Korean War Legacy Project

Dan McKinney


Dan McKinney was born in Belen, New Mexico, on July 22, 1926. After graduating high school in Clovis, New Mexico, he was drafted into the US Army in 1944 at the age of 18 and served for three years at the close of WWII. He returned home and worked various jobs until he was recalled into the Army and sent to Korea in October 1950. Assigned to “K” Company, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, he was captured in the “Iron Triangle” on April 22, 1951, the day he had planned to be married before being recalled to Korea. He spent the next 28 months in captivity in a Chinese POW camp before being released on August 20, 1953, 3 weeks after the Armistice was signed. He returned home, was married, raised two children, owned an auto parts store, and retired in 1987. He speaks frequently to groups about his POW experience.

Video Clips

An Amazing Coincidence

Dan McKinney describes his capture by enemy forces and the way he was able to let his family know that he was still alive. He talks about telling another POW who was scheduled to be released, to tell his girlfriend and family that he was still alive when he returned stateside. In an amazing coincidence, the Marine told him that he had actually double dated Mckinney's girlfriend back in Texas before the war.

Tags: Chuncheon,Communists,Front lines,Letters,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW

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Dan McKinney describes how he was captured by enemy forces. His entire company was nearly wiped out. He talks about how all the members of the squad he commanded were killed and enduring friendly artillery shelling before he was captured.

Tags: Cheonan,Chinese,Communists,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,POW

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The Trek to POW Camp #1

Dan McKinney describes the roughly sixty-day march to POW Camp #1 after he was captured by North Korean forces. He talks about carrying a wounded fellow POW on his back for much of the journey. He mentions being forced to give the wounded soldier to Chinese forces so that they could attend to the soldier's wounds.

Tags: Chinese,Cold winters,Communists,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW

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Food and Living Quarters in POW Camp #1

Dan McKinney describes what he was given to eat during his journey to POW Camp #1. He describes the POW Camp and how it was in a former Korean village. He also details what the prisoners' small living quarters were like.

Tags: Communists,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW

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Day-to-Day Work at POW Camp #1

Dan McKinney talks about the day-to-day work of POW's at Camp #1. He describes going to nearby mountains to harvest firewood during the warm months for the upcoming winter. They would hike about four miles to and from, carrying the large logs.

Tags: Cold winters,Communists,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW

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Activities and Religion in Pow Camp #1

Dan McKinney talks about the activities that he and fellow POW's were allowed to do in POW Camp #1. He mentions that they were allowed to play several sports including basketball and track. He mentions that he was allowed to pray and that he kept his New Testament Bible the entire time he was imprisoned.

Tags: Chinese,Communists,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW

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Food, Clothing, and Propaganda in POW Camp #1

Dan McKinney describes the food he was given as a POW in Camp #1. He talks about the clothing that he wore during his captivity. He also tells the story of a captured photographer whose photographs the North Koreans used to create propaganda materials.

Tags: Cold winters,Communists,Food,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW

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Infractions and Consequences for POW's

Dan McKinney talks about infractions and consequences for prisoners in his POW camp. He describes the cages that they were sometimes held in. He also discusses his perceptions of North Korean POW camps versus Chinese POW camps.

Tags: Chinese,Communists,Fear,Food,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW

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Life After the Armistice Was Signed

Dan McKinney talks about life in the POW camp during months prior to and days after the Armistice were signed. He mentions that their treatment became better or worse based on the state of the negotiations. He talks about the prisoners' reactions to the news of the Armistice as well as how he and his comrades were transported to be exchanged nearly a month after the ceasefire went in place.

Tags: 1953 Armistice 7/27,Chinese,Communists,Fear,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW

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Fifty Years of Silence

Dan McKinney talks about his reluctance to talk about his POW experience for the first fifty years after the Armistice was signed. He describes how he decided to start talking about the war to graduates of a leadership class at Cannon Air Force Base in 2005. He mentions that he has talked to every graduating class since (over 70 groups).

Tags: Chinese,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,POW

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Coming Home

Dan McKinney talks about the two-week journey back to the US by ship after he was released as a POW. He describes being interrogated about his captivity. He also describes finally eating well, gaining 25 pounds during the crossing.

Tags: Communists,Food,Living conditions,POW

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]

D:        I’m Dan McKinney.  I’m 88.  I was born in Balandra, Mexico July 22, 1926.  At the age of six weeks, my dad who was a railroader moved me to Clovis, New Mexico, and I’ve stayed there ever since with the exception of sometime in World War II and



going into Korea.  I finished high school in Clovis in, I was drafted into World War II, spent three years over there and got out.

I:          How old were you when you were drafted?

D:        Eighteen.

I:          Eighteen.

D:        Uh huh.  I just got in on the tail end of the War, and I spent most of my time in Army



occupation.  After I got out, I returned to Clovis and worked at various jobs and learned to cook from a friend of mine that had a restaurant.  And I worked as a fast-food cook for a couple years, and thought I was pretty good at it.  And he was a very good cook. He worked in hotels in Los Angeles.  So, I got a good education in that.


And then I worked some in high school, I worked in the theaters as an usher and then as a projectionist showing pictures. And after that, I was recalled to the Korean War in October of 1950.



Uh, arrived in Korea about the 10th I guess of January 1951.  And I joined K Company 19th Infantry Regiment 24thDivision January 18, 1951.  We were in various fire fights up until April.



I was captured on April 22.

I:          Do you remember about where?
D:        It was in, called the Iron Triangle.

I:          Um hm.
D:        And it’s in the Chorwon Valley.

I:          Where did you arrive in Korea at?
D:        What?
I:          Where did you arrive?  Did you arrive in Inchon or Pusan?
D:        No, Pusan.

I:          Pusan.

D:        Um hm.  And I was taken up to the front



and joined them on the 18th of January.

I:          Um hm.  On April 22, you were captured.  Can you tell me a little bit about I guess that day?

D:        Well, that’s a day that most men, a lot of men back out of getting married.  But I was captured on the day I was supposed to get married.  And my wife now was not a very happy camper.



She had to wait almost three years.  And we finally got married in ’53.

I:          Did she know that you were still alive?  Were you able to write back to her and let her know like hey honey, I’m not?

D:        Well, I’ve got an unusual story there.  We’d been captured about three weeks I guess, and we were on the march up to the rear, to the Yellow River.



And we always walked at night because they were so afraid of our airplanes.  And one night we were getting ready to walk out and move some more, and somebody, there was a rumor came down that there was a bunch of Marines gonna be released.  And there was 19 of them I think. It was dark, and I said, hollered out is there anybody here from Texas?  And this man said yeah, I am.  I said where you from?


He said Amarillo.  That’s just 100 miles from Clovis where I lived.  And I said are you gonna get release?  He said well, that’s what they tell us.  I said would you do me a favor if you get out and call my girlfriend and tell her I’m alright?  He said yeah. I said she lives in a small town south of Amarilla about 40 miles, in Tulia.  And he says yeah, what’s her name?  I said Joyce Ann Reilly.  And he said



my God, I’ve double dated with her.   Six thousand miles away, and that guy’s double dating with my wife, my girlfriend.

I:          Oh, my goodness.

D:        He did get released, and he called her on my dad’s birthday, May 31.  So, I was only, they had gotten, my parents had gotten word that I was missing in action.  But I was only from April 22 to



May 31.  And they knew I was alive.

I:          Right.  But they knew that you were captured.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And they knew that I was captured and wasn’t MIA anymore.

I:          Right.
D:        And after he got out, he did come over, and he went to see her I think, visited with her. He had met her; she was in nursing school in Amarillo.  And he was a student at,



I think he was at West Texas University in Amarillo.  And so, that’s how they met.  And they notified my dad, I think it was, May 31 was my dad’s birthday.  And that’s when they found out that I was still alive.  And we had some communication.  We got a few letters out



that the Chinese told us that it was to our advantage to try to write up something about how the US government had started the War and all that stuff.  And so, we had to put a little bit in there in order to know that our letters were gonna get out.


And my dad read that right now.  And he knew that I didn’t believe that.

I:          Yeah.

D:        And, but that way my letters got out to mother and dad and to my girlfriend.  And

I:          So, back on April 22 when you were captured, your, did your camp just get overrun?  What exactly happened?

D:        Well, we’d been in several fire fights and lost some men.  And on Sunday, they



made me a squad leader.

I:          Um hm.
D:        And brought up a bunch of new men.  I had eight new men.  And

I:          How many men did you have total?

D:        Well, eight in my squad.
I:          Okay.
D:        Company strength I think at that time was just under 200.

I:          Um hm.
D:        The doctors at the VA Hospital told me that I had, suffered from survivor’s guilt



Because as far as I know, all eight of those men died that night, first night on the front line.  And I don’t know.  But it’s bothered me ever since.  I found out after I got out that our company was



down to less than 50 people, that the rest had been killed or captured that night.  And that was quite a night.  It got so bad that our officers called in our artillery on our positions to try to stop it because they knew there wasn’t very much of us left anyway.

I:          Um hm.

D:        So, they



called in the artillery in that area to try to stop them.  And I hid out after all my ammunition was gone and all the grenades we had and everything.  I got in some rocks and hid out.  And the artillery was flying.  The sparks were flying off those rocks like you wouldn’t believe.  I thought well, I’ll just try to stay



hid out and our troops will be back, and I’ll be alright.  And I come to find out they, the Chinese pushed us back 20 miles in that fight.  And over several days. I don’t know how long.

I:          Um hm.

D:        But it was a long time before they came back where we were.  So, I was told that there were 26 men left in the company.



And out of this 26 were 13 captured which left the company down to 13 men.  But I have no way of knowing that that was the fact.

I:          Right.

D:        But I know, I read some articles on K Company, and they were, one of the articles started out that the officer went to a map and



said for intents and purposes K Company was wiped out.  So, we don’t know, I don’t know.  I read similar stories about it.

I:          So, you were captured there at the Iron Triangle.  And then you said you marched at night.  Do you remember how many days it took you to reach the camp?

D:        We were captured on the 23rd, the morning of the 23rd.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And we walked into that camp on June the 19th, my sister’s



birthday.  I had a lot of things happen where I remembered dates and everything.

I:          I was about to say like you know all the exact dates because it seems to, everything happened on very important dates, like personal dates to you.

D:        Oh, it was about what, 60 days, roughly 60 days.

I:          How old were you around this time?
D:        Well, I was 24 when I was captured. I had already been through that last part of World War II.

I:          Right.



D:        And I was 24.  And a lot of those guys were younger.  They were really young because after the end of World War II, all those veterans wanted out.  And the government wanted to get them out as quick as they could.  They did everything they could.  And consequently, they were taking the younger kids, not asking age because we had kids in there that were 16 and



17 years old, that had been taken in through the Army occupation in Japan and got thrown into the fire fight over there.  There were several, one incident I know of was a young kid that was shot through both ankles and was captured and was



at the Chosin Reservoir when it was so bitterly cold.  And the Chinese had to take both of his feet, and he was blessed that it was so cold because it kept him from getting any infection.

I:          Right.

D:        He healed up well after that.  But he had to have, I understand he had to have surgery after he got out.  I never saw him again after he got released.



I:          Um hm.  What camp did you arrive to:

D:        What huh?
I:          What camp did you arrive to?
D:        One, camp one.

I:          Camp one.  Where was camp one located?
D:        Well, I don’t know to this day.  I’ve been told that it was very close to the Yalu River.  We thought we were about 25 miles from the river and about 25 miles to the Yellow Sea which is down on the south end where the Yalu River dumps into the Yellow




I:          Right.  So, whenever you arrived at camp one, was there kind of like a process, like

D:        There was an existing camp.  There were already men there.

I:          Right.
D:        They’d been, some of them had been moved in there that had been captured, I think, in July of ’50.  But I don’t know how long the camp had been there.



I:          Um hm.  So, while you were marching, it took you, you know, almost two months to reach the camp after being captured.  What were they feeding you guys?  Tell me and how you survived the march for two months.

D:        Well, some of them were wounded.  Some of them got sick from dysentery.  I carried one kid for about a week on my back that had been shot up pretty bad.



And we came down from the hills one time, and there was a road.  And they made me put him down and said that the Chinese would take him to the hospital, and I said no, I’ll carry him.  I’ll keep him.  And they wouldn’t let me, and they made me put him down.  And I didn’t expect to see him ever again.  But after I got out, the first Christmas I got a Christmas card from him thanking me for carrying him.  And he said you couldn’t carry me now because I weigh



225 lbs.  I said well, you can carry me then.  I don’t weigh that much.  And that’s only one time that a Korean POW reunion that we had at the time.

I:          Where does he live?
D:        Hm?
I:          Where does he live?

D:        He lived in New Jersey.

I:          Um.

D:        But I just saw him one other time.

I:          Um hm.  What were they feeding you guys as you all were marching?

D:        Hm?
I:          Were they feeding y’all as y’all were marching, or did you kind of have to find your own food?



D:        Well, they, what little we got, we got from them.  They all carried their own rations.

I:          Um hm.

D:        In a cotton sack about so big around and about so long.  They carried it over their shoulder with a string or something.  And sometimes they’d fix some and let us have some.  But I went from about 155 lbs. to, down to around about 100



while I was in there, not all of it in that two months.  But and we didn’t have any access to any food.  We just got whatever they gave us.

I:          Um hm.  And so how were the living arrangements whenever you arrived to the camp?

D:        Well, they had taken over a Korean village, moved all the residents out.


And most of the houses were three rooms.  Two rooms where you live in and the third room was the kitchen.  And we were in those rooms.  There was 10 of us in a room about seven or eight feet square.  And you slept head to toe, and you had, if anybody turned over, everybody had to turn over.  And it was pretty congested.  And the room got smaller when tempers flared.



I:          Um hm.

D:        It wasn’t a very(INAUDIBLE) two guys fighting and five other guys watching and all in the same little room.

I:          How big would you say the room was?
D:        About seven feet square.  Ten feet, not more than 10 feet square.

I:          Um hm.  So, what were the, I guess, the day-to-day activities that you guys had to do or go through?
D:        Well, when we first got there, it was in the Spring.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And they made us



go up in the mountains about four miles and carry down logs that they’d had the natives cut trees down and cut them up into small joint sections where one man could carry it out.  And we had to, each company had a two-man saw, crosscut saw.  We had an axe, and we had to cut that wood up small little joints where they’d go in the fireplace in the kitchen.


And then we had to split it with the axe.  And we had to get enough of that together during the warm spring and summer to last through the winter.  And we usually used it all by the time spring came around.  And that’s about the only thing we had to do except for the brain washing.  I got in trouble because I was 24.


I was older when I told those kids don’t believe that stuff.  They’d have those indoor connection classes, and I would say you know better than that.  You know what kind of country we’ve got at home, and you can see what these people have.

I:          Um hm.

D:        They don’t have anything.

I:          What were they trying to convince you guys of?
D:        Well, that Communism would be better than Capitalism.  And it’s not so.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And to this day, I know it’s not so.



Our country’s in better shape.  We’re free to do what we want to do and raise our food or get our kids in college.  And these countries don’t have that.  A few of them get to go to college, and the rest of them are like trained monkeys as far as I’m concerned.  The educated ones brainwashing them, convincing them that Communism’s good, and I know better.


Thank you very much.

I:          So, besides this brainwashing, were you all able to play basketball or, you know, play cards or things that y’all could do to stay entertained?

D:        They had had some softballs and some basketballs and that Spring in “53, they had some discus.  They had some kind of Junior Olympics and stuff that they could have races and everything and play basketball.



That was about all we had to do.  There was nothing else.

I:          And I’ve heard from other prisoners, POWs, that they weren’t allowed to pray, that they just wouldn’t.  There would be consequences, I guess, if they were caught.  Was that true while you were in camp?
D:        We never got told not to.
I:          Um hm.

D:        Because mainly we didn’t do it when they were around.

I:          Um hm.



D:        And we kept it to ourselves.  I still have my New Testament. I don’t know, on the march up, they made us empty our pockets, and they found that Testament.  And the man told me to throw it in the fire, and I said no. I said you throw it in the fire, and I tried to give it to him, and he wouldn’t touch it.  So, I just put it back in my pocket and kept it.  And I brought it home, and my daughter’s got it now.

I:          What were y’all being fed?  What was the kind of



food they would give you guys?
D:        What?
I:          Food while in camp?

D:        It was just rice or sorghum.

I:          Um hm.  Millet.

D:        Some tofu, I guess.  Once in a while, we’d get that.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Very seldom got any meat.  Once in a while, they’d kill a pig.  But I was s scared of it.  I watched them kill them that morning and serve ‘em that night.



And I was very scared of it.
I:          Um hm.

D:        I got by on what they had.

I:          And so, what about clothing?  Did you stay in your uniforms, or did they give you new clothes to wear?

D:        Well, I kept my combat boots.  Everything else kind of wore out.  They wound up in a summer uniform, POW uniform.  Then we


got a winter uniform.  I’ve got a picture.  It’s in that box that you took away, of me that was taken by an Associated Press photographer that was captured.  And he had on his cameras and everything.  And they realized what they had.  They took him around on the campus and made propaganda pictures.



And he took a picture of me one time, and I didn’t know it had been taken.  And somebody sent me a copy of it after we got home.  And it showed me in that summer uniform.

I:          What was the propaganda?  What were they, I guess, trying to

D:        Well, show everybody how well we were being taken care of.  And they didn’t show the pictures of the jails or the cages they put us in.



That’s another picture that’s in that box you took away.

I:          I promise we’ll include the pictures.  I promise.

D:        You what?
I:          I said I promise we will include the pictures.  I promise.

D:        Might even want to take some pictures of that later on.  One of the men that was in my squad got out in his.  He had his son make a cage like he’d been put in.  And he took it to the Korean War



POW meeting one year. I think it was in Macon, Georgia.  And he was gonna try to give it to the Andersonville POW Museum, and they didn’t want it.  And we were all upset about that.

I:          Yeah.  Why?

D:        Said they didn’t have room for it.

I:          So, cages were used as a punishment or?

D:        Oh yeah.



If you did something wrong, they’d put you in there for a week.  And when you got out you, and you didn’t get out during that week.  When you got out, you’d clean up the cage, and then you’d take a bath and clean yourself up, and you can wash your clothes.  So, it was better not to get in trouble.

I:          What are things you’d get in trouble for?
D:        Well, I argued with them about (INAUDIBLE) stealing food or



Any number of things, any infraction.  They’d throw you in there for any reason in the world.  IF they didn’t like the way you smiled at them that morning, they’d almost put you away.  I was in jail 75 days because of my partying with them while they were brainwashing.

I:          You were in that cage for 75 days?

D:        No. I was in another squad.  They separated us from the rest of the camp.



I:          And were you a prisoner of the Chinese or North Koreans?

D:        Chinese.  We were never prisoners of the Koreans, the North Koreans. And I’m glad because they were pretty vicious, killed a lot of people.

I:          And how long were you a prisoner of war?

D:        Twenty-eight months.

I:          And so, obviously a



long 28 months.  And so, what day were you finally released?

D:        August the 20th, 1953.

I:          August 20th of 1953.
D:        Fifty-three.

I:          Um hm.  So that was a month almost after the Armistice was signed.  It took that long for them to, for you guys to be released.  Almost a month later?

D:        Armistice was signed on July 27.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And we got out on the 20th of August.

I:          Um hm.



D:        They had to move us from where we were was a long ways.  We rode a truck part of the way, and we rode a train part of the way.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And then due process from both sides I guess, how they were gonna exchange them and everything.

I:          Um hm.  So, how did you guys find out that the Armistice was being signed and that prisoners were being released?  Did they just come out and say you guys,



D:        They called us out and had a formation, the whole camp, and told us that the Peace Talks had been signed.  And they were kind of afraid that we would riot and raise hell, and we didn’t.  And that kind of upset them because we were so calm.  We just decided we weren’t going to let them know our emotions.

I:          Um.  You were just ready to get out.



You’d already been there 28 months.

D:        Yeah.

I:          So, would you say the conditions maybe got a little bit better or they kind of lightened up that last month?

D:        They started lightening up in the Spring when they had that Olympics and everything.  We could tell when the Peace Talks were going good.  Our treatment was a little better.  But if it got hung up on something, they’d go back to the old rules.



But it never did get, they said we couldn’t take anything out.  But I got that chess set out because I had it in another bag that I had made.

I:          Um hm.
D:        And they didn’t bother to take it away from me.  And that bag laid in the closet for 50 years before I got it out. I’ve only had it out about



10 years.

I:          Just decided to look at it one day and, what made you kind of pull it back out?

D:        Yeah.  I don’t know why.

I:          It’s been almost 50 years.

D:        The first 50 years, I was in denial about it.  I wouldn’t talk about anything, being a prisoner or anything.  Didn’t have to discuss it or anything.

I:          Is that because you didn’t want to, or did the government by any chance ask you not to speak about it or anything?



D:        No, the government never told us.

I:          Um hm.

D:        It’s just so many things I felt like needed to be told.
I:          Hm.

D:        I was asked to make talks at various places, high schools and civic clubs to tell my experiences.  The Air Force Base, Cannon Air Force Base,



has, all Air Force bases have an Airmen’s Leadership School.  And Cannon Air Force Base created a Wall of Heroes, and they inducted a bunch of us into it.  And not all just prisoners but all veterans that had a story to tell.  And I was inducted into it in March of 2005.



And they, the Commandant, asked me if I would come back and talk to one of her classes.  And I said yeah.  So, I went back the very first class after I was inducted, and that was in April of



  1. And last week, April the 16th, I made my 70th talk to a class, 70 different classes of students that had to go through that class at school before they could make Staff Sergeant.

I:          Um hm.
D:        So, I talked to every class since I was inducted into that Wall of Heroes,



Over 1,500 students.

I:          Wow.
D:        And all I get out of it is a free dinner at their graduation.  My wife and I get to go.

I:          So, I guess rewinding, whenever you were released, where did you have to march to a different place obviously.  Did you have to take a truck to Freedom Village or anything of that nature?

D:        Did what?



I:          Did you have to take a truck to Freedom Village to be released to pass on back over to that South Korea?

D:        Well, there were trucks and trains.

I:          Um hm.

D:        You mean how they got us back down there?
I:          Um hm.

D:        Yeah.  They put us on trucks right there on the camp.  And they took us to a railhead, and we rode boxcars down into, near the front wherever the exchange Panmunjom,

I:          Um hm.
D:        And they trucked us on into there.



And then whatever process they had for getting us out of there.

I:          Um hm.  So, obviously I guess, your wife waited for you?
D:        I got home on September the 7th which was Labor Day ’53.

I:          Another holiday.

D:        Another day.  We got married October the 18th,



just took her about a month and a half to get everything together.

I:          Um hm.

D:        We were, she wanted to go to Mexico on our honeymoon, and my friend that got the Medal of Honor told me he wanted me to go to Washington with him when he got it.  And he called me, and he told me that that the ceremony



was gonna be October 27th.  So, I called her and told her we weren’t doing Mexico.  We was going to Washington.  So, we went up there, and we were present when they, seven men got the medal that day.  And we were able to see it.  It was President Eisenhower put it on.

I:          Was it a difficult process coming back home as far as mentally and physically,



getting back into the, you saying okay, I’m not a prisoner any more.  I’m back, you know, in my home.

D:        We all wanted to fly home.  And they said no, you’re gonna have to go on a boat.  They said if you flew home, you’d be quarantined for two weeks.  But they said we’ve got a little work to do with you.  And we did.  I spent over eight hours with people from the FBI and from OSS which is now CIA, and all kinds of law enforcement.



And they wanted to know, they wanted us to try to remember every man that had died, when he died, how he died.  And they wanted to know about any squealers that squealed on other people.

I:          Um.

D:        Or did anything against the government, against our government.  And we were busy from all that.  And then they wanted to get



us back in physical shape, too.

I:          Um hm.

D:        I gained 25 lbs. on the boat, two weeks.
I:          Two weeks on the boat, and you gained 25 lbs.

D:        Yeah.  I went from 110 to 135 in two weeks.

I:          What were they feeding you?

D:        Hm?
I:          What were they feeding you?
D:        On the ship?

I:          Um hm.

D:        Well, it started off just mashed potatoes and Jello and



cereal and stuff like that.  And they didn’t know what kind of shape we were in or what we could handle.  And it just got progressively better and heavier.

I:          Started out, um hm.

D:        So, then we got up to steak and stuff like that.  And they did it right.  We had, there was two medics there at the head of the line, and before you could pick up a tray, you had to take all these vitamins and everything.  You didn’t eat until you took your pills.



I:          Did you have to get through any kind of etiquette classes to kind of get you back into post-stress?  I mean, I’ve heard some other prisoners of war that they had to kind of take classes on how to treat women and kind of just civilians again.

D:        No, we didn’t have anything like that.

I:          Um hm.  So, you returned home.  And a month later, you were married.

D:        That’s right.

I:          Um hm.



D:        I’ve been married 61 ½ years.
I:          Congratulations.  That’s amazing.

D:        Thank you.

I:          Y’all were just dating whenever you were captured.  And long had y’all been dating?

D:        I don’t know.  We’d been dating for a couple of years.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And I’d already given her a ring.  We planned to get married when that happened.

I:          She sounds like a fantastic person, especially to wait around and not really knowing when you were gonna come home and

D:        That’s right.  She went to one last



story (INAUDIBLE) man knew what had happened.  And they planned a wedding for every season and pick out clothes. She never bought them till I got out.  But then she got everything done in 30 days.

I:          Wow.  That’s amazing.  I wish she were here with you today.

D:        Well, she’s in the hotel at home base.

I:          Oh, I see.  I wish she had some with you.  I would love to have met her.



So, you were married October 18th.  You returned home September 7th.  So, what did you do after you came home, after you got married?
D:        Well, I went back to work theaters for a while.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And then when I kicked in, I went to work for a man in an auto parts store.  And I worked for him 11 years.  And then I opened my own auto parts store.  And I had it 11 years.  And then I sold it in 1987



and sat down.

I:          Kind of just

D:        Retired.

I:          Sat back and retired and

D:        I blame my wife as a nurse, and she was a Nursing Coordinator at the high school for 24 years.  And I’d get her off to work and clean up the kitchen, had to go to the golf course.  And I’d get home about 3:00 and



I’d to fix dinner.  She got home and washed up the dishes.  She retired in 1992.  So, I said now it’s your turn.  I just kept playing golf.  We had two beautiful daughters.  We adopted both of them.  And I’m very proud of them.  One’s a counselor in middle school in Amarillo,



and the oldest daughter is head of a transcription department for a Cardiologist, 11 or 12 cardiologists.
I:          Um hm.  Wow.

D:        So, she’s busy.

I:          Yeah.  And they both sound very successful and

D:        Yeah.

I:          Congratulations.

D:        Everybody’s good.

I:          That’s amazing.  So, you didn’t speak about your experience after you returned home.  Have you been back to Korea, or would you ever, would you want to?



D:        We went back in 2006 on that Korean War

I:          Revisit Program?
D:        Revisit Program, yeah.

I:          What did you think?

D:        Oh, I was highly pleased to see how well it was.

I:          Um hm.

D:        It was so nice.  And the country’s growing and prospering.  And the people are healthy.  And very satisfied with it.



I:          What do you think is the legacy carried on by Korean War veterans in the Korean War?

D:        Well, there’s the legacy right there in South Korea.

I:          Um hm.
D:        It’s something to be proud of, (INAUDIBLE).  And there were a lot of times that we weren’t too happy about being over there and cussing and fretting about it.  But we look back now, and



we paid a terrible price for that.  I’ve got (INAUDIBLE) in that box that you took away.

I:          You make it sound like I stole them.  I promise to give them back.

D:        But it, I’m not, I just 67.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Seven thousand died, 92,000



wounded. So many MIAs and so many POWs.  I don’t have the figures.

I:          Right.
D:        They’re in that box.

I:          We’ll be sure to include those as well.  So, taking into consideration how many lives were either lost or even just, you know, uprooted, sacrifices that were made. How does it personally make you feel I guess knowing that it was



considered a Police Action and not a War when you saw firsthand that it definitely was.

D:        Well, we always said they called it a Police Action.  If it was, it wasn’t near enough cops, and it was too big a beat.  But we’re satisfied that it was the way it happened.

I:          And in your opinion, why do you think the Korean War is often referred to as the Forgotten War?  How did it get that title?

D:        Well,



if you look out there at that memorial, and there’s not very much on the Korean War in it.  I can go out there and look at that wall with all the prisoners’ names on it from World War II and Korea and Viet Nam, and there’s not many POWs on it from Korea.

I:          Um hm.
D:        And we, people were sick of war



because of World War II.  And it came around too fast.
I:          Um hm.
D:        And, but I don’t know why it was called the Forgotten War because I sure remember it.  But it was, I don’t know. I just don’t know.  And then the Viet Nam War come along, and everybody was really, the only difference between the Viet Nam War and the Korean War was North



Korea started that War.  We didn’t.

I:          Um hm.

D:        We didn’t volunteer to get in it.  We got volunteered into the Viet Nam War.  And that was a shame as far as I was concerned.  Those people had been fighting for centuries.  And it’s just like that one that’s going on now.

I:          Um hm.

D:        They’ve been fighting for years.  And we didn’t, we need to get out of there.  I don’t mean to politic,



but we need (INAUDIBLE)

I:          So, I guess I kind of have a question for you then.  So, in 2013, we witnessed the signing, or the 60th anniversary of the Armistice.  There’s no other War in modern history that has lasted 60 years after an official cease fire.  What do you think we need to do to kind of end that hostility and kind of put a closure on it?  Do you think it may ever be possible?

D:        It’s not possible as long as that young punk’s running North



Korea.  Somebody needs to talk some sense into somebody up there to get it done.

I:          Would you support a reunification of North and South Korea if it were possible?

D:        If it were possible, yes.

I:          Um hm.

D:        But not through the efforts the way they wanted to do it.

I:          Right.

D:        To come down there, and it’s not gonna happen.  And I’m convinced that China is



popping the whip over there and telling them what to do.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And kind of like a dog on a chain. They just hold them back.  They know they can’t win by themselves.  And they don’t want to get in another war.

I:          Right.

D:        China doesn’t.  So, I don’t think it’ll ever happen.

I:          And do you think it’s important for younger generations to understand and know of the



sacrifices and contributions that were made prior to the Armistice?

D:        Sure, sure.

I:          Why do you think it’s important for them to be aware of what happened?

D:        Well, I just, I think they need to know it.   The younger generations need to know it.  And by telling my story to these



young people, even though they’re all in the Air Force, they’re gonna remember, and they’re gonna understand what happened.  And the Korean War veterans now have a retell program to tell it to the people.

I:          Yeah.

D:        And it’s good. I think that more people need to hear it.  And I’m, I do, that’s why I do what I do.



I:          Um hm.  Do you think that this is necessary, what we’re doing here today, interviewing veterans and preserving their legacy and their stories?
D:        It depends on how the word gets out.  If the younger generation can get to it, it’s fine.

I:          Um hm.  Is there anything that you were able to take from your experience in Korea, maybe a life lesson or something that stuck with you, that you learned I guess while you were in Korea?



D:        Well, there’s not a day goes by that I don’t think of something or somebody, kind of relating to that War and anybody that goes through that as a prisoner, it’s imbedded in your mind, and they’ll never forget it.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And I think it’s vital that people understand it.




POW Cage

Dan McKinney shows the size of the cage he was confined in as a Prisoner of War in North Korea.

POW Cage

POW Cage

Dan McKinney shows the size of the cage he was confined in as a Prisoner of War in North Korea.

POW Cage

Returning Home as a POW

Dan McKinney is released as a Prisoner of War and comes home after the 1953 Armistice.

Returning Home as a POW

Fellow Soldiers

Dan McKinney's photograph of him and a fellow soldier.

Fellow Soldiers

Returning home

Dan McKinney is released as a Prisoner of War and comes home after the 1953 Armistice. In this photography, he is reunited with his family.

Returning home

DMZ Bridge

Here is a photograph of the bridge Dan McKinney crossed as he returned, leaving his status as a Prisoner of War, after the signing of the Armistice.

DMZ Bridge

Reunited with family and friends

Dan McKinney is released as a Prisoner of War and comes home after the 1953 Armistice.

Reunited with family and friends

Wooden spoon

Dan McKinney held on to a wooden spoon from his days as a Prisoner of War in Korea.

Wooden spoon


Dan McKinney is released as a Prisoner of War and comes home after the 1953 Armistice.


Hanging on a photograph

Dan McKinney held onto this photograph of his fiance while he was imprisoned as a POW in Korea. He and his fiance original wedding date was planned for the day he was coincidentally captured.

Hanging on a photograph

Returning home

Dan McKinney is released as a Prisoner of War and comes home after the 1953 Armistice.

Returning home

POW Recreation

Dan McKinney has a photograph of from his time at POW Camp in Korea. He and fellow POWS were allowed to play recreational activities sometimes during their stay.

POW Recreation

From Now to Then

Dan McKinney holds a photograph from his return back to the United States after being released as a POW after the armistice.

From Now to Then

Bridge of No Return

Dan McKinney captured a photograph of the bridge he crossed when he was released as a POW after the signing of the Armistice.

Bridge of No Return

Wooden Spoon

Dan McKinney held on to a wooden spoon from his days as a Prisoner of War in Korea.

Wooden Spoon

POW: Chess Set

Dan McKinney showcases the chess set he played with to pass the time he was a POW in Korea.

POW: Chess Set

POW Items

Dan McKinney kept this bag that held his belongings as he was a POW in Korea.

POW Items

Point of No Return in Color

Dan McKinney has this color photograph of the DMZ as he crossed it, leaving North Korea into South Korea as a POW.

Point of No Return in Color

Making Headlines

Dan McKinney has collected newspaper articles that have described his service in the Korean War and his sacrifice as a POW.

Making Headlines

Making Headlines

Dan McKinney has collected newspaper articles that have described his service in the Korean War and his sacrifice as a POW.

Making Headlines

Making Headlines

Dan McKinney has collected newspaper articles that have described his service in the Korean War and his sacrifice as a POW.

Making Headlines

POW: Chess Set

Dan McKinney showcases the chess set he played with to pass the time he was a POW in Korea.

POW: Chess Set

POW: Chess Set

Dan McKinney showcases the chess set he played with to pass the time he was a POW in Korea.

POW: Chess Set

POW Recreation

Dan McKinney has a photograph of his time at POW Camp in Korea. He and fellow POWS were allowed to play recreational activities sometimes during their stay.

POW Recreation

Hanging on a Photograph

Dan McKinney held onto this photograph of his fiance while he was imprisoned as a POW in Korea. He and his fiance original wedding date was planned for the day he was coincidentally captured.

Hanging on a Photograph

Wooden Spoon

Dan McKinney held on to a wooden spoon from his days as a Prisoner of War in Korea.

Wooden Spoon

POW: Chess Set

Dan McKinney showcases the chess set he played with to pass the time he was a POW in Korea.

POW: Chess Set

POW: Chess Set

Dan McKinney showcases the chess set he played with to pass the time he was a POW in Korea.

POW: Chess Set