Korean War Legacy Project

Arden Rowley


Arden Rowley was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1930 and was raised in Mesa, Arizona.  He enlisted in the Army in 1948 after graduating high school. His first tour of duty was in Okinawa, Japan, with the 76th Engineer Construction Battalion. After that tour he was then assigned to the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division in May 1950.  During his service in Korea on or about November 30-December 1, 1950 Chinese Communist Forces took Arden Rowley along with 329 other engineers and American Military Personnel as Prisoners of War. Arden Rowley was held captive in five POW camps in North Korea for a period of 33-months, during which time he witnessed and experienced harsh conditions and treatment. He was repatriated in Operation Big Switch in August 1953.  He then spent 31 years teaching in Mesa Schools, and served for 23 years in the Army, retiring as a Major. He has published five books, four on the Korean War and the POW experience.

Video Clips

Remembering a Hero

Arden Rowley shared how difficult the cold was during the war, causing many to freeze to death. He shares an account of an American soldier who came across a frozen soldier. Arden Rowley shares this story as a way to remember and honor the 36,000 soldiers that passed away.

Tags: Front lines,Personal Loss,Pride

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Life as a Prisoner of War

Arden Rowley describes his experiences as a Prisoner of War . He explains how they marched 24 nights before arriving at the camp which became known as “Death Valley” or the “mining camp.” He shares their living conditions, losing many of his fellow soldiers, burial detail and the indoctrination they received daily.

Tags: Aprokgang (Yalu River),Chinese,Cold winters,Food,Letters,Living conditions

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Homecoming for a Prisoner of War

Arden Rowley remembers the difficulty in signing an armistice. He describes his repatriation and his return to Arizona after being a POW for 33 months in the Korean War. He also shares what it was like to adjust to life back in the United States.

Tags: Home front,Impressions of Korea,Pride

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