Korean War Legacy Project

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 Jangjin before Carl House was captured on November 30, 1950. He shares a very personal story of both Camp 5 and 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.

Video Clips

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.

Tags: 1950 Inchon Landing, 9/15-9/19,1950 Seoul Recapture, 9/22-9/25,Incheon,Seoul,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Modern Korea,North Koreans,Physical destruction,Poverty,Pride,South Koreans,Weapons

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


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.

Tags: 1950 Seoul Recapture, 9/22-9/25,Seoul,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,South Koreans

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


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.

Tags: 1950 Seoul Recapture, 9/22-9/25,Seoul,Civilians,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,Personal Loss,Pride,South Koreans,Women

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


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.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Jangjin,Chinese,Cold winters,Fear,Food,Front lines,Living conditions,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,POW,Weapons

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


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 he was covering for Raymond Howard, a gunshot broke his 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 he 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 thirty-degree-below-zero temperature gave away the heat from his breath, so they stuck a bayonet in his back and took him away.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Jangjin,Chinese,Cold winters,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,POW,Pride,Weapons

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


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.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Jangjin,Pyungyang,Chinese,Cold winters,Fear,Food,Front lines,Home front,Living conditions,Personal Loss,POW,Pride

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


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 he were about to make their attempt to escape, the POWs were moved to another building and the guards found the rations. He shares that he left Camp 3 in August 1953 and crossed the DMZ in September. He remembers eating many bowls of ice cream after his rescue.

Tags: 1953 Armistice 7/27,Panmunjeom,Pyungyang,Chinese,Fear,Food,Front lines,Home front,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Personal Loss,POW,Pride

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


C:        Carl W.  House.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        Columbia, Missouri is where I was born.

I:          Uh huh.  When were you born?

C:        August 23, 1931, which makes me pretty close to 83.

I:          Eighty-three?
C:        Right.  You are in the group of young Korean War veterans.

I:          I’ve been told several times.

C:        Yeah.



And I’ve had some difficulties because of that to get my disability through.  They always thought I was younger than what I was.

I:          Oh.  You look too young.
C:        Well, that and healthier than what I was.  I had heart problems, uh, surgery many times.  My mother and dad, my dad passed away when I was quite young.



I:          Oh.

C:        I was 11 years old when my dad passed away.  And he was from the First World War wounds that took him, took his life.

I:          Oh.

C:        And it took me to a bad situation as far as the financial structure of a home.

I:          Um hm.
C:        Made it hard, you know, for me.



But and it was hard to get established where we could really go to school like I wanted to.  So, I didn’t finish high school.

I:          Oh.

C:        And that’s the reason why I enlisted in the service.  I thought I would get to finish my  high school. And after I finished basic training, the Korean War was going on.

I:          Um hm.  When did you join, Army?

C:        Yes.



March the third of 1950.

I:          And where did you go to receive basic military training?
C:        Basic training here at Fort Knox.

I:          Fort Knox.

C:        Right.

I:          Kentucky?
C:        Right.
I:          Uh huh.  And what was your specialty?
C:        Infantry.

I:          Infantry.

C:        Yes.  Because I just finished basic training.



And right out of basic, I went to Japan and took another month of training in Amphibious training.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Made the Inchon Landing.

I:          When did you leave for Japan?
C:        In July. My mother was in the hospital for surgery.  I had to get a delay in route so that I could be there for her when she got out of surgery and also to give her a blood transfusion.



I:          Oh.
C:        From, you know, I had the same type of blood.
I:          Yeah.
C:        And, so that put me getting into Japan probably about the first or last of July.

I:          Uh huh.  So, you knew that the Korean War broke out before you left for Korea.

C:        Oh yes.

I:          I mean to Japan.

C:        Right.



I:          What did you know, and did you know anything about Korea before?
C:        No.  I’d never heard of it till I finished basic training, and they gave me my orders.

I:          Uh huh.  What did they say about Korea?
C:        They just said in my orders I was going Far East Command which I went to Japan.  And then it was after I got to Japan that they told me that I was going on to Korea.

I:          Uh.



C:        And of course, they were planning, and there wasn’t anything said about the Inchon Landing.

I:          Uh huh.
C:        That we made, the beachhead there.  There wasn’t anything said about that until we got on a ship to go over.  The Marines, the 7th Division and the 1st Marines and I don’t know, it’s been so long, a lot of things I tried to,



And this is gonna be hard for me because I tried to forget a lot of the things.

I:          Tried to forget?

C:        That’s many years, you know.  I can’t remember everything in detail.  But

I:          Did you try to forget?
C:        Oh yes.  When I got back, I did a, going to bars and staying drunk which I had a tendency to want to do and a lot of guys did, I found that I could get occupied in some kind of a job or something that was of interest to me,



And I did. And I became a workaholic.  That’s how I was able to

I:          Forget those.

C:        Forget a lot of those things.

I:          Do you remember when you left for Korea from Japan?

C:        Well, I made the beachhead in Korea on the 15th of September.



I:          So, you were in the Inchon Landing.

C:        We made a beachhead at Inchon. That’s how I got to Korea.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        We went through Japan straight to Inchon.

I:          Yeah.

C:        Now they had a beachhead there.

I:          BT?

C:        Beachhead.

I:          Beach.

C:        Yeah.  We came in on the beach.

I:          Was it 9/16 or 9/15?

C:        Fifteen.

I:          Fifteen.
C:        Nine fifteen.



I:          I thought it was all Marines did it on the 15th.
C:        Yeah.  There’s, I read a lot of history about this.  We made our beachhead in September.  That was the first beachhead that was made. Then we went in, I don’t remember the town.  But about halfway in on Korea.  And then we went back down to  Pusan,



Loaded back on the boat, and they took us around, and we made another beachhead at Wonsan.  So, we made two beachheads.

I:          Yeah.

C:        But  then when we did that, we shut the enemy off.  And I don’t know if it’s ever been recorded or not, but the Korean War was supposed to be officially over just before (INAUDIBLE) when we crossed the Yalu River.



With the 7th Division.  And we had run into the Chinese and had already been, we captured some.  And then that’s when they pulled us back for Thanksgiving dinner, and the War was supposed to be over, and were supposed to come back to the United States. I don’t know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any record of that.

I:          Um hm.



So, how was the situation when you landed in Inchon?  Were there any resistance from the North Koreans?
C:        Not a lot because our ships, in fact my ship was sitting right by the Reserves, Mighty Mole, they called it.  And they shelled that beach all night before we went in that morning.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And so, our opposition was very, it wasn’t very bad at all.



We had it pretty easy.

I:          So, from there, where did you go?  Did you go to Seoul or south?
C:        We went on into Seoul.

I:          You went to Seoul.

C:        Yeah.

I:          Ah.

C:        Yeah.

I:          How was Seoul?  What did you see there?
C:        Nothing, there was nothing there.  This is why I, one day in the doctor’s office I was looking at some of the literature.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        on South Korea, and it was unbelievable because all I ever seen while I was there,



They turned the tanks around, the guns around backwards and drive down through those buildings and just flattened them out.  And the reason for doing that was because the enemy would go in there if you left any of them.  But by doing that, they would notify the civilians so they’d get out.  And they just leveled the town.



So, when we left, there was nothing, you know.

I:          Nothing.

C:        There wouldn’t be anything.

I:          Were there any more skirmishes around Seoul City when you entered in?
C:        Very little.  There was a few that were hanging around.  But as far as the large group of Marines, a lot of opposition, there just wasn’t any.

I:          What division did you belong to?

C:        Seventh Division.

I:          Um hm.



C:        Thirty-first Infantry.

I:          Yeah.  Seventh Division and 30

C:        Thirty-first, I Company 31st

I:          Regiment.

C:        Right.

I:          How did you feel when you entered into Seoul?
C:        Well, really when you’re a young man as I was at that time, all of it was quite a new experience for me.  And I didn’t,



And I just, I don’t know.  Somehow, I just knew we had a job to do, and it wasn’t that really bothered me or anything.  We just knew we had a job to do, and we just went in and  took care of it.  And there wasn’t anything there.  I mean, you know. The only thing that stood out to me that was really bad, our first night in,



You know, we had some South Korean soldier with us, that were assigned with us.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        So, we had difficulties a lot of the time.

I:          Uh huh.
C:        Communicating.

I:          I see.

C:        Cause you know, it was, our language was just broken, you know.

I:          Ah.

C:        And we just, more had sign language more than anything.  But my first night in my first foxhole, I spent with a North Korean cause we couldn’t tell them apart.



And I didn’t know that.

I:          You were in the same foxhole?
C:        Yes.  And see, he was a spy.  And I would not have known it, but the South Korean in the next foxhole over got enough communication with him that he found out that he was.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And by, he called in some other soldiers there, and they got him over to the side,



And they had a little interview of their own.

I:          You might have been killed.

C:        Right.  And I was really shocked when I found out.  Then I had another South Korean that came in with me, and he explained to me what had happened.

I:          Ah.
C:        I had no idea.  But the South Korean soldiers took care of him.  So, where he went or what happened to him, I don’t really know from that time on.



I:          Were you scared?

C:        Well, you know, it kind of got to you when you, I realized, you know, I couldn’t tell them apart.

I:          Yeah.

C:        They all looked the same.  And so, I did what I did.  And I wouldn’t.   have.  But the soldier next to us, I don’t know just exactly how, but he had talked to him.  They talked back and forth, and he found right away that he was a North Korean.



I:          Because dialect.

C:        Right.
I:          Did you see Korean people around the city?
C:        Occasionally, yes.

I:          How was that?
C:        Oh, it was terrible.  Some of them were, you know, their homes were destroyed.  They were trying to live on whatever they could find.  It was a terrible thing.  War is for any place, it always is.



And I think one of the hardest things, at first when I got to Korea, I was kind of, didn’t like it because I thought why am I way over in this country.

I:          Exactly.

C:        And

I:          Why?
C:        You know, and I thought, and I wasn’t expecting that when I, because I thought I was going to finish my education, and that’s what I went in the service for.



But of course, I found that the main thing I was in there for was if we had war, that’s the first thing you take care of.  So, but after I got over there, I was pretty upset. I  got to thinking about, you now, every once in a while,  I got myself into a terrible situation.

I:          Terrible situation.



And I thought man, I don’t know whether this is the right thing or not to be way over here, you know, fighting a war that I didn’t really understand that much about at that time.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        But really opened my eyes was just shortly after that, they put us up on a mountain.  We had a small airport left. The enemy was trying to knock our planes out.  We had liaison the planes.



It was a small airport.

I:          You mean in Seoul area?
C:        I think it  might have been.

I:          Kimpo.

C:        See, and it was hard for  me to remember exactly where it was.

I:          Yeah.

C:        But I remember our squad had orders to go up on this mountain and to keep an eye out for this airport so the enemy couldn’t fire at our planes, our liaison planes.



So, while I was up there on that mountain, we run into some enemy.  And in the process of all of it, the next day was after them and took care of some of them.  And then we got to finding some civilian girls that they had done some terrible things to and had murdered.



And that really opened my eyes.  At that time. I guess was the eye opener that really made me realize that it was a necessary thing to be there.  And I, my mind goes back to that because I think, I thought then when that happened, I’d rather be fighting the enemy over here than I would in my backyard and see my sisters and my family in this kind of predicament.



And I realized how serious it really was at that particular time when I, you know, seen all this and analyzed it.

I:          Oh.

C:        It really opened my eyes to, and I didn’t mind being there.

I:          Wow, that’s a very eye-opening statement that you  had.  I mean, thank you for being honest.  Why should I be here in a country that you never heard of, right?



C:        As a young man, I wasn’t but 18 years old.
I:          Right.
C:        And like I said, I was planning on finishing my education, and I wound up taking beachhead training which was pretty strenuous.  That took quite a bit of training, you know, to get ready for that beachhead.



We didn’t know, it was unknown what we were gonna be facing when we climbed down the side of that ship with full field packs and all the ammunition and everything you’re gonna go in.

I:          Where did you go from Seoul, to where?
C:        Well, we went South.  We went south and back down to Pusan.  And then we regrouped.



I:          No, from Seoul, you didn’t go to Pyungyang, but you got down to Pusan.
C:        Right.

I:          Okay.

C:        But some of the other soldiers went on. I  don’t know how far they went.  But we moved into Korea about halfway in I’m guessing.  And then we went South

I:          Okay.

C:        Took the enemy out of that area.



And then we loaded back on the ship and went around to Wonsan.

I:          Wonsan.

C:        And come back in and regrouped with the troops there, and we had them shut off.  That was just before Thanksgiving that that all happened.

I:          What did you see when you landed in Wonsan?  Were there civilian resistance?
C:        No.

I:          Not at all.

C:        And I give a lot of credit to General MacArthur.

I:          Um hm.
C:        I’ve heard a lot of people that didn’t like him.  They thought he was,


Well, I don’t know.  I’ve heard several things about him.  But I thought a lot of him.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        I don’t believe that we had a General as good as he is since.  And I had a man tell me one time that he was a man that just liked to fight wars. Well, maybe he did.  But he knew what he was doing.

I:          Okay.

C:        I will give him credit for that.



But it’s like I asked him.  I said I don’t think we’ve ever won a war since they took him out.

I:          How was Wonsan?
C:        Well, it was kind of like Inchon.  They, you see, our planes and our ships would hit those beaches.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        And quite a while before we’d go in.  So, we would just pick up odds and ends that was left actually about what it was amount to.



So, it wasn’t too hard.

I:          Okay.

C:        Having 1st Marines would usually hit the beach before we would sometimes.

I:          First, yes, right.

C:        So that way we didn’t really know quite what was going on.

I:          Um hm.

C:        But they moved pretty fast.  And there wasn’t really that much left when the ships nd things got through.

I:          So, what happened to you?  Did you go up to the Chosin Reservoir?

C:        Yeah.  Well, that’s where I got captured.



I:          Tell me about it.  How were you captured and when were you captured?
C:        Well, see, before I went to Chosin Reservoir, they had pulled us back, and that’s when I had crossed the Yalu River, you know, just before Thanksgiving.  And they stopped us, pulled us back, and I don’t recall.



I:          I’m sorry.  You landed in Wonsan, and then you went up to Yalu River?
C:        We went all the way up, I went across the Yalu River.  I was front man when we crossed the Yalu River.

I:          Yalu River.

C:        (INAUDIBLE)
I:          That’s in the Northwest.

C:        Right.

I:          So, you went from Wonsan to Yalu.

C:        Right.
I:          Oh.
C:        Oh, I was from over the Yalu River from Pusan all the way through.



I went from one end to the other.  Both sides. Actually, all over.

I:          Do you remember the month when you landed in Wonsan?

C:        That would have been, let’s see.  I landed in September, probably October.

I:          Um hm, early October.

C:        Yeah.
I:          And then you went up to Yalu River.

C:        Right.

I:          And then came back to Chosin?
C:        We came back,



I don’t, seems like Pyongyang?
I:          Yeah.

C:        That we came back for Thanksgiving dinner.

I:          Right.

C:        And then we were supposed to load on the ship to come back to the States.

I:          Yeah.

C:        But they fell us out the next morning and told  us that they had some problems up front.

I:          Uh huh.
C:        And we had to take care of other, it wouldn’t take a day or two.  And so, they loaded us on a truck.  We traveled all, I’d say from four daylight that morning till after, sometime that night.



Cause we got to the Chosin Reservoir.

I:          Um hm.
C:        So whatever distance that was during that time was the little town that we stayed in.  And I’m not real sure what that town was.  But anyway, we landed, when they unloaded us out of those trucks, we were at the Chosin Reservoir.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        Now, I don’t know who made the mistake.



But when we got out of those trucks that night, they told us not to worry about anything.  We could have coffee if we wanted it, make it so far.  There was no enemy around.

I:          Hm.
C:        For at leas5 15 miles.  The liaison plane had checked the area all over.  There wasn’t anything around to worry about.



And that night before I crawled in my sleeping bag, I looked around that mountainside, and it looked like a small city with all the little fires around, people making coffee and visiting.  And about 3:00 the next morning, the Chinese opened up on us.  And what we did was moved right up on a horseshoe circle.

I:          Um hm.

C:        They had formed that we just went right up in the middle of it, and they just closed it behind us.



We fought them for three days.  That morning, for some reason I knew that it was necessary to get back to the artillery which was down in the valley.  And I had in  mind that if we could get back to that and we fought our way back down into that valley.  And the Chinese was all over us.  I mean, it was difficult because we didn’t know,



In the early morning hours, you didn’t know who was the enemy and who wasn’t.  I mean, you know, it was so mangled.  They were all mangled in with us.  They killed a lot of our boys in their sleeping bag, you know, that morning.  And anyway, we managed to get back down to where this artillery was.  And I remember asking if anybody knew  how to fire those, I believe they were 105’s.



And there was one guy that said yeah, I can.  And I said well, we better get it going because the Chinese were just swarms of them.  They were, we could see them coming.  And that guy, he knew what he was talking about cause he put them shells where they needed to be.  I’m telling you, there’s no telling how many that we killed that day that those big shells would hit, and it would seem like it’d make a big hole in the group.


But they  just closed it back up and just keep coming.  And that went on for three days.

I:          Oh.
C:        We fought them there before we ran out of ammo.  They made a air drop in to us and it missed. It fell into the enemy over the mountain, and we didn’t get it.



Well, the next morning, they said well, we’re gonna have to try to make it, get out of here, get back.  And that morning, I looked up and seen everybody was headed down back trying to get out of there, and I hollered to some of them.  I asked what was going on, and they said well, it’s every man for himself.  We’re all about out of ammo.



So, I started to get back too, and I run into the captain, and he was standing down in the road cause I got back down there.  And he said are you (INAUDIBLE) and I said yes.  He said well, you’re rear guard.  So, he told me that my group would set up a line of fire there, and they would move on around about 125 yards from us, and then they’d go and set up a line of fire, then we could move back.



So, we did.  And that’s when I got hit.  Shot through my left arm and broke it.  So, I was really caught up for the rest of the day then trying to, about all I could get a hold of would be a 45 or a carbine.  They were laying around a lot of guys got killed, you know.  So, you just kind of picked up and did what you could which wasn’t a lot.  But I did what I could.



But we managed, I ran all day that way.  And I had one friend of mine, and in this interview, I wish I could find out what happened to him, Raymond Howard.

I:          Raymond?
C:        Raymond Howard.

I:          Spell the last name.

C:        HOWARD.

I:          HOW

C:        ARD.

I:          Oh, Howard.

C:        Howard.



Raymond Howard.  But that’s all I can remember about his name.  But he was in, he was my squad leader when, just before I was captured.  And they had us down where just he and I were the only two left. And we were behind an embankment, oh probably about six, five foot or something like that high.



And they had gotten so close to us that they were throwing concussion grenades and all this.

I:          Um hm.
C:        In fact, one hit just down below, and I thought that was the end of the line.  But it didn’t, the concussion went away from instead of to me.  Then he said well, he said, if you can, we had a little valley that we needed to cross to get out of there.



He said if you can get across that valley and hold the line of fire till I can get over to you, and he said since you’re hit, you’d better go ahead, and I’ll try to get to you.  And I said alright.  So, I started to cross this little ravine, and it was fairly level, I’m sure, when I started across it.  Not realizing all day that I had been bleeding, and my arm was broke.



Of course, I just put my  hand in my pocket like a sling.  That’s all I ever got for that arm.  It grew back fairly straight.  I had a lot of trouble with it all the way through prison.  But I managed to start, I started out across that valley.  And it seemed like I was running up and down a little hill.  But I didn’t realize it, but I was passing out.



I’d lost so much blood and (INAUDIBLE) pretty well out of it.  And I fell.  And when I did, that was the last time I’d seen my buddy, Howard.  I don’t know whatever happened to him.  I don’t know if he got killed.  But he was a pretty sly fellow.  He might have got out of there, I don’t know.  But I never did see him after that.  But I fell, and for just a few minutes, I was out.



And when I come to, I could hear the feet, you know.  The Chinese were running on frozen ground.  And I thought well, if I could just lay still, maybe they’ll go on by me and then I can get up and go.  And so, I did try to do that.  But you know at 30 below zero, you can’t, and I couldn’t hold my breath very long.  And when I had to breathe, they could see pretty well that I wasn’t dead.



So, I got a bayonet in my back and told to get up.  And from that point on, I was a POW, and there wasn’t much I could do about it.

I:          Do you remember the day you were captured?
C:        The 30th of November.

I:          Wow.  So, how did the Chinese treat you?


Well, that’s a question I’ve been asked no telling how many times.  And a lot of them said did they torture you?  And I’ve always said is it torture to have a broken arm and never have no kind of medical attention at all and at l30 below zero and be put into a little hut where you have no

I:          Heat.



C:        Heat, and you’re suffering and not enough water to drink.  But these were simple things that would have helped you when you’re running a fever and you’re sick.  Plus, the parasites.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Of all kinds, that we dealt with. And then through the night while you’re trying to get some rest even though you’re hurting,



To have your buddy next to you, he’s in the process of dying from being wounded, and he doesn’t know it, but he reaches over and grabs your broken arm, and you’re going through that kind of thing if you had just a little more room to keep from that going on.  There are several things like that that could have been prevented which would have been very simple.



And none of them we were able to get.  So, I always looked at it as I think it was deliberate that things were done the way they were.  And it isn’t hard to realize that when you’re going through it to see a man cry all night long just for a drink of water.

I:          What made you get through all this ordeal?
C:        The good Lord.



I:          Are you a Christian?
C:        Yes, very much so.

I:          Were you a believer at the time?

C:        At that time, I was a Christian.  But I was a lazy Christian.
I:          Uh huh,

C:        I’ll put it that way.  One thing I will say I didn’t really know, I hadn’t really been in the Word

I:          Um.

C:        And I found later that I really missed, and had I been, there was a lot of things I could have done better that would have been a lot better for me.



But that is the key thing.  I had a grandmother that I was sure that was one of the reasons I’ve seen a lot of things I did like for example when I was shot through my left arm, I was firing my rifle.

I:          Um hm.

C:        The bullet went in on this side

I:          Uh huh.

C:        Of my arm and came out over here.

I:          Uh huh.
C:        And I can show you the scars where it came out.



It was right in line with my heart.  But that bullet didn’t come through that coat sleeve.  So, say what you want, but I know what took care of it as many other things I seen that way.

I:          So where did you go from there?  What camp did you go to?  Was it



C:        Went to, well they, we were probably on the march off and on from the day I got captured.  They would, especially that night after I was captured, they marched us all night long.

I:          Um hm.
C:        And what they would do, they took us probably five miles, something of that nature, and they put us in a little building. And it was kind of a holding area because there were only three of us.



And what they were doing was collecting the others or bringing the others in that they had captured because all night, they would make, let us rest maybe 15 minutes or so, and then they’d take us back out.  We didn’t realize, we thought we were going somewhere, but we’d go out on the mountain somewhere, and what they were doing was keeping us tired.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        Beat down so we wouldn’t do nothing.

I:          Uh huh.



C:        I figured out later.  But at that time, I wasn’t aware of what was going on.  But anyway, they’d bring us back to this same area until they finally got like six or seven of us together.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        Then the next morning, they took us on back further.  And then they let us rest for a little while, give us a bite to eat, and then we went on back further.



So that went on then through.  We didn’t make very good time cause a lot of us were wounded and weren’t able to go really.  But they would keep trying to get us back from the lines.  But we could hear the fire.

I:          Then where did you go?

C:        Well, we went back to a valley.

I:          And?

C:        And we spent the winter there in this valley.  I never did know what valley it was.

I:          Uh huh.



C:        I called it Death Valley because they said that, I didn’t really know this. I have nothing to verify that.  But they said that 1,600 prisoners died there that winter.  And I know they had a burial ground up on a hill, a big hole.  And there was a lot of bodies in there, you know.  Once in a while you’d get a burial, they’d tell where you’d have to help carry a body up there and put him in that.



I:          Had you ever been brought to any camp?

C:        Then in the Spring, they took me on back.  We started in February, and it was May.

I:          Uh hm.

C:        We were on a march going back to Camp Five.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        And when I got to Camp Five, I stayed there from May till, I don’t know, but I believe it was the next year, they took us on back then on a boat to Camp Three.

I:          Uh huh.



C:        And that’s where I stayed then until I was released.

I:          Tell me about the life at the camp.

C:        Well, we didn’t, we just had a small room, and they always had us full, all bodies they could get in there.
I:          How many in a room?
C:        Probably 10, 12, somewhere in there.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        It varied, sometimes depending a lot upon room.



But it was always where so many could lay at one end of the room, and your feet would lay on the floor and would be intermingled, you now, they’d just that close together.  And we never had heat.  And they would give us enough heat to bring us through the night.



And we were stronger and healthier through those first two winters.  That’s what pulled us through I believe, that kind of weather. But the following year it was good that they let us have some heat because we had lost so much weight, and when I say lost so much weight, they had started feeding, giving us a little bit of food just before they release us when they found out they was gonna release us.



They started giving us a little bit more food.  And

I:          What was the most difficult thing during Camp?
C:        Most difficult thing was food.  We didn’t, we just didn’t have any food to speak of.  What little we had was seemingly to be what was swept up off the floor because they had every kind of,



There was rocks, glass, rat drippings, you know, and all kinds of stuff in this rice that we would get.  And a lot of guys couldn’t, they just couldn’t eat it.  And they would give up and die.  That’s why we lost a lot of men, we did.  That was, and 24/7, when you’d go to sleep at night, you would dream of those birthday dinners, anniversaries and all those things would,



You would wake up in the night thinking about that food that you had enjoyed before you were captured.  So that was the key thing.  And then also all the time I was a POW, I would, my arm would heal up, and it was never in a cast, never, actually in a sling.



I just put it inside of the pocket on my coat, and I carried that arm that way.

I:          It naturally healed?
C:        Yeah.

I:          Amazing, isn’t it?

C:        Yeah.  Then you ask me why I, how I come through that?  Blood poisoning and a number of other things that could have happened.



But pieces of bone worked out of that arm all through the time I was a prisoner of war.  It would heal about and about four months, it’d start swelling back up, my arm would.  And it would swell up big enough that it would bust open and drain for another month or two.  Then it would heal back up.



And maybe a little piece of bone would work out. And this went on all the time I was a POW.  And I had a friend of mine, Burt Puller, that was in the same room I was in.  And he had taken a piece of shrapnel in his shoulder, and it had busted his shoulder up pretty bad.  And he was in the same predicament that I was.

I:          Ah.



C:        And what was amazing, when my arm would heal up and I would be able to use my arm, his shoulder would be, we took turns.  In other words, if my arm would swell up and bust open, his would be healed.  And then when mine would heal up and his would bust open.  And we couldn’t get over that.  It seemed like that’s the way it was all the way through.



I:          Did you complain?  Why is this horrible thing happening to me and my friend?

C:        Not really.  I think one of the things that you do when you’re in this kind of position, there are some things that’s on your mind like you think, you always have hopes that they’ll come in and get you out or that you’ll find a way to get out.



And that seemed to me to be the main thing I concentrated on most all the time I was in there.

I:          Oh.  So, you had that hope?
C:        Oh, I had always had hope.

I:          That you would be rescued?
C:        That I’d be rescued or that we would find a way to get out of there.  In fact, the last part of it, I had two friends of mine, and we, this got to be a problem.



They infiltered the men in such a way with things they would give them, and they would get us to where that we really wouldn’t know what man you could really trust.  So, it got down to the point where that when you got good solid friends, you stayed close.



So, you could trust, and there was three of us that was that point. I had Andrew Channel.  He’s here now.  And I had Burt Pope, and he doesn’t usually come to the conventions.  But we all three got to be pretty close friends.  And Andy had a $50 bill that he managed to hold on to.  He had it in the seam of his pants was where he kept it.  And he thought we used to sit around and visit, you know.



You gotta have something to work on.  So, we sat around and talked about possibilities that maybe we could get out.  We had found that men have managed, it wasn’t a problem to break out of the camp.  You could do that fairly easy.  But you know what the terrain was like over there.  There was, the only way you could travel almost was just by road or water.



And most everybody that would get out wouldn’t go very far, and they’d get recaptured. And their main problem was they could hide out for a short time. But as weak as we were, they had to have food.  And whenever they went in to someplace to get food, they always got caught.

I:          Yeah.

C:        And you know, you didn’t need, that was one thing that I was amazed with.  Those people didn’t need a phone cause it seemed like the way the villages were laid out, they could holler from here, and you’d hear it travel all the way down that mountain, you know.



That’s the way they communicated.
I:          Yeah.
C:        In emergencies, you know.  And so, if they caught you, you know, it was a matter of time there’d be a lot of them there to take care of you.  But anyway, we realized that one of the problems was that when the men did get out, they couldn’t go very far. So, we decided as hard as it was, that we was going some way save us up enough rations



So that when we got out, we could stay out and get further away and we thought we might get a chance to go. So, we had saved up enough rations we thought would last us about three or four days.  And we had pulled the ceiling down in that house and had it hid up over the (INAUDIBLE), and you know how they carry the rice in a roll, and that’s the way we had it saved.




I:          So, you hid some food there?
C:        Yeah.  We had food there.

I:          Where did you get it?
C:        From different ones around that had an old shirt or something of that nature that we could take apart and make a sack out of it to carry our food in.

I:          What I’m saying is where did you get the food from?
C:        We just saved it.

I:          Oh, you didn’t

C:        Part of what we all three decided that we would take a little out of our rations as we got them,



And this took quite a while to do that.

I:          So, the rations that you got from the Chinese.

C:        Right.

I:          Okay.
C:        So, we would just save a few, a little of it, and all three of us did this.

I:          Out of that small?
C:        Right. It wasn’t very much.  But we did this because I mean, you know like I said, you was hungry 24/7.  And so, it was hard.



It was hard to do.  But we did.  And the thing of it was after we saved all those rations and we’re thinking about trying to make a break, get out of there, I’d say probably about three days before we were getting ready to leave, they found us out, and they would do this occasionally.  I think they knew that this would, different guys would do that see.


And they would just follow you out without any notice.  And then they’d change buildings on you.  We were really concerned about it.  That’s where we found out that something was going on about our being free.

I:          Oh, I see.

C:        Because they found out rations.  We seen them when they took the rations out, we seen them going to Headquarters with them.



And they knew that they’d know some of us in that group.  So, we were thinking that we were probably gonna get in trouble over it, and we’d have to tell who it was because they would torture everybody in that group till they got, found out who it was.  So, we figured we’d have to tell.  But to our surprise, they took the rations out of there, and they didn’t do anything.



I:          When were you released?

C:        It would have been probably about the 25th of August.  I would have been in the first group cause my arm was swollen and was draining again.  I as in the sick and wounded that was released just, you know, right after or about the last of August cause I came across the line the first of September.



I:          Oh, you crossed the line?  When did you cross the line?
C:        Well, they, about the first of September.  But I don’t remember just what day it was.

I:          So, August 25th, you mean you left the camp?
C:        Right.

I:          Okay.  And what were you thinking?



C:        Well, I didn’t want to get too carried away because we didn’t know for sure.  We didn’t know whether we was gonna get out or not.  We were afraid maybe.

I:          You were still skeptical.
C:        Right because, or I was.  I was thinking, you know, I don’t wanna get my  hopes too high cause if we get to the line or get up there close and they decide that they don’t want you to go yet, well you’re still here, you know.  And so, I wouldn’t, I didn’t want to really get too carried away with that idea for, till I crossed that line.



I:          Um.

C:        It wasn’t till I knew that I was on the other side that I

I:          What was the first thing you ate after you crossed the 38th Parallel?
C:        Ice cream.

I:          Have you been back to Korea?

C:        No.

I:          You know what happened to Korea, right?

C:        Right.

I:          What do you think?

C:        Well, they set up the 38th Parallel.  I really don’t know. I  heard some things.



In fact, I was offered the chance to go.

I:          Yeah.
C:        To Korea and was informed that they fly us over if we wanted to go.

I:          Yeah.

C:        And I never went back.  And the reason I didn’t was because somehow, I just didn’t want to go.  I didn’t.

I:          You didn’t want to go, right, because too much

C:        It just

I:          Because of the memories.



C:        The thoughts of everything, I just didn’t want to, you know, I just didn’t want to go.

I:          Korea was able to accomplish simultaneous economic development, never been precedented, so speedy, fast catch up and democratization in Asia, one of the most democratic countries in Asia.  We did it from 1960 to late 1980’s.



And we were able to do it because you fought for us.

C:        You know, I always, I will say one thing about South Korea and my experience with the South Korean soldiers.  They were very determined people.  And very strong to go through so many difficulties they were going through.  They were really strong, showed a lot of strength.


I:          Um hm.

C:        In what they, how they lived and survived with all the difficulties.  It was remarkable.

I:          You are 82, right?
C:        Yes.

I:          I hope that you change your mind and go back to Korea where you fought, the country you never knew before. You will see what you did for this nation.



Female Voice:  I’m Marla House.  I’m the wife of Carl W. House.

I:          Um hm.  When did you marry?
M:       It was May the 11th of 1973.

I:          Seventy

M:       I’m actually his second wife.
I:          I see.  Had he told you about his awful experience in prison camp?
M:       Not a whole lot.  He doesn’t talk about it, you know, a lot.  Just doesn’t want to remember it really, you know.



I:          But you know some of it, right?
M:       Yes, I’ve heard him speak about some of it.

I:          What do you feel that you live with a man who went through such unbelievable ordeal?  What do you feel?  How do you put that into a perspective that you are living with this man that nobody will be able to imagine?



M:       It’s difficult.  We, because it does affect the soldier all their life, you know.  And having not known myself what exactly he went through, it’s difficult to really understand it.

I:          Does he have PTSD, nightmares or things like that?
M:       He has had, yes.

I:          Um hm.

M:       Not maybe as much as you would expect.  But he does have that.



I:          How do you handle those problems?

M:       Well, you do a lot of praying.

I:          Carl, do you want to leave any message to this interview?  Anything that you think you missed but wanted to be here?

C:        There’s one thing I will say that in all this.  You know, you’ve always heard of people falling through the cracks.

I:          Um hm.



C:        When I came back, I think that’s the way you would put it, with my Federal government.  I wasn’t too proud of the way they did treat the GI’s when they came back.  It was supposed to have been a police action.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Which was far from it.  There wasn’t anything said about it hardly at all.



And still yet today, the Viet Nam War lasted longer.  But all the Viet Nam people came back, and that’s all you heard about.

I:          Thank you very much again, both of you.

C:        Thank you.