Korean War Legacy Project

Charles Blum

Bio

Charles Blum, the son of Swiss immigrants, volunteered to join the Marine Corps after working with his father in a cheese factory. He served in Europe before being sent to the Korean War. He describes his pride for the Korean people and their understanding of freedom, while worrying about America’s handling of the same issue. He explains his PTSD flash involving an exploding grenade, a dying soldier, and shooting a Chinese enemy with a rifle pointed at him. He also describes his second wound earned in the war, caused by a Chinese soldier with a fistful of grenades. He expresses that he has no regrets and is proud of his service.

Video Clips

Kinda Disappointed with My Own People

Charles Blum explains what the Korean War meant to him. He describes the pain from his wounds with every step he takes. He also elaborates on his thoughts towards South Korea appreciating their freedom while he feels that America may take it for granted.

Tags: Home front,Impressions of Korea,Modern Korea,Pride,South Koreans

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suEemiw3PMo&start=375&end=476

Having Trouble All the Time

Charles Blum describes his experiences with PTSD from the Korean War. He explains sitting on a grenade and the shrapnel that entered his body. He then describes sitting with a fellow soldier until he dies then having to quickly kill a Chinese soldier.

Tags: Chinese,Depression,Fear,Front lines,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suEemiw3PMo&start=536&end=699

Second Time It Was Knees Down

Charles Blum describes his second wounding in the Korean War. He explains his encounter with a Chinese soldier with a fistful of grenades held together by bamboo. He describes jumping into what he thought was safety only to be blown out again by a grenade.

Tags: Chinese,Front lines,Rest and Relaxation (R&R),Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suEemiw3PMo&start=2217&end=2465

You Never Really Get Rid of It

Charles Blum explains his view on surviving the Korean War as going through hell. He describes his altering of a Christian Bible verse to explain the horror of war. He explains that he only knew one soldier who served in the Korean War who made it through without earning a Purple Heart. He expresses that he does not regret his service and that he is proud.

Tags: Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Pride

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suEemiw3PMo&start=2842&end=2925

Video Transcript

 

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

0:00:00

C:        Charles Robert Blum.  B L U  M. and

I:          Blum?

C:        Yes.

I:          Does that have an ethnic origin?

C:        Switzerland.

I:          Switzerland.

C:        Yes.  I actually have dual citizenship.

I:          Oh, you do?

C:        Yes.

I:          How often do you go back to Swittzerland?

C:        I haven’t been to Switzerland since my grandfather died about ’78 or ’79.

I:          I’ve been there,

0:00:30

and I love it.  It’s so clean.  What is your birthday?

C:        February 14, 1932.

I:          And where were you born?

C:        South Wayne, Wisconsin.  Lafayette County.

I:          South Wayne, Wisconsin?

C:        Yes.

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

C:        My father was a Swiss immigrant, and he married my mother,

0:01:00

and then she was from a Swiss.  My grandfather was here in the United States then, and she, they’re both Swiss, and he was a cheese maker.  So we were in the South Wayne Cheese Factory, and I was born on the 14th of February, and I don’t remember South Wayne because I moved to Blanchardville to another cheese factory on the 1st of March.

0:01:30

And then two years later, we moved from Blanchardville to just northwest of Monroe in another cheese factory, and that’s where I grew up.  In a place called Buckskin Hollow.

I:          Do you know how to make cheese?

C:        No sir.  I don’t. [LAUGHS] I just worked for him until I got enlist, when I enlisted in the Marine Corp..

I:          Your grandfather, your fat her, everybody made cheese.

0:02:00

C:        Yeah.

I:          And you don’t know how to.

C:        Well, neither did my two brothers.  So

I:          You’re not guilty.

C:        No, I’m not guilty.

I:          What about your siblings?  How many?

C:        I’ve got a, there was 3 boys and 2 girls in the family, and I was the youngest.

I:          Youngest.

C:        Yeah.

I:          When did you graduate your high school, and where?

C:        Monroe High School, 1949.

I:          Monroe High School?

C:        Yes.
I:          Where?

0:02:30

C:        In Wisconsin., 1949.

I:          Did you learn anything about Asia at the time from school?

C:        Just that Japan, mainly because it was the second World War.

I:          And

C:        But I didn’t know where Korea was.  I don’t remember having any idea where Korea was until it broke out.

I:          You knew that I’m going to ask about that?

0:03:00

And so, you had no idea about Korea, right?

C:        Right .

I:          But you become Korean War veteran.

C:        Right .

I:          What do you think about that?

C:        I think it’s something I had to do, and I’m proud of the Korean people because they took the freedom that I fought for, and they ran with it.

0:03:30

And they got a country that’s come all the way from, I guess, nowhere to a part that’s 10th or 11th there, maybe even lower than that, and industry and the life that the people live are so much better than when I was there.

0:04:00

So I just, I think it was just my sacrifice was well worth it.

I:          How did you know that South Koreans now live better?

C:        Well, I see pictures, and one of the ones that really impresses me is the one at night  where South Korea’s all lit up and North Korea’s got nothing.

I:          Very dark.

C:        Yeah.

I:          Tell me more about the pictures that you saw.

0:04:30

You’ve never been back to Korea.

C:        No.

I:          Tell me about what you saw and what you know about modern Korea right now.

C:        What I know about modern Korea is that I had friends that went back to Korea, and they brought back pictures and different booklets, and that sort of stuff, and it is, the villages are so much more, the highways are so much more.

0:05:00

I mean, it’s just phenomenal.  It’s a magic world, so to speak, from what the Korean people had during the second World War.  I just, it was a great, great to be in it, but not so great to because I was on the front line.  I was there nine months

0:05:31

I was, I landed with the 18th Replacement Draft on the East side of Korea, and I went up to the place called

I:          When was it?

C:        About the 1st of March, 1952, and we went up to this place called the Punchbowl, and then we was there for about 2 or 3

0:06:00

Weeks, and they pulled us off the line, and they paced us all the way across Korea, and put us on the West coast of Korea.  And then

I:          Before we go into that story, ok, your battle portion of your whole story, I want to talk more about the legacy of the Korean War and your service.  So, when you see those pictures of the modern Korea, how

0:06:30

do you put your whole thing that you fought in Korea into perspective?

C:        That’s a tough one because I have, in the last 16 years or so, I don’t think I’ve taken a step without pain.

I:          Without what?

0:07:00

C:        Pain.

I:          Pain.

C:        I was, my wounds are reacting now.  So I just, I still have, I’m still proud I did it, but I’m beginning to wonder why I did it because the Korean people understand freedom a lot better than the Americans do.  And I’m

0:07:30

kind of disappointed with my own people, and I just think that that’s sad because we, in my estimation in the last 10 years have gone a long way towards eliminating our freedoms that we enjoy in the United States.  But I hope the Korean people don’t follow the same road.

I:          Could you move up a little bit

0:08:00

of your, yes, there is a shade in your face.  Did you have PTSD?

C:        What’s that?

I:          Post-traumatic

C:        Oh, Post-Traumatic Stress?  No.

I:          Like flash or nightmare in your dreams.

C:        I still wake up sweating.

I:          So you seem to have a PTSD.  That’s the

C:        But my VA doesn’t believe it.  They don’t

0:08:30

connect my leg injuries to the Korean War.  They say it’s old age.

I:          But you still suffer from it, right?

C:        Oh yeah.

I:          How does that affect you?  What kind of nightmare of flash?  Do you have a flash?

C:        Oh yeah.

I:          Tell me about it please.

C:        Well, I’m going to get into

0:09:00

what I remember, a flash, and that would happen on August 7 when we were trying to get back some guys that got lost or captured on the night of the 6th, and I was going up a hill trying to get to where they were, and all of a sudden grenades came down, and I sat on one.

0:09:30

I got a piece of shrapnel in my buttocks, but it stung the beat of the band, and I think I was knocked unconscious for a time, and when I came to, I was laying up next to a small Oak tree, a Korean Oak, which I call a Scrub Oak, and I

0:10:00

was getting myself out of there, and I heard some moaning, and I went down and hear a guy, one of the guys in my platoon was laying there with his stomach all laid open, and I sat with him until he died, and then when I got up, I came around this tree, and there sat a Chinese soldier with his rifle on his shoulder, and all I remember

0:10:30

is seeing the barrel of the rifle, and I fired, I was coming with both arms, and I fired.  I never went to the shoulder, but I got him right between the eyes.  I don’t know why, but I still see that rifle barrel.  [INAUDIBLE]  And I wake up, and I’m all sweaty

0:11:00

I probably have that once every 3, 4 months.  And I thought I had it pretty well licked until about 1986 when the shrapnel in my hip from sitting on a grenade moved down my left leg, and it was like that, and I went to the VA,

0:11:30

and they took it out, and it was, and from then on, I’ve been having trouble all the time.

I:          And VA doesn’t recognize that was from Korean War?

C:        They recognize the shrapnel, that is from the Korean War, but the other, on December 6 I was wounded again, no not the 6th, the 2nd of December, I was wounded again.

0:12:00

I:          Are you talking about August 7 of 1952?

C:        Up till then

I:          1952.

C:        Right.

I:          Again you got wounded December 2?

C:        Yes.

I:          Twice.

C:        I was wounded twice while I was in Korea.  The second time, the first time was from the knees up, and the second time was from the knees down.

0:12:30

I:          So, were you recognized with Purple Heart?

C:        Yeah, two of them.

I:          Two.  But VA does not recognize that?

C:        I don’t know why they don’t. I had no problems with myself until I had the operation in 1986 to take the shrapnel out of my hip because it was moving,

0:13:00

Then my leg swelled up. I could hardly get in my pants and from then on I’ve been going in and out of the VA, and I’m not very happy with them.

I:          Yeah.  That’s not good.  That’s not good.  When you have that flash that you still see that the Chinese soldier with a rifle, that’s horrible,

0:13:30

isn’t it?  The scar that you have, that you had to kill him, and that scar’s still there and still bothers you.

C:        Yeah.  Because that is the only person I know I killed because normally when you’re in a firefight you’re shooting at a target that somebody else might be shooting at it, too.  So you don’t know if you shot it or if he shot it or somebody else over there shot it.

0:14:00

But this guy, I know, It is buried in there.

I:          But it was barrel.  It was the War, and that’s why you were there.  That’s what you were asked to do.

C:        Right.

I:          So I think you need to put that into a closure.

0:14:30

I hope that that doesn’t bother you any longer.

C:        I hope not.  But I got a feeling it’s gonna bother me right up till the end.  That doesn’t take away that I still felt that I did the right thing by going to Korea or by volunteering for the Marine Corp. for four years I did it.  I just think it was something I wanted to do as a

0:15:00

young man.

I:          But from my perspective, that’s how you protected us so that we could have, we took that freedom and we were able to rebuild our nation, and now we’ve become 11th largest economy in the world.

C:        Yeah.

I:          And we are the most self [INAUDIBLE] democracy in Asia, and so I want you to know that, and you know that, right?

C:        Yes.

I:          So you need to be proud of your service.

C:        Yes.

I:          Yes.

0:15:30

C:        But I don’t think I’m gonna ever get rid of the flashbacks.  No.

I:          Let’s talk more about after you graduated in 1949, what did you do?

C:        I worked for my father in the cheese factory until I enlisted in the Marine Corp. in August of 1954.  Or no, 1950.

I:          Did you volunteer?

C:        Yes.

0:16:00

I:          You just told me that you worked for your father in the cheese factory, cheese making factory, and you don’t know how to make cheese?

C:        Never was interested.  I was just working as a laborer.

I:          Laborer of moving things?

C:        Yeah, and we made Swiss wheels, and the wheels weighed anywhere from 170 lbs. to 220 lbs., and I used to wash those.  We had three cellars, and I washed those three cellars three times a week.

0:16:30

So I washed cheese every day except Sundays.

I:          Interesting.  Very interesting.  So, where did you go to basic?

C:        I went to Camp Lejeune, no, Paris Island.  Paris Island, South Carolina.

I:          Have you been to Marine Corp. museum in Quantico?

C:        No.  I’ve been to the Washington with

0:17:00

the group that is now in Washington this week.  They’re getting back think.

I:          Honor Flight.

C:        No.

I:          What is I t?

C:        It’s from Beloit, Wisconsin where they take two or three veterans once a year and then take a three day, four day trip to Washington, D.C. and hit all the monuments.

I:          So, why Marine Corp.?

0:17:30

C:        I had, my wife, not my wife, my sister,  my oldest sister married a Marine that was at Iwo, and I played ball with another guy that was in the Marine Corp. in the second World War that was at Trorah, and my brother-in-law

0:18:00

Was wounded twice, once in Taipan and once on Iwo.  So I grew up with people that fought in the second World War, and I just wanted to go over with the best I guess.

I:          How was basic training?  Was it hard?

C:        No.  I don’t think basic training was hard.  The hardest part of basic training was gas, when we put the gas masks on.  That, and we had to run around

0:18:30

in the [INAUDIBLE].  I didn’t like it at all.  But the rest of it, physically it didn’t bother me.

I:          Maybe you were trained enough in your cheese factory.

C:        Well, I went to boot camp at 170 lbs. or so, and a friend of mine who was another cheese maker’s son that I knew from high school, he and I went in together

0:19:00

and he came out, he lost 30 lbs. in boot camp, and I lost about 5 lbs..

I:          That’s it.

C:        Yeah.

I:          What was your specialty there?

C:        Where?

I:          In the boot camp.  What were you assigned?

C:        I just was boot camp, just the boot.

I:          Okay.  And then from there, where did you go?

I went to Camp Lejeune, and joined the First Battalion Eighth Marines,

0:19:30

 

and with the Eighth Marines I made a med cruise, went all around the Mediterranean.  We stopped at the Rock of Gibralter.  We stopped in North Africa which would have been French Algiers at that time, and I spent 10 days on the Sahara Desert training with the French Foreign Legion.  I would have never been able to claim that if I wouldn’t have gone

0:20:00

into the Marine Corp..

I:          So how you end up fighting in Korea?  When did it happen and how?

C:        Well, this was in 1951 that I went to Europe.  I spent eight months in Europe going around, and we got back in August I think it was or August, September, late September or October, and they made

0:20:30

We went on a 10-day leave because we just came back from overseas, and then when we got back from our 10-day leave, they called us out for a company formation, and they made 22 of us Corporals.  And the next day

I:          From PFC

C:        The PFC

I:          To Corporal?

C:        To Corporal.

I:          Oh.

C:        And then, the next day they came out, and they called a formation

0:21:00

and 20 of the guys that were made Corporals were given their orders to go to Korea.   Nice surprise.

I:          Yeah.  Where was it?

C:        In North Carolina.

I:          North Carolina.

C:        Camp Lejeune.

I:          So, when did you leave for Korea?

C:        I left in February around the, early February around the second or third because I had my 20th birthday on the ship going over

0:21:30

On February 14.  I had my 20th  birthday, and I got to Korea with the 18th Replacement draft and

I:          Where did you depart from?

C:        San Diego.

I:          San Diego.  And did you go to Japan?

C:        Yeah.  Kyoto.

I:          Kyoto.  And then?

C:        And then we had two days there.  They took all the cold weather gear away from us.  Said we wouldn’t need it.

0:22:00

The Army said we wouldn’t need it.

I:          Really?

C:        Yeah.

I:          That was in February?  And they took the winter gear away?

C:        Yeah.

I:          I don’t understand.

C:        Well, they said we wouldn’t need it anymore where we were going.

I:          Why?

C:        Because it wasn’t covered with, I think they were telling us we weren’t going into the snow area, that we were going to go over on the West coast.  Well, we were never on the West coast until the end of March or first part of April.

0:22:30

C:        So during that time, we had longjohns and we had field parkas, but we had no, what’s it called, Mickey Mouse boots?  We didn’t have them.  We just had boondockers.

I:          So from Kyoto, where did you go?  Is it Tokyo or Kyoto?  Tokyo.

C:        No, Kyoto.

I:          Kyoto.  Are you sure?

C:        Yeah.
I:          You were there?

C:        Yeah.

I:          Huh.  Okay.  And then from there?

C:        From there we went

0:23:00

They put us on a different ship, flat bottom thing, Overnight we went to the East coast, and I  think it was Wonsan or something like that.

I:          Wonsan?

C:        Wonsan or something like that, just below the 38th Parallel I think.

I:          Oh.  That should be Kamnum?
C:        I don’t know.  Wherever they take you in draft.

I:          Directly from Japan,Kyoto to East coast of Korea.

0:23:30

C:        Right.

I:          And what was your unit?

C:        We were just the 18th Replacement Draft till we got off the ship in Korea, and then as we got off the ship, they assigned us to different companies and different units.

I:          What was it?

C:        I got assigned to Dog, I got assigned to the 5th Marines because later on I got assigned to Dog Company.

0:24:00

I:          5th Marine?
C:        Yeah.  And then I

I:          Any other units, like a Regiment and so on?

C:        No, just the 5th Marines or the 5th Marine Regiment.

I:          You mean 5th Regiment.
C:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  But still, that’s the First Division.

C:        Yeah, that’s the First Division, in the First Division you got the First Marines

0:24:30

The 5th Marines and the 7th Marines and 11th Marines. And I went to the 5th Marines, and I was the only, there was 5 of us that met in boot camp, and we bummed around Europe together for eight months, and then we all made Corporal, and we went to Korea as a group, and we got split up when we got on land because two

0:25:00

of them went to the 1st Marines, and 2 of them went to the 7th Marines, and I was the only one that went to 5th  Marines.

I:          And from there, where did you go?

C:        We went up to 5th Regiment Headquarters, and then they assigned us, there they assigned us to what company we were going to go into, and I went into Dog Company.  And from there, they sent us up to Dog company, and from Dog Company took us up and

0:25:30

put us on the front lines in the Punchbowl.

I:          Punchbowl.

C:        And there was snow about 3’ deep and cold.

I:          So tell me about the Punchbowl that you first saw.  What did you feel when you first be there?
C:        Well, where I was on the Punchbowl, we could look at what they called Luke degook’s Castle

0:26:00

and we had incoming the very first day we got there, and I think there was 22 of us that went with the first platoon, Dog Company and the 18th Replacement Draft, and it was, and that first incoming that we got, we were all green, and I think we carried three or four of the guys that came in with me

0:26:31

into Dog Company off the hill.

I:          What did you feel?  Was the battle situation intensive?

C:        No.  Just incoming.

I:          Just incoming., We didn’t see anybody.  We didn’t fire our rifles.  We just tried to hunker down, tried to stay alive.

I:          I think the city that you landed was Kamnum.

0:27:00

C:        Could be.  It’s on the East coast I know.

I:          Right  under the 38th Parallel, right?
C:        Just under the 38th Parallel.

I:          Yeah.  The situation wasn’t that intensive at all?

C:        No.

I:          Okay.  What was your specialty?

C:        I was a fire team leader when I got there, and the Sargent that was in charge of the squad got wounded.  So they made me a squad leader.

0:27:30

I:          How many soldiers in the one squad?

C:        13, including myself.

I:          Tell me about, one more time, how you were wounded on August 7th of 1952. Did that happen in Punchbowl?

C:        No.

I:          No?

C:        On the first of March, around the first of March, they took

0:28:00

us off of that area, you want to see my bald head?

C:        Yeah.  Okay.  But anyhow, they took us off of there and they moved us all the way across Korea to the West coast, and they put me on a hill number 229.

I:          Where was it, do you remember?

C:        It was right under, just off, just East of the road that eventually led to Panmunjom.

0:28:35

C:        So, that’s where I spent my first 30 days on hill 229.

I:          Tell me about it.  How was it there, the battle, and how you got wounded, and describe detail the scenes.

C:        No I didn’t get wounded on 229.  It was mainly patrols, that’s what we did.

0:29:00

And if you got in a firefight, it only lasted a couple minutes.  But if you, we weren’t moving that much, and most of our time spent we spent it getting ammo and food and stuff up to our troops, and we were on hill 229, and we’d go on patrol every third night.  My squad would go on it’s patrol every third night because there’s three squads in a platoon.

0:29:30

One squad would be on patrol duty, one squad would be on supply, and one squad would be

manning the positions on the MLR.  And if you was on patrol or you got to sleep, take a nap during the daytime.  But otherwise, there was days I’d go 24 hours a day without any sleep.

0:30:00

C:        One time during the time when I had a squad, I kept track of how much sleep I got, and I averaged, in 30 days I averaged 2 hours a night.  So.

I:          How did you survive that?

C:        I lost a little weight

0:30:30

because I didn’t eat as much as I would normally.  But I had to take care of my troops.  Somebody had to be getting them ammunition, food, water, and corpsrmen if you got a wounded one.  If you got a wounded one, you had to carry him out.  But we didn’t really have many casualties on 229.  It was later on that we got into the casualties.

I:          Where?  When?

0:31:00

Tell me about it.  Where was it?

C:        Well, we were on an outpost that I call Royal.  But in this book, where the devil is it?  Here it is.  In this book here, I think they call it Frazer

0:31:30

or something like that.  I thought I had it marked.  Here it is.  No, I can’t find it this instant.  But I call it Royal, and it was named something else after we left it.  But I was on it, and we were overrun on the 4th of July, 1952.  And it was

0:32:00

31 of us on the outpost, and I think it was 13 of us that got through without even a scratch on us.  The other ones, we had four guys that were dead and about 15 or so wounded.

I:          How did it happen?  Describe it.

C:  Well, we were told that we were coming because they had a loud speaker

0:32:30

and we’d turn it up at night and say hey Marines, we’re gonna celebrate the 4th of July with you.  So, and then as the days moved up to the 4th of July, the incoming became more and more and more, and at one time we were getting incoming at the rate of about 8, 900 rounds an hour.  So you really hunkered down.  But the next,

0:33:00

we got pushed off the hill.  The next morning we took it back.  So, I know a little bit about the agony of defeat and the pride of victory.  But, that was the biggest battle I was in.  Most of it was in patrol actions with

0:33:30

just a few rounds fired like maybe some hand grenades thrown or a couple of shots or just, you know, just short bursts.  You just, like we’d go out and we’d go as far as we could, and when we got to where we got intercepted or

0:34:00

Something or to the end of whatever we wanted to go, as far as we wanted to go and pick up what information we could get and go back, and sometimes you got in a firefight, sometimes a few rounds of mortars came in, sometimes nothing happened.  It was just like a walk in the park.  But the next time, you never knew if it was gonna be a big thing or a little thing.  I’ve got

0:34:30

I would have blown up a couple a times on patrol.  One time I got knocked over.

I:          By what?

C:        I don’t know what it was.

I:          Mine?
C:        No.  A mortar round came in, and it just, I just flipped, and we got the heck outta there the best we could and got back, and I, and I just ached all over, and the skipper when I got

0:35:00

out of the bunker, why he said to me, he says how you feeling?  What happened out there, and so I told him what happened.  He says how you feeling, and I says I hurt all over.  I don’t know why, but I got , some round came in pre t t y close, and as I was walking out of his bunker, he says come back here, Blum.  I said what’s the matter?  And he says take your flak jacket off.  I took my flak jacket off, and there was a piece of shrapnel about 6” long

0:35:30

Shaped like a knife, and it was stuck in my flak jacket.  That’s what blew me up.  And I decided then and there that I was gonna not go very far without a flak jacket.  So he gave me a new flak jacket, and he put it on a post out in front and he said wear your flak jackets, guys.  I just, like I say,

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I’ve been blow up, unconscious, I don’t think that time, but the time when I sat on a grenade in August,  I was bleeding out of my mouth and my nose.  So I had concussion then.

I:          Wow.  That’s almost like a miracle that you are still in one piece.  You came back from that war, huh?

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C:        Yep.  And the next one I got on December 2.  I got both ankles.

I:          How?

C:        We were on our patrol

I:          Where?

C:        Where?  On the

I:          Give me information about what, where, how, when, all those things?

C:        Within 100 yards of Panmunjom wire

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that went around.  We was on, we got out on outpost Copa, Company Outpost A, and I was there for, I don’t know, I got up there right after Thanksgiving, and I led a patrol two nights before I got wounded down to the

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Fence, and I touched the fence.  So I knew the fence was there, a barbed wire fence all the way around the Panmunjom, and two nights later, two days before that they told me I was going on R and R the next weekend.  So the next weekend I was planning on going on R and R and the

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Navy corpsman that had been with me for the whole time, he was supposed to go on R and R, too,

I:          With you?

C:        With me, we were going together, were gonna have a hell of a time, and they came down and said you’re not going on R and R.  You’re going to NCO School.  So the corpsman went on R and R, and he was gone a week.  By the time he come back, I didn’t go to NCO

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School either on a Friday night because on, I think it was a Tuesday night that I got there, got called, Tuesday morning I got called up to the CP, and the Skipper told me I was selected to go on special patrol, and when I heard all that information about it I says I’m not coming back.

I:          What was it, special?

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Special patrol, there was a Lieutenant coming up from the Ranger Battalion, and a couple guys with him and we were supplying the rest of the guys to go out and see what the Chinese had on what we called the shoe sole.

I:          Shoe sole?

C:        Yea.

I:          What is that?

C:        Well, that was a ridge out in front of us that was shaped like a foot, so we just called it the shoe sole on the nap, and

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we went out there, and I was with a guy that was having his second term in Korea, on his second tour of duty, and he had won the Silver Star in the first one, and I’ll refer to him as Tom, and he and I made it up to the trench line, and the first thing I remember about that it

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we made it to the trench lines, and when I got to the trench line, a Chinese soldier came up and he was throwing two grenades, and he had, they hook in their fingers because they had a bamboo handle on them and they’re made quite similar to a German potato masher, and I can see the fuse is gone, and so I

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cut him down with my Thompson, and then I heard machine gun fire, then I heard mortars.  So I said the safest place for you, buddy, is in the trench.  So I jumped in the trench, and as I was going in I says dummy, dummy mistake because it blew me right back out to those two grenades, but they shattered both ankles and the right knee.  So that’s why I say

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the first time it was from the knees up.  The second time was the knees down.  So the Lieutenant was wounded, he got shot through the chest, so he had to take the stretcher, we only had one stretcher with us.  So I walked back probably 3, 400 yards

I:          With your knee wounded?

C:        Between walking and crawling

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on my hands and knees, I got back to our lines, and the only thing that saved me, I think to this day, is that there was a fresh snow the night before, and it was cold.  So I was covered with ice, bloody ice from the waist down.

I:          That stopped the bleeding.  How many of you were there as a team?

C:        As a team?

I:          Patrol team?

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Patrol had, I think there was three or four guys from his outfit, and there was like four or five of us from our outfit.

I:          So about 10.  And was a special patrol to look into this Chinese Shoe Sole.

C:        Yeah.

I:          Area.

C:        And they wanted to know that because I guess these Rangers were gonna hit it in a couple of nights after that.  So we was

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supposed to go out there and see what they had.  They had enough.

I:          So how many were killed?

C:        Nobody was killed.

I:          Nobody killed?

C:        Nobody was killed in that patrol.  The Lieutenant was, he was comical.  He got his, and he got hit in the one lung, but it was on the right side, and they had to carry him back, and he was tiny.  They called him Tiny

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as a nickname.  He was about 6’4”, 260 lbs., and they called him Tiny.  He came to see me when I got back from Yakuska, Yokohama.

I:          From that wound, where did you go?  How were you treated?

C:        I was treated when I got back to our front lines and back to our

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company outpost by another corpsman, and then I had to take a Jeep with stretchers put in it, and we drove back to Amalars where we could get picked up by a chopper, and then back to a med station, and then

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They operated on me about three or four in the morning, and I just, I hadn’t been asleep for 36 hours, so I fell asleep on the operating table because they gave me a spinal tap.  So I had to sit up and I could watch them cutting my legs taking the shrapnel out of them, and they were gonna amputate the left foot, but

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they didn’t because a corpsman had just come up from the repost, the hospital shared repost, and he says what if we pack it?  We could fly him out tomorrow and get him on the repost, and they can maybe save it.  So they packed it, the left ankle, and I must have slept for a whole day because I missed it.  I missed a day,

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and the next morning, they flew me back to the hospital ship repost

I:          Where?

C:        in Inchon.  And then they left that night for Yokosuka Naval Hospital in Yokosuka, and I spent from that time in Yokosuka until February, no, middle of January,

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and then I had, then I went to a base somewhere around Tokyo where I rode the train all day long  at the foot of the old, it went around Mt. Fuji.  So I got to see the snowtop and nothing else.  But when I got to the base, I forget the name of it, the guy that was on guard duty there was a guy

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that I was in boot camp with, and he had a thumb blown off, and he was doing guard duty there instead of going home, and I went in, checked in, and they were going to send me back to Korea, and I says no.  I says on my orders, they say I got 30 days of rehab, and the guy says well, if you’ve got 30 days of rehab coming, the 18th draft is going home.  You can go home now.  But

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then on the way home, I had another experience.  We flew home on a tri-continental, tri-star, that it was converted into a, it was a commercial, and they converted it into an airplane, a Medivac airplane, and we got out over the ocean, and we got out

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two engines went and conked out on it.  So we went to there, to Midway, and then from Midway to Hawaii, and we missed our connection at Hawaii, so we had to spend a couple days in Hawaii, and then I went to the Naval Hospital in San Francisco.

I:          Korea didn’t want to send you back to your home.

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C:        Well, I came up with a solution, you know, a

way to kind of explain it, that, I think any Christian that knows the 29th Psalm which yea though I walk through the valley of the shadows, I fear no evil for thy rod and thy shaft, they comfort me.  I changed that a little bit.  I says yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow straight through the gates of Hell, and I realized there was only three ways to get out of there.

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Either dead, alive or wounded.  And all the while I was in Korea, I only knew one guy that went home without a Purple Heart.  And he spent 12 months there.  So, chances are that you won’t, don’t survive

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you never, never really get rid of it.

I:          Still you don’t regret?  And you’re proud?

C:        I’m proud.

I:          Do you want to go back to Korea and see what’s happening there?

C:        No.

I:          Why not?

C:        I can’t fly because of my leg, and I’ve developed a

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urinary problem.  So I gotta be somewhere close by that I can’t travel unless I know where I can get stop and go to a bathroom.  I never signed up to go back to Korea.  There’s only one thing I’d like from the Koreans yet, and I understand

0:49:30

they made a medal, I got the Peace medal, but they made a medal out of the wire, barbed wire.  Being as I touched that, I’d like to have won.

I:          You like to have won that?

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I:          Charles, I want you to know that the Korean government and Korean nation never forget your fight for us, and that’s how we became 11th largest economy and strong democracy.  We took the freedom that you fought for,

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That’s the War that you told me, and I want to quote that.  We took the freedom that you fought for, so you’re suffering still fresh upon your head about those things, that you had to do those things.  It’s not going to be forgotten, and there was a reason for you to do that.  So I want you to be able to put closure on it because you had a reason to do it.

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You didn’t do it intentionally without any reason, right?

C:        Yeah.

I:          You had to do it.  You  had to do it, and I think it’s time for you to close, okay?
C:        Well, I’d like to close, but I don’t know that I ever will be able to.

I:          You will be able to.  And we will pray for that, pray for that, and I will do that, too.  Any other important message or episode that you want to share with me today?

C:        Well, last winter we went to a Korean thing down on Rush Street in Chicago, and I really enjoyed that.  They had native music, and I heard Audie Dunn again.  So, I guess that was my story.

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