Charles E. Gebhardt
Charles Gebhardt was born on October 11, 1931 in Chicago, Illinois. After graduation from Leyden Community High School, he enlisted in the US Army in January, 1950. He attended basic training at Camp Gordon, Georgia followed by training as a cryptographer. He was attending Officer Candidate School when the Korean War broke out. He was deployed to Korea in July, 1950 as a part of the 7th Infantry Division, 29th Infantry Regiment (later, 32nd Infantry Regiment) working in intelligence and operations. He participated in many battles including: Pusan Perimeter, Inchon Landing, and Chosin Reservoir. He was rotated home in June of 1951, but returned in 1952 as a part of an engineering unit charged with maintaining airfield runways. He returned to the US in June, 1953 and was discharged from the Army. Today, he is active in his local Korean War Veterans Association chapter.
First Impressions of Korea
Charles Gebhardt describes arriving in Pusan in July, 1950. He talks about contacting his unit by phone and being picked up by jeep to travel to Masan. On their journey, he talks about seeing the first signs of war.
Joining the 29th Infantry Division
Charles Gebhardt talks about arriving to his unit, the 29th Infantry Division. He talks about the challenges the unit faced at the time of his arrival. Led by a Korean commander and lacking supplies and training, they were recently defeated by enemy forces.
A Day on the Line
Charles Gebhardt describes his duties as a part of the 29th Infantry Regiment. He talks about going on patrols and observing enemy movements as an artillery forward observer.
Destruction in Seoul
Charles Gebhardt describes the destruction of Seoul he witnessed when passing through on his way to Kimpo Airfield. He says he "may have became a pacifist at that time," referring to the conditions that he saw Koreans living under.
Before the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir
Charles Gebhardt describes the placement of his unit before the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. He mentions that his unit, the 39th Infantry Regiment, relieved a Marine unit that held the northernmost ground of all US forces.
The Beginning of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir
Charles Gebhardt describes the scene at the beginning of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. He talks about the KATUSA soldiers assigned to his unit and how he thought they had gotten spooked. In reality, the Chinese offensive had already begun.
"It was Very Scary"
Charles Gebhardt describes his encounter with Chinese soldiers on the first night of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. He talks about shooting at enemy soldiers that were within arm's reach.
"You Should Not be Afraid of Some Chinese Laundrymen"
Charles Gebhardt recounts the words the General Edward Almond in a meeting of officers and intelligence personnel on the morning after the first fighting of the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. Describing the meeting in which he attended, he mentions that several officers present were taken aback by the comment. The comment was "You should not be afraid of some Chinese laundrymen."
Retreat from Chosin
Charles Gebhardt describes his unit's retreat from the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. He talks about destroying equipment. He also describes loading up the wounded on the slow retreat to Hagalwoori.
Losses, Conditions, and Rescue
Charles Gebhardt talks about the lives that were lost in the retreat from the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir. He describes the difficult conditions on the trek. He also tells the story when he and his comrades borrowed Marine vehicles to rescue wounded soldiers.
"We Won that War"
Charles Gebhardt gives his thoughts about the legacy of the Korean War. He talks about his pride in the transformation of South Korea. He discusses that although he hasn't returned to Korea, he has kept up on the country's successes since the war.
[Beginning of recorded material]
CG: My name is Charles C H A R L E S E. is my middle initial Gebhardt G E B H A R D T.
I: Is that German?
CG: That’s German.
I: So, you’re a descendant.
CG: 100% both sides.
I: Oh. You’re 100% pure German. Okay. What is your birthday?
CG: Uh, October 11, 1931.
I: I’m sorry?
CG: October 11, 1931.
I: Thirty-one. So you were born two years after the Great Depression.
CG: After the Stock Market crashed, yes.
I: You didn’t feel it because you were too young, right?
CG: Too young, yeah.
I: Where were you born?
CG: In, I was born in Chicago.
I: Chicago. Tell me about your family growing up, your parents and your siblings.
CG: Alright. My father Charles Robert Gebhardt and my mother Rose Caroline maiden name Norton Gebhardt and my sister who is 6 ½ years older than me, Marie Delores Gebhardt,
and a we, after I was born, we lived in River Grove, IL, a suburb of Chicago and that was during the Depression. My Dad was a, he had a automobile business in Chicago but lost it because of the Depression and went to work as a car mechanic for some
people that he knew and did that until 1936 when he went to work on the railroad, for the Milwaukee Railroad as a sleeping and parlor car conductor, and then my mother was a housewife, mother, and my sister
who was I said older than me. We went to school in the suburbs, River Grove Elmwood Park/Franklin Park area.
I: When did you graduate high school and what school?
CG: I graduated from Leyden Community High School in Franklin Park, Illinois.
I: Franklin Park?
CG: Franklin Park, F R A N K L I N.
I: Could repeat the name of your high school?
CG: L E Y
I: L E Y
CG: D E N
I: Leyden Community. When?
I: Did you learn anything about Korea from the school?
I: They didn’t teach you about my nation? [LAUGHS]
CG: Nothing about the Korea specifically
CG: Other than news pickups we had of, I was always interested in, of course, World War II was going on before I started high school, and I was always interested in geography and history. I had to know where things were going on, and
Korea did [INAUDIBLE] so I was more familiar with Korea than I would say 95% of people my age.
I: Of your age because you fought there, right?
CG: No because, because I was interested in, where things were happening, like in World War II. If they mentioned something about some of our prisoners had
been brought to Korea, I wanted to know where is Korea? What part of Korea were they brought to, if that came out in the news.
I: But that was after you served in Korea?
CG: No, that was before.
I: Before, Really?
CG: Before I even went to high school.
I: But before you went to high school, there was nothing news about Korea.
CG: World War II.
I: World War II.
CG: World War II.
I: And that covered Korea, too?
CG: Yes because of the Japanese had occupied Korea for so long, and they did bring many of our prisoners, the soldiers that were prisoners, to the area of Korea.
I: So you actually knew about Korea.
CG: I knew; I knew a little bit about it. I knew where it was.
CG: I knew the names of, I knew Seoul, things like that.
I: You are the only exception here that knew anything about Korea before you went to Korea because in the school they didn’t teach anything about Korea.
I: But, so now, had you imagined that you could be in Korea at the time?
CG: No, I couldn’t imagine at that time, I could not, no.
I: You could not, right? So, how do you link the dot here?
I mean, you didn’t know much about it, but you are the only exception knew about geography and so on, but you went there. You fought for this nation. Now the Korea is like
I: So, what do you think about this whole thing?
CG: What do I think about this whole thing? I wasn’t too happy to go anywhere.
CG: I mean, it could have been Germany. It could have been, when I was in the Service,
it could have been anywhere in the world where they would have sent me.
I: And you didn’t want to go to Korea to be honest, right?
CG: Korea was, at that time, a shooting war that was going on and so it was fearful, but I thought that I had, I was in a category that would probably not be in direct combat, let me put it that way.
CG: I sure
I: Who wants to be killed?
CG: I tried to assure my parents when I had orders to go to the Far East that I would be in Headquarters somewhere or something.
I: You lied to them.
CG: Well, I didn’t lie. I think I believed my story.
I: You believed your story. That’s good. So, tell me about it. When did you learn about the breakout of the Korean War and how did you know about it?
CG: I was in
Officer’s Candidate School in Fort Benning, Georgia.
I: Why did you join the Military?
CG: I joined because I knew I would be drafted shortly.
I: So when did you join?
CG: I first sought out the recruiter in November of 1949.
CG: The Army, and I entered in January 4, 1950.
I: You mean basic training?
CG: To start my Army training, formal training?
CG: That was at Camp Gordon, Georgia.
I: So January 4th you joined Military and started your basic Military training in Camp Gordon?
I: How was basic training?
CG: It was different than what maybe I had expected, but it was something that I had grown up with because the recent thing of World War II. We saw news flashes of it.
CG: My brother-in-law had been in Germany in World War II, so it was not really new to me. It was more or less what I had come to expect.
I: So it wasn’t that hard?
I: No. What was your MOS at the basic training?
CG: I had been trained as a cryptographer.
CG: Which deals with cyphers
CG: and top secret work and I trained as a cryptographer.
I: Tell me about it. What kind of education did you get to be a cryptography?
CG: I don’t know. It just that I qualified. When they interviewed me, I qualified.
I: I mean, what did you learn? What do they teach actually
about the cryptography?
CG: Well, how to use the various machines that convert text into cyphers and back again and at that time, I couldn’t even say, at that time I was restricted
from even saying that about it. We couldn’t even, we were told not even to use the word cryptography it was so top secret. But since then, modern innovation of things, they had relaxed that I understand, so, now I can even say the word.
I: So they teach you about the code book, right,
I: and how to declassify that decrypt it and then put it into text, right?
I: How did you like it? Did you like it?
CG: I liked it. I liked it.
It was very interesting and of course, they teach you things like I learned how to run a teletype machine, 104 words a minute.
I: One hundred four words a minute, yeah.
CG: One hundred four words a minute. I was lucky to get out of high school able to type 35 words a minute.
I: How tough was that?
CG: It wasn’t. It wasn’t that tough
because you’re doing it all day. You’re doing it, and that’s all there is. You have to concentrate on it. And besides that, I had learned a lot. I had worked on the railroad, and I learned a lot about
I: Signaling, right?
CG: Well, it was the
CG: Agent’s Office where we dealt with
different facets of where cars are coming from, where they’re going to and things like that. We had to type out reports and things like that with the old Royal Underwood typewriters and you had to learn to move the work along
CG: and correctly and I think that’s it.
You learned to do things correct the first time.
I: Got it. So when did you leave for Korea? What was your unit?
CG: Well, I was at Fort Benning when the Korean War broke out, and like I said, I was in Officer’s Candidate class,
CG: and we, two of us out of a class of 21, two of us were called in to the Commanding Officer of our group and he told us that we were going to be taken out of the class and we were given orders to go to the Far East
CG: because they needed critical MOS
as they called Military Occupation Specialty, MOS, and over there and later on I found out that the reason why they picked two of us at a site point, two of us with the most German names of the 21, to go, because we were too young to become officers
CG; You had to be in your 21st year to become an Officer,
and here we were in our, what, 19th year?
CG: And so then we got time off to go home and get out to Camp Stone in California.
I: So you couldn’t finish this Officer’s course?
I: No. Okay. That’s too bad.
CG: It worked out.
I: Ok. When did you leave for Korea, from where?
CG: Left from San Francisco on, trying to think of the date, July 5th, July 5th I believe it was.
I: 50? Wow.
CG: July 5th. The War was only how many days old then?
I: Just two weeks maybe.
CG: [INAUDIBLE] I try to think it was in the middle of the week, I think, and it was the 5th or the 8th. But I think it was the 5th.
I: And you went to Japan?
CG: Yeah, and we went to Yokohama.
I: And from there, where did you go?
CG: They took the train around past Hiroshima.
CG: In fact, I got off the train at Hiroshima and could see the city
was all built brand new. It was something. Very industrious people to have done that in such a short time. But, uh, then the train continued on around the Bay there I’d say 15 – 20 miles to a point called Iwakuni.
CG: And, uh,
I: And that’s where that cryptography people gathered working there, right?
CG: No, I was, I was at what they called pipeline. We were just, I was, I was a Corporal at the time, but I was a replacement and as far as I knew, my orders read and didn’t say nothing about cryptographic or anything on there.
CG: At least that’s what my orders said.
And after a short stay there on the 28th of July I and a few others were flown in a C46 to Pusan. At that time they spelled with an E. And then at
CG: an airfield called K1,
and K1 was, the runway was pure steel planking runway, and I was at the end of the, we were actually the first plane to fly in there from Iwakuni because of the monsoon. It was the end, right at the end of the monsoon season.
CG: You familiar with how the season was? It was July the 28th and
I: That’s the rainy season.
CG: Yeah. We all, yes, and the plane came in, and it had sort of wide windows, and as it came down to the runway, it went straight up just like a helicopter would, back up in the air again.
CG: And then right back down. [INAUDIBLE] free roll.
I: That’s how strong the wind was.
CG: Yeah. I got out of the plane, and the water was over my combat boots.
I: Wow, what a nice surprise, right? How was Pusan that you saw? Describe it because
CG: It was at an airfield, and I really didn’t get to see anything too much. It was very cloudy yet and everything
CG: And so they ushered us into a operation shack
they called it. Well, I don’t know. It was some kind of a metal building and, Butler building I guess they called it and I went in there, and I handed my orders that I was given at Iwakuni, and I hadn’t really read them all the way or anything
CG: so I don’t know exactly what word for word was on them. But I handed it to the Sergeant
that was at a desk there, and he just looked at them very briefly and he says there’s five telephones hanging on the wall there. He says take one, he says, and you crank it four times, he says, and you should have Concrete Red answer l you.
I: What is that?
CG: It’s the unit I was supposed to get in contact with. And so they answered, and they said
Concrete Red and I told them who I was, and they said you, he says, yeah, he says I got four people in a three quarter ton. It’s a bit, little bit bigger than a Jeep and, or something like that, and he says coming there, he says they should be getting there now.
CG: Well, it was that time, around 4:00 in the afternoon,
civilian time 4:00, and so after a little bit I saw a vehicle pull up and a guy got out and called my name and he asked me to get in.
I: Where did you go?
CG: I went to near Masan. You know, the thing is I had told my folks
that I would be in Headquarters somewhere.
CG: But these four guys in this vehicle were carrying what we called grease guns. You know what a grease gun?
CG: It looks like a mechanic’s grease gun. But it’s a 45 caliber automatic weapon. Not too different than a verp gun in a way.
CG: And as we rolled out
of Pusan I wasn’t noticing too much of anything except wondering what I was getting into. I noticed something that looked like Northern Lights, Aurora, and it kept shimmering like. As we went along further, it got louder and was making noise. It was artillery.
I: Was in the middle of a very severe battle there in Pusan and Naktong.
CG: Yeah. That’s where I went in Masan which is just below the Naktong Bulge, whether it be the Southwestern curve of the Naktong River.
I: Masan. M A S A N. What did you do in Masan?
CG: Well I went to this unit there which ended
up being the 29th Infantry Regiment which had just gotten there two days before.
CG: And they had been rushed there. They were supposed to go to Japan for further training
CG: But they had been, these fellows had been on
easy duty for months and months, in Guam and Okinawa guarding the air bases. So instead of coming there with three battalions, they came there with only two battalions, no weapons because they were supposed to get new weapons in Japan
CG: And they arrived there short a battalion
but also short their Regimental commander. Those people were sent to Hawaii and back to the United States with VD. They had such easy duty there I guess. So they were short of everything
CG: But they were put under the command of a, I forget his name now,
of a South Korean Brigadier General, and I guess a communications gap, everything was so different for everybody, these fellows had new weapons that they hadn’t even zeroed yet or anything, and he had to take them on a mission
CG: into the mountains around Masan. Maybe you’re familiar with the mountains
around there. I’d say they’re 3,000 feet high or 3,500 feet high, but yet don’t forget, this is still on the rainy, soggy, time, and the North Koreans entrapped them, and many of the fellows from the 29th were massacred
CG: so they came back and here I am.
I: What did you do there? What was your mission?
CG: They placed me in what they call S2 and S3, Battalion S2, S3, and I did go out on patrol with the unit the next day, and the officer in charge there came up to me before he went
CG: out on patrol, and he
said I understand you had some OCS. I had a little bit of ROTC. He said I’m going to depend on you a lot, you know, and, that doesn’t make you feel too good.
I: So you have done nothing about cryptography there.
CG: No. No there. And then I, then after that, after that,
CG: after that I was told
to go up with a four, artillery forward observer.
CG: And, and this young man, I was not 19 yet, and he was 21. He had graduated from West
Point in May, and this is
CG: August, August the 4th or something like that, see.
I: And you’re laughing about it.
CG: Yeah. Well, he was very well trained. This young man was excellent, excellent to get along with. We had, we had four, four other enlisted men with us to handle the phone lines for us, you know, and also protection. So we were in these foxholes and dugouts, and on a hillside looking over the
CG: Naktong and also into a wooded area where the North Koreans had their tanks and stuff there, and we were observing if they made any movements. If they made any thrust type of movement to move somewhere or something, then we’d call artillery shot. This Officer would call an artillery shot on them. I would report
CG: back to my unit this activity what it was.
I: But it must be very dangerous because you are so close to the North Koreans, right? Were you able to see them?
CG: They would come, yes you could see them and you could expect that maybe they would circle around and come in behind you or something, and that’s why we had these enlisted men also with us because they would be our guards there. But what these people mainly did
CG: is they come around at night and they would cut our telephone lines, and then we’d have to send a couple of guys back down to the artillery positions to get us new wire and come up, and of course we’d always ask them bring us some coffee.
I: How dangerous was it? Did you encounter North Korean soldiers there?
CG: Not directly. Not directly. We knew they were around.
CG: It became something that you almost expect. But this Officer that I was with, this young man I was with, whenever he would call artillery shots, he’d call them right on. He never asked for a practice shot. He called them right on. He was good. I understand the young man was killed in Korea later on.
I: Were you afraid? Were you scared at the time?
CG: Everybody says no I wasn’t afraid,
CG: kind of macho like. Yes you’re afraid. You’re constantly afraid, but if you let that get at you too much, what good are you then?
I: You were not wounded there?
CG: I was not wounded there.
I: You were very lucky.
CG: I was very lucky.
I: How many casualties? Did you see many people being killed?
CG: Not at that time.
I: Not at that time?
CG: Not at that time.
CG: Later on,
they busted up the 29th Regiment, and we were transferred to other units. So I went to the 32nd Infantry Regiment First Battalion because they were planning the Inchon invasion at that time, and I got in on that.
I: So you were a part of Inchon landing?
I: Oh. Tell me about it. Where did you
CG: Well, I got into it because one of the things that they realized then
that I was a cryptographer
I: So, we don’t have much time, so we need to really go back and forth about the answers and questions.
CG: Yes. Maybe it’d be best you ask me a question because we got a lot to cover yet.
I: So, what did you do for the Inchon operation? What did you do?
CG: Well, we took a contingent of Army engineers following the Marines
into Kimpo Airfield so they could resurrect Kimpo Airfield so it could be used immediately.
I: But that was before Inchon Landing.
CG: It was after.
I: After, right?
I: So what about Inchon Landing. Did you go to Inchon yourself?
CG: Went into Inchon, yeah.
I: What did you do?
CG: Landed there, followed the Marines over to Kimpo.
I: Oh really? But you were there because of your
skill on cryptography, right?
CG: No. I wouldn’t say at that time because being into
S2 and S3 which is, S2 is Intelligence. S3 is Operations for Infantry unit, and I’d say more that than the cryptography.
I: So you from Inchon to Seoul.
CG: Inchon to Kimpo
CG: Then we,
those of us that were taking these Army engineers to Kimpo had to filter our way through the Marine units back through Yong Dong Poh, Seoul, we headed down towards Suwon when our unit was turned around to help the Marines take Seoul.
I: How was the scene in Seoul,
Kimpo, everything? It was completely destroyed, or what did you saw?
CG: It was rubble.
I: Tell me
CG: It was, the thing to this that this had been a big city. There wasn’t much left of a big city. The only thing that I saw that I thought was probably more intact was the University.
I: Seoul University?
CG: Yeah. The old palace grounds and the University,
I’d say, were more intact.
I: Otherwise, everything else
CG: Everything else
I: What were you thinking when you saw those destruction?CG: This is awful, you know. You never see anything like that, you know. Truthfully, I think I became, I may have become a pacifist at that time because I couldn’t see people living in
such conditions, and how often would these conditions continue?
After all, later on Seoul was again retaken by the North, by the Chinese at that time.
I: From there, where did you go?
CG: From there, after Seoul, I went across the 38th parallel, north. But then we were ordered
back to Pusan and then transported up to North Korea
To a point called Iwon.
I: From Pusan to Iwon, did you take a ship or how did you go?
CG: I was flown.
I: Flown? To Iwon?
I: When was that?
CG: It would be October,
all those dates
I: Right. October. That makes sense.
And what did you do there in Iwon?
CG: Iwon, then after assembling there and getting our unit together, we went towards Honan and then up about 20 miles northeast to a place
that I refer to as
CG: No, it was, anyhow, it was a very scenic-looking, even though, don’t forget we’re getting a Fall, Winter, early snows and colder weather. Happy Valley, I called it Happy Valley.
CG: And we were there, and I guess if we had a Thanksgiving Day
Dinner, that’s where we had it.
I: What was your unit Division?
CG: I was in the 7th Infantry Division, First Battalion, 32nd Regiment.
I: First and then, First Battalion and
CG: 32nd Regiment.
I: That was in the 7th Infantry Division.
I: What did you do?
CG: I was still in that S2/S3.
I: Okay. So you’d know about the Chosin Battle, Chosin Few?
CG: Yes. That was about four or five days after that, they put together a Regimental Combat Team, and we were ordered to go up to the Chosin Reservoir
On the East side of the reservoir and relieve the Marine Regiment that had been up there so the y could go over to the West side and then we went up there and
I: So you were there in Chongju Battle.
CG: I was there during the Chosin Reservoir Battle.
I: We just completed the monuments in Marine Corp. museum in Quantico, Virginia. We just dedicated it. Do you know that? It was done May 4.
CG: I think I had read something about that, yeah, being done.
I: So you are
CG: I was with the Army side which was the east side of the Reservoir.
I: Yes. Tell me about those battle experiences. How severe was that?
CG: It was awful.
I: Tell me please. Detail. You need to tell me the detail because students will learn from you.
CG: I’d like them to know that and like to know my feelings as it happened. We were, went up there, and there was an, Pinuri Gang
inlet to the Reservoir, and Colonel Faith who was our Battalion Commander didn’t like
the Bivouac area at the inlet. He didn’t think it was defensive. But the whole thing was is we were supposed to go on offense the next day to the Ala River and it
turned out that the Marines that we were relieving were about three and a half miles North of
that inlet. So we decided, Colonel Faith, decided we’d go up there, take those positions, and we then made us the northern most unit
at that point and so we went up there and got ourselves on November 27 and got ourselves
in place there and get ready for the night and next morning, we were supposed to attack north well
even the Marines that we relieved had told us that they had run into Chinese but
put a lot of emphasis on it. It was something that could be handled. And of course Colonel Faith was very aware of the situation that could be. You think the worst always and then try to make best from there.
So we were up there and down at the inlet there was one other Infantry battalion
And a couple of field artillery batteries, and an anti-aircraft platoon that was there, and we had other units, maybe about eight, ten miles south of us, a tank company, a medical company, a service, what we call a service company,
clerks and all that.
I: Did you encounter any real close combat with Chinese?
I: Tell me about those.
I: Tell me about
CG: That night at around
I: When are you talking about?
CG: We’re talking about we don’t really hit heavy snow. We had
I: Was it November?
CG: 25 – 30 below zero I’d say, at least, Fahrenheit,
and we heard, I was back at the command post for the Battalion, and we heard sporadic
firing. We thought maybe because we had some Korean boys to augment our unit
CG: Yes. These poor kids
were shanghaied off the streets, believe me. We heard their stories and handed a carbine never given any training, and sent with us. I’d say that in my unit, there were probably somewhere
between 500 to 600 of them, and there were about
2300 -2400 of US GI’s, and so we heard the sporadic, we thought maybe some of these kids had gotten spooked, and were firing at nothing. It turned out this was the Chinese thrust
into us at that, the beginning of it, and they hit our A Company, killed A Company commander who was a good coffee drinking friend of mine and they killed him, and they broke through
sporadically, and then another Officer came into the Command Post, got a bunch of us together to try and breach where
the Chinese had come through between our B and C companies and try and get them out of there. We did somewhat but there were too many of them for us and it was very scary. It was very scary. Talk about are you afraid? Yes, it was very scary.
They yelled, they screamed, they hollered
I: What about you? What did you encounter any Chinese very close?
CG: I was as close as you and I are right now.
I: Then you must been kill him.
CG: I don’t know if I ever killed anybody. I honest to God don’t know. I shot, but I don’t know if I killed or hurt anybody or what.
I wasn’t thinking about that
I: But when you’re so close, what did you do? You shot at him, correct?
CG: You did what you had to do, yeah.
I: When did you get out of there? How did you get out of there?
CG: Well, that went on for that night, and then by daybreak they Retreated back into the woods, into the mountains. But they were shooting at us all the time
regardless, I mean if they weren’t attacking us. The next morning, a helicopter landed by our position, and it was General Almond who was MacArthur’s Chief of Staff followed by a First Lieutenant right behind him carrying his, all his briefcase
I: Did you see that?
CG: You know who that was? You ever hear of Alexander Hague?
I: Yeah. Hague, yes.
CG: Later when Reagan got shot, he said I’m in charge, that was him.
I: Did you see him?
I: Did you see General Almond landing?
CG: Yes, I saw that, and an AKA came. They wanted to see Colonel McLean who was in charge of the Regimental Combat Team. But he was down at his command post a couple miles away. So they sent
Lieutenant Colonel Faith, and the big thing was is that I remember that whole meeting was he wanted, Almond wanted to assure Faith to be ready to do the thing that they were there for as to move north as soon as you can pick things up again, move north. We got to accomplish this mission,
and his famous words was, which I had seen repeated in some Books and periodicals,
he told Faith, and I heard him say it, you should not be afraid of some Chinese laundrymen.
CG: Because we had been attacked that night before by the Chinese and took some losses, we shouldn’t be afraid of them. They’re just laundry men.
I know Faith, I can see the look on his face. He didn’t care for that remark. I don’t think any of us took it serious. We took it serious but not as our own dispositions. And then he gave a few medals out to some officers there, and I know Faith, I think
he put it in his pocket or dropped it on the ground. I saw one officer throw his away. They were high medals, like Distinguished Service Cross or Silver Star. So then he went back to the helicopter, and we never saw or heard, we had no radio contact with anybody. We had a Marine air controller with our unit,
and the only thing was later one was he was able to contact the Marine Corsairs when they would be over ahead of us. That was our only contact with the outside world.
I: We don’t have much time, so I must ask this question. When did you get out there and how did you get out of there?
Did you get the ship from Honan?
CG: No. About three days later, we finally
got together with the unit down at the inlet that was down there, and we stayed two more nights there and then realized we weren’t gonna do nothing. We were only going to get killed there.
I: How did you get out?
CG: We put all, we destroyed our artillery destroyed our, any vehicle that couldn’t run, and we put our wounded,
stuffed our wounded into trucks, and we had, I’d say almost all of our officers were badly wounded, and we stuffed everybody in trucks, I think it was 27 trucks, and we had these anti-aircraft vehicles with these big guns on them that revolved you know, and the Chinese were scared of them, because they were too powerful,
and we out of there, but we ran into so many road blocks and everything along the way, and every time trucks slowed up. We left at 1:00 in the afternoon, and by 4:00 – 5:00 in the afternoon, we hadn’t gone but halfway to the 14 miles that we needed to
go to get to Hagalwoori and we just, every time you slowed down and of course when we were slow, I’d say if we went 10 miles an hour at any time, that was the fastest, and it took us all that time just to get that far. In the meantime, Colonel McLean, we lost getting down to the inlet.
And Colonel Faith was killed about 4, 4:15 in the afternoon and then after that
Major Kaye came up to me and he says Geb, he said, see those guys going across,
going across the Reservoir? Everybody’s afraid to either drive or walk on the Reservoir, we didn’t know how thick the ice was, and so he says we might as well join them. There’s nothing more we can do here. I looked at my carbine, and I had three rounds left in my carbine
So there was nothing I could do. So it was a pity to walk away
from there across the ice, I couldn’t feel my feet. It was like walking with two clumps that are so frozen and my hands were becoming more and more frozen. But we got across there, we got across there. To where some Marines were, and this was probably a good 10 – 15
mile walk on the ice, and a Marine officer and I thought he probably was a Colonel, he kind of chastised us for leaving our men behind, and the trucks of wounded. Later on I got into a warming tent at Hagalwoori
and I had gotten out of there and talked to a motor pool office, Marine Motor Pool officer because I was wondering if any more guys are still coming across the ice like we had.
And he didn’t know what rank I was. I was a Sergeant at the time,
and he didn’t know what rank I was or anything because everything was just too all bottled up and I said to him something about be nice if we could get some trucks and go over there and see if we could get anybody out of our convoy. And he said well I gotta keep the trucks running he says. Otherwise they freeze up. And I said
any way anybody could get over there? And he said if anybody get enough nuts together to go over there and see if they can get any of your wounded back, he says we could try it. He says I might even be able to find somebody to ride shotgun. And we did. I found 46, and I came back to him and I said I got 46 nuts. And we did it. We went back there.
I: When you see so many people killed or dying or freezing
and packed in the trucks, what were you thinking?
CG: I didn’t have time to think. You try to encourage all you can, and if there was anybody at all that could get out of the truck and handle a weapon, you tried and you tried and you tried to encourage them to try and do what they could because in the truck they’d maybe just freeze to death.
I: Did you have frostbite?
CG: Yeah, I guess you’d call it frostbite, yeah.
I: Do you have now?
CG: Yeah. Every winter my cheeks just get tough and hard and they bother me. My fingers, the chilblains there is just something awful. I have to really
treat them. But I put up with it. I worked on the railroad in train service for 45 years, and that was out in the weather. I bore with it. I didn’t give myself a chance to think about the war.
I: When did you leave Korea?
CG: I left Korea that time in June of 1951.
I went to a different unit. They had to evacuate it because they thought I had the flu, evacuated me from Kunu.
I: Charles, we don’t have much time. So, from Hagalwoori, where did you go?
CG: I went down to Kunu.
I: And then from there?
CG: I was flown to Japan.
I: Flown to Japan. Why?
CG: They thought I had the flu, and they didn’t want everybody catching the flu.
I: Oh, come on. Flu? Kunu?
CG: They thought I had pneumonia. It turned out I had pneumonia instead.
I: I see. So you were actually, so you didn’t go down to Kuman area, Wonson?
I: No. Where is Kunu? Is it below Hagaru ri?
CG: It’s below.
CG: I was out of it. Going up there,
I could say is probably about 18 miles or 20 miles.
I: Below Hagalwoori?
And that would be my recollection of going because I was passed out. After we got the guys back that we brought across in trucks, I passed out, and that’s how they figured I had the flu I guess.
I: Have you been back to Korea?
CG: I went back in 1952.
I: What do you mean, 1950…
CG: I was in the Army yet and back there in 1952.
I: Back to Korea again? Why?
CG: Why? I was in an engineer unit at the time, and I went back there and they were building, building it and maintaining
the airfields at Kimpo – K14, and K16 which was a, Kimpo was more for fighter interceptors at that time,
And a K60 which was on a sandbar in the Han River at Seoul , and that was a cargo plane, heavy C124s, and they’re building those runways and maintaining
those airfields for that.
I: So you went back again?
CG: I had gone back there then, and I was in S3 at that time for an engineer Battalion that was working with the Air Force, and I left there then and in June of 1953.
I: Have you been back to Korea since then?
I: Do you want to go back?
CG: I would love to.
I: You let me know because Korean government has a program
CG: I know that program. I know that program.
I: You let me know.
CG: The only thing is I can’t afford the airfare back and forth.
I: You would pay half of it, not all of it.
So it costs around $700 or otherwise you don’t pay nothing for hotel, meals, everything.
CG: I know. I had a good buddy of mine that when I went back there the second time and of course he’s blind now
and he’s older than me, about 89, and he and his wife went over there.
I: So please let me know if you want to go.
What do you think about Korea right now? What is your legacy? [INAUDIBLE]
CG: I’m proud. I’m proud I had been honest to God, I’m proud that I went there. It’s a great country, and I love the people. I love the people. I’m so happy for their standing in the world,
South Koreans were standing in the world today. Honest to God. I’m saying that in front of you. I’d say, I tell other people that, too. I’m so proud.
We came back and were told we lost the war. We didn’t lose. We won that war. It’s a win.
I: That’s the point, right?
CG: I believe they said that it’s the fifth best economic nation in the world today.
I: Eleventh largest economy in the world.
CG: Eleventh largest economy.
I: But we are the seventh trading partner to the United States. Can you imagine the country that you saw completely destroyed? Did you actually have a hope about the future of Korea when you left Korea in 1953?
I: Do you think that Korea
CG: The press and everything was we had lost it. We blew it. It was a big mistake
and everything. I’m no lover of General MacArthur, believe me. I’m not, or of General Almond. But I think we did the right thing.
I: What do you think we have to do to teach more about this whole theory historically important war
But it’s been forgotten, and our history textbook only have one paragraph. What do you think we have to do more?
CG: Do more of this.
I: More of this interview?
I: Yeah. You know, if you stay here, okay, and after the interview with your friends,
CG: Howard? Yeah.
I: Yeah. I can do more because I really want to see, hear from you, but I have only one hour. You have done an hour now. So.
CG: Time goes fast.
I: Yeah. But I want to thank you for your fight for the nation
so that we become now strongest ally to the United States.
CG: I think so. I think so.
I: That is your legacy.
I: And I think we need to teach more about this to our young children.
CG: I’m partly guilty because after I came home, I didn’t talk much about it. I had a brother-in-law that had been a World War II.
Many of the men that I worked with on the railroad had been in World War II. We felt
for each other, but we didn’t talk about it. But they, they knew, you know. And I think I didn’t have any what we call today PTSD because I didn’t dwell on it which was good in that way. But I didn’t get the story out. It was after I had retired, you know, more that I got to talking about it.
I: That’s why we are doing this,
and I hope that I can talk with you more, okay?
CG: I would like to.
I: Alright. Thank you
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