Baldwin F. Myers
Baldwin Frank Myers entered the United States Army in 1949. He served as a rifleman in the early stages of the conflict in the Battles of Jinju and Handong in July of 1950 outside the Pusan Perimeter. For a week, he engaged in brutal battles and saw many men die. These experiences stayed with him for his whole life, revisiting him every night as he slept. His bravery in that week has never been formally recognized even though he led around a hundred men to safety as Jinju fell.
Battle of Jinju Begins
Baldwin F. Myers recounts the beginning of conflict on the road from Jinju to Hadong. He discusses coming under fire from North Korean mortars. He also describes his struggles with PTSD related to that day.
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Missing in Action
Baldwin F. Myers discusses getting wounded and waking up in Japan. He recounts how he learned that he was officially missing in action. He also shares meeting a fellow soldier that he saved during battle.
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Fighting His Way Back to the Lines
Baldwin Myers describes the Battle of Jinju and his time behind enemy lines. As the city was falling, Baldwin Myers had to find a weapon and fight his way back to American lines. He successfully rejoined American forces the day before Jinju fell.
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[Beginning of Transcribed Material]
B: I am Baldwin Frank Myers. My first name is spelled B as in boy, ALDWIN. In the Army, I was known by my buddies as Baldy.
I: You’re not baldy.
B: No. But when I reported back to them years later, 30 years later that this is Frank Myers, and I wanted to talk to them, they didn’t know who I was because they only knew me as Baldy.
B: But when we got that cleared up, then everything else flowed.
I: And could you spell your last name?
I: What is your birthday?
B: May 29, 1931.
I: Where were you born?
B: In Owyhee County, Idaho. That’s spelled, that’s an Indian name.
OWYHEE County, Idaho. That’s near Jordan Valley on the Oregon/Idaho line.
I: That’s an Indian name.
B: That’s Indian. I don’t know what it means. Probably beautiful country.
I: Tell me about your family when you were growing up.
B: Well, I grew up on a cattle ranch about five miles south of Jordan Valley. And my mother was born in East Europe. She was Austrian. And my father was an old cowboy whose ancestry goes back to the Neptune in 1622 that arrived in Charleston, South Carolina.
And his descendants served in the Revolutionary War, I mean ancestors, served in the Revolutionary War and were original founders of Tennessee, the City of Newport, then came to Missouri. And then in 1841 migrated to California. An old man of 62 brought his 12 grandchildren out to California.
I: How about your siblings?
B: My siblings, I have one in Reno who runs a computer store. He owns it. And I have another that’s in San Francisco. He manages an apartment for seniors. And I have a daughter and another son that I don’t keep much track of.
I don’t know where they are.
I: Oh. What school did you go through?
B: I attended, the first and second grade I walked 3 ½ miles to a little school with my older brother who was 18 months older than I through very cold weather sometimes and snow. And that was called the South Mountain School.
I: In Idaho?
B: In, right on the border of Oregon and Idaho, and it was called the South Mountain School.
And then my parents divorced, and we moved, I stayed with my father, and we moved to, in the area of, near Grant’s Pass, Oregon, called Murphey. And he bought a place called The Gray’s Creek Ranch. And we stayed there for three or four years, sold that, and then moved to Ashland, Oregon. And he married again, and I didn’t like the person he married. So, at 13 I moved out.
I: Oh really?
B: I ran away from home and went to Burns, Oregon where I understood I had relatives and family.
I: So, you just
B: I left. And when I got to Burns, I met my father out there, too, after a while. He was visiting his brother whose name was Joe Fine.
And I made an arrangement with my uncle that I would go to a boarding school there, and he could sign my report cards, and I would work on his ranch during the summer.
I: So, you worked with your uncle.
I: So, when did you graduate high school?
B: Nineteen forty-nine.
I: Um hm. What is the name of the high school?
B: Crane High School.
I: Could you spell it?
B: Crane. CRANE. It’s about 30 miles Southeast of Burns.
And it’s a boarding school.
I: In Idaho?
I: Did you learn anything about Korea?
B: I didn’t know where Korea was at the time. But I was interested in geography and history and migrations and origins of people. But I wasn’t knowledgeable at that time.
I: So, what did you do after graduation?
B: From high school, I worked on the ranch in the summer. And that Fall, I was persuaded by some of my friends and a Army recruiter to join the Army.
I: When did you join the Army?
B: September 22, 1949.
I: And where did you get the basic?
B: Fort Ord, California. I enlisted in Boise, Idaho. And then we, I was put in charge of the 200 recruits approximately to go on the train down to Fort Ord.
I: What was your specialty? Rifleman?
B: That’s kind of a long story. I went to basic; I went to the Army to learn to upgrade heavy equipment so I’d have a job when I got out like bulldozers and Caterpillars and heavy equipment. And when I joined the Army, there was a lot of new people there having difficulty adjusting.
And the new recruits were coming in, and on one occasion, the two companies, ours and another one were gonna fight for some reason. They were Hawaiians that wanted to attack our Hawaiians or something, a gang fight. And so, I said we’re not gonna do that. So, I walked personally down through the, between the two companies persuading them not to fight. If we fight, we will both be restricted the rest of the time we’re here. So go back to your barracks, no fighting.
And if you feel that you have to and you want to beat somebody up, walk the company area at the end of the street and I will come down and take you on one at a time. So, when I did that, only a few of them showed up, and I went down there. But then other guys came out and they said we’re not gonna see you get beat up. So anyway, that made everything evaporate. Nobody wanted to fight anybody. So that was over.
So, the next day, I was called into the Orderly Room by Captain Smith and a Master Sergeant Kopnik, and they asked me what the hell I was doing out in the Company street last night. And I said well, I was trying to stop a riot. And he said you were trying to get yourself killed. Well anyway, at that time, the captain said what are your plans in the Army? And I said I wanna learn a trade so I can get a job when I get out.
And he said well, we want you to go to Leadership school. You’re going to go to Leadership school. And if you don’t, I’ll blackball you the rest of the time you’re in the Army. So, I said well, let me talk to my friends. And so, we decided I ‘d better go to Leadership school, which I did. And when that happened, that gave me an MOS as Rifleman.
I: So, where was the Leadership school?
B: Fort Ord, Class A13.
I: Class A13.
I: And then, when did you leave for Korea?
B: Well, that’s another little, short story. But I was stationed at Camp Stoneman, impending departure to Korea. And I was visiting my mother who was living in San Francisco at the time,
I got home, I got to the Camp Stoneman late one night. It was about 12:30 – 1:00, and I had just gotten in bed and some person was going through the barracks stealing wallets, and African guy. And I saw him. So, I yelled. I said there’s a thief in here. And the person started out to run out the door and I only had my shorts on, but I chased him out and tackled him and held him down on the street till others came up and helped arrest him.
So, I had to stay then along, past my ship out date to appear as a witness for his arrest and incarceration for stealing. So on about the end of May sometime or the first of June, I’m not sure of the date, I was boarded on a two transport.
I: When, 1949?
B: Nineteen fifty.
B And in late May, sometime around the middle of May, it was on the ET Collins. That was the name of the ship. We boarded on Oakland and sailed out the bay heading for Okinawa. And that was an uncomfortable trip for me because I didn’t like bobbing around like a cork in the ocean. And it was pretty rough.
So, we arrived there at about, I think it was about the 12th of June.
I: Where, in Okinawa?
B: Okinawa, yes. And it was a little hard to get used to the mosquitos and the heat. After a while, I was out in the street boxing with a young man named Dailey, and it was a Sunday. And the bell rang, the whistle bell, and everybody was summoned in to attend a meeting.
And it was announced over the loudspeaker that a war had begun in Korea and that we were going to go in to immediate exercise in the field taking combat training and zeroing in our weapons and whatever else we had to do. So that
I: What was your unit at the time?
B: I was with the 29th Infantry Regiment.
And my Company Commander who was Alexander Macaronis, and I at one time was training as two with a person named James Yaeger and a couple of others who were bright, capable person by the way who was very helpful in helping people reading maps and interrogating prisoners.
So, we had these problems in training cycles that we’re going through in Okinawa.
I: Do you want water?
B: No thank you, not right now but pretty soon. Not long after, our Company Commander told us to write home. We’re gonna be shipping out. So, I changed clothes, put on a Class A uniform to write a letter home, and the Company Commander caught me with, not in my training, combat uniform.
So, he restricted me to the camp and made me get out of the S2 which probably saved my life or saved me from capture.
I: Tell the audience what does it mean by S2.
B: S2 is Intelligence. You’re leading the point in combat. You’re out scouting and patrolling and seeing what’s ahead of you.
I: Very dangerous mission.
B: Yes, it was. And James Yaeger and the buddy Tony and some others, they went ahead with that. And of course, I ran into Jim and Tony later on in combat, and that’s another story, kind of a sad one in a way because they got captured, and they saved my life when I went up to rescue a medic up on the hill in combat.
I: So, you knew that you were going to go to Korea, right?
B: I knew, no. At first, we were told that we were going to Japan to relieve the 24th Division who was going to be sent to Korea. So, we shipped out and got as far as Sasebo, and then they told us we were going to Korea.
I: So, were you scared?
I: You were not?
I: You were going to the war.
B: For some reason, I never had a lot of fear in my life of anything.
I: Oh. So, when did you arrive in Korea and where?
B: We arrived there approximately in Pusan about the 22nd of July as near as I can tell. On the route over, we encountered an enemy submarine.
And we heard depth charges going off and people on the boat panicked, and our ship started zig zagging.
I: What do you mean enemy submarine?
B: Well, the only way I can explain it it was just about getting sunset, and we heard boom, boom, boom, like the bottom of the ship was hitting rocks, and everybody was running around the boat not knowing what to do. They thought their ship was sinking. I said oh, they’re just dropping depth charges. Well, everybody went the other side, and sure enough there was a Canadian Corvette circling a smoke pot and dropping depth charges.
And they were flashing a red light at us. And we were told we had to move out. And parts of what seemed to be a submarine or a whale or something moved up out of the water, then dropped back down. And I was told later that that was a submarine. They sunk the submarine, probably Russian.
I: So, when you arrived in Pusan, how was the situation there? How did Korean people look at the time? How was it?
B: Well, my first impression when I landed there, we were marching up this kind of steep incline on dirt streets and older buildings. And there were many people lining the streets all dressed in white clothes and a lot of young people. And they were applauding us.
And I just thought it was kind of strange. And I couldn’t communicate with them which is not like me not to communicate with somebody. So, we marched up to the top of a hill where there was this schoolhouse, and we disembarked and took showers and changed our clothes. And then that night, we boarded the train or trucks, I forget. I’m a little confused about that, whether it was a train or truck.
But we left to a place called Chinju. And some of us probably went in trucks, and some went in trains. That’s why I’m a little confused. But I enjoyed a good nap. So probably what I did is fall asleep.
I: Maybe it was a train.
B: Okay, it probably was.
B: Right. So, we disembarked when we got to Chinju and marched away to a schoolhouse.
And when we were there, as we were approaching, we saw many wounded people. And I believe it was the 19thRegiment or the 24th Division. And they were, some of them were pretty bloodied up, shot up and wounded. And they looked pretty scared. And I said don’t worry, you guys. We’re gonna win the war for you. And I had no idea at the time what that was going to lead to.
B: So, after getting ourselves organized, we went out on a couple of patrols. One I specifically remember. I was issued a sniper rifle, thank you. I like being a sole survivor I guess where I can reach out long distances and see what’s going on.
So, we were taken out to a place, I believe it was southwest of Chinju by truck, and we were past a sharp bend in the road, and we saw that at least one of our vehicles down in the canyon had been wrecked, and I couldn’t tell if it was shot up or not. But it was alleged that it had been ambushed by guerillas. And so, we were going to go out and find or do something about the guerillas.
I took a position high up on a hill to observe what was going on and I saw an unusual number of people dressed in white clothes which I thought were farmers moving through the rice paddies below and around and heading toward Chinju generally. And our guys were splashing around in the creeks, swimming, and not paying much attention.
And pretty soon we were told to board up the trucks and get back. So, we left there. And I was a little concerned about the migration of white clothes coming in and around our area. I didn’t know what was going on for sure. So, we got back to Chinju. And later that night I believe which would have been maybe the 20, I don’t know what date it would be,
But we boarded up trucks again and headed out for Hadong. I had no idea the name of the town.
B: Yes. So, we went from Chinju to Hadong. And we were disembarked out there after riding in trucks maybe 20 miles or 25 miles. There was road problems and so forth. And we bivouacked out there, slept over the night. And early in the morning, we had a patrol out.
And Jim Yeager and Tony and some others were in that patrol. And when they came back, they woke everybody up. And our Commander, Colonel Mott gave us a speech. We’re gathering up. Our objective is to occupy this town that was currently occupied by 300 guerillas armed with pitchforks and knives.
And sometime, I don’t know whether it was before or after that, we ran into several truckloads of pretty badly shot up Korean militia, South Koreans. And I understood that there had been a problem that they had, but I didn’t know what kind of a problem because I wasn’t conversant in the language, and I wasn’t briefed being a Private.
So, then we continued on, and we started marching from that point on. We weren’t in trucks anymore. We were marching. And we had two columns extending probably a mile and a half to two miles, one column on either side of the road about 10 steps apart. And I was in Reserve Company. That was I Company. So, we were bringing up the rear, and that was Lieutenant Alexander Macronis was in charge.
So, it was about a little after eight, maybe quarter till nine and we were probably a couple miles east of Chinju on a windy road, and all of a sudden, I could hear fires, exploding shells and machine gun fire and rifle fire and so forth. So, we knew that there was some kind of contact ahead, and we didn’t know what to expect.
So, we arrived on the scene probably 30 minutes later. We were coming up a windy hill and coming over the crest of the hill, I can see the pass about a half a mile ahead, going down into Chinju, I’m sorry, down into Hadong. And the road wound through down to the right and then went across a rice paddy then along the foot of a hill that we’ll call the North Mountain or North Hill which the Koreans, the North Koreans were entrenched on and ready for us then up the road further about another 3, 4, 500 yards up through a pass that led down to Chinju.
So, when I came around the hill, I saw three burning vehicles. One at the pass and two more about three to five hundred yards down the road toward our direction burning. And I also saw another one burning that I got distracted from for a moment. But it turned out to be an orange-colored jeep that was our air to ground jeep that was burning on the corner of the road and not far from where General Chase monument is.
Then about as we were continuing down the hill, we received mortar fire on the hill that we had just come the back of us. We’d seen maybe eight or 10 or 12, we saw a couple of salvos about five rounds each of mortar rounds, and they landed a little above us. But they wounded two squad members in my unit.
And they were pretty badly wounded, and they were screaming. So, I laid my rifle down and ran down to help them to get them off the road and do what I could. When I got down there, I saw one of (INAUDIBLE) was blown out, and his stomach was, his guts were showing. And the other had a shoulder and chest wound. And they were screaming loudly, and I didn’t know what to do, and the Company Commander told me to get back to my position and let the medics handle it.
Well, you know, it’s hard to not be able to help somebody. But I could see if I moved them, I would hurt them more. So, I went back to the position. The medics came over and picked them up and put them on stretchers and loaded them on a lorry.
I: Was that around August?
B: No, I’m sorry. This was July 27th. July 27th. I’m glad you asked.
This was about, it started, the firing started I’d see about 8:45 in the morning that we could hear, 8:30, 8:45, something like that.
I: You still belonged to 27th Infantry?
B: At that time, I was in the 29th Infantry. And this is kind of a blow-by-blow account as I recall it. When we left Chinju, it took us a day to get from Chinju or so up to where we were at Hadong. We spent at least one night on the road.
I think it was one night. The next morning, on the 26th we camped out and the 27th we went in to take Hadong.
I: Wow, you have such a vivid memory.
B: I sleep with it every night. And I wake up with it every morning. I used to wake up about 2:30 in the morning, same old thing, carrying grenades and rifles going up a hill, the same hill trying to rescue a medic and all these Koreans shooting at me and I’m shooting at them and Jim and Tony shooting at them, too and kind of bedlam.
So, I’d wake up and try to figure out
I: Do you have PTSD?
B: Yeah, very bad case of it, and I didn’t know it. Here’s another sad story if I can. When I came back, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. When I got back to Japan, I used to walk the streets till I was so tired I’d drop just looking for somebody that shared my experience with me. And I didn’t know why I did that.
So, when I came back home, I thought well, I wanna go to school. I wanna stop wars, do something different. I’m gonna go to Law school or whatever I’m qualified for. I took a bunch of tests through the Veteran’s Administration. And their comment was to me you must have had a terrible childhood and I said why. They said you’re angry, you have very low self-esteem, you’re very aggressive, you’re suicidal, you’re all this and that, you know.
Just like you’re a time bomb ready to go off. And I said no, I had a very happy childhood. Why would you even think that? And I said I had all the range and open space I wanted to roam around in. I was very happy. I had brothers and sisters and good parents and no, I was happy. So, I said the only thing that happened that was really upsetting in my life is going to war in Korea and seeing all my friends killed, and I feel real guilty about it.
I felt that I could have or should have done something more. When I tried to go back and help, I gave, I told out of my group that I was taken out, where and what to do and I had to go back, and they restrained me, and I felt guilty about it. Then another time I felt that when I held a guy till he died, when he was dying he said tell mom and dad I’ll be alright, that I love them. And he died, and I didn’t know who he was.
I didn’t go back to see him.
I: Where did you go from Chinju?
B: I went from Hadong to Chinju. And from Chinju we were taken out again southwest of Chinju to a new position by Captain Barsitz, 19th Regiment.
I: Then from where?
B: Well, then we got chased off that hill and back to Chinju. And after Chinju fell is when I left there.
I: So, from Chinju, where did you go?
B: I got on a train, I was loaded on a train, I was helping wounded out of the schoolhouse onto the train, and the train left Chinju. And the last thing I remember is fighting for my rifle with somebody that was trying to take it away from me and I was lying on a stretcher. I believe I was in Pusan.
And it might have been a nurse or somebody. Next thing I remember is I heard a loud, strange noise, and I didn’t know what it was, and I shot bolt upright and looked around and I saw this big round hole in the wall. And everything was white where I was. And I looked out the window and I saw this beautiful green grass on the hill.
And I said where am I, in Heaven? Where’s mom and dad? And they said, no, you’re on a ship, and you’re going to Japan.
I: So, you were in the hospital ship?
I: Were you wounded?
B: I was wounded. I had my eye; I couldn’t see out of it. I had black spots moving around. And my right ankle was very badly sprained. I could hardly walk on it.
But when we left that hill position, the reason I’m talking about Whitey here, we were put on this position, and I had my sniper rifle. I went way out in front of the position in the afternoon. I saw movement out there, and there were Koreans unloading some of them with our captured equipment, some of it there were unloading to prepare an attack on us.
So, and then somebody came out to get me and I said you tell them to send an air strike out here in this area and hurry up because there’s thousands of Koreans and a lot of equipment out here. About an hour and a half later, 14 Corsairs flew in from I’d say the south or southwest and attacked that area. Then a lone P51 Mustang flew over me gliding right down.
I thought he was gonna shoot me. So, I swung on him. But I was motioning go over there, and he drifted off and wagged his wings and went down where the Corsairs were. I spent about two weeks in the hospital there.
I: Uh huh. And did you get any medal?
B: No, are you kidding? The person that told me I was getting a medal was the wounded Corporal. He said I’m putting you in for a Medal of Honor or something, I don’t know.
Just a medal. So, some Colonel woke me up. I was in a dead sleep. I hadn’t had any sleep-in days. He woke me from a dead sleep. How did you get hurt? And I said I was bringing a prisoner in, bringing a messenger back to his CP, and I found a Korean who lived in that area, and he was drawing maps of our position and he had red money on him which is, I guess, Korean money, and I was taking him down to the CP to be debriefed and we got mortars.
And I sprained my ankle. I was trying to say I was bringing a messenger in; he was a Korean messenger in my opinion, and he was drawing maps and being a courier. So anyway, they put that I was a Company runner. I’m not a Company, never was.
I: So, you went to Camp Drake.
B: Yes. And then I spent two or three weeks there.
I: Uh huh.
B: Processing troops.
B: And then they wanted me in the Headquarters in Japan in (INAUDIBLE) command.
B: So, they reassigned me to the Headquarters. And I couldn’t get paid, so I’d use ration cards to go out and buy cigarettes and sell them.
I: What do you mean you were not paid?
B: Well, I couldn’t find out where my records were. The military wasn’t paying me. I didn’t know what to say. So
I: How did it happen? You were still in the U.S. Army, right.
B: Yes, right. But I didn’t know, here’s the rest of the story. I was reading, I got a security clearance from back home. I could work in a secret cage and handle secret documents and everything. But I didn’t know I was reported missing in action. And I would read the casualty reports. And one day I saw my name on the casualty list, and it said gravy. So, I
I: When did you read that?
B: October 1950. So, I looked up the code name for gravy, and I said hey, Colonel. This is why I’m not getting paid. And he said oh, you’re missing in action. We had a laugh about it. And then not long after that, one of my platoon leaders came into Headquarters. He was a courier then, and we kept looking at each other. And he finally says you’re the guy that flung me out of the rice paddy.
And I did. I grabbed him by the collar and pulled him into the bamboo thicket when he got shot. And he didn’t get just stunned. His name was Clyde Four. He was a First Lieutenant. So, he remembered that. And I said if I’d known you were an officer, I’d have left you there, just joking. So, he went around to all the Colonels introducing me as a big hero or something. I said I’m not a hero and all that.
But anyway, he was really nice, and we became friends. And afterward we hooked up after the War and I was so glad to see him alive.
I: So, when did you leave Japan?
B: I left there about the first part of December 1950.
I: And you came back to the States?
B: San Francisco.
And I was discharged on the 22nd of December 1952.
B: Yeah, 22nd of December 1952. And I don’t remember, I think it was Camp Stoneman.
I: Okay. Wow, this is the kind of scenario that we can make a movie out of, huh?
B: I’m telling you.
If you, now let me tell you a little about Whitey. This is so important. People I run into that I thought were killed, I ran into Dawson who helped carry that guy up over the hill. He was shot through the throat, a real hero. I ran into Jim Yeager after years. And then talking to him on the phone, by calling him up, I also read a story that he was involved in. I called him up and asked him if he knew Baldwin Frank Myers and he said yeah, I knew him. I said what happened to him?
He said the damn fool got himself killed. And he said, I said how did it happen? He said he came running across the rice paddy up to where I was, I told him to take care, take cover, that we were pulling back. He said they started, he saw people getting killed so he started crying and he said I’m gonna go up and get the sons of bitches. He took off screaming and yelling and throwing grenades and everything. He said I tried to cover him, but I saw him get hit and go down at the top of the hill.
So, I said well, how’d you like to talk to him? He said what? You couldn’t be Baldy. I said yeah. He said you couldn’t be. I saw you get hit and go down. I said no, you saw me go down so I wouldn’t get hit, and you were coming up yelling trying to survive. And he says Jesus Christ. So, we sat there and blubbered, cried, for about a half hour. And then we decided to get together. And then he told me where my company commander was and how he got out and this Lieutenant I was telling you about, how he got out.
And we had, we got together again. And by then, I was so concerned about the survival of the others I let my business go to hell. I let my family go to hell. I lost about everything just to focus on what happened over there. And that’s when I learned that I had a real problem with PTSD, and it was obsessing me.
So, I don’t wanna say that I was horribly distracted. I couldn’t hold a job when I got out. So, I thought the only thing I could do after trying Law School, I couldn’t pay attention too well. And I didn’t like it. I wanted to build something. So, I decided, I made a list of 10 things I should do. And I narrowed it down to one, is to build new homes in Marin County. So, I went out and started a construction company. And I was successful at it fortunately. And I really enjoyed doing the work.
And I was fortunate enough to get two Japanese carpenters that I could trust implicitly, and they did an excellent job in training me. So, I became successful in the construction and real estate business. I didn’t really pay much attention to my state of mind and how I really felt except when I started, the Viet Nam War awakened little memories and then running into the veterans that I had served with.
It kind of caused me to fall apart, and I felt obsessed to reunite the people. So, I started a Korean War Veterans, a Korean Service Veterans of America, the first one in the country, in California in 1984. And I didn’t have enough assets in time and things to carry it through. But General Baskin approached me with financial support.
But I didn’t want to take it. I didn’t want to do it. I wanted to do it on my own. So, some other people took it on and started it back in Washington. They called it the Korean War Veterans. And General Singla who was my honorary chairman, President and Chairman for the Veterans, and Colonel Lewis Millet, the Chairman with the Medal of Honor Society and Jim Yaeger were also directors on it.
And so, we were ready to go. But I just
I: What did you form, Korean Service Veterans?
B: Korean Service Veterans of America.
I: Meaning that’s U.S. Forces stationed in Korea after the War?
B: No. It was, what I was trying to do, it was the United Nations adventure. So I wanted to start it for America then incorporate all the others who served so we could have reunions international reunions, with all the people that served.
I: Why did you name it as Korean War Service Veterans? There is a Korean War Veterans Association, right?
B: That’s afterward. The reason us service veterans is we performed services, nobody wanted to call it a war. That was one. I got criticized because I wanted to use it as I say war veterans. They said no, call it Korean Service Veterans.
It hasn’t been called a war. The politicians were speaking. So, I let it go at that because what I wanted to do was have the Greeks and the Turks and the English and the Canadiens and New Zealanders and Australians and everybody else come and join us.
I: That’s what my foundation is doing, inviting Youth Corp, but descendants of the Korean War veterans from 21 countries.
B: Good. That’s what.
I: To Washington, D.C.
B: That’s what I was trying to do, good. I’m really glad you’re doing that. Thank you so much for that. That means a lot because I used to talk to Greeks and Turks and when they pulled their bayonets out, they’d always draw blood. And I said why do you do that? Because they don’t put them back in the scabbard without blood.
I: But did you see them doing that?
B: Right in front of me, in Yokohama. I asked them.
I: In Yokohama.
B: Yeah. I would ask them.
I: They were doing that in Yokohama too?
I: In the hospital?
B: No. When I was out I the street, you know. I’d go to the library, and I’d see them on the street and I’d say can I see your knife, you know, their bayonet or something. They’d whip it out, why did you do that?
I: So Turkish soldiers were in Yokohama?
B: Yes. Greeks. I saw a lot of different nationalities there.
I: They were back in Japan because they were wounded or why? Why were they there?
B: I don’t know, maybe R and R, you know. We were all together.
I: I see.
I: R and R.
B: There was a very strong sense of unity and purpose and a lot of respect. I really respected the Greeks and Turks for how the North Koreans didn’t want to fight with them.
I: When did you learn that you have PTSD?
B: When I think, two Colonels told me I had a very bad case of it. And I think Jim Yaeger told me. But Colonels, Lewis Millet was one, and he had it, too. He led a bayonet charge in Korea and got the Medal of Honor. Another was Adam Hussar, the Colonel. He was in Special Forces in Viet Nam.
He said I need to go to the VA to get help. I said they don’t do anything. They don’t. So
I: When did you learn that?
B: I learned that I guess, I think it was about ’96, somewhere in there because my life was collapsing, divorce, bankruptcy. I just couldn’t think. And I was angry, very angry.
I: Have you been back to Korea?
I: When did you go?
B: The last time was that about 2001, Clair? About 2001.
I: What did you find? You been to Chinju, Hadong and Pusan?
B: Absolutely, yes. When I’d go to Chinju, the people, I wear the little badge, they’d drag me in their house, give me tea and biscuits and (INAUDIBLE) They’re just so nice.
I felt like a king in Korea. They’re always saying thank you, and they’re so nice. When I went back to Hadong, I stayed in the Sheila Hotel there and talked to the people. And the Mayor wanted me to have dinner with him. But I didn’t want to do that. I just wanted to go back to the old battle site and see. So, when I was there, I got a taxi ride from this person that I wanted to tell you about.
Who told me about when he was 13 years old, he picked up a couple of Americans and took them to his village and clothed them and showed them how to get out. And I remember them coming back to our lines. I didn’t go to Pusan the last time.
I: But did you see Pusan last time?
I: No. Where were you?
B: I went up to Seoul and took,
I don’t know if I took a train or a dab or hired somebody, I think to drive me down to Hadong and around there.
I: So, when did you see Hadong? What did you feel?
B: I felt very sensitive, very keenly sensitive like there were spirits all over the place. And I missed the firing. And it was very strange. It was like wow, eerie.
And after a while, I started remembering specific things, kind of traumatizing in a way. But sad.
I: So, you never belonged to 24th Division?
B: I’m told, and I don’t know. I didn’t know where I was to be honest with you.
I: Um hm.
B: I didn’t follow all that. I didn’t even know that the town we were in was Hadong. I didn’t know it as Chinju.
I just, I was there. I found out later. But I didn’t know.
I: So, you were not in 24th Division, right?
B: I was, we were attached to the 24th Division. From what I heard, and I heard it again, that we were attached to the 24th Division through the 19th Regiment.
I: I see.
B: And Captain Barsits was the last commanding officer that I knew about that I knew about his name. But I couldn’t pronounce it.
And I could describe him even though it was a little bit rainy and shells bursting and fires going off and everything. He was a chubby little Polack.
I: What is Korea to you now? You didn’t know anything about Korea when you left for Korea, right?
I: And when you left Korea, the area that you were there, Hadong and Chinju were completely destroyed.
B: Just about.
I didn’t go in downtown Hadong when I left there. And since I’ve been back there, I looked at the area that had been bombed, and I’ve been back there with Jim Yaeger and he showed me where the church was that he was in when it was bombed.
I: So, what is Korea to you now?
B: Very close friend. I have very warm feelings toward Korea and the Korean people. I really love them. They’re just good people. And I’m proud that I was able to serve and help them. I’m very proud. And I gave a little speech at Caesar’s Palace when they had those people there. And that came out. I just said one of the proudest things I’ve ever done was wo serve in Korea.
I: Um hm.
B: And the reason I’m proud is look what they’ve done with freedom. They’re our strongest ally over there. And they helped us in Viet Nam. So that’s, and that’s how I feel.
I: Um hm.
B: And I always hear thank yous from the Korean people. I have a whole lot of newspaper clippings, but it’s in Korean. I don’t read Korean. So anyway, I have very good feelings about it. And I really enjoyed going back to visit there.
I: Almost a week’s story from July 22 to about early August.
I: Very short time of period.
I: And you did all this battle there, right, even in charge of 125 people there.
I: It’s an amazing story.
B: Well, you know, there’s another story that I did miss that I feel obligated to tell it. When I was wounded, I was going down to the CP, and I was taking this so-called prisoner, and I just pushed him off the bank.
He probably survived. And I went on down to the dispensary. They put me in the dispensary and left me there. And the dispensary was overrun that night by North Koreans. And I couldn’t find my weapon. I found, somebody left a carbine there that had two 30-round clips taped back to back. And the Koreans were running through the courtyards and explosions going off. This was just before Chinju fell, and this was a couple of miles north of Chinju in this little place by a river.
I can remember rock out cropping you know exactly where that is. So anyway, I had to fight my way out of there. And they were running through the courtyard. Then I ran out, and I had a very painful ankle, and I fell, and I hit the road. And then I could hear American voices down the road. So, I followed down the road and ran into more Americans and ambulances.
And I went to a schoolhouse and helped load people up and get them out of there, wounded. Then I think Chinju fell the next day or so.
I: What is the legacy of the Korean War and the Korean War veterans to you?
B: The legacy is I hope that Korea and the Korean people can be united and not hate each other and that they,
What really got me is being over there when they had, bringing families together. That really sort of made me cry to see it. I just wanted to see them together. I don’t think any country or any culture should be torn apart. It should be together. And that’s what it means to me to see them back together again. It’s like a big family.
Same way with Germany. I’m glad to see they’re again together. And I think we’ve got to stop wars. We got to stop this hate and bullshit and religious fratricide and all that. I think we should have peace in the Middle East and Palestine and that these rich people would give something to those poor Palestinians. Give them a homeland. I think that all this warfare could stop.
I: What would you do if I arranged a meeting with a North Korean soldier who was fighting against you at the time?
B: I would probably tell him, I met one already. I’ll give you his name. He’s written a book, and we’re friends.
I: North Korean I’m talking about.
B: North Korean. Yes, this is a North Korean. What’s his name? Donald All. He’s written a book about it. He surrounded at Pyongyang. And he didn’t know how to surrender.
They told him how, you know. Then he worked for the American government afterward for a while. He was a medical student I believe when he was captured. But what I would say is I hope that we can see Korea
B: Absolutely. And you know how I got over my PTSD? I was so preoccupied with our MIAs and POWs over there,
I used to, I had a dream about it. And I had a dream that I was going to meet a North Korean officer up there outside the palace on a certain position or something like that. And he was going to show me where our MIAs and POWs were. So, I went through all kinds of hell to get to it, and we went out, and he took me out in the back on a mountain where there was a kind of a rim rock and trees and gravestones.
And he said here they are, 27 of them or something like that. Since that time, I haven’t had any nightmares about them being left there anymore. What happened to me, and I pretty much, it was called In Mortal Combat is the name of the book. And there’s four books, that was me when I was 19.
And you know, I told you I’d been looking for that medic for 45 years?
I: Um hm.
B: The person that wrote this book is Harold Gamble. He was a medic. He introduced me at a reunion to Jack Cotton. And he was the medic.
I: Um hm.
B: That picked up those two people off the road,
And this is what he says here. And this Larry Laird is the person that knows who that wounded guy was I held till he died. I met him on the trail, but I didn’t talk to him, and I didn’t remember. But he was the guy. And this is, the medic was left alone on the side of a hill carrying four wounded and dying soldiers by himself.
Private Frank Myers came to Jack and alerted him that it was time to get out. Jack stayed there alone treating the wounded until the very last. Jack was finally able to make it back to American lines after several days. During the battle, Frank Myers took command of a group of survivors and did a commendable job. He, like several others, had completed an Advanced Infantry course.
And on this occasion, as in every battle, there are many who should have been decorated for their bravery. But it didn’t happen. Then he talks about Jim Yaeger who is the guy that was helping me.
B: And that’s in a book called Korea, I was there.
I: You were there in Hadong, Chinju for a week. And that was a really critical battle because if you didn’t resist there, we might have been really pushed back to the ocean through Pusan.
So, I really appreciate that you are sharing this story with me and my foundation. And we are going to remember what you did for the Korean people. And now Korea is the 13th largest economy in the world with the size of Indiana. We are the most substantive democracy in Asia. And you know Samsung, Hyundai, Lucky, LG everywhere.
B: Yes, right.
I: We were not able to do it if you didn’t fight for us. So, I wanna thank you. And I would like to follow up with you about what you did. And I think we need to recognize you somehow. So that’s why I want to get some records from you. And I want to talk to my government about it, okay?
B: Well, I, all the thanks I’ve gotten from the people, and when I see them in Las Vegas, that’s enough. I don’t need anything else. But I really appreciate it, and my heart goes out to the Korean people.
I would love to see them reunited and see their families together. And I want you to personally to know that, Clair, what’s her name? She remembers names
Female Voice: Sang, she was from North Korea.
B: Yeah, at Hungnam. Beautiful people. And
Female Voice: She was 13, and she came on a boat.
I: Frank, I wanna thank you for this wonderful opportunity. And we will correspond with each other after this, okay?
B: Thank you. I appreciate that.
I: Thank you so much again.
B: (INAUDIBLE) to you, too. Thank you.
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