Korean War Legacy Project

David Espinoza


David Espinoza was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1931. He quit high school in 1950 to join the United States Army as a Paratrooper. After completing basic airborne course training at Fort Benning, Georgia, he received orders to go to Korea.  During the Korean War, he participated in numerous combat actions, one of which was to stop the riots at Koje-do Prisoner of War Camp in 1951, where North Korean and Chinese captives were being held. Upon returning to the United States in 1953, he learned that his brother, Victor, had been denied the Medal of Honor. He worked to finally see the medal posthumously awarded to his brother by President Obama in 2014.

Video Clips

Becoming a Paratrooper

David Espinoza describes how he trained to become a paratrooper before he was deployed to Korea. He explains that the training was very hard and lots of heart. He recalls the importance of not looking down when making a jump and how to handle a parachute properly. He describes the first time he jumped out of an airplane for training to qualify for Paratrooper wings.

Tags: Basic training,Fear

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Traveling to Korea

David Espinoza describes his journey to Korea and his arrival on the front lines. He explains having to board a ship in California, and his arrival at Inchon in late 1950. He recalls having to replace other men who were much younger and had been fighting for some time.

Tags: Incheon,Basic training,Cold winters,Front lines,Living conditions

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Koje-do Prison Camp Riots-1951

David Espinoza speaks about his participation in the combat operations within Koje-do Prison Camp. He recalls having to use flame throwers to help stop the riots incited by North Korean and Chinese prisoners. He remembers that he and the men he served with had to use hand grenades and bayonets to restore order in the camp.

Tags: Geojedo,Chinese,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW,Weapons

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On the Front Lines

David Espinoza recounts being attacked by North Korean and Chinese forces. He recalls carrying five-gallon cans of water on his back while digging trenches. He describes sustaining mortar and sniper fire by night during patrols. He recalls hearing the loud bugles sounded by Chinese soldiers during an enemy attack.

Tags: Chinese,Fear,Front lines,North Koreans,Physical destruction,Weapons

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


D:        My name is David Espinoza. It’s DAVID ESPINOZA.

I:          When were you born?
D:        I was born December 29, 1931.

I:          September 29, 1931.  December?, December 29, 1931.  Where were you born?

D:        El Paso, Texas.



I:          You were born here?  Tell me about your family, your parents and your siblings.
D:        Okay.  We were a family of nine, that’s counting my father and mother.

I:          Um hm.

D:        I had five brothers and three sisters.

I:          And you are the eldest?
D:        I’m the baby.




I:          The youngest.

D:        Yeah.

I:          So, what school did you go through here?
D:        I went to Morehead Grammar School.

I:          Could you spell it?
D:        MOREHEAD.

I:          Yeah, grammar school. And then?
D:        Then I went to El Paso High.

I:          El Paso High.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Um.  Is it a big school?

D:        Yeah, it’s a big, big school.

I:          Very big.

D:        Yes.



I:          When did you graduate that high school?
D:        I didn’t graduate.

I:          And, what happened?
D:        I got out of school to join the Korean War. I joined the Army.  That’s when the Korean War broke out.

I:          You were not afraid.

D:        No, sir.

I:          What year was it?  When did you stop high school and join the Army?

D:        It was in ’50.



I:          Nineteen fifty.  You joined the Army?
D:        Army, yes.

I:          Wow.

D:        Actually, I signed up for Airborne School, Paratrooper.

I:          And you did it or what?
D:        Yes.

I:          You did?
D:        Yeah. I had my training in Fort Benning, Georgia.
I:          Eight Second Airborne, right?
D:        No.

I:          No.  101?
D:        No.

I:          What is it?

D:        187th Airborne.

I:          Um hm.



D:        Regimental.
I:          Um hm.

D:        Combat Team.

I:          So, where did you go to basic military, Fort Benning?

D:        Yeah, jump school in Fort Benning, Georgia.

I:          Um hm.  How was it?  Was it not difficult or

D:        Very hard.

I:          Very?
D:        Difficult, no, hard.



We have to do whatever your heart tells you, do it, do it, do it, you know.  Very hard.  We started with, we’d jump off of a 4’ tower.

I:          That’s what I’m talking about. If I go up there, I feel like

D:        That’s a little one, yeah.  We’d start jumping there.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        And you learn how to, when you hit, you don’t, you learn how to, which way to turn to avoid falling flat on your face, okay.



Then from there, you go to, you go to the 34’ tower, climb upstairs and go all the way up there.

I:          That’s what I’m talking about, I’m sorry.

D:        That one.

I:          Yeah.

D:        It’s an instrument that is made to look like the side of an airplane.  So, you’d hook up, then you jump.  You don’t look down.



I:          Right.

D:        They say look straight ahead.  Then you jump, and you’re hooked up to a cable.  You hit, and then you roll all the way down to the bank where you’re received by other troopers and disengage your cable.

I:          So, you’re successfully finished.  And then what happened?
D:        From there, we went to the 250 tower.  That’s still part of the

I:          Oh, okay, the Fort Benning Jumping

D:        Fort Benning, Georgia.

I:          Jump Training.

D:        Yeah, uh huh.



Two hundred fifty-foot tower.

I:          Yeah.  And then?

D:        They take you way up there on a cable.

I:          Um.

D:        Then when you’re ready, they disengage it, and you fly down, and you’re supposed to know how to handle your parachute because if you don’t the tower’s right there.  And if you go to the tower, goodbye, you know.  So, everybody is, you know, (INAUDIBLE)



They pull for each other.  But away from the tower.

I:          Hm.

D:        Then you fall.  Then next, you have to make five jumps out of the airplane.

I:          Tell me about it.  The first jump that you did.

D:        The first jump, I jumped with my eyes closed until I got the jolt from opening the parachute.  Then it’s your weight.  That’s when you open your eyes, and you look around.


They ask you to look around and be careful because you got a lot of troopers coming out, see, cause you might

I:          Collide with each other.
D:        Collide with each other.  So, they warn you about that.  Keep your eyes open.
I:          But you know how to operate so that you don’t collide with others?
D:        Yeah, right.

I:          Did you have that skill?
D:        (NODS HEAD)

I:          Very good.

D:        Yes sir.

I:          So, did you like it?

D:        I, well let’s say I didn’t love it.  But I was in there.



And so, I just got used to it.  We made five jumps that qualify to get your wings.

I:          That’s the wings.

D:        Yeah.  This is my jump wing.

I:          Yeap.

D:        When you qualify, they pin those on you.  You deserved them.

I:          Yeah.  What happened after that?
D:        That was, after my jump school, I got 12 days leave and had to report to San Francisco.



And there I boarded one of the biggest ships I’ve ever seen.

I:          Um hm.
D:        And then I found out where I was going, when they put us on that ship.

I:          So, where did you go?  Did you go to Japan, right?
D:        I went to Japan, yes.

I:          Tell me.

D:        We got, we were there a week to receive all the instructions.


All our clothing that we’re gonna need.

I:          Um hm.
D:        And that was about it on that.  And from there, they boarded us in another ship, and we landed in Inchon.

I:          When was it?
D:        That was in Korea.

I:          Yeah, Inchon.  When did you arrive in Inchon?
D:        It took us two days to get there by boat.



I:          So, what month?
D:        Maybe it was the end of the year.

I:          End of the year.

D:        Yeah, because it wasn’t cold, and it wasn’t hot.

I:          It wasn’t cold?
D:        No, it wasn’t cold yet.  I mean, right there in Inchon, when it’s cold, you board you in trucks.  And then they take you up into the hills where you’re gonna be stationed.



I:          You arrived in Inchon at the end of 1950.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Right.  And then what happened to you?
D:        Inchon, they took us up to the hills, and we replaced a Korean, I don’t know how many men there was.  But we replaced them, I know, cause we took over their positions, okay.

I:          Um hm.



D:        And then we were there for six weeks.  And from there, they moved us, we transferred into the 48th Division from California.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And they were nothing but kids.  So, I was there for three months.  And they started shipping those guys back to California.



Cause their parents wanted them back.

I:          Um hm.

D:        They were done but kids, 16, 17, 18 years old.
I:          Um hm.

D:        So, they started sending them back. I was there for three months.  And from there, they sent me to Kojedo prison camp.  They were there when we got there.  So, we had a little taste of


well you could say get in there and you start looking for your life, you know.  You try to quell down the riot, you know.  And flame throwers and all that stuff, you know.  That was, that ended for about a day and a half till everything was settled.

I:          So, was 1951 in Kojedo, 1951 or 1950?

D:        No, ’51.

I:          Fifty-one.  So, there was a riot.



And your mission was to kill down.  Wow.  How was it?  How severe was the riot to you?

D:        You don’t have time to think.

I:          Um hm.

D:        They put you in there, and say you move these people. I wasn’t by myself.  I had other guys, you know, with me.

I:          Yeah.

D:        So, we’re pushing.  And pushing and bayonetting and whatever.



Hand grenades and stuff like that.

I:          Did you have to fire at them?
D:        Yeah, yes.

I:          Um.  That’s where we found out that we’re not only finding the North Koreans, but we’re finding Chinese, too.

I:          So, did you actually parachute into the Koje Island, or did you take a ship?

D:        No.  I, no, no.  We were already in Korea from there.



I:          Right.  From there to Koje.  But how did you go?
D:        Kojedo.  They sent us in trucks.
I:          Trucks.

D:        Yeah, uh huh.  Yeah.  They took us up the lines, load up big trucks, 2 ½ ton trucks and drove us in there.  They trucked us to where it was.

I:          Okay.

D:        In Kojedo.  I don’t know if that was connected to the island.  But I think it was connected.

I:          Hm.

D:        Because later on, when we had, everything was down,



We took these people, they called it the Honey Bucket Detail.

I:          Yeah.
D:        So, it was right next to the shore, the water.

I:          Um.

D:        So, it was, the island was connected

I:          Through the bridge.

D:        Yeah.

I:          So, after you took care of the riots in Koje Island, where did you go?

D:        They, we met, we went back to the lines.

I:          Where?



D:        Kumhwa Valley.

I:          Kumhwa Valley.  Yeah?
D:        I don’t know if you ever heard of anybody mention Papasan?
I:          Yeah.

D:        Hill?

I:          Yeah.
D:        Okay.  We were right in front across the valley from Papasan.

I:          Hm.
D:        Which is way up there.  We’re down here.  So, they used to practice with us, you know, when we were out there digging trenches and all that stuff,



You know, just fire with, rifle fire.

I:          Um.

D:        We used to hear all them pings all the time, you know.

I:          Who was the enemy, North Koreans or the Chinese there?
D:        North Koreans and Chinese.

I:          And Chinese.

D:        They had them in different compounds, separated.

I:          Tell me about the typical day of your duty.  What did you do in Kumhwa Valley every day, almost like what is the routine at the time?

D:        We were digging trenches, making them deeper.



You go down the hill and carry water in the five-gallon cans.

I:          Um hm.

D:        On your back because you couldn’t walk.  You had to more less crawl.

I:          Um.

D:        With that five-gallon tanks on your back.  And duty guard at night, two big hours out there in the dark where you couldn’t even see your hand in front of you.



It was so dark.
I:          Um.

D:        But later on, our people started using reflectors at night.  They would hit the clouds and then down with the light see.  That’s the only light that we had at times when they had the spotlights out.

I:          Were there ever combat and battles?

D:        Well, they fired on us,



Especially when we were digging the trenches.

I:          Um.

D:        Cause they’re up there, you know.  They could see.  So, the border fire.  That’s what they used on us mainly and mostly.

I:          So, the enemy was in the Papasan?

D:        Yeah.
I:          Or our forces?

D:        Our forces across.

I:          Across.  And so, the Papasan was occupied by the enemy.

D:        By the North Koreans.

I:          I see.

D:        Yeah.

I:          So, were there any



dangerous kind of engagement with North Koreans or Chinese during your service?

D:        All we had was sniper fire at night.  They broke through some lines in a different section.  So, we could hear the   firing and all that stuff.  We knew everybody was pulling guard, you know.  And you could hear the bugles.  I think it was the Chinese that were taking, I don’t think Koreans used bugles.



I:          No, I don’t think so.

D:        I don’t think so.  The Chinese, so you could hear the trumpets.  And that’s why, word is you could tell that it wasn’t the Koreans.  It was the Chinese.

I:          I see.

D:        And from what I hear from I guess the guys that I keep in touch with, when we broke their line, the contact, they were blowing their horns.  But they were rushing like mad people.  I mean, bunches, you know.



You’d usually see patrols, they’re separated, you know.  But these guys were all in bunches.  They were attacking in bunches.  So, you could tell machine gun and WD40’s and all that stuff that were just in there, just like flies.  So anyway, they repelled that.  So, everything within the hour, two hours was settled down. No more firing and nothing like that.


So, they flew back.  And we had patrols, night patrols from our side.  We’d go in there, blow up whatever the enemy was hiding in, you know.  They dig themselves in there.  And from there, they’d fire at night.  So, in the daytime, we’d go down there and blow them up, blow the trenches or whatever they built.



And in doing so, we got a little gun fire and rifle fire while doing that.  And well, patrols were always going on.  You go on patrol one week, and another squad goes down then.  Or the other platoon next to you.  So, that’s what keeps us busy, you know.

I:          Um.



Were you wounded?
D:        No.

I:          No.  You were lucky.  Tell me about the living conditions.  Where did you sleep?  What did you eat and so on?
D:        Okay.  We had bunkers on the opposite side.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        Of course, you know.  We built our own bunkers, sandbags and logs and all that stuff.  Our water, we went down like I said and brought it up in five-gallon cans.



You’d wash your clothes in your helmet liner, I mean your helmet.  And that’s where you wash your clothes, not wash them, just dip them, and take a shower or a bath or whatever, you know.  And

I:          You didn’t have a facility for shower, right?
D:        No.

I:          Just

D:        No, we just showered with the, you know, the cup and the canteen, just dip it in there and like that, you know.



I:          So, you cannot call it a shower.

D:        Well, no.  But everybody called it

I:          Shower.

D:        Shower, yeah, cause they dropped the water on their heads, and it runs down.

I:          That’s actually a shower.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        A shower.  And C-rations for food.

I:          So, you didn’t have any hot meals?
D:        Once a month, I think, we went down there.  And just when you’re enjoying, well see.  You know they’re spying on us all the time, you know.



They can fire any time they feel like when they see us.

I:          Right.

D:        So, we were walking down, we were going down to the mess hall, down the hill on the other side.  So, once in a while they dropped a couple of rounds back there and it got everybody ready, you know.  So, they, some refused to go down there.  They don’t want to get killed eating, you know.  So, they just stick to the rations, C-rations.

I:          Were you married at the time?

D:        No.



I:          But you had a girlfriend.  What’s her name?
D:        Estella Espinoza.

I:          Estella?

D:        Estella.

I:          Estella.  So, you were dating, right?
D:        Yes.

I:          Must have been hard for you to leave a beautiful lady like her to the State for long, huh?

D:        But Uncle Sam told me you gotta go, you gotta go.  So, you had to go and get your girlfriend later on.



I:          How often did you write her back?

D:        Not too often.

I:          How much were you paid at the time?  What was your rank?

D:        Then, I was Private Corporal.  Then I went to Sergeant. I came out as a Sergeant First Class.

I:          How much were you paid?

D:        Not too much then.

I:          How much?

D:        About $75.

I:          Twenty bucks?
D:        Seventy-five, yeah.

I:          Seventy-five dollars.



I:          What did you do with that money?  It wasn’t money actually. It was script.

D:        ATS Script.

I:          What did you do with that?
D:        Well, when we got back to Japan,

I:          R and R?

D:        R and R, yeah.  And that’s the only time you could spend that kind of money.

I:          You could play cards, or you can

D:        Oh, we played dice.

I:          Dice.

D:        That’s all we, yeah, dice.  That’s how you (INAUDIBLE)

I:          Did you send the money back to your family?

D:        No.

I:          You didn’t?



D:        No.

I:          So, you kept it all to yourself?

D:        Well, uh, that was when my dad was alive.  I used to send a few bucks to him.

I:          Did you send any to your fiancé?

D:        No.

Female Voice:  Yes, you did.  You did, I remember.

D:        I did?  Well, I’ll be darned.

Female Voice:  I saved it.

D:        Well anyway, yeah, I had to send it to somebody beside my dad.  But I don’t remember.



I didn’t keep it, you know, that’s for sure because I couldn’t spend it.  All I did was gamble with it.  But you know, it wasn’t big gambling.

I:          Did you drink?
D:        Yes.

I:          What did you drink?
D:        Canned beer.  We got, in the lines, we used to get free beer, okay.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        But being afraid of getting overrun,



And you’d be feeling a little woozy, but you had to go get your beer down there, too, you know, just like you carried the water.  A lot of guys didn’t want to bother with that walking down.  They’d say hey you, you want my beer?  You can have it.  So, you know, being tough here, I got my beer and about four or five guys beer besides.  So, I had a stack outside my bunker.



But I only drank one beer.

I:          When did you leave Korea?
D:        The end of ’53.

I:          Oh.  You were there quite long.

D:        That’s where I met my brother, Victor.

I:          You left Korea the end of 1953?
D:        Yes.

I:          Even after the Armistice?
D:        They signed, they were signing the Armistice.



In fact, I was back to Japan getting all my clothing turned in, you know.  And that’s when I heard that they were signing the Armistice.

I:          Okay.

D:        And the

I:          That’s not the end of 1953.  It’s the middle of 1953.

D:        No.

I:          You came back to Korea after you?
D:        I, see you come back on a point rotation.  I completed my 30 points that they gave you.



I don’t know how they do it.  But when you complete 30 points, I was going back to the lines, okay?  They were boarding the trucks.  And I heard somebody calling my name.

I:          Um hm.

D:        So, I reported to the CP, and they said you’re going back.  Why?  Yeah, you’re going back.  So, I didn’t have to get in the truck.  They were getting ready to… So, that’s when they sent me back to Bapoo.




I:          I see.

D:        The Headquarters.

I:          Yeah.

D:        So, that’s where I heard they were signing the Armistice.

I:          What was the most difficult thing to you during your service in Korea?

D:        Well, I wouldn’t say difficult.  Maybe something that I didn’t like?


I:          Yeah.  What is it?

D:        Something

I:          What are those?

D:        I didn’t like going down the hill like I told you, you have to more or less crawl.

I:          Yeah.

D:        Like everybody did.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        That’s why I accumulated so many cases of beer that nobody wanted to go down there.  And that was, but the only thing because when you got to the top of the hill, you had to lay there for five minutes to catch your breath.  And that’s one thing.



I wanted to be in tip top shape in case we got attacked.  That’s about the only thing I didn’t like.

I:          Um.

D:        Otherwise, well, every GI had to do it.  So, no sweat on that.

I:          So, you said that you met your brother in Korea while you were there?  Tell me about it.  Who’s your brother?

D:        I got a picture of him there, Victor.

I:          Victor?

D:        H.

I:          H.



D:        Espinoza.

I:          Espinoza, yeah.  And what’s his birthday?

D:        It’s right there, I think.

I:          Anyway,

D:        No, in the paper in the clip.

I:          When did he join the Army?

D:        Well, almost the same time that I did because in my going,


When I came back from my, remember they gave me 15 days and then sent to Korea?
I:          Yeah.

D:        I stopped in LA to say goodbye to my other brother, Tony.  And Victor was living there, too.  So, I stopped at his house, and he says I got a surprise for you, David.  I says yeah, what is it?  So, my brother steps in the doorway, Victor.

I:          Who joined the Army first, you or Victor?



D:        I think we got in almost at the same time because he had his khakis on.  In the meantime, he was training.

Female Voice:  He lived in Korea.  I mean, he lived in California, and David lived here.

I:          Where is the article?  Well, so when did Victor leave for Korea?

D:        Almost the same because from there, from where I met him,



He had his uniform on already, and he told me he was going to Korea.

I:          How did you feel about that?

D:        I don’t know.  I mean, no feeling.  I mean when I met him and I said brother, I’m going to Korea, I’m going to Korea, too.  I just have to say hi to Tony so, you know, cause we were going over there.  So, we met there.  And then he went his way cause he joined, they sent him to the 23rd Infantry Regiment.

I:          Twentieth?



D:        Twenty-third Infantry Regiment, Second

I:          Second Division.

D:        Second Division, yeah.

I:          Um huh.

D:        The Arrowhead.

I:          Yeah.

D:        Yeah.

I:          So, he belongs to the Second Division.  He knew that he is going to Korea.

D:        Oh yeah.

I:          Yeah.

D:        Yeah, uh huh.

I:          And so, you guys might have been in the same, at almost the same time arriving in Korea.



Where did he fight?

D:        He was fighting right where, you heard of Mount Baldy?
I:          Yeah, Baldy.

D:        Baldy, okay?
I:          Yeah.

D:        He was close by there because that’s the hill that they attacked.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Okay?

I:          So, what happened?  Tell me about your brother’s fighting story.

D:        So, that was the second time that this, I don’t know why,



That Baldy was attacked by the Second Division, the 23rd.

I:          Yeah.

D:        And they gave it up for some reason. I don’t know, okay?  So, they were in R and R in Suchon, Chuncheon.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And that was close to where we were taking our three-day rest and recuperation.

I:          Um hm.

D:        So, I talked to my platoon Sergeant, and I asked him if I,



any chance that I could, then I told him about my brother being around there someplace, could I have, give me a chance to go look for him?  And he talked to the company commander and says yeah, you have 30 days.  Go look for him.  So, I started walking on the road asking everybody hey, do you know where the Second Division is?  About two miles down the way.  So, and halfway before I got there, I heard somebody call my name,



David.  And I says who in the heck knows me here in Korea, you know?  So, I look around and see where the voice came from.  And I saw a little jeep pulling back.  And I k kept my eyes on it.  And this guy gets off and he says David.  And there was my brother, Victor.

I:          Victor participated in the War, I mean, the battle of August 1 of 1952, Baldy.



So, was it before the summer, right?  Did you meet him before the summer?

D:        Yeah.  I met him in between.

I:          How long did you talk to him?
D:        We just hugged, and he took me to where he was camping, okay?  So, I spent the night with him.

I:          You did?
D:        Yeah.  And I could hear everybody say hey, is that Victor in his bed?  No, that’s his brother.  No, it’s not, you know.  I could hear the guys whispering and stuff like that.  Cause I, after that, I went to bed early, you know.



We had some beers and all this stiff.  And then the next day when I left, he gave me a lot of stuff that he had received from somebody in the States, like canned goods and flour tortillas.  You know flour tortillas?

I:          Yeah.

D:        Okay.  So, when I got to my location and they guys, all the guys knew that I had stuff, you know, that they had sent from the US, well I was a very popular guy, you know.  So, everybody was sitting there, you know, eating with me and



all that stuff.  So, our flour tortillas were green, half of it.  So, we just cut that green off and at the other half that was clean, you know,

I:          Yeah.

D:        So, after we went back on the lines, and remember Stars and Stripes newspaper that was circulated for the front lines, I heard for the second time again somebody calling my name.



And I says yeah, I answered.  Do you have a brother named Victor Espinoza?  I said yeah. I says look at here.  They had the article where he had been put in for the Medal of Honor.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Okay?  So, I read it and all that stuff and kept the clipping.  But then when, he left first.  He got there before me



I think, yeah, because they were (INAUDIBLE).  But when I got back to El Paso, I got back home, I met him again, you know, for the 3rd time.  But he had already been there for quite a while.  And I talked to him.  I said hey, what happened to your Congressional Medal?  Did you get your Congressional Medal of Honor?  He says no.  I just got the Distinguished Service Cross.  Why?  He says cause



my company commander didn’t like me.  So, I just couldn’t believe it, you know, after I read that he had made that big move going up Mount Baldy.

I:          So, tell me about what your brother did at the Mount Baldy.  What did he do?  Did he actually

D:        I have a clipping there

I:          Yeah.

D:        Which has a history of that hill.

I:          Yeah, explain it to me.  What happened to him?

D:        Well, I guess they were attacking Mount Baldy again for the third time.



I:          Um hm.

D:        Which anybody that’s kept up with that incident that had happened before, he says why did they give Mount Baldy up in the first, you know, the first time?  So, nobody knows.  They took it to, that was the third time that they had gone up there. The third one.  And finally, they put everything in there so everybody was going gung ho.



So, my brother, I guess he’s skipped up here.  He’s starting up the hill after he emptied his rifle and grenades.  He ran the grenades and was digging the, anything that was laying there on the sides, he was taking all their ammunition and using it on the enemy.  So, he got up there, and I think he went bananas because he was just throwing hand grenades, enemy hand grenades,



Enemy ammunition, anything he could get a hold of.

I:          Yeah.

D:        Okay.  And going up the hill, he was, you know, shooting and throwing hand grenades. He got to the top.  And when he got to the top, he got more ammunition, Chinese, uh, Korean or whatever, Chinese ammunition and stuff like that.  And the guys that were up there, they were holed up, the enemy was holed up.



So, he threw grenades in there and killed about 10 more enemies.

I:          Um.
D:        That’s when he got up to the top of the hill.

I:          So, your brother and his boss was not on good terms.

D:        Yeah.  He didn’t like him.

I:          That’s Victor Espinoza, right?
D:        Right.

I:          When did he die?
D:        (INNAUDIBLE)



I:          And so that when he returned, he didn’t get the MOH, Medal of Honor?
D:        No.  He got the Distinguished Service Medal.  This friend of my daughter’s that works at Fort Bliss found out from my daughter what had happened to Victor, her uncle.  And he started looking through papers and I mean, he (INAUDIBLE).


He called people up there and got information.

I:          And then talked to Washington.

D:        Yeah.  He talked to personnel in Washington.

I:          Tell me about March when you met with the President.  How was it?  Where did you go?  How was it?  How was the ceremony?  Tell me about it.

D:        Well, it’s something that you don’t dream of ever having the pleasure of meeting the President.



Even though I voted for him.  And they told us that we were gonna meet him and a lot of stuff, you know.  So, everybody was excited.  My sister and my wife, my nephew, my yeah, my nephew, his wife.

Female Voice:  He wants to know what happened during the ceremony.

D:        Well, during the ceremony, well,



He shook our hands, everyone, you know, everybody, hugged and shook our hands.  And that was the first time that, later on when the presentation of the Medal of Honor, that was beautiful.

I:          Um hm.

D:        I mean, there was cameras all over the place.

I:          What were you thinking when your brother’s name was called, and he was finally receiving the Medal of Honor?



You met him, and you read the paper there, Stars and Stripes, that he’s going to get a Medal of Honor.  But it’s not been delivered.  Finally, you saw it.  What are you thinking?

D:        I just, I wanted to cry, you know, from happiness, from being so happy.

I:          Were you close to him?



D:        Very.  Very close.

I:          And finally, you had seen that, right?
D:        I was so glad for him.  I even talked to him, you know, telling him that he got it after all, you know.   To have peace, peace of mind.  Well, not peace of mind but to rest in peace that he had, that I was there almost, myself was there to receive it.



But his son received it for him.  So, that was very good, great.

I:          Had you imagined that your brother and yourself would be in the same place fighting in the same War and closing?

D:        I call it a miracle.  We lived together for a time.  .



Then he went to LA with my other brother, Tony, and he was living there.  And when I went to see, say goodbye to my brother Tony, he was there.  I said what a coincidence.  And then I meet him over in Korea, another coincidence.  I said what’s happening here, you know?  You start to wonder and you know, I’m very truthful with my God.



That’s about, I feel real good to see all the buildings (INAUDIBLE)  No, I wouldn’t go back there because I’m a very sentimental guy, too, at the same time, you know.  And, but just looking at their pictures and what they have done, what they have built and all that, that satisfies me inside.

I:          And for Victor.  Victor would be very happy up there.



Looking down, what’s been done by the Korean people, right?  Korea is 13th largest economy in the world right now, 13thlargest.  When you left Korea, there was nothing left, right?  Do you agree?

D:        (Nods head).  We went through the little valleys, went up to the mountains, you’d see old men with little kids, and that really breaks you, you know, when you see that.



Poor, can’t defend themselves, you know.

I:          Anything you want to add to this interview?
D:        Just that I’m glad you’re doing this for the cause.  And I guess everybody that you talked to will agree that, you know, you’re doing a good job.