Korean War Legacy Project

David Carsten Randby


David Carsten Randby served as a Corporal in the Norwegian Army as an electrician. David Randby’s main task was keeping the generators operational for NORMASH. NORMASH is the Norwegian Mobile Army Surgical Hospital or field hospital during the Korean War. NORMASH was located on the frontline and David Randby had to even help with a surgical operation at one point. He is proud of his military service and earned multiple medals. He has revisited South Korea on four separate occasions and has personally met Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in.

Video Clips

Electrician for NORMASH

David Randby served as an electrician for NORMASH. Electricity was important for a field hospital. The electrical equipment was very rudimentary and required skill to keep running. He kept the generators running in times of great need.

Tags: Dongducheon,Civilians,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Pride,South Koreans

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Military Life

David Randby describes conditions in Dongducheon. He provides details about helping with surgery at one point due to the many actions at the front. He describes going on a trip from Dongducheon to Seoul and having to watch a video over how to act when out on leave.

Tags: Dongducheon,Seoul,Front lines,Pride,Rest and Relaxation (R&R),South Koreans

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Medals and President Moon Jae-in

David Randby describes the medals he earned for his service in the Korean War. He has personally met with President Moon Jae-in. President Moon Jae-in spoke with the veterans and reminded them that the North Korean leader is a dictator and South Korea is a democracy because of their actions.

Tags: Civilians,Impressions of Korea,Message to Students,Modern Korea,Pride,South Koreans

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

D:        My name is David Randby.

I:          Could you spell it?
D:        Yeah.  D-A-V-I-D, R-A-N-D-B-Y.

I:          Yes.  And you have a middle name, Carsten, right?  Carsten.

D:        Pardon?
I:          You have middle name.

D:        [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Middle name, Carsten?

D:        Oh yeah, Carsten, yeah.

I:          Yes.

D:        That’s write with a C, yeah.

I:          Yes, yes.

D:        That’s right.



I:          And when were you born?

D:        Oh yeah.  In 1931.

I:          What month and date?  Do you know birthday?
D:        Yeah.  The 26th of November in 1931.

I:          And where were you born?

D:        Here in this area, [Colburton] yeah.

I:          What is it?

D:        In this area where we are now.

I:          Okay.

D:        Yes.

I:          And what about, when did you, where did you go to school?



D:        I, the first schools

I:          Yeah

D:        was here.  But I had a lot of education.  You see, I was the electrician in the Norwegian Field Hospital

I:          Yeah

D:        And that was in




30, fifty

I:          Nineteen fifty

D:        Yes, 19, from 92 to 93.  Six months.

I:          Um.  So, from 1950

D:        Beside

I:          to ’53.

D:        I wasn’t for revisits.  And those revisits



Then I paid my travels, well money.  But we were met in a luxury hotel one week where everything was free.

I:          Um.

D:        So, the Korean people, they know how to say thank you.

I:          Um.



D:        And the Korean people were very polite.

I:          So, that was when you revisited Korea, right?

D:        What is

I:          Revisit Korea?

D:        Oh yeah.

I:          Yeah.

D:        I’ve been in Korea in revisits in ’67 and, 2000, 2008

I:          Um.

D:        And 2010.



I:          So, when did you revisit Korea

D:        because I wrote a diary for six months.  And I had my ordinary [INAUDIBLE] with me as a gift to our Peace Museum, very close to the areas we were fighting.



So, and I asked the foreman if we did in the region, I could be in Seoul to give that original diary to a gift to the museum.

I:          Ah.

D:       And he asked me



can I borrow it and use it in my speeches he said, oh yes, you can do.  So, and later on I told you I came back in 2010.  I had a speech in the [INAUDIBLE] told me so.  Then the last area, we had our field hospital area.



And the [Lord Mayor] was the one who gave that original diary to the museum.

I:          Um.  Where, in Korea?

D:        In Dongducheon.

I:          Dongducheon?

D:        Dongducheon.

I:          Um.

D:        [INAUDIBLE] and that was the same last place, the field hospital was working.



I:          So, you don’t have diary here?

D:        Very close to the

I:          Yeah.

D:        North Korean border.

I:          Um.  So, you don’t have your diary now?  Do you have it with you, or you gave it to the museum?

D:        See, I beg your pardon?

I:          Did you give the diary to the museum?
D:        Yeah.  So, I had my own American uniform



with a Norwegian markers and the 8th Army all over the sides with me, and I gave that uniform as a gift to the Lord Mayor.

I:          Um.

D:        So maybe that uniform become a, we have our blazer to use museum, too, I don’t know.

I:          So, what did you do in NORMASH?



Were you doctor or what did you do?

D:        Yeah, I was in, as I told you, in NORMASH six months.  It was for revisits.

I;          So, what did you do in NORMASH?
D:        Because the, what?
I:          What did you do in NORMASH?

D:        What did I do in NORMASH?

I:          Yeah, yeah.

D:        Oh. yeah.  You see, I was an electrician as I said,


And there was specialize also in SAS airlines about seven months or something.  No, seven years or something.

I:          Um.

D:        Yes.



I was so anxious to do something else.

I:          Um.

D:        So, you would be surprised.  But I worked at the dry-cleaning shop, and at [INAUDIBLE], And I have taught my children at the schools in the same area.



At least I have a certificate [INAUDIBLE] a dry-cleaning certificate.

I:          Um.  So, in Dongducheon

D:        Yes

I:          What did you do as an electrician?  What kind of work did you do?

D:        Oh.  You see,



A field hospital had generators and three different sides in the camp, and that was the electricity was given by generators.



Some were diesel, and some were gasoline generators.

I:          Um.  So, did you fix that?

D:        Oh yeah.  So [INAUDIBLE] because only tents in that

I:          Only tents.



D:        You know, it was a MASH, Norwegian White Army Surgical Hospital.

I:          Yes.  And did you like it?  I mean, what was the most difficult thing there?  What was the most difficult thing to do?

D:        Well, the most difficult, well,



It should have more electrical parts and equipment.  It was very simple what the things we had to work with.

I:          Um.  I see.  Did you know many Korean people there?

D:        Yeah. They still remember me

I:          Um.

D:        after many years.  Oh, that’s electrician.



So that old ladies [INAUDIBLE] so they remember me every time I come as a revisitor.

I:          Um hm.  So, when you went back to Korea, revisit, how was it?

D:        Oh, I remember, the first revisit



I:          Um.

D:        I have very strong feelings.

I:          What kind of feelings?

D:        Well, because I love that country.

I:          Why?

D:        Because when I was there, they were friendly and polite. They were very



friendly nation to have worked with.  And they still are.

I:          Um.

D:        As you see the pictures here on the walls here

I:          Yes?

D:        The 12th of June this year, the Chief of South Korea



I:          Yeah, President Jae-in.

D:        was a guest

I:          Yes.

D:        You see him there?

I:          Yes.

D:        Uh, and the King and the Crown Prince, we had them, um, we check [INAUDIBLE] with the King, and we have a good relationship with the Chief of Korea.

I:          Yes.  President Moon Jae-in, right?  So, this is the President



Moon Jae-in of Republic of Korea visiting and meeting with you.  You have a handshake.

D:        Yeah.  [INAUDIBLE]

I:          So, were there any dangerous moments during your service?

D:        What?

I:          Dangerous. Danger.

D:        Danger?

I:          Yeah.



D:        Oh, yes.  But when you are about 21 years old only, you are not thinking about that.  It never happened to you.

I:          Ah hah.

D:        It happens to others, you see.  Like any war.

I:          Um.

D:        Nothing really, they no shoot me.  No one ever shoots the others, you see, because you are young.



I:          Yes.

D:        And that’s why they couldn’t use pilots who was too old in the War.

I:          Um.

D:        I had just, the best of the youngest.  But nothing happened to the youngest.

I:          Um hm.



D:        That’s very strange.

I:          So, do you know now about how Korean economy grew?

D:        What day is today?  I don’t know.  I have serious thoughts and theories about Korea today.

I:          How?  What is it?



D:        Because I would say it straight.  Those Koreans, North Korea

I:          Yes.

D:        I’m very sorry to say.  But I don’t trust them.

I:          Why?

D:        Because here we have very difficult work there.  In Seoul, the buildings



there today, they have big Christian crosses

I:          Yes.

D:        at the building.  That’s not allowed in North.  You are arrested if you were a Christian.

I:          Um hm.  Are you Christian?

D:        So, I think he will have a hard job.

I:          That’s right.

D:        The Chief of South Korea today,



even a very hard job.

I:          So, were you able to go to Seoul when you were there?

D:        What?
I:          When you were there in Dongducheon.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Were you able to go to Seoul?

D:        Oh yes.  Oh, that’s a very long way for us from Seoul,



Inchon or Seoul to Dongducheon

I:          Yes.

D:        But we had a bus, so we would, we were just sitting in that bus and came to Dongducheon and first to an American briefing on how we should behave

I:          Uh huh

D:        and everything.



And everybody the same.  You must not smile to them, talk to them, or something like that.

I:          Uh huh.
D:        So, we had to be very careful.  But I’m sitting at a table when they have stopped the fighting in the [INAUDIBLE], and that was emotional.

I:          Um.



D:        I think, you know.

I:          Um.  Any story you remember?

D:        Oh, that’s very hard to say.  Not any special story.  But we work very hard, and sometimes it was



so many actions at the front

I:          Um hm

D:        that all the doctors were occupied.  And I was only electrician Corporal.  And I helped in the hospital in a medical operation.



I washed my hands 10 times, and I was so clean.  So, I had been helping a doctor during operation even once.

I:          Um hm.  So,



are you proud of yourself as a Korean War veteran NORMASH?

D:        Pardon?

I:          Are you proud of yourself?

D:        Now I, I don’t think so much about it.  I just hope that there gets to be peace, real peace between the leader of South and the leaders in the North.



I:          Um hm.  But did you know anything about Korea before you went to Korea?

D:        The first time, yes.  I read the papers.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        So yes.  I read several books and papers on what’s going on the first time that I came.

I:          Um.



How was it when you first arrived in Korea, how was Korea at the time?

D:        How was

I:          How was Korea at the time when you got there for the first time?

D:        How I thought about it?

I:          Yeah.

D:        As I told you, I think I liked them very much.  They were friendly



and so polite.  So, all the veterans say the same.  They liked the Korean people.

I:          How many patients were there at the time?

D:        What?

I:          How many patients?

D:        In

I:          In NORMASH.  How many patients did you treat?



Patients, those people who are sick, wounded.

D:        Oh, persons sick.

I:          Yeah.

D:        Oh, how many persons?  Well, we changed people every six months.  So altogether, it’s around 1,000.  But I don’t remember how much we were, maybe 150 or something.



I:          Um hm.  Did you like what you did?

D:        Yeah, yes, yeah.  I did, yeah.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        So,

I:          Any other story that you wanna tell me?

D:        No, no.  Well, I think, I don’t.



And that’s very hard to say.  I don’t particularly remember any special stories.

I:          Um.  And what else?  Did you have many good friends there in NORMASH?

D:        Yes, yeah.



I:          Did you know doctors and nurses?
D:        Yeah.  And several troops came to us because we had a tent with everything that had to drink original things.

I:          Um hm.



D:        And we used to give them everything very cheap and they have very famous guests.

I:          Like what?

D:        From different organizations who came to Korea to see how we were behaving.



And so that was very hard to give them a special story.

I:          What did you do after you came back from Korea?

D:        Remember?
I:          What did you do?
D:        Oh yeah, yeah.

I:          What was your job?



D:        My job was electrician.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And so, I had to work with generators that gave power, and I had to work with these electrical lines all over the



field hospital area.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Electrical wires

I:          Um.

D:        and everything like that.  And work with x-ray machine

I:          Oh.

D:        post-op, and I went to, then we have to get somebody to drive fast as he could,



to a place where I get the parts.  So, I worked all night to repair the x-ray machine.

I:          Ah.
D:        That was very hard work.

I:          How many x-ray machines?

D:        Well, there was one.

I:          Only one?

D:        Yeah.

I:          Um.

D:        That’s right.

I:          What

D:        But you see, every patient from the War



would have to go through the x-ray machine.

I:          How about other machines that you fixed? Other machines, x-ray, generator, and what else did you do?

D:        Yeah.

I:          What else did you do?

D:        Oh, well we had



a lot of sports, played football against other teams.

I:          Um

D:        Dutchmen and several nations.  So, we had very much of sports.

I:          Hm. So, when did you marry?

D:        Marry?

I:          Yeah.

D:        Yes.



I was over 30 years old before I married.  I wanted to see the world first.

I:          First.

D:        Through the Army.

I:          So, you have many medals here.

D:        Yeah.  They, they gave us that.

I:          Who gave it to you?  Who gave the medals to you?

D:        Well, they’re medals, yes.



That was the Korean War medal.

I:          Um.

D:        and United Nations

I:          Um.

D:        Norwegian medals because you have earned them outside of your country.  So, we got


a lot of medals.  I thought they’d give us [INAUDIBLE].  We had these medals all the time I can’t remember.  But long ago.

I:          Is there any other story?

D:        No.  Not right now. But if I



remember something, I will tell you later, too.

I:          Okay.

D:        Alright.

I:          Um hm.  And so, when President Moon came

D:        Oh yeah.

I:          Yeah

D:        Yeah

I:          What did he tell you?

D:        Well,

I:          What did he say?



D:        He gave him some advice.

I:          What?

D:        How we should treat the Chief in the North.

I:          Ah.

D:        Yes.  [INAUDIBLE]

I:          What kind of advice?

D:        [INAUDIBLE]

I:          What did you say to him?

D:        Well, he must remind us he’s a dictator.

I:          Huh?


D:        in the North.

I:          Dictator?

D:        That’s not democracy.  And you’re going together.  He reminds me he had a tough job there.

I:          Um hm.  What about King?  There is a King.
D:        a King, yeah.  I shook hands with him a couple of times before, and we have greatest respect



for the Kingdom in Norway.

I:          Um hm.

D:        The Norwegian people have.

I:          And how many children do you have?

D:        I have one daughter and one boy [INAUDIBLE]. Also had my, today have



my house and garden

I:          Um hm.

D:        It is so, that’s my son [INAUDIBLE] it is what we call in Norwegian Socionorm.  And   he is married with a daughter.  She is a doctor.



I:          Um.  What’s his name?

D:        Yeah, first name [STAMMERS] is [INAUDIBLE].  And my son is [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Um.  Any other story that you can tell me?



D:        Well, you asked me about that.  But, I will think on, for 70 years later.

I:          You can’t.  Alright.  Next year will be 70th anniversary of the breakout of the Korean War.



D:        Yeah.

I:          Do you have any special message to the Korean people?

D:        It’s a long time.  All the veterans loved the Korean people because they were so polite.

I:          Um.  Okay.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Okay.  So, David,



thank you so much for your service and, NORMASH treated so many people including so many Korean people after the War in your NORMASH, operation tent.  And we are going to commemorate your service for the 70th anniversary of the breakout of the Korean War. And we will let you know, okay?

D:        I see.

I:          Okay.

D:        Yes.



I:          You wanna say something?

D:        I must say I think it’s great to have possible for me to talk to you which has come from the United States today.

I:          Yeah.

D:        And we can talk about things for 70 years ago.

I:          Yes, yes, yes.

D:        Yes.



I:          Anything you wanna say?

D:        No.  I would try to [INAUDIBLE], but right now I don’t know.

I:          Okay.

D:        Ah, particularly once.

I:          Um hm.  Okay.  Thank you very much.