Korean War Legacy Project

Bruce Ackerman

Bio

Bruce Henry Ackerman was born in Chittenango, NY and had just been laid off by Carrier Corporation when he decided to enlist in the Marine Corps.  During his service period from August 1949 through November 1952, he landed in Pusan and was stationed at various locations with the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, 1st Marine Division.  He was an Military Occupational Specialty was a 2511 Field Telephone Communications Wireman, and played a role in the UN Defensive, UN Offensive, Hungnam-Chosin Campaign, and United Nations Counter-offensive.  For his commitments, he received a Combat Action Ribbon, 3 Korean Presidential Citations, Good Conduct Korean Medal with 4 stars, UN Medal, ROK 50th Anniversary Medal, NYS Conspicuous Service Cross, and a National Reserve Medal among others.  Among the friends he remembers are Charles Budzinki and George Allen because he spent so much time flighting alongside these strong men.  His most memorable experience from the war was the Chosin Reservoir Campaign, which had the greatest impact on him of all his experiences in the war.

Clips

Home for Christmas?

Bruce Ackerman feared being surrounded by the Chinese in the Chosin Reservoir and had to endure the cold Korean winters, frost bite, and a near explosion close to his bunker. He thought that the soldiers would be home for Christmas in 1950, but sadly, he was wrong. Bruce Ackerman remembered the evacuation of 100,000 refugees during the winter of 1950 and that included North Korean civilians who were left homeless due to the invasion of the Chinese to support North Korean troops.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,1950 Hamheung Evacuation, 12/10-12/24,Aprokgang (Yalu River),Hagalwoori,Hamheung,Chinese,Civilians,Cold winters,Fear,Food,Front lines,Living conditions,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Poverty,Women

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHck1LlxSy8&start=529&end=760

The Latent Effects of Korean War: PTSD

Bruce Ackerman experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to the Korean War. He found connections between the modern War on Terror and the soldiers who fought in the Korean War because they both are lacking resources to help with their transition back to civilian life. There are psychological and social effects of war on veterans due to their exposure to death, extreme weather, and constant surprise enemy attacks.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Aprokgang (Yalu River),Hagalwoori,Chinese,Civilians,Cold winters,Depression,Fear,Front lines,Home front,Living conditions,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Prior knowledge of Korea

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHck1LlxSy8&start=925&end=1077

The Korean War Homecoming and the Lack of American Pride

As Bruce Ackerman and the Korean War veterans returned home from the war, many US citizens lacked an understanding and scope of the Korean War. Many US civilians stated that the Korean War was nothing more than a police action. Bruce Ackerman recalled the success of the US Marine Corps during the Pusan Perimeter as they defeated the North Koreans and the Chinese. With the help from strong leadership and effective equipment, North Koreans and Chinese were beaten and this was monumental to Bruce Ackerman.

Tags: 1950 Pusan Perimeter, 8/4-9/18,Busan,Basic training,Chinese,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,Physical destruction,Pride,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHck1LlxSy8&start=1080&end=1379

North Korean Infiltration

The North Koreans infiltrated the Marine Corps by scouting out artillery positions. Bruce Ackerman noted that the artillery was a very important tool used during the Korean War. There was more artillery fired in the Korean War than in WWII.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Aprokgang (Yalu River),Hagalwoori,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,Physical destruction,Pride,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHck1LlxSy8&start=1907&end=1972

Photos

Letter of Honor to the Survivors of the Battle of the Chosin Reservior

This is a letter that was written to honor veterans who went through the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir.

Letter of Honor to the Survivors of the Battle of the Chosin Reservior

Bruce Henry Ackerman US Marine Corps

This is a profile Picture of Bruce Henry Ackerman while he was in the US Marine Corps. He joined in 1949 and stayed in until 1952. This uniform is called the Marine Corps' dress blue uniform and these formal photographs were usually taken at the end of boot camp.

Bruce Henry Ackerman US Marine Corps

50th Anniversary Letter of the Outbreak of the Korean War

This is an acknowledgement letter on the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. It was written by the president of the Republic of Korea, Kim Dae-jung. This was used to remember August 1950, the outbreak of war.

50th Anniversary Letter of the Outbreak of the Korean War

Video Transcript

 

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

0:00:00

B:        Uh, my name’s Bruce Ackerman, Bruce Henry Ackerman. Uh, I’m 83 years old.

I:          Okay, okay.  And as you know, we have this Korean War Veterans Memorial database that we’re creating, and we asked you to bring in some artifacts and records of the war and memories.  Um, but I guess, you know, one of the, the goals of this project is to learn about the people who were actually there and their experiences.

0:00:30

So we’re really interested in learning about how you feel about participating in this project and, you know, why, why you’re interested in participating in the project.

B:        Well, I think it’s wonderful, uh.  I know, uh, back in, uh, uh, ’90, no, 2004 we tried to do this same thing, uh.  Jongwoo, Jongwoo was, you know, getting this going and, uh I was the Chairman,

0:01:00

uh, for my chapter, but we couldn’t get any cooperation from our end, ok, to fund it, finance it or the people weren’t even interested in, uh, bringing their records in. Uh, today, it, it’s a different story again.  But I think it’s a, a, a thing that, uh, should be done.  I’m only sorry that it didn’t happen earlier.

I:          Why, why weren’t people interested in it originally?

0:01:30

B:        I don’t know.  Whether it was the way that we, uh, uh, you know, gave out the information or what.  I don’t know.

I:          Yeah.

B:        But, uh, I had, uh, we have a newsletter that went out to all of our members

I:          Um hm.

B:        and, uh, told them to, you know, send their records, uh, to me, and I’d see that, uh

Jungwoo got them. And then they would return them.

I:          Um hm.

B:        But, uh, they didn’t, they weren’t acceptable to it.

I:          Yeah, well we, we

B:        I don’t know why.

0:02:00

I:          Well we, we’ve heard stories, you know, last when we all met [INAUDIBLE] there was another project and some of the veterans turned in some of their personal records, and they were never returned to them.

B:        Oh, that was

I:          So maybe, maybe they’re, I guess, a little fearful.

B:        It could have been, yeah.  But, uh.

I:          So, um, what does the project mean to you then, I guess, you know, personally as a Korean War veteran, you know, just being able to, I guess, get your thoughts and

0:02:30

B:        Well, well I, I think it’s wonderful because, uh, down the road, uh, if somebody wants to see what Bruce Ackerman did, say one of my relatives or something

I:          Um hm.

B:        they’d be able to do that.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Uh, being in a scrapbook

I:          Um hm.

B:        It’d prob, it could get lost very easily.

I:          Yeah.

B:        But this way it looks like it’d be a permanent record.

I:          Absolutely.

B:        And, uh, available to anybody.

0:03:00

I:          Yeah.  So that’s the idea.  I mean, uh, I guess there isn’t really, there aren’t that many resources to find out about the people who served in the Korean War and, and the Korean War in general. So one of the goals is to have this open access to anyone who wants to get information and learn about Bruce Ackerman or your unit or the Korean veterans in general.

B:        Um hm.

I:          So, um, how do you think that, you know, touches you I guess?

0:03:30

B:        Yeah, it touches me pretty deeply, yes.  Yes.

I:          Okay.  Um, so when, what were you doing before the Korean War?  What, you know, what

B:        Before the Korean War, I was, um, I was in the Marine Corp., of course.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And, uh, just before the war broke out, well not before the war broke out but, um, I enlisted on the second of August, 1949

I:          Okay.

B:        and went to, uh,

0:04:00

boot camp, Marine boot camp at Paris Island, and then, uh, I was sent to San Diego, California where I took, uh, a Field Telephone course.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And I graduated from that on May 5, 1950, and, uh, of course, uh, the Korean War broke out a few weeks later, you know, June 25, 19, uh, 1950.

0:04:30

And, uh, I was in between classes, and lo and behold I found myself at Camp Pendleton around the 10thof, uh, July before the, uh, uh, course in, in, uh, Telephone Electronics, uh, which I was able to get into, uh.  I was going in, at was cancelled, and I was, uh, ordered to Camp Pendleton,

0:05:00

and four days later I was aboard ship heading for, uh, Japan supposedly.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Uh, we were going there for an advance, uh, for training and till the rest of the Division could join us, First Marine Division. And, but the, uh, conditions in Korea were so bad that they diverted us right to, uh, Pusan, Korea.

I:          What, what drove you to enlist in the first place?

0:05:30

B:        Well, I was laid off from Courier Corporation and, uh, I was just hanging around doing nothing, and I thought well, I think I’d better re-enlist in the service, and so I did.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Right there.

I:          And I guess you didn’t know about what was going on in Korea when you enlisted.

B:        No, it wasn’t.

I:          Yeah.

B:        No.

VOICE:           It didn’t.

B:        It wasn’t going on, uh, till, I found out there was [LAUGHS] war in Korea.

I:          Yeah.  So how did you feel about that when you found out?  Were you excited to

0:06:00

do something with your training, or were you kind of hesitant to actually, you know, get into

B:        Uh, no.  I, I’d, I didn’t feel either way.

I:          Yeah.

B:        No.  It was, uh, it was all of a sudden, uh.  I was scared. I didn’t know what the hell was going on.

I:          Yeah.  How old were you when

B:        I was, uh, let’s see.  I think I was 20, 21 I think at that time.

I:          Okay.  Okay.

B:        Yeah.  So, but, uh,

0:06:30

I survived. Glad I did.

I:          Yeah.  Um, so what, what rank were you when you were headed over there?

B:        When I, uh, was over there?

I:          Yeah.

B:        I was PFC, Private First Class, and then I was promoted to Corporal over there.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And then to, uh, promoted to Sergeant when I got back home.

I:          Um hm.  And I guess sticking to the time, I guess,

0:07:00

before you actually arrived in Korea, is there anything, any memories specific that you have that, I don’t know, that you, you’d like to tell us about, any stories or any interesting things?

B:        Well I could tell you one that it, uh, we were aboard, uh, uh, Henrico ship going over to Japan and, uh, couple hours out of, uh, San Diego, uh, the, uh, Henrico, uh, developed a, uh, mechanical failure,

0:07:30

and it was declared unseaworthy.  So we had to go back to, uh, to the States.  We went back to Oakland Naval, uh, Repair Station, and that was on the 15thdate of, uh, August, uh, 16thof July rather, that we, uh, landed at, uh, Oakland, and we were there for, uh, 16th, 17th, on the 18thwe sailed out from the, underneath a, uh, San, San Francisco

0:08:00

Golden Gate Bridge, uh, three times.  That was our third time going out and, uh,

I:          Third time’s a charm.

B:        We finally made it.  Yeah.  Finally made it out, and, but we were all alone.  We didn’t have any escorts or anything else.

I:          Oh, yeah.  Did you meet any civilians in particular when you were, you know, go to the line or, or moving to different?

B:        Not really.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Uh,

I:          It’s probably

B:        We didn’t have, we didn’t have much, uh, time to, uh,

0:08:30

meet, meet people.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Uh, we seen them.  We talked to them.  But, uh, you know, as far as getting to know them, we didn’t, uh, uh, experience, uh, it really probably impacted my life was, uh, the Chosin Reservoir.  Uh, that was, uh,

I:          What’s that?

B:        That was the, uh, we were up, uh, up north in the, uh, close to the Yellow River, uh,

0:09:00

and the report was they, from what we got was that we’d be home for Christmas and, you know, this was 1950, um.  Well, the Chinese intervened then and come over the mountains, and they surrounded us, and we were, uh, totally surrounded.  So the only way out was going back the way we came.

0:09:30

So December 3 we started out back, uh.  We were up, uh, in Yudamni.  We started out for, uh, going back to Hagaru, Hagaru and, uh, it was, I was assigned to, uh, keep watch of the, uh, trains, you know, the vehicles and cars, and, uh, we had all our wounded

0:10:00

and our dead on the, on the, uh, trucks, and we were sort of, uh, flanking protection, and a couple of times, uh, we, uh, were, somebody came through and said hey, the Chinese broke through, and we were laying in ditches, uh, waiting for them to come

I:          Uh huh.

B:        but somewhat, they disappeared.  I don’t know what happened.

I:          Yeah.

B:        But anyways,

0:10:30

many road blocks that we went through, excuse me, and, uh, I don’t know what it was, whether it was, uh, a mortar shack or a, um, a rifle grenade or what, but, um, as I as walking through trying to get around the, uh, the roadblock, uh, yeah, I heard a boom, you know, and it blew me up in the air, and I

0:11:00

landed on my feet. I don’t know how I did it.  I used to be quite an athlete.  I landed on my feet and kept going.  Uh, that remains with me today

I:          Yeah.

B:        and, uh, um, in fact, the whole experience was really an experience.

I:          What were you thinking when that happened or after that happened?

B:        Well I, I, I said well, this is it, you know.

I:          Yeah.  My time has come and

B:        Time, time has come.  It’s, uh

I:          Yeah.

B:        So, they’ll read about me in the papers.

I:          And feeling your vibes.  Are you sure you have all your

0:11:30

B:        I, I did.  I felt everything.  Uh, and at first, uh, the weather was really bad up there.   It was, um, 30 degrees below zero and, um, I froze, uh, serious, uh, frostbite in my feet and my hands

I:          Uh huh.

B:        and, uh, but it wasn’t bad enough to, uh, keep me out of action.  So we kept going and, uh, we finally got back to Hagaru, and we,

0:12:00

uh, joined the, uh, part of the Division that was there and, uh, then we’d moved on to, um, uh, Kotori, and we were evacuated out of there and went to, back to, uh, Pusan.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Uh, the, uh, the beauty of that was that, uh, 100,000 refugees were, um, evacuated at the same time that, that we were.

0:12:30

And some of them live in the States today

I:          Yeah.

B:        And some of them are, maybe in some other state, you know, or some of them are still in Korea.

I:          Did you get a chance to meet any of them or interact with them at all?

B:        No.  Uh, my first, uh, really touching of the Koreans was here in Syracuse, uh, with Jungwoo Han, uh. We, uh,

0:13:00

had a 50thanniversary, uh, in the year 2000, and I was Chairman at the 50thanniversary committee for our chapter and, uh, we got a hold of, uh, the, uh, Koreans, and we had quite a few affairs, you know, with them, events, and Jungwoo was more or less the, uh, principal liaison between us and the Korean community.

0:13:30

 

 

And we had a lot of things going together.  We had a real good time.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Met a lot of Korean people.

I:          Right.   So is it, I mean clearly meeting people from Korea now would have been different if you hadn’t, you know, gone over there.

B:        Definitely.  Definitely would have.  Yep.

I:          How do you think that, you know, would you maybe had this kind of connection, you know, maybe like they’re more thankful to you for going over there, you know.  How, how do you think

0:14:00

the relationship?

B:        I, uh, personally I think they are the most beautiful, gracious, considerate people that I ever met.  They are a beautiful, beautiful grace.

I:          Um,

B:        They’re close, so considerate, you know.  They appreciate, uh, I guess what was done for them.

I:          Um.

B:        By the United States over there.

I:          Um, so

0:14:30

I guess really quickly going back, um, to why you’re in Korea.  Did you have any close personal friends that you had, I don’t know, trained with that were killed in action?

B:        Yes.

I:          Yeah.  And how does, I mean, if you’re comfortable talking about that, I’m kind of interested in how that, I guess it’s back to the soldier while they’re over there, and I think it might be kind of hard to push on when someone close to you falls in action.  Is that, you know,

0:15:00

emotional at all or?

B:        I, I didn’t see it happen, so I wouldn’t know. But, uh,

I:          You just kind of

B:        I, you know, I heard about it and, uh, I was very sorry, very sad.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Yeah.  Cause he was one of the, uh, people that I went to telephone, uh, the course was telephone school.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Yeah.

I:          Okay.   So what do you think the most challenging part of being over there was?

B:        Mentally, uh, you know, when I

0:15:30

first got back home, uh, I didn’t have much thought about it, uh, and I, cause I went right back to work

I:          Um.

B:        and, uh, got married and started raising a family, and so I was kept busy and busy, and that was way in the back of my mind, and I forgot about it.  Uh, in fact, I never even told my wife, uh, about my experiences until later.  So she was really surprised when she

0:16:00

I:          She said you were in Korea?

B:        Yeah.  But anyways, uh, uh, I got, uh, PTSD and, uh, I’m better now.  But I was, uh, quite, uh, I would argue about anything.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Now I’m more or less mellow.

I:          Yeah.

B:        And, uh, I appreciate other people’s shortcomings.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Um, that’s about it I guess.

0:16:30

I:          Yeah.  So right here is kind of shoved down.  Well, I think that’s, that’s good that you dealt with it and

B:        Dealt with it.

I:          were supportive to a lot of soldiers nowadays are dealing with that, and, you know, there’s a lot of controversy in the media saying that there’s not enough that’s being done for the soldiers that are coming back from war.

B:        That’s right.  it’s a terrible experience.

I:          Yeah.

B:        But I, I go to the, uh, the vet center here in Syracuse,

0:17:00

and, uh, we had a, a psychiatrist there, and he, uh, you know, runs the group, and so we have a good time and it, it’s great to be, uh, associated with people who have done, who have been in the same circumstances that I have been in, and it’s great.  So we have a good time together.

I:          That’s great.  And is it mainly people from Korean War or different wars, young people

B:        Oh yeah.  Some are from Korea, oh yeah.

0:17:30

I:          Yeah.

B:        Yep.

I:          That must be interesting to share your experiences with people from other wars, you know, like young soldiers for instance, if you get a chance to do that.

B:        We have World War II and, uh, we did have a couple Vietnam

I:          Uh huh.

B:        veterans in with us.  Yep. So it was really something to say hey, you know, you’re not alone in this.

I:          Yeah.  That’s important.

B:        Right.

I:          So how, getting back to the war, you know,

0:18:00

how do you think you and the soldiers in general were received?

B:        At home?

I:          Yeah.

B:        Really not good.  But not bad, uh.  Uh, they’d say, uh, say, where you been?  Over in Korea.  Oh, the police action.  [LAUGHS] you know.

I:          Yeah, I’ve heard that.

B:        Uh, and like I let them go, let them talk and

 

0:18:30

I knew it wasn’t a police action.  It was, it was, it was a war.  Well, yeah, frustrating but, uh, you can’t really get mad at it, you know.  It’s their opinion, and I respect other people’s opinions.

I:          Sure.  So, um, Norm was telling me that in 2003 or 2004 I believe, Bill Clinton, you know, after he left the Presidency, uh, uh, I guess was the first head official or first high profile official to recognize Korea as an actual war and sacrifice rather than this police mission that you’re referring to.

B:        That’s right.  Yeah.

I:          And he was, I guess, the judge kind of discussing how it was a relief for a lot of the veterans cause they were finally getting recognized.  Yeah. Do you remember that when it happened?

0:19:30

B:        Yeah, I remember, I remember we were over in, in Korea and, uh, our President at that time was, uh, oh golly, what was his name? I had it on the tip of my tongue, forgot.

I:          When?

B:        Huh?

I:          When was this?  When you were fighting?

B:        Yeah.  Uh, he’s from Nebraska.

0:20:00

I can’t, can’t think of his name right now.

I:          We’ll think of it.

B:        But, uh, anyways, uh, he was a [INAUDIBLE]  and he says, always said the buck stops here you know.  And, uh, he accused, huh, Truman.  There you go.  Thanks, honey.  [LAUGHS]

0:20:30

I got my co-pilot there.  Harry S. Truman, yeah.  How can we forget him?  Uh, but he was, uh, saying that the, uh, or he made a statement that, uh, the Marine Corp. has a, uh, I’m trying to think [INAUDIBLE] say now.

I:          However you want to say it.

B:        as a, um,

0:21:00

[LAUGHS] Oh, my mind is flipping, I tell you, yeah.  Uh,

I:          About their police statement.

B:        Well, it’s like a Communist, uh, um, report, you know.

I:          Manifesto.

B:        Do you know what it is, hon? [LAUGHS]  Huh?

I:          What are you trying to think about?

B:        What, what Truman said when we was over there?

0:21:30

About, uh, the Marine Corp. had a propaganda.  There you go.

I:          Oh.

B:        Had a propaganda system, uh, only second to Russia.

I:          He said the Marine Corp. had propaganda.

B:        Yeah, propaganda because of the, uh, they were, uh, telling about the, uh, Marine Corp. being so successful, in the, uh, in the Pusan Perimeter, uh, defeating the North Koreans where the Army couldn’t.

0:22:00

They couldn’t, couldn’t defeat them.

I:          Um hm.

B:        You know, they kept defenses.  Why, uh, I don’t know.  There’s probably a lot of things into that, uh, leadership, uh, equipment, uh, I don’t know.  But, but anyways, we were more successful.  We proved that the North Koreans could be beaten.

I:          Um hm.

B:        And we proved that the Chinese could be beaten, you know.  We had, uh, well, we were surrounded by 10

0:22:30

divisions of, uh, Chinese.  We had 20,000, uh, 15,000 Marines and, uh, about four or 5,000, uh, Army at the Chosin Reservoir.  And we defeated the, uh Chinese coming out, you know, cause, so, I guess our propaganda system is, is working pretty good. [LAUGHS]

I:          Yeah, it’s real good, it’s not necessarily propaganda, right?

0:23:00

Um, so you got back. What year did you get back?  When did you get back from Korea?

B:        I left Korea, uh, April 8th, 1951.

I:          And were you discharged or you were just rotating home?

B:        I, uh, went to Japan first, uh, and, uh, was there and they analyzed me to see if I was, you know, uh, could be let go to back into civilian life, and I did after about three or four days I guess.

0:23:30

We got on board ship, and we headed for the States, uh.  We landed in San Diego on the 29thof, uh, of, uh, April.  I went home for 30 days leave, and I went, I reported after the leave, after my leave, I reported to, uh, the Naval Gun Factory in Washington, D.C., and they assigned

0:24:00

me to the, uh, one of their remote, uh, detachments, the, uh, at Anacostia which is a naval receiving station, and I was there in, in the brig, uh, as a security guard for the brig.  I was there until I was discharged, until November 28, uh, 1952.  I was held over 120 days from my re-enlistment time

0:24:30

of convenience of the government.  But then I came home and, uh, got married, settled down, uh, worked, had family.

I:          Were you able to find work when you came back home?

B:        I went right back to Carrier Corporation because when I was over in Korea, uh, my mother, uh, sent me a letter and it said that, uh, uh, Carrier called me back to work,

0:25:00

and, and I said

I:          You can’t come back.

B:        well, I can’t, I, I wrote her back and said Mom, will you, you know, contact them and tell them that I, I can’t go back to work because I’m in Korea.

I:          As you were saying, your third time

B:        The third time, we kept going, okay, and about a day out, uh, the, uh, the radar, our ship’s radar pick up, uh, two un, uh, un, uh, known.

I:          Yeah.

B:        uh, submarines,undersea water.  And of course at that time, we didn’t know if Russia was

0:25:30

 

gonna get involved in the war or if North Korea had submarines or what.  So it was a pretty scary, uh, battle.  Battle stations was, uh, sounded, and, uh, we wa, we were down in the, down at the deck, down underneath the decks in our sleeping quarters, and, uh,

I:          You hear the siren.

B:        Yeah. So we waited for about an hour and, uh, the unknown, uh, obstacles, they disappeared.

0:26:00

But it was a, you know, about an anxious hour of waiting, whether we were gonna get blown up or

I:          Yeah.

B:        you know, but, uh, they, they dispersed and went off some place.

I:          Huh.

B:        So we continued on.

I:          So you were probably thinking wow, we wish we had our escorts ready.

B:        We wish we had, we wish we didn’t have these, uh, mechanical failures or had that escort.  But, uh, we, we continued on.

I:          How did your family react when you, when you were leaving?  Were they

B:        My family?

I:          Yeah.

0:26:30

I know, I know some of the veterans mentioned that their parents weren’t very happy about it and

B:        Well, I don’t think my parents were very happy, uh, that I was going to Korea.  But, uh, uh, they, they had nothing to say about it because

I:          Yeah, you were 21.

B:        the Marine Corp. says you go, you go, you know?

I:          Yeah, right.  Just go to Japan, you just went straight to Korea?

B:        We went straight to Korea.

I:          And could you tell us about where you landed, um, you know, what it was like when you landed, what were, you know, what were the first

0:27:00

couple days after

B:        Okay.  We landed, uh, uh, on my, uh, anniversary in the Marine Corp..  The second of August, uh, 1950.  And it was very hot, very humid, uh.  Of course, the unloading of the ship began, uh, shortly after we docked and, uh, but we got up early in the morning and moved out for  a, uh,

0:27:30

some sort of a bivouac area.  It was around Char, Chorwon in, in southern part of, uh, Korea and, uh, four days later we were at Chindong-ni where the, uh, North Koreans had, uh, gathered for a offensive operation there.  And, uh, so we were committed to Task Force Team, uh, there and, uh, we

0:28:00

I:          So

B:        We

I:          pretty soon after

B:        We pushed them back across the Nakdong River.

I:          Um hm.

B:        Yeah.

I:          This was pretty soon after you landed then.

B:        Very soon after we landed.

I:          So they don’t waste any time.

B:        No.

I:          They threw you right in there.

B:        waste any time.

I:          Yeah.

B:        No.  They were bad because, uh, by the time we landed, uh, the 8thArmy, who was over there then, uh, had, uh, moved back across the Nakdong River, and they were set, setting up defensive positions,

0:28:30

and the, uh, North Koreans, they just steam rolled right down the corridor coming down Korea to the Pusan Perimeter and, uh, there was such a go of, you know, whether we were gonna be, uh, uh, getting people out of, uh, out of Korea and board ship or, or what.  But, uh, we managed to hold the perimeter and, uh,

I:          So what was that like, you know?  It must have been kind of scary getting thrown into battle like that.

0:29:00

B:        It was very scary.

I           And you’re, you’re realizing that this is a real operation.  This is really

B:        The first day there, we just got through setting up our communication system and, uh, the, uh, North Koreans started their artillery, uh, attack and, uh, we were, uh, pretty close.  We lost, uh,

0:29:30

one of our, uh, 105, uh, mm cannons and, uh, two were killed, eight wounded and, uh, so according to the, uh, report, uh, we lost more men than the Infantry did at that time.

I:          [INAUDIBLE]

B:        So it was scary.

I:          What’s that like, you know, when you’re, must have been a chaotic environment, you know.

0:30:00

Well, I was on the switchboard at that time.  I was, uh, a switchboard that, uh, had the, uh, telephone lines all connected to it and if somebody called in from our, one of our, uh, outposts, we’d, uh, switch them from wherever they wanted to go and, uh, I was operating the switchboard, so I had enough to keep me busy, but

I:          Yeah.

B:        it was, uh, kind of scary, hairy, and everything else.

I:          Yeah.  When you’re hearing

0:30:30

explosions and the ground shaking and everything like that.

B:        Yep.

I:          Um, so, so I guess you were kind of removed from the, the front line then of, of the battles since you were [INAUDIBLE] communications

B:        Yeah. We, well at, uh, in, In Korea, you know, the normal positions for artillery would have been about 2,500 to maybe 3,000 yards

I:          Um hm.

B:        But in Korea we were 500 to 1,500 yards behind the enemy line,

0:31:00

behind the lines.

I:          Um hm.

B:        So because of the elevation and everything else. So it was pretty close.  You could see the battle flags on the hills.

I:          The horns going [INAUDIBLE]

B:        Yeah.

I:          Um, so did you experience I mean, you know, close combat yourself?

B:        No, no combat my, ourselves.  It was, it, uh, one time I thought we were.  I was coming out of the Chosin Reservoir but, uh,

0:31:30

the, uh, Chinese sort of disappeared

I:          Yeah.  So I guess from your position you could probably have, you probably have a really good view of everything that’s going on. You can see maybe the Chinese are advancing or, you know, how, how your guys are doing, [INAUDIBLE]

B:        You could see it, yeah.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Our biggest problem was, uh, infiltration, you know, uh. North Koreans were very, uh, adapt at, uh,

0:32:00

infiltrating to the, to our lines and, uh, they’d come in and, uh, they would, uh, scout out our, uh, artillery positions and, of course, get it back to the, uh, North Koreans, and then they would, when they started the attack, they’d zero us in, you know.

I:          Um hm, yeah.

B:        cause, uh, artillery was a very important

I:          Yes, of course.

B:        operation in, uh, in Korean War.  In fact, we fired more rounds, uh, in Korean War than, uh,

0:32:30

they did in World War II.

I:          Oh yeah?

B:        Um hm.

I:          Yeah, Norm, uh, told a story about he was, I guess, driving ammunition.  He restocked in artillery, uh, battalion like once, and they were just, said the, uh, the chambers were red hot because they were just loading it and firing it.

B:        I didn’t have anything to do with that.

I:          Yeah.

B:        But, uh, we ran plenty of wire, and I think I

I:          Yeah.

B:        ran wire from Pus, or

0:33:00

Chindong-ni up to almost to the Yellow River.

I:          So the communication was pretty hard to communicate with different units and

B:        And very, yeah, very difficult, um.  Radio communication sometimes, uh, wasn’t very good and, uh, so that’s why that we had the backup of the, uh, field telephone.

I:          Yeah.  So in your, um, your station, did you, I guess, were there any other foreign troops or South Koreans that you were interacting with at all?

0:33:30

B:        Uh, we had some, uh, South Koreans, uh, with us as our security guards, uh.  We got, uh, got close to, uh, a Greek, uh, outfit, uh, and, uh, I, I was out running lines and I happen to spot them, you know, went over and talked to them and, uh, they asked me if I, we had any Greeks in our outfit, and we did.

0:34:00

We had one, uh, one young lad.  He was a wireman and, uh, so I told them about the, the Greeks, uh.  They were in uh, you know, uh, in Reserve at that time I think and, uh, so we went over there and he visited with some of his countrymen, you know.

I:          Oh, that’s nice.

B:        It was nice.

I:          So what’s that like to, you know, be in the same area as foreign troops, you know?  Was there, like a, you guys sharing experiences

0:34:30

or mutual respect for each other?  Was it hard to communicate with each other, you know?  Do you have any memories of, of that that you could share with us?

B:        Oh yeah. We uh, we had, uh, after the, uh, uh, Seoul, we ran and going up north, uh.  We, uh, contacted the, uh, uh, Royal Marines from, uh, England and, uh, they were, uh,

0:35:00

nice guys.  We had a lot of talks with them.

I:          Yeah.  Cause you could actually communicate with them.

B:        Yeah.

I:          They speak English.

B:        Yep.  Yep.  It was easy to talk.

I:          Was it a relief to talk to, I don’t know, I guess outside people, you know?  You must have been kind of trapped in, like you’re confined in your area for a lot of the

B:        Well, we were on the move.  We were on the move, uh, most of the time.

I:          Uh huh.

B:        In fact, uh, in the short period that we were in the Pusan Perimeter,

0:35:30

we performed three missions, and we kept moving, moving, moving all the time.

I:          Yeah.

B:        and, uh, the Fifth Marine, uh, the infantry, they were so successful that we had to pick up, move, set up again, run new lines, pick up again when they, you know.

I:          You’re like oh, I gotta keep going to these watches.

B:        We were on the, we were on the go.

I:          Okay.  So, I mean, I guess from one, one side, you know, you got a chance to see more of the county cause you’re all on the go.

0:36:00

B:        That’s right.

I:          Right?  So what was that, I mean, who do you, did you have an opportunity to actually appreciate where you were, or was it always, you know, you’re in the mindset of

B:        Well, it seemed to look all alike, you know, the mountains.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Mountains or valleys, you know, and, uh,

I:          Did you pass through local villages or interact with any civilians?

B:        Oh yeah.  We were close to villages and stuff, yeah.  Uh the artillery, we had the main, uh, uh,

0:36:30

close to the roads, you know, whatever, wherever the roads led.  Uh, that’s where we were.  Uh, because if you, uh, rice paddies and the mountains were, were, uh, not really good for artillery operations.

I:          And you said that it took you a little while to actually talk to your wife about

B:        Oh yeah.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Yeah.  I never joined, uh, any organizations or anything, uh, until I was, uh,

0:37:00

1990, ’94, yeah. I think it was ’94.  I got a card in the mail

I:          Um hm.

B:        Uh, it was from, uh, one of our, uh, Marine brigade, uh, members, and he wanted to know if I was the Bruce Ackerman that served with the First Provisional Marine Brigade in Korea,

0:37:30

and, uh, I wrote back and said yes I am, you know, and he said, then he wrote back to me, said we’re, uh, planning a, uh, a reunion at, uh, Reno, Nevada.,

I:          Um hm.

B:        If you can make it, fine, you know.  So I talked it over with my wife and we decided to go. We had a good time.

I:          That’s great.

B:        I met one guy, uh, who was a radio man.  He was in my outfit. Yeah.

I:          It was good to,

0:38:00

not necessarily reconnect because you didn’t know everyone, but talk about your experiences

B:        Yeah.

I:          in the

B:        Yeah.  Had a, had a good time.

I:          Yeah.  That’s, Reno’s a good city.  You can gamble a little bit.  It’s not Las Vegas, but

0:38:00

B:        Yeah.  [LAUGHS]

I:          Um, so I guess, you know, throughout the years of you being home, you know, it took you 30+ years I guess to join up with another organization. What, um,

0:38:30

and then, you know, going back to work after your discharged.  What do you think, what aspect of the war impacted you the most, you know?  What, what do you think you learned from the war, a new perspective on life?

B:        Well, I learned to, uh, respect people

I:          Um hum.

B:        more  Uh, understand them a, a little bit more.  Uh, if, uh,

0:39:00

they say something, uh, and there’s something that don’t, I don’t agree with, I just keep my mouth shut.  I say it’s their opinion, and they’re, they’re entitled to their opinion.  So I’ve been very people oriented since then.

I:          Do you think that’s a positive [INAUDIBLE]

B:        positive, right.

I:          Yeah. And in speaking to other veterans, it seems like those are similar, similar, uh, learning experiences that, that

0:39:30

open, more open to different views and people.

B:        I think so.  Some, some people are different but, I, I, I guess my, my friend Harry, he’s, is a little bit different.

I:          Right.

B:        Uh, he’s, uh, very opinionated h himself and, uh, but he’s a good guy, you know?  I like him.  And, uh, but to talk to him, I don’t think you would like him very well.  [LAUGHS]

0:40:00

I:          Why is that?

B:        I, oh, he is, he just, he analyzes what you’re saying, and he takes a defensive right away.

I:          Oh yeah.

B:        He goes on the defensive [INAUDIBLE].

I:          Interesting.

B:        If something don’t agree with him, he just explodes [INAUDIBLE].

I:          Well, you should help him out maybe.  You should

B:        I, I try to keep from, you know, keep that level, you know. Different level.

I:          Good.

B:        In fact, he was supposed to, uh, come here for, you know, to do one of the interviews, uh.

0:40:30

But, uh, Harry’s a different, uh, different type of person.  He’s, but he’s good, and I’ve tried, tried to convince him they’re just asking us questions, you know.

I:          Yeah.  I mean I think

B:        Nothing

I:          We’re not interrogating.  We’re not, we’re not

B:        [INAUDIBLE].

I:          The whole idea is so, you know, you guys can share your experiences, you know, this

[INAUDIBLE] wants to know about it

B:        You can give as much or as little as you want to give, that’s all.

I:          Exactly, yeah.  So have you been back to Korea with [INAUDIBLE]

0:41:00

B:        Yes, I have.  I, my wife and I went back, uh, in 2006, and I went to, I went our church group, okay.  Uh, they have a, what’s it called, the, uh, well, it’s an organization, uh, that’s made up of, uh, Korean, uh, people and

0:41:30

  1. uh, American, uh, church going people. The Presbyterian, okay? And, uh we went over there for, for a week, and we visited a lot of the, uh, the churches, uh.  We, uh, went to the, uh, a lot of colleges, the colleges and, uh, we went to, uh, a high school and, uh, then, of course we visited a lot of military

0:42:00

uh, the, Pyungyang and, uh, went up to the DMZ

I:          How was that?  You went to, you went to Pyungyang?

B:        Hm?

I:          You went to Pyungyang?  You went to Pyungyang

B:        Yeah.

I:          in North Korea?

B:        Yeah.

I:          Oh.

B:        Went up there, went up there for a visit and you could see the North Koreans, you know, across the, across the DMZ zone and, uh, we had a good, a very good time, very good time. And uh

0:42:30

I:          A lot has changed. I

B:        Oh, lots of changes, I tell you. When we landed at, [INAUDIBLE]uh, for the Inchon Landing, uh, and, uh, then went to Seoul, the roads were just, you know, pathways you might say.

I:          Yeah, yeah.

B:        And, uh, dirt roads, burnt, uh, hard, uh, hard surfaces until we got to Seoul, um.  But, uh, I was really amazed at the

0:43:00

transformation that that country, countrymen had done

I:          What do you think

B:        in a short time, 50 years.  It’s amazing.

I:          Yeah.  What do you think happened?  I mean what, why do you think it changed so, so much?

B:        I know it.  You wouldn’t think the, they could do that, but they did.

I:          Yeah.

B:        And to be the, uh, economic standing that they have today is fantastic.  Then it was, uh, I don’t know what it was like in Seoul, but

0:43:30

in the, uh, in the southern part it was, uh, really a backwards country.

I:          Right.  So when you, when you went back, did you kind of reflect on when you were there and think about what Korea was then, what it is now, what, like, your feelings about the war, you know, was that?

B:        I though t that a lot, yes.  Yeah.  It was really amazing.

I:          Yeah.

B:        And all the people were so gracious

0:44:00

and so courteous,

I:          Um hm.  Because you were American or because they knew you were over there during the war?

B:        I guess because American.  They didn’t know I was there during the war, you know.

I:          Yeah.

B:        Just

I:          It’s interesting that a lot of people, I guess, you know, there’s, there’s at least in our country, there’s such a difference between someone who’s in the military and a civilian.  But when you’re somewhere else,

0:44:30

we’re all the same, you know.  So they kind of looked at you as an American, you know, citizen, you know.

B:        But

I:          You did your part.

B:        They were, they were good.  Very, they’d bow to you.  Very, very gracious I guess.

I:          That’s great.  What legacies do, do the veterans have, what, you know, messages or experience, you know, impacts, do veterans have on this country?

B:        Boy, that’s, that’s pretty tough.

0:45:00

I would probably say there’s people aren’t going the way they’re going, uh.  You know, they’re, uh, their schools, uh, keep educating their children, uh.  The, uh, we had the opportunity to, uh, visit the, the high school, uh.

0:45:30

It was a Presbyterian-run school but, uh, I had the opportunity to be a principal speaker at that, um, school on, on the day that we would visit them, and those kids were so well behaved

I:          Um hm.

B:        You know, I wish our American youngsters would take a, some advice from them and act like them and respect

0:46:00

their elders and, uh, respect other people’s property, etc., etc.  Like here the other day, we had out garbage pail, uh, out for pickup and woke up in the morning our garbage pail was, disappeared, [LAUGHS]

I:          Hooligans.

B:        and, yeah, and they, uh, in the af, later that day somebody drove up in his car and took it out of his, uh, uh, trunk and set it down on our driveway,

0:46:30

and they said I don’t how it got in my yard, he said.  Here it is.  Thank you.

I:          So that’s your message then, I guess,

B:        Yeah.

I:          for future generations, respect the elders. Anything about, I guess, the Korean War in general, veterans, you know, maybe, you know, a lot of people is, you know, you had hinted earlier, kind of think of Korean War as the Forgotten War, right?  That a lot of people don’t necessarily know that much

0:47:00

about?

B:        Well, one of the things that, uh, that bothers me is, uh, there is not, enough emphasis put on the Pusan defense operation. Um, that’s overshadowed by the, uh, uh, Inchon Landing overshadowed by the, uh, Chosin Reservoir, uh,

0:47:30

campaign, uh, and some of the other, uh, battles.  When I think if it wasn’t for the troops in the Pusan Perimeter that held back North Koreans from advancing into Pusan and taking control over the whole entire Korean Peninsula,

0:48:00

saved the day. I mean, I think that was, uh, so if there’s any heroes or people to be, uh, sa, uh, honored, it would be the people that served in the Pusan Perimeter.

I:          Okay.  I think that’s a, a good place to end.  Um, you know, you answered all the questions, so I appreciate you sitting down with us

0:48:30

and sharing your experiences, uh.  This will be recorded into our data base and hopefully forever if someone wants to look you up, your future relatives or, uh, a kid at school who’s doing research, you know, we can, they’ll have access to the artifacts that you’re, you’re submitting to us that we’ll upload into the data base and this interview and hopefully they’ll learn something about their past.

B:        Good.

I:          Thank you very much.

[End of Recorded Material]