Korean War Legacy Project

Belisario Flores


Belisario Flores was born on July 22, 1926 in Eagle Pass, Texas. He graduated from San Antonio Vocational and Technical School in 1944. He volunteered for military service in the Enlisted Reserves Corps (ERC). He was called to Active Duty in January 1945 and was given an honorable discharge in August of 1946. He used the GI Bill to further his education and graduated in 1950 from St. Mary’s University with a degree in Business Administration. He was recalled to Active Duty on June 8, 1951. His tour lasted from June 1951 to March 1953, and he earned a Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in ground operations against the enemy. He was awarded the Korean Service Medal with two battle stars. He went back to Texas after the war and joined the Army Reserves. In 1959 he was given the position of GS-12 Air Technician. He was also awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1974, was the first Hispanic to be promoted to the Air Force of Texas, and was one of only eight Hispanics in the entire United States to be promoted to General Officer.

Video Clips

My Brother Joe

Belisario Flores speaks about his brother, Joe. He shares that his brother suffered from physical and mental complications as a result of being in the Korean War. He acknowledges neither of them had ever heard of Korea before the war started.

Tags: Depression,Front lines,Prior knowledge of Korea

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"We Had Our Mission, They Had Theirs"

Belisario Flores describes the Chinese as good fighters, and he really had nothing against them. He adds that he did not have anything against the North Koreans either. All he knew was that he was fighting against communism. He describes the Colombian Infantry Battalion of which he was one of the leaders because he spoke Spanish.

Tags: Chinese,Front lines,North Koreans

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Awards Received

Belisario Flores discusses his Bronze Star Medal and other awards. He explains each briefly and showcases them.

Tags: Pride

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"Until You Are There, You Don't Understand"

Belisario Flores discusses his brother's letters and the great loss of friends in Korea. He notes that his brother came back a changed man. He shares he was emotional about one particular death and avoided talking about Korea for many years; It would stay with him forever.

Tags: Depression,Letters

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Economy in Korea Today and Closing Thoughts

Belisario Flores says the time he spent in the war and the tremendous success of Korea today gives him great satisfaction. He feels he played a "little bitty" part in the recovery of South Korea. He is very proud and wants young people to know that freedom is not free. He emphasizes one has to fight and stand up for what he/she believes in.

Tags: Impressions of Korea,Message to Students,Pride

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


B:        Good afternoon.  My name is Belisario De Jesus Flores.  And I’m known as Bel.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Or just Bill, either way. I was born in Eagle Pass, Texas.

I:          Um hm.

B:        In 1926.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And moved to

I:          When is the birthday?

B:        July 22.

I:          July



B:        Twenty-two

I:          Um hm

B:        Nineteen twenty-six.

I:          Can you speak up a little bit more?

B:        July 22, 1926.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And I came to San Antonio with my family in 1931.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And I went to school here in San Antonio.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And then I went to the public schools, went to high school, then I went into the Army in 1945.

I:          Nineteen forty-five.



B:        That’s World War II.

I:          Do you remember the month?
B:        January the 10th, 1945.

I:          Did you enlist or?
B:        I volunteered.

I:          You volunteered.

B:        I volunteered to go into the service.

I:          Um hm.

B:        It was the tail end of the War.  And so, I did not go overseas. I spent all of my time here in the States going to one school or another.



And the War ended.

I:          So, what high school did you graduate?

B:        What what?
I:          High school.

B:        San Antonio Vocational and Technical School.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Better known as Fox Tech, FOX.

I:          Um hm

B:        TECH.  Fox Tech.  I graduated from high school in 1944.

I:          Forty-four.

B:        Nineteen forty-four.

I:          Um.

B:        And then I volunteered for the service right after high school.



But I was not  called in until 1945.

I:          Um hm

B:        At the tail end of World War II.

I:          Yeah.

B:        When I was discharged from active duty in World War II, it was August 8, 1946.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And coming home, I took advantage of the government’s GI program.

I:          Yeah.

B:        And so, I went to college.

I:          Um hm.



B:        In 1950, I graduated, and I got a commission in the ROTC program.

I:          What university did you graduate?
B:        St. Mary’s University.

I:          St. Mary’s University.  And what did you  study?
B:        I majored in Business.  I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Nineteen fifty.  Had a commission as a Second Lieutenant Artillery.

I:          Um hm.



B:        And that was at the beginning, that’s when the War started.

I:          Korean War.

B:        Yeah.  And so soon thereafter graduation, I was called to go into the service again.  Inf act, my whole class from St. Mary’s University

I:          Um hm.

B:        Graduated as, we were artillery officers.

I:          Um hm.
B:        So, most of us, as I recall, wound up in Korea.



I:          All of them?

B:        Just about.

I:          How many?
B:        Well, I don’t recall, the class I think, there must have been about 20.

I:          Twenty?

B:        About 20.  I don’t recall the exact number.  But a lot of us went over to Korea.  In fact, there are, I knew a lot of them.  One of them lived here, Lieutenant Martinez, I mean Colonel Martinez.  But he passed away last year.

I:          Okay.  Let’s stop, before you give me the details,



I want to ask you about St. Mary’s University. Is that military school?

B:        No.

I:          So, you were in the ROTC then?
B:        Yes.  They have an ROTC program.

I:          Uh huh.  So, tell me about that ROTC program.  How long were you there, and what kind of training did you get?

B:        I started the University, I enrolled in the University in 1949, 1948.



I:          Um hm.

B:        And I was interested in business.  So that’s why I studied business.  But they had this program, ROTC program.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And now I had been a cadet in high school.

I:          Uh huh.
B:        But high school also had an ROTC program.  And then I was a veteran already from World War II.  So, I had an interest in the military.



I:          But you didn’t go to any other country.  But you were here during the War.

B:        During World War II, no.  I stayed here in the States.

I:          Okay.

B:        But with my military experience in World War II and my ROTC training in high school, I made very good grades with my ROTC program, and I graduated as a Second Lieutenant.

I:          Yeah.

B:        And got my commission.  And then in,



I had my orders to report for active duty in June no May of 1952.

I:          Um.

B:        I beg your pardon, 1951.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Nineteen fifty-one.  I was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana for basic training and artillery.

I:          Um hm.



B:        From there, I was assigned to the, what they called the Basic Officers Course in artillery, military training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

I:          Um hm.

B:        I graduated from that school; I think it was February of 1952.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And had orders to report to Korea to the Far East they called it.



Far East.

I:          Um hm.
B:        And I was on my way in May of 1952.  I got to Korea in, I think, the latter part of May of 1952.  And I joined the 7th Infantry Division in Korea, I think it was on the second of June of 1952.



I:          Second of June 1952.  So, you joined the 7th Infantry.

B:        Yes, 7th Infantry.

I:          Before, all of your classmates from St. Mary’s University went to Korea.

B:        Yeah, they went to different

I:          Yeah, I know.  But what did they talk about being in Korea, being dispatched to Korea?  Weren’t they afraid?  Were you not afraid at this time/



B:        Afraid?

I:          Yeah.
B:        Well, we didn’t know what we were gonna get into, you know.

I:          But it’s a war, you know.

B:        We knew.  Doing the training Stateside and being exposed to canon fire and to rifle fire, if you had the training, it’s not the same as being in combat when they’re actually shooting at you.  It’s different.

I:          Right.  So, you were not afraid?

B:        Well, I think we were concerned.



I don’t recall that we were afraid.  We were afraid when we started getting all those shells in.  (INAUDIBLE)  But we used to get a lot of them.

I:          Did you know anything about Korea before

B:        Never heard of Korea.  I didn’t even know where Korea was really.  We had read about it because the War had started in 1950.  Now, if you look up there, there’s a picture of my brother up there.

I:          Yeah.



B:        Now he was with the 5th Marines.  He was there in 1950 when the War started.

I:          What is your brother’s name?
B:        Joe E. Flores.

I:          JOE

B:        His middle initial is E.

I:          E.  And

B:        E as in easy.

I:          And last name is Flores.  And he was what?

B:        He was with the 5th Marines.  And he went all the way up to the Yalu.

I:          Wow.



B:        Now he passed away about six years ago.

I:          Yeah.  When did he leave for Korea?  Do you know?

B:          Yeah.  He left, well the War had started in 1950 I believe.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And so, he got there somewhere in the Fall of 1950.

I:          Um.
B:        And he came back in late ’51.  He spent over a year in Korea.



I:          Wow.
B:        He spent some pretty hard combat.  He had experience with real hand-to-hand combat.

I:          Wow.  Even hand-to-hand combat?  He survived.

B:        He survived.

I:          What did he tell you about his service in the War?

B:        We talked very little about, you know, he had some very, very emotional because he had some very close friends that died in his arms.




I:          Oh.

B:        They stepped on land mines.  They got ambushed. They were overrun.  And he had to resort to fighting hand-to-hand with bayonets.

I:          Did he receive any medals?
B:        No.  He was an Infantryman, and he received several decorations for Infantry but not,



He wasn’t wounded.  He didn’t receive any other medals other than he served over a year in Korea.

I:          Hm.  So, your brothers were in Korea?

B:        Hm?
I:          Your brothers, you know, were in

B:        It was just my brother and myself.

I:          Right.

B:        But both of us were in Korea.
I:          Yeah.  Wow. So, did you take the troop ship to get into Korea?


B:        No, we flew from Camp Stoneman, California

I:          Um hm.

B:        And we went on, I can’t recall the name of the air line. But we went through, we landed at Wake Island.  Then we went to, no, we went to Hawaii and landed in Wake Island.



And from there, we went onto Japan.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And there we processed.  Then we took a troop ship and landed in Inchon.

I:          Um.

B:        And then we went by truck in a convoy until we got to our units and the front lines.  We went directly to the front lines.

I:          Do you remember where you were in the front lines?
B:        Kuwon.

I:          Kuwon.



What was the situation at the time that you arrived in Kuwon?  Who were the enemy, and how intensive a battle?  Was it an everyday battle?

B:        Yeah, we went on patrols just about every day, not every day, myself but our unit went on patrols every day.  We continually had an exchange of artillery fire.



I lost a jeep.  I had two bunkers cave in from artillery fire on us.  I had several of my very good friends, they were killed by shrapnel, by exploding shells.  The one big battle that I recall was Triangle Hill.



I:          Um.
B:        That was October 17, 1952

I:          October

B:        Seventeen

I:          Um hm. ’52.

B:        Nineteen fifty-two.  There it is right there.  You can see that package.

I:          Okay.  And?

B:        It’s in the computer.

I:          Describe what happened at the time.

B:        Well, there was, the Communist Forces and the



United Nations Forces, they were trying to negotiate a peace.  Now the mostly Chinese and the American Forces, they were trying to exact as much territory.

I:          Yeah.

B:        And float as much tactical as they could.  So, we got the word to take a hill that was in front of us, 598.



It was a triangle.

I:          598?

B:        Uh huh.  It was 598.  Then when we went into a one week’s or 10 days of preparation.

I:          Um hm.

B:        To assault the hill.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And my observation post, I was a forward observer, I was one of three that were out in front of Triangle Hill.



And my mission was to direct fire at the enemy positions wherever it was possible. Sometimes it was not possible because the, I think it was the 25th Regiment, I’ve got it down on that document, made the initial assault.



And they were part of a hill that I vaguely remember the names. It was Sandy, it was Jane Russell, and of course Triangle Hill.  And the fighting became very intense.  And then two particular days,



I had the mission of direct fire into enemy positions.

I:          That’s the 598 Hill.
B:        Yeah.  Well 598 and the hill that was adjacent to 598.

I:          Who occupied that hill, Chinese or North Koreans?

B:        The Chinese had it and the North Koreans.

I:          Um hm.

B:        We dislodged, we took the hill I think on the 20th or 24th of October around that time.  Then we lost it.



We lost it.  And the Chinese kept the hill.

I:          Um.
B:        We suffered some 300 casualties.

I:          Three hundred?

B:        Hm?

I:          Three hundred?

B:        Three hundred or some.  Actually, there were 1,600.  But of those 1,600, 300 and some, 320 something were killed.  And the rest were wounded.



I:          I mean, looking back from now, the fight to get a hill and you losing so many people, what do you think about that?
B:        It was absolutely ridiculous.  I mean, we didn’t get it or anything.  It was just a hill.

I:          Right.
B:        But we were ordered to take it because it would give us more  territory in negotiating the peace process.  But we didn’t take it.



I:          Would you do the same thing if you were ordered to do so?

B:        Hm?
I:          Would you do the same thing, fight against this one small hill, if you are ordered to do so?

B:        If I’m in the service and this is what I was ordered to do, that’s what I would do.  I would have no choice.

I:          How close were you with the enemies at the time?
B:        Uh, since I was artillery, I was about 2,000 meters.



I:          Um hm.

B:        From my hill to that hill.

I:          Um.
B:        But we were exchanging artillery.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Cause they knew what we were doing. And so, it’s all in that, on the web.  The battle is on the web.  I’ll show it to you (INAUDIBLE) I’ve got it on (INAUDIBLE)

I:          Was Chinese artillery.

B:        Hm?



I:          Was Chinese artillery correct, I mean was it good?

B:        The Chinese were good fighters.  There were good fighters on either side.  I mean you know, they had their mission, we had our mission.

I:          Um hm.

B:        I had nothing against the Chinese. I had nothing against the North Koreans.

I:          Um hm.

B:        When I went over there, I didn’t have no animosities except that we were going to fight.  I didn’t understand at the beginning. I was just a Second Lieutenant.



I didn’t understand really what we were fighting for except we were being told we were fighting Communism.  At that time, I did not really understand Communism which afterwards, you know, I started to learn more about it.

I:          Um hm.

B:        At the time, it was something that was foreign to me.  But we had our orders.



And we were part of the United Nations.  Because I speak Spanish, I had been assigned to the Columbian Infantry Battalion.

I:          Oh.

B:        So, my entire time that I spent in Korea with the exception of the last two months of my tour in Korea, I spent with infantry elements of the Columbian Infantry Battalion.

I:          How many Columbians were there?



B:        I think there were about 300 or so.

I:          Um hm.  Were they good?
B:        They had a battalion, three companies and their headquarters.

I:          Any dangerous moments during that battle?
B:        Well, I don’t know. I got knocked around with concussions from a shell that landed pretty close.

I:          Um hm.



B:        Snipers.  I could hear the bullet (NOISES) We were on patrol at least once every two weeks, sometimes every week.  And sometimes we’d get caught out in the middle of no man’s land.  And so, we’d have, sometimes we had a little difficult getting back to the lines.



On one occasion, we lost some of our people.  And so, we were always in harm’s way.

I:          What were you thinking when snipers’ bullets were going all around and the shelling?

B:        Well, I don’t know. I can’t recall the, my role, Dr. Han, as an officer,



I knew that I had a team.

I:          Um.

B:        My forward observer team.

I:          Um.

B:        So, I had three soldiers with me.

I:          Um hm.

B:        At all times, my team.  And we traveled from one observation post to another.  But my role was to look out after that team.  My role was to direct our artillery fire whenever our troops wanted artillery fire.


That was my mission.  That was my role.

I:          But as an artillery forward observer, were you closer to the front rather than infantry or riflemen?
B:        We were always in front of the lines.  And sometimes we’d get halfway between the enemy and our lines.



Cause we’d be out on patrol.  Then we would have to establish smaller observation posts.

I:          That’s very dangerous.

B:        Yeah.  It was.

I:          What did you look for when you were.

B:        Well, we were always told our mission was to detect any kind of enemy movement.  If we could see if there were any indications of troop movements.



And then we were also trained to shoot what we called Asmus with our compass.  We could hear the Chinese or the North Koreans fire their cannons.  And we’d shoot an angle, with a compass.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Then another observer on this side.

I:          Um hm.



B:        Would shoot an angle

I:          Um hm.

B:        But we triangulate.

I:          So that you can have a central location.

B:        Yeah.  So, once we had an idea because their guns would be behind mountains or behind hills, camouflage.  But we had an idea.  We could send in interdicting fire.  We could send in missions, try to hit them just like they were trying to do to us.  We lost a number of our guns because they did the same thing to us.



I:          Right.

B:        But that was the nature of the beast.
I:          When did you leave Korea?
B:        March, I think it was March the 13th, 1953.

I:          How was the situation when you left Korea?


B:        Well, the Chinese were mounting their Spring Offensive.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And in fact, two days after I, in fact the day that I boarded the ship, the Chinese overran my position.

I:          Oh boy.

B:        Yeah.  And the observer, that would have had to take my place was also a St. Mary’s graduate, from St. Mary’s University.

I:          Hm.



B:        And so, his name was Arthur D’Laressa.  In fact, his picture is, he was the first one who evacuated, I mean that were rotated when, when we had the prisoner exchange, he was captured.

I:          Um.
B:        Which I would have been captured.

I:          Right.



B:        But just two days after I left the line, his mission was overrun, and he was captured.  And he was wounded.

I:          Wow.  So, you’re lucky.

B:        That’s right.  Yes, I am.  I was very fortunate, I was.  Never had a scratch.



I got bounced around several times because of concussions.  I’ll tell you what.  I never got a scratch.

I:          Wow.

B:        In fact, that medal up there, that Bronze Star medal.

I:          Bronze Star?
B:        Yeah, Bronze Star.

I:          Can you show me that Bronze Star?

B:        That’s the Bronze Star right there.

I:          Which one?  Can you take it out and show it to me?

B:        Hm?

I:          Take it out and show it to me please.



Have a seat and put it on your chin.  And why did you get this one for?

B:        For Distinguished Service.  This says Meritorious Achievement in ground operations against the enemy.



I:          When did you get it?  Could you show me one more time?

B:        When I, I got it when I left Korea, 1953.

I:          That’s very honor.  United States of America Bronze Star Medal.  Very good.  Could you show me the medal, too?

B:        Oh, well this is a medal.

I:          It’s right there.

B:        This is something else.

I:          Okay.



B:        But there’s the medal right here.

I:          Um hm.  Alright.

B:        Now that’s something else.  Getting kind of old for all this.


The uh, battalion commander of the Columbians

I:          Um hm.

B:        Awarded me this certificate of combat.  I had served with the Columbians during that period.

I:          I see.  That’s very good.  You know, I heard that the Columbian Korean War Veterans Association is very well organized.



And they have Descendants Organization too, already.
B:        Yeah.  Well, they had a mission, I don’t understand really the, but again, there were 21 or, uh, 24 nations.

I:          Um hm.  Twenty-one.

B:        Twenty- one, yeah.  So, they were just one of those 21 nations that joined the United Nations to fight Communism over there in Korea.



And because I speak Spanish, I was assigned to them.

I:          You know, you said that your brother Joe, was there.

B:        Um hm.

I:          And when you were there, what did you feel that your brother and you were again here to fight for the nation that I never knew before?  Any feeling?

B:        Well, what’s interesting

I:          Related to your brother.

B:        Yeah, you see, my brother went over before I did.

I:          Yeah.



B:        And so, though we communicated, the only time that I knew that he had been very much in danger was when he told me in his letters that he had lost his best friend, mine, that his positions had been overrun, and he wrote to me and to let my mother know, our mother know, that he was alright.



And so, when he came home, he came home very disturbed because of all the things he went through.

I:          Um.

B:        So, I had an idea of what I was gonna go through when I was there.  But only through his eyes. And you know what?  He was telling me and what I was reading in the newspapers and what.



because until you’re there, until you hear the first shell coming your way, until you hear that first explosion or that first shell that came pretty close to getting you, you really don’t know. At least you have an idea.  But you don’t know until you hear the first zing, zing, zing.



So, it’s something that until you hear that, until you’re there, it’s pretty hard to explain.

I:          Did your brother suffer from PTSD?
B:        No.  At the time, no.  He was just emotionally upset.  I mean, he couldn’t recall, talking about Korea without getting real emotional.



So, we avoided it.  We didn’t’ talk about it cause he’d get real emotional, especially because he had this very close friend of his that died in his arms.

I:          Do you still keep the letter that you received from your brother?
B:        The what?
I:          Do you keep the letter that you received from your brother?

B:        No, I’m afraid I don’t have any, I wish I had, but I don’t.



I:          So, he specifically described the scene that his friend died.
B:        Yes.  He had been on a patrol.

I:          Um.

B:        He was, I think he was called a Lance Corporal at the time.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And he went on this patrol and were deep into enemy territory.

I:          Yeah.



B:        Their mission was to bring back a prisoner.

I:          Um.
B:        They got close to the enemy positions, and they were, he described it so well.  They were going way slowly because they suspected they were, well, they didn’t really know but suspected that they were in a mine field.  Well, they pretty well suspected that the Chinese had mined the areas around where they were supposed to go.




I:          Um.

B:        And my brother described that he stepped, and the squad that was following him were stepped on the footstep so that there would only be on one step.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Well, he stepped, and he missed the prong on the mine.  His heel just missed the prong, and his buddy came over.  But he stepped on the prong.



I:          Oh boy.

B:        So, the bouncing betty, the mine, popped up and of course, it exploded.  That alerted the Chinese. So, the Chinese caught them in a crossfire.
I:          Um.

B:        And so, he picked up his buddy, and they made it back going through this exposed minefield.



And they went back to a secure position where they could use covering fire against the Chinese.

I:          It might have been your brother who stepped on that mining.

B:        Yeah, it could have been my brother, yes.

I:          Yeah.
B:        Oh yes.  And so anyway, he, and so when he got back to a safe position, his buddy that he had in his arms, told him when he got back to get in touch with his mother.



I:          Wow.

B:        Then he passed away.  So, my brother had this in his memory all the years.  He could never leave it.  And so, every once in a while, he’d talk about it, and he’d break down.  He saw a lot other because their positions were overrun.  He had to kill a lot of the enemy.



But that one incident was the one that was registered more on his mind.  And he never let go of it.  And when he passed away, he still had the thing with him.

I:          Did you have anything like that in your experience?
B:        A couple. I lost a very good friend of mine.  I had just left him.

I:          What’s his name?  Remember his name?


B:        No, all I know is his first name was David.
I:          Um hm.

B:        David.  But I don’t recall his last name.
I:          Um hm.

B:        But I just left the position.  And what was tragic about this one was that he had just, it was just a brand-new Second Lieutenant coming in on the line.  And he had gotten a letter from the Red Cross that he needed to go back because his wife, his family, was having a real hard time.



So, the Red Cross had secured for him a hardship leave of absence if you want to call it.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And he was gonna go back to look into his family because they needed him. Well, he was at Headquarters when he got the letter. And he told his supervisor that he wanted to go to the line, to the hill one more time.



I:          Oh.
B:        To see the front lines before he went back.

I:          Um.

B:        So, he went to my observation post.

I:          Um.

B:        So, we were talking when I got the telephone call that they needed me to go to a forward post because they suspected some enemy artillery batteries were harassing our lines.



I:          Um.

B:        So, they needed to triangulate some of those positions.  So, I gathered my equipment, my watermen, and my radio operator, and we went, left the lines, went to the forward position.  And just as we were setting up our operation, we heard a shell going right over our heads.

I:          Um.



B:        And uh, my radio man looked back, and I was trying to focus on the Chinese lines.  But my radio man looked back and he said Lieutenant, I think that shell hit our position, hit our operation post.  And so, I looked back, and the shell landed right on that post, right where I would have been.


And it blew up our telephone and our radio.  It killed him.

I:          David?
B:        Yeah.  He landed in a trench, the shell landed in a trench.  And when he was watching the operation, and it killed him instantly.  So, when I got back, they had already evacuated him.  But there were still pieces of flesh on the telephone where he had been holding the telephone.



So, things like that, you know, I still remember very closely.  I remember the people that we lost on Triangle Hill.  And we lost another one in another operation called Snowball, Operation, I think it was Operation Snowball.

I:          Um hm.  Snowball?

B:        Snowball.  I think that was the name of it.  And that was, I think, in January or early February of 1953.



I:          Um.

B:        It was very cold, very very cold.  The ground was just solid.  I mean it was hard.  It was so cold.  And we were ordered to take this one hill that was in front of us, and to take a prisoner.  It’s a long story to get to this point.  But needless to say, we didn’t.



We were clobbered.  We got to the middle of this, all these rice paddies.  And our equipment just sunk.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Broke through the ice.  And the Chinese clobbered us.  And we lost a lot of people.  So that’s all.

I:          Do you have nightmares about all of this?
B:        Not anymore.



I:          You used to have it?
B:        I think about it, but I, it’s 62 years ago.

I:          But still, many people suffer from PTSD.

B:        Yeah.
I:          Do you have PTSD?

B:        No.

I:          Not at all?  Thank God.

B:        I’ve got high blood pressure and, but no.  I’m at peace with the world.  I’m at peace with God.

I:          You said to me that before you left for Korea, you were kind of having a dance party with your wife?



B:        Yes.  We knew each other.  She and I grew up together.  I mean, we knew from when we were kids.

I:          Uh huh.

B:        But we separated.  We went different directions.

I:          Right.

B:        But we wound up, she wound up in San Antonio.  And so, she was a Queen, elected Queen of this organization.

I:          What organization?

B:        Lulec.

I:          Lulec?



B:        Uh, Latin

Female Voice:  League

B:        League of United

Female Voice:  Latin American Citizens.

B:        That’s right.  The League of  United American Citizens.  And that was an organization that is still very popular, very strong, at the mission of making sure that the Hispanic community is being treated justly.  So, she was elected one of the first queens, early queens, 1950.



So, she asked me to be her escort.  And I was getting ready to go to Korea.  And so that’s why you should ask, you see me in my uniform.  And so, I brought her a nice orchid which she kept.  But you know what she did?  She went and married somebody else.

Female Voice:  You missed the boat.

B:        Fifty years later, we got together.

I:          Please introduce yourself, your name and when you were born, where you were born, and tell me about yourself please.



Female Voice:  Okay. I was born here in San Antonio.

I:          What is your name?
Female Voice:  Here in San Antonio.

B:        What’s your name?
Female Voice:  Alena Nieto, NIETO.

I:          Um hm.

Female Voice:  Okay.  And I was born November the 21st, 1929 in San Antonio, Texas.  We moved to Eagle Pass, Texas where I was raised and graduated in 1948.

I:          Um hm.

Female Voice:  I came to San Antonio, went to business college.



And I started working at the bank.  And my life went through, I was very happy.  I knew Belisario.  We were a very close family.

I:          Did you date?
Female Voice:  My mother and his mother were joined at the hip.  So, they knew each other before we were born.

I:          Did you like him at the time?

Female Voice:  Oh, I always liked Belisario.  But I know he (INAUDIBLE)



No yeah.  We always liked each other.  I mean, there was always a bond in our family.

I:          Um hm.

Female Voice:  And of course, like everything else, the War interfered, and maybe we could have gotten married.  We don’t know.  But maybe we weren’t destined.

I:          Hm.  So, I see your picture of Queen at that dance party over your head there.  I’m zooming in.  And let me show how beautiful you were at the time.  And now still you’re beautiful.  But young and



Female Voice:  I like him.

I:          I’m zooming on the picture over there, right over there, when you were young.  And Belisario, what is your, Bel, Bel, Bel with the uniform right before you went for Korea, right?
B:        That’s my uniform, right.

I:          Yeah.  But she married somebody else.

B:        Yeah.

I:          What’s going on here, huh?

Female Voice:  When I was working at the bank, and he was a depositor there.



And you know, I would meet a lot of people come into the bank.  And he was one of them.  And he is the Greco, GRECO.

I:          Um hm.

Female Voice:  Jose Lorenzo Greco.  His father was from Italy, pure Italian.

I:          Hm.
Female Voice:  But his mother was Hispanic.  So, he’s half Mexican and half Italian.

I:          So, when Bel was in Korea, did you write letters to him?
Female Voice:  Well, he wrote me a letter, a very nice letter.

I:          Um hm.

Female Voice:  And I wrote to him, I think.



And then from there on, I just didn’t because, I want to tell the truth.  This friend of mine that was in the club, she had a feeling for Belisario, and I didn’t want her to feel that I was in the way.

I:          Oh.

B:        So, I married a friend of hers.

Female Voice:  That beautiful girl there, Josie.

B:        Right up there.

I:          You made a long journey to finally marry each other.

B:        Fifty years later, yeah.

I:          This is a story.  So, when you were in Korea, did you miss her?  Did you have her picture?




B:        I didn’t even have time to write to my lady, wife I mean.  I didn’t have too much time to write. I wrote to my mother every day.  But I just had one sentence:  Mom, Dear Mom, I’m okay. That’s it.  But I used to write everyday letters home.  So, she’d get these letters, someone told me what would happen if something happened to you.



I said well, I’m just glad nothing ever happened.  But at least, it kept my mother from worrying because when my brother got back, now my brother did not write.  So, we never knew except for one occasional letter that I would get.  But he would tell me some of the experiences that he had had.

I:          Um.

B:        But he didn’t write as often, but I did. I wrote to my mother every single day.



I:          So, when did you finally marry each other?
B:        Fifty years.  After my late wife

I:          When was it ?
B:        When she passed away, 1999 was when, my late wife passed away in 1998.  Her husband passed away in 1996, 1996 honey?
Female Voice:  Um hm.

B:        Yeah.  And so, I think a year later in 1999, we had a chance to get together because, we had some coffee or whatever.



And we’ve always known each other, Dr. Han.

I:          Um hm.

B:        So, there’s always been a mutual friendship.  And the friendship developed into something deeper.  But we’ve always known each other.

I:          Um hm.

Female Voice:  I think we always, when we were teenagers, we always knew that, you know, we liked each other.



There was some kind of puppy love in between.
B:        Yeah, there was some electricity in between there.  And her children, and they love me.  And I love them.

Female Voice:  They love Belisario.

B:        Cause she’s got two children and seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, and I didn’t have no children.

I:          Um hm.
B:        So,

Female Voice:  They opened their hearts and arms to Belisario.  They opened their hearts and arms to Belisario.

I:          Yeah, I know.  It’s a happy marriage.



B:        Absolutely, yeah.  That’s why

Female Voice:  I keep him online.

I:          So, you were in the Snowball  Operation, battle.  And it was very, very cold.  How cold was it?  Can you describe it?  Korea is known for cold weather.

B:        We  had all these parkas, the Mickey Mouse rubber shoes, several layers of clothing, and there was snow and ice on the ground, just, well, Dr. Han, you’re from Korea.



You know how cold up in the mountains it gets.  There’s no protection. The wind just comes and just howls and it’s just so cold.  And to this date, I was a very cold person when I got there.  Man, I was, I never did particularly like the cold weather world.  I don’t like it now.



I get cold when it gets below 90.  But well, you know.  It’s just extra, and you’re up in the mountains, you know.   There’s no protection.  Some of those times that we were in our bunkers, we went as long as two weeks without getting a shower, without having a hot meal because we couldn’t go back.  In the rainy season, there were nothing but muddy roads.



We couldn’t get the equipment up, and we were isolated.  We were isolated in a observation post.  So, we had a hard time sometimes.  So, we had these cold rations.  Oh, whenever we           had an opportunity we’d go back, we’d get relieved, and we’d go back to the back of the lines for a hot shower, a change of clothes.



I:          So that was how you looked during the War.

B:        When we came off the lines.

I:          Hm?

B:        Yeah.

I:          So, did you sleep in the tents?

B:        Well, when we came back from the lines we did.

I:          Uh huh.

B:        When we were up in the lines, we slept in those caves, you know, in the bunkers.

I:          Bunkers.

B:        Yeah, in the bunkers.



I:          Did you have any heating?
B:        Huh?
I:          Any heating.

B:        No.  We had little Coleman lanterns, and it was just cold.  Miserable. We had those steel helmets, you see those steel helmets that.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Those steel helmets

I:          Um hm.

B:        One of us would have a steel helmet that we used to pee.



The other one, my Reconnaissance Sergeant, would use his hat to make coffee.

I:          Yeah.
B:        See.  And so, we’d, sometimes we got them mixed up.  So, we made coffee in the pot that we peed in.  But you know, it’s, and so we

I:          How was the coffee?

B:        Well, the coffee came in out of those C-rations.

I:          I know.  But when you boiled it with your helmet when you used it to pee,

B:        It was hot.
I:          How’d it taste?



B:        It was, I don’t remember what it tasted like, but it tasted pretty good when that’s all we had to drink.

I:          Okay.

B:        I mean, then we had coco.  Coco came in every package of C-rations.

I:          What was your favorite C-ration?

B:        Coco.  Well, favorite, I remember spaghetti and meatballs.  And there was wieners and beans.


0: 51:30

There was a hamburger patty.

I:          But how did you eat when it was cold?
B:        If we run out of fuel, we had to eat them cold or we didn’t have nothing else to eat.  But that was eight months up there.  And the reason, now here’s something, Dr. Han, that it didn’t happen to everybody.



The three forward observers that were assigned to the Columbians.

I:          Um hm

B:        Because they couldn’t find any Spanish speaking replacements, we stayed on the line.  So, I was up on the front lines for eight months. So, it was summertime when I got there.  I went through the fall and through the winter.  And then the last two months, in January and February,



I was reassigned.  I got a replacement.  And so, I came back from the line.  Bitter it was.  And I was glad because it was so cold.  I was cold.  When you’re up on the lines, you don’t, you’re not exposed to the harassment from the senior officers.  So, you’re more or less up there with your own.

I:          You’re free and independent.

B:        That’s right.



I:          Okay.  So, after you left Korea, you were in the Air Force?

B:        No.  When I left Korea, I came back to the States, and like I told you, I joined the Reserve Unit.  I joined an Army Reserve unit.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Then in 1954, I had an opportunity to join the Air National Guard.

I:          Um hm.

B:        The Texas International Guard.  It wasn’t until, I think it was June or July of 1955, no.



No, it was 1954 that I was accepted into the Air National Guard.  So, from 1954 until the year that I retired, 1986,

I:          Um hm.

B:        I was with the Air National Guard.  So, I retired.

I:          What was your rank when you retired?

B:        When I retired, I was a Brigadier General.



I:          So, you retired as a Brigadier General.   You said that you were about to go back to Korea, right, but couldn’t.

B:        Two years ago, actually it started about three years ago.  We signed up to go back to Korea for the 60th anniversary.

I:          Um hm.



And but two months before we were supposed to go, we already paid up our money and everything else, my wife had serious problems with her eyes.  So, we had to cancel.  So, we lost that opportunity to.

I:          Do you know what happened to Korea in terms of economic developments and democracy?

B:        Great, great.



I mean, I guess produce, our produce is one of the biggest, fastest growing countries in the world.  And inside of  me, I have that satisfaction that I had a little bitty part.  But I had a little bitty part.

I:          Um hm.



B:        in the recovery of the South Korean government.

I:          Um.

B:        So now that I understand more of what we had been fighting for, I have no regrets.  So that’s the story of my life.

I:          Are you proud that you were part of the Korean War and bringing what Korea is right now?



B:        I’m very proud of all my service, military service.  And I’m very proud that I served in Korea.  And I’m proud that I have very happy memories of the friends that didn’t make, I can’t recall names.  I can’t recall the people except for if I see their pictures, the few pictures I have.  But that’s 62 years ago.

I:          Do you have any message to our young generation about your service and the War?



B:        My message would be that if there’s one thing that can be said about all our people is that freedom is not free.  You have to fight.  You have to stand up for what you believe in.  And you have to have the freedom.



You cannot be subjugated to a tyrannical type of government.  Or you cannot be subjugated to a government that deprives you of that freedom to express your thoughts, to express yourself.  And you cannot deprive yourself.  Along with that, to the youth that’s coming right before, behind us, education.



Education opens up a young person’s mind.  Education gives them that incentive to go forward.  Education gives them the ability to look beyond what’s here today.  And with that, behind that is freedom.



And you can’t have that without it because the countries where they’re subjugated to dictators, they control the minds of the  young people.  And I believe that you can’t do that.

I:          Okay.  Thank you very much, General Flores.



Thank you for your service.  Thank you for your fight.  And that’s why Korea is now what it is.  And thank you for your time.  Thank you.

B:        It was my please, Doctor, my pleasure.  And that was when he came back from Korea.  And I was just going.

I:          So, the left one here is your brother.

B:        That’s right, Joe Flores.



And that’s when I was going.

I:          And who was

B:        That’s when he returned.
I:          Okay.  So, Joe, right?
B:        He returned as a

I:          And this is Joe here, too.

B:        Yeah.  Oh yeah.  That was, he graduated from high school.

I:          Um.

B:        On the left is my former wife.

I:          Ah, your wife.



B:        Yeah, that was my former wife, yes.

I:          Um hm.
B:        She passed away in 1998.

I:          Um.

B:        On the right, that’s the one you just met, Evalina.

I:          Nieto.

B:        Uh huh.

I:          And this is his office.

B:        Yeah.

I:          There are many pictures here.  And this is the picture when he retired as a Brigadier General.



He’s Hispanic.  So Hispanic Heritage Hall of Honor.  And there is good old days.



And with President Bush.  And Department of Air Force Commendation Medal and Meritorious Service Medal.



This is his retirement.




Certificate of Good Condunct

Certificate of Good Condunct

Belisario Flores Biography pg. 2

Belisario Flores Biography pg. 2

Belisario Flores Portrait

Belisario Flores Portrait

Flores and Enshrinement

A letter sent by a family member of Flores to friends (in 2008) notifying them that Flores was enshrined into the Texas National Guard Hall of Honor.

Flores and Enshrinement

Belisario Flores Distinction in Combat

Belisario Flores Distinction in Combat

Belisario Flores Bronze Star Medal

Belisario Flores Bronze Star Medal


Military records of Belisario Flores's promotion from Second Lieutenant to First Lieutenant on August 12, 1952.


Special Orders

Special Orders