Korean War Legacy Project

Charles Kutchka


Charles Kutchka was born in Victoria, Texas, on August 23, 1932. After graduating Vanderbilt High School in 1948, he attended Victoria Community College and earned an associates degree in 1950. He went to work at Victoria Bank & Trust and worked until he was drafted into the US Army in February, 1953. He attended boot camp at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and was deployed to Frankfurt, Germany, later that year. He served in Personnel at 4th Infantry Division Headquarters in Germany before returning home in January, 1955. He returned to work at Victoria Bank & Trust and retired there after 43 years of service in 1994. Today, he lives in Victoria, Texas, and enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren.

Video Clips

Working in Personnel in Germany, 1953

Charles Kutchka describes his job working in personnel in Frankfurt, Germany in 1953. He talks about typing orders for officers that were assigned to their respective posts by the Colonel in command of his unit.

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From Draft, to Training, to Assignment

Charles Kutchka worked at a bank at the time he was drafted in 1953, near the conclusion of the fighting in the Korean War. He describes receiving his draft letter to the Army, and taking the bus for his basic training. He also details receiving his notice that his assignment after basic training was to Frankfort, Germany.

Tags: Basic training

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Fundraisers for Korean Children

Charles Kutchka details fundraisers his brigade did in Germany to help raise money for youth in Korea. They had watched films that described the poverty suffered by Korean children and that many were orphaned after the war. Although he wasn't stationed in Korea, all US troops in the world, contributed to the effort there.

Tags: Impressions of Korea,Orphanage

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


C:        I’m Charles Allen Kutchka.  I live here in Victoria at 1207 East Swollet Avenue, Victoria, Texas 77901.  I was born in Victoria, Texas, on August 23, 1932, and have kind of made it home.  But I did go the first two years to school, first and second grade, in Edmond, Texas.



And then we moved to Inez, Texas.  And there I went to school for, through the seventh grade.  And then that was as far as that school allowed us to go.  And so, I had to Vanderbilt High School.  And there I completed my high school education with graduation in May of 1948.



And after that, I attended Victoria, at that time, it was called Junior College.  And I graduated after two years with an Associate of Arts degree, and that was in 1950.  The end of May and on June 1, 1950, I went to work at Victoria Bank and Trust Company in Victoria, Texas.



And I worked there for 43 years and retired July 31 of 1993, ’94.  Then I, let’s see.  During this period of time that I worked at Victoria Bank and Trust, I married the prize of my life, Margaret Rossi.  And we have now been married for, will be 55 years in June.



I:          Congratulations.  That’s exciting to hear.

C:        And it’s been a good 55 years.  And during that time, I stayed at the bank, and we raised five children.

I:          Wow.  Big family.

C:        And we have eight grandchildren.



And in addition, we have two step-grandchildren, all of whom lived in the area of Victoria County.

I:          That’s so nice to.

C:        Let’s see.  What else did I have?
I:          I think that covers that.  So, you were telling me earlier that you were drafted.  What were you doing around the time that you were drafted?



C:        When I was drafted, I worked at Victoria Bank and Trust, first as a runner then as a teller, then in the note department.  Then I went to the trust department and retired after 43 years in the trust department.  And I did have a title of Vice President and Trust Officer.

I:          Okay, congrats.

C:        During that time, I got drafted in February of 1953.




I:          You were drafted in “53?
C:        Right.

I:          Close to the end.

C:        Right, it was.  But then I had basic training in Fort Polk, Louisianna.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And

I:          What was your reaction to you being drafted?  Did you know the draft was coming?

C:        Well, I got a letter.  And it wasn’t appreciated really.



But it said I was chosen by my friends and relatives and could I please join the group and meet the bus and start in place and

I:          Certain time?
C:        Gave me the time.  And I’d go to Corpus Christie, Texas for my physical.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And I went to Corpus.  And then maybe, and then I went to San Antonio, Texas.

I:          What was your wife thinking?

C:        No, I was single.

I:          You were single at this time?



C:        I was single.

I:          Okay.

C:        And then I wasn’t drafted until February of 1953.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And I had my basic in Fort Polk.  And upon completion, it was 16 weeks of basic training.  I received our assignments.

I:          You were drafted into the Army I’m assuming, right?



C:        Into the US Army.  And we were told either we would go to Alaska, Korea or Germany.  And I received a notice that I would go to Germany.  So, in July of 1953, I went, by ship, to Frankfort, Germany.  And I remained there until January of 1955.



And then I traveled home by ship, and it was a bad trip, really, because it was rough with storms all the way coming home.  Going over, it was a good ride.  But maybe we were a little anxious to get home.

I:          Um hm.

C:        But.

I:          So, what was your specialty?  And what was your rank?


C:        I was, as soon as I got to Germany, they gave us typing tests.  And it was just three of us that passed it.  And I got placed in G1 which is Personnel.  And I remained in that office the entire time I was in Germany.  And when I left Germany, I had obtained the rank of Sergeant which they said I did well having done that in two years. So,



I:          Um hm.

C:        But then we came home and went back to the Victoria Bank and Trust and worked some more.

I:          Tell me a little bit more about your duties, what you had to do as a G1.

C:        Well as the officers came into Germany from the United States, they came directly to G1.



And the Colonel in our office made the assignments of these young officers as to where they would be assigned.  And it was our duty to type the orders for their job duties.  So, it was interesting work.  They were as nervous as we were over there.  But I made a lot of good friends.  But that was really it.  And we had wonderful officers in there.



We became like a big family in there.
I:          So, whatever they told you okay, you’re either going to Alaska, Germany or Korea, what were you thinking?  Did you have a preference, somewhere you wanted to go?  Did you know that there had been a war going on in Korea?

C:        Well, I really wanted to either go to Germany or Alaska.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And so, it worked out.

I:          So, you got to Germany in Jully of ’53.



So, the War in Korea was either just about over or it was ending.

C:        Midway through the ocean, they announced it over the loudspeaker?
I:          Really?  It had just ended while you were headed to Germany.

C:        Yeah.

I:          Fantastic. So, you knew there was a war going on in Korea.  I mean, did you know anybody that was in Korea, any of your friends?
C:        Some of my friends were in Korea.

I:          Um hm.
C:        And we tried to communicate.  But some of them didn’t return.



I:          Right.  I mean, did it make you nervous or anything, like not knowing if you were gonna be stationed in Korea?  Were you nervous to get that assignment?
C:        It was just, I had the basic training was over.  And I was going home for a few weeks.  But I did hope I’d get Germany or Alaska.

I:          Right.  So, tell me about the living conditions that you had when you were in Germany as far as your food, sleeping arrangements.


C:        Well, we were in the old German barracks.  We stayed there.  And they were Cavalry barracks.  We, I think it was, it was a very small room we stayed in, about four or five of us in there.  But the food was good most of the time.

I:          Um hm.

C:        It was different.  It wasn’t mama’s cooking.

I:          Do you recall how much you were getting paid for your job?



C:        That I what?
I:          How much you were getting paid?
C:        Well, they encouraged us to have an allotment taken out.  And if we did that, that was when we were in basic.  If you had an allotment taken out and put into savings.  They gave us a day or two days where we could pick our days, where we didn’t have to report for basic training.  So, we did that.



I:          How about that.  Did you ever encounter any dangers or difficult situations?
C:        No.  We did a lot of, they expected the soldiers over all the branches, if the Germans had a parade, we had to participate in it.  And then any of us that were between 5’9” and, no, 5’10” and 6’,



I:          Um hm.

C:        We were chosen to be, chosen for any celebration the Germans or the Americans had, we had to be dressed up in all our regalia and participate.

I:          Really?
C:        Right.  So, I did that for most of the two years.



And they, see.  The visiting dignitaries of the various countries would come to visit the, our office because we were 4thInfantry Headquarters there.  And so, when they came, we had to meet them and stand at attention.  And they would go into the Division Headquarters and visit.



And what I was gonna tell about, I did get married in the meantime.

I:          Oh, while you were in Germany?
C:        No, when I got home.

I:          Uh huh.
C:        And I married in June the 4th of 1960, which I waited a while.  And so that made it to the 55 years then.

I:          That’s so great to hear.  Congratulations again.



C:        Well, thank you.

I:          That’s exciting.  So, have you ever visited Korea, stepped foot in Korea, ever visited?
C:        I have never.  But I did travel some when I was in Germany.

I:          Um hm.  Did you make it over to Korea?  Would you ever visit Korea?
C:        I don’t know.  It’s so much to see.

I:          Um hm.

C:        But now I’m scared to go over. I went to the Holy Land twice since I’ve been home.



And that was very interesting.  I have received literature on going to Korea.  And it says get with your buddies that were in Korea.  Well, I don’t have that many anymore.

I:          Um hm.

C:        So.

I:          Yeah.  It’s sad.  A lot of them are, you know, 80, 85, you know, somewhere in there.  Some a bit younger, some a little bit older.

C:        Well, I’m 82, and I was younger than both the men sitting out there.  So,



I:          So, how did it make you feel personally knowing that what had happened in Korea since you had buddies and you have friends there?  How did it make you feel knowing that it was being called a police action instead of a War?

C:        Well, I really felt that God blessed me for keeping me out of the War zone.

I:          Um hm.

C:        I really prayed for my friends because I was worried about them.

I:          Um hm.



C:        I didn’t have any real close friends that died over there that time.  It wasn’t easy, yeah.  I wasn’t used to being away from my family and my friends that I had graduated with and worked with.

I:          So why, in your opinion, do you think that the Korean War is often referred to as the Forgotten War?



C:        Well, you know, you go to the meetings, and they introduce people that are veterans of Viet Nam and World War II which I respect them.  But most of the time, they forget the Korean.  But a lot of times, somebody will hold up their hand.



I:          Why do you think that is? Why do you think people just

C:        I really don’t know.  I don’t even know.  Was it the shortest war?  Well, a lot of them call it a conflict and not war.

I:          Yeah.

C:        But in my mind,

I:          Police action.

C:        It was a War.

I:          Yeah.  So, do you have, technically we’re still in a War.  An Armistice was signed.  It was just a cease fire.  So, what do you think we need to do to put some kind of closure on it?



C:        Well, I don’t think we can close it right now.

I:          Um hm.

C:        It’s too much, no rest at all over there, right? It’s not peaceful.  We need, and I hope that when our change of leadership of our country, that’s a ways off.  But we do need to make some changes.

I:          Um.


0:15: 31

C:        But I don’t think we need to leave these countries until it is peaceful.

I:          Would you support a type of reunification if it were possible?

C:        Oh yes.

I:          Um hm.  Do you think it would be wise or something that could ever be done?
C:        Well, it’s gonna be a ways off before we get to that stage.  So.

I:          And do you think it’s important for younger generations to know of the sacrifices that were made in Korea and the contributions that were made by others like yourself in Germany and in Japan and stateside?



Do you think it’s important for them to know?
C:        Sure, it is.

I:          To be aware?
C:        It is.

I:          Why do you think that they should understand what happened?
C:        Well, most of our children today, thank God they don’t get drafted.  But in some ways, they need to know more than they do.



I:          Um.
C:        Really, they don’t think about that.  And when I was growing up, we always thought about that.

I:          About?
C:        About having to go to the service.

I:          Um hm.  You always knew it was a possibility?
C:        But the youth of today do not.

I:          Um hm.  So, would you support a draft if it were to reincorporated?

C:        I think it’s good for them. I know I probably (INAUDIBLE).  And I would support that, yes.



I:          Is there anything at all you were able to take from your experience?

C:        Well, I really learned what a great country we have.  Up until right now, you can be extremely proud of it.  But at times, I’m ashamed of it right now.  But I think it will change, and we have to just hope for the best.  And we have a lot of knowledgeable people in Washington.



And I think things will get better.

I:          I hope so.

C:        Well, a lot of things have to come about.

I:          Yeah.  So, were there any specific contributions that were made in Germany to help aid what was going on in Korea?  Were there any specific ways that the military was helping or Germany or anything like that?



C:        No.  We did do things to raise some funds to send to the children in Korea.

I:          Oh, really?
C:        Uh huh.

I:          Like what kind of funds?  What were you doing?  What kind of fundraisers?

C:        Well, I can’t remember.  But we had ways that we earned some money.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And, because we would see films about the youth that were in, that were orphans over there.



And that’s really what we were training for.

I:          Um hm.  Thank you so much for being able to come in and talk to me.