Carl W. House
After Carl House’s father passed away from wounds inflicted from WWI, the struggle to balance the family’s financial needs and school influenced his decision to enlist in the Army in the Spring of 1950. After the 7th Division, 31st Infantry made their landfall at Incheon, they swiftly moved throughout South Korea eventually making their way up to Jhangjin before Carl House was captured on November 30, 1950. He shares a very personal story of both Camp 5 & 3 where he remained until he was released. Carl House spoke of how he and other prisoners would work to help one another and he dreamed of life at home which helped to keep him alive. They would come close to escaping, but the lack of transportation, food, physical weakness, and the act of changing buildings to disorient the prisoners to keep them from leaving the prison camp. Carl House and wife, Marla, spoke about the difficulties of his return home, and so many people, including the government, didn’t care to acknowledge the soldiers that returned from the Korean War.
Destruction of Civilian Homes
After Carl House's unit left the Incheon landing site, they headed to Seoul. He said the first time he witnessed the capital, it was gone due to total destruction. When American tanks arrived, they would level the buildings to keep the North Koreans from using them. Carl House said they warned civilians to leave their homes before the soldiers destroyed them. However, recently, Carl House was was surprised at a doctor's office when he came across a magazine in the waiting room describing South Korea's accomplishments since the war.
First Night with a North Korean Spy
Carl House described that his unit worked with ROK soldiers and the language barrier made it difficult to understand each other. They relied heavily on sign language as a way to interpret their needs. During the first night, Carl House discovered that the person in his foxhole was a North Korean spy with assistance from the ROK soldier. They questioned the spy and the ROK soldiers took him away. Carl House felt he was lucky and he was amazed that the ROK was able to identify the spy.
I Now Know Why I'm Fighting in the Korean War!
Carl House's attitude of "why am I here fighting this war?" changed from a free education to the protection of civilians. Carl House and his fellow soldiers were sent on a mission to find the enemy that was targeting US planes. While they were searching, they found women who had been tortured and murdered which instantly changed his perception of war. He would much rather fight to help the Korean people, than see this happen to his own family back in the United States.
Surrounded at Jangjin: Last Line of Defense
Carl House arrived at Jangjin with his unit and was told no enemy forces were within a fifteen-mile radius. He recalls many soldiers began building fires, drinking coffee, and preparing sleeping bags. He shares that Chinese forces surrounded the U.S. soldiers in a horseshoe-shaped position around three in the morning, making it nearly impossible for them to escape. He remembers fighting for three days and running low on artillery after a failed airdrop landed in enemy territory. He recounts his captain ordering his unit to stand rear guard while fellow soldiers pulled out and recalls doing what he could to hold off the Chinese.
Carl House's Capture
Carl House and his Squad Leader, Raymond Howard, were the only 2 remaining soldiers holding the line as the Chinese were throwing concussion grenades at both men. As Carl House was covering for Raymond Howard, a gunshot broke Carl House's arm and caused massive blood-loss. The only thing that he had to hold his arm together was a slang he used to keep his arm straight during the healing process. When Carl House made the attempt to cross the valley himself, he fell unconscious from his injury and when he woke up, Chinese had surrounded the area. He made an attempt to play dead, but the 30 degree below zero temperature gave away the heat from his breath, so they stuck a bayonet in his back and took him away.
Life in Camp 3 and 5 as a POW
Carl House marched to Camp 5 from February to May of 1952, but he was moved to Camp 3 where he was later released. Each room the prisoners occupied held ten people (tip to toe) which would be beneficial to them to keep warm. Since many of the US soldiers were well-fed and strong when they arrived, they were able to survive the rest of the winter while slowing losing weight. He said the one thing that mattered the most was food, but many soldiers hated the idea of eating rice that had once been on the floor. Most of the food contained glass, rocks, rat droppings, and many men died.
Emotions of a POW
Carl House and the other POWs lived on hope and they were planning to make an escape by rationing their own food (rice), storing it in a worn shirt to store it safely in the ceiling. Just as Bert, Andy, and Carl House were about to make their attempt to escape, the POWs were moved to another building and the guards found the rations. Carl House left Camp 3 in August 1953 and crossed the DMZ in September. He remembered eating many bowls of ice cream after his rescue.