Korean War Legacy Project

Bill Chisholm


Bill Chisholm enlisted in the U.S. Army following his high school graduation. He began his service as a recruit in the 7th Division, 31st Regiment, 2nd Battalion, Company G. In November-December 1950, his unit replaced Marines in the Chosin (Jangjin) Reservoir and was part of the Battle of the Chosen Few. He recalls the extremely cold temperatures during his time in the region as well as the devastating losses suffered in the battle. From the Chosen (Jangjin) Reservoir, he was sent to Hill 351 and later was evacuated to Heungnam amidst the massive number of refugees being brought through the same port city. As a result of all that he experienced, he has been diagnosed with PTSD. He later revisited Korea on a trip sponsored by the South Eden Church.

Video Clips

Replacing Marines in Chosin (Jangjin) Reservoir

Bill Chisholm arrived in Korea via Wonsan and was soon sent as part of a unit to replace the 1st Marine Division on the east side of the Chosin (Jangjin) Reservoir. He recalls almost immediately being surrounded by two divisions of Chinese soldiers. He describes the immense fear he felt in being surrounded by these units.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Wonsan,Chinese,Fear,Front lines

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Conditions at Chosin (Jangjin) Reservoir

Bill Chisholm recalls four horrific days in the Chosin (Jangjin) Reservoir. He notes having nothing to eat and basically living in foxholes which had been made using grenades to blast areas of the frozen ground. Furthermore, he remembers not being outfitted for the -70° temperatures. He provides a detailed account of a mixup when an officer requested additional mortars, code named Tootsie Rolls.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Chinese,Cold winters,Food,Front lines,Living conditions

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Leaving Chosin (Jangjin) Reservoir

Bill Chisholm recounts leaving the Chosin (Jangjin) Reservoir following the horrific fighting going on in the region. He shares his unit was able to evacuate to Ko-to-ri following the building of a Bailey Bridge across the river and on to Heungnam. He recalls the massive sea of humanity he saw in Heungnam as the port filled with the Marines, the soldiers, and thousands of refugees.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,1950 Hamheung Evacuation, 12/10-12/24,Heungnam,Civilians,Communists,Living conditions,North Koreans,South Koreans

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Napalm at Hill 351

Bill Chisholm shares he was sent back to the front lines to Hill 351 following the evacuation to Pusan. On June 6, 1951, he remembers his unit having napalm dropped on them which resulted in burns to his back and eyes. He recounts spending a couple of weeks in a MASH hospital recovering. He offers some additional details on the fighting on Hill 351.

Tags: Busan,Front lines,North Koreans,Personal Loss,Weapons

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


I:          Beautiful city of Wilsonville in the state of Oregon.  It’s my first ever visit to Oregon.  And it’s my great honor and pleasure to meet you, sir.  My name is Jung Woo Han.  I am the President of Korean War Legacy Foundation which has about 1,500 interviews of Korean War veterans, not just from the United States but from other 21 countries that participated in the War.  We are doing this to preserve your memory first of all because it’s been already more than 70 years.



And we want to honor your service and sacrifice of many Korean War veterans who lost their lives and for the family.  But at the same time, we want to give something for teachers so that they can use and when they’re talking about the Korean War in the context of Cold War in their classroom because there is so little about this War which came out with such a beautiful outcome.



Simultaneous economic development and (INAUDIBLE) in Korea and also U.S. and Korea became one of the strongest allies.  They like each other.  Despite that, we don’t teach.  We don’t talk much about it.  That’s why we want to make this interview as a curricular resource.  And the curriculum book that you have that I gave you is part of our publication.  That’s why we are doing this again.  So, pleased to meet with you.



And I’m sure that you’re going to add so much fresh perspective to the Chuncheon Battle which was Chosin Few.  Thank you so much for coming.  And please introduce yourself.  What is your name, sir?

B:        My name is William Chisholm.  I’ll spell the last name, CHISHOLM.

I:          What is the ethnic origin of this last name, Chisholm?  It’s hard to pronounce.


Zan Grey, in his books which were western, in the preface of it he started off the Chisholm Trail. But the wranglers or the people that did the cows and everything else did not pronounce that name Chisholm.  So, he abbreviated it to Chisholm.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Now Chisholm was a movie that John Wayne made also years ago.



I:          Hm.

B:        So, (INAUDIBLE). My father was French, and my mother was Syrian.

I:          Syrian?
B:        Syrian.
I:          Oh.
B:        And my grandmother and grandfather came from Syria in 1902. And they went through Ellis Island in New York.  But from Canton, Ohio, I don’t know what the name itself.



I:          Got it.  What is your birthday?

B:        May 31, 1932.

I:          May?

B:        May 31, 1932.

I:          Thirty-two.  So, that makes you 90?

B:        Yes.

I:          You look like a 50-year-old man.

B:        If you were a girl, I’d give you a big hug.

I:          Thank God I’m not a girl.  Wow.  You look so young.



B:        Thank you.

I:          Thank God that you don’t have much hair in the middle.  If you had hair, you’d look like a 40-year-old man.

B:        Thank you.

I:          Wow.  Very impressive, sir.  How did you maintain that, such?

B:        I don’t know.  It’s, my grandmother lived to 103.  My mother passed away at 99.  So

I:          So, you have a long way to go.



B:        My grandfather passed away at 82 or 83.

I:          Wow.  Good DNA.

B:        Somewhere along the line.

I:          Where were you born?
B:        Stockton, California.

I:          Stockton, St?
B:        Stockton.

I:          Stockton, California.  And tell me about your family background when you were growing up, parents and your siblings?



B:        I had a half-sister, that’s all.

I:          So, you were the only son.

B:        Yes.

I:          Oh.

B:        And we traveled from California to, let’s see, went to Montanna.  We went to Idaho, to Washington and Oregon.  Back in those days, you had to have a job.



My father was an electrician.  In the 30’s it was kind of hard.

I:          Yeah.

B:        It was shortly after the Depression when jobs were hard to come by.  So, he traveled and made a living for his family.

I:          Oh.  So, you had to constantly move around.
B:        Right.
I:          Oh, it must have been hard.


B:        It was hard, especially when I started school because one school I’d go to I’d be behind.  And maybe the next school that I went to I would be, you know, ahead of people.  So

I:          Um hm.  So then, what high school did you graduate, and where and when?

B:        Vancouver High School in the state of Washington.
I:          Um hm.  When?
B:        Nineteen, the last part of ’49.



I:          Um hm.  And there, did you learn anything about Korea?
B:        No, I did not.

I:          Nothing?
B:        Nothing.

I:          Um hm.  Now you are Korean War veteran.

B:        Correct.

I:          Yeah.  We’ll talk about that.

B:        Okay.

I:          Alright.  So, after your graduation, what did you do?

B:        I went into the Army.



I:          You enlisted?
B:        Yes.

I:          Um hm.  Where did you get the basic training?
B:        I enlisted in Portland, Oregon.  Then I went to basic training down in Fort Ord, California.

I:          Um hm.  So, when was it in the Fort Ord in California? What year was it?



B:        Nineteen fifty.  I enlisted on March 1 of 1950.

I:          Um.  So, by the time, had the Korean War broke out?
B:        No.

I:          Not yet.
B:        No.

I:          You didn’t have any idea.

B:        No.
I:          And after that, where did you go?

B:        I was still in Fort Ord.  Then I went down to, let’s see.

I:          You were in Camp Stoneman.

B:        Yes.



I:          Yes.  And then when did you go to Korea?
B:        That would be in September of 1950.

I:          From where?  From Stoneman to

B:        Yes.

I:          So, tell me about it.  September 1950, when did you arrive in Korea, and where please?
B:        I can’t remember.  I was a young man.  I can’t remember.

I:          Was it Pusan or Inchon?



B:        No, I did not go to Inchon.  We landed in, it was on the

I:          Didi you go by airplane?
B:        Oh no. I went over, I remember we shipped over by sea on the HP Freeman.

I:          Uh huh.
B:        Then we got to Camp Drake.
I:          That’s in Japan.

B:        In Japan.
I:          Yeah?



B:        And from there, I know we went by boat and then, you know, my memory is

I:          But definitely not Inchon and not Pusan.
B:        No.

I:          No.

B:        No.  We went up the side of the coast.

I:          Of North Korea?

B:        Yes.

I:          So, that must be Wonsan or

B:        Wonsan sounds like, yes.  Thank you for, you remember more than I do.



I:          My surprise.  So, do you remember what month you arrived in Wonsan Harbor?
B:        I believe it was October.
I:          October.  What was your unit at the time?
B:        I was assigned to the 7th Division 31st Regiment.

I:          Seventh Division and?

B:        Thirty-first Regiment.
I:          Um hm.



I:          How about Battalion?
B:        Second Battalion.

I:          Um hm.  Company?
B:        Company G.

I:          Um.  What was your rank?
B:        Recruit.
I:          What do you mean?
B:        What’s below a PFC?

I:          Really?
B:        Yes.  I was still a recruit at that time.



I hadn’t made PFC yet.  I didn’t make PFC until maybe three or four months after we got there.

I:          I never heard about that.

B:        You never heard about a recruit?

I:          No because everybody had a rank at the time.

B:        I didn’t have no rank.

I:          Why is that?
B:        I have no idea.  I was a good boy, too.

I:          But you didn’t have a rank.

B:        I didn’t have any rank.



I:          Okay.  And what was your specialty? Just Infantryman?

B:        I was a rifleman at the time.
I:          Rifleman.  Most of the Korean War veterans arrived either in Pusan or Inchon or Kimpo because, by air.

B:        Yeah.
I:          But you arrived in Wonsan which is the harbor of the east coast of the Korean Peninsula which is North Korean part of the, you know.



Why were you there?  Did you know why you were sent to there?
B:        No.  Had no idea.

I:          So, what happened after you landed in Wonsan?  Where did you go?  North?

B:        We went inland.  And then we went North.  But I couldn’t tell you where.

I:          Um hm.  How far North?  Were you close to the border?
B:        No.



We were, I think we were inland more because inland, we were called to go over and be a replacement more or less for the First Marine Division.  We were trucked in to replace the Marine Corps there.

I:          Um hm.  Yeah.

B:        And they were pulling all kinds of people from different regiments and everything else to fill in the spots that were supposed to fill in for the Marine Corps.

I:          So, what happened?
B:        What happened where?

I:          You were trying to replace the Marines, right?
B:        Correct.



I:          And you ended up in Chosin Few battle?
B:        Yes.

I:          So, tell me about those things, details please.

B:        Well, the Marine Corps, they pulled out their people, then we went in and filled their spots where they were.  And I always kind of joke about it all the time, you know.  The Marine Corps was, you know, with their backs against the wall and they called in the Army to help them out.  And we joke back and forth.  But we’re still, you know, good friends and everything else.

I:          Um hm.  But do you remember the location where you were?



Udamni or was it around the Chuncheon Lake?
B:        We were at the east end or the east side of the Chosin Reservoir.

I:          Reservoir, yeah, east side of it.

B:        Yes.

I:          Yeah.  And did you actually engage in battle?
B:        Yes.  I think the battle lasted probably for three nights and four days.

I:          Where?  When?

B:        Chosin, as soon as we were there and replaced the Marines, we faced two divisions of Chinese soldiers.



I:          Do you remember if it was December?
B:        November and December 1950.

I:          November and December 1950 yeah, for sure.  And can you describe the three nights and four days of battle with two divisions of Chinese soldiers?  How was it?

B:        Terrifying.



Bugles, whistles. I don’t think that the Chinese really valued lives really cause when they come towards us, they were just like ants crawling.  I’m sorry.



I:          What were you thinking?  You were surrounded by these two divisions of Chinese soldiers.  Were you afraid?  Were you scared?

B:        Was I scared?  I don’t wanna say a bad word.  But hell, yes, I was.  No kidding.  You know, I wasn’t that old.



And I was just hoping that I’d be able to come home really.

I:          Um hm.  You said that three nights constant battle, right?
B:        Correct.

I:          Were you able to sleep at all?
B:        No.
I:          Not at all for three nights?

B:        No.

I:          You’re kidding me.  For three nights you were not able to sleep.

B:        No.

I:          What did you eat then for three nights, for four days?



B:        Nothing.

I:          Where were you?  Were you in the trench or were you in

B:        Well, we were in foxholes basically.  But we were in, yeah.  We had choices.  But basically, it was just, you know, the ground was so hard, you know, when we, you know, actually made the hole which is what we were supposed to do.  But you threw a grenade and, you know, ran for cover.



You’d get the, I’m sorry.

I:          Wasn’t it very cold at the time?
B:        It was 70 to 80 degrees below zero.

I:          Man.

B:        And we lost hundreds of our comrades to cold weather.



Because we did not have cold weather gear.

I:          You didn’t?
B:        No.  I’ve got pictures of myself which will be shown at the Interpretive Center here in Wilsonville, Oregon.  It shows me in what we called fatigues.

I:          Yeah.

B:        And just a regular field jacket and regular combat boots.



I never had any cold weather gear.  I got frostbite.  And I’ve got other ailments along with the cold weather.

I:          You didn’t have any C-ration to eat?
B:        No.

I:          Tootsie Rolls?
B:        Tootsie Rolls were later.
I:          Later.

B:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  Wow.

B:        Oh, the Tootsie Roll story.

I:          Yeah.



B:        You heard that.

I:          Yes, of course.

B:        They were short on 60 mortars, and one of the Lieutenants ordered somebody to get to Division rear and tell them we were out of Tootsie Rolls.  Well, Tootsie Rolls was, I got a blank here.



I:          No problem.

B:        Instead of 60 mortars, we ordered 60 mortars, I mean Tootsie Rolls.
I:          Tootsie Rolls.

B:        The code word

I:          Yes.
B:        For 60 mortars.  And by the time it got to Japan, and they parachute, well they dropped them in by air in the canister, we opened them up and it wasn’t 60 mortars. It was Tootsie Rolls.


That’s what we survived on.

I:          Um hm.

B:        For about a week and a half to two weeks as we were coming out.  It’s just

I:          Do you have PTSD?

B:        Yes.  I see a psychiatrist all the time.

I:          All the time.



B:        All the time.  I’m on a prescription drug for depression, and I still have nightmares.

I:          You still see that flash memory of the battle?  You still see the Chinese?
B:        (SHAKES HEAD)

I:          And that really bothers you.  You wake up, right?
B:        I wake up in a cold sweat.  I hear helicopters.  I stop, wherever I’m at, I stop.  My Grace passed away 10 years ago.  We were in Salem, and near the airport there was a helicopter going over.



And I was at a stoplight.

I:          Uh huh.

B:        And she says Bill, the light’s green. I didn’t hear her.  I froze.

I:          Your wife.
B:        Right.

I:          I know the wives of those Korean War veterans that have PTSD really suffer together.
B:        She was a wonderful woman.

I:          Um hm.

B:        She really was.



I:          I’m sorry that you miss.

B:        Well, 10 years, you know.  I mean, I have a lady that comes in to help me also.  She’s a caregiver.

I:          Um hm.

B:        But I have rheumatoid arthritis, and I have other disabilities that I can’t really dress myself.

I:          Um.

B:        I can’t use shoelaces like you have.

I:          Ah.



B:        Mine have to be Velcro.  I’ve got certain things that are wrong.  So, the VA helps me, and the Veterans Administration is really great.

I:          They should.

B:        Yes.
I:          But as I mentioned in the beginning, you look so young despite so many problems.

B:        My body is old.


I:          Looking back all those years and the moments that you had to spend here like Hell in December of 1950, what do you think about that now?  How do you put that into a perspective?  What happened to you?  What happened to you, and how do you digest it?  You didn’t have to be there.

B:        (INAUDIBLE) though.

I:          Um hm.



Because of several reasons.  I wanted to be in the Army.  Let me put it this way.  I had a very bad relationship at that time with my stepmother.

I:          Um.

B:        That’s why I joined the Army, to get away from her.  Not my father, but to get away from her.

I:          Um.



B:        And if I had to do it again, you know, just, I think when we were going overseas on the ship, I could hear older gentlemen talking, you know.  There were some gentlemen that were in the Second World War, and they were saying yeah.  I said we’re going over there to fight Communism.  It’s not right that North Korea came down and invaded South Korea.



And I could hear these older gentlemen talking about it.  And they had stripes, you know, on their shoulders.  There were some Staff Sergeants, some Master Sergeants in there, you know.  They had gray hair.  And so, you know, I kind of listened, I listened to them.  I was learning, you know, about Korea from them basically.  They knew where we were going.  But I didn’t.



I:          So, you didn’t have a tent?  You didn’t have anything to protect yourself from the freezing cold?  You didn’t have something to eat?  Wow, it’s almost like a miracle that you survived.

B:        It is a miracle that we survived.

I:          Um.

B:        Everything we had was frozen, you know.  We had to keep the equipment and everything else running 24/7.



If we could find something to burn, we burned it.

I:          Had to.

B:        We had to.

I:          Yeah.

B:        You know.  We had guys, we were told, okay.  We had mummy, what they called mummy sleeping bags.  Don’t zip them.
I:          Uh huh.  Because it’s going to be frozen.

B:        Why?  Why can’t we, why can’t we zip them?  Because of the simple reason



We were getting overrun by Chinese sometimes, not in my area.  But if you were in your sleeping bag and you couldn’t unzip it, you were dead.

I:          Right.

B:        No ifs, ands or buts.

I:          How close were you to the Chinese soldiers?
B:        What about hand-to-hand combat.

I:          You did?



B:        Yes.

I:          You did hand-to-hand combat.

B:        Correct.
I:          And that was so many Chinese, more than 300,000 of them there, and you were able to survive.

B:        Correct.

I:          Oh, man.  This is crazy.


So, after those four days, what happened to you?

B:        I came off the line.  And I came off (INAUDIBLE)



We came off the line.  And then we came across the ice.  And

I:          Bill, I’m sorry.  But can you take it off because of the sunlight that has a reflection?  And I want people to be able to see you, right, and straight.  Thank you.



And take your time, and if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.  But I want to hear from you.

B:        This is going to be the hard part (INAUDIBLE). We had to leave some of our dead up there.  And we had, you know, we had capabilities of breaking through the ice and everything else and burying them.



And we came out on the ice, and we, I can’t remember.  But one of them was Colonel Beal.  And he was driving a jeep. And when we were coming across the ice, we were coming towards the Marines, and I hear somebody screaming, you know,



At us as we were coming across the ice cause they thought we were Chinese.  And I heard somebody saying, screaming stand down. Stand down.  Two guys were on machine guns.



Cause they were about ready to open up on us.  I’m sorry.

I:          Oh.

B:        And one of them was Dick Paus.  And Dick just passed away about four months ago.

I:          Oh.

B:        He was part of my group of the chapter.  And he said I remember that night.  He says if that started again, he told us to stand down.



He said we would have been fired on.

I:          Um.  You could have been killed.

B:        Easily.

I:          Easily.  By the friendly fire.

B:        That’s another story.



That’s another story.

I:          Uh huh. And Chinese were always following you guys, right?
B:        No, they didn’t come down.
I:          They didn’t come down?
B:        No.

I:          No.

B:        No.
I:          Thank God.

B:        Yeah. But when we came out of Kodori,

I:          Oh, so you were in Kodori.

B:        Yes.  Excuse me.



We came out of Kodori, and we brought out, there has been a controversy in regard to how many refugees that came out with  us.

I:          You’re right.

B:        And there’s been like 92,000, 95,000, 100,000. And the ones that I heard about were just 92,000 refugees.
I:          Um hm.



B:        And over the years, I have actually met with refugees that didn’t come out with us.  We were in a parade in Vancouver, Washington one time, and we were going by the reviewing stand, and we had Chosin Few, you know, banners on the side of our vehicles and stuff.  When I looked over to the side, there was a Korean lady over there.



She was crying.  So, I was in the lead jeep, and I told the driver, I said well, I’m getting out, you know.  I wanna go over there and see what’s wrong.  And so, by the time I got to the lady, she was still crying and her husband.  And I said what’s wrong?  She said we came out with you and came home out of 92,000 people.



We were at a Milwaukee high school once for Veteran’s Day, and we were in the gymnasium. All the veterans were together.  And the class President was Korean, got up and he says I wanna thank all the veterans here today for making their sacrifices.



Now, this was Second World War, Korea, and I can’t remember (INAUDIBLE).  But he says especially the Chosin Few. And he says if it hadn’t had been for you, I wouldn’t be here.  My grandparents came out with you.   And a few, Senator John Limb, have you heard that name?  He’s Korean.



He made Senator, he lives in

I:          Oh yeah, I heard about it.

B:        He lives in (INAUDIBLE) And he’s very comical sometimes.  He says I was a houseboy.  A lot of the times, he starts his speech that way.

I:          Um.

B:        And he’s very, he’s a very, very smart individual believe me.



He really is.  But he is comical a lot of the time, too.  He’s a wonderful person.

I:          Um.  So, you saw this huge amount of people fleeing from North Korea.

B:        Um hm.

I:          The refugees.

B:        Um hm.

I:          What were you thinking looking at them with you?
B:        Well, there was a problem, too that some of the North Koreans were intermittently with the other people.



And I have seen, we had, well, I’ve seen some of them get shot personally.

I:          Yeah.

B:        And



B:        Quite the thing to see, you know, civilians, especially, I don’t know what you would call them, Mamasan

I:          Um hm.

B:        Carrying their young babies and everything else.  Everything that they’ve got in the world on their backs or.



And those yokes.

I:          Um hm.

B:        That’s another story, too.

I:          Did you know why you were there?

B:        To fight for the Korean people, the South Koreans, the Communists.  The tyranny that North Korea was, you know, when I got back to the United States, I started reading a little bit more about geography, North Korea, South Korea.



And the tyrants like Kim Yung Jung now.  He learned from his father.  And his father learned from his father.  And there’s been people from the United States, an OPPB which I loved to read. I mean, look at, I see where some millionaires and billionaires have sent people over there to North Korea to take care of people that have had cataracts that haven’t seen for years.



And they take them in and do the operation and everything.

I:          Yeah.
B:        And here’s a picture up on the wall.

I:          You mean Sung?
B:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

B:        They’re praising him.  You know, that’s boy.  I feel so sorry for those North Koreans. I really do.



The peasants and everything else.

I:          I’m with you.

B:        They have to go out and take bark off of a tree or some grass and eat it.

I:          Um hm.

B:        I mean, it’s ridiculous.

I:          It is.

B:        And there was a time, friendly fire you say, we were (INAUDIBLLE) in Napalm by our F86 jets.

I:          Um hm.

B:        By that time, I was a squad leader.  This was in June 6 of 1951.



I:          June of 1951.

B:        Yeah.

I:          Um.  Where were you?

B:        Hill 351.

I:          Three fifty-one.  Was it in the Iron Triangle?
B:        No.
I:          Where was it?
B:        We were up, oh Lord have mercy.



Tanks were going up on both valleys, blowing out the bunkers.

I:          Was it east or west side of it?

B:        East.

I:          East.  Punchbowl?

B:        We were going north actually.  I can’t remember the name of the hill we were going up the (INAUDIBLE).



And I remember the old man says get the panels out.  So, we had to get our air panels out because we knew that there was gonna be a Napalm drop.  So, we got the panels off, we got them out in plain sight.  And the next thing you know, the jets are flying by.



And then you could see these silver cylinders coming through the sky.

I:          Porkchop Hill?  Was it Porkchop Hill?

B:        No.  It was not in Iron Triangle, Porkchop, Heartbreak, any of those.

I:          Um.  So, let’s go back to Chosin Few, the Chuncheon Battle.  So, you came through Kodori.



And you mentioned about Kodori.  And I heard a lot of this Kodori stop.  Do you know, are you aware of the Kodori stop?
B:        Yeah, because when the Chinese blew out part of the mountain which was the one we rode coming up, the only way we could actually get out was by having,



I don’t know what the name of the bridge was.  It was.

I:          Yeah, I

B:        Composite, you had to take two to three sections of portable bridge put together by the engineers

I:          Yeah.
B:        Over the gap, that (INAUDIBLE) Pass.

I:          Um hm.  That’s it.



And if we, if they put it together under fire from the Chinese.

I:          Yeah.
B:        And if we, if they hadn’t have put it together, we probably wouldn’t be talking to you.

I:          And the weather was really cloudy and snowy so that airplane was not able to operate.  But suddenly, did you experience that?  Were you there on that night?



B:        Yeah.  It opened up, and it was like daylight almost.  And they were able to drop, I don’t know whatever they called it, Bailey Bridge or whatever.  They were finally able to drop it. It was the second drop that they made. The first drop went somewhere else, and it wasn’t any use to put together.



I:          So, you were actually there when that happened.  Wow.  And then, so you went through Kodori and then Pass and then came down to Hamhung?

B:        Over there.

I:          Hungnam.

B:        To the port.

I:          Yeah.  And so, there must be so much crowded with the Marines and Armies and refugees.



B:        Oh, I’d say.

I:          Can you describe the scene?
B:        It was masses and masses of humanity there at the port.  And it was very gratifying, you know, that you could see all the kids because some of the guys off the ship and everything else had candy bars and stuff and they’d give them to the kids and stuff,



I:          Um hm.

B:        But to see all that humanity, it was very gratifying.  And we got, even at my young age, you know, I knew how they felt because I knew that the tyranny that they were subjected to and everything else.

I:          Oh.  It’s (INAUDIBLE)



The hill 351 was in (INAUDIBLE) the very northeast of the Peninsula and called (INAUDIBLE) or (INAUDIBLE) Mountain. Does that ring a bell for you?
B:        Not really.

I:          Um.  So (INAUDIBLE) and how did you evacuate from there?



Was it

B:        By ship.
I:          By ship.  Yeah.

B:        By ship to Pusan.

I:          To Pusan, right?  And are you aware of the Meredith Victory who carried, transported 14,000 North Korean refugees there?

B:        Correct.

I:          Yeah.  Did you see that?
B:        Captain, well Admiral Lunney has passed away now.
I:          Yeha.

B:        Yeah.

I:          Um hm.  But you were able to see those?

B:        Yes.

I:          In your eyes?

B:        Yes.



I:          How was it?  I mean, that Meredith Victory was supposed to carry equipment and soldiers.  But instead, they emptied everything, and they received 14,000 North Korean refugees.

B:        I guess.  I didn’t count them.

I:          Um hm.  But you were there.
B:        Yes.

I:          You saw it.
B:        Yes.

I:          I just had an interview with the third engineer of the Meredith Victory, Moe Smith.

B:        I’ll be doggone.

I:          Yeah.



It’s already in the newspaper, and you can check that interview on our website.

B:        I don’t have a computer.  My Grace did all of the computer work and everything else.  And I don’t have it up here to

I:          Do you live alone now?

B:        Yes.

I:          Oh.

B:        But see.  I have a caregiver that comes in to help me, to dress me and other things that I

I:          Do you have a cellular phone, mobile phone?  Do you have a phone?



B:        Yes.  But it’s not a Smartphone or an iPhone.

I:          Give me the number so that I’ll call you when this interview is edited and so that I will talk to your caregiver so that she can help you to see it, okay?

B:        Okay.
I:          Yeah.

B:        I can do that.

I:          Yeah.

B:        I got an old flip phone.  I talk and text.  That I can do.

I:          Sure.



Let’s do that, okay?
B:        Okay, I can, thank you.

I:          Thank you.  So, from Hungnam, you went to Pusan.

B:        Yes.

I:          Yes.  And you were not wounded at all?
B:        Yes.

I:          Wow, that’s another miracle there.

B:        That’s another story.

I:          But you got frostbite.

B:        Yes.

I:          Now you are suffering from PTSD.

B:        Yes.

I:          Um.



From Pusan, where did you go?  You went up again to the front line, right?

B:        We got reassigned and went back up to the front line.  And this is where June 6, ’51 where we were, that Hill 351 just sticks in my mind.  So, I don’t, we were going up that, and we got sprayed with Napalm.



Then from there, I went to a MASH unit.

I:          Because you were wounded, burned?
B:        Yeah.
I:          Burned by the Napalm?
B:        Yes.
I:          Um.  Where?
B:        On the backs of my legs.  There are spots, not big blotches, but just spots.

I:          Uh huh.

B:        I jumped into a bunker.

I:          Um.

B:        And the flames went over me.



I:          So, you were transported to the MASH unit.

B:        Yes.

I:          And then what happened?
B:        I was there for at least a couple weeks.  They had, because of the intense heat and everything else, my eyelids and up through this area had blisters, like I had blisters on my back.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And they were trying to treat it there. I was not, they said I wasn’t severely burned, I guess.



But I still had the spots that were burned.

I:          And blisters all around you.

B:        And so, with the intense heat and everything else, they just went ahead and put pads on my eyes and treated me there.  Then I went back to the line.

I:          Again?
B:        Yeah.

I:          You were in that Hill 351 battle on June 6 of 1951.



B:        I’m thinking that’s the hill number.  I’m not sure.
I:          Yeah.  It’s (INAUDIBLE) in (INAUDIBLE) Province.  I mean, can you describe a little bit more detail about that Hill 351 battle?  Was there North Korean or Chinese?

B:        I haven’t the slightest idea.

I:          Must be North Koreans.



And for how long?  How many days that the battle went on?

B:        Maybe a day and a half.

I:          Day and a half.

B:        Right.  That was about it at my recollection.

I:          Um hm.
B:        We were making, Major Holland was our CO.

I:          Um.

B:        That I do remember.

I:          Hm.  Who claimed the hill?

B:        I’m sorry?
I:          Who claimed the hill?  We or North, the enemies?



B:        Well, they held the hill until we took it.

I:          You took it.

B:        As far as I know, we did take the hill.

I:          Yes.  Good.  When did you leave Korea?

B:        September of 1951.

I:          After that., what did you do after you came back?



B:        I went to Camp Roberts in California.  And I was cadre there.

I:          And?

B:        Then I finished my tour there and went to Fort Lewis where I was discharged.
I:          Discharged.

B:        Yeah.
I:          Have you been back to Korea since then?

B:        I went back to Korea in June of 2019.



I:          Invited by the MPVA?
B:        Invited by the South Eden Church.

I:          Oh, (INAUDIBLE) Church.  Tell me about it.  How was it? And you are in a very unique position to be able to tell the young generation here the Korea you saw in 1950 and 21st Century.

B:        (INAUDIBLE) Church sent us a, their church congregation is approximately a little over 40,000 people.



And they set aside $400,000 a year to bring over Korean War veterans that fought for Korea.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And they pay your airfare.  They pay for a five-star hotel and everything for you, no charge at all.  And Admiral Kim who’s a retired Admiral from,

I:          I know him.



B:        You do?
I:          Um.

B:        He’s our buddy.  And you know, he had his voice box.

I:          Right.

B:        And after we came back, Admiral Kim came over to the United States

I:          Yep.

B:        And this was, he came over in July cause June I was there, then we came back.



And his son is a manager out at Antel in Hillsborough. And so, he came over, we had dinner with him and his grandson and his son.  But his son’s daughter couldn’t come.  But anyhow, my friend Ken Babbles is still in contact with Admiral Kim.



I:          I want you to tell us about the Korea saw in addition.  You mentioned about (INAUDIBLE) Church.  But what was it like to be there in the 21st century in Seoul and, were you able to visit the DMZ?  And please tell me those details.  How, what kind of change has been made to those?



B:        When we were at the DMZ, it showed this green building where the armistice was signed and everything else. And the General that was there, I can’t remember his name, but anyhow, his daughter was part of our group along with her husband.  And she had a book that was signed by her father, the General.



And she gave that to the pastor that was in at that time.  Anyhow, when we were at the DMZ, you could see that the towers that were there, we were on the South Korean, and the North Korean was over there.  We didn’t go beyond that green building because of whatever they, they didn’t want us to.

I:          You cannot.  That’s North Korea.

B:        Yeah.  I know.  But anyhow, the towers were empty.  And the cameras and everything else were pointed down at the earth.  And it was very quiet there.

I:          Um.



How do you feel being there again in the DMZ where you were?
B:        It was eerie let’s put it that way cause, it was just creepy kind of.

I:          What about Seoul?



How did it change for you?  Were you able to be in Seoul City when you were in Korea for the War?

B:        No.

I:          No.

B:        No.
I:          What did you see in Korea in 2019?

B:        I saw a beautiful city.  I saw so many people and, you know, they were going about their daily whatever they did.



And ingenuine, smiling, happy.  When we would go someplace and talk with different people, Generals and everything else from Korea, Admiral Kim especially, he puts a suit on and you don’t realize he’s a retired Admiral.

I:          Um hm.



B:        And you know, they’re friendly people. That’s all there is to it. When we left, I think the Han River, they had like one, maybe two bridges across.

I:          Only one.

B:        And now, they’ve got over 20.

I:          Yeah.

B:        And when we were there, they were building another one.



And what was it, I think it was like a cable bridge or something?

I:          Yeah.

B:        That held it up or something.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Futuristic or

I:          Right.

B:        Whatever design.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Yeah, okay.

I:          Um hm.

B:        It was a joke.  But the people are so kind.



I:          As I mentioned over lunch today, you know, it’s obvious because without you and other Korean War veterans and American intervention there in the War, there might be a very different Korea there.

B:        I think of it this way, too, that, I lost my train of thought .



You’ll have to excuse me.  Sometimes I just draw a blank.

I:          It happens to me, too. So, nothing.  But when you left Korea, did you ever imagine that Korea would become like this today that you saw in 2019?

B:        No.

I:          Why not?

B:        Because I was a young man, and I didn’t look towards the future or anything else.



And I felt sorry for the people that were there.  And I didn’t know, you know, what would happen.  But I do know that Korea is, what was it Admiral Kim told me?  The 5th in the world that still helps other countries.

I:          Oh.



B:        Correct me if I was wrong.  But

I:          I can tell you about this.  Korea was the aid recipient country.

B:        Right.
I:          And now they are the member of OECD.  And they are the one who transformed themselves from the aid recipient to aid giving, right.

B:        How do they get the 5th in the world to do that?  Is that approximate?



I:          I don’t know about the

B:        Maybe when Admiral Kim was talking about that, maybe I misunderstood him.

I:          I don’t know about the 5th.  But that’s a real transformation.  Now we’re giving aid to the people who are in need of those, right, yeah.  And it’s the 10th largest economy in the world.  Can you believe that?

B:        Yes.  That I can.



I:          You have to, right, because it’s

B:        I’ve seen it.

I:          You have seen it.

B:        You don’t, when you’re in one of those fancy buses that Kia makes over there, you don’t see any junk cars.  You don’t see any cars blowing smoke and everything else.

I:          Koreans don’t like that.



I:          So,

B:        But I am just so glad for the Koreans right now where they’re at, and I just, with this, I’m sorry, but with, I don’t like to get into politics.  But with Putin doing what he’s doing right now, I think it’s completely, I’m not gonna say what I wanna say.  But I’m so worried that that little twerp in North Korea



And he’s still firing missiles, I worry about him.  And that’s, I think everybody else is worried about him also cause you don’t know what he’s gonna do.

I:          Right.  That’s the real problem.  That is the last puzzle that we need to work on about the Korean question.



Have you ever regretted to be in Korea in that three days, three nights, and four days in Chuncheon Lake?

B:        I’m just glad that I’m here and able to talk to you.  I didn’t know if I was gonna make it out of there or not.  I had no idea.

I:          Um hm.  Thank God really.

B:        Yes, thank God.



Thank God that I got home.  But we still had hundreds over there.

I:          Exactly.

B:        You know.  Yeah.  And that’s what DPAA is doing, Defense POW MIA Accounting Agency.  And we hope that we can go back to North Korea where most of the remains believed to be still there and being able to excavate it and return those to the families.



B:        Well, I know personally that, he’s passed.  But General Ray Davis who’s a four-star General with the Marine Corps, he would come to some of our conventions sometimes, and he personally went over there to North Korea three times to talk to Ding Dong or whatever you wanna call him, excuse me.



I told, sometimes it’s a little humorous.  I don’t wanna call him what I really want.

I:          Yeah.

B:        (INAUDIBLE) But anyhow, and he said no.  He said you can’t go in there.  He gave him the coordinates and everything else, and he says we’ve got people    there.  We know where they’re at.  Well, you can’t go in there.  So

I:          Huh.



I:          What would you say to the Marines who fought there?
B:        I thank God that they didn’t open fire on us when we were coming across the ice.  And like I say, Dick Paus who has just recently passed away was one of the gunners down there.  And he was in the Marine Corps.

I:          What do you wanna hear from the Marine that you replaced, and you had to suffer for that?



B:        Could you repeat that please?
I:          What would you want to hear from the Marines that you replaced?
B:        There’s a lot of controversy about that, that if we did not hold that are there

I:          Um hm.

B:        those Chinese would have come down through us if we didn’t hold and annihilate the Marines at Kodori.



But like I say, it’s controversial.  But that’s.

I:          What do you mean by controversial because that’s almost like an obvious course of thinking, wasn’t it?

B:        Well, I think if you were talking to the Marine Corps, they’ll say well you know, we held it.

I:          Oh, okay.

B:        But actually, if we hadn’t held there at that particular time, they could have broke through.



I:          Do you remember what date was that, the three nights, four days that you had to suffer?
B:        No.

I:          December?
B:        November, December, four nights, no I can’t remember.

I:          Okay.

B:        I’m sorry.

I:          No.  So now I understand that.



It’s a kind of controversy about those, you know.  But 7th Division, 31st Regiment, 2nd Battalion, G Company.  You were as a status of recruited, not even a PFC.  Later you became what, PFC?  What was the rank that you



B:        Well, I was Corporal

I:          Corporal

B:        Then Staff Sergeant.  Right at that time when we were in battle, you moved up pretty quickly as people

I:          Die.  Um hm.  Do you remember the first meal that you had in Hungnam when you evacuated from there?



What did you eat?

B:        In Hungnam?
I:          Yeah.  You were able to eat from that time, right?

B:        I think we had

I:          Still C-rations?

B:        I think it was C-rations.  I’m not sure.  It was C-rations.

I:          Um hm.



I:          Bill,

B:        What?
I:          You didn’t know about Korea, and you were there at one of the most severe battles period.  Now you’re back and have been to Korea and were able to see what Korea is now.  What is Korea to you personally?  The country that you didn’t know but you had to fight for them?  What is Korea to you?  Is it too abstract?



B:        I think Korea right now is a country that is surviving, it has survived the most horrific, savage battle of its’ life, and it’s a survivor right now. And the nation should be proud of what they have done and accomplished really.



I:          And your honorable service was a big part of it.

B:        Yeah.

I:          It is a big part of it and will be remembered.

B:        Hopefully.

I:          Yeah, of course.  That’s why we are doing this.

B:        Okay.

I:          You know?  Yeah.  It has to be.  We haven’t done much about it.  And that’s why we’re trying to do the best we can before it gets too late.  And so



B:        Well, you’ll have to excuse me because sometimes I say something, I don’t, when I was there, I was young enough that I still don’t remember a whole bunch of what happened.  It just, yeah.

I:          Come on.

B:        What can I say?



I:          Of course, yeah.   It’s been more than 70 years, and it’s like going back to splash of the memory that really still bothers you and, you know.  So

B:        There’s specific things that I can remember.  But it’s like going back into the Twilight Zone.  And

I:          Any other episode on that three nights and four days that you haven’t told me?



I men, we need to hear from you as detailed as possible.

B:        All you can do is just, well the first night probably is bells, not bells, bugles

I:          Bugles.

B:        Shells, whistles, you know, they kept coming at you



I:          No matter what.

B:        And you got machine guns there, and they’re just mowing them down like crazy, you know, and you’re just crawling over the dead.  And it’s, like I said, you know, I didn’t think they even worried about the ones they were crawling over really.  Their wives,



I:          And that has been for three nights, constantly.

B:        Not all the time.

I:          Not all the time.

B:        For the biggest part of the time, yes.

I:          Um.

B:        And there’d be flares going off all the time during the night.



I:          Bill, it’s my honor and pleasure to meet you, sir, and be able to hear from you.  I know it’s not easy, and you still suffer from PTSD. I really, really hope that it can be better for you.  And I’ll pray for you.  But we want to remember that, and we want to let younger generations know about these lessons from the Korean War,



How U.S. soldiers in there and what they did and

B:        Thank you.

I:          Yeah.  So, Bill, thank you again.

B:        Thank you.

I:          Thank you for your fight for the Korean nation, and I wish the very best for you and for your health.  Thank you, sir.

I:          (INAUDIBLE)