Korean War Legacy Project

Charles Carl Smith

Bio

Charles Smith was born on January 18, 1927 near Burnet, Texas. He was an entrepreneur before being drafted into the US Army in 1952. He was sent to Korea and arrived at Pusan in June of 1952 and was assigned to 224th Infantry Regiment, 40th Infantry Division. He was sent directly to the front line where he spent the next 11 1/2 months in the trenches, sometimes as a radio operator and forward observer. After leaving Korea in July 1953 he worked in construction, and upon being discharged in July 1960 he worked in construction sales. Now, he enjoys gardening and helping veterans with claims.

Video Clips

A Difficult Journey

Charles Smith talks about his journey by train from Pusan to Chuncheon. He describes having to deboard the train several times because they had come under attack.

Tags: Chuncheon,Chinese,Fear,Front lines

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5C83uwl-UA&start=1310&end=1376

Life in the Punch Bowl

Charles Smith talks about the 11 1/2 months that he spent in the Punch Bowl and describes what it was like to be a part of trench warfare along the MLR. He tells the story of his first encounter with enemy troops and how he hoped to not be "yellow."

Tags: Chuncheon,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,Physical destruction

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5C83uwl-UA&start=1520&end=1823

The Greatest Respect

Charles Smith talks about his experience with ROK Army and KATUSA soldiers. The only Koreans he encountered during his deployment, he describes his feelings about their service and fortitude.

Tags: Chuncheon,Impressions of Korea,KATUSA,Pride

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5C83uwl-UA&start=1824&end=1903

PTSD

Charles Smith talks about his severe PTSD from his experiences in Korea. On the front line, he describes being treated like an animal and not knowing any fellow soldier's names. He talks about how he dealt with PTSD once he returned home.

Tags: Chuncheon,Depression,Fear,Front lines

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5C83uwl-UA&start=2022&end=2195

Photos

Sandbag Castle

Sandbag Castle

Bunkers

Bunkers

Korean Paved Roads, 1952, Ha!

Korean Paved Roads, 1952, Ha!

A Real Friend

A Real Friend

The Eighth Army Front Line, 31 October 1952

The Eighth Army Front Line, 31 October 1952

Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

C:        Thank you.  Well, that’s great.  I, I really enjoy this.  This is the greatest thing that ever happened

I:          Uh huh.

C:        to the Korean War veterans.  I want to start off, if I can,

I:          Sure.

C:        The Korean people that we have met in America, South Korean, are the greatest people that we’ve ever known.  They are the cause that Baptist Church here in Arlington is made up of mostly

0:00:30

South Koreans. In fact, the minister was, and many of the veterans that, uh, they married, uh, Kore, had Korean wives. They were the ones that, un, and I’ve done a little research, Atlanta and different places that the, same as Houston, the Korean people that live here now that emigrated to America are the ones that are causing what we have right here today.

0:01:00

We probably would never had a Korean War Veterans, uh, organization.  They, they came here, or they invited us over to the church, gave us towels, I have towels that they gave us, most courteous, uh, the best, uh, people that we’ve ever know, and I, I really want to thank you and thank the people from the Baptist Church that started our organization.  We had an organization that started back in, uh, 1988

0:01:30

or somewhere along there, national, uh organization that had a few people, and we met in Washington, D.C., and I was one of the few that, uh, joined way back in those days with the National organization, before we had an organization in Texas.

I:          Um hm.  Um, I want to ask more question about that, but could you say your name, when you born, where you born, and schools and family background.

0:02:00

C:        Alright.  My name again is Charles Smith.  I was born down in Central Texas and little, on a farm about 5 miles out of Burnet, Texas, B-U-R-N-E-T, Texas.  Uh, we were raised on a farm and of course the poverty

I:          When you born?

C:        Beg your pardon?

I:          When?

C:        The 9th, uh, my birthday is January the 18th, 1927.  I’m two or three days older than, uh, my good friend, Harry.

0:02:30

I:          And the school and the family?

C:        And I, I went to, uh, a two-room schoolhouse, uh, for the first seven years of my life, uh.  A teacher, in my opinion there’s a, I had the best type school that you could get, uh.  She, she taught seven grades, and the kids sat in through, uh, first grade through the seventh grade, and you had a book

0:03:00

that, for that was given to you that had been used for several years, and you just worked the problems or, uh, put, filled in the answers, and she’d walk by and, and either put a check mark if you had it done right, and if you, if you had it wrong, she’d put a big x, and you go on ahead and do it over.  I sat at the same desk for seven years, and then I went into junior high.  In junior high, I sat in that desk for two years,

0:03:30

and back in those days schools were one of the meeting places.  Schools, churches and, uh, uh, that was basically it.  And then, of course, we, everybody had, we call rural communities.  They would have a store and a church and a, a, maybe a cemetery.  That basically was rural America

I:          Yes.

C:        back then.

I:          Yes.

C:        County seats for the county we were in,

0:04:00

they always had a store, uh, a bigger store, and most of the farm people, my, my parents were farmers and always started out, they was always waiting for another year to make a good crop, but that never happened.  Either the bowlweavil got it or the thorns or something.  But, uh, it was just one of those things that you live and hope, but help never came.

I:          Um.  When did you graduate high school?

C:        I graduated in 1943,

0:04:30

15 years old when I started, and 16 years old when I graduated.

I:          Um hm.  Um, so what did you do after your graduated?

C:        Well, uh, I run around, uh, trying to find myself, you know, because really that was, in, there in the school I should tell you, that we had,

0:05:00

and nearly all schools in America cause we had a war going on, and that was December 7, 1941 and, uh, they had kids that were formed in, in, in, groups and like, like the military. It was basically a form of the military. It wasn’t, wasn’t the military, but we marched to, in different things and done things like, uh, they, we really were. I don’t think there was

0:05:30

any doubt in anybody’s mind that we were going to have a war with Japan.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Uh, the only thing is that our State Department and our American government didn’t see it exactly that way.  Uh, I feel, and I say again that at first, I’m quite a historian. I love history.  The first time that I ever heard the word Korea was during one talk when

0:06:00

Amelia Earhart flew South Pacific, and her plane went down.

I:          Um hm.

C:        That was in school, and I was probably in the seventh or eighth grade.

I:          Um.

C:        And she, she went, uh, down, I think it was in, uh, ’37 or ’38, and some way somehow some be it, somebody talked about Japan, and then there was something said about a small country that Japan occupied.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And at that time, Japan was our best,

0:06:30

was one of our best friends, and they were buying our steel from the farmers, old farmers that be broke, any old tractor part or plow, anything that had steel in it, they would try to haul it to someplace to sell it, and they got a dollar a pound, I meant a penny a pound, dollar a hundred for this, and everybody said it’s going to go to Japan to make bullets to kill your son.  And that was a, some, uh, it was kind of a laughing joke, but it was

0:07:00

really, that was the way it was.

I:          Yes.

C:        So I don’t think in my school years, uh, especially my junior and senior year, there was any doubt in my mind that we were going to have a war with Japan, and I followed that.  Al talked about the Merchant Marine.  As you know, Great Britain at that time was on their knees.

I:          Um hm.

C:        Russia was almost down

I:          Um hm.

0:07:30

C:        And that’s kind of the odd.  In the beginning, Japan was our en, uh, was our friend.  Russia was our enemy.  Germany was our enemy.  But between those two, uh, or, uh, countries, Russia and Japan got into an argument about, I think, about how they were going to occupy the world.  Both of them wanted all of it, and so that’s when they had it. Russia probably lost more people in the

0:08:00

war, World War II, than any country in the world.  And if, if they, they would not have been successful.  The Merchant Marine in 1939 started taking, uh, war material to Russia, and that was kind of against the rules, uh.  But that was really the thing that was happening with the Merchant Marine. Thirty-nine, uh,

0:08:30

and our Merchant Marines started building up.  We had very few ships up until that time.  That’s when Moore Ship Administrated was formulated by President Roosevelt.  And they fast tracked a ship that was, been World War II made and Great Britain, and we later called that the Liberty Ship.  For a while, it took maybe a month to build that ship.  It 500 and some feet long.

0:09:00

We finally got it down to about a week that they could build those ships, and the statement was to the Merchant Maine, men like Al and myself that sailed that we could, we can afford to lose a ship, your expendable and all the material, and we can still replace the material without, uh, Work Force in America, and we can replace the ships faster than the U-boats and the German Air Force can say them.

0:09:30

That was the thing that I guess kind of interests me to hear that kind of statement and when I’m still in high school.  So

I:          When did you join the Merchant

In 1945.

C:        1945.

I:          1945.

C:        War was, uh, and it, there was no really, uh, the war wasn’t, uh, ready to win.  I mean,

it, it looked like it

0:10:00

could go either way. Uh, had not Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and stayed a friend off, uh, the Germany, we probably wouldn’t have won because that divided our, our military, and America basically fought Japan, and that’s where we come in with, at that time Japan occupied Korea [Abrupt Start] was doing, so at that time,

0:10:30

I thought that was really a glory place.  I mean, if you could get in the Merchant Marine and get on a ship, the world would think you’re the best.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And they, we really, at the places that we, and it was all volunteer.  There was no drafting in the Merchant Marine.  Everybody volunteered, and the bad thing was the four, uh, the five guys that, from my hometown, came to Dallas to join the Merchant Marine,

0:11:00

four of them made it, and I was the little one.  I didn’t weigh 120 pounds.  You had to weigh 120 pounds to get in the Merchant Marines.

I:          Oh.

C:        So I had to go back home and try to eat more and get a little fatter

I:          [LAUGHS]

C:        and make the 120 pounds.  And so I did join the Merchant Marine here in Dallas.

I:          In how many days?

C:        Beg pardon?

I:          Month?  It took month to, to

C:        Yeah, a couple of months, uh, to get the paperwork back up.

0:11:30

It wasn’t easy to get in, uh.  Really, uh, it sounds like it was.

I:          Oh, it was competitive.

C:        It was competitive.  In fact, uh, all the other organizations, naturally Army, Navy, everybody was wanting men, and at their time, as far as I was concerned, it was just another branch of the Armed Services, and they really wanted, uh, the Navy needed men, the Army needed men,

0:12:00

and of course, the Army had the Air Force at that time. It wasn’t a, an Air Force, and the, uh, Marine Corps., Coast Guard, and so to, uh, me, I thought hey, that’s great, and we had a saying, and they all remember that.  It’s real good if you don’t get wet.  So if you, but we lost more men and, of course, kids at that age didn’t understand

0:12:30

death.  They didn’t understand anything but doing something that they thought was great.  On a ship that the Navy operated same, the same as ours, would take about 250 men.  We had 40 people, uh, that were on the ship 24 hours a day.  Then we had an armed guard, and they’d be armed guard that, uh, manned the guns.  First they didn’t have guns.  They didn’t put guns on

0:13:00

till about the third month after Japan invaded America.  And they took the old guns off from different places, uh, that was on harbors and, you know, where we used to think that if you put guns on the lands, land, harbors coming in, you could defend a harbor, but we found out that wasn’t it.  But that reason Pearl Harbor thought they had the harbor completely taken care of where nothing could come through it.

I:          Um hm.

C:        They had the, you know,

0:13:30

the, uh, what do you call those, uh, I want to call them, uh,

MALE VOICE:          Nets.

C:        Nets.  They had harbor nets where they

I:          Um hm, um hm.

C:        Submarines couldn’t come through supposedly.

I:          Yeah, yeah,

C:        And they had all their guns trained in an air, so the air couldn’t come through.  So basically Pearl Harbor was considered one of our safest, most, uh, secure places in the world.

I:          Um.  Uh, what country did you go after

C:        I was pretty well around,

0:14:00

during the war in the South Pacific, I went to Pearl, uh, Philippines.

I:          Um.

C:        And, um,

I:          What did you do there?  I mean what, what, what

C:        We, we, we had gasoline that we got from Curacao, Aruba down in

I:          From

C:        Venz, Venezuela.  The gasoline came from, uh, Curacao, Aruba down in Dutch West Indies and British West Indies

I:          Yeah.

C:        And also Iran.  That was where we actually picked up the gasoline for the, for the Armed Forces.

I:          Wow.  So you’ve been to all around the Philippines

C:        Yeah.

0:14:30

I:          and then Iran?

C:        Yes.

I:          What el, what other countries?

C:        Every country in Europe basically.  Uh, South Pacific, uh, I, what, we started to Australia, and as you know, Australia was a jumping off place for American forces after MacArthur went down there at, in that Philippines.  Hadn’t have been for Australia, hadn’t have been for, uh, uh, some of the people in, uh,

0:15:00

well, Egypt was our friend going through the Canal, uh, and Iran was our big friend, and England. That was basically it

I:          Oh.

C:        as far as uh, uh, Russia was just defending our South, but we were taking care of them as far as their [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Now, to 1945 and ’50, Russia was your ally, yeah.

C:        That was it.

I:          Yeah.  Oh, how much were you

0:15:30

making at the time as a

C:        Alright, a hundred, uh, [STAMMERS] I always sailed the deck department.  There anything top side of a ship, I can do.  I don’t go in the engine, but anything on top of the ship, as an able-bodied seaman, I can do it.

I:          How much you were making?

C:        The

I:          Salary.  Did they give you salary?

C:        They, uh, $135 a month.  That was for an AB, that’s the top licensed man.

I:          That’s a lot of money at the time, right?

C:        Yes, it was.  And, but the only thing is once that, once you got to

0:16:00

a dock and you, they paid you off until American port, your money is stopped.

I:          Uh huh.

C:        You had no hospital.  Uh, well actually you did have a hospital.  We had the, uh, the, uh,

MALE VOICE:  [INAUDIBLE]

C:        Yeah, the, anyway the place that, that, and then we had the Red Cross and United, uh, Na, uh, deal that, where we could go for food or something when we were on shore.

0:16:30

By the, that was, in other words our, our pay stopped the minute that, uh, the ship stopped in American port.

I:          So when you were discharged and how you got involved with the Korean War?

C:        Well, that’s a funny thing.  I had a business, a corporation, and the ki, the guy that run the credit bureau and of course if your’ running a business you have to have credit checks, peoples credit, and I knew him pretty good.

0:17:00

We’d drink coffee together during every day or so and, small town, and I asked him, I said hey, war’s getting hot over in Korea.  You think I’ll be drafted?  And the draft had never stopped from World War II through Korea.  It was still the same.

I:          Um.

C:        And the Draft Board would still had your number, and they gave us another number.  Instead of a 1A which is a, one that they draft, we got a 14, 15, but they could change, the, the Draft Board

0:17:30

could change it with a snap of the finger.  So anyway, I asked him, I said you think they’ll draft me?  He said oh no, Charles.  You are 25 years old, and you’re married, and you have a business. Within 30 days, I got greetings.  I had to sell or give my business away, get my wife, uh, and I was married, get her back, move back to my

0:18:00

mother-in-law’s house, and I was ready to go, uh, arou, around the 20thof December, 1951.  I was ready to go to the draft.  We had a three-county draft board that, where you picked up everybody up into, assemble them to send them to the military.  I had bought my wife a new car.  Now that was something that was almost impossible to do.  But I was a good talker, and the guy that I asked

0:18:30

to buy a new 1951 Desoto, he said son, I’ve got 50 people on line waiting for that car, and there’s no way you can get it.  I said well, you see what I’m doing?  I said they’re, they’re gonna, they drafted me.  My wife don’t have a car.  She got to take care of my mother and dad.  They’re living on a farm, and they don’t have any transportation.  I kept on, I bought the car.

0:19:00

And so on the way to the, being inducted, I had a car wreck.  The car didn’t even have 1,000 miles on it. I turned, it was raining and a two-lane highway, and the wheel fell off onto the soft shoulder, turned over. Nobody hurt. So they gave me a 30-day deferment.  That was a, then I would have been a U.S., that’s the, where you, they draft you. But every time, during that time

0:19:30

I got the car fixed about two or three days or at least put in the shop.  I go down to my mother’s and dad’s houses, and they’d dab their eyes with a handkerchief because I was getting ready to go in the military.  There wasn’t no place for me to stay with my, my mother-in-law, so I was just a counting out, that deal.  So one day I told my wife, I said take me down to San Antonio, to Fort Sam Houston, drop me off, and let, you go, come on back home.

0:20:00

So I volunteered. So that, that’s how I changed from a U.S. to an R.A., and they sent me there to Fort Riley, Kansas for my basic training.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And

I:          You joined the Army?

C:        Yes.

I:          And then when did you leave for Korea?

C:        Uh, we, we, we trained at Fort Riley, Kansas, and I took Advanced Infantry, and they gave us, um, I think it was 30 days’ leave

0:20:30

to report to Fort Lewis for the Far East FECOM, and I, uh, after, I think, about 25 days, I, I got on a bus at Austin, Texas and rode on that bus all the way to Fort Lewis, Washington.  I waited there a couple, three days for a ship and got on a ship and went to Yokohama, Japan.

I:          When, when was that?

C:        Uh, had to be

0:21:00

in June of 1952.

I:          of 1952.

C:        May, May, it probably May, May of ’52.

I:          Um.

C:        In fact, at that time I was so down beaten that I never looked at the calendar.  I wasn’t interested in anything except get it over and get it, get behind it.  And it’s all, the ship went to Tokyo, uh, Yokahama.  We stayed a day or two there, and then they sent us

0:21:30

down to Sasebo, Sasebo to Pusan.

I:          Pusan, when was that?  When did you arrive in Pusan?

C:        Within, it had to be around

I:          June:

C:        June or July.

I:          Yeah.

C:        It had, cause it was, it was June.  June of 1952.

I:          So

C:        And then, then they put us on a train, and we called them cattle cars.  What’d you all call them?  You know, the seats were like this

I:          Yeah, yeah, yeah.

C:        [INAUDIBLE] and

0:22:00

every few miles, uh, they issued, while we was there, they issued us some, some equipment, and I, I think I got a full clip of, uh, ammo.  I’m not sure.  But they, everybody got a, a, they took guns and everything away from you when you, when you left America.  But on the ship, they had no guns, but soon as we got to, uh, uh, Pusan, they issued our guns and our ammo.  Every short time, whether it was real or, or

0:22:30

just training, the train would stop, and they would say we’re being attacked.  Everybody get out.  We fired, some of us, didn’t even know where we was gonna hit, you know. They just fired.

I:          Fired, yeah.

C:        And the train would start up, you go, you get a little farther down, you’d fire again.  Finally we went, got to Chuncheon

I:          Um.

C:        Chuncheon was our repo depot.  There they assigned each of us to the unit that we were gonna be,

0:23:00

uh, working with, and they, uh, I was, uh, as you know, there were two National Guard units that were in Korea.  The 40thwas the California National Guard which I was a, assigned to later, and the 45thwas the Oklahoma National Guard.  Everything else was regular Army or Army Reserve, air, uh, that they sent battalions or pieces of it, but no full divisions

0:23:30

of any, any of the National Guards except those two.  So at Chuncheon, they, some, my, my part they were coming from Cheju-do where that they were guarding the, uh, so, uh, I was waiting for them to come in so I would be able to join my unit.  So evidently they had guarded the prisons down at Cheju-do.  I don’t know whether they were, uh, American, uh, prisoners

0:24:00

or, or South, North Koreans or, or Chinese or what.  I don’t know what kind of prisoner.  But that’s what we had a general as you remember that they, they actually and of course needed him there for a few days.  Anyway, shortly, within a week, they came.  They put us on, uh, deuces and a half or a 2 ½ truck and sent us directly, we replaced the 4, uh, the 24thDivision.

0:24:30

Man for man. They left all their, the guns.  We kept their guns, and they, uh, uh, not the small guns but the bigger guns and, uh, we, uh, we were supposed to go and replace each man in a particular place.  One of, the Captain put me in, what they did, the truck rolled up, you know, it was a long way to Chuncheon up to the MLR.  At that time, the war was, already had the MLR there.

0:25:00

And you, the truck stopped, I guess two or three miles down the ver, reverse side of this hill that, where we, uh, had the 40th, and it was over on the east coast, uh, and we were right next to some ROC units, and the 45thwas over close there.  Anyway, we were in the Punch Bowl area.  And they put me in a bunker on the MLR.

0:25:30

I stayed there 11 ½ months.

I:          11 ½ months.

C:        And I could see the North Koreans

I:          Uh huh.

C:        And the, and all these Chinese, and they could see me in that bunker.  During the night, early, first part of the war, we didn’t have search lights.  We didn’t, we only had flares.  So they’d shoot a flare up

I:          Right.

C:        and you could see, uh, what was going on.  Some of us had infrared light on a gun that you could see through the night.  But

0:26:00

that was no man’s land.  Everybody, we met them, and they met us about halfway in, there’s a creek down in the valley.

I:          Um.

C:        And every night, the walking troops went down that, that ground with the, uh, with the Infantry units.  I was radio operator and forward observer, so I, nearly every day I went down with them.  Early on in the war, our officers led the way, uh, the, uh, for the troops,

0:26:30

but we began to lose so many officers that they began to put what we called a point man to lead the platoon out and to, to, to see what was down there, and we had, uh, uh, one bunker down there that was called forward observer, and the other one’s listening post, and you want to be sure you understood what that meant because anything that you did, you would get fire back quick.

I:          Um.

C:        So

I:          Any close contact with

0:27:00

North Koreans or Chinese?

C:        All the time, every day.

I:          All the time?

C:        All the time.  We were getting short rounds from area that was firing day and night, and

I:          Must been in hell.

C:        It was worse than that.  I thought I was tough, and I thought I was mean because I’d come out of the Merchant Marine.  It, it was raining the night that we would just blow, [STAMMERS] we were supposed to meet the, uh, and during basic training, you hear the word yellow, and

0:27:30

that’s not a race. That’s a, that’s a, uh, condition of the mind that, that you couldn’t take, uh, the heat of the, of battle. Soon as we stepped over the hill, artillery and mortar was falling around just like everything.  I don’t know whether the concussion hit me or I was scared and fell or what, but I fell down, and there was a Captain putting me in the position I guess half a mile down there,

0:28:00

and all I could do was stutter [STAMMERS].  I remember that just as well as it was yesterday, and he was slapping me in the face with his gloves, and I thought that sure I’m gonna be yelling I can’t take it, you know.  I, they want to take me back out on a stra, straight jacket.  Finally he got me up, and then we went ahead and deployed, and I stayed there.  But every round from what we call outgoing was our forces,

0:28:30

and the incoming from the North Koreans was going over us, day and night.  Finally about middle of my term, they put search lights, big search lights, and they, they would hit the clouds and bounce off and the, and you could pretty well see everything,

I:          Um.

C:        and then you had to use camouflage more than you, you didn’t march out there like we did when it was dark.  Just two rows down a trench line or something.

0:29:00

You, you went so far, fell down or crawled, and I believe that I was, didn’t weigh, like I said, about 120, 140 pounds maybe, and I betcha I could get down under a, a barbed wire fence that was six inches high because I, I hugged that ground when I went down crawling with my pack and my rifle.

I:          By the way, how did you protect that big search light from sniper?

0:29:30

C:        I have no idea.  That was handled by somebody behind us

I:          Uh huh.

C:        Uh, but they were not just one.  They were lots of them.  The trench line in, in Korea was 155 miles long.

I:          Yes.

C:        Uh, each area was, uh, it was certain groups of people were assigned a certain area and supposedly if they handled everything right, you had interlocking bands of fire that nothing could come through it.

0:30:00

But it did, and of course, we, I had a radio and telephone and a spool of como wire, and as Al was saying those, those telephone lines got broke a lot, that was my job to go out and put another line out there. And again, I learned to crawl with a roll of comoand my rifle, and I could get pretty close to the ground. [Abrupt Start] The greatest praise Al managed the ROCs.  The ROC Army was great

0:30:30

in our area, and the katusa people were the people that was, we use, uh, a better word you use them as a, the people that, uh, they were volunteered signed by somebody else, and I never will forget we had katusa men with their A-frames with a 55-gallon drum of diesel.  We used

0:31:00

diesel a lot of times on the line to keep the fire.  They didn’t have any heat or anything in those bunkers.  How a little person that didn’t even weigh 115 pounds could carry a 55-gallon drum that would be over 400 pounds on that A-frame, and they brought food up to us and stuff like that.  You can’t believe, like I say, the greatest respect when I left Korea I didn’t never want to go back.  But I had the greatest respect for both

0:31:30

the ROC Army and the, and the katusa people.  I never saw, in other words, I was rushed right to the line.  I stayed the line.  I never saw a civilian except katusas and ROCs, and we adjusted fire. I think they left me there in the bunker to just some for the ROC Army, too, and that’s what I was radio operator and, and, uh, uh, forward observer for different branches of themI knew, I knew

0:32:00

when people were hit. I could see it.  Everywhere that you, they had little, little treats of water, I guess, run down the mountains and that was a trench line that you walked up and down.  Once you passed that MLR, that was what, how you got down to the in between.  That was also, when it rained, and it rained there every day in Korea, there would be a creek there.  Sometimes that water would be,

0:32:30

well, anywhere from 6 – 8 inches to several feet.

I:          Yeah.

C:        And I was on the radio when I heard the, the 45this the wrecker, they had a bunch of men down there, and they drowned. I don’t know why that they, uh, didn’t know and understand that water rushing, you know, and those mountains over there off those hills, but anyway, I never went past

0:33:00

that creek. That was as far as I ever got, uh. Some of our Army unit did, and what, that trench line, they call it the 40, uh, 38thParallel.  It wasn’t straight.  But basically what that trench line was supposed to have been was when the Koreans and the Japanese were fighting

I:          Um hm, um hm.

C:        before and on the northern part

0:33:30

that the North Koreans had, they were filled with holes in their wall where they take and send their troops in.  We didn’t have holes.  We, we only had bunkers on our [INAUDIBLE] (Abrupt End)

I:          When you were not fighting or in a front line, what, what were you doing?

C:        Trying to sleep.  Uh, but there was fighting going on all the time.

I:          All the time.

C:        All the, either mortar artillery.  They just, you know, continued to fight.

I:          And they didn’t replace you?

0:34:00

C:        No.

I:          Must been very hard for you.

C:        Well, I’d given up.

I:          Do you have

C:        We were like animals.  We didn’t even want to know each other’s name.  I know no man’s name that was in my entire unit.  No man.

I:          Do you suffer from PTSD?

C:        Very bad.

I:          Would you share a little bit of it?  How severe was this?

C:        I came in on a worst day,

0:34:30

well, anything, all three of us.  You could be, push us just a little bit, and we would go bananas.  We, our wife, our kids, anybody, our companions.  We had to have some certain kind of coping skills.

0:35:00

Mine was like a, they call it rabid where you run.  If when I get into an argument or discussion I didn’t like, I would run, and I’d get my bottle of Jack Daniels or whatever and kill the pain.  Uh, go to the VA, and they say where were you shot? Well, some of us got shrapnel, but we didn’t get shot, but we were bad shape,

0:35:30

nothing,  Thirty years from my World War II experience and my Korean experience, the VA would not even give me an aspirin.  They put me in the hospital in Waco one time.  My wife brought me up because I was all, nobody get along with me, and I was bad.  Put me in the hospital there, stayed here a week or so.

0:36:00

All they did was give us food and water and everything, kept my door closed.  I’ll never forget it.  The old guy that was the psychiatrist, he says Smith, you’re in bad shape. He said you need to go see your health care, County health officer. I wanted to, you know, I was used to, I’d taught how to use my hands and everything else

I:          [LAUGHS]

C:        But I knew better.  So my wife took me home and like I say,

0:36:30

this is something that you’ll never get out of your mind.  [Abrupt Start] Teach you two things.  Go to school or get a job.  I didn’t tell you earlier, when I come home from Korea, I was too sick to use my GI bill. I have never used the GI bill yet. I used my home loan.  That’s all.  They, so I was sick, sick, and the, after I got

0:37:00

out, and I saw so many men that was in the same shape I was, and so I said to myself I’ll spend the rest of my life being a veteran service officer cause by that time I had learned the ropes.  I knew exactly what to say, word to say and how to get the veteran their benefits. And I still do that today.

I:          Um.  You went through such an ordeal, PTSD, suffered from it.

0:37:30

Any regrets your service in Korea?

C:        I, I bounced back and forth.  Uh, the, the, when you’re on the low end of your PTSD, you, you say, or not, the, not necessarily the government, uh, as you know, Harry Truman bounced around, too, uh.  Just a few days before June 25, 1950, he said he wouldn’t defend Korea, South Korea.  But

0:38:00

he knew he had to

I:          Yeah.

C:        because that was, he was forced into it.

I:          Yeah.

C:        So that’s how I bounce around.  For the Korean people, yes, you bet you.  They were, they’re the greatest.  But the way that our government has treated a bunch of people, I mean, you [STAMMERS] when we were in the service, you, you walked up to the paymaster, saluted, and you gave them your name, rank and serial number, and they shoved the money at you.  You count.

0:38:30

It was always right. With the VA, you gotta beg and beg and beg, and you gotta find somebody that’ll help you because the average one of them will say we’ll take it, you know, we’ll work on it or this’ll happen. It don’t happen.  So the greatest feeling that I ever had, you asked about how I really feel, the President of the Korean War group, Seoul Station, picked two men

0:39:00

and, for the 50thanniversary of the cease fire.  I was one of them.

I:          Um.

C:        The South Korean government treated us royally. We went out and we uncovered the statue. We went to the cemetery.  We went everywhere.  Stayed in the, in a luxury hotel.  Everything that was there was perfect.  The thing that amazed me their shops were on, some of them are on the side of the street, clean as a whistle.

0:39:30

They [STAMEMRS] they don’t trash.  When it got time for them to go to lunch, they left that, nobody bothered it. Nobody stole.  They, they don’t, here in America, if they tried that, they would be, they wouldn’t   have anything left.  So that had an impact on me.  The people were the most courteous.  I never saw one unemployed person in South Korea, and I talked to millions of them I know, or a lot of them, and everybody was doing their job.

0:40:00

It was just so great to think here’s a model that we fought for.  So with that in my mind, I say hey, I’m so proud that we did that. [Abrupt Start]  We must train our youngsters.  The people today don’t even know about Korea, and they think of the big war, and they think of something else.  Uh, Korea is a model for America to come back to.

0:40:30

We thought we were the model teaching you, uh, I’m, I’m talking South Korea.  It’s the other way around.  We, America must, if they don’t adopt to the, uh, South Korean model, we’re out.  We’re in bad shape.  Now, for our kids, I know Al feels the same way.  I know Ken feels the way I do, that the good life that we live including World War II, Korea and all the others

0:41:00

up until the Gulf, meant something, and we all felt that we’re gonna leave the place better for our kids than we found it.  Not gonna be. We lived the best part of our, uh, of American tradition.

[End of Recorded Material]