Bernard E. Dykes was born in Port Washington, New York. Before entering the military, he worked as a mason’s apprentice. During his period of service, he went to Inchon, Korea, and was stationed at the main line of resistance from January 4, 1952, to July 15, 1952. He served in the 2nd Division, 23 Tank Company as a Sergeant First Class before his discharge. He was an Army Tank Commander, and participated in the Kumhwa Iron Triangle Area. He received the Good Conduct Medal for his commitments. After returning to the United States, he was employed at the Sperry Gyroscope Company, and worked at Sperry Titan Sales after being discharged from military service. He still remembers Eugene Paeur from the French Battalion and Louis Casden from the Tanil Company. His most memorable experience of the war was his first patrol, and he feels a sense of fulfillment and pride in regard to his role.
Right Place, Right Time, Right Training
Bernard Dykes describes how he became second in command after only seven days in Korea. He recalls assisting inside of a tank at the lowest rank. He shares how, with all his training in the U.S., he was able to reset the tank after it became inactive.
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Iron Triangle Strategy
Bernard Dykes details the strategy at his placement within the Iron Triangle. He describes why it was named this and being there with French soldiers. He also mentions battles that happened before and after his time there and the devastation endured.
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More Artillery Fire Than Raindrops
Bernard Dykes describes the constant and random attacks endured from the Chinese soldiers. He did not know where they were coming from or where they were to land. He mentions how putting his life in God's hands in these moments helped him survive.
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Life in the Iron Triangle
Bernard Dykes elaborates on what living conditions were like in the Iron Triangle. He often had to sleep inside a tank with four other soldiers. He describes the food and the cold weather.
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[Beginning of recorded material]
B: My named is Bernard Dykes, D as in David, Y K E S. I was a, uh, Sergeant First Class in the U.S. Army.
I: Um hm.
B: I was a tank commander in Korea. I volunteered for, and I went to Korea. I was born in Port Washington, Long Island, New York and, uh, I, uh, went through the Port Washington school system. I, uh, uh, uh, I
had, uh, what would be called or what you could call a cup of coffee at New York University, the School of Commerce. I, uh, uh, was involved with the, uh, uh, the humanities. Uh, Then, uh, uh, the Korean War, of course, had uh, uh broke out and, uh, my, uh, Reserve unit was recalled to service. I served, uh, in 1948, uh, for that one year.
They called it a Truman year
I: Um hm.
B: And it meant that, uh, an individual could go, volunteer for one years’ service, and then, uh, he would then get out, uh, and be put into a Reserve unit for six years’ active reserve. And in that time, uh, it was a short period of time, form ’48 to ’49 active. And inactive was, uh, uh, almost, uh, one year and a half before the Korean War, uh, broke out
and when our unit was activated. So that, uh, I immediately went into, uh, the, uh, the Army once again for a, a total of three years and several months. Uh, I, uh, of course, went to, uh, volunteer for and went to Korea.
I: All by yourself.
B: Actually, I was not married at that particular time, uh. When I, uh, was, uh, uh, volunteered and went to, uh, Korea, I was 20 years old and, uh,
unmarried and, uh, uh, corresponding with my future wife.
I: Have you heard about Korea? What was your first impression? When was it that you first heard of the breakout of the Korean War?
B: Uh, I, I’m almost certain that it was, uh, uh, June 25, uh, 1950 when the papers were just full of the news that, uh, the North Koreans had invaded,
uh, uh, the Republic of, uh, South Korea. And, uh, immediately I thought my unit would definitely be called up, the Reserve unit. But I had no idea of where Korea was, uh, nor what was the extent of the invasion by the north, and my first thought was well, it, I don’t believe it will last, uh, very long because I know that we’re gonna be sending troops and, uh, as it turned out, of course, 21
nations other than, uh, uh, uh, including America uh, uh, were involved with the, uh, uh, making sure that the Communists, uh, uh, up north would not, uh, uh, annihilate the uh, uh Republic of, uh, of Korea South.
I: So, you never heard about Korea at all?
B: Not at all, sir, I, uh, uh. My education, uh, geography, uh, history and such did not uh, uh, uh,
go, uh, into that area let’s say or else, perhaps I missed it in history class.
I: So exactly where you were? Were you in the school or you were
B: No, I was at, uh, uh, home at the time. Uh, uh, I was, I was working.
I: So, you were not in, attending school?
B: Uh, no
B: No, at that time, I was not attending school. I was, uh, involved with, uh, uh, a, uh, uh, a mason’s, uh, helper at the time, a, an apprentice.
I: Uh, okay. So, what did you feel about that you had to go there, and you might lose your life?
B: I didn’t give it really that much thought. When you’re 20 years old, that is to say, actually I was 19 I think. Let’s see, in ’50, I was, yeah, I was 20 years old. Uh, I, uh, I’m immortal at that time. I had the greatest training in that one year.
My platoon Sergeant was awarded the Medal of Honor in Korea in 1950. So that, uh, I, believe me. I had the greatest of training with uh, uh, a WestPoint, uh, uh, Lieutenants and so forth. Uh, uh, I, uh, I welcomed the opportunity because I was so well trained by them to, uh, go to Korea to do whatever I could, uh. My mission in life
was, uh, uh, to, to help anybody that needed help at the time because I was a viable individual. I made uh, all sports, uh, I was involved with. So, I felt that I could, uh, make a difference about, uh, uh, losing your life and such, uh. Each time I hear, uh, uh, uh, that phrase, I, I think back on my history class in, uh, uh, 19, in, in, 11th grade,
and it comes to mind very quickly, uh, cowards die many times before their death cause I only tasted death but once. Of all the wonders that I ever heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come. We were reading Julius Caesar, uh, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and this, the instructor asked us to put a few lines to memory.
And fortunately, I chose those because overseas in Korea on the front line, when the heavy artillery was coming in in particular, I was not, uh, I was afraid yes, and, and yet the fear left me when I recited this particular part of the, Julius Caesar.
B: And uh, uh, it gave me a calm, uh, a calm did come over me each and every time. I had no control where the next round was gonna land and, uh,
with that in mind, my life was no longer in my hands. I was a, uh, a, uh, uh, in the Army, of course, you know, the State’s Army and, uh, my, uh, uh, my rank, uh, uh, uh, indicated that I was a Sergeant, uh, Staff Sergeant.
I: From the beginning?
B: And, no. Actually [STAMMERS] I went in as a Corporal, as a Private and, uh, but in very short order I was, uh, uh made a Sergeant, and I put
the men through basic training.
B: Uh, in, at, uh, Ful, at Camp Pickett, Virginia.
B: I was a, uh, I was a uh, um, uh, I was a, uh, Cadre as they called them. In the, uh, Marine Corps., they called it Drill Sergeant. I was, uh, one of those and enjoyed that. But then, uh, I got the opportunity along with a number of others to go to Fort Knox which was a, uh, tank gunnery instructors school. I graduated, uh, out of that, uh, uh, uh,
uh, uh, Fort Knox
I: When? Around when?
B: Uh, this was about May 1951, May 1951. Then we were immediately, uh, uh, uh, uh, transported to California, Mohave’ Desert where we opened up or reopened up, uh, the largest gunnery range in America, uh. Patton opened it up in, in the early ‘50s to train people for the north African campaign.
Yeah, I would have to say, uh, for the express uh, uh, of, um, Ko, the Korean War, uh, didn’t exist in 1948.
B: But, uh, my training literally prepared me for whatever came, whatever war came, uh, uh, and, and that’s basically what I think America should, should continue, uh, just that type of thing so that we’re constantly ready. Like the Israelis.
B: Two years or whatever
I: Yeah, yeah.
they have to spend there. At any rate, uh, uh, uh, I would say, uh, for the Korean War would have been when we were recalled in September of 1950, right.
I: So, you were recalled to serve
B: That’s correct.
I: in the Army in September 1950.
I: So, about three months after the Korean War broke out.
B: Um hm.
I: Right. And then you went to series of military training including tanks, right?
B: I was a, a, my, my whole career was in the tank corp.
I: And when did you finish your military training here to be assigned to Korea?
B: Uh, I was a, uh, in the Mohave’ Desert as a, uh, uh, uh, tank gunnery instructor so that I had so much training that I was training others, and I felt, I could make some difference in Korea because of that training.
I: Uh huh.
B: I didn’t come in on target often time in two rounds
I: Um hm.
B: as opposed to
four or five rounds, and I said this is ridiculous. I’m here. I should be there.
I: Uh huh.
B: And that’s the reason I joined, to go to Korea and uh, uh, especially to the front line.
I: What was your rank when you were ready to leave
I: for Korea?
I: Sergeant. Okay, now.
B: Staff Sergeant.
I: Now I understand. Do you remember what’s the, what was, what day that you arrived in Korea for the first time?
B: Um, uh, just going by memory now, I wish I had my DD214.
It would have told me exactly. But, uh, to the best of my knowledge, it was January 4 of 19, uh, uh ’52 .
B: That is correct.
I: Where did you, how did you get into Korea?
B: Uh, I came by way of, uh, a boat of course to a ship to Inchon, and thank goodness we arrived at high tide so that it was just walking off the ship, uh, onto a, the soil of Korea.
I: What was your, could you describe the first impression
when we, when you arrived in Korea, and what, what was it like? Describe it for me so that the future generations can have some idea about what happened during the Korea?
B: My, well again, at the age of 20, uh, excitement was, uh, uh, uh, uh, the big thing. Uh, it was something new. I, when I landed, we landed and we were on the shore, it looked like a, a, my uncle’s, uh, uh, farm in, in, uh, Long Island, uh, because it was all farmland,
and we could see, as we walked to the trucks and such, uh, for transportation, uh, and then by way of a, a, a, a, railroad, uh, to, uh, our destination, a repot depot where they would select the individuals to go into different, wherever they would need you, infantry, artillery, tanks and so forth. I felt that I would definitely go into tanks with my training, and, uh, it worked out exactly that way. It, uh, I didn’t see devastation. I saw farming. I didn’t
see a building to speak of, uh, because Inchon, that, again, it was flat, and basically farm area as I recall. And, uh, all along the, the route, uh, we didn’t see any major, any kind of city, uh. Yes, uh, houses and such, you know. Uh, huts and what have you. But, uh, if my memory, uh, uh, serves me right, I, I, nothing that I could say I remember seeing that.
To me, uh, uh, service that I had was, uh, the first few days we spent, uh, choogling up or climbing up hills to keep in, in shape because, again, it was in the heart of the winter, uh, months, and it was cold. But, uh, here, I came from the Mohave’ Desert to, uh, uh, the coldness of I’ll tell you, the coldness of uh, of uh, Korea. But I’m born on Long Isl, raised on Long Island, and we had cold weather also. So that, uh, it wasn’t, uh, intolerable at all.
And, uh, then, uh, uh, I got my orders to go, uh, to the front with the 2nd Infantry Division which I was in in 1948. So, to me, it was great. I just smiled and I said this is wonderful. I’m back home.
I: My old friend.
B: In my old outfit, right, my old patch and such. And, of course, I was a, uh, assigned to be a tank commander. But I had to wait, uh, seven days because the tank commander
on tank 12 would rotate then, and I would take over.
I: Could you describe, what do you mean by tank commander? How many tanks under your leadership and
B: Uh, there are five tanks in a, [STAMMERS] in a platoon, and, uh, uh, uh, that’s, uh, uh, what I was the tank commander of one tank. However, a, a very interesting thing happened. Four days after I was there, uh, the Lieutenant uh, of, the, uh, our platoon leader,
uh, had me as his, uh, uh, in his tank until, uh, tank 12 was cleared so I could become a, the tank commander in it and, uh, he said this our first patrol, and he said you’re riding, uh, with me as a loader. Now, a loader is probably the lowest men in the tank, uh, itself, you know. But that’s the spot that was open. So fine. His tank had two 40 caliber machine guns on it. Usually, you only had one on an M4A3E8, uh.
It’s a Sherman tank, uh. It’s a older tank, uh, but it had a 76, uh, millimeter, uh, tank gun, uh, cannon on it. Uh, uh, anyway, uh, the, uh, uh, we were out for about a half hour and all of a sudden, we took, uh, a small arms fire, and he immediately got on to his
I: Where was it?
B: This was, uh, uh, in Kumhwa, uh, area, uh. The, uh, the exact area I don’t really
I: North of Seoul, right?
B: Pardon me?
I: North of Seoul.
B: North of Seoul, yes.
B: Uh, and, uh, uh, uh, he took a round because it was a, a, a, a, his hand was bleeding and, uh, he said, he nudged me, and I was on my 50 caliber, and he nudged me and he said, uh, uh, my gun is jammed. So, the training that I had was that, I felt that I could make some difference because of it. I immediately climbed ¾ of the way out of the, uh, turret, uh,
which is the loaded, loader’s turf and, uh, uh, reached up, and I, uh, uh, opened, pulled back on the operating handle of the, uh, of the 50 caliber machine gun, opened up the, uh, top cover plate, and I noticed that there was a, a, a, a bent round, and I was only hoping that it wasn’t going to be a ruptured cartridge because they’re difficult. You can’t really change them in the heat of the battle. So, uh, it was a bent round. I immediately pulled it out, threw it over the side,
ran the, uh, linkage belt through, uh, uh, down with the uh, uh, the top cover plate and back with the operating handle, and I hit the butterfly triggers, and it went [sound effect] just, I said sir, your gun is back in action and, uh, uh, he didn’t say any more other than get on his and he said everything that moves, he said, just destroy, and we did just that for a period of time, and nothing moved, we moved back. He didn’t say anything going, on, on, on the way back.
Nor, he went to his bunker after, uh, uh, we came back. And then the next morning, he called all of the other tank commanders and myself, uh, to his tank, uh, which I was a part of, and he said if I go down, Sergeant Dykes takes over the platoon. I’m there seven, four days, no seven days in Korea, four days, uh, on a, on front line, and already, uh, I said to myself gee,
this is the greatest, and I said I’m second in command to a platoon of tanks. Uh,
I: How many tanks?
B: Again, there’s five tanks.
I: Five tanks.
I: So, you were in charge of five tanks.
B: I was now an Assistant
B: Platoon Leader.
B: Right? Now these other fellows had there, been there before me, that it was obvious that they didn’t have the training that I had. See, I was in the right place at the right time with the right training,
I: Uh huh.
B: and it just, uh, uh, proves that yes, you can make a, a, any kind of, a small difference.
I: So again, it was January 1951
B: That is correct.
I: So, could you tell
B: Oh, I’m sorry. 1952.
I: ’52, January 1952.
B: That’s correct.
I: And when did you end, end your service in Korea?
B: Uh, it was, to the best of my knowledge without my W, uh, my DD214, uh, July, 15th or so, uh, of, uh, the same year, 1952.
B: And the only reason
we were six solid months on the front line. But we came back into re, reserve area and, uh, all of a sudden, uh, about a, a week thereof, uh, getting our, our tank, tank ready to go back up again, uh, uh, the, uh, someone, uh, came to me. I don’t if it was a, a, a orderly room, uh, fellow or I mean, uh, a from the uh, uh, platoon, uh, company commander or what. But, uh, I went into his office, and he said you, you’re, uh, you’re going home.
I said going home? I said how is that possible? He said your time of enlistment is up. You have to go home or re-up, uh, for ex, you know, a few more years. And I thought to myself that is, it’s incredible. At any rate, I opted of course then to come home, uh. I spent seven months in Korea and, uh, I felt I would only spend uh, uh, five more months’ tops, uh, and, uh, uh,
it was time. The reason I didn’t want to go back up, uh, was with a new company, uh, new, uh, platoon leader who was probably the worst platoon leader I could have ever, ever have gotten.
B: He came out of, uh, uh, a ROTC program. He knew literally nothing about tanks, and here I was going to put my life in his hands as a leader and me as second in command. Uh, I felt that
it was something that, it wouldn’t work out. Uh, he was too, uh, green and, uh, he would have control of the platoon, uh. So that’s the reason I, uh, said, uh, if that’s the case, I’ll go home, and that’s what I did.
I: So, while you were in Korea, you were more, mostly in Kumhwa area?
B: It, basically that, that, that area there, uh. The Iron Triangle.
I: Who was the enemy? Was it North Koreans or Chinese?
B: We, uh, [STAMMERS] In, in front of us was North, it was Chinese, uh. It, uh, at 1062. That’s the, uh, uh, uh, the huge ma, uh, papasan I guess they called it because it was such a huge, mountain, uh, 10, 1062 feet.
I: Do you remember the name of the mountain?
B: I believe it was Papasan they called it, but it was
B: But it was 1062 on our charts.
B: A, and, uh, we had it all zeroed in because I was a, a, tank gunnery instructor. So I had all of the, uh, guns, uh, uh, uh, set, focused, that is to say, uh, uh, in range of all the areas that they would be coming through. And, uh, we were supporting the French which, uh, were a great bunch of, uh, uh, uh, soldiers. They were, uh, the Free French Army and, uh, I befriended, uh, a number of those. They, in fact,
attempted to teach me how to speak, uh, French. They
I: What was it like
B: really wasn’t battle. They were patrols and such.
I: Was it everything
B: Uh, but we, the battles would have to have come as it did, uh, after I rotated in, uh, I believe, uh, May, June, June of uh, uh, 1953, uh. It erupted in that particular area. I think the 7th Division was there at the time and, uh
all hell broke loose because we then attempted to, uh, retake Heartbreak Ridge which was right in the Iron Triangle area as well along with Pork, Pork Chop Hill, and countless lives were lost, and finally we just gave up on Por, uh, uh, Heartbreak Ridge and, and Pork Chop Hill, uh, because it, it served no purpose. The Armistice, uh, or the cease fire was, uh, imminent.
I: Um hm.
B: So, uh, that was that.
I: And what was like trolling around that area with the tank? Uh, could you describe its anecdote or any one day particularly that you remember?
B: Well, the day I remember most was the very first because it was so fresh in my mind. But I’ll never forget the euphoria that I had, that I was where I wanted to be because I volunteered to be there. Others unfortunately, uh, were drafted, and, and that’s
uh, why they were there. Uh, But I chose to be there, and if something happened to me, it was my fault, not anyone else’s, uh. But that was, uh, probably, uh, the first and the most exciting, uh, because of the newness of it, uh, the feeling that yes you could die at any moment.
I: So, patrolling around that area
I: what was it like? You were following French soldiers?
B: No. Actually, the soldiers were, were stationary. Uh, they had their, their Quad 50’s and a, uh, uh, platoons of, uh, of uh, foot soldiers and such. But, uh, mostly it was, uh, uh, the, uh, 50 caliber quads and such, you know, uh, that all were along the line.
I: So mostly you didn’t move around with the tank, but you were stationed with the French.
B: Other than patrols, no.
I: Other than patrols.
I: So, I’m asking what was it like it trolling around that area?
B: Again, it, each time it was exciting because, uh, you didn’t know what was going to take place, and my thoughts always went back to my company commander that I had in 1948. He was only 28 years old, a, uh, graduate of, uh, the Military Academy at West Point, and he was my basketball coach as well as my golf coach. We had teams when we were back in the service. I was number one man on the golf team
and, uh, uh, starting five on the basketball team. At any rate, he was the coach of both, and he unfortunately was there 15 days in September of 1950 when he was cut down in the turret of his tank. The tank commander is from here up exposed to fire, and that’s, of course, where I was, the uh, uh, tank commander’s position.
I: Any moment where that you were targeted by Chinese or?
B: I don’t, no. It would have been, it would have been random type of uh, uh, uh, the small arms fire, uh, was, I’m sure, random. Uh, the heavy artillery was the, uh, probably, uh, the most, uh, it was almost constant. They say in that area, more artillery fell than raindrops.
I: Um hm.
B: And, uh, it, it’s something that testifies to the fact that, uh, uh,
when I was in, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, my tank or a, a bunker, uh, I had time to think, and that’s where I thought about that 11thgrade English, uh, when I made mention of, uh, cowards die many times before their death. Uh, you had time to, uh, uh, reflect on life. It was precious, and yet at the same time, uh, you were there to do, uh, whatever you could.
I: So, while you were there, there were artillery attack
B: Well, there’s always constant, yeah.
I: toward your, constant.
How did you feel about it? I mean, it was, must be horrible.
B: Well, each and every round, you don’t know where that next round is going to land, uh, and, uh, you say to yourself, uh, uh, uh, that, uh, you, your life is no longer in your hands. It’s a case where it’s in God’s hands and, uh, uh, I thank him every single night of my life, uh, just by way of saying he enabled me to come back home to marry, to have, uh, uh, four children, nine grandchildren
two great-grandchildren, uh, and, and, uh, uh, thank goodness get to be the age of 82. Uh, this is, to me, uh, just God’s will and, again, as I say, I thank him each and every night.
I: So how did you survive that
B: I was one of the lucky ones by the way.
I: Yeah. How did you survive all those artillery? Were you on the bunker or
B: Uh, either in the tank or on the bunker. A direct hit would have, yes, annihilated the tank.
A direct hit would have annihilated yes, the bunker. But thank goodness, uh, uh, by the grace of God, uh, neither one were, uh, uh, taken out, uh. So there, like I say, one of the lucky ones.
I: Were your friends killed by that artillery attack?
B: Our area, our five tank members, far, five tank crew members, that’s 25, uh, uh, individuals, uh, uh, were not, uh, injured and, uh, it was just by the grace of God as I said,
uh, because the way they hit. I recall once in particular I’m conferring with the, uh, uh, platoon leader, uh, the Lieutenant, and, uh, uh, all of a sudden a heavier than usual artillery barrage came in, incoming and, uh, uh, I said, uh, sir, uh, uh, uh, I’ll get, I’ll run, I’ll get back to my tank, and I just ran across the, the, uh, road as fast as I could. It’s a dirt, you know, about, uh, 50 yards or so, zig zagging and such, but
the rounds were landing, and thank goodness I wasn’t hit by any shrapnel, and, uh, got back to, uh, uh, the tank and, uh, climbed aboard.
I: Wow. What was life like in, uh, during your service? What kind of food, where you sleep and how was it?
B: Well the food, unfortunately, was the barest necessities. The reason for it was the artillery. Oh, uh, they,
before I got there, uh, we, two weeks before I got there, uh, they had trucks coming up from the rear with one hot meal a day. Well, that ceased, uh, two weeks before I got there because they were getting too much artillery coming in each time the trucks, truck would come in, uh, artillery would come in and, and attempt to knock it out. Uh, and, uh, with that in mind, uh, we had, uh, when I got there, there was nothing more than C-rations, uh.
So you ate literally out of a can or a, a, a, a, little heater, uh. But, uh, uh, it was, it was the life that you had to lead, and I didn’t complain. I don’t think many of the other guys complained. It was what it was.
I: Were you sleeping under the tent or
B: No, actually either in the tank, uh, or in the, uh, the bunker, and the bunker, of course, was, uh, made up of ammo, uh, cartons and a, uh, air mattress, uh. So that that was basically it.
And, uh, naturally in the wintertime as it were, uh, uh, in, in January when I got there, uh, uh, it, you know, [STAMMERS] your sleeping bag, of course, which was great, uh, best thing I’ve ever. It was a very [INAUDIBLE] I think; you know? But, uh, uh, uh, that, that was basically the way you did.
I: No heating at all?
B: Yeah, there was, there was heating, and I didn’t know where or who uh, uh, kept it up. But there was a kerosene-type of thing
on the outside, and it gave off a small degree of heat, but it was at least not the terrible [STAMMERS] the low temperatures you had outside, uh. So that was, uh, again, a blessing.
I: Is there space for you to sleep inside of the tank?
B: Five men, uh, are in the tank, but there’s only four at one given time because there’s always one on the tank for a, uh, guard, and, uh, uh,
uh, that’s basically it. It was a case that you had, they were all together, so it, you didn’t have any, just one, uh, uh, uh, uh, sl, you know, cot let’s say. It was all, the ammo cases were across, uh, the empty ammo cases were across and, uh, you slept with your sleeping bag on to, and your air mattress.
I: How many can sleep together at the same time?
B: Well, again, four.
I: That, that’s spacious enough?
B: Oh yes. Yes.
I: Because, you know, people not have any idea of how inside of the tank looks.
B: Right. Oh, inside of a tank, uh, you could sleep five of course, you know. But you’d had to be sleeping si, sitting up.
I: Sitting up, right. Yeah.
B: There was no room. You got the driver, the assistant driver and the, uh, uh, gunner and the, uh, the, uh, loader, and of course the tank commander. Uh, but, uh, it’d be, it, it was difficult to say the least because the tank in the wintertime was
as cold as you can get and, with a metal. Forge is a homogenous steel around the, uh, uh, uh, the, uh, target, and it, it stays cold. But, uh, uh, in the winter, in the summertime, of course, it just, you ‘re burning up because it holds the heat, uh, with the, OD, the color of the tank, you know.
I: What were the most difficult, perhaps, uh, and happiest and rewarding memories during your service?
B: Well, the rewarding a, a, and happiest and rewarding memories would be, uh, the feeling of fulfillment. I did exactly what I wanted to do and was fortunate enough to come back sound of body and sound of mind.
I: And most difficult time that you can remember? The moment that was most difficult?
B: Uh, I’ll be perfectly frank. Uh, I don’t recall a difficult time
only because my mindset was I’m there to do a particular job, and my competitive spirit said I wanted to do it as well or better than anyone else, and, uh, that kept me in good standing. Uh, the feeling of accomplishment as I mentioned before overrode everything. Uh, uh, I was doing something, and I was attempting to make as much of a difference as I possibly could.
I: Well, what did you feel about your returning to home, and what was the reaction of the people?
B: Well, the reaction, the very first reaction to, uh, uh, coming upon American soil was again, was through, uh, uh, under the Golden Gate Bridge in, in, uh, San Francisco. And when we, uh, uh, uh, uh tied up to the, to the dock, uh, there was a uh, uh, a opera singer singing, uh, Come, Come I Love You Only That My Hero, the, the name of the song is,
and that was very heartwarming that, uh, and they had a, a little band there also accompanying her, uh. That, to me, uh, spoke very well, and I’m only wishing that could have happened to, uh, that experience could have been to all of the soldiers, uh. I don’t recall people saying, you know, where have you been, you know? Uh, it’s just, uh, a, a great town that, uh, uh, word of mouth travels so fast, and
so many of us, uh, in my class, were in the service, uh, so the people were aware of the fact that yeah, he’s come home, and he’s in, in one piece. Uh, when I came back from Korea, I still had that greet feeling of, uh, uh, uh, accomplishment and worthwhileness. Uh, it, uh, it actually affected all of my life, that experience at that age, uh, and, uh, uh,
the thing that I was so gratified by is when I joined the, uh, Central Long Island, uh, chapter of the Korean War Veterans, and we would march in New York City and, uh, the, sometimes it was five, six deep, uh, and, uh, uh, the Korean population, uh, which of course is vast in, in, Flushing and so forth which we marched there as well, and, uh, in the city and, and, and in Flushing. Uh, uh,
they’re saying thank you for saving our country. Thank you for saving our country. And this is so gratifying, that they feel so, uh, uh, emotional about the fact that yes, uh, the Americans did go, uh, and send, uh, uh, uh, the, the troops and the, and the treasure, the, uh, munitions and so forth to free our country. And uh, I’m just amazed at what the
South Korean, uh, populous has done with the country that we left in, in shambles. I didn’t see the shambles and such in, in Seoul, but they told me about it. I saw just farmland and mountains and so forth, but they tell me it was just horrific. The thing that I, I’m, uh, uh, so, uh, uh, uh, my, my feelings are that, uh, they had, they, that is to say the Korean populous and the
military had to lose so many wonderful, uh, uh, uh, caring, uh, individuals over there, uh. The numbers are staggering, uh. I don’t know if, uh, you have a figure on it, but I have here just something that I wanted to, uh, to bring up because, uh, when I, uh, looked at it and read it, I said oh my God. We lost, of course, uh, 103,000, uh, uh, sorry,
we lost 100 and, uh, 56, 55,000, uh, troops, 103,000 wounded
I: Um hm.
B: Uh, 7,000 POWs, and 8,000 still missing in action. Actually, that 8,000 number is now down to about 7,900 because they’ve been finding, uh, uh, uh, the missing in action. Uh, uh, the MIAs. So, uh, the, the thing that struck me when I looked
at the, uh, uh, the statistics, and it’s staggering, and it, it’s, uh, something that, uh, everyone should realize that war is, is horrific uh, uh, in, in any of its’ forms. Uh, the, uh, the stats for the year, uh, the tragedy came to uh, uh, uh, uh, of course, South Korea on, uh, the 25th of, uh, uh, of June 1950. The military and the civilian population suffered greatly. The military incurred
571,000 dead, killed, 950,000 wounded, 85,000 POWs, 460,000 MIAs.
I: What is the source of that statistic?
B: This is a statistic from four different, uh, uh, periodicals, uh, so that it, uh, and there’s no real count on the civilian
I: Where did you get that number?
B: Pardon me?
I: Where did you get that number?
B: That number came from four different periodicals in the, uh, uh,
B: Right. Uh, I, I, again, I don’t know the authenticity of, uh, but to me, it was staggering. I, I, I thought my God, guy. I, I, I, I saw the devastation as such but never realizing the extent of, and yet what the Korean people have done with their country. Right now, I, I believe it’s 10, 12, 12th largest economic power in the world. And, and, uh, uh, you just don’t ride
in a, in a, in a car without seeing, uh, uh, a, uh, a Korean, uh, made vehicle. It’s just testimony to what democracy and what hard work uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, and, and, and, and love of country can do for, uh, a particular country and of course namely South Korea.
I: I wanna say that we were a, not able to do it without your sacrifice. So
B: That’s very kind of you.
I: So, this is, I think this is the legacy of the Korean War veterans I think, right?
B: I believe it certainly is a legacy. The other legacy that I’d like to just leave with you is the, uh, uh, what was said by, uh, Matthew, uh, B. Ridgeway, uh, who was, uh, the commander, Supreme Commander, of the allied forces. He mentioned that, uh, Communist military aggression reached its’ high-water mark in Korea, and that thereafter Communism itself began its’ recession
in Asia. They talk about, uh, he said that in 1951, uh. They talk about, uh, uh, the, uh, Berlin Wall and everything else, which, of course, yes, played a big part. But Communism was faced for the first time point blank. The Russian, the Russians and the Red Chinese were put to task that, by virtue of the 21 countries that, uh, uh, uh, wanted to free, uh, South Korea so that
the, uh, they could, uh, make a show, uh, the Communists, uh, uh, world let’s say, that, uh, it, it wasn’t going to work. Uh, they were gonna be confronted. They were gonna be defeated. They weren’t defeated. It was a cease fire. But believe me, it stopped Communism in its’ tracks. Everything followed
I: Next year will be 60 years’ anniversary of the Korean Armistice.
B: Um hm.
I: Have you heard any war lasted more than 60 years
after an official cease fire?
B: I don’t know. I know
I: Are you willing to sign the petition
B: Um hm.
I: which will say that enough is enough. It’s now in our side to call for peace treaty and end the war with a peace treaty.
B: I would be, I’d sign my name a, a, as quick as, uh, you could put the pen and pencil, the, uh, pen and pad in front of me.
I: Um, what is your message to the future generations about the Korean War and your service?
B: Again, that we should not be forgotten. The fact that three years, uh, two days, one month and two days we’re over there fighting for, uh, freedom, for country that was just taken, uh, to task again, uh, by the, uh, uh, uh, a superior, uh, uh, Army, the North Koreans.
Uh, they took it by way of knowing full well they were being helped by the Red Chinese and the Russians. They were in, uh, G34 tanks made by the Russians. They were, uh, uh, they were attacked in South Koreans by way of, uh, MGs made in Russia. It was that kind of thing. They, they used South, uh, North Korea for what they wanted, and that was the, uh, total annihilated of, uh, or the, uh, uh, the capture of all of Korea.
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