Korean War Legacy Project

Bob Wickman


Bob Wickman was a Navy hospital corpsman attached to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Company I, 3rd Platoon during the Korean War. As he was close to getting drafted, he decided he preferred a choice in where he served, so he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in the fall of 1950. In February 1953 when his unit received orders to go to sea, he was ordered to report to Camp Pendleton in California where he received additional combat medical training and training on how to be a “Marine.”  He was sent to Korea as part of the 33rd Replacement Draft. He served above the 38th Parallel near Boulder City and the Berlin and East Berlin Outposts. In recent years, he has shared his experiences of the Korean War with students as part of living history days at local schools. He has been fortunate to return to Korea since his service.

Video Clips

Wanted a Choice

Bob Wickman shares that as the possibility of being drafted neared, he wanted the opportunity to choose which branch of the service he would serve in, so on September 28, 1950, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy for four years. He recalls how after basic training he was interviewed to determine what might be the best fit for him. He desperately wanted to be in aviation, but his poor vision prevented that. He reminisces about how he managed to fool the vision screening. He recounts how he ultimately ended training as part of a naval hospital unit.

Tags: Basic training,Home front

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Arriving as a Hospital Corpsman

Bob Wickman shares he arrived in Korea in May 1953 and traveled to Incheon by June 9, 1953. He explains he was attached to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, I Company in the area north of Ascom City, above the 38th Parallel near the Berlin and East Berlin Outposts. He recalls the words of wisdom his new duty leader told him upon his arrival and offers details about what his duties would be while serving in the region.

Tags: Incheon,Front lines,Living conditions,Weapons

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Treating Marines on the Front Line

Bob Wickman recalls some of the very first patients he treated while serving as a hospital corpsman near the front line in Korea. He notes that in addition to providing medical care that corpsmen were frequently mother, father, and chaplain all at once. He describes staying in "crab holes" until his services were needed and then quickly responding before returning to his "crab hole" which was cut from a side of the trench line.

Tags: Chinese,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans

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Lived in Constant Fear

Bob Wickman shares he was only in Korea for a bit over a month, but he experienced some severe fighting near the Berlin and East Berlin Outposts in July 1953. He recalls that at twenty-two he was "old" compared to many of the young Marines he was treating. He notes they lived in constant fear, not necessarily of dying, but of being hurt.

Tags: Chinese,Fear,Front lines

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What a Hospital Corpsman Carries

Bob Wickman describes the supplies he carried while attending to Marines on the battlefield. He shares that much of the gear which included battle dressings, scissors, tape, and morphine were stuffed into pockets of their uniform to avoid being easily identified by the enemy. He notes that he carried grenades but was fortunate to never have used them.

Tags: Fear,Front lines,Living conditions

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Stories of the Wounded

Bob Wickman explains that though he only served a short time in Korea, he was there at the time of the armistice. He recalls what he terms the "fiasco" at the Berlin and East Berlin Outposts as well as the severe hand-to-hand combat in the trench lines near Boulder City. He recalls some of the more severely injured he treated during this time period.

Tags: 1953 Armistice 7/27,Chinese,Front lines,Living conditions,Personal Loss

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You Do Things for Other People

Bob Wichman offers his own advice to the young people of today. He believes that one needs to do things for others. He reflects on how after the Korean War and at the start of the Vietnam War the world experienced a generation of takers. He expresses hope that the new generations have become givers again.

Tags: Home front,Message to Students,Pride

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


I:          It’s the beautiful city of Wilsonville in the state of Oregon.  My name is Jongwoo Han.  I am the President of the Korean War Legacy Foundation which has about 1,500 interviews of Korean War veterans, not only from the United States but all other 21 countries that participated in the War.  We are doing this to preserve your memory because it’s been already more than 70 years ago since the breakout of the Korean War in 1950.



And we want to honor your service. But at the same time, we want to challenge the reality of the Korean War as Forgotten War so that this interview will be analyzed by the teacher fellows that are working for my Foundation.  And they will make it available as a curricular resource for the other history teachers when they’re talking about the Korean War in the context of Cold War.  I think, and I believe that is the best way to keep your legacy and the place of the Korean War in world history.



That’s why we are doing this. It’s my great pleasure and honor to meet you, sir.  And thank you for coming.  Please introduce yourself.  What is your name, sir?

B:        Bob Wickman.  WICKMAN.

I:          What is your birthday?

B:        March 25, 1931.

I:          Nineteen thirty-one.  That makes you 90?

B:        Ninety-one.



I:          I don’t see any wrinkles in your forehead.

B:        Well, that’s what makeup does.

I:          Is there any secret that makes you so healthy and looking young?
B:        No.

I:          No?
B:        I don’t want to be old.

I:          Of course not.

B:        No.
I:          Hu.

B:        There’s no secret.

I:          You look great, sir.

B:        Thank you.

I:          Yeah.  And where were you born?
B:        Minnesota.

I:          Minnesota.  What city?
B:        It was a township called Aitkin.  AITKIN.




I:          AI

B:        TKIN.

I:          TK

B:        AITKIN.

I:          TKIN.

B:        N.  That’s it.

I:          Atkin.

B:        No, Aitkin.

I:          Minnesota.

B:        Yes.

I:          I know Minnesota.  It can be cold.  It can be very hot but beautiful.

B:        Yes.

I:          Beautiful.  Please tell me about your family background, your parents and your siblings when you were growing up.



B:        Oh gosh.  I have an older brother.

I:          Hm.

B:        And he was, they lived in a city (INAUDIBLE) Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  And then they moved to Aitkin where I was born.  And we had, my dad was the grocery business. Mom was pretty much a housewife and a hard worker.



And my brother and I grew up getting in trouble and staying out of trouble and doing lots of good things together, yeah.

I:          So, two boys in your family.

B:        Two of us, yeah.

I:          Uh huh.  Younger brother or older?
B:        Older brother.

I:          So, you are the second

B:        Yes.

I:          And the last.

B:        Yes.

I:          Tell me about your educational background, what school you went through and what high school did you graduate and when.

B:        Well, I went to school in Aitkin from kindergarten up through, into the 10th grade.



And we moved to Oregon in December.  We left Aitkin in December of 1946 and arrived in Salem, Oregon in January 1947.

I:          Uh huh.

B:        So, then I was a Sophomore when we left Aitkin and enrolled in Salem High School.  At that time there was just one high school in Salem.


I:          Salem.  SA

B:        Salem, Oregon.  SALEM.

I:          SALEM.

B:        Yeah.
I:          Salem High School.  And when did you graduate?
B:        Nineteen forty-nine.

I:          Before we go into  more details about your Korean War experience, I want to ask you.  Did you learn anything about Korea from your high school?

B:        Very little.

I:          Very little means there was something?
B:        Oh yeah. It was mentioned about it in a paragraph?
I:          Oh?
B:        Though it was very little.


We knew that it was over there.  But that was about it.  And, although we had good geography classes.  That was a long time ago.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Yeah.
I:          But at least you were informed about the location.

B:        Yes.

I:          That’s pretty good actually compared to all other interviews that I have done.  They didn’t even know where it was.

B:        Well, I didn’t really know where it was.  But I  knew of it.

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

B:        Well, I graduated in ’49 and worked for a year at a service station until September 1950.



I:          September 1950.

B:        Yes.

I:          And that’s already, by September, the Korean War was on.

B:        Yes.

I:          Did you know about that?

B:        I did.  I have some good friends who were in the Marine Corps Reserve at Salem.  And they had been activated and were over there, they were in Korea while I was close to being drafted cause I wanted a choice.  I didn’t like somebody telling me what I had to do like that.



B:        So, I did make the choice, I took the oath from the Navy for four years.

I:          When did you join them, enlisted?

B:        September 28, 1950.

I:          Twenty-eighth.

B:        Yeah, 9/28/50.

I:          So, where did you get the basic?

B:        San Diego.

I:          San Diego.  Can you tell me about what kind of basic training did you get?




B:        Oh, it was, they kind of brain wash you from your normal thoughts so that they can reeducate you in the military manner.  And that’s fine.  I think boot camp was about 11 or 12 weeks, I don’t remember exactly for sure.



And we had classes in seamanship, and we had classes in all sorts of categories, you know.  And then we were interviewed about six weeks into our training.  We were interviewed to find out where they think we might be best suited.  Well, I wanted to be in Aviation, but my vision was such that it was no good.



When I enlisted in the Navy, I had to memorize the eye chart.  I really did.  In Salem, Portland where I took the oath up there, and down at San Diego.  With a name of W, I would be at the end of the line.  So, by the time I got to the eye chart, I had it memorized.  And

I:          To cheat your vision?

B:        Huh?

I:          To cheat your vision?

B:        Yeah.  My vision was uncorrectable.  It was 6 8 which isn’t very good.

I:          You were smart.

B:        Huh?
I:          You were smart.

B:        I don’t know about that.



But then anyway, when we went to the interview, not being in the Aviation, the interviewer asked me if I want to, what I wanted to be.  I said, well, I’d like Aviation somehow.  Well, you can’t fly because of your eyes.  You wanna be in electronics?  And I said oh, electrician.  No, I’m not gonna like that.  So, I said, well, what about a hospital corpsman?  And he said are you sure?  I said, well I’ve always been interested somewhat in the medical area.



So, he knew where I was gonna go right away because of the attrition in Korea.  So, when I got out of boot camp, I was sent over to the Navy hospital then for training in the hospital cadre.  That was eight weeks.  And then after I graduated there, they said if you studied hard and if you’re an honor man, you’ll get your choice of the duty stations available.



I:          Um hm.

B:        Well, I studied hard. I was number 10 on the honor map deal.  So, everybody ahead of me got to pick what I thought was the best duty.   I ended up with the best duty and stayed in San Diego.  I was there on a ship’s company, on the staff.  And then my first duty station on the hospital was on a ward,



The number of the building was 361, we called it Death Valley because we averaged a death a day on that war.

I:          Oh.

B:        It was older people, older to us which was about 45 or 50. And they were debilitating problems, you know, and that’s the way it was.  Well, I had not had any boot leave, so oh I don’t know when it was, January or something like that or after.



I got leave and came home for, oh, a couple weeks or so.  I went back, and then I got a real good duty station in CSR, Central Surgical Supply.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Which prepared instruments and so on for minor surgeries on the ward, like excising a cyst or something like that, you know.



And I was there until 1952 and then was sent back to NTC on ship’s company.

I:          What is NTC?
B:        Naval Training Senter,  yeah

I:          Uh huh.

B:        And I was there until February of 1953.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And the orders for going to sea on a ship usually came out the first Monday of every month.



So, week by week they bypassed us for going to sea.  Well, the orders came in on one Monday, I think it was probably February 12 or something like that.  And those went to sea on transport ships, mostly.  So, on Tuesday morning, we thought we were clear.  But then we got, eight of us Corpsmen got orders to go to the Marine Corps.



So, from there, I went to Camp Delmar which is Camp Pendleton and went to school there.  That was a four-week school, two weeks of combat medical and then two weeks being a “Marine”.  And then in, let’s see, May, yeah, it had to be May, late Mary I was in the 33rd replacement draft.



We boarded a ship in San Diego and went to Korea.  The ship was the USS General Maiggs, MAIGGS.

I:          Hm.

B:        And it was a good ship.

I:          What kind of ship was it?

B:        What kind of a ship?

I:          Yeah.

B:        A converted Liberty ship I think, or official transporting troops.

I:          Transporting, yeah.

B:        Yeah, troop transports.



I:          And when did you leave for Korea?

B:        In May.

I:          May 1953.

B:        Yeah.  We got to Korea in June.

I:          Um.

B:        I don’t know, about June 9 or something like that I think it was.

I:          Where did you arrive, in Incheon?
B:        Inchon.

I:          Um.

B:        Yeah. From Incheon, then we went to Ascom City.  And then we were sent out to our units.



I:          So, what was your unit?
B:        Where I went to?

I:          No, unit, yes.

B:        When I got to Korea, what the unit was?

I:          Yeah.

B:        I went to 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines.

I:          Third Battalion

B:        Seventh Marine Regiment.  And I was put in Item Company which was I Company.  They called it Item Company at that time.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And that’s where I started.  They were in the, the 1st Marine Division was in Reserve at that time.



B:        So, that was good.  And then I was, actually ended up in the third squad of the third platoon of Item Company.  So, that would be the, that’s how they went up on the hill then.

I:          So, can you describe exactly the location where you served?  Is it above, north of Ascom City?

B:        Well yeah, yes.  Yeah.



Well after, when the Division went back on line, we were up above the 38th.  We were up in, north of Munsa-ni.

I:          Munsa-ni?

B:        Yeah, north of there.

I:          Yeah.

B:        And I was on an outpost.  The main outpost was Border City, and the outposts were Berlin and East Berlin.

I:          Ah, Berlin and East Berlin.

B:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah?


B:        So anyway, when I got to the company, you know, and introduced my squad leader and a platoon Sergeant, the squad leader in the tent there he said, well, welcome aboard.  He said now we’ll take care of you as best we can.  But he said if you live 48 hours, you’re gonna be okay.  So, I thought oh boy.

I:          What a welcoming.

B:        Yeah, it was.  Well, it was honest.



I:          That much severe battles going around at the time?
B:        What?

I:          That much severe battle going around?

B:        Oh, back on the hill, it was very severe.

I:          Oh.

B:        Yeah.  We went back on the hill on July 5, 1953.  And that’s when we went to Boulder City, and that’s when we had the outposts from East Berlin, yeah.  And we relieved the Army, I think it was the Army 25th Division.



And they had sent, the Marines had sent an amassed party up to the area.

I:          Hm.

B:        And of course, Marines being Marines, the Army lost a lot of gear.  We had, my actual weapon was an M1 rifle issued.  I ended up with an M2 carbine and eventually a 45 pistol.



The M2 carbines, they were stolen from the Army.  They had stole them and buried them in the tent floor so nobody would find them.  When it came time for us to go to the hill, they dug them up and cleaned them up.

I:          Hm.

B:        And my first up there in Boulder City, we had to dig foxholes.

I:          Um.

B:        And that’s a, there’s supposed to be a foxhole generally was just big enough for one or two guys.



Well, it turned out it was a pretty good-sized foxhole.  It’s the only time in  my life I’ve ever slept standing up.  (INAUDIBLE)

I:          So, you were trained as a medic.

B:        Hospital corpsman.

I:          Hospital corpsman.

B:        That’s the term that they used, yeah.

I:          Right.

B:        Yeah, Army uses medics.  It’s terminology.

I:          But you were in the unit that has severe battles going around.



Did you work as a hospital corpsman?

B:        Yes.  The corpsman, if the Marines went out on patrol, the corpsman went right with them.

I:          Right.

B:        They don’t go out and call the corpsman or anything like that.  You were with them.  And many times, corpsmen had to go out front and bring them back you know and so on and so forth.

I:          So, tell me something that you still remember dealing with a wounded soldier or, please.



B:        Well, the first wounded soldier, or wounded Marine, was, a Marine came in holding  his eye.  He wasn’t shot, but the concussion, artillery or big mortars just lodged in his eye, and he was holding it.  And that was the first wound that I treated.

I:          Um hm

B:        And uh, I’ll always remember that.  That was spectacular as far as I was concerned.



I:          What do you mean by spectacular?

B:        That doesn’t happen very often.  Eyes usually don’t come out that well.

I:          Uh huh.

B:        Easily I should say, yeah.  But there was that.  Oh, I don’t know.  You know, corpsmen are, they do different things, you know.  We’re mother, father, chaplain all at once besides medical.

I:          Um.

B:        And we would treat the wounded.  When I was, well, my first (INAUDIBLE) was to go out to East Berlin.



I had been called for some reason, I still don’t know why, they wanted me to go down to a vacated Army facility, a camp close, and inspect it for sanitation.

I:          Hm.

B:        Well, you know you’re trained about that.  But I didn’t know anything about sanitation per say.



B:        So, I‘m down there, and I’m walking up through the area, I looked in the tents and there was a beautiful brand new flack jacket, brand new.  The Marines were just layers, and they were worn out (INAUDIBLE).  This was spun glass.  So I went in the tent, and I left my flack jacket and put that one on.

I:          Um hm.

B:        I walked out the deal, out for tent and here was the 2nd Lieutenant Army came back and he says doc, where did you get that jacket?

I:          Oh.



B:        I thought boy, I’m in trouble now.  I said, well, I found it in that tent, Lieutenant.  And as luck would have it per say, the Chaplain’s jeep driver came up and said doc, we need you to go out on the hill.  So, the Lieutenant said, well, it sounds like you might need that more than me.  So, I’ll take yours and turn it in, and you can have mine.  Now that, I checked.  It was one size too small.



I was a little bit huskier than I am now.  But I  kept it.  And I wore it.  And it worked.  And so, then we went back down.  And then I was to go out to East Berlin that night.  And the corpsman, would have been an officer, had been killed, and his name was Jim Rooney.  And I didn’t know him, he was in the 31st or 32nd draft, a little ahead of me.



But anyway, went out to the, you go up, they call it a gate.  It was not a gate.  It’s just where you get in and out.

I:          Um hm, um hm.

B:        And when I went up, and we went up there in the dark, you know.  And you have to adjust pretty well to the dark, be quiet.  We got up to the gate and I fell over a body.  Well, it happened to be Rooney.  So anyway, we got up there and into the area and spent, excuse me, two or three nights.



Up there.  And a lot of, well, they called it H Line fire.  The North Koreans were, I don’t know, or Chinese or North Koreans, but they were firing on us all the time, you know, with mortars and (INAUDIBLE)

I:          Yeah.

B:        So, we were there.  And then there was a trench line, you know, normally a trench line was like World War I you see in the movies.



I:          Yeah.

B:        Five or six feet.  This trench line around our outpost was only about three feet or so.  It had been blown in.  So anyway, we had crab holes stuff, not foxholes but crab holes were cut out over the side of the trench line, and you had to get in there.  And the crab hole I had, we had (INAUDIBLE) You were only supposed to have one guy in there.  Well, there were three of us in there.

I:          Hm.



B:        Well, there was one of the Marines.  His name was Stewart.  He was a Corporal.  And he was pretty much on the front side of the compost toward, it had to be like gooey land we called it.  And during the border fire, he got hit.  So, they called the (INAUDIBLE), so I went down there quickly, and I put on a bandage quickly.



I went back to my crab hole and pretty soon, Doc, Stewart needs you.  I thought oh no, did he get hit again?  Well, it was my error.  I did not do a good job.  That was the only time I didn’t do a good job.

I:          Hm.

B:        I (INAUDIBLE)  I was, regardless of where you go, there were certain body functions that had to happen.  So anyway (INAUDIBLE), I had to urinate.



So, one of the Marines, his name was Charles Taylor, PFC Taylor, he was old.  He was 26 and was a draftee.

I:          Hm.

B:        I said (INAUDIBLE) Taylor, where can I go?  He said just stand up.  You’ll be alright.  Are you sure?  Yeah, you’re okay.  So, I’m up there relieving myself.  And I look down and here (INAUDIBLE) walked up.  The goonies had me (INAUDIBLE0 with a machine gun.



So, I ducked down, right over my  head they cracked. So, I didn’t have to go for a while. But you know, that’s very serious, but it was kind of funny.

I:          Yeah.  Bob, you enlisted in the Navy because you wanted to choose rather than be ordered to go.

B:        Rather than be drafted.

I:          And then you went for almost like two years of medic training and practices in the United States away from the War.



But at the last minute, in June, you went into Korea and belonged to the Marines.  And then you were in the far front line of the battle.

B:        That’s correct.

I:          Until July 27.

B:        Yeah.  I was on the hill the night the fires broke out.

I:          What a change.

B:        What a change?

I:          Yeah.

B:        It was quite a change, yeah.

I:          So, you were there about a month, right, or two months?



B:        Well, I got there in June.  So it was, early June.

I:          Two months.

B:        Early June.  It would be about a month and a half.

I:          About 1 ½ months.

B:        Yeah.

I:          But that was one of the most severe battle periods because nobody wanted to lose any inches of the

B:        No.  I wrote it down on here.  We had the, between July 24 and 26th, that’s when the North Koreans or the enemy was trying to overrun the outposts.



There were 40 Green Berets killed, 360 wounded.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And obviously, we were kind of busy.  And yeah.  It was pretty hard.

I:          You must have witnessed so many wounded soldiers and death.

B:        Quite a few.

I:          What were you thinking?  Were you afraid?  Were you able to deal with it?  It’s all kind of




B:        Well, I think at that age, you are, oh what is the word, you are, I can’t think of the word for it. It means that you’re gonna live forever, you know.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And that’s what you think of at that age.  You know, I was actually old when I was in the Marines.


The Marines that I was training were 19, 18, 17 years old.  And I was, let’s see, 22.  So, anyway, yeah.  It’s

I:          Were you afraid?
B:        Oh yeah.  I lived in constant fear.

I:          Um hm.

B:        I was afraid all the time.

I:          You were thinking that you were going to be killed.

B:        Oh, I didn’t know if I’d be killed or not.

I:          Um.

B:        But I just didn’t like being hurt.  I bruise easily.  You can look at my arm how bruisey.



B:        I don’t know really how to explain it.  But at that age, your mindset is such that you’re gonna make it, you know.  Nobody’s gonna get you here.  I think that in the training, I don’t know which part it was, in the San Diego hospital corps school training  or in the Marines, probably in your unit.



The corpsman has to be objective, but you are still subjective.

I:          Right.

B:        So, I was forced to, I think, obtain most of the objectivity.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Yeah.

I:          You must have carried the bag for the medicine and so on, right?

B:        Well, we did have what you call a unit 1.  It was a bag that you carried over your shoulder.

I:          Um hm.



Unit 1.

B:        Unit 1 is what it was called.

I:          And what does that have inside?
B:        Battle dressings, scissors, tapes, Morphine.

I:          Morphine.

B:        Oh yeah.  We always had Morphine with us.

I:          And were you able to do some sort of surgery, simple surgery?  No, you were able to sew?

B:        We could if we had to.

I:          Uh huh.

B:        I did not.  I didn’t have to.  I had  buddy who was wounded, a corpsman.



He was wounded in the left with shrapnel.  He pulled the shrapnel out and sewed himself up. (INAUDIBLE) But that’s what we carried in there.  And however, the clothing we had was World War II.

I:          Um hm.

B:        You know, they show World War II guys only saddle pockets in their trousers and so on, and in their jackets.



Well, we did not necessarily carry the unit 1 with us.  That was an identifiable thing.

I:          Um hm.

B:        If we went on patrol, we would take two groups of people who were identifiable, or three.  One was the Lieutenant.  He carried a 45 pistol.  The other was a radio operator cause he had to whip out the radio.

I:          Yeah.

B:        The third one was a corpsman.  So, we never carried anything identifying us visually as corpsman, as a, you know, (INAUDIBLE0 get rid of us (INAUDIBLE)


I:          Um hm.

B:        They were kind of in trouble I guess.  So, we used to take the battle dressings and all of our gear we would potentially need and stuff them in our pockets.  And we also carried the weapons that I carried for days.  Fortunately, I never had to use it.  I was, you know, pretty lucky.

I:          Hm.  You were very lucky.

B:        I was, yeah.



I:          Were you able to write letters back to your family from there?

B:        Yes.

I:          What did you write about?

B:        The letters for home. I told them what, well, you don’t tell them everything.  You just tell them where you are and what the weather is, you know you’re okay and when we’d move there and move there.

I:          Um hm.  So, you told me about the day of Jully 27, the Armistice.  What was it like to be there seeing the War is officially ending?



B:        Uh, it was pretty good.  They had, after the fiasco on Berlin and East Belin and Boulder City

I:          Um hm.

B:        The Marines and the United States gave up Berlin and East Berlin.  So, the battle was Boulder City primarily.  And that was where most of the casualties probably came because the North Koreans were in our trench lines.



It was hand to hand combat.  And the Marines were called for VT fire, variable times, fire where  you know, they could program it so that it will detonate upon the ground which it did, you know.  And we had some Marines who had never seen that fire.  So, two of them went up on top of a bunker to watch it.

I:          Hm.

B:        Well, that was a mistake.  They’d go across the farm.



B:        Their backside was open.  They all got shot.  They didn’t make it at all.

I:          Ah.

B:        But (INAUDIBLE)Or there was another corpsman, Jack Samuel.  He was in our company (INAUDIBLE), and he was severely wounded.  It was at Boulder City toward the end of it.



He had taken mortar fire.  I saw it, and I thought he was gonna be dead for sure.  His right arm was going backwards, just hanging by tendons.  Well, I have since seen him.  I don’t know if he’s still living.  But a number of years ago, I got together with him and saw him.  He went to a hospital ship, and they wanted to amputate, and he said no.  They sent him to Japan.



Fortunately for him, there was an orthopedic surgeon there.

I:          Hm.

B:        Who Jack had been stationed with in the Great Lakes.  So, he repaired Jack’s arm.  When I saw Jack, he was able to play tennis.

I:          Hm.

B:        His right hand was pretty good.  And I had another man that I used to see frequently, corresponded, Lee Bright.  He was a machine gunner for a heavy weapons company.  I had treated him.



He got a leg wound.  (INAUDIBLE) which is immaterial.  Brought him in and he got covered up and all that and he evacuated.  And he went on to the hospital ship Haven.  (INAUDIBLE)  And prior to going, he carried, his weapon was a 45-caliber pistol (INAUDIBLE)

I:          Um hm.

B:        He said doc, can you take care of my pistol?  I don’t want to lose it.  Okay, I’ll take care of it.



B:        So, in the interim of him being gone and returning to the company, the Marines needed to inspect the weapons one night for another combat patrol.  So, I gave it to them, to the Marines hoping to get it back.  Well, I don’t know what happened to the pistol.  When he got back, he was a little upset cause I didn’t have his weapon for him. Yeah.

I:          So, you must have witnessed so many wounded soldiers, you know, those who sacrificed, they were killed, and they cannot tell about those.



But you are the one who were lucky to survive but had to deal with so many wounded soldiers.

B:        Yeah.

I:          So, you know about the Korean War, how serious that was at the end of the

B:        It was pretty serious, yeah.

I:          And because of that sacrifice, Korea is now the strongest ally to the United States.



And the Korean War has a very special place in the world history.

B:        Yes.

I:          But we don’t teach about this. We don’t

B:        It’s sad, isn’t it?  I taught at schools since 2000, right there in the high school in (INAUDIBLE) where I live.  And we speak to the classes.  And, Living History days is what we refer to them as.  And we would go to the classes, not a big group, not like the auditorium, individual classes.

I:          Ah.



B:        And talk to the students.

I:          Yeah.

B:        And at that time, the classes were 90 minutes which is very comfortable cause you could talk to them, and they would ask questions.

I:          Yeah.

B:        We could tell them about (INAUDIBLE)

I:          But we are outnumbered, and we cannot go on like that.  That’s why we are doing this.  We want to make curricular resources for the teachers to come for the next generation and they can still talk about it.

B:        Yeah.

I:          Um.



When did you come back from Korea?

B:        Nineteen fifty-four.  July of ’54 when I was in San Francisco.

I:          July?

B:        Yeah. It was about Jully 2nd or 3rd.

I:          Did anybody ask you where had you been when you came back?

B:        No.

I:          No.  They knew.

B:        Well, I didn’t know anybody to tell.  Oh, I did, too.  I knew George Ducotti, my (INAUDIBLE), buddy.  His family was from (INAUDIBLE)


And they knew where I was because I had corresponded with them also.  And they met me, yeah.  My brother didn’t come down there.  But Dick and Lou told me they weren’t, that was their name, came and they took me out to Top of the Mark.



But prior to that 68 hours at San Francisco, we had heavy water. The seas were rough, and we were taking water on one day on the ship.  My glasses were up on the (INAUDIBLE), regular glasses.  They fell off.

I:          Oh.

B:        I always took the top bunk for a reason. If anybody was seasick above me, I didn’t want   it coming down.  So, I always took the top bunk



B:        And they fell on the floor, or the deck of the ship from that compartment.  The fire watch came over to find out what they stepped on.  So, I did have a pair of dark glasses early on.  Okay.  So, when we were up at the Top of the Mark, I wore dark glasses.  (INAUDIBLE)  And I never was a big drinker.  Never really was.  But however, I sure had a lot of people in front of me.  All these people came by with dark glasses and ribbons.



B:        So that was quite an experience.

I:          Um hm.  Have you been back to Korea then?

B:        Yes.

I:          When?

B:        Nineteen ninety-three.

I:          And?  That was it?

B:        Excellent.

I:          Huh?

B:        Excellent.

I:          No.  Any other time other than 1993?  That was when you went on a revisit.

B:        That’s right.

I:          Tell me.  Tell me about what you saw in 1993 compared to what you saw in 1952 then 3, 4.

B:        It’s just hard to compare because it was like night and day.  When we were in Seoul, you know, it was a beautiful city.



B:        At that time, I think there were 11 million people in Seoul.  The buildings were beautiful.  And they had their own system as you probably know, building A, building B and so on and so forth.  You don’t know the names of them.  We were guests of the South Koreans, the military and the government.  And we were taken on tours.


Those were all pre-scheduled.  And we stayed at the hotel Soften, yeah, Soften Hotel.  And the food was excellent.  I never had such great fruit in my life.  I couldn’t get enough.

I:          Hm.

B:        But anyway, the facilities were great.  They took us, of course, out to the memorials, out to the cemeteries. (INAUDIBLE)  And all of us from Oregon, I think there were four or six of us from Oregon,



We were by the table when he came by.  When he left, we were on the other side of the table, so we shook hands with him.  So that was unique.  I had my wife with me, of course.  So, everything was great.  Fantastic.

I:          Had you imagined that Korea would become like this in 1993 what you saw when you left in 1954?

B:        What’s that?

I:          Had you imagined that Korea would become like this today.

B:        No, I had no idea.  I had no idea what it was, no.



When I got home, I went to the University of Oregon for a year.

I:          Um.

B:        I could not adjust to that school. It was far too liberal.

I:          Um.

B:        At that time, it was called a country club anyway.  And there were too many draft dodgers.  At that time, if you went to college, you didn’t have to go to the service.

I:          Right.

B:        Well, I didn’t like that.  So obviously, I didn’t fit in.



B:        So, then I transferred over to at that time it was called Oregon Cultural Education, Western Oregon University.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And I went there for 2 ½ years and yes, I never did the other degree.  But my wife and I were married in 1955.



And so, when you have a family, you have priorities.  So, I didn’t have time to really worry about (INAUDIBLE)  I couldn’t afford it anyway.  Yeah.

I:          Um hm.

B:        So that was a period  (INAUDIBLE)

I:          Um hm.

B:        Yeah.  It was well worth it.  The people were really fantastic people.



B:        I’ve had red hair for a number of years. And the tradition (INAUDIBLE) is good.  The more you have, the deeper the (INAUDIBLE)  Well, some of the people were poor (INAUDIBLE).  And the children.  My wife had a terrific time with the children.  (INAUDIBLE) they had a classes. One classroom was yellow, the other pink, the other one green or blue or whatever, you know.



And she would talk to them, just paraphrase a little bit. I didn’t know what she was talking about, and I didn’t want to hear which (INAUDIBLE) at that.  It was great.  Wonderful trip.

I:          Excellent.  You know, that’s a very special experience to be able to see what Korea was and now and so that you know what you did and what came out of, you know.



B:        The similarities between the two was the odor.  In 1950 of course, the rice paddies and the crops were (INAUDIBLE), and they were better.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Kind of a sweet smell.  We got off the airplane in Seoul in 1993, I smelled it.  Right away, I could smell it.  I don’t know why.  But I just, you know, I was fine.



B:        No problem.  We had wonderful guides.  Our guide for our tour bus was named Grace.

I:          I think I know her.

B:        What?

I:          I think I know her.

B:        Really?

I:          Yeah.

B:        Well, she’s, let’s see.  How old would she be? Fifty?

I:          Um  hm.

B:        Probably not.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Delightful girl.

I:          Um.



What would you say to the young generations in America about the legacy of the Korean War?
B:        Well, that’s kind of a tough one.  You have to, I’ve always been brought up with my family, my folks.  You do things for other people.  And I think that’s what it was.  I felt good about having been there.  I used to feel pretty good about doing things for people yet, you know.



It’s hard to do right now.

I:          Um hm.

B:        But yeah, it’s a good feeling.  I think that it’s necessary that you do things.  You know, this is a great nation that we have.  It’s probably true about now.  But I shouldn’t say (INAUDIBLE) But freedom of speech.  But it’s a great nation.  And I think it’s well worth protecting, and you have to give to it.



After the Korean War at the beginning of the Viet Nam War era, there was a generation of takers.

I:          Um hm.

B:        I want everything I can get.

I:          Uh.

B:        I don’t want to work for it.  I don’t, it’s a generation of takers.  You can’t have that.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Because the givers finally run out.  And I think that you have to give something to it.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Regardless if you don’t want to be in the service, you can do something that’s, like Greg did.



Peace Corps or all sorts of different things that you could do to help people.  But I think there might be a turning at a church (INAUDIBLE) now, you know.  I have a couple of granddaughters who are schoolteachers, elementary. And their attitude is somewhat like that, you have to give, yeah.

I:          So, be a giver rather than a taker.

B:        You got to believe it.

I:          Um hm.

B:        You got to take care of it or there’s nothing left to take.




I:          What was your rank at the time in Korea?

B:        Hospital medic second, or hospital corpsman second class.  It was, I was a Petty Officer Second Class.  But my job was hospital corpsman.

I:          Um hm.  Bob, thank you for your service at the last phase of the Korean War from June to July 27, Armistice and you left Korea in the spring of 1950, July 1954.



B:        Yeah.  I got out a month early to go to college.

I:          Yeah.  So, on behalf of the Korean nation, I want to thank you for your honorable service and contribution for what Korea is now.

B:        You’re welcome. I’m glad to be able to do it.

I:          Thank you, sir.

B:        Thank you.