Korean War Legacy Project

Alvin A. Gould


Alvin A. Gould was born in Janesville, Wisconsin on September 21, 1929. After high school, he attended the Rizzo School of Music pursuing a degree in classical accordion. In 1952, he tried out for the US Army band as a clarinet player and was sent to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for basic training and infantry training and was surprised to be sent to Korea as an infantryman later that year. Through a twist of fate, he was reassigned to the 10th Special Services Company to play the accordion with a traveling group musicians for troops throughout Korea. Over the next year, he took part in shows near the front line, as well as shows for MASH Units and President Syngman Rhee.  After returning the the US in 1954, he finished his degree and started a successful music company. Today, he lives in Wisconsin and still enjoys playing his accordion.

Video Clips

Arriving in Korea

Alvin Gould talks about arriving at Incheon in December 1953 and traveling to Seoul. He describes leaving the ship and his impressions of the capital city. He mentions that one of the few buildings standing was called the Chosin Hotel.

Tags: Incheon,Seoul,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Physical destruction

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The 10th Special Services Company

Alvin Gould describes the 10th Special Services Company. He talks about the formation, organization, and mission of this unit that was put together to entertain troops. He mentions that they often performed their shows in dangerous areas near the front lines.

Tags: Cold winters,Food,Front lines,Living conditions,Rest and Relaxation (R&R)

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Daily Routine on the Road

Alvin Gould talks about the daily routine of the 10th Special Services Company. He describes how the entertainers were selected, the kinds of acts that were part of the show, as well as some of the specific entertainers that he toured with.

Tags: Front lines,Living conditions,Rest and Relaxation (R&R)

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Sleeping though the Night

Alvin Gould recalls going to sleep one evening near the front lines. The next morning, he awoke to news that several Chinese soldiers had overrun the line the previous night and were captured. He also talks about playing in shows to many UN troops, including Turkish and British units.

Tags: Chinese,Food,Front lines,Living conditions,Rest and Relaxation (R&R)

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Keeping up Morale

Alvin Gould talks about the important job of the 10th Special Services Company, keeping up troop morale. He also tells the story of refusing to be awarded a Purple Heart after injuring his leg during a show at a MASH unit.

Tags: Front lines,Living conditions,Rest and Relaxation (R&R)

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Songs from Korea

Alvin Gould, a professional accordion player, plays songs that he played for troops during the Korean War while on tour with the 10th Special Services Company.

Tags: Pride,Rest and Relaxation (R&R)

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


A:        My first name is Alvin, ALVIN, middle initial A., last name Gould, GOULD.  And I was born in Janesville, Wisconsin on September 21, 1929, which makes me currently 84 years old.

I:          Please tell me about your family, your siblings, and the school you went through.



A:        Okay.  Well, my parents, naturally they’ve been long deceased.  But my father worked for the Parker Pen Company.  They made pens worldwide.  They were all made in Janesville, Wisconsin.  He worked there for 41 years.  And my mother was a homemaker, you know.  She was on a radio show for a number of years as an assistant on a cooking show on the radio station WCLO.



And I actually was on a Saturday morning program at age four, a weekly program at WCLO singing and so forth at that time.

I:          Ah.

A:        I have two sons, Randy and Todd.  They are only three years apart, and I have, let’s see, my grandsons, I have, my son Randy has two that were from a current marriage and one from his original wife which is my grandson, Tanner.  Okay.



And actually, Todd has also been married twice.  He had no children in the first marriage, and he has three children, Caleb and twins, a boy and a girl, Reese, and McKenzie.  And we now have, Tanner’s married and so is one of the stepsons of Randy.  We now have three great-grandchildren.



I:          Um hm.

A:        So that sort of ages us right off the bat.

I:          Okay.  Were you the only son?
A:        Yes.  And I have one sister.

I:          Okay.  So, tell me about the school you went through.  Was it in Wisconsin?
A:        Yes.  I went to grade school and high school in Janesville, Wisconsin. And I went on to college, Rizal School of Music, Rizal in Chicago where I got my music training.



But my academics were at the Loyola Lewis Toller, um, campus in Chicago and so was Rizal School of Music.  And I was working toward my degree in Classical Accordion when I went in the service.  And it wasn’t that I wanted to be a classical accordionist, but I wanted to be a jazz accordionist.


But it seems like anybody whoever did well in jazz has a classical background.  So consequently, I was going to school to try to better my technique and abilities by looking for a degree in Classical Accordion.

I:          Are you talking about college degree?
A:        Yes.

I:          Okay.

A:        Bachelor of Music.

I:          When was it?  What year?

A:        Well, I went over a period of years. I started before Korea, and on a GI bill I went back after Korea.



I:          No, I want to ask you.  When were you in college, what year?

A:        Oh Jackie, I started there probably in

Female Voice:  ’48 or ’49.

A:        About maybe ’49 to ’50 and through there.

I:          Um hm.
A:        And then I went back there in about ’55, ’56.

I:          I see.  So, you were actually in the college when the Korean War broke out?
A:        Yes.

I:          Um.  Did you know anything about Korea around that time?

A:        Uh, no. I just known it was a conflict that was getting worse all the time.



And being an accordion player, I knew if I was drafted, I couldn’t get into an Army band or anything playing the accordion.

I:          Um.

A:        So, I started cramming very quickly the clarinet.  And believe it or not, it’s almost unbelievable.  I passed the audition to be a clarinet player in an Army band.  And I don’t know if you want any information on that at all.

I:          Did you enlist or were you drafted?



A:        I actually enlisted. I was RA.  Um, actually I took my audition to be in the Army band at Fort Sheridan.  And when I was accepted, they gave me a choice of several different places I could go.  And I chose Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  And I was only the second person in history that Fort Leonard Wood was a direct enlistment into the band.  And I took my basic training for Infantry and everything undetached service.



I was already a member of the band first. I was with them and then took basic training in detached service.

I:          So, when did you have audition for Army band? When was it, 1950?

A:        Uh, that would had to have been, let’s see.  That would have been in ’52 because I went into the Army in ’52.

I:          Huh.

A:        I went in February 25 of ’52.


I:          Had you ever thought that you would be fighting in Korea in War?
A:        At first, I’m gonna say because I thought that by being in the Army band, uh, I wouldn’t be sent to Korea.  But it was a situation unbeknownst to Jackie Knight who joined me at Fort Leonard Wood, and we bought a mobile home cause we thought we’d be there my whole three years of enlistment.  They took the last 12 members of the Army band and sent them overseas, six to Europe and six to Korea, and I was going over as an Infantry man.


So that kind of shook me up a little bit.

I:          Yeah.

A:        As we go along, you can see how I was able to change and get to where I was eventually in Korea.
I:          So, when did you first know that you are going to be in Korea?  When did you first know?
A:        I left October 25.

I:          How did you feel about that?  I mean, were you scared?



A:        Well, I didn’t know what was gonna happen.  But I was very fortunate.  Right off the bat, I found out that they were looking for some entertainers to play aboard ship going over.  And I was one of six that I was playing two shows a day with the accordion and aboard the USS Walker, General Walker, on the way to Japan.

I:          Um.

A:        Do you want me to continue on what happened then?
I:          Yes.



A:        Okay.  When I got to Japan, I had been told aboard ship that there was, just like I think on all Army bases, when I went into Camp Drake, that they had a special service section.  So, I jumped line while we were all being processed.  There was 4,300 of us, and we were only gonna be in Japan for maybe 36 – 48 hours.  But I jumped line and went over and found the special service section and I said is there any way you could use me here?



They said let’s hear you play.  So, I quickly played a solo.  They said go back in line.  We’ll take you.  And to make a long story short, I think this is kind of funny. When I got back in the tail end of the line, when the Sergeant got to me, he asked me, who I was and I gave him my name, rank and serial number, and he said no, who really are you.  I said what do you mean?  He said about the 4,300 are being processed today, you’re the only one not going to Korea.



So, he said who the hell are you.  And I, so I just said my rank and serial number again.  But when I reported to special service section, this was early November, we were aboard ship maybe almost two weeks, they said what they wanted me for was to play at the Officer’s Club on New Year’s Eve, and they can only hold me two weeks and here it was early November.



So, they said we’ll have you witness at court martials and whatever we can to hold you here until then.  And trying to make a long story short again, even though I was playing shores and if you wanna hear more about it, in Japan which I think were very interesting, I found out that there was a 10th Special Service Company in Korea.  And there was a place you could audition there in Japan, and I went and a gal by name Margaret Skippy Lynn, she was a DAV, Department Army Civilian,



I took my audition there.  And believe it or not, passed it, and they had one of the three accordion players, there were three show platoons in Korea.  Each one had one accordion player, and one was rotating home on the second of January.  So, the good Lord was with me. I was his replacement.  So, I was shipped from Japan on the second or I think, of January to Korea as a member of 10th Special Services Company.

I:          So, that’s 1953.



A:        That was uh, yeah.  It was actually first couple days of ’53.

I:          Tell me.  You didn’t want to go to Korea or, what’s on your mind at the time?
A:        Well, I didn’t want to be an Infantry man in Korea even though they are, I feel, the true heroes of Korea.  But everybody is very important.  I went there all the support I can understand about 18 supporter from one that’s actually fighting.



But um, I was then looking forward to going to Korea. And well, I didn’t actually hear a lot more.  But while I was still in Japan, I had the privilege of playing at the Ernie Pyle Theater, the Rocker Four Club, other places around, um, Tokyo and etc.  And we did tour down as far as, it was the Kamakura where the Buddha is and did shows.  So, by then I went to actually Korea.

I:          You must be very good to be selected out of that kind of emergency basis, right?



A:        Well, actually we can get more my background if you want to.

I:          Yeah.
A:        I can come later or now, whatever you want.

I:          Yeah, tell me about your background.

A:        Well, I was, started taking accordion lessons at age nine.  And there in Wisconsin, state of Wisconsin.  But age 13, I was State Amateur Champion on accordion.

I:          Wow.

A:        Again at 14 and 15.  At age 16, I joined the Federation of Music Unions and turned professional.  So, I had naturally a good teacher back then.



But I was introduced and was able to go on after high school to study at Andy Rizal School of Music in Chicago.  And I might be, um, prejudiced.  But I think he’s the world’s greatest accordion player.  And any jazz accordionist, he had a lot of concert accordion players too.  But any jazz accordionists like Art Fandam or uh, Leon Sash or, I can name off a bunch of them, that’s who he studied with.  So, I had the pleasure of studying with Andy before I went to Korea which got me in the shape that I could do what I did do in Korea.



I:          Ah hah.  So, if there were not Korean War, what do you think that you’d have been?
A:        Well, I might have ended up being a jazz accordionist.  But this can all come later.  But I did, uh, after Korea, and I’ll try to make it very short. I ended up back in Wisconsin after deciding not to go on the road.  We were married, and if we were, if was going on the road to try to become more and more known, I’d have been traveling and wouldn’t be very good for home life.



So, I started Gould School of Music.  And by the time I sold it in ’69 and moved to Phoenix, I had a 13,500 square foot music store with 43 employees of which 21 were teachers.  And we taught 750 private lessons a week, and they were actually, only five of us were accordion teachers.


And I was actually the Advanced Accordion.  But we taught strings, brass, you name it, piano, organ, guitar.

I:          So, did the Korean War service of yours help your career?  Or do you think that because of the Korean War, you didn’t become a solo famous musician rather than being a businessman?
A:        I think it helped my career in a different way. It learned me and I still try to use it today, you have to actually promote yourself to succeed.



And actually, I actually did succeed from nothing to that large music store in not too  many  years.  And I still went on to my selling. I won’t get into that.  We’re here for my Korean.  But I was very successful in my selling career and still am.

I:          How did Korean War service help you promote your business?
A:        It made md know how, I look at practicing and becoming like a State Champion the same as practicing on how to sell.



I think they are parallel.  In other words, I did take training from Tom Hopkins.  Also Zig Zigler who were supposed to be great instructors on how to sell.  And I put forth what they did, but I kept promoting myself and how to sell.

I:          Okay.  So where did you arrive in Korea?

A:        I got in Korea, I think, about the 4th of January of ’53.

I:          Um hm. Where did you arrive?



A:        I landed at Inchon.  And believe it or not, I had to go to the side of the ship down a rope ladder carrying my duffel bag and a AWOL bag.  So that was my introduction to Korea.

I:          How was Korea, the first thing that you saw at the time/
A:        Well, it was Inchon Harbor.  And I was taken to Seoul where the Headquarters was.  I was a 10th Special Service Company.  But I wasn’t there hardly at all.



The 10th Specialist Company which we’ll go more in detail with the background and so forth.  But I was on the road 24/7.  I was not into Seoul hardly at all till after the cease fire.

I:          So, what was the scene that you saw in Korea for the first time?  How as it, everything devastated.

A:        It actually looked

I:          People.

A:        It looked very hilly, very hilly.  And naturally when I was there in Seoul, it was very desolated, very bombed out.



About the only thing left standing was the Chosen Hotel and a few other things.  But the um, I forget the name of it, the mansion that Syngman Rhee was in didn’t get touched.

I:          (Kyong moo dai)

A:        Yeah.  And actually, both sides, I think, wanted to protect the Chosen Hotel and a few things.  But most everything was very bombed out.

I:          How is it belong to Special Service Company?  What is the daily routine, and what is your duties and how is it to belong to that Special Service?



A:        Okay.  Can I give you a quick background what

I:          Absolutely.

A:        Okay. Actually 10th Specialist Service Company was started in late 1944 by two people:  Josh Logan who you might recognize the name later came, he was a Captain in Guam at the time.  But he went on to write South Pacific and other musicals and worked with Oscar Hammerstein and,



I was gonna say Roy Rogers, uh, Richard Rogers.   And actually, the other person was this Skippy Margaret Lynn, the DAV Department civilian.  She had actually been in Carousel, Oklahoma, was understudy for Ethel Merman in Take it to the Boys and was the drill instructor for the Rockettes at the Radio Music Hall.


So what a tremendous start up this Company had.  And she was the one that actually made up the three shows that were on the road.  We, actually I joined one that was already in existence.  But each show before we went to Korea practiced in Japan and went together into Korea, I joined when it was already in progress.  But the second platoon I was on started off with what they called Take 10.  That was the original name.


And actually it changed names to Road to Ruin in October of ’52, and I was asked to join them in early January of ’53.

I:          So, what is the routine, everyday routine?
A:        Okay.  The routine was we would put on about an hour show and at least usually once a day, sometimes more and as I said earlier, we were on the road 24/7, and we had special passes signed by General Maxwell Taylor that could get us though any checkpoint cause they were all over the place.



You were usually in one area.  We were 24 hours a day; we could go through any checkpoint no matter what to get to where we had to go next.  And we did play shows within 500 yards of the MLR.  And I’m gonna backtrack quickly. I’ll make it quickly fit.  But the reasons the 10th Special Services Company started, the Army wanted to have the troops in forward areas to have more entertainment.


And the USO shows that came over, which some were very good like Bob Hope and so forth, they couldn’t play shows any closer than 20 miles from the mainland of resistance, the MLR, where we played within five hundred yards MLR and naturally all over the place, MASH units, you name it.  But we played shows occasionally where artillery shells outgoing were going over our heads while we were playing shows.  And they were graded maybe, I don’t know what percentage, but I’m gonna use the word 50% of those that are on the MLR back to your show.



And they’d go back to the MLR and bring the other 50% to us, and then we’d move on to someplace else.

I:          So, 10th Special Company, Service Company, must have been very popular to the American soldier, right?
A:        Very much so.

I:          Tell me about those, when you first, when you move into a point where all soldiers gathered and waiting for you guys to perform and tell me about those scenes.  Remember?  Do you remember those?



A:        Yes, actually we had equipment.  We had; I’ll get to this later.  But we had 13 vehicles in our convoy.  And we carried with us actually backdrop, things for the, I use the word stage loosely.  We usually played standing or sitting right on the ground.  And I should had interjected this earlier.  But to get in the 10th Special Services Company, most of them, you already heard how I got in.


But most everybody in it had been in a name band like Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, you name it, back in the States. And when they were drafted or enlisted, they automatically ended up in the 10th Special Service Company.  And celebrities like Eddie Fisher, you name it of the day, or they were comedians or singers or what, they ended up in the 10thSpecial Service Company.

I:          Oh.



A:        So consequently, I was playing usually two solo numbers, and there was a number of band arrangements were, which I thought were fantastic.  And my platoon, we actually had a hypnotist which I didn’t believe this could happen.  But I saw him perform.  I know he couldn’t set anything up and we had, his name was Ralph Weiss.  He was a hypnotist in our show

I:          Uh huh.

A:        We had a country singer from Nashville, and we had a couple of singers.  But it was a variety show.



I:          How was special band, Special Company Service Band, received by the soldiers?
A:        Fantastically well.  We had, they varied from 12 to 15 pieces depending who was rotating home and who was coming in.  But they were playing songs of the day.  And we had, I don’t know, this I can’t remember, but these were special with our unit or they were some musicians in the unit.



But we did our own charts rule, they call arrangements.  So, we were always playing different songs right along for the band.  And it was extremely well received.

I:          What was the most popular song to them?
A:        Popular song?
I:          Yeah.

A:        Boy, that would be awful, awful hard.  I don’t know if I can pick any one song. I know the country western guy, they liked Jambalaya.

I:          Jambalaya?

A:        Yeah.

I:          And?



A:        And uh, there were others too.  But they were playing songs of the day. I was playing myself basically songs of the World War II era, what I called standards.

I:          Um hm.

A:        I wasn’t playing the pop songs that were popular right then.

I:          Can you name anybody in your company very famous later, became very famous later?
A:        Well, a guy by the name, his name is Park Adams.



And I have a picture I can give you.  He, his nickname was Pepper Adams, and he went on, and if you went on Google and looked up, there’s about two pages.  They felt he was the world’s greatest baritone player sax player of all time.  He’s now deceased.  But he became extremely well known and famous.  Naturally, Eddie Fisher who was in the 3rd Platoon the same time I was in the 2nd Platoon, was very well known.




I:          So, you were actually living with a legend.
A:        Yes.

I:          How was it?  I mean, they are not regular soldiers.  They are not Infantrymen.  They don’t fire.  They hold the instruments.  And how did they behave there?  Uh, how did they react to the War, and how did they behave?

A:        They behaved well. But we all had Infantry training in basic.  And we carried our rifles and everything with us.  But we never did have to fight.  And I’ll make this a quick story and get back to your question directly.



Once we were playing at the MLR, some of the Chinese broke through during the night.  And actually, a lot of rifle fire and stuff is going on, and I slept through it and everybody was kidding me.  The next day, here they actually captured these Chinese right around where I was, and I slept through the whole thing.

I:          (LAUGHS) I don’t think you were qualified to be a musician there.  You sleep through.  Oh.  How did they behave, the members of the 10th Special?



A:        They behaved very well.  Uh, we occasionally would play an extra show.  We had our own itinerary blocked out.  But if an officer or somebody wanted a special show for place where was the mess hall, we’d play an extra show if they would give us steaks or whatever thing like that.  So actually, we did special things now and then.  But we played for all the United, um, Nation troops.



We played for the Turks, the British, the Australians, ROK, you name it, we played for all.  And so, one of the things I kind of laughed at, to, which was scary to me, when we were with the Turks, they all carried daggers strapped to their legs.  And I understand when the North Koreans or the Chinese didn’t want to fight against the Turks at all cause they got slashed up and so on.



But they were actually scary to be with.  The British, I have to laugh at them in a different way.  I think they’re wonderful.  When we were with the British for two weeks.  But they were the most uncleanly of anybody we ever saw.

I:          Uncleanly?

A:        Yes.  When we ate with them in their mess gear or mess tents or mess halls, wherever it was, uh, and this was wintertime, the place where you’d wash your mess kit, afterwards the hot water and the other tanks, the rinse, were frozen over.



And a guy would come around the tables carrying a loaf of bread in his hand, slice it and throwing the slices of bread on the table, it was a very messy situation with the British.  Debbie Reynolds and some of those came over in the USO shows.  But they had to be at least 20 yards, I mean, 20 miles back from the front line.  Debbie Reynolds came over while she was, (INTELLIGBLE) to Eddie Fisher, and they got married after Korea.



So, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynold became husband and wife.

I:          Any other movie star or famous politic career man and women came to Korea and impressed you?

A:        Well, I rotated home before Marilyn Monroe was there.

I:          Oh.  Too bad.

A:        And actually, Bob Hope, I don’t know if he had a Christmas show when I was there or not.  But I wasn’t in Korea until the second or third of January.



I:          Of 1950

A:        Three.

I:          Yeah.
A:        So, if he was there in ’52, I missed it.

I:          So, you missed everybody.

A:        Yeah.  Well, we were

I:          You missed Marilyn Monroe and Bob Hope.
A:        Yeah.

I:          Can you think of anybody else famous movie star or singer?

A:        Well, a lot of them did come over when we played, I played, our platoon played for Syngman Rhee
.I:         Oh, tell me about that.  Where?



A:        At his mansion.

I:          When was it?

A:        It was probably about at the end of cease fire.  I don’t, I, Jackie didn’t keep my letters home, and I’d never kept a diary while I was there.  So, I don’t have the, cause I have dates.  But when we played for Syngman Rhee, got to shake hands with him, and I thought it was tremendous.  But in came an Jackie helped me by getting instruments.  But two movie stars came in the door while we were moving.  And one was, can you remember the names, Jackie?



Jan Sterling was the gal.

I:          Jan what?

A:        Sterling was the lady.  And the man’s name was.

Female Voice:  Paul Douglas.

A:        Paul Douglas.

I:          They were visiting the Presidential mansion while you were moving?

A:        Syngman Rhee, yeah.  There were probably some USO entertainers come in after us.

I:          How did Syngman Rhee react to your performance?

A:        Very well.  He seemed to really enjoy it.  Music is an international statement, you know.  It’s the situation, no matter what language you speak or what country you’re from, music’s international.



I:          Did he speak to you guys?
A:        Uh, I don’t remember that much of it. I don’t know if he speaks English.

I:          Oh, he speaks very good English, oh yeah.

A:        This I don’t remember.

I:          He got the PhD from Princeton University.

A:        Um hm.

I:          Yeah.  Before you were born.

A:        Um hm.

I:          So, oh that’s

A:        Oh, I had the honor of playing to Syngman Rhee.  I had the honor of playing four times for President Truman before I came to Korea when I was with the 326th Army band.



I:          Oh.

A:        Cause I was in Missouri, and that was Truman’s home state.  And when he came there, we were this honor band that traveled with him, whether it was Spring or what, playing ruffles and flourishes while he came in.   And we were taken to the next stop and did it again.  And he put the back of the grand buses with soft drinks and beer so you, compliments of Harry.



So, I got to play with him, for him also.

I:          So, you met Syngman Rhee.
A:        Yeah.

I:          President Truman before you came to Korea.

A:        Um hm.

I:          Any other VIP’s that you played for?

A:        Off hand, I, can you help me, Jackie, or not?

Female Voice:  Only high-ranking officers.

A:        I played for a lot of high-ranking officers.



But um, I gave accordion lessons after the cease fire, and I was back at 8th Army Headquarters which at that time were headquarters 10th Special Service Company was called the Action General Corp. of the 8th Army Headquarters. And I did have three or four high-ranking members taking accordion lessons from me.

I:          Um.

A:        I didn’t ever meet General Van Fleet personally.



But I’ve seen him.

I:          Um, this is kind of, I wanted to ask this question.  How did you feel being in Special Service Company while all others are going into MLR or any other places and fighting there in the front line?

A:        I felt very sorry for them.  When we were at MASH units every now and then, I got to see some very severely wounded people.  Actually, I refused the Purple Heart.  I’m laughing at this.



While I was unloading one of the Deuce halves at one of our MASH units, I fell off and really gouged up bloody, bloody mess on one of my legs and got emergency first aid at a MASH unit.  And when you are taken in first aid there, your name goes on record for the Purple Heart.  And I had fought for two weeks to get my name off the record cause I didn’t want coming up in my hometown newspaper wounded in action.



And a lot of people said I should have taken the Purple Heart.  But I would have felt terrible cause I was not a real hero even when I’d been told about it from times now, keeping up morale was a hero thing to do also.

I:          Absolutely.  You did the right thing to take your name off of the list of Purple Heart.  But you just made the point that you really raised up the morale of the soldiers.  I think that’s a great thing for any soldier to do.  What do you think?



A:        Uh, very much so.  And I’m getting maybe ahead of myself.  But Sunny, he was here with us, knows that you were, were you at the awards banquet there in Korea?

I:          Yeah.

A:        You know, I was one of six brought up on stage

I:          And you played the accordion.

A:        (Unintelligible) I got special Meritus Service Award for keeping up morale of the troops when I was in Korea.

I:          Yeah.  Many soldiers still, they may remember, remember the music they heard and the performance they saw during their service.




A:        I know they do because I’ve gotten actually emails from people that have seen me. I was written up in the Reminisce Magazine article which gave my name and phone number and address.  And I’ve been contacted by a number of service men who I did not know who were not in 10th Special sent me pictures they took of me playing.

I:          You playing?
A:        Uh, yes.  Or of our show too.

I:          Wow.



A:        I have pictures to give you, Bulldozer Bones stuff of me playing.

I:          Wow, that would be great.  So, since you mentioned about you playing accordion, why don’t you play for us, huh?  Could you do that?

A:        Okay, sure.  Actually, just for the fun of it, you’ll  hear a little bit later what I did in Korea.  But I’d like to take the simple, well-known standard song, and I just put a few little embellishments, and it’s just for the fun of it.

I:          That you played in Korea during the War?



A:        Okay.  Do you want the Korean one first?

I:          No.  The piece that you played during the Korean War.

A:        Actually uh, you’re gonna hear it a little different.





A:        And so forth.  I’m not in shape now.  But you’ll hear it when I was in shape shortly.  But I can play now.  This’ll take us to the standard song, and I’ll just add a little bit to it.





I:          Yea.  (Clapping) Thank you very much.

A:        That was nothing fantastic, but it was a lot of fun.  So, I don’t know whether you, more now here or and stop this and you can put this one right in with it next.

I:          I rather want you to play, and any other piece that will remind you of your service.  That’s the one that I want you to play.



A:        I’m gonna take this one I, uh, it’s America the Beautiful and a medley of, let’s see, what’s the name of the song here Jack?

Female Voice:  Battle Hymn of the Republic of I don’t remember which one.

A:        The one I played in Korea.

Female Voice:  Oh.

A:        At the show over there.





A:        Would you mind, and I’ll take and do it over again?  That was not good on my part.  Should I do that over again?

I:          Yeah.




A:        Oh, actually this is American the Beautiful and The Grand Old Flag.





I:          (CLAPPING)






I:          Thank you very much for playing accordion for us.  And I think that reminded you of your performance and your service during the War, right?

A:        Correct.

I:          What are you thinking right now?

A:        Well, I’m thinking I’m now proud of what I did in Korea.

I:          Yes.  You must be proud of yourself.


A:        It was to help people get away from what was happening for an hour or so, give them some uplifting their morale which hopefully lasted for a while.

I:          So, where did you, when did you leave Korea?

A:        I left, I think, about the 3rd or 4th of January of ’54?  Was that about right, Jackie?

I:          Yeah.



Have you been back, you been back to Korea, right?
A:        Yeah.  I was back there last September.  Left here on 9/11 which I thought was a very safe time to fly cause security would be very high and heavy.  And I spent six days and five nights in Korea as a, on the Revisit program.

I:          What did you see there?

A:        Well, it was fantastic, and there isn’t enough time here to say all of it.



We went down to the Pusan Perimeter and saw a reenactment of the battle that took place there.  We saw the reenactment of the General MacArthur landing at Inchon.  We got to go up to Panmunjom.  We saw all kinds of things.  What surprised me was naturally that city is modern as any city in the world.  And I think I remember them saying they’re now about the second or third largest city with over 34 million people.



And I know when we were on our tour buses going South towards the Panmunjom Perimeter, we were cutting right through all these hills.  And all the walls were like ceramic tile walls, beautiful, beautiful highways.  It was fantastic.

I:          Were you proud that you served there?
A:        Very much so.



Now the people were so wonderful to us.  They can’t seem to thank us enough.  And naturally I got to meet a number of other Gi’s.  Some I went with.  I knew a few.  But I met two different ones that had on their hats, Veterans of World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam.  I thought that was kind of fantastic to run into people that were in all three wars.



I:          So, have you ever imagined that the Korea you fought for in 1950 and the Korea in today now, had you thought ever imagine that Korea would develop like this?

A:        No, I never have.  But they’re now one of the world leaders.  And I think they’re about number 10 in production of goods at the present time and are probably still rising.  They’re definitely one of our world leaders now.



And are still getting better all the time.

I:          So, what is Korea to you now?

A:        Well, it’s a very important world leading country, and I was proud to have helped to maybe serve there to help them get to where they are today even though my part was very small.

I:          Everybody’s role was small.  But altogether, you accomplished such a good thing, right?

A:        Yeah.

I:          Um.



A:        Very much so.

I:          Any other message that you want to leave to this interview?
A:        I don’t think so.  I’m willing to take a quick look at some pictures, see if I felt I had left something out.  Oh, well this I was one most proudest thing.  I was awarded, and I won’t try to go through it all now.  But the Accommodation Ribbon, which is a very high award, and I was, you’ll be able to read this later.



But uh, I was for my service with the 2nd Platoon, and I had developed into one of the show leaders of the Platoon.  And they gave me a tremendous write up here and I’m being awarded the Accommodation Medal.

I:          Um.  And you wanted to share all those pictures and your memorabilia with me, right?
A:        And you can have them all.


There’s a picture of our Chief Foreign Officer and myself going about the 38th Parallel.  That was before the cease fire.  We were the farthest north you could get at the time.

I:          Do you wanna show that picture to the camera?
A:        Well, it might not be real, real good.  But this is the one on top.

I:          Are you on the left side of it?

A:        Pardon me?

I:          Are you the tall one or the short one?

A:        This one.  This is right at the 38th Parallel.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        And this, not too many GI’s have been there.  Freedom Village.

I:          Um hm.



A:        We actually while it was in the process of being made.  We never played for any people there.  But while the engineers construction and medical were there helping to get it started.

I:          You never regret being in Korea?

A:        Not at all.  If I had it to do over again, I would do it over again.

I:          Do it over again?

A:        Uh, I would do it over again.



I:          That’s amazing, huh.

A:        Here is after the cease fire.  But a six-piece combo when we were playing around Seoul at the time.

I:          Where are you?

A:        I’m the accordion player.

I:          Oh, that’s. you are.  Was it in Seoul?
A:        This was in Seoul.  We did a lot of playing there, and the shows were all disbanded.  We did play quite often for generals when they were returning home.


And we’d go to the Chosen Hotel or wherever it was, so we were still getting entertainment. Or there would be a makeup of the bigger band or something small like this.

I:          I want to thank you for your service, Special Service Company, that has raised the morale high, up to the sky, of the American soldiers.  And you really contributed to the victory of the Korean War.

A:        Thank you very much.  I much appreciate what you’re saying.



I:          I mean it.  And it’s from the bottom of my heart.  Thank you very much for your interview.

A:        Okay, thank you.




10th Special Service Company History

10th Special Service Company History

Trucks and Band

Trucks and Band



Bulldozer Bowl

Bulldozer Bowl

Pit Band

Pit Band



38th Parallel

38th Parallel

Road to Ruin Showbill

A copy of the promotional poster for the 1nd Platoon 10th Special Services Company's "Road to Ruin" Performance.

Road to Ruin Showbill

Frank Cascio and Al Gould Giuletti Accordions Promotional Poster

A copy of a a promotional poster for Giuletti Accordions, which was modeled by Al Gould and Frank Cascio.

Frank Cascio and Al Gould Giuletti Accordions Promotional Poster

Kyung Mu Dae

A piture of the official residence of former South Korean President Syngman Rhee.

Kyung Mu Dae

Commendation Letter with Medal Pendant

A picture of Alvin Gould receiving a medal after his service in Korea.

Commendation Letter with Medal Pendant

Al Gould Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs

A picture of Al Gould performing in a ceremony for the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs in commemoration of "60 Years of Commitment and Friendship."

Al Gould Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs

Al Gould Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs

A picture of Al Gould performing in a ceremony for the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs in commemoration of "60 Years of Commitment and Friendship."

Al Gould Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs