Allen Clark served two tours in Korea and was engaged in five battles starting with the Battle of Inchon in September 1950. Located on the outskirts of Seoul, their observation post was a prime location for in-coming and outgoing soldiers while providing effective information and co-ordinance during the conflict. His experience at the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir began with the loss of their Lieutenant during the first battle which put him in a position as their Platoon Leader throughout their time stationed in Hagalwoori. Having left Chosin for Yudam-ni, he would be named Assistant Artillery Liaison Officer for the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines Division as they dealt with harsh winters. He was also apart of the rescue mission at Hungnam trying to protect the Korean people from the Chinese who had infiltrated his convoy.
Allen Clark's First Prisoner of War
Allen Clark was establishing observation posts and was maneuvering around Gimpo Airport when he came across a family who had captured a North Korean soldier. He felt the process of handing him to the property authorities went well, but he was concerned that there were many more POWs with the possibility of being outnumbered. He wasn't sure how the Korean people felt about American's arrival during the conflict, but at that time, he felt they were happy and pleased the US soldiers were there.
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Highway Through The Danger Zone
Allen Clark described the harrowing scene he experienced coming out of the narrow road while leaving the Chosin Reservoir making them easy targets for the enemy. Allen Clark was sitting in the back seat of a Jeep when the enemy fired a shot that punctured through the gas tank (quickly emptying it), and shooting a hole right through the tire. They jumped out of the jeep and ran behind a small hill that was just beyond some railroad tracks as a parapet while the Jeep driver hooked their vehicle to a truck and pulled it out of Kunwoori.
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G.I. Gear at Chosin
Allen Clark explained different GI provisions that were a life saver. He describes his field jacket, and his overcoat manufactured by London Fog that is reinforced with additional material that you slept and lived in. The temperature dropped to 42 degrees below zero and the soldiers covered themselves with the scarf all the way up to his eyes to prevent them from freezing.
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Star for the Chosin Few at Koto-ri
As an Assistant Artillery Liaison Officer of the 7th Marine Regiment, Allen Clark told the story of the Frozen Chosin, who survived the 42 degrees below zero temperatures for several days while attempting to secure a place in the mountains that gave them an advantage point that overlooked a bridge. He described the conditions at Koto-ri were so bad, the scarf he described was the only thing that kept him from further hypothermia damage. Anxious and ready to go as the weather began to improve, Colonel "Chester" Pulley on a clear night had pointed to the star that was in the sky and said, "We are going in the morning," and that rallying point for the Marines when they needed it the most.
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Participation in the Inchon Landing-September 1950
Allen Clark participated in the Inchon Landing and he could see the ladders and see the fighting along the beaches. As he moved throughout Korea, he saw trucks, troops, and mortars coming into his area. While sleeping on the ground in sleeping bags with little supplies, Allen Clark and his fellow Marines worked in shifts to protect their regiment 24 hours a day.
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The Most Difficult Events in the Korean War
Allen Clark had difficulty choosing which event was the most difficult, but he chose the events going into and out of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. General Smith told his fellow leaders that the Marines were now going to blow up their supplies and sneak out of the Chosin. Instead, he said that they would bring their wounded, dead, and supplies first and then head out as Marines, so everyone looked up to General Smith.
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Evacuation of Civilians after the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir
South Korean civilians wanted to escape so bad that they were willing to leave behind everything and jump aboard overcrowded ships to leave the war-stricken area. It was estimated that 99,000 civilians were crammed on two boats with the survivors from the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir with aid from a Chaplin who convinced the boat skipper to bring all the civilians to safety.
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US Marines Working with Korean Marines Throughout the Korean War
Allen Clark with Korean Marines were tough and they didn't put up with anyone who couldn't keep up. They were great Marines and were ready to fight whenever asked. There were translators to help with cooperation between US troops and the Korean Marines.
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Korean Culture and Ceasefire
Allen Clark worked with and became friends with some South Korean civilians during his second tour in Korea. He observed Korean burials and was invited to eat octopus for the first time with the locals. During the ceasefire, Allen Clark used the help of civilians at the DMZ to find the enemy on the final days of the Korean War in July 1953.
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[Beginning of Recorded Material]
A: My name is Allen B. Clark.
I: Um hm.
A: My age is 92
A: My birthday is 10 September, ’23.
I: Okay. And where were you born?
A: Where was I born?
I: Uh huh.
A: I was born in Virginia.
I: Uh huh. Will you tell me brief information about your family? Where did your family come from?
Well, they’re primarily from the English continent. My mother felt it’s from the Welch. But my wife primarily did a analysis of where we are, and we have a book up to a certain point. But we can’t go back much further. We’re back to about 1760, and we have all that in a genealogy book, and I can show that to you before you leave if you want to see it.
A: And, but I was born on the farm. My dad raised tobacco and corn and horses and cows. And I was born there. There were seven children, three girls that were older than I, two boys that were older than I and one daughter that was younger than I.
And they all have deceased now.
I: Okay. And so, you’re part of the Chosen Few Association which means you were at the Chosen Reservoir during the Korean War. Is that right?
A: That is correct.
I: Okay. Then were you a part of the Marine Corp.?
A: Yes, I was.
I: Okay. That means you were, you enlisted yourself. You weren’t drafted.
A: That is correct.
I: Right. Then when were you enlisted?
When did you enlist?
A: I enlisted in a Reserve program. I was in college at William and Mary. And I enlisted December the 12th, 1942.
I: When did you arrive in Korea, and where did you arrive to?
A: I arrived in Korea at the Inchon Peninsula.
A: The Battle of Inchon.
Prior to that, I was in Camp Pendleton, and I went to an artillery school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. And I studied what I would be doing in Korea which was surveying and flash and sound raging which meant that we had estimates that could see flashes of guns and mortars.
And we had microphones that we put in the ground, and we could hear the sound and we could analyze and triangulate as to where they were coming from. And if we saw a flash of a gun, we called that an A reading. And if we saw the smoke of a gun without the flash, we called that a B reading. And if we saw the glow on the horizon, that was a C reading. And I did that most of the time I was in Korea.
On the second tour, I was there twice. On the second tour, I was with the Second Battalion 11th Marines, and I was a Battery Commander of D Battery.
I: Okay. So, on your second tour, you were with the Second Battalion? Okay. Then when you first got to Korea, which unit were you with, and what was your rank?
A: My rank was a Lieutenant. And I was with Headquarters Battery the 11th Marine Regiment.
I landed on Inchon in the eighth wave in a duck boat. A duck is a boat that has a propeller on the back that can go in the ocean and also can go on land. I landed on the Island of Walmadu with 45 men.
I: Yeah, wow. Can you tell me about that story of you in the boat coming into Korea. What were you feeling, and what did you see, what did you hear? What was it like?
A: Well, we could see the Inchon proper where the Infantry was landing and had been the eighth wave when we got to a position we could see, we could see them on their ladders as they climbed up the wall. And then when we got closer to the island, we couldn’t see that. But we could hear the fire fights of the Infantry on the island.
I: And then after you arrived, where was it that you were stationed?
A: You mean in Korea?
A: Well, we really weren’t stationed. We didn’t have a station. We moved all the time.
A: And just a brief analysis of what we did.
We landed on Walmadu, and I set up OP’s there, four OP’s. And we could observe what was happening in Inchon and beyond. And we reported what we saw. We did not see any artillery or mortars. But we did see t rucks and troops and people having mortars and so forth. We did see that. And we did report it.
And they were taken under fire by a different artillery regiment.
I: Um hm. And what was the living condition like? You said you kept moving around. But wherever you stopped at to stay for, I’m assuming just a few days or so when you moved around?
A: Well yeah. You would probably stay for a couple of days, maybe a week. But you had a tent.
And you had a sleeping bag. And later on, we got a rubber mattress. But early on, we didn’t have that. And you slept in the tent, or you slept outside. And you were on duty 24 hours a day, and you had to learn to sleep and then work and then to work and then sleep.
I: Which battles were you involved in during your time in Korea?
A: I have five stars on my ribbons. I’m not sure I can name everyone, Inchon, Seoul, Wonsan, the Chosen Few, Central Korea, at the Waktong Reservoir (unintelligible)
I: I mean, I’m sure you have so many stories from all those battles. Would you, can you tell me a few of them that maybe are more profound to you or that you remember most?
A: Yes, I could, I’ll be happy to try to remember them. Sometimes you forget. In the Inchon area, one of the first things we noticed, of course, were the families and the children.
They were nice people. They were friendly to us. And as I was reckon ordering a, to find another OP, observation post, I went through this small village near the airport, was it Kimpo Airport?
I: Um hm.
A: And I went through that small village, and I noticed that the villagers were friendly and started to point. And I wondered what they were pointing at and finally they stopped. And then they pulled out a guy, and it was a North Korean. And they wanted me to take him, which I did because they wanted to get rid of him. And that was the first prisoner that I captured.
And brought him back to the regiment, and he was sent through the prison chain of command, however that goes. I didn’t know what happened to him after that.
I: Wow. Was it kind of an intense moment, or was it kind of easy to handle?
A: It was kind of easy to handle. But it was intense not knowing whether he was the only one cause I was, only had a jeep and four people. And I didn’t really know much about how the Korean people felt about us coming that way.
But they were friendly, and they were helpful. And so, it helped us, it helped the whole engagement.
I: Um hm.
A: I finally got an interpreter. And he traveled with us the whole time that we were in Korea so that we’d be able to know what’s going on.
I: Right. So, without, when you didn’t have the interpreter yet, you must have had to use body language.
A: Hand, you did it with your hands. And they would shake their heads and like that. But another thing that happened. Before we got to Seoul, we reached the Han River, and I still had the duck, and the observation was best on part of, across the Han River and part of it on this, what would that be, the East, the West side of the Han River.
I: Um hm.
A: So, I (reckon auded) and found some observation post on the other side of the Han River which I occupied, and I had some on this side. And we were able to see Seoul, the outskirts of Seoul, not downtown but the outskirts of it, particularly on the other side there. And while we were doing that, a message came over the radio with a set of coordinates.
They said don’t fire on these coordinates. It’s a brewery, and there’s beer there. So, I said well gee whiz. That’s interesting. And after our day, I saw people going and coming back with jugs, with cans of beer. And my men said we gotta have some beer. We’ll get it. So, I had five five-gallon water cans, one for each observation post and one for the (center) that I had.
I sent five five-gallon water cans down to the brewery and brough back beer. And each OP had a five can full of beer, and they wanted it there. After two days, I got a call from one of the OP leaders and he said Lieutenant, he said you know that I’ve washed in beer, I’ve shaved in beer, and I’m tired of beer. Could you please get some water?
A: So, I got some water. We all had water then. But those were two wonderful observation posts because we could see what was coming out of Seoul before our troops crossed the Han River. And after they crossed it, we had a good position to see.
And while there, we saw a number of targets which we reported. And finally, we observed six tanks coming out of Korea right toward our Infantry.
A: So, I reported that. And then we had an air observer. So, we sent the air observer up there, and they spotted them. And then the artillery, 155 guns, 155 Howitzers, I’m sorry, 155 Howitzers, fired on the six tanks and knocked all of them out.
Before they could get down to the Infantry. So that was a major piece of information that I felt good about, that we were able to stop them there. Also with the same observation post, we saw some glows to the South of Seoul. And it was a pretty good distance from the South of Seoul.
And we got some coordinates on it and sent it back to our Headquarters. And they said that’s, we don’t have any weapons that can get that. But would you just wait just a minute. I think we can get some ammunition to you for that. So a little bit later said we’ve contacted the Missouri, the battleship. And they can hit it.
So, we gave them the coordinates, and they fired, and we adjusted, and they fired again. They fired three salvos. I don’t know whether they hit it or not because it was a C reading. We didn’t see any flashes. We saw the glow. But they stopped firing because they were firing into out troops. They stopped firing. So we felt good about that.
I: Then going back, what was the reason that you were given this specialty, the survey, the flash and sound? Did you have background in that?
A: No, I was a, I worked, I did not have background. I had college training.
I: What did you study at William and Mary?
A: No, but I had enough math that I could do that. And the Colonel of the artillery regiment at Pendleton did not have anybody scheduled that knew anything about this.
So, I had another job at the time. My job was treasurer at the Commission Officers’ Mess. And he used to come up to have lunch and so forth. He said I need a Lieutenant to go to school. He said what are you doing, and would you like to go to school? And I said well, what are you talking about? And he told me. I said sure. I’d love to go to school.
So, we went to Fort Sill to this school. Flash and Sound Raising was the name of this school. But it included, we had to survey our OP’s, and we didn’t have our survey instrument except they issued, we used to site with had a circle and all of the things on it, and we could survey with that instrument. So, we were supposed to survey every OP and every microphone we put in the ground to make sure that when we gave them an answer on the set of coordinates, it was correct with the coordinates.
But I was at Fort Sill when the War started. I was just about finished. I had about a week left. I missed the first deployment with the First Battalion that went down to Pusan. I missed that by about 10 days. I came back and was at Pendleton and organized to go out with the Division. And Pendleton was quite a place then because they began to bring in all the Reserves, the organized Reserves and individual Reserves that had specialties.
They came from all over the country and was organized into their battalions and supplies and artillery and tanks and all. And we boarded ship and went to Japan. Japan, we got off our ships and went to some barracks. And the weather was bad, and some of the ships broke loose in the harbor, and we thought we were gonan be delayed on the Inchon Landing, and that’s what we were there for.
But we weren’t. They got the ships back in. And we went back aboard ships for the landing. And we got aboard an LSD, a landing ship dock, and it was operated by the Japanese. All they (unintelligible) The Japanese, and they fed us food which was good food. And most of the Japanese had small amphibious boats were manned by a Japanese crew.
And they did a wonderful job in taking us there and putting us into the right place.
I: How about the Chosen Reservoir, your time there? I heard from a few veterans, you know, that it was so cold. Their sleeping bags would freeze up in all those stories. What was your experience like?
A: Well, we went up to, from the East coast and around Seoul. We got aboard ship and went over to Wonsan on the other side of the Peninsula. And then we went North to the vicinity of Hamhong. And from there, we were ordered to go up to the Chosen Reservoir, up to Hagaruri which we did. And I went ahead and just my driver and I and a radio operator went with the other people that were in the Regiment there.
We went up there, and we got up there late in the afternoon to begin to pitch our tents and so forth and we had some native people helping us. And some of the young people could speak English and they said Chinese, Chinese in my village, Chinese. They say they’re coming tonight. So, we knew they were coming. We reported that to Division, and they knew they were coming.
And we had a perimeter set up inside of a perimeter with our artillery. The Infantry was outside, and we were inside with ours. Well, they did hit us that night, the first night we were up there. And they broke through the lines and came into part of the Hagaru-ri and they came through to our perimeter. And we stopped part of them at our perimeter there.
And some of the other units did the same there. And along about 5:00 in the morning after the fighting was still going on, the Infantry counter-attacked and ran them out. And then the next day they prepared, and the Lieutenant had heard one of the 3rd Marine battalions was hurt and killed, I don’t know which.
And they said we need an officer from this platoon. So, I moved over to the 3rd Marines as a Platoon Commander and was there as a Platoon Commander the rest of the time we were at Hagaru-ri. And even though there were not major attacks in our section, there were sporadic attacks and sniper fire and so forth there.
And coming out of the Reservoir after we got the people back from Yudamni and got them organized and started out, I was transferred over to the 1st Battalion 7th Marines. And I was an Assistant Liaison, Arterial Liaison officer. And we came out with the 1st Battalion 7th Marines.
And on the way out, it was as you probably know by now, it was just one road, a real thin road You couldn’t pass most of the time. And you just went down that road. That was the way out. You couldn’t do that. We were ambushed several times. One was a major ambush with my part of the convoy.
And they hit us, we didn’t know they were there. They weren’t firing. They hit us all at once. And the jeep I was in, I was in the backseat at the time, the jeep was hit in the engine which stopped the engine. It hit the gas tank, and it was deflecting the gas tank and punctured the rear tire. I was sitting in the back seat. And nobody in the jeep was hit.
But we all jumped out and got in a little (unintelligible) hill on the back side, and they started coming over. The railroad tracks was on the other side, and we had a pretty good fire fight. I had an M1 rifle. And about the second or third round, it jammed. And there I was in the middle of a fire fight with a jammed rifle.
And I looked around. That was a Marine who’d been hit. And he wasn’t moving. And I said something to him, and he didn’t say anything. He had a carabiner. I picked up his carabiner, went to his pocket and got some ammunition and continued to fight with them. And finally with 50 – 100 mean altogether in this one section, our Sergeant said I’m a Sergeant. Who’s in charge here? And I said well, I’m a Lieutenant.
I don’t know whether there was anybody senior to me or not. He says Lieutenant, you’re it. What do we do? And I said okay. Let’s move over to the railroad tracks and everybody lie down and use the railroad tracks as a parapet. I got down and continued to fight. And that’s what we did. And we finally, they finally stopped. The jeep I was in, the driver was pretty resourceful.
He began to look for something, and he found a rope in the truck in front of us. And he tied a rope to the bumper of the truck and to the jeep, and we were pulled in Koderi behind that truck. So, that was pretty resourceful I thought.
I: So intense. I’m like picturing the scenes in my head. You, wow. You had, you know, all of a sudden you’re put, you’re, given, you’re asked what do we do. You have to just think of the solution quickly.
A: Well, with that particular section, there was nobody really in charge. It was just the end of a column and the beginning of another column and just a short space like that. And somebody had to be in charge.
I: Right. Wow.
A: I have some clothing if you want me to discuss.
I: Oh yeah. Let’s show that to the camera then.
So, you have some jackets here next to you and so yeah. If you just hold it up and you can show the camera.
A: Okay. First off is the field jacket.
I: Um hm, yeah.
A: And it has the hood on the back that can zip off or button off. And it’s real thick.
A: And the other one is really a Godsend that we had. It is an overcoat.
It has an insert which is fur. And it’s a London Fog. And everybody had one of these, and everybody wore them. You slept in them. You wore them. And you were lucky to have one.
A: In addition to that, we had a wool scarf which was wonderful because you could put it around your face in that wind which was really cold.
You could put it under your helmet and just have your eyes out. And that was wonderful. And one place we were, the wind was blowing like crazy. This was down near Koderi. And we were out near the bridge that was blown, and we were communicating with our Headquarters.
As I stood there with the wind blowing, and it was, at that time, it was 42 degrees below zero. And the wind was blowing like crazy. And if I faced the wind, any length of time, I couldn’t close my eyes. They were freezing.
I: Oh my gosh.
A: So, you’d turn your head around, I’d turn my head around like that and trying to blink and then finally you get them so they could do that.
I: Oh, my goodness.
A: That’s how it was there. But at Koderi, once we got to Koderi, we refurbished and replenished, and the blizzard hit. The real blizzard hit that I’m talking about. We waited to come on down was one major obstacle. We had to get the bridge in and had to take care of the mountains overlooking the bridge.
We had to occupy those mountains. And we kept waiting. And the blizzard was about two days. And it was one of the worst blizzards in history is what they said.
A: Worst blizzard in history. And the Colonel there was Chesty Puller who was well known. And he was there, and he kept wanting to know when we could leave.
And after about the third day, the wind began to dissipate, and the clouds began to pair a little bit. And at night, he went out of his tent and looked out and saw it was flurrying, and he saw one star, and he said we go in the morning. And that one star is what the Chosen Few has chosen as their motto. I have it right there.
Aw, that’s what it is.
A: That’s a wonderful star. And we really appreciate it cause not many people other than Chosen Few people can get this.
A: Their wives got it or could get it.
A: But it was a different color. So, it was there, So I’m proud of that. I’m proud of every Marine that was up there. It was just, you helped one another, and you tried not to create anything that would be more dangerous to someone else.
A: And you tried to help them all the way through.
I: Um hm. You have so many, I mean of course with the War, so many hardships that you had to endure. Which, would you say you can take like the most difficult, most dangerous moment or incident that you went through out of all those?
A: Oh be, oh boy. That would be very difficult because there were, I would say that coming out of the Chosen and before we started out was probably the most difficult moment because we didn’t know, most of the Marines didn’t know. And even though the officers wouldn’t tell you this, they didn’t know either.
Our Division Commander, General Smith, what a wonderful man he was. MacArthur’s former Chief of Staff was in charge of the 10th Brigade. And he came up, and the Division, General Smith Division, was under the 10th Brigade.
And he came up there and we were, didn’t know whether we were gonna make it or not and he said what I want you to do, telling General Smith this, he says I want you to abandon all of your equipment. Destroy it. And walk out the best way you can. And General Smith looked at him and said General, he said, we’re coming out as Marines.
He said we‘re bringing our wounded. We’re bringing our dead. We’re bringing our equipment, and we’re coming out. And that’s what he did. He was a religious man, I think, in some ways. But he was well respected by his staff. He was, made, sound decisions. And he tried to take care of everybody.
And for example, he, they had trouble, they wanted to have an airfield up at Hagaruri. And there wasn’t really a place for it, a strip. But he talked to the engineers and said you know, there’s a flat area right here, and there’s a mound. They said the mountain is not too big. Why can’t we have a flat area right here and take the roadway up the mountain?
And it would stop the planes so you wouldn’t have to go so far. And that’s what he did. And that’s how a lot of craft, aircraft came in and picked up their wounded and brought in supplies and so forth. But General Smith was a wonderful man, and he got us out of there.
When we continued on down after Kodori, we got the bridge settled, and we got the mountain (tiponed) up, a battalion from the South that Hagaruri, not Hagaruri but um, Hamhong, came up and took the mountain. So they came from that way. We got down to Hamhong area, the Navy was there with everything they had that would float at that area.
And we started to board these ships, and it was crowded. I mean really crowded. They’re sometimes 10 to 1. For example, I went aboard a small craft, PC boat I think it was called, just a little smaller than a destroyer. And the mess hall served 25 hours a day beans, and they had the meat, I forgot what the meat was which was Navy meat there.
And everybody was there, and nobody was assigned a bunk, but people took a bunk. And finally it was agreed between the people that were there that, they went in and said well you sleep this long and then I’ll sleep. They’d reached the point before we got down to Pusan, that it was 4 to 1. You had four people slept in one bunk.
A: And the civilians, they wanted out of there. They did not like the Chinese, and they did not want to be there. They left their homes. They brought their children. They brought their whole families and tried to get in our convoy, and we started letting them get in our convoy. And finally, the Chinese were infiltrating the civilians coming into our convoy and firing on them.
I: Um hm.
A: So, we kept them out of the convoy and said get at the end of the convoy. And that’s what they did. And we got down to Hungnam, there was 99,000 – 100,000 people that wanted to get aboard.
I: Um hm.
A: And uh, they had trouble finding ships that would carry them. And finally, a Chaplain was, I think, instrumental in talking to some of the commanders of the ships.
And finally, he got command of a LST which is one that can run aboard the bank on the sand and get in there. And he agreed to take them. And that’s what they did. And one other ship did the same thing. There were two ships that took the civilians out. They got them aboard and it was 10 to 1 anyway, what they should be.
They took them down to an island off of South Korea, not on the way to Pusan but just put them on the island because they weren’t sure the ship was gonna hold up.
I: I see.
A: Yeah. And the one that the Chaplain that got it done, there were nine babies born.
I: Wow. Oh my gosh.
A: So that was really something. Those people wanted out of there. And uh, 99,000 of them.
That’s what they estimate came out.
I: Right. There was a recent movie that was made that captured, that re-enacted that scene. And it was so, I mean so many people just, you know, running for their lives to get into the ship. And some people even falling off the ship unfortunately, even after having gotten on because it was so crowded on the deck.
A: They did what?
I: They fell off the ship too?
A: Yeah, oh yes because a ship just has a little wire or chain around it. And people that they aren’t used to it and the ship is going like this, they can fall off, particularly young people, even older people sometimes can fall off.
I: Yeah. So yeah, it was a really intense moment.
But you are someone that, you know, was actually.
A: Right there in the midst of it. And the Chaplain and the, I wasn’t there, but he talked to the skipper. But I was right close, and the skipper said we gotta do something. He said I’ll take them.
I: And that was it.
A: Yeah. And then the other Captain said well, if you take them, I’m gonna take some too. So, they got all of them that were there.
I: Yeah. Wow.
How about with Korean soldiers. Did you often work together with Korean soldiers, Korean Marines?
A: Yes. Korean Marines primarily. Some Korean soldiers, but Korean Marines were tough. Their discipline was 10 times tougher than ours. They just didn’t put up with anybody that didn’t cooperate and anybody that didn’t try. They just didn’t put up with it.
And they had wonderful advances when they were asked, they advanced. And when they were asked to defend, they defended. They were wonderful. They were absolutely great. The Marines I’m talking about. I don’t know much about the soldiers. But I’m sure that they’re the same thing as there.
I: Were they kind of like smaller in stature compared to U.S. Marines?
A: Yes, yes, they were smaller.
I: And they didn’t, probably a lot of them didn’t speak English well. But there were translators, right, to help?
A: That’s right. There was always an interpreter somewhere that did. And the interpreter I had was so good. He got so he could speak not initially, he got so he could speak English pretty well.
I: Um, I see.
A: When we were down in Pusan after we came down from Hungnam and we had a tent camp and we were there replenishing and getting supplies and training, he said I have a friend here I’d like to take you over for dinner. They’d like to have you for dinner. And I said well, that sounds nice. I said what are we gonna have? Said we’re gonna have octopus.
And I never, I said octopus? So, I said okay, I’ll be there. And I went over there, and it was good. It was really good. Nice couple.
I: Wow. That’s a delicacy, too.
I: Yeah. Did you ever get a chance to just kind of tour the country and countryside and just do some sightseeing during your time there?
A: No, I never did that. But we normally would, if there’s no fighting, we did tour the villages and things that we attached to there. We talked to the people and saw the people and saw their little children. And most of them wanted a candy bar. And that’s true wherever you go. I mean, you can go anywhere that sells it, the children want a candy bar.
But they were nice. And I was impressed with the culture. While we were on our second tour there, the people we got to know a little better next to us and observed several burials which was interesting. I mean, how they did that and uh not too much different than ours. But emphasis maybe on just certain parts of it more than we do.
I: Wow, interesting, yeah.
A: But they did. And they helped us out while we were there on the uh, 38th Parallel. They had the so-called cease fire. And I was Battery Commander then on the second tour. And we still had to fight and do an addiction fire particularly when they would send their patrols out across the DMZ and try to find out where we were and what we were doing.
And then we’d get in a fire fight. We had to be prepared, and we did. We did that the whole time.
I: Um hm.
A: And I came out with a Division when it left Korea. And we came to Camp Pendleton, and I still had my Battery, D Battery, yeah.
I: Um hm.
Were you wounded in Korea at all?
A: No. I was not wounded. But I had a chronic disease, not a disease but I had a chronic sickness on my second tour. No, it was on my first tour, not the second tour. My first tour. I was up in Central Korea around the Wonton Reservoir.
And I had breakfast one morning, and I had cereal, and I used that canned milk, and all it was I had more pain in my stomach and here than I just, I could barely understand it. And what there was a surg, not a surgeon but a doctor in the Battalion next door to us. And some of my people went over and got the doctor.
And he came over and he sat with me, and he said we gotta get you out of here right away. And they called a helicopter and took me down to an Army Aid center which they had there. And I was in the Army Aid Center, and they diagnosed me as having peptic ulcers. And they said that your best bet we don’t like to do those here.
We can, but we don’t like to do it. The best hospital ship is in Pusan, and you need to go to Pusan for the hospital ship. So, they put me on a grand train, and the train is smaller than the trains here. I don’t know how wide the rails are. But it’s smaller. And the train took me down to Pusan. And then I went aboard the hospital ship. And they got me to the operating room and said we’re gonna take one more picture and then we’ll be able to operate.
There were about six doctors there. So, they took the picture, then they came back, and they looked, they got together and they said you know what? We don’t see any peptic ulcer. They said we aren’t going to operate. We’re going to send you to Japan, and you’ll go to the Army hospital there in (Kuwi). So, I went to the Army hospital in (Kuwi). I went by plane and then to the hospital.
And they began to examine me and test me, and they said we’ll need to operate. One, you have uh, stones in your bladder, your gall bladder. And also, you have, your stomach juices aren’t what they should be. They’re different than they should be. And we’re gonna operate on that, too. So, I was operated on there.
And they cut some of the optic nerves that control some of the stomach solutions. And they operated on my stomach. And I was there for a couple months. And then I came home and was here at home for a little while and then I went back on the second tour.
I: I see.
A: But I still have that, what they operated on. They changed the valve in my stomach. They cut it so it releases more than it normally does. And they cut some of the bile things that (unintelligible) up there. So, I take medicine for that, and it seems to work fine.
I: Um. And so during your second tour, you didn’t have
A: No. I had no problems, no injuries.
I: I see.
A: Very lucky.
I: Um, yeah. Oh wow. Um. And so, when did you then leave Korea now? What month was it and year?
A: I’m sorry?
I: When did you leave Korea? When did you, about what month and year, do you remember?
A: It was in I think the Spring of the year. I forgotten exactly.
A: Wait a minute. Maybe I can figure it out.
I: The War ended in ’53, right? Nineteen fifty, I mean not ended but cease fire, 1953?
A: Well, I came back in ’53 or ’54.
A: At the end of that. And not long into that,
I: Okay. Any other, you mentioned a few friends, a few colleagues that you were with that you remembered, and you talked about any other friends or colleagues that you would like for us to also know about during the War?
A: No, not really. Most of them have gone on.
I: Um hm.
A: Most of them have passed on. I say gone on. They passed on.
And I thank God every day that I’m able to do this.
A: I really do. And so does my wife there. She’s 93 and, but we work at it. We walk every day, every other day. We try to walk two miles.
A: Up and down the road. We pick up trash as we go down. We even pick up cigarette butts as we’re going down the road there, you know.
I: Um hm.
A: So, we try to clean up the road, have it all beautiful for everybody else.
I: Yeah. That’s how you stay so healthy. You look very healthy.
A: Well, I do that. And I try to eat right. We both do. My wife’s a home economist, and she’s famous for her entertainment while I was in the Corp..
A: I mean, throughout the Marine Corp, she really is famous for that.
And uh, I make a salad every night. I have 10 vegetables in the salad. And I try to rotate them, and I try to have as many colorful vegetables, red and yellow and green and purple, any of those. And we do that. And that, I got started on that in 2008 cause my wife was in the hospital. She had colon cancer.
And I was at the hospital reading some of their books. And it said you need to eat at least five vegetables a day to be healthy. And I said gee whiz. I don’t think we are. So, I came back and started eating five vegetables and I said well, what’s wrong with 10? So, I began to take 10 vegetables a day. So that’s what we’ve been doing now for a long time.
I: I see. Alright.
A: So we try to stay healthy, and we try to walk and keep our exercise, keep our body in the right shape.
I: Thanks for the tip.
A: Just like Marines. You gotta be ready.
I: Right, right.
A: We gotta be ready for where we’re going, too.
I: Um hm, yeah.
A: I do, I have done it. I’m not doing it now. But I have done a lot of work for the church.
I: Um hm.
A: That and uh,
A: But with the change and helping her, I’m not doing much in the church anymore.
I: Okay. Yeah. When you returned from Korea, where did you co me to in the U.S.? Where?
A: When I went to Korea, my wife and children wen to her family in Ohio.
And it’s a small town named Bellville, Ohio. And everybody knows the family. Everyone knew her. And when I got up there at the Chosen Reservoir with all of the publicity, everybody knew I was up there. But nobody up there could mail anything because there wasn’t any mail. I mean, we had ammunition, but no mail.
So, I didn’t write anything. I couldn’t write anything until I got aboard ship. And I finally got a postcard from one of the sailors and I wrote my wife then. And she got it on Christmas Eve. And how she got it, the postmaster knew all about this. And the postmaster brought it to her at 8:00 at night and gave it to her.
A: So, she knew I was aboard ship going down to Pusan.
I: Um hm. Wow.
A: So, the wives and family suffered I think as much as the Marines did.
I: Um hm.
A: Particularly the children because they didn’t know what had happened. And once they found out, a lot of them was real glad, and some of them were real sorry because they didn’t make it.
And when you, once you returned, did you think of Korea often, think about Korea often and think back to your time there?
A: Oh yes, I thought about it often. I still do. I really thought about it often. And later on when I went to school at Quantico, um, I got on a traveling team,
There were five of us, and we talked about amphibious warfare, and I would often, if asked questions, I would never bring it up, on the lesson plan that I had. But if somebody in the audience brought it up and asked about it, I’d tell them about it, whatever they asked about.
But I don’t consider myself a hero, and I know what everybody did up there and how they suffered. And I think about the men that had frozen feet. See, I have on support hose right now.
A: And my feet are cold all the time. When I came back, my feet were black and blue.
I hope that you will just be aggressive in the rest of your life and do what you’re doing. I’m just so happy you came over, so happy you’re doing this.
I: Yeah. Well thank you. I really thank you for your time and telling me all these stories. So now I know more about the history and also even the things that you talked about like, you know, situation right now. It’s good for me to hear all those things. So, this is really good for me.
I: Thank you so much.
A: Well, thank you for coming.
I: Yeah. Thank you.
A: And I hope you can get a DVD or a tape or something (unintelligible)
A: I really appreciate it. I know that my grandchildren probably don’t think much about it. One of them does. I have two great-grandchildren.
I: Oh wow.
A: One’s 14 and one’s 12.
A: The 12-year-old is more into doing this than the other one.
I: Okay, sure, sure.
A: But they’re both into it. And uh, I know that they would love to see it .
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