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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