Korean War Legacy Project

Charles Weeks

Bio

Charles Weeks was born in Villejo, California in 1930. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the US Army in 1950. He was sent to Korea in late 1950 and served with the 1st Cavalry Division, 7th Cavalry Regiment, “K” Company. He rotated back to the US in January 1950 and served the rest of his tour of duty before being discharged in the summer of 1953. Today, he resides in California.

Clips

One Mortar Round

Charles Weeks describes being under attack by North Korean mortar fire and how a foxhole saved his life. This circumstance still haunts him to this very day. He elaborates on how this situation strengthened his relationship with God.

Tags: Fear,Front lines,North Koreans

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsnWbXR3XYo&start=156&end=367

"I Didn't Change My Socks"

Charles Weeks talks about his decision not to change his socks which resulted in him being sent to Japan to recover from frozen toes. He feels like he dishonored his country, by not doing something so simple. He discusses this situation and his regrets.

Tags: Cold winters,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsnWbXR3XYo&start=534&end=605

Opportunity

Charles Weeks describes how he is grateful he had the opportunity to serve in the United States military. Before this, he had a hard time finding work. Serving, gave him experience and allowed him not to be on welfare.

Tags: Pride

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsnWbXR3XYo&start=742&end=832

Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

C:        Charles Oliver Weeks.  I was born in Vallejo, California in 1930.

I:          How did you feel when you first heard that you were going to go to Korea?

C:        How did I first heard about the Korean War?

I:          Uh huh.

C:        Through the news, public news on television and the rad, and paper.

0:00:30

I:          Okay.

C:        Uh, what else?

I:          How did you join the military to go to Korea? How did you join the military for the Korean War?

C:        How did I join the military?

I:          Yeah, for the Korean War?

C:        Well, I enlisted in the, in the Army

0:01:00

back in 1950 and, uh, I didn’t know that I was gonna be, I didn’t know that I, I didn’t, I, I didn’t purposely enlist in the Korean War, for the Korean War, but when you enlist in the Army, they’ll put you wherever they need them, needed to be put.

0:01:30

And, what else?

I:          Okay.  What, what do you remember from Korea?  Well, do you remember what it looked like, who you met, who you worked with?  Can you

C:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  Can you tell me what you remember from Korea?

0:02:00

C:        Yeah.  A foxhole, a foxhole spared my life.  Without me, uh, I took, it took some effort on my part to, to survive.  They say there’s no atheists in foxholes.

0:02:30

I, I believe that cause I, I guess I never, never will understand why, why, I was only, I was only threatened by one mortar, one mortar round.  When we was sent to the front lines,

0:03:00

I was in the 1stCav Division, and my, my officers told me we can expect a mortar round attack.  They, they, they had the knowledge that they, that they had, uh, North Korean borders were,

0:03:30

were in the area, and we can expect some mortar round attacks.  So my, my, uh, military leaders told me to prepare for mortar round attack which I did.  I, I found that occupied the foxhole that was already dug.  If it hadn’t been for that, I probably

0:04:00

would have, would have, would have been alive today because after I jumped into the foxhole, I heard this deadly whistle of a mortar round

I:          Hm.

C:        coming over your head,

0:04:30

and at that time I was, I was terrified. [Abrupt Start] When I heard that, a mortar round has a deathly, horrifying sound to it, and I, I ask, I asked my creator, my God, help, help us,

0:05:00

help us to, out of this situation, and only one mortar round come, whiz, past, past over our foxhole, and to this day I get, I can never re, reason why was there was only one mortar round. I don’t know if it was because God answered my prayer

0:05:30

or if our mortar, mortar crew spotted the mortar, the North Korean mortar crew that, that sent that mortar, that, if they annihilated them, I don’t know.  But to this day, I can, I can still,

0:06:00

I can still, I’m waiting for that more, mortar rounds come, come over my head, and they, I’m thankful that they didn’t.  Like I said, it could, if I would, it, it, it, if it, if God didn’t answer my prayer, there’s nobody else that would, could answer cause it was in that situation.  So now I, I truly believe

0:06:30

that was, it was, it was, uh, my creator, my God that helped me out of that situation.  And uh,

I:          Do you, do you remember any Korean, do you remember any Korean soldiers or Korean people?

0:07:00

C:        No, I didn’t come encounter to, I didn’t come in contact with the Korean people much, just occasional.  But I, I’m, I’m glad I, I never had to, never had to take another, another life, somebody else’s life, even though it was my enemy.  I, I just glad that

0:07:30

I didn’t have to kill another human being.

I:          What unit were you a part of?  Which unit?

C:        Which unit?

I:          Yeah.

C:        Well, I was in the 1stCav Division, 7th, 7thCavalry Regiment, Company K I believe it was.

0:08:00

I wish, uh, I wish I would have, would have, was advised to bring my award with me that has all the, cause I can’t remember some of those units or and then, you know, the, the names.

I:          Um hm.  Okay.

0:08:30

C:        But I regret that I, uh, I, in a way, I regret that I dishonored my, my country because I didn’t, I didn’t change my socks. I got them wet, and I felt like I dishonored my, my, my Army.  My, my platoon leader told me to change my socks because I got them wet.

0:09:00

We was laying down in barbed wire to slow down the North Koreans, and I, I didn’t think they were wet enough to be changed.

I:          Um hm.

C:        But it wasn’t for me to, to think if they were wet enough.  It’s just the fact that I never, never tol, never, uh, fulfilled a direct order

I:          Um hm.

0:09:30

C:        on changing my socks.  So the next day I was sent to a Korean hospital for, for frozen toes, uh, treatment,

I:          Hm.

0:10:00

and I was in Kor, I was in Japan for about, for a week.

I:          When did you come back home?

C:        I’m not sure of the exact date.  I didn’t write down the dates, you know.  Us military men, we don’t, we didn’t write down the dates. But I think it was in, uh, January or February of ’53.

I:          Okay.

0:10:30

And what did you do when you came back home?

C:        What’d I do when I came back home?

I:          Um hm.

C:        Well, I was, I was sent to, uh, I never went back to my original, original, uh,

0:11:00

1stCav Division.  They sent me to another Division, the 25thDivision to, to finish out my tour of duty. I, I think I’ve had about four or five months left on it.

I:          Hm.

C:        And so I can’t remember what, uh, what, what camp I was sent to.

0:11:30

Uh, I don’t even know if I was, if I joined up with the 25thDivision in, in, uh, in Korea or, or it was the, or United States.

I:          Um hm.

C:        But I joined, I joined up in, uh, in July I believe, July the 25th,

0:12:00

1950.

I:          Um hm.

C:        And I spent approximately three years in the Army.

I:          Hm.

C:        So I, I probably got my discharge in, in June or July of, of 1953.

I:          Hm.  Is the Korean War significant to your life?  Is it important to your life?

C:        Is it what?

0:12:30

I:          Is the Korean War important and significant to your life?

C:        Yes.  Uh, I, I think, I believe that, uh, I was honored by be, being able to enter the Army as well as, as, uh, as the United States accepted my

0:13:00

application for military service cause I didn’t, I need, I had, I needed a job back in 1950. I had, had no work, and, and very little education.  So if, if, if I didn’t, uh, if I wasn’t accepted in the Army back in 1950, 50, I don’t know what I would have done.

0:13:30

I probably would have had to go on Welfare, but

I:          Hm.

C:        So I, like I said, I was very honored to be able to serve my country in, in that capacity.

I:          Hm.  Do you think about the Korean War often?

C:        Yes.

I:          Yeah?

0:14:00

C:        Well, you, when you want the experience of foxhole, war, warfare on the experience, you never forget it.  Like I said, I was always wondering why I didn’t experience more mortar rounds come over my foxhole.  It’s a, it’s because

0:14:30

one reason is a mortar, our mortar men were, were on the job, and they annihilated, they annihilated the North Korean mortar men

0:15:00

or, or like, or like I said if, or if God answered my prayer and, and, and, and had some, something influence on that situation.

I:          Do you have anything else that you wanted to say to the people that, who will be watching this interview later to learn about the war and your experience?  Anything else that you want to say?

0:15:30

C:        Just, I, uh, like I said, I’m just thankful that I never had to kill one of my enemy. [Abrupt Start] hope that, uh, my, my, my, countrymen would, won’t feel dishonored for me saying that, but that’s the way I feel.  Just hope that, that, that the South Korean people and the North Korean people can, can come to some negotiable agreement for peace

0:16:00

rather than the war cause everybody knows what the results of war is.  The reason I’m here, I think, is because I, since I didn’t have no education and no knowl, not, not, mu, knowledge of anything else,

0:16:30

in a way I depended on, on, uh, on the Army to, to, uh, provide shelter and food for me, and the, and the Army military, United States helped me a lot.  If I didn’t

0:17:00

have, get, if I didn’t have, um, if I didn’t have that food and shelter which I’m having now, my, my sons would have to provide for me.

I:          If you had the money, though, would you like to visit Korea?

C:        Oh yes.

I:          Um.

C:        I would.

I:          Have you seen any photos of what

0:17:30

it looks like now?

C:        No.

I:          Okay.

C:        I don’t.  You say you was born in Korea?

I:          Yes.  I lived there until I was 10.

C:        What re, what remembers do you have of Korea?

I:          That, well, it looks, to me, it’s similar to what San Diego is like.

0:18:00

C:        Okay.  And what, what year were you were born?

I:          ’87.

C:        Oh my.  Yeah, it’s, uh, they, they recovered pretty much from the war there, from then. Yeah.

I:          Um hm.  Do you think it’s important to,

0:18:30

for people to know about what happened in the Korean War and know about your memory?

C:        Oh yeah, I think so.

I:          Um.

C:        Yeah.  People, yeah, people like history, who lived before me and lived after me.  They can, hope they learn by my mistakes.

0:19:00

And I’ve learned by other people’s mistakes.

I:          You said you were, you were surprised when you got the medal recently?

C:        Yes.  I was very much surprised and, and honored. Hope they hel, help and treat their hon, their citizens the way that they treated, treated us Am, Am, American soldiers.

0:19:30

I:          Thank you so much.

C:        Okay.  You’re welcome.  Thank you, Jenny.

 

[End of Recorded Material]