Korean War Legacy Project

Carl B. Witwer

Bio

Carl B. Witwer grew up in Shillington, Pennsylvania during the Great Depression. His family managed a gas station that he was actually born in. He enlisted in the Marine Corps reserves during his senior year of high school in 1950. He had a passion to join the Armed Forces growing up in the World War II era. After a year, he then enlisted in the Navy for a lack of finding work at home. After his basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois, he did radar training in Norfolk, Virginia. He was in Korea from 1951-1953 working as a radar man on both an aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Bon Homme Richard, and a destroyer ship, the U.S.S. Hanson. Near the end of his time in the service, he also did radar work in Taiwan, because of the growing threat of the Communists in China. He describes his experiences on both these ships, the details of his work, and the legacy of the Korean War today.

Video Clips

Special Training

Carl Witwer details his experience going to radar school after his basic training in Norfolk, Virginia. He also describes the responsibilities he had to learn. This included radio telephone procedures, plotting, radar contacts, and determining the course and speed of aircrafts.

Tags: Basic training

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-q80b8-RmU&start=958&end=1038

Radar on the Ship

Carl Witwer elaborates on the responsibilities he had managing the radar on ship. He also discusses how his task force was managed. He includes information about how large the fleet of ships were that he was included in.

Tags: East Sea

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-q80b8-RmU&start=1297&end=1530

Life on the Aircraft Carrier

Carl Witwer describes how life was like on the U.S.S. Bon Homme Richard. He discusses how many people, weapons, planes, and the size of the carrier. He also compares life on an aircraft carrier compared to life on a destroyer ship.

Tags: East Sea,Living conditions

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-q80b8-RmU&start=1560&end=1827

Part II: Destroyer Experience

Carl Witwer returned back to Korea and had to assist with radar technologies on the destroyer U.S.S. Hanson in the West Sea. He compares his duties a part of Task Force 95 compared to his prior assignment. He also elaborates on a time his ship saw action with a submarine and how it was a close call.

Tags: Yellow Sea,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-q80b8-RmU&start=2013&end=2340

Part III: Mission Taiwan

Carl Witwer describes how after his experiences on the destroyer in the Yellow Sea, he was assigned to Taiwan. Taiwan's Nationalist Chinese Party located there was also threatened by Communist China. He details his job charting radar positions.

Tags: Chinese,Communists

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-q80b8-RmU&start=2370&end=2505

Video Transcript

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

C:        My name is Carl Witwer.  The first name is spelled with a C, C A R L, and, uh, last name is Witwer spelled W I T W E R.

I:          This is another fresh new last name to me. Wit

C:        Yeah.

I:          Wit, Witwer.

C:        Yeah, it’s Swiss.

I:          Swiss.

C:        We’ve been over here it’s almost 300 years, the first one came over here.

I:          Um.

C:        So.

I:          Do you have a middle initial?

0:30:00

C:        B.

I:          B as in boy.

C:        Boy, yeah.

I:          When were you born?

C:        I was born, uh, May 24th, 1932.

I:          Where?

C:        Uh, I was born in Cumru Township.

I:          Could you spell it?

C:        C U M R U.

I:          M R U?

C:        Yes.  C U M R U. Cumru.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Township which is in Berks County, that’s the next county, uh.

0:01:00

next to Lancaster County.

I:          Yeah.

C:        And, uh, actually it, it, I was born in the Township, but it’s about ¼ mile from the town where I finally moved up and grew up in which was, I can give you that, uh, name, was Shillington, and that’s spelled, I don’t know if you’re familiar, S H I L L I N G T O N.  Shillington, Pennsylvania, yeah.

0:01:30

I:          I see.  Tell me about your family when you were growing up, your parents and your siblings.

C:        Okay.  Both my parents were, grew up on farms in Lancaster County, uh.

I:          It’s a beautiful county.

C:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

C:        And both of them had, uh, an eighth grade education then went to one-room schools, and that was, that was it for them.  Plus, they were on farms, so they had to work on the farm as they

0:02:00

were growing up.

I:          Yeah.  Yeah.

C:        And, uh, I had, uh, they had two children, one of them which was me, and I had an older brother who was 11 years older than I was.

I:          Um hm.

C:        But being 11 years older than myself, uh, he was sort of, I don’t know, he was sort of more like a father to me.

I:          Yeah.

C:        more, because he was so much older.  And, uh, that’s the only children

0:02:30

they had.  Yeah.

I:          Tell me about the schools you went through.

C:        School, uh, well, uh, I’ll back up a little bit. I was born in, uh, a gas station which also sold groceries and, uh, ice cream, candies and things like that.  But we lived there, and that’s where I was born.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And my parents went into business about in the early 30’s which was a, not a good time to go into business there.

I:          Yeah.  Great Depression.

0:03:00

C:        And that’s where I was born, in the gas station and, uh, we lived there for about 10 years we were in business, and then we moved to Shillington, the town I just mentioned.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And, uh, that’s where I went to school through all my elementary years through, uh, high school.

I:          What high school did you graduate?

C:        Well, it was Shillington High School, uh, graduated in 1950.

I:          A year that

0:03:30

the war broke out.

C:        Right.  Uh, in my Senior year at high school when I turned 17 years old, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corp. Reserves while I was a Senior in high school.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And, I stayed in that for a whole year, and then, uh, after I graduated from high school,

0:04:00

uh, I was looking for a job but couldn’t find any, any work.  So, this is strange, I enlisted in the United States Navy.  But, first of all, I had to get a, uh, discharge from the Marine Corp. Reserves.

I:          Um hm.

C:        so that I could enlist in the United States Navy.

I:          Um, this is going to be heard by

0:04:30

the students, young children.

C:        Um hm.

I:          So tell, explain them about why you enlisted as a, a Marine, U.S. Marine Reserve, and what does that mean?  Reserve? Explain that, and what is the benefit, and what did you do in the Reserve?

C:        Okay.  Um, I enlisted in the Marine Reserve because I grew up during the second world war, my teenage years, and. uh, I only had a patriotic feeling as you were growing up.  And

0:05:00

And so, uh, that was one reason I joined, because of, uh, going through the second world war and seeing the other servicemen that, uh, were in the second world war.  And another reason I joined was because, uh, of the money which wasn’t much.  Uh, it was like $25 a month that we got, and we had to meet, uh, it was once

0:05:30

a week on a Wednesday we met and, uh

I:          Once a month.

C:        No, no.

I:          Once a week?

C:        Once a week, yeah.

I:          Okay.

C:        On a Wednesday.

I:          Full day?

C:        Uh..

I:          Was it full day from the morning or when?

C:        Oh, it was in the evening.

I:          Evening.

C:        Yeah.  Um hm. And, uh, we had a lot of marching and drilling and, uh, I was put into a, it was the Infantry Company.

0:06:00

Uh, we had a Rifle Company.  We had a Machine Gun, uh, Machine Gun Platoon, and a, uh, Mortar Platoon, and I was put into the Machine Gun Platoon and had to learn about taking the machine gun apart and knowing all the parts and putting it back together again, uh, and, uh,

I:          Was it popular, that many, many boys joined that?

0:06:30

C:        Yes, uh.  That’s a good question, uh, because, uh, there were like seven of us in my high school senior class that joined the Marine Reserves and, uh, they were in different platoons in the, in the company.

I:          How many were in the class?

C:        In my class?

I:          Yeah.

C:        In high school?

I:          Yeah.

C:        Uh, it was 117 children.

I:          So only 17 out of

C:        117.

I:          Right.  So only 17 joined the Reserve out of 117.

C:        Seven.

0:07:00

About seven.

I:          Only seven?

C:        Seven out of that, yeah.

I:          So it’s not that popular.

C:        Um, it was, I don’t know why, uh.

I:          Only seven students out of 117

C:        Yeah.

I:          Joined the Marine Reserve.

C:        Marine Reserves, yeah.

I:          So they, there are some other people who joined some other Reserve, right?

C:        Yeah.

I:          Right[INAUDIBLE]

C:        Yeah, there probably was an, I’m sure there was a Naval Reserve around, too.  But, uh, yeah.

I:          Let me ask this question.  Did you know anything about Korea

0:07:30

by the time that you graduate high school?

C:        No.  I, I’ve, I knew a lot about geography of the, of the world, uh.  I knew where Japan was, and I knew there was in a peninsula to the western part of, uh, side of Japan.

I:          Um hm.

C:        But the name I didn’t really, I didn’t really know the

I:          Korea?

C:        Korea.

I:          At all?

C:        No.

I:          Nobody taught you?

C:        No.  No, not at all.

0:08:00

I:          Was there any mention in the history textbook about Korea at the time?

C:        Um, boy.  I don’t, I don’t,

I:          You don’t think so.

C:        I don’t think so.

I:          Um.

C:        No.

I:          Now have you been back to Korea after the war?

C:        No, I haven’t been back.  No.  Uh uh.

I:          Do you know what’s going on in Korea now?

C:        I know it’s not very pleasant what’s going on. It’s not very good and, uh,

I:          What is it?

C:        Uh, well we have, uh, Mr., uh, what’s his, Kim Yung

0:08:30

I:          Yeah.  Kim Jong- un.

C:        Yeah.  And, uh, uh, I, I don’t think it’s a very good situation really what’s happening.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And a lot of people are trying uh, and some have gotten out of North Korea and escaped to China and then came back, probably to North, South Korea, yeah.

I:          See that, the war that you fought hasn’t finished yet.

C:        No, no.

I:          No, right?

C:        It was just a, just a treaty.

I:          Yeah.

0:09:00

C:        And uh, yeah.

I:          It’s not even peace treaty.  It’s a Armistice, cease fire.

C:        Armistice, cease fire.

I:          Yeah.

C:        Right, yeah.

I:          So you didn’t know anything about Korea.

C:        No.

I:          Now you are the Korean War veteran.

C:        Right [LAUGHS]

I:          And do you know Korean economy?

C:        Uh, their economy apparently is very good over there right now because in our chapter, we just saw some videos of, uh, what’s going on in, uh, Seoul.

0:09:30

I know it’s been built up, uh.  When I was there, I mean I wasn’t on land because I was in the Navy.  So, but I realize that it’s, the economy is real good over there, and one of the top countries as far as the economy in the world.

I:          It’s 11thlargest economy in the world.

C:        Eleventh, yeah.  So that’s a lot of progress in, well it’s been many years, but still.

0:10:00

I:          It’s almost like a miracle.

C:        Right.

I:          Small country completely devastated.

C:        Right.  And I’ve, uh, I don’t want to get off the subject, but I’ve had three cars from Korea.

I:          Oh.

C:        Hyundais.

I:          All Hyundai?

C:        Yeah, all Hyundais, yeah.

I:          Oh.

C:        Yeah.  Different types.  I had a Sonata and a, I had a station, uh, an SUV, and I had another sort of a, it was sort of a, a luxury car from Korea.

0:10:30

I:          Genesis?

C:        All good cars.

I:          Um hm.

C:        I must say that.

I:          Yeah.  So isn’t that a transformation?

C:        Oh, yeah.  Yeah.

I:          So what do you think about that?  The country you didn’t know anything about it. Now you fought for it, and now it’s 11thlargest economy, and you own, you have owned three cars from Korea.

C:        Right.

I:          What do you think about this?

C:        I think, well it should be protected, but, and the United States is one of those people that it’s going to protect it.

0:11:00

Uh, and, uh, I’d hate to see anything happen.  I mean, it, it’s the people, too.  The people that are there to defend them and keep them safe because, uh, we’ve made sacrifices for them, but there’s still a lot, was to stop the Communism from spreading into that country.

I:          So what do you think about that you were part

0:11:30

of this war? Are you proud of your service?

C:        I’m proud, yes.

I:          Based on this unprecedented transformation that Korean people were able to accomplish?

C:        Yeah, I’m proud I served, yes.

I:          So when did you enlisted to, uh, Navy?

C:        In the Navy, uh, like I said before, I had to be discharged from the

I:          Yeah.

C:        Marine, Marine Corp. Reserves, and I enlisted in the, about the middle of June of 1950.

I:          Um hm.

0:12:00

And you knew that the Korean War broke out.

C:        Uh, no, not at that time.  It hadn’t broke out.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        Middle of June and, uh, I didn’t leave until sort of the end of June to, to, to go into the Navy, and I was sworn in the Navy in, uh, June 23, 2950.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Just before the Korean War

0:12:30

started.

I:          So you are ready to go [LAUGHS].

C:        I was ready, yeah.  Uh, I didn’t get to, I, my basic training was at Great Lakes, Illinois, and I got there, it was about the 24thof June and the 25thof June is when the Korean War started and, uh, we didn’t, we were in, uh, basic training and, uh, we

0:13:00

didn’t know it started really.  So word didn’t get around to us till I’d say probably, we were there about two weeks

I:          Um hm.

C:        Before we knew that the Korean War started. And, uh, the Korean War guys said the war in Korea and, uh, we looked at each other and, uh, nobody seemed to know where Korea.  We didn’t know.  So, uh, uh,

0:13:30

Even, I don’t think anybody really knew where, where Korea was at that time.  So, uh, we, my basic training was, uh, it’s about 10 or 11 weeks I think it was of basic training, of drilling, marching, and learning seamanship and, uh,

I:          What do you mean by seamanship?

C:        Uh, learning, uh,

0:14:00

about, well some of it was tying knots.  We had to learn that and, uh, also rules of the road of, uh, sailing, uh,

I:          Signaling.

C:        Yeah, signaling, Yeah.  That was a good one, too, yeah.  Signaling.  And, uh, uh, we had, uh, also a training in, uh, fire, yeah, fire, firefighting.

0:14:30

We had that kind of training, uh, which is important.  They really stressed firefighting if you’re on a ship, uh, to be able to take care of that.

I:          What was your own responses as well as some, uh, your, uh, other people in the boot camp about the break out of the Korean War? Were you afraid?  What, how did they respond to that facts?

C:        No, I don’t think anybody was afraid, uh, at that age.

0:15:00

Uh, it’s a young age of 18, 19 and I don’t know.  You just weren’t afraid.

I:          You were just excited then?

C:        Not really.

I:          Not really.

C:        And, and later we did hear, uh, I don’t know if it affected anyone, but we heard that some people were being killed over there, some of our troops and, uh, uh, we had one guy I remember.  I don’t know if it was the basic training or it was from hearing about Korea,

0:15:30

committed suicide in, uh, basic training.

I:          Really?

C:        Yeah.  So I don’t know what, why he did that, if it, what the re, if it was because of the Korean War or something in his training at boot camp.

I:          Yeah.

C:        And so, uh, after, I can continue on, uh, if you had any other, uh.

I:          Yeah.

C:        After the basic training, uh,

0:16:00

I had my choice of schools to go to, and we were tested at Great Lakes to see what schools we were suited for.  First, uh, school I wanted to go to was, uh, electronics school which I didn’t pass for that.  Second one was for radioman.  I didn’t pass for that.  The third was radar man.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And so that’s what I passed, uh, uh, my test for was for radar.

0:16:30

And so I was sent to Norfolk, Virginia

I:          Um hm.

C:        For Radar school.  And that was in the middle of, uh, September of 1950.  And, uh, the training lasted, uh, until the end of December of 1950 in Norfolk.

I:          Un hm.

C:        Learning about radio telephone procedures,

0:17:00

plotting, uh, radar contacts and, uh, determining course and speed of, uh, of the, uh, aircraft or, or ships, and, uh, uh, graduated there at the end of December, 1950.

I:          And when did you depart for Korea?

C:        Uh, well, from, from Norfolk after graduation, they flew us from,

0:17:30

I was flown from Norfolk to Patuxent, Maryland to a naval base there, and from there we got on a plane, it was a military air transport service.  They flew us to Tacoma, Washington, uh.  We flew from Nor, from Patuxent, Maryland to Tacoma, Washington, and we stopped in Kansas briefly for, I guess, refuel, and then we went on to

0:18:00

Tacoma, Washington and, uh, when we got to Tacoma, Washington we were put on a bus.  This was 20 radar, and I had just gotten out of, uh, radar school.  They put us on a bus, and we went to Bremerton, Washington, and there we were split up.  Ten of us went on a, a ship, the U.S.S. Bon Homme Richard.  That was my ship.  And 10 of, uh, the other 10 went on the U.S.S. Exic, Essex,

0:18:30

another aircraft carrier.  Both were aircraft carriers.  And, uh, that was like, well, Janu, early January of 1951.

I:          Could you repeat your, the name of the aircraft that you were on board?

C:        Uh, I was on the U.S.S.

I:          Bon Hom?

C:        Bon.  It was spelled, it’s three words.  Bon and then H O

I:          B?

C:        B O N, and then H O M M E, and, uh, Richard.

I:          Okay.

0:19:00

C:        And that’s uh, C, uh, carrier.  CB31.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        And that was my first ship and, uh, there had just come out of mothballs.  It was left over from, from World War II, and they brought it out of mothballs and, uh, the crew that was on there was just getting it ready to go to sea.  It was in dry dock at

0:19:30

that time.  And so, uh, after it was ready to go to sea, we went on sea trials first and, uh, after it was approved and ready to go, uh, well to go to Korea, we left Bremerton, Washington I think it was in, uh,

I:          Could you repeat, uh, what is it, the name of the city, Bremton?

C:        Bremerton, yeah.

I:          Could you spell it?

0:20:00

C:        Uh, it’s B R E M E R T O N.  Bremerton, Washington.

I:          Okay.

C:        We, we left Bremerton early March I think it was

I:          Um hm.

C:        And proceeded to San Diego, California.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        And, uh, in San Diego we picked up the, uh, air group that was gonna be on, on the aircraft carrier.

0:20:30

And, uh, we left, uh, to go to Korea.  It was the end of, uh, no, it was early May, early May of 1951.  We left for, uh, Korea by way of, uh, Honolulu, Hawaii. We stopped there for a few days, and

I:          And did you get any special training for Korean War?

C:        Uh, not rea, no.

0:21:00

I:          No.

C:        No.   No real special training.

I:          So what sea were you in in the Korea?  Was it East Sea or West Sea?

C:        Oh, it was in the Sea of Japan.

I:          So that’s a East Sea.

C:        East Sea.

I:          Yeah.  Yeah. We call East Sea.

C:        East and West.

I:          Yeah.

C:        Uh huh.

I:          And not Sea of Japan. [LAUGHS]

C:        Okay.  I know the, there was a time when the Koreans and the Japanese didn’t get along.

I:          Not at all, no.  So, so you

0:21:30

were all the time in East Sea?

C:        Uh, while I was on the Bon Homme Richard, yes.

I:          Yeah.  And tell me about what was your role in that, uh, aircraft carrier, and how, what kind of engagement did you have, uh, on the war?

C:        Uh, my role was as a radar man of course and, uh, what we did was we’d, uh, we had three, uh, uh, radar systems on board. One was, uh,

 

0:22:00

surface search radar. The second was air search radar, and then we had one latitude.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And one of our duties was to operate the radar and watch the screen to see if you had any air contacts or ship contacts.  Uh, we’d ben steaming, I was, we were with the 7thFleet, uh, and Task Force 77 which was in the East Sea.

0:22:30

I:          Task Force what?

C:        77.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Uh, it was always in the East Sea.

I:          Okay.

C:        Which amounted to two aircraft carriers and a battleship or go in the battleship there’d be a, a cruiser there and about 8 – 10 destroyers would be around the, uh, aircraft carriers and, uh, for protection really, for, for detect submarines because, uh,

0:23:00

I don’t think any of the big ships, carriers, had sonar on them.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Only the destroyers that were around the, the carriers.  But our duty as a radar man was to, uh, inform, uh, any planes that would be coming in to form the bridge which was where the Captain was, on the bridge or any ships that were nearby.  We had to

0:23:30

keep track of them.

I:          I mean, were you able to detect any?

C:        Uh, oh,

I:          During your service?

C:        Uh

I:          Were there any airplane from North Korea?

C:        Oh, yeah.  We’d, at night there’d be planes maybe coming, flying at night and, uh, usually they were our planes.

I:          Yeah.

C:        At night.  But we still had to challenge them.  We have, we, we’d be in radio contact with them and, uh, we’d, uh, challenge them, uh.

0:24:00

We have you bearing sof, a certain bearing and so mu, so many miles away.  Please identify yourself.  And there was a system on board the aircraft and also on board the ship, uh.  It was a code that they had to send,

I:          Um hm.

C:        And if they didn’t send the right code, we knew it wasn’t the right, it was somebody else.

I:          Enemies.

C:        Enemy.

I:          Yeah, yeah.

C:        Yeah.  So we never had that encounter of an enemy plane coming up.

I:          The reason

0:24:30

that I’m asking is because the enemy Air Force was almost zero.

C:        Uh, correct, yeah.

I:          And not many real battleship there, either, right? Did you see any enemies’ battleship there in East Sea?

C:        Uh, no.

I:          Did you encounter any?

C:        No.

I:          That’s why I’m asking you.

C:        Yeah.  The only danger we really had was out on the East Sea was, uh, mines , floating mines which were, were dropped off by North Korean, uh,

0:25:00

fishing boats they say.  Uh, They pretended to be fishermen, but actually they were dropping, dropping mines and, uh, and if you hit one, uh, especially a destroyer, it would blow the whole front off of the destroyer.

I:          But, so fortunately or unfortunately, you really didn’t have a real enemy there out there.

C:        No.

I:          That you detected.

C:        No.

I:          Never ever, right?

C:        No, no.

I:          Yeah.  That’s a very fortunate.

C:        Yeah.  Well, our planes,

0:25:30

they came back. I had contact with the enemy, yeah.  They had, you know, holes shot in t hem, uh, from, uh, anti-aircraft guns.

I:          Any specific episode that you remember like an emergency or you thought there was enemy, but turn out to be our own or something like that?

C:        Uh, not on that ship, uh.  I have another ship that I was on.

0:26:00

I:          Ah, what happened?  I mean, before

C:        I don’t want to go ahead of

I:          Yeah, yeah.  So could you explain U.S.S. Bon Homme Richard.  How big, how many people, what kind of weapons systems and so on?

C:        Uh, it, okay.  It was, uh, an, a World War II carrier.  It was one of the bigger carriers

I:          Um hm..

C:        Of World War II.  It was 850 some foot long and over a hundred and some foot wide.

0:26:30

Uh, the crew was approximately, the ship’s crew was approximately 2500 sailors and officers, of course, and uh.  But them when the air crew came on with the, the big planes, you were probably 3,000 men on them, on board at one time.

I:          And what kind of aircraft?

C:        Uh, well, the Korean War, I think, was the first time that the Navy used, uh, jet aircraft.

0:27:00

We had, uh, they were called Panther jets, F9F Panther Jets.

I:          F9?

C:        F9F

I:          Um hm.

C:        Panther Jets.  We had, uh, a plane was, they were called AD’s.  They were a bigger plane.  They were propeller driven planes, uh.  They were used mainly for bombing because they were more powerful. You could carry a bigger load of bombs.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And then we had the very special World War II

0:27:30

leftover plane, the Corsair, uh, which, they carried bombs, too and, uh, rockets, and I think the jets carried rockets, too.  And, uh, those were the planes that we had, the three, three type planes that we had.  And, uh, before they launched aircraft, we always had a helicopter was in the, up off of our aircraft carrier in case

0:28:00

any of the planes crashed.  And also

I:          Were rescue.

C:        Yeah, to rescue them and also there was always a destroyer in back of the aircraft carrier to pick up any pilots that crashed and, uh, uh, when, on my off time as a radar man, I would, uh, often go up and watch them launch planes

I:          Um hm.

C:        Uh, for a morning bombing raid or attack that they had.

I:          How was it watching them?

0:28:30

C:        Great, yeah.  I saw one of the Corsairs, uh, one morning took off with a load of bombs and, uh, the Corsairs for some reason would, when they went off the flight deck which sort of dropped down and then they’d come up.  But one of them, I happened to be watching them on the morning, and it went down, and it, it went down.  It went into the ocean with a, a full load of bombs on it and, uh, the pilot got out because he had a helicopter in the air to pick him up

0:29:00

I:          Um hm.  How was life inside of the aircraft carrier?

C:        Uh, carrier life is pretty good.  You got, it’s more spacious than the oth, uh, the smaller,

I:          Um.

C:        Destroyer.  You had all the, you had a barber shop.  You had a, a medical center, a

I:          Theater.

C:        Dentist, uh.  Yeah, they had, not really a theater.  The newer, uh, aircraft carriers probably had a, a theater.  But, uh, they still showed movies on the hanger deck

0:29:30

I:          Yep.

C:        Which was a big area.  And, uh, but yeah.  I had a lot of good things compared to a smaller ship.

I:          Yeah.

C:        where you didn’t have that much.

I:          And compared to the Army’s in front line. [LAUGHS]

C:        You had a shower every night and, uh,

I:          How was food there?

C:        Food, uh, yeah.  was good, yeah, yeah.

I:          Did you have any steak?

C:        Uh, they had steak, yeah.

0:30:00

You’d have, sometimes they’d have steak for breakfast, steak and eggs.

I:          Wow.

C:        Yeah.

I:          Hamburger?

C:        Hamburgers, oh yeah.

I:          All the time?

C:        Oh, not all the time.  Usually on a weekend you would have, uh, like I said, to give the cooks a, a break, you’d have cold cuts they called it.  Cold lunch meat.

I:          Um.  I’m hungry. I’m getting hungry here.  [LAUGHS] So what was your rank at the time?

0:30:30

C:        Uh, I was a radar man third class.

I:          And that, what that means what?

C:        Uh, it’s equal to a Sergeant in the, in the Army or Air Force, uh.

I:          Sergeant?

C:        Yeah.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Um hm.

I:          And how much were you paid?

C:        Uh, when you were over, when we were over there, uh, in the, uh, they call it the war zone, um, the pay went up, but it was, I was only, as a third class paid about $134.00 a month.

0:31:00

I:          Wow, that’s pretty good.  And there are not much things to do with that money right there in

C:        Right ,yeah.  We, we’d stay out at sea for 30 days, and then we’d go in port, Sasebo or

I:          Oh.

C:        Yokosuka or Yokosuka, Yokosuka I guess it‘s called.

I:          Yokosuka, yes.

C:        And, uh, we’d only be in there a few days, and then we’d go back out again and, uh.

0:31:30

I:          So when, what was the next ship that you were in?

C:        Okay.  I’ll, excuse me.  Uh,

I:          You want a care for water?

C:        Uh, maybe I should.

I:          Yeah.  I’ll, I’ll give it to you.  Here you go.

C:        Thank you.  Uh, uh, uh we came back from Korea on the Bon Homme in December of 1951.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Is when we returned to the States.

0:32:00

And, uh, while we were there, uh, they asked for, uh, volunteers to, uh, go onto another aircraft carrier to take it to Brooklyn Navy Yard.

I:          Um.

C:        So I volunteered as part of a, they called it a skeleton crew which is isn’t a full, full crew, to take that ship to Bremer, uh, to Brooklyn Navy Yard.  And, uh, we took that ship,

0:32:30

uh, to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, uh.  It was February of, uh, ’52, and we got there in April of ’52, into Brooklyn, and I, I volunteered for that because I wanted to get to the East Coast.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Because I lived in Pennsylvania, and so I could probably get home.  But that didn’t work out uh.  I was in Brooklyn Navy Yard,

0:33:00

uh, in the Receiving Station for a couple of weeks, then I got my orders to go back to the West Coast .  So I was transferred back to, uh, the West Coast, to San Diego to go on board a destroyer which was the U.S.S. Hanson.

I:          Um hm.  And? Then that, that goes to Korea, back?

0:33:30

C:        Yeah.  That went to, we went to Korea on t hat

I:          Again.

C:        Yeah.

I:          Destroyer?

C:        Um hm.

I:          And?  Tell me about, um, any encounter there in the, any mission that you remember in the East Sea again, right?

C:        No.  We were in, well part, part of the time we spent in the East Sea with the Task Force 77.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And then later we were on the West Sea, the Yellow Sea, uh, with Task Force 95 I think it was,

0:34:00

and we operated with the English and the Australians and, uh, it was a, a mixed group of American and, and, and English and, uh, Australian.

I:          What was the special mission there?

C:        The special mission was, uh, well, same as, uh, with Task Force 77 as plane guards around the aircraft carrier. It was an English aircraft carrier on the, uh, West Sea.

0:34:30

I:          What was the name of it?

C:        Uh, H.M. S. Glory.

I:          H.M.S. Glory.

C:        Glory.

I:          Yeah?

C:        But the action we saw there

I:          So that’s the part of the Task Force 95.

C:        95, yes.

I:          Okay.

C:        Uh.  And, uh, we did have, uh, action there on the destroyer.

0:35:00

Uh, we

I:          What kind?

C:        Uh, it was, uh, I was on a 4 to 8:00 watch, and I had just gotten off of that watch and went down

I:          4 to 8:00 evening or in the morning?

C:        Morning.

I:          Morning.

C:        And I had just gotten off of the watch and went down to, uh, get something to eat and all of a sudden there was General Quarters and, uh, immediately he had to go back

0:35:30

up to the radar room and, uh, the sonar, uh, department had detected a, a submarine contact or a submerged contact and while we were at General Quarters, we heard, uh, the, uh, one of the lookouts spot ted a torpedo was coming,

I:          Um hm.

C:        was being shot at you, was coming towards us.

I:          Um.

C:        So while we were on radar watch and we heard that,

0:36:00

everybody just waiting, you know, you’re waiting for the bang.

I:          Yeah, right.

C:        But what it never, never hit us.  It missed.  And so we were at General Quarters for 12 hours that day, and, uh, the rest of the ships that we were with, the Australians and the English, left us because they wanted to get out of the way, uh.

I:          But you were in the destroyer, not in the Glory aircraft carrier.

C:        Right.

0:36:30

We were on, in, I was on the U.S.S. Hanson at that time, yeah.

I:          But destroy, I mean the, the torpedo.  Did that, uh, target at, uh, destroyer or

C:        It was at us.

I:          Oh, okay.

C:        The destroyer because the other ships had left.

I:          Evacuated.

C:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

C:        So we just kept, they had the, the, the contact on, on sonar, and so we just kept going around and dropping depth charges

0:37:00

on the, on the, trying to hit the submarine.  But it was never, never confirmed that it, we destroyed it.  But we shot all of our depth charges.  We used up all of our submarine, uh, ammunition that we used for, for subs

I:          To, to, to deter the torpedo, right?

C:        Um hm.

I:          Um hm.

0:37:30

C:        So we’ve never, we never really knew if we sunk it or, or what happened.

I:          So what were you thinking when you, you were told that the torpedo is coming on to you?
C:        Well, I think at that moment everybody was, uh, scared.  They were waiting for, you know, a explosion.

I:          Ready, ready for the

C:        But it didn’t, uh, it never,

0:38:00

never happened. But during when you’re dropping depth chargers on a destroyer, the, uh, they fired off of the back of the ship

I:          Right .

C:        And the concussion from that, it just shakes that, the whole ship.

I:          Um hm.

C:        So much that a door will fly open from the concussion.

I:          Yeah.

C:        It’s so bad.  And while we, I was on the, the, the Hanson, we also had a Korean

0:38:30

Naval Officer

I:          You said, you said it’s a death charge?

C:        The depth charges.

I:          Could you spell it for people who will

C:        Well, it would be depth, d e p t h, depth.

I:          Charge.

C:        Charge, yeah.

I:          Okay.

C:        But um, I just want to add that while we were over there, this was when we were on the  East Sea with the Hanson, we had a Korean, uh, Naval Officer

0:39:00

on board with us.

I:          Um.

C:        And, uh, he was on board to be an interpreter,

I:          Um hm.

C:        In case we had to challenge any fishing boats that were out there that may have been dropping mines.  So, uh, and he was only on board for, oh boy, probably a couple weeks we had him on board.  Young man, yeah.  Very nice young man, yeah.

0:39:30

So, yeah.  We also, this doesn’t deal with Korea.  But we also would, uh, sail to Taiwan

I:          Um.

C:        To clean

I:          During the war?

C:        Yeah.

I:          Why?

C:        We’d be dispatched to Taiwan, to sail between, uh, Taiwan and the mainland of China.

I:          Why?

C:        We, our mission there was to detect, uh, radar positions on the mainland of China because

0:40:00

at that time, they were afraid that they were, may be an invasion off of the mainland to Taiwan

I:          Oh.

C:        Where the Nationalist Chinese were.

I:          Hm.

C:        Because the Communist Chinese had taken over on the mainland.

I:          Really?

C:        So we spent time there going back and forth, and the Captain of our ship, uh, because of that,

0:40:30

he got awarded a Presidential Citation from the United States President.

I:          That’s a new thing.  I never heard about this, that, uh, even during the Korean War,

C:        Yeah.

I:          The U.S. was aware of some kind of, uh, attempts by the Chinese.

C:        Right, yeah.

I:          To attack Taiwan.

C:        Taiwan, yeah.  Or Formosa as it had been.  Yeah, I guess it’s Taiwan today, yeah.

I:          Yeah, Taiwan.

C:        And, uh, we just wanted to know their radar positions.

0:41:00

I:          Oh.

C:        So, in case there was ever any aggression there.

I:          So were you able to detect any radar position?

C:        Oh, yeah.  We plotted them on a, on a, on a, a chart , we called them charts.

I:          Um hm.

C:        They’re really called maps for other people.  But the Navy calls them charts of where the positions were, and we had electronic, they call, electronic counter measuring gear on board that we could, uh,

I:          Detect.

C:        detect their frequency, uh, radar frequency, yeah.

0:41:30

I:          So it was a successful mission then.

C:        Oh yeah.  Yeah.  That was, yeah.  We’d only stay there for a couple of weeks sailing back and forth in the Straits of, uh, Formosa or Taiwan.

I:          So when did you leave Korea?

C:        Uh, on, when I was on the destroyer, uh.  We came back, oh, I know.  We came back to San Diego July 20thof

0:42:00

1953, just before the Armistice was signed.

I:          And during your, it’s pretty long, isn’t it? You were there in, uh, ’51.

C:        Um hm.

I:          Right?  And then you returned to San Diego by July 20thof ’53.

C:        Yes.  But, but I was, we came back.  I got off of the aircraft carrier, and then went on the  destroyer.

I:          Right.

0:42:30

So it’s been a while, two years.

C:        Yeah, two times I was over.

I:          Yeah.  And

C:        But the destroyer I was on had been to Korea four times.

I:          Right . So except the torpedo, um, sort of, uh, alleged attack, any other episode that you remember that you were in danger?

C:        No, I, one night we, went on the West Sea, we did anchor, and I don’t really at this time don’t remember what,

0:43:00

what we were doing there.  We anchored near Inchon and, uh, I don’t know our mission was there.  But all of a sudden, uh, I had volunteered go on a small boat as a radio operator because, I don’t exactly even remember what the mission was for

I:          Um hm.

C:        But what happened is somebody started firing at our ship.

I:          Somebody.  Was it enemy?

C:        It was off, off, of Korea, yeah.

0:43:00

It must have been. And so we up anchored and took off. And so, uh,

I:          What do you mean took off?

C:        We got out of there because we didn’t want to be hit by whoever was firing at us.

I:          Okay, okay.  Hm.

C:        But the reason we were there, I, I can’t recall what we were planning to do.

I:          So,

0:44:00

What was the most difficult thing during your service in, in Korea, either in aircraft carrier or in destroyer, what was the most difficult thing?

C:        Uh, the most difficult would be the destroyer because of its size.  It’s small.

I:          Um hm.

C:        It’s, uh, cramped.   The crew is cramped in small quarters.  Uh, sometimes you couldn’t take a, a fresh water shower. You’d have to take a salt water shower.

0:44:30

And you could only wash down, or soap down, soak down, soap down and rinse off.  That’s the only time you could have the water on, when you soaked down and then rinsing off.  Uh, so that  was, that’s not really very difficult but [LAUGHS] And then we all, the only other thing was, uh, we had a, we went through a typhoon on the destroyer, and that was,

0:45:00

that was a wild ride, you know.

I:          And you never put your foot on the soil of the Korean Peninsula.

C:        No.

I:          Never been back to Korea, either.

C:        No.  Uh uh.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        We, when we first got over there on the Hanson, we, our first mission was to go in close to the shore of Korea with a cruiser, the cruiser Toledo, to draw enemy gunfire.  They wanted, uh,

0:45:30

the enemy to fire at us so that we could fire back at them.so.  But, uh, they never fired at us.

I:          Um hm.

C:        So.  And, uh, that, that was, uh, probably the, we were, as closest I got to Korea shore, and the Task Forces like Task Force 77, they were probably

0:46:00

about 20 miles off shore

I:          Um hm.

C:        And we went as far as Vladivostok to the North. We were always behind the 38thParallel.

I:          Oh, behind.

C:        Always behind there, yeah.  The Task Force was always behind there.

I:          Huh.  So never been in to North Korean territory?

C:        No.  No.

I:          North Korean water?

C:        No.

I:          No.

0:46:30

Any other story that you remember during your service?

C:        Um, no.  That, uh, I was, I was on two other ships, but that would be taking up some, and that wouldn’t be connected with Korea.

I:          I see.  Um hm.  So as we talked in the beginning of this interview, lot going on in, in, in Korea.

C:        Um hm.

I:          What is the legacy of the Korean War you think?

0:47:00

C:        The legacy is, hm.  It would be, uh, one of the things would be, there’s a few things I think.  One of them would be that the Communists haven’t taken over South Korea, uh, and has allowed that country to progress and grow and, uh, we were very, a, a real good ally of us right now,

0:47:30

even though it is a small part of the Peninsula.  It’s a, a great ally, and from what I understand and see on the internet, the Korean Navy is, has grown and is pretty well, uh, supplied.

I:          Oh, yeah.

C:        The ships that they have are up to date.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Uh, uh, and people are very intelligent people.

0:48:00

Uh, hard workers I think they are.  Uh, people that you can depend on, yeah.  A great country, yeah, compared to the North which is completely opposite.  The people are really being, uh, the North Koreans are being, the people are being taken advantage of by the, all, they, I think they worship him as a god, uh.

0:48:30

And, uh, but the God that the South Koreans are worshipping, the, there’s another legacy there. The Korean church is a very strong and big church.

I:          Um.

C:        Has grown.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Yeah.

I:          Are you Christian?

C:        I’m a Christian, too, yeah.  And it’s good to see that.

I:          Yeah.  We were able to build our nation again because you fought for us and deterred the Communist expansion.

0:49:00

Now it’s 11thlargest economy, most substantive democracy.

C:        Yeah.

I:          We impeached a President.

C:        Uh huh.

I:          We put the President to prison so many times. It’s so volatile there.

C:        Yeah.

I:          It’s so dynamic and about to, about to prosecute another previous President for, you know, not thing.  So it’s a very dynamic country, and we always

0:49:30

C:        Your, your, your President that you have now, uh, are you American citizen or?

I:          Yeah.

C:        Oh.  But the President they have now is sort of a, a liberal President

I:          Yeah.

C:        From what I hear.

I:          Yeah.

C:        Uh huh.

I:          Much more prone to talk with North Korea

C:        Yeah, yeah.

I:          And so what is Korea to you now, the country you never knew before?

0:50:00

C:        Korea is a, a, a real, a real, a real friend, a friend to us.  And we have a lot of Korean people here

I:          Yeah.

C:        In the United States.

I:          Officially 2.2 million.

C:        Yeah, we have a Korean girl in our church.  She was adopted, uh.  Her name is like, it’s Renee St. Clara which isn’t a Korean name, but

I:          Um hm.

C:        She was adopted, and I visited my son in California,

0:50:30

uh, Los Angeles, at his church, and I was sitting next to this couple who were, I wasn’t, didn’t, hadn’t talked to them.  But, uh, they were Asiatic looking and, uh, after the service was over I said, uh, what is your nationality, and she says Korean.  And then I said well, I, I was over in Korea during the Korean War, uh. So, and the cleaner that I use in Litits, Dry Cleaning business,

0:51:00

they have a terrific business, a Korean-run business.

I:          Yeah, very good.

C:        So, yeah.  We have a lot of your people.  Well, you’re here.

I:          [LAUGHS]

C:        Good to have you.

I:          Oh, thank you for coming and sharing your story with me, and any other story that you want to tell me?

C:        Uh, geeze, no.

0:51:30

Not that I right off

I:          Um hm.

C:        the top of my head.  I can’t, uh,

I:          I want to thank you for your honorable service

C:        Okay.

I:          And because of your fight, now Korea is strongest ever

C:        Yeah.

I:          in it’s history.  And

C:        I, I can understand that the reason to protect South Korea, definitely need to protect it.

I:          Alright.  Thank you, sir.

C:        Sure thing.  Great to be here.

[End of Recorded Material]