something like that on the camera.
I: So your daily duty is to processing this information?
A: Uh, when I was in Korea?
A: Oh, yeah. Well, it, it was always real time. I mean we, we knew what was going on, um. To use a separate analogy, uh, to take it out of Korea, but you can suspect that the same thing may have gone on. Uh, if you took Vietnam, we could
tell you within five minutes of Vietnamese, North Vietnamese aircraft who the pilot was, what he had for training, what kind of armament he had on board his aircraft, and what his mission was.
I: You mean Vietnamese?
A: North Vietnamese.
I: North Vietnamese.
A: Five minutes we had it all down.
I: And you, you were defeated.
A: We weren’t defeated. We never lost a, a war. We didn’t lose the war, and we never lost a battle, not one single battle. A skirmish maybe, but all the major battles were won by the United States.
I: And still why you didn’t win?
A: People lost the, the will to fight for the United States.
I: Um hm.
A: That’s really what the, the problem was. And secondly, when Johnson took over, see, Kennedy would have taken us out of Korea and, uh, certainly he and his brother Bobby were intent on doing that. And I think he angered the military industrial complex and consequently, uh, he was, both of them were assassinated. And that would be my belief on whey they
were killed. Not Castro and Cuba and all of that. It was military industrial complex killed them. Um, but Johnson, however, uh, he was in tight with the military industrial complex. But he had an, an ego that required him to control everything, and when you have civilians trying to control the war, it’s not gonna work. They’re gonna screw it up. And, uh, and consequently, uh,
he took a lot of the targets that should have been bombed off the table. Why do we allow England to, uh, provide munitions and other supplies to North Vietnam and, uh, and not get bombed in Hai Phong Harbor? Because Johnson said we’re not gonna bomb Hai Phong Harbor. So England made all that money supplying North Vietnam to attack South Vietnam and America.
I: You have a great allies.
I: Well, I never thought they were, uh, great allies anyway.
I: Okay. So
let’s go back to the main topic which is
A: But knowing that we could do that kind of, uh, uh, put together that kind of information in Vietnam during the same time period that we were in Korea, you can decide for yourself whether or not it would have taken place in Korea.
I: And what about your life in Korea? What did you think about that, looking back those years in 1970 and ’71, and it was
first time for you to be in Korea. You were in Ulsan Air Base. I’m very familiar with that, and what, what was Korea to you at the time?
A: Well, uh, first of all, I, the, the first thing that strikes you, uh, I think, um, is the Korean people themselves. I studied them, and I think they’re terrific. Um, second thing, once I
started, um, getting my clearances squared away so that I could work for, uh, NSA and the, and the, uh, the, the mountain in, uh, not mountain, hill 170, uh, once I started working inside there, um, I was, uh, amazed and pleased that the United States had the capabilities that we had, um. I was perhaps dismayed by the politics to get involved and what
you’re gonna do with the information that you have and, uh, how it’s processed. Um, it did get me into trouble once when I questioned something, uh. But, uh, they will do, uh, to get through that problem. But, um, you, I think South Korea, uh, although there is a lot of [INAUDIBLE] rattling in the North, South Korea is in pretty decent shape, uh, with the, uh, the military that they
have the weapon systems that they have, and if push came to shove, the information that we have that could stop any preemptive move by the North, if that was the will of the people in charge. Sometimes things happen, and they’re allowed to happen for a purpose. Um, it may not always be a purpose that people would like but, uh, is, puts people in charge a sign to go in that direction. Uh, I really have to dance around this issue, uh, because it, uh,
what I do know, um, is, is gonna get me in a lot more trouble than anything else. But all I can tell you is I think the, um, I never had to worry about if it was an ultimate situation, clearly we would win. There’s no question in my mind. I was so amazed by our capabilities that people today don’t even know we have. Um, it, uh, I just never, um, um, worried a day after
worried a day after, when I was in Korea, I never worried a day after that whether or not we would prevail, um, given all the things that we have and the capabilities that we have, and yes we, we can know in advance about a lot of things. It’s just whatever the political will of the time is. That’s why this election is so important. The globalists are trying to take over in the form of the Democrats and Hillary Clinton. They have to be stopped.
Have to be stopped.
I: You wanna leave this to Trump?
A: Um, the things that he wants to get done, especially with the military, are the right way to go. His manner reminds me of Harry Truman. He said what was on his mind, whether you liked it or not. Um, but, uh, of the two, you’re either choosing between Socialism or Capitalism. And if he’s, the, the person that’ll get you back on to Capitalism, that’s the way to go.
I: Um, what do you think is the legacy of the Korean War veteran and compared to that, what could be for the Korea Defense veteran? Could you spell out those two and just give us some sort of, um, different aspect of it, if there is any?
A: The change in American society actually makes the difference that you’re talking about. The people
who are going through the war in Korea came out a society, uh, in America that, uh, highly valued loyalty, integrity, dedication, following through on your mission, um, believing in the righteousness of your cause and doing whatever it took to advance that cause.
I: That’s the last leg of the great generation.
A: That’s the legacy that, that
went to the Korea veterans, many of whom initially were from the greatest generation. Um, Korea Defense veterans, um, over that long span of time, uh, the culture here has changed and has become more self-centered. Uh, the thing of it is the military also became a professional military and didn’t rely on the draft. So the people who go into the military who become Korea Defense
veterans, uh, still have a lot of that patriotism, um. But they have more of a blend of patriotism for the country and self-purpose and, and self-gain. And, um, you know, when they go over and they’re there, there is no option. They’re professional military. They gotta perform. Um, but in
their personal lives and their private time, you have the other aspect that I don’t think the Korean War veterans had. They were focused and pure military 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These people are military while they’re on duty, and off duty is my private time and my enjoyment and whatever I want to do which isn’t to belittle them, but they’re the product of their society, you know. So when I was there,
in the late 60, early 70 period of time, we still had engagements going on, so it was a very real, tense situation. But after that, it was just sporadic, um. So that, uh, it’s still allowed the culture to seep into the military and, like I said, it’s, it’s more of a, a, a job for, for people than a, a commitment. I’m, I’m committed while I’m doing my job, but
once I’m off my job, I’m off the clock. Um, and that, that was a, a, not an option. It was never considered an option for Korean War veterans.
I: But, can you put it in a context of South Korea, the legacy of veterans. I mean it may be too obvious, but I, my focus is in the legacy of Korea Defense veteran because I’ve been talking about a lot on Korean War veterans legacy.
So if you can put the legacies in the context of South Korea, the changes that made during the war and during the Korea Defense veterans and its relationship with United States. What would you say that?
A: Well, first of all, coming at it from the other point of view, um, Korea is not a, a very large country, and it’s surrounded by the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans.
I: And Japanese.
A: Yeah. We all, we all know them. Well in any event, um, they’re surrounded, uh. They need a constituency here in the United States, and you look and you say who would be the least bit inclined to support or even listen to the government of Korea. Um, you could say well, if the people of Korea, uh, called for help which was gonna happen. Most people would yawn because they’ll say where’s Korea because they don’t know.
Why should we be involved because they don’t, it’s not even in the history books. So, and fortunately we have you to, to try and, and rectify that, uh. But, uh, they don’t know about Korea. They don’t identify with Korea, uh. They probably don’t know a lot of Korean people. It’s just Asian people, and they all look the same.
A: Well, they don’t. But, you know, if you’ve been to Korea you can pick one out in a hurry. But, uh, most people don’t. So who’s the constituency? It has to be the military.
And the only military people are the Defense veterans who don’t. Uh, that relationship isn’t, isn’t quite what it was with the war veterans because like I said, it’s, I got to work, and I’m working, uh, to defend South Korea during my day job. But my night job is, is to take care of me, uh. So it’s been watered down. Uh, I think South Korea has been working toward rebuilding that, that
relationship, uh. But it could easily die out. That’s why I think the Korean Defense veterans is so important to try and, and get them on board to realize that what you did mattered and still matters, and if you don’t care, who will? Uh, I even wrote a letter in, um, the Gray Beards Magazine about that, that if you don’t care, who will? If we’re not there, who will be, you know, and, um, I think that’s the, the importance of the Korean vets, veterans
because they have a support group in the United States, and if you have all those voices rising up telling you everything South Korea is [INAUDIBLE] and it matters what we do. You better have some clout to make them listen. But if they stay silent or it continues to diminish because people don’t care anymore, um, I think South Korea’s in for trouble.
I: What do you think we have to do? I mean there is no text coverage on
modern Korea. The successful outcome of the Korean War in our history textbook. Not much about Korea Defense veteran. They, they don’t even know about this acronym here because we don’t even have an organization in official setting, and this is sort of tremendous loss in our history about something that very good came out of our involvement, U.S. involvement in the
Korean Peninsula, and you name any other war that you can actually find it comparable with it after World War II. What do you think we have to do to, to get this thing in the educational setting instructor?
A: It is gonna be very hard to do, um. The teachers who teach the Social Studies and History and all that, they’re ignorant in the, in the,
of the nine way. They’re ignorant of the whole situation. They were never taught, uh. Unfortunately for them because they’re my age or older, um, and maybe like my children’s generation, um, most Korean War veterans didn’t talk about it when they came home. People didn’t want to know about it. The government tried to bury it. So it was literally just pushed out of the consciousness. So how do you bring it in consciousness? Um, I think it’s gonna be extraordinarily difficult
simply because people have no reason to even think about Korea, um. They may be seen as a, uh, economic power that competes with us. That goes against the relationship that was trying to be built.
I: FTA by Trump.
A: Well, yeah, he, he’s painting everything with a big brush, Korea, Japan, China, the world, you know. But that, a lot of that’s political talk, uh. But I think the guy who will compromise because he is very practical.
A: But, uh, I don’t think much can be done beyond getting the Korean Defense veterans to start coalescing as a group. They, see one, one of the problems is that it used to be you would deploy an entire group at one time. They went over at one time. They came back at one time. They, they all realized a common history. Now like
I: It’s all indi, all individual.
A: This guy goes to this place. That guy goes to that place. Somebody shows up on one day, and they say well, where’s the other guy? Well he deployed home, and it, it, the going in on individual selected basis depending upon your, your skill set, not deploying like the whole Second Infantry Division goes over, and they all come back and they’re replaced by the Third Infantry, and they’re replaced by Seventh. Um, they were just replacing units. So there isn’t any common purpose. The other thing is
Korea Defense veterans find it very difficult to get into the VFW and the American Legion [INAUDIBLE] And there are no, um, venues, no opportunities for them to get together. If there were like VFW clubs, uh, today for Defense veterans, well, they could all go to the, the, the Defense veterans club, and they could, you know, have drinks together. They could have par ties and socials and all of that.
But if they’re gonna get together, they go to the American Legion. They go to the VFW, and the people here don’t want to hear about what happened to you because what the hell is Korea, you know. Um, it’s gonna be very, very difficult. I think Korea has made, uh, Herculean effort to try and, uh, bond with grandchildren, um, and the teachers, um. The Korea Defense veterans have been virtually ignored, um. So you only have
two pillars like one of those four-legged chair. Where are the other two? Well, at least one of us, the chair will stay upright, um. That’s what we’re dealing with now. Is it going to be General Sharp and his troops, or is it going to be the KWVA, uh, and whoever wins, what are you going to give them as a challenge to stay together? Uh, what Jeff and I, uh, are trying to do is to get Korea Defense monuments put up in different places across the country
to say here, we’re reaching out to you, and then people will say what’s this about Korea Defense, and you get the dialog going. That’s what we want. Once we can get people talking about them. So if we hold an event and the news comes and they show, oh, they, they had this event today for Korea Defense veterans, everyone’s gonna say who are they, and [INAUDIBLE] But you have to keep forcing that, one time here, one time there, um.
short of actually engaging North Korea again, I don’t think you’re gonna have any massive support, you know, and it might be perverse to say, but if a, you know, a skirmish of some major size took place, you’d get a lot more attention and people would pay attention to you. I hope that doesn’t happen, but
I: You know the, um, Korean War Legacy Foundation has tried to establish the digital archive for Korea Defense veteran, too.
We have more than 800 interviews and 8,000 artifacts of Korean War veterans and that include few of Korea Defense veterans like you and Jeff and, uh, other members from your chapter, 299. But since then, it’s been really like, um, not productive, and Korean government wants to look at the timing to incorporate this Korea Defense veterans into many different programs. How do you think,
the Foundation, can reach out to even existing chapters or others to, to do more, and we are going to incorporate this Korea Defense veterans in the digital curriculum that we are developing into K-12 system.
A: Um. Well, the problem is the Korea Defense veterans don’t see their service as all that important, and because it’s not all that, uh, important, they say who’d want to view, you know, interview
me? I have nothing to say. I just went to work. I went home. Um, so there isn’t a, sometimes they’re embarrassed because they say uh, I, I wasn’t going to join an organization as Korea War veterans. I didn’t see combat. I didn’t do anything. So it, it’s, um, a whole motivational kind of thing, um. My, my guess would be to link up what you’re trying to do with the kinds of things that this Mary Chaney
is suggesting because she’s trying to get the word out to, to people in using modern techniques of social media, and if she’s trying to get that word out and you link up with her, she can start using the things that you’re doing as selling points in her market of the Korean War Korea Defense veterans. That’d be my thought. Um, because other than that, you’re, you, even if they poured money into, into, uh,
the KWVA, if the KWVA doesn’t do some sort of a program like this woman is suggesting, um, they’re just gonna hold events for themselves. And they all get together, and they pat each other on the back, and nothing gets done to explain the organization. And the 85 year-old Korea War veterans are not doing a lot to bring in Korea Defense veterans because they don’t know any. They don’t hang around with them. They, they go to, you know, the restroom
and, uh, they, they talk to each other. I know that’s kind of demeaning to say that, but, you know, really, they, they only have so much energy left. But I, I would say you have to have some sort of a marketing campaign, and it has to, to be augmented by putting up monuments, doing the Korea Digital Memorial and, uh, the Legacy Foundation, Revisit tours, um. They don’t hurt, and, but I, I don’t have any, uh, magic
wand to say this is the, the thing to do, and it’s gonna cure everything.
I: I see magic wand over on there, and
A: Uh, those are my fairy wands. I, I grant wishes to people like my [INAUDIBLE]
I: So any other episode during your service in Korea or any other comments about the future of Korea Defense Veteran Organization?
A: Um, I think the episodes in Korea are best left alone, um.
It just gets me in trouble, uh. As far as the Korea Defense veterans go, you know, our organization is gonna continue to try and recruit, um. Our members are in 19 states now, um. We actually have members in Korea, uh, up in Yongsan, uh. Well you met, not met, but you know about Tony Williams, um. But we’re gonna try and, and, and bring in Korea Defense veterans because, like I said, we’re, we’re the largest chapter, but we’ll be the only surviving
chapter when it’s over.
I: You said that there are 11 states?
I: Nineteen states?
A: Yeah. We’re from just 19 states.
I: So you have a, other chapters in other states?
A: No, they all belong to 299.
A: Yeah. And for the most part it’s because they weren’t particularly welcomed into the KWVA chapters in their local area.
I: So there is only one official chapter of Korea Defense veteran.
I: Thank you very much for talking about all,
Korea Defense veteran has to be organized and what are needed and so on, and I want to thank you for your service from 1970 to ’71 for the security of the Korean Peninsula, and I look forward to working with you. Actually I want to invite you as a speaker on the Korea Defense veteran next year for the history teachers conference. We, you going to have a tremendous, tremendous information hub that
can be created by the teachers, and if we can address the interest of the students about the Korea Defense veteran, that can be the hub.
A: Um hm.
I: So I want you to think about this, okay, and please, let’s work together, okay?
A: Well, I’m retired now so I have time that I never had before. The only gating item will be my wife’s health. But, uh, right now, I, I see no reason I couldn’t help out whenever you need help.
I: Alright. Thank you so much.
A: Alright. Thank you.
[End of Recorded Material]