Korean War Legacy Project

Arthur Gentry


Arthur Gentry was born on August 11, 1930 in Los Angeles, California. He enlisted in the United States Marines in 1948 before graduating from high school because he wanted to see the world. While in Korea, he participated in many of the famous events, including the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, the Heungnam Evacuation, the Battle at the Pusan Perimeter, and the Inchon Landing.  Throughout his time in the military, he worked his way up to Corporal in the Second Battalion, 5th Marines, Easy Company Regiment, 1st Marine Division. Not only did he serve as an anti-tank and rocket bazooka man, he also kept the company books, keeping track of the men in his regiment. He returned to Korea in 1968 as a Pastor, and he was amazed at the advancement in South Korea in such a short amount of time. He was later chosen to be an Honor Flight participant and embarked to D.C.

Video Clips

"Little" Battle at Pusan Perimeter

Arthur Gentry fought in Pusan at the perimeter where the North Koreans had taken control. United States troops were ordered to dig in and begin to dig fox holes as heavy mortars were falling as his commander was injured. They were there for two days to help straighten out the line for the army and provide support for the army. This is an example of how quickly some troops were embroiled in battles as they landed in Korea.

Tags: 1950 Pusan Perimeter, 8/4-9/18,Busan,Fear,Front lines,North Koreans,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Pride,Weapons

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Inchon Landing: 15 Foot Ladders

Arthur Gentry and his comrades created 15-foot ladders to use to "land" in Inchon by scaling a 15-foot sea wall. The tide went out for 6 miles, so this was how the troops had to get ashore.
The marines climbed over the side of the ship and went into the boats. Rockets and bombardments awaited the Marines as they approached Inchon.

Tags: 1950 Inchon Landing, 9/15-9/19,Incheon,Fear,Front lines,North Koreans,Physical destruction,Women

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"Bonsai" attack

Arthur Gentry lived through the "bonsai" attack near Kimpo Airfield. Japan occupied Korea for 35 years, and the North Koreans learned this "bonsai" tactic from the Japanese. Arthur Gentry remembered how Roosevelt made a decision to divide Korea while working with the Soviet Union. The U.S. Air Force was bringing in supplies to the airfield, so protection of the airfield was of great significance.

Tags: Seoul,Civilians,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Weapons

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War Torn: 1950 Heungnam Evacuation

Arthur Gentry had an emotional experience when he and his fellow Marines were evacuated from Hamheung along with 100,000 North Korean refugees. As the reality of war set in, seeing the ships in the harbor the troops and the countless refugees were relieved to be rescued. Arthur Gentry remembered all the ships, his company straightening their lines, and the Marine Corps singing hymns as they marched forward.

Tags: 1950 Hamheung Evacuation, 12/10-12/24,Hamheung,Civilians,Cold winters,Depression,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Poverty,Pride,Weapons,Women

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Legacy of the Korean War

Arthur Gentry believes that if it were not for the Marines, there would not have been victory at the Chosin Reservoir. Casualties were hight with 3600 U.S. soldiers killed in action, and another 6000 suffered from frostbite. Arthur Gentry believes that the Korean War, otherwise known as the "Forgotten War," was the last war the U.S. "won" and accomplished anything. He believes the victory lies within the Marines holding the line and the U.S. nurturing South Korea to flourish economically and democratically.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Hamheung,Civilians,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Modern Korea,North Koreans,Physical destruction,Poverty,Pride,South Koreans

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


A:        My name is Arthur Gentry, ARTHUR GENTRY.

I:          Do you have a middle initial?
A:        E for Edward.

I:          Gentry.  Nice last name.

A:        Yes sir.

I:          Yeah.  What is your birthday?

A:        8/11/30.

I:          Where were you born?
A:        Los Angeles.

I:          Wow, right here.

A:        Right here, close.

I:          Tell me about your family including your siblings when you were growing up.



A:        Okay.  Well, I was born in Los Angeles. My mother and father moved to Los Angeles from a town in Nebraska.  He worked for the railroad in like a round house where they brought the engines in and repaired them.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And he had an uncle that was a LAPD in 1914.  And he came, retired off of the police department and came back to Nebraska and told my father, he said you got to get outta here, kid, because you got to come to California.



I’ll get you a job.  So, my mother saved enough gold coins at the time, and they got the bus to Los Angeles, and they went to work for the bus company on the streetcar line starting buses in 1927 at $.50 an hour.

I:          What about siblings?  Do you have brothers and sisters?

A:        Okay. I had an older brother.  He’s passed on.  And he was in the Marine Corp. in 1939.



He was a reservist in Los Angeles, and they activated the Reserves into the regular Marines, and he came to San Diego in 1939. And I have two older sisters.  One of them is still alive.  And I have two younger sisters.

I:          What school did you graduate?

A:        I went to Vail High and then to El Monte High in a town outside of Los Angeles.



I:          El Monte?
A:        El Monte, right.

I:          Al

A:        No. El

I:          Um hm.

A:        Monte.  El Monte.

I:          Um. When did you graduate?
A:        I didn’t graduate. I, in the 11th grade, a friend that I was in the 4H Club with, that’s a club that does farm animals and that.

I:          Um hm.

A:        I got off the bus one morning at school and he said hey Art, let’s go join the Marines, and I said sounds good to me.



I:          Just like that?
A:        Yeah.  This was February, the first of February in 1948. And everything was kind of peaceful.  There wasn’t gonna be no more wars. And so, we were gonna join the Marines and see the world.

I:          See the world.  That’s a good idea.

A:        So, we walked off the school yard and went out on the corner and caught the Metro bus to downtown Los Angeles which was about 10 miles to the City Hall were the Marine Corp recruit office was, and we signed up, and the recruiter said you’ll have to go get your mother and father to okay this cause you’re only 17.



So, I came home, and I told my mother and father and they said well, if that’s what you wanna do, I said okay. I wasn’t doing too good in school anyway.  And so, they said report back tomorrow with this signed and reported back the next day.  It was February the 4th actually.  And they put us on a bus.  There was 15 of us.  And we had a bus ride in the Greyhound bus from Los Angeles to San Diego. And we got off that bus that evening, and life has never been the same since.



I:          So, was it Pendleton?
A:        Well no.  We came to MCRD which was in San Diego here.  We were there yesterday for a graduation.
I:          Right.

A:        And it’s a lot different today than it was back in 1948.

I:          How was the basic training for a 17-year-old young boy?
A:        Well, it was, basic training, I knew discipline because I came up under a household that believed in honoring your father and mother.



I:          Uh huh.

A:        And uh, but uh it was different, you know, because you were not only looking out for yourself, but you had to look out for the one on your left and the one on your right.  You were now a family so to speak.

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

A:        Well, it was 10 weeks of basic training.  We had about four weeks at MCRD, and at that time you had another base just up the road from MCRD which was called Camp Matthews.



And we went there for three weeks for rifle range, to qualify on the M1s and the BARs and the 45s.  And then we came back to MCRD.  And after 10 weeks, we were Marines.

I:          And?
A:        Then we got a 10-day leave and went home, reported back to MCRD about four days. They loaded us onto trucks and took us north to Camp Pendleton, which is about 35 miles.



I:          Yeah.

A:        And we got off of the trucks, and they said, called us out and they said you’re now the 6th Marines, and that was at Camp Pendleton.

I:          What company?

A:        Well, at that time we were 6th Marines.  This was in about April of ’48.  And then we became the 7th Marines. And then in 1949, our company was designated to go to China because China had fallen into the hands of the Communists.



And Chiang Kai-shek had went to Formosa which I guess is now is Taiwan.  And when we got to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, they put us off the ship because China didn’t take Hong Kong, and our Embassy had been relieved.  And so, we came back to the States.

I:          Uh huh.  And then did you know anything about Korea?
A:        No.  At that time, didn’t know nothing about Korea.



I knew about Japan and China because when the War broke out in 1941, at our little school that I was going to outside of Los Angeles, we had a Chinese family and a Japanese family in the community.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And as soon as the World War II broke out, they rounded up all of the Japanese families and put them in a, what do they call, internment camps.


And the Chinese kids all had little signs on or stickers on saying I’m not, I’m Chinese.  And so, they talk a lot about how they treated the Japanese at the time,  But I think it as also for their own safety.

I:          But you didn’t know anything about Korea.

A:        No, not at that time.

I:          Um hm.

A:        Never heard of it.

I:          When did you leave for Korea?

A:        I left for Korea, we were standing, I remember the day.



It was June the 25th.  At noon, we went over to the PX at Camp Pendleton and for some reason, I think it was a payday weekend and we were going over to the PX, and our Gunny Sergeant got up on the steps and he said North Korea’s invaded South Korea. And we said Gunny, where’s Korea?  He said well I was a Prisoner of war there. He had been in World War II.  And so, he knew exactly where it was.



So, at the time, MacArthur had volunteered the 1st Marine Division to go to Korea. And after two weeks of loading ships, we sailed out July 14th out of San Diego here on a troop transport called the George Klimer. And we sailed for Korea and got there on August the second in the evening at Pusan.

I:          You didn’t stop at Japan?



A:        No. We went directly to Korea.  We were basically about 17 days because of the convoy with the LSTs. And we went directly into Pusan Harbor and docked.  And August the third, we unloaded, and we were 6,400 men altogether.  We were short a division probably about 12, 000 men.

I:          So, at the time, what was your unit?



A:        What was my unit at that time?  We were EZ Company 2nd Battalion 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division.

I:          Second Battalion and?

A:        5th Marines Regiment, EZ Company.

I:          Right.
A:        2nd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment.

I:          What was your specialty?

A:        My specialty was anti-tank. The rocket, Bazooka man.



I:          Ah.  So, did you know how to deal with a Bazooka?

A:        Well, I guess we’d been training.  For six months before the Korean War broke out, our Company was in, we got a Captain that, for some reason or other, wanted us to get some more training.  So, he would take us out into the fields of Camp Pendleton for four days, and we’d come in on a Thursday night, and we would get three days’ liberty.



And we thought that was pretty good.  We would really work the hell out of that four days for it cause we knew we had three days liberty coming up.

I:          Well, let me, please tell me about the Pusan that you saw for the first time in your life?  How was it?

A:        When we unloaded off the dock,

I:          Um hm.

A:        and we got our ammunition, and there was a warehouse near the dock, well , it was a strange country to me.



The odor, they  had what they called honey carts.

I:          Honey cart.

A:        Where, they picked up the

I:          Human waste?

A:        Human waste and took it out to the rice fields they told me, on the rice paddies.

I:          Yeah. So, it smelled bad.

A:        Yeah.  So, we, they marched us down to the railroad station in Pusan and put us on narrow gauge trains that burned coal or something or other.

I:          Um hm.
A:        And we went out about 20 miles. It was called the Pusan Perimeter at the time.


And the Army was about to give up all of Korea at the time because the North Koreans had come clear down to the perimeter.

I:          So, what happened to you then?
A:        And we bivouacked what they called it  for two days.  And on the night of the 7th, Army truck picked us up, and we went to a village. It was at nighttime, and we drove, I don’t know, maybe it was real slow, maybe 10, 15 miles, something like that, to an Army line where the Artillery was.



And they unloaded us off the trucks, the six bys, and told us just to get there, and the daybreak was just, the sun was just coming up, just lay over there on that little mountain there, and there was rice paddies all around us.  We’d no sooner got off  of the trucks and were waiting for the Army, the Colonel, or the Captain, to see where we were gonna go to straighten the line out, and we heard this whistling over.



Out in the rice paddy, the mortar would fall. And the Gunny Sergeant said dig in.  And we started digging foxholes right there.  And the next thing we heard was Corpsman.  And our Company Commander that had been giving us all this training was hit the first thing with the mortar shell, and he had lost part of his kneecap.  And so, we went up and straightened that line up.



We were there for about two days.  And then we were enroute, marched to go to another line and straighten that out for the Army. Not belittling the Army, but they had all they could handle because they were an outfit that had been in Japan just kind of on a rest area.  There was no war.  And they’d been occupying Korea.  But the Occupational Forces as I understand, had left Korea and went to Japan.



All that was left there was a few ROK Marines that we had trained that was to hold the enemy.

I:          Did you think that you could win that battle at the Pusan Perimeter?  Was it desperate?
A:        Well, we knew that everywhere we went in our minds that we were gonna win.  Each little battle, we called them little battles.



I remember the next main battle was the Naktong River which was one of the holding lines because it was a river that the enemy had to cross.  And that was on August the 17th.  We were at the Naktong River, and we straightened up the Army lines there.  And then we came back, and we made a couple other battles, August 20th, 30th.



And on September the 6th, I believe, we went back to the Naktong River again.  The enemy had come through the line there. And on August I mean September about the 10th or 12th, we loaded aboard ship, and they told us we were going to Inchon to make a landing.

I:          Tell me about the Inchon Landing.



A:        Okay.  The Inchon Landing.  When we got aboard ship again, we had to make some ladders and we said what are these for.  They were 15’ ladders. They’d got lumber from somewhere.  And they said well, we’re going in where no, where you can’t land because the tide goes our for six miles.  Well, growing up in California, I’d seen the tide go out maybe 5’, you know, go on the beaches here in San Diego and Huntington Beach.



But when we pulled in there in the evening, it was just quite a sight looking back on it.  All of the rockets and the bombardment and the Corsairs and all. And we sat up there in the Harbor, and it was just about I think around 6:00, we climbed over the side of the ship down into the Hagans boats with the ladders going for the sea wall.



There was a 15’ sea wall there.  And we put the ladder up and gone over the, up the ladder and down in, and then we made the landing.

I:          Was it dangerous?
A:        Not, looking back on it, I guess it must have been.  But we never, in my mind, I never thought of danger.

I:          I mean, what I meant were there any North Korean resistance?
A:        No, there wasn’t much resistance.  There couldn’t have been with all the bombardment and all that,



There was slight resistance until the next day.

I:          Was it September 15th?

A:        September the 15th, 1950.

I:          Uh huh. And then from there, where did you go?
A:        Well, September 15th 16th, I believe it was about the 17th we come to Kimpo Airfield that the enemy was holding, and we went in and took the airfield.  It was long in the evening.



And we got the airfield. And about midnight, we heard the enemy was coming and they had what they called a bonsai attack. I guess they had learned that from the Japanese.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        And at this time, learning a little history, we understood that Korea had been under the Occupation of Japan for 35 years.  And in 1945, President Roosevelt at the Alpha Conference had divided Korea into South Korea and North Korea and gave half of it to Russia.



And so anyway, that’s another story.  But

I:          But you were there at Kimpo Airfield.

A:        Right.  We had to hold the airfield because we had the planes coming in the next morning.

I:          Next morning.

A:        The Air Force were coming in with the C119s with supplies and more ammunition and that.  And Kimpo I think is somewhere around, about 20 miles from Seoul. I’m not sure.



I:          Yeah.

A:        But it was another four or five days we had to cross a river.  I forgot the name of the river.  Maybe you can help me.  What was the name of that river we crossed?
I:          Han.

A:        Han River, right.  We crossed that in amphibious landing craft.  And then we had a couple of major battles getting into Seoul.  I remember one morning we were up on the knoll overlooking,


And we got the word that enemy tanks were coming.  And there was, we got orders. And so, I got my Bazooka and my ammunition man, and we started out.  But our tanks were with us at the time with their 90 mm guns. And before I could get down to where, to make a fire at the tanks, our tanks had taken them out.  And that was really a gory mess.

I:          Hm.

A:        To see.

I:          What about Seoul?  What, how was it, Seoul?



A:        Well, when we got there, we met the  2nd Armored Division I believe, that had come up from the South after we’d made the landing.  It was easy for them to come up from Pusan right up to Seoul. And we met in the middle of the, there was nothing there. It was flattened.  It was under, it was just burning and very little left of it in my mind when I look back on it.

I:          Hm.  Almost completely destroyed.



A:        Completely destroyed, right.

I:          From Seoul, where did you go?
A:        Well, then we turned it all over to the Army, and we moved out and they said we’re gonna move out here.  And we’d done a little going up north, not too many miles.  And then we pulled out and went up to Wonsan and landed at Wonsan up on the, I believe it was on the East coast of Korea.



I:          Yes.  When was it?

A:        And that was sometime in October, oh, maybe the first of October, 5th of October, somewhere in there.

I:          Um hm.  From there, where did you go?
A:        And then we went on up, and we were on the East side of the Reservoir.  And it started to begin to get cold and snow.  And we weren’t trained for the cold. We were South Pacific guys.  And, but they gave us these what they called parkas, big heavy coats and gloves and rubber, kind of galoshes.



We called them, to put over our boon dockers.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And we moved up in trucks to a pass which was about 11, 15 miles, something like that.  And we were the point going up, EZ Company was. And at that time, this was November 5th, I mean 25th, 26th. It was about the 27th of November, we were enroute marching along in the evening, and we started getting sniper fire.



I:          Where?
A:        And this was, well, the furthest point up. I don’t know what they called it.  There was no name of that place.  We were about, they said, about 35 miles from the Manchurian Border at the time.

I:          So, it wasn’t Udamni?

A:        It might have been Udamni.

I:          Or

A:        It was the furthest point north.

I:          Pudong? Pudong Ni.

A:        Pudong ni, might have been.



I:          Look at this map.

A:        Okay.

I:          And let me know where you were.

A:        Can I put my glasses on, sir?
I:          Sure.

A:        Let’s see. This, well we were the furthest point north, and we started getting sniper fire.



We were  kind of in a route march.  Is this the furthest point north?

I:          Yeah.

A:        Yeah.  Well, we were there far north as we got.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And so, we started to get this sniper fire.

I:          Were you with the Army?
A:        No, I was with the Marines.

I:          Marines.  But were there any Army soldiers?
A:        No. The Army went to the East side, and we went to the West side.



I:          You went to the West side, right?

A:        Yeah.  The main, we changed sides with the Army at that time for some reason.

I:          Hm.  So, you don’t remember where it was.  Udamni?  Does it

A:        Well, we went through Udanmi coming back.

I:          Uh huh.

A:        Going up, there was no, we just went on up.



I:          Okay.

A:        We were going up to maybe 2,000 Chinamen there, and we were gonna send them back home and tell them where to go. And there were maybe, they were just kind of not guerillas but just volunteers of some sort.

I:          Yeah.

A:        They weren’t supposed to be there.  We were supposed to send them back home, and we were gonna be home for Christmas.



I:          That’s what MacArthur said.

A:        That’s what General MacArthur said.

I:          But.

A:        But he had another General under him, one of his advisors called Almond I think was his name.

I:          Yes. General Almond, yes.

A:        General Almond, and he said oh, they’re just a couple hundred intelligence, couple thousand maybe Chinamen there.

I:          Um hm.  But that wasn’t true.

A:        No. It wasn’t true because they were already dug in in big holes, about as big as this room her, caves like this.  They’d been there for a while.



I:          For a while.  Yes.

A:        Yeah.  Because we couldn’t dig a foxhole at this time.

I:          Um hm.

A:        Because the weather was getting down to maybe 30 degrees below zero. And so, we set up a line of defense at night on November the 27th.

I:          Yah.

A:        And I guess we knew what we were doing cause we ran all these phone wires from Dog Company on our left and Fox Company on our right and Platoon, 1st Platoon, 2nd Platoon, 3rd Platoon, Weapons Platoon.



We had this defense built up and set up our watch for the night. And this was about oh, when we got all this settled in about 9:00. And some of us just got to sleep.  And boy, about 10:00, the moon come up. I think it was a full moon that night, November the 27th.

I:          Um hm.

A:        We started hearing all these bugles and whistles and noise and drum music  All hell broke loose.



I:          What were you thinking when they were attacking?

A:        Thinking we’d better do something.  Really looking back on it 65 ½ year, almost 66 years ago

I:          Yeah.

A:        You’re thinking you’re doing what you got to do, and we got to hold the line.  You’re thinking who’s, you know, and at that time, they had waves of Chinese coming at us.



I:          Waves.

A:        Waves.  They come in a wave.  And that would maybe last for 45 minutes to an hour.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And you’d hear the sound of the bugles or whatever noise they made, and they would retreat.  And it’d be about a half hour.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And here comes another wave until daybreak.

I:          Until daybreak.

A:        Daybreak.  And when it started to get light, everything was just as calm.



And we got the word that we had fell into it.  We were surrounded.  And we didn’t get the word that morning exactly how many.  But we knew that we weren’t going any further north.

I:          How many?
A:        That we were gonna turn around.  And our Colonel said they got us surrounded.  General O. P. Smith said we’ll just fight in another direction.



And the word had come over I guess, every many for himself.  And our General said no, not every man for himself.  We come out of here as an Outfit.  We train as on Outfit.  And we’re coming out as an Outfit.

I:          You have such a vivid memory.

A:        Well, that’s what they tell me.  I’ve read a few books but really a fellow that I roomed with I came to this reunion with, he’ll say something, and I said no that was on July 15th. And he says you’re right 99.4% of the time.



I:          But you are telling me what you actually experienced, not from reading, right?
A:        Right.

I:          Wow.

A:        Just like it was yesterday.

I:          Right. How do you feel now?
A:        Well, I’m kind of tired after the trip we made today. But I just turned 86.

I:          No.  What do you feel about you are remembering those 64, like today.

A:        Oh.  Well, sometimes I just think it was all a dream, you know.



It could have been, you know, cause I know that we were fighting for something.  They just didn’t’ have us there because they wanted us there. But we were fighting for a cause.

I:          Were there any dangerous moments to your life?
A:        Well, at that time it was all dangerous.  But we didn’t, I didn’t dwell on that.

I:          Um.



A:        The only, if I fast forward and maybe come back, the most maybe dangerous times in my life I thought, the enemy had blown up a bridge.

I:          Um.

A:        That had spanned this here, I forget what they called it.  But we had to have that bridge to get out because it was just a shear collection and our equipment.



And we had to wait for them to fly a bridge in and assemble it over that space. And we were kind of marking time there. And it seemed like it was, I don’t know how long it was, maybe 48 hours or, you know. And we didn’t know exactly, we knew the Chinese had been there because they’d blown the bridge up.



And they, at this time, we went through several convoys that had been hit, Army convoys and our own convoys.  And we just knew we were coming out.

I:          What was the most difficult thing if I ask you to pinpoint one.

A:        The most difficult?
I:          At the time.



A:        You mean experience of

I:          Yeah. Among many of your

A:        Memories?

I:          Yeah.  And in Inchon Battle?

A:        Well, the battles, they were all difficult. But the most difficult in my memory was loading the ones that had deceased on a truck. And of course, that was you know, to see one of your own die right there basically in your arms next to you and then



I:          So many of them, right?
A:        Right.

I:          Also, so many Chinese.

A:        Yeah, Chinese.  But we didn’t, you know, we, well, I guess I could say this. We never took any prisoners.

I:          Meaning that you killed?
A:        Well, we didn’t actually literally kill them ourselves.  But we called the Corsairs in



I:          How cold was it?
A:        Well, they told us it was 40 below.  But I don’t know.  Forty below, ten below?

I:          Personally, how did you feel then?
A:        Well, I at the time, I don’t know, you know, I was, had to keep track of all of the men in our Company at each place and each night, each morning because I had the book to keep track of each man.



I:          Really:

A:        Yeah,  where he was wounded.

I:          Yeah.

A:        And, because of first Company Sergeant had been relieved before we went up to the Reservoir, and he gave me the book because I was the Bazooka man, remember?

I:          Yeah.

A:        There was no enemy Chinese tanks.

I:          Right.
A:        So, I didn’t need to carry the Bazooka any longer.

I:          Um hm.

A:        So, I was carrying the book for the man, we called it the Company Bible to see how was wounded and who was going where.



And I would go, if we had a staging area where the sick bay or where they brought the sick into, I would have to go there and check and see those men with their feet already blistered and black.  But for some reason, I didn’t put on a lot of socks. I had two pair of socks, and they were thin.  And I guess some of them thought that if they put on a couple pair of socks, they would be warmer.



But their feet would sweat, and then they would freeze.  But I had these two pairs of socks, and I would change them when I could and dry them out and carry them.  But those were the worst memories I have is seeing those that were wounded and with those fate and those that had been hit.

I:          What about, so you didn’t fight. But you were recording the death and the casualties?



A:        Oh, I was fighting.

I:          Fighting, right?
A:        Yeah.  We were all on the line.  There was no rear line.

I:          And you had a rifle.

A:        Right.

I:          Yeah.  You were fighting, but at the same time you had a mission to keep the record.

A:        Right.
I:          Do you, where did that book go?

A:        Well, that’s a sad story.  They flew in some replacements at Hagaru I believe it was.

I:          Uh huh.



A:        And they took out some wounded there. They had made a landing strip.  And the Company Clerk had flown back in.  They’d flown him back in from Japan. He had been wounded, and was well, and he was a Buck Sergeant, and I was just a Corporal. So, he asked me for the book, and I gave him the book.



So, I didn’t have the book anymore.  That was just before we came out of the Reservoir.

I:          And you don’t know where that book is.

A:        Well, he burned it because he wanted to keep warm.  And you know, I wouldn’t tell this story, but it’s actually 60 years later and, I was asked while I was on this reunion about one of the men, if I knew where he was.



And the Historian that’s here that deals with the MIAs and says that we left one of our wounded there the first night.  And that’s in my memory right now, that I just don’t remember that, leaving anyone there.

I:          And then you went to Hungnam and Pusan, right?

A:        Yeah, we came back in.  We loaded on ship on December the 12th  for Hungnam.

I:          Um hm.



A:        I believe I’m pronouncing it right.

I:          Hungnam, yes.

A:        Hungnam.

I:          Yeah.

A:        And we loaded aboard a ship.  They put 5,000 of us aboard.

I:          Um hm.

A:        I think it was equipped for 2.500.  But at the same time, I remember all of these refugees, these North Koreans that were wanting to flee North Korea because of the oppression they’d been under evidently.

I:          Right.



A:        And there were somewhere around, they tell us around 90 to 100,000.

I:          Yeah.

A:        And I remember on the roadway coming the last few miles coming in the Hungnam, of these old men and women and little children with whatever they could carry and little kids carrying little kids.



But coming out of that mountain, as we came into the, looked down and came around the curve, we saw that safe port with those ships out there waiting for us.  And it was just, I don’t know if it was a moment of relief or unbelief , of we finally  have come this far.  And as we come around there and saw those ships, we were kind of war torn at that time out of let’s see, what was it, 15 days,



and we saw those ships, and we were kind of enroute march a the time and it had been beginning to get warmer at the Harbor, and somebody said straighten up and they started to sing the Marine Corp hymn, and everybody just started marching.  And it was quite a feeling to see those ships and to know that we were coming out.



And to bring all those refugees out with us.

I:          Great moment.

A:        It was a great moment.  And then we loaded aboard the ship, and to see the man I went in with and joined with, he had been in another Company, and we met each other aboard that ship the next morning. And it was a great moment to see that we both made it out.

I:          So, from Pusan and Mason, where did you go?



A:        We started back up to Central Korea, to the 38th.

I:          Thirty-eighth.

A:        This was in, let’s see, it was January.  We spent in Mason, and we called it the beanfield. I guess we were recuperating there.

I:          Yeah.

A:        And then we started moving on up. January, February, and March.



And I got relieved I believe it was the end of March because I got home, sailed in under the San Francisco Golden Gate two days before Easter Sunday in 1951.

I:          Um

A:        I was one of the first to be released.

I:          Have you been back to Korea?

A:        I went back in 1968.

I:          Whoa.



A:        I wanted to make a trip to Hong Kong and to Singapore because Billy Graham was having a meting there in Singapore for all of the pastors of Indonesia and the Phillipines and that.  Brought them all into Singapore, about 1,000 Evangelical pastors. And So, I met, wanted to go there.  So, I spent about six weeks going, and I stopped off in Viet Nam even for two weeks.



This was in October of 1968.

I:          Were you a pastor?
A:        I was in the ministry at the time.

I:          Really?

A:        Right.

I:          Ah.

A:        And my second cousin started in North region in Inchon.  And so, I went to visit that also.

I:          How come?



A:        How’s that?
I:          How come your cousin had

A:        Well, he had  a United World Mission, and he had missionaries in different countries, in Viet Nam.  And I visited the missionary in Viet Nam in 1968.

I:          So, was Inchon when you saw it in 1968?

A:        Oh, it was a lot different.



I saw General MacArthur statue there. And I got a Korean girl that had been in the orphanage in the ‘50’s until, she was a mixed blood child.  And so, she had grown up in this orphanage.  So, she took me around and was a guide for me.



We took the diesel train down to Pusan from Seoul.  And there was quite a difference between 1950 and 1968.  I thank the YMCA because it was a lot cheaper there.

I:          Yeah.

A:        I think it was $3 a day or something.  Three dollars a night.

I:          But have you been back to Korea since then?



A:        No, not since then.

I:          But do you know how Korean economy has developed?
A:        Well, I’ve seen it on tv and watching, you know, and reading in the books.  And the South Koreans have been so gracious to us veterans to attend our reunions, this Chosin reunion and to let us know how they developed.  It’s amazing to us the difference between North and South Korea.



I:          Do you wanna go back to Korea?
A:        Well, not at this time I don’t believe.  But I appreciate  the Korean people. And that trip in ’68, I’d seen the development of it. I know it must be a lot different now than it was in ’68 even.

I:          You’re not going to believe what you are going to see if you go back.

A:        Yes.



I:          And the Korean government has a program called Revisit program.  And they pay for that.

A:        I understand, uh huh.

I:          And you still don’t want to go?  Do you want to go, or you still don’t want to go?

A:        Well, at my age, I’d rather send somebody that hasn’t been back one time even, you know.

I:          There have been a lot of Korean War veterans invited back to Korea, and you can go again.



A:        Well, I would probably love to go if that, what is it a week trip or?
I:          Yeah, about a week’s trip. And they pay for everything except half of your airfare.

A:        Okay.

I:          And you’re going to Panmunjom, DMZ, and you go many places.  You will not beliee your eyes.

A:        I understand they moved the Kimpo Airfield since I was there.



I:          No, there is Kimpo Airport.  But there is another one called Inchon Airport.

A:        Up by the Inchon Harbor?
I:          Yes.

A:        Uh huh.

I:          Yeah, you should go. So, what do you think of the legacy of your service in the Korean War?  What is it?

A:        Well, our legacy is that if it hadn’t been for the Marines, we wouldn’t have come out of the Chosin Reservoir.

I:          Um hm.



A:        And we came out of there as an outfit.  We lost several men. I believe it was about 3,000 killed in action with the Army and the Marines.

I:          Thirty-six hundred.

A:        Thirty-six hundred.

I:          Um hm.

A:        And close to 6,000 severely frost bitten.

I:          Yeah.

A:        And I sit here, I guess in my right mind with all of my fingers and all of my toes

I:          Um hm.



A:        And I see those that, you know, even on this reunion, I can still get around without a cane or a walker. But several of our comrades in walkers and in wheelchairs. And I just, I believe it’s a blessing of God that I’m here like I am today.

I:          Are you proud of your service?
A:        I’m very proud of the Marine Corps. And the outfit that I was in.



It was called EZ Company.  But there was nothing easy about it.

I:          That’s right.

A:        They now call EZ Company Echo Company.  And I suppose maybe EZ Company is just an echo now.  But our EZ Company, we, probably each company feels that they’re the best.  And I heard that General yesterday at the Marine Corps recruit people say his father was a Marine.



And he was a Corporal three times.  But the Marines are better now.  But I don’t believe that. The Marines were always the best.

I:          Yeah.  This is one of the most successful war U.S. has ever been involved in because of the South Korean economy and democracy.  But we don’t teach much about it.

A:        Yeah.  In my mind, and what little I’ve read about how the Japanese had occupied them for 35 years.



And then after Japan surrendered, we took only half of Korea and occupied it and got them more or less I guess back on their feet, got them headed in a good direction.  And I believe it was the Forgotten War they call it, but in my mind it was the last war that we ever accomplished and won anything.

I:          Exactly.

A:        We held the line.




I:          Yeah.  Explain about that please.  What is it?

A:        Okay.  This is a interview that I did with Congressman Kevin McCarthy, our Congressman in Kern County.  And the reason I was hooked up with these because we have what they call an Honor Flight system.



They send veterans to Washington, D.C.  And so, my Honor Flight guardian, I went two years ago, and I showed her the Chosin.  It’s a documentary on the Korean Reservoir. And she spread the word that I was a Chosin veteran.  And so now they want me to go everywhere.  And so, they nominated me to have an interview with Kevin McCarthy.

I:          Congratulations.



A:        Yes. And tell my story.  And it was quite an outing to be able to sit down and speak with him.

I:          That’s a really great honor, right.  Thank you, sir.

A:        Thank you, sir.

I:          Thank you, sir.