David Lopez was born in Santa Paula, CA. Before he was drafted in 1951, he was working at Port Hueneme Naval Base as a longshoreman. His military service was carried out from 1951 to September 1953. During his service period, he went to Pusan, Korea, where he was stationed at the Kansas line with the 24th Division, 19th Infantry Regiment, 2 BN Geo. Company. By the time of his discharge, he had become a Sergeant First Class (SFC). He played a role in the Defense of Korea, the Punchbowl, and the Iron Triangle. For his commitments, he received the CIB, Purple Heart, UN Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service and Occupation Medals. After coming home to California, he returned to work as a longshoreman at Port Hueneme Naval Base.
Peace and Trust Among Former Enemies
David Lopez shares his mixed feelings about the possibility of meeting up with the North Koreans that he fought against during the Korean War. Soldiers on both sides were just doing their jobs and following through on orders, so he would meet with his former enemy. He remembers taking prisoners during the war and one of them being rather tall. He believes the prisoner was a Chinese soldier, not a North Korean.
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Camping in Korea
David Lopez felt that being in Korea was like camping because of the daily living conditions, meals, and terrain. There were still many dangers while being stationed in Korea, but he tried to not let them get to him. Some soldiers hated the conditions so bad that they injured themselves to be taken off duty because the atrocities they experienced became too severe to handle.
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The Korean War Draft, Training, and Landing
David Lewis was a longshoreman just like his father, but he was drafted in 1951. He took infantry training and left for Korea from California, but it took 18 days to get to Korea while sailing on the USS Black. There was a storm during his travel and many of the men threw up due to the pitching of the ship, but David Lewis didn't let that stop him from winning $1,800 from playing cards. At the end of June 1951, he arrived in Pusan and he thought the peace talks would end the war, but there was still more fighting to take place.
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Prior Knowledge and First Battle in the Korean War
David Lopez did not know anything about Korea before he was drafted. When he arrived at Pusan, he was living in tents and was given food rations to eat while waiting to be sent to the Kansas Line which was a few miles from the 38th parallel. After the Chinese pulled out of peace talks, he took trucks from Pusan to the Kansas Line while worrying about incoming artillery. He loved receiving help from young Korean boys who would help him carry supplies, wash clothes, and help when he was short on soldiers. He was injured in his right arm when he fought with the 2nd Platoon against the Chinese and North Korean troops.
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[Beginning of Transcribed Material]
D: My name is David Lopez. I was born on September 7, 1930. I come from a family of 11. I’m the 6th member of my family. I went to Sanipaul Union High School. I excelled in sports. And when my dad died, I took over his work as a long shoreman (INAUDIBLE)
I: What was your favorite sport?
D: Football and baseball, track.
D: Yeah. I excelled.
Being as heavy as I am, I was very fast.
I: Uh huh.
D: Anyway, so I got drafted September, I mean February 1951. I took my, I reported to the Fort Ord for one week, and then they sent us to Camp (INAUDIBLE) three weeks of basic training. We took Infantry training there. And in Infantry, you have to learn every detail that’s taught to you because it comes in handy when you go into war.
I: Um hm.
later, I found out that I (INAUDIBLE) for everything that I was taught in the Service when I got to Korea. And I left for Korea from Camp Stoneman, California. We went down the Coast, and we picked up Marines (INAUDIBLE) It took 18 days to cross the Pacific.
I: Do you remember the name of the ship?
D: Oh yeah. SS Black.
I: SS Black.
D: Yeah. It was a one-stacker. As I said, it took 18 days.
Halfway in there, we had a storm.
I: How was it?
D: Oh, terrible. Rock and roll.
I: Rock and, how high was the wave?
D: No, actually they tried, as soon as the waves come, they put us inside. They enclosed us in. And everybody started getting sick. First time a lot of people in the ocean. I was one of the strong ones. But as soon as the aroma of the puke got back to me, I got sick too.
I: Um hm.
D: You know. But after that, it was pretty nice because we would lay on the decks playing cards, gambling all the way down. I was lucky. I won $1,800 going across.
I: You’re kidding me?
D: No, no, heck no.
I: You won, you made $1,800?
D: Yeah, but scrip. You know what, then I carried a whole bunch of money in my pocket when we got to Japan, you know.
I: Um hm.
D: In Japan, they checked where I put an everything. We were there five days. And then sent us, we got
across to Pusan.
I: When? Do you remember the exact day that you arrived?
D: Not really.
D: Dates are hard to remember.
I: Approximately, July?
D: Uh, yeah. It had to be by July, maybe the last of June because I was there five days. When I got to the, we get to a place called the Pipeline.
The pipeline is where they send you to different areas all over the place. And I got lucky that I was sent to the 24thDivision, 19th (INAUDIBLE) Regiment, and Second Division, 2nd, George Company, 2nd Platoon and 2nd squad. When I got there after the War was over because
I: Got there where, Pusan?
D: No. We left from Pusan is where the Pipe landed.
I: Um hm.
D: They sent us to different places.
I: Right. So, do you remember the
D: When they sent me out,
I got to 24 Division, I stayed, the 9th or the 8th of July because the Peace talks had just started right after that, you know. And I thought the War was gonna be over because you know, Peace talks had started and here we are, over here, and it’s gonna end right away.
I: But my question is where were you located? Do you remember.
D: That is hard to let you know.
D: Because I’ll tell you one thing. Anybody that knows the
towns and places in Korea went there as a tourist, not a fighting man, you see? I remember nothing but hills.
I: But you
D: Once in a while at best, I remember Pusan and Inchon, Seoul. It’s about the only one I remember. But I was not there.
I: So, were you in the West or East, and you were in the far front line of the battle?
D: We were just below the 38th Parallel. That’s the reason, like I told you,
we jumped off in August, September, October, November. They stopped us. We had gone past the 38th Parallel. The Peace talks had started again. So, that’s the reason we could take no more ground that we were gonna have to give it back, see.
I: Um hm.
D: So, they stopped us there. And I was lucky that my division was the first one in Korea. But we were the second to leave Korea. We were relieved by the 40th division online, and we came back to Japan.
And that was trained people down to Korea.
D: I (INAUDIBLE) September 15th, right after my birthday. So, I was lucky that I didn’t get killed.
I: Um hm. But before you went to Korea, did you know anything about Korea?
D: Nobody knew nothing about Korea. Korea is some place in the East.
I: Um hm.
D: Nobody even heard of Japan
until the War started, you know. Some of our members were Japanese. And my friend, Pat was friendly with those Japanese people, you know. But like I said, when the War started, nobody knew nothing about it. I mean, we go there. I mean they draft us, so we go there to serve our country. But actually, when we get there, we’re serving ourselves. We gotta take ourselves to survive. I mean, that’s the main thing, you know.
I: When did you first arrive in
Pusan? Could you describe the scene that you remember? How was it?
D: Just a bunch of tents and people laying all over the place waiting (INAUDIBLE) you know. And they’re serving beer there, three-point beers and stuff. They give you boxes of rations to eat and stuff like that. Most of us only lasted one or two days there and then got shipped out.
I: Um hm.
D: To different areas. Depends on the ones, the divisions that need people, and then they’ll send you on to a
I: So, you don’t remember where kind of, sense of location, where, West or East or in the middle?
D: Pusan is
I: I know. But when you were dispatched to the
D: We were gonna go
I: Front line.
D: We went up to a place called the Kansas Line.
I: Ah, yeah. That’s where I’m looking.
D: Kansas Line, when I got there, they were rebuilding the Kansas Line in case (INAUDIBLE) in them. And I was, like I said, we were only there for a week or so.
And then the Communists walked out of the Peace Talks, (INAUDIBLE) And we kept going for about three months, you know.
I: Um hm.
D: And I said you know, it’s things that you have to learn when you’re there. I know we took over one hill, I remember. And the next day it was so foggy, you couldn’t see nothing but five feet ahead of you.
Some guy came by and said David, would you like to see something special, and I said yeah. He says walk up 10 yards up the hill. And all 10 yards, believe it or not, I was on top of that hill.
D: It was like an island on top of this little spot, you know. Ten feet wide. And you could see the island in the distance, blanket of fog all the way across. And they looked like little islands way in the distance, you know. Then I got scared.
I: Um hm.
D: Cause I figured shit, I was (INAUDIBLE) myself, you know. You never (INAUDIBLE) yourself no place because you’re short and stand out like a sore thumb. And then besides, I’m so close to God now, you know. Maybe he’ll say you’re next.
I: From Pusan to Kansas Line, did you take the train?
D: From there, we took trucks.
I: How was the scene on the way to Kansas Line all around (INAUDIBLE)
D: Looking around as always, it’s just country, you know. We passed artillery going through there. I remember that, you know. And we passed by there, artillery was getting hit. And you could see the people running around but still firing, you know. From the artillery, you know, because they had us zeroed in. But we passed that area, it was okay for us. And we went into the fields.
I: Everything devastated, no buildings, many people died.
D: Nobody said (INAUDIBLE)
I: Oh, you did, um hm.
D: No. What we saw was some of these people that used to help us. We got some Korean boys helping us carry stuff like that, you know.
I: Um hm.
D: Ammo and stuff like that. They’d do our washing. We’d pay them and stuff like that. They didn’t realize it was dangerous, you know. But still, they were up there, wanting to help out, you know. As a matter of fact, one hill that we took, you know, we were so short-handed I got wounded, and I went, I didn’t go back on
until the second day, you know. I got hit in the arm. And coming back up, we got back in line because most, we lost, in my platoon, we got 18 wounded and about two killed in that action. And we were short-handed. So, these
I: Do you remember, when was that?
D: Yes, it was September 15, 1951.
I: And that was in the Kansas Line.
D: No, no.
That’s beyond the Kansas.
D: Yeah. It was one on the attack.
I: Um hm.
D: And so, we said well, we’re just close to the 38th Parallel (INAUDIBLE)
I: And how many soldiers, your friends lost then?
D: My platoon lost about 16 – 18 wounded. And two got killed. That’s from my platoon only, you know. Like I said, that’s the place where I got wounded, too.
I: Where were you wounded?
D: In the, right here (POINTS TO LEFT SHOULDER)
I: Okay. Can you describe in detail how was the battle?
D: The battles, we’d come back from a large mountain someplace. It was a huge mountain. We were there for about two weeks, you know. And we came back to take a shower, and we’re, (INAUDIBLE) We took training for about a week there.
I: Was there shower facilities?
D: Well, they had showers from the river.
D: You sucked the water from the, heat it up with heaters.
We’d take showers. Change of clothes, and we’d train for about three or four days. And then we jumped off. My platoon was the attack, not the attack, we went out first set up on top of this ridge, you know. We got to the top of the ridge, the Second and the Third platoon went on the side of us. There was going to be an attack, you know. And we kept firing forward where the enemy was at. Finally, we moved out cause they moved down, and we’d get moving with them. We’d keep the place where we dropped like an S going like that.
And our position with the fire across the enemies. And other people were attacking this way. Then I saw the Second, I mean the First and Third Platoon go on the attack. Can you imagine these people going on attack on the scrimmage line? When I saw that I said we got not chance, you know. So, we kept firing forward anyway.
I: Who was the enemy, Chinese?
D: Chinese and North Koreans.
I: Both together?
D: I think so.
D: Anyway so, we were, they were attacking all across the line. When we crossed the river, you could see people crossing all around those hills, you know. But our position, what we took was an escape route. So, they’re getting pushed from that side into us. That’s the reason the Third and the First platoon got hit so bad, they broke. They started running back in.
You should see what somebody scared, you know. There’s a guy carrying a BAR, a BAR is a Bombed Auto Rifle. He keeps coming back running right by me. He says put a BAR man on the flanks. But he’s got one in his hands. That’s how scared he was, you know. You get scared when everybody runs back, your livelihood runs back yourself, you know. But we held our ground anyway.
I: Were you?
D: Yeah. The Second platoon held its ground.
I: Were you scared?
But I had a BAR. I had a lot of firepower in my hands. So I wasn’t that scared. The enemy had to be scared of me.
I: But were you able to see the real enemies in their eyes?
D: Oh yeah.
I: How far was it?
D: Oh, from right there, it was maybe 300 yards. But when we went on the attack, we crossed by, you know. The thing is with us, the Second platoon had nothing but 85% of them were young guys, new
men. Because people changed from the Second to the First, from the Second to the Third platoon. We had veterans. Mine had veterans. We were running like green guys there, you know. New men. We were too stupid to run. We went up abreast, four men abreast going up there on the hill. Top of a hill, you can’t spread out your men, you know.
I: Right, yeah.
D: We got there first. When they got hit, we got hit, too. I got to a place where, when I thought
my Brownie Automatic wasn’t fast enough. Guess how many people, but I can tell you one thing. I can’t say I killed him or killed this because people were dropping and getting up and some were, there was a lot of blood there. But after we took that hill, we only found 10 bodies in there, you know. But like I said, they killed two in our platoon and I think two in the First platoon and I guess when they broke, you know.
I: Do you suffer from PTSD?
D: A little bit.
I: Do you?
D: I get
I: Used to.
D: Unless they talk about the action, then I get like that, you know.
I: So, for example, you talk about today you might have,
D: But I don’t go into details like that ever. But one thing I remember is that you ever put stuff on ants and they can come up like crazy on the ground? That’s how I look.
D: And I couldn’t fire fast
enough. I must have fired at least, I carried 12 magazines at 20 rounds each. My assistant carried, we ran out of bullets. People, (INAUDIBLE) would talk to the ammunition and he would reach over there. It was a battle to think, you know, to remember. But to say I killed that guy, I can’t say. Only God knows who I killed.
I: Um hm.
D: When I get there, he’ll tell me who, who I’m guilty of killing, you know.
I: I had an interview with Colonel Stone who got the highest medal, the Medal of Honor.
I: And he actually dealt with 800, two battalions of Chinese soldiers with one platoon, 48 members.
I: He said that too many people were killed in action.
D: Well see, people get killed in action because they get scared going up there.
That’s the main thing. Never get scared in action because you lose your giving up. When I went there, I wanted it, you know. I was what you call a badass, you know. I wanted the action. I wanted to see it. I was willing to, you know, go kill anybody that was under me, put my life on the line, you know. I was there for a purpose, and I was gonna serve that purpose.
So, I went there with firepower in my hands, and I used it.
I: What made you so focused on that mission?
D: I was so young, 20 years of age.
I: So, then you must.
D: Twenty years, you feel you can’t get killed. You know with me, see I was born dead to start with. It took half an hour to revive me. I had that cord around my neck when my mother had me, you know. So, I had already died.
D: As a matter of fact, I think I’m gonna survive the rest of
my life, the rest of everybody’s life, you know.
I: Wasn’t there a moment that why me for this country that I have never heard about before?
D: No. I was there to serve Korea and the United States. So, I did that. And my dual sobriety myself, I’m doing that myself, you know. But when you’re there, you have to think of yourself first. Country’s afterwards.
But when you’re in action, you think of yourself. And it’s the best way to survive, you know, because it’s, the things that’s gonna come after. After the action, you start shaking like crazy.
D: And it’s the thinking of what happened, you know? And you keep on shaking till you can’t stop, you know. That’s when I realized that two of ours had been wounded. I realized I was wounded in action, you know.
I: So, were there close friends who lost their lives?
D: Yes sir. I could tell you one accident. When we was going up there, my assistant was behind me. And all you could see was my BR going over the top firing. And he’s behind me reloading. And he got hit in the elbow. How could that happen?
D: Unless he had fired from the side or someplace, you know.
I: Um hm.
D: But they’re firing at me, and hit him, you know.
And he lives in Wisconsin right now. I keep in touch with him, (INAUDIBLE) Peniszewski. And (INAUDIBLE) I got a friend here that still lives in Temecula, and I keep in touch with those people yet, you know. They think (INAUDIBLE) while there, you know. But like I said, it’s in the past now. We don’t worry about that.
I: Um hm.
D: The only time is we talk about the accident.
And then we explain certain things, they start getting you, you feel like you’re back there again, you know.
I: Yeah. Any other battle that you remember that was as severe as the one that you just described?
D: We just took over this hill. It was a mountain actually, you know. And we had to hold it because counterattacks were happening, you know. But we had lost a lot of men. So, they put our platoon in the rear as support,
And the other platoons in the front, you know. So, like I said at night, like I said we had some Korean guys, kids who were helping you, young kids. I guess must have been, they must have been 20 years of age too, you know. But
I: You remember his name?
D: Kim was all I remember, Kim, something like that. Anyway, so we’re pulling guard, and this guy went up to relieve themselves some place, you know? And they didn’t
tell anybody. So, they came from it, they jumped back in, and the guys jumped on them. It was one of the squads on that side, on the other side, you know, because they thought it was the enemy.
D: Because they asked me up there and back or something, you know. Things like that happened, you know. Like even on the line you’re two hours on, two hours off. And you have to relieve yourself, you tell the guy I gotta do this, you know. But you got two hours sleep,
you know. So, people, one guy just before Christmas, Christmas Eve, he was farther down on one of the other companies. Word got back to us. He went to the front to relieve himself, and when he started coming back up, this guy woke up, he saw it was the enemy and killed him. So, that’s gonna keep in his mind, Christmas Eve, very first of his life killing his buddy, you know.
D: (INAUDIBLE) usually if you were (INAUDIBLE) go to the rear. But you gotta pull guard.
So, we always tell the guy I’m gonna go to the other side here. I gotta take care of my business over there, you know, so, because if you hold it or talk to him, wake him up, you know. But like I said, you’re two hours off, two hours on, you know.
I: Did you get any official recognition about your injury?
D: Oh yeah, I got a Purple Heart.
I: You got the Purple Heart.
I: Um hm.
D: Well, that’s the reason this invitation we got for Sunday is for the Purple Heart thing.
I don’t know how they got my name. But I, they invited me to that in Long Beach here.
I: Um hm. Let’s talk a little bit about the soft side of your service. How much did you get? What was your salary during your service? Do you remember?
D: When I was in Japan, I was getting, I was a Sergeant and was getting $175 a month.
I: Not too bad.
D: Yeah. Trouble is I
gambled it the next day and lost it. I used to gamble right after payday.
I: You’re not serious about it though, right?
D: Play dice, cards, everything. I tell you. All the platoons had their (INAUDIBLE)And you’re (INAUDIBLE), you know. In Korea, you don’t worry about money.
D: Whatever they procure you, you have money, someone is going to R & R, you order hey, here’s $20. Bring me a bottle of booze or something, yeah. So,
I: You remember how much did you get in Korea?
I: One hundred seventy-five was pretty high.
D: That’s for a Sergeant.
I: You were a Sergeant.
D: That was a Sergeant.
I: But you were not a Sergeant during the Korean service, right?
D: No, I was a Corporal.
I: So, it must be around $50 – $60?
D: And then we got combat pay which was $38 a month is all, you know.
I: Because you like gambling so that you didn’t
D: I didn’t worry about that.
You’d worry about your life there, you know?
I: Right. So, you didn’t send it back to your family?
D: Oh no. They were getting, when I got back to Japan is when I started gambling again, you know. But then I got a lecture once, 10 months or something like that, you know. And I had a, I won about $1,800 again, you know. So, I figured I’m gonna stop gambling. So, I started investing the money in the black market, buying cigarettes. Selling them back for a
buck, you’d make $2, you know.
I: That’s what I heard from other Korean War veterans, too, you know. It was a big business.
D: Yeah. And then if you’re the only one with money, by the end of the month, everybody’s broke, the third week of the month, you know. So, they need money. You’d lend money at fifty percent, you know.
I: Many young generations will watch your interview. So, please tell me where did you sleep, what did you eat, what was your favorite food?
D: Well, actually in Korea, we slept in sleeping bags.
I: Sleeping bag in anywhere?
D: Anyplace. You found a place that wasn’t wet. One thing about Korea, you had to change your socks all the time, you know. Otherwise, you’d get painful, you know. And then anything that’s wet, you make dry, get it dry because it’ll freeze on you. That’s one thing about freezing in Korea. It gets 30 or 40 below zero down there, you know.
I realized how cold it had gotten, you know. You’re shivering all the time. You gotta keep warm, you know. But like I say, you know, when you’re on with two hours on, two hours off, the sleeping bag’s always warm because the guy just left it.
D: So, that’s the reason it’s, it looked like a picnic going to Korea in the beginning. But I enjoyed everything in Korea.
I: You’re amazing. You call it a picnic. So, you
D: Actually, you know, people say it was a line. Line means there’s a lot of bullshit.
I mean, that line is just you take your position. And you’re sitting pretty because you’ve got people around you protecting you. You’re protecting them with your position. They gotta come and move you, go on the attack. That’s where the thing is. Go out and take people from their position, you know. That’s where it’s dangerous, you know.
I: How often did you eat a hot meal?
D: I had one hot meal every day about noon
because there was always a fire going on the rear which was (INAUDIBLE) You warm up cans there, you know, C-rations. Make sure you make holes on them because it’ll blow up on you, you know. You put the can in there and you start going like that and you’re too late, and everything comes splatters all over the place, you know.
I: So, you got a hot meal, what do you mean by the hot meal? You warm up the C-rations?
D: Once in a while, once a week, we’d get a hot meal coming from the rear.
The trouble is that you can’t depend on them, you know. It’s a long way to the back, you know. And by the time they get there, you don’t want to go and say you’re warming up a can. But they gave us two rations, and one box for each two guys, you know. We always fought over the fruit in it or the candy, cigarettes. We’d get everything in a little box.
I: Um hm.
D: It’s nice. I mean, like I said, like going camping. But it’s dangerous as hell
I: What was your most favorite part of the C-rations?
D: The chili beans.
I: Chili beans?
D: Yeah. And hash. Hash you’d warm up and it got toasty.
I: How did you warm it up?
D: On the fire.
D: Yeah. We had fire in the rear. People, somebody always had a fire in the rear. The CP would call out put that fire out. They’re going to zero in on you. We didn’t give a shit. I mean, we wanted to eat something that is gonna be, we pulled guard all night,
you know. But no one would get up and go warm up a can or something. That’s a hot meal we ate all the time.
D: And then there were places you had to go to relieve yourself, you know. We made it a point, we’re in the rear so everybody would step on nothing, you know. But that’s the reason, you always picked a spot, you know. I always remember when this, the first time I saw snow, it was beautiful. But snow is
awful cold too, you know. But you could, I used it. You could always pick it up and put it in, use it like eating cones, or put it, make water out of it for your canteen. Water was hard to come by. Once in a while, we went to a stream or a creek coming down a hill or something, and we would fill up right away, you know. Always you gotta look out for number one as you go there, you know.
I: What was the happiest moment in your service?
D: My happiest moment in Korea you mean?
D: Oh, I don’t know. It’s, I was always happy, you know. Always had a smile on my face. You know you’re fighting. So, you have to protect yourself the best and do as much damage as you can always, you know, without taking too many risks. And with me, I was volunteering to go on patrols. I wanted to see action all the time, you know. I’ve seen guys shoot
themselves going up there. I mean, shooting yourself in the leg, you know, it’s terrible. I mean, later on they find out what you did, and people let you know. But God, how could you do that, you know? But it takes a lot of nerve to shoot yourself in the leg too, you know.
I: So, you saw some of them shooting their own legs?
D: I saw it afterwards, you know.
D: Yeah. But you know, there’s so much
atrocities going on on both sides, you know. I know, I supplied a picture that I had, someone that gave to me that took pictures of the guys getting tied up and shot over their heads and stuff like that. I gave that picture to some organization up in Washington State. But then you see these guys like we wounded a lot of those people, North Koreans and
Chinese and stuff like that. And the South Koreans want to take them now, (INAUDIBLE) you know. When I came down, when I first got wounded, I ran into five guys that were wounded. They couldn’t move. They dropped them off half the way going down.
D: And you know, it works on both sides. I mean, we fool we can’t do that kind of stuff, but we always do, you know.
I: If arranged somehow, would you be willing to
shake hands with a North Korean and Chinese soldier?
D: Well yeah, you have to. Look at Germany. It’s so close together now.
I: Um hm.
D: Japan too, you know. It’s, when you go to War, that’s the enemy. Afterwards, you’re another person.
I: How do you think that we can promote more peace and some level of
trust here among North Koreans and South Koreans and Americans and Chinese? What is it? What is your thinking that we can improve our relationship here among those people who fought against each other and killed each other?
D: Well, the average soldier would gradually become friends, I don’t think. It’s the people on the top. They’re there for a purpose, and they’re getting paid.
So, they don’t give a heck (INAUDIBLE) you know. Like the United States fought in different places. And we always paid them money for everything was (INAUDIBLE) made for them, you know, what we get from. Regardless of if we saved their lives of something. I mean, we still pay for that. The leaders that lead the people that convince them that everything’s wrong, you know.
Can I say something about
I: Sure, sure.
the Second World War, look what happened in Okinawa. The people were getting killed because they were telling them the United States was gonna shoot them.
I: Um hm.
D: They keep killing themselves. It’s like that, you know. I remember we were going up this hill, and we had prisoners. And this guy must have been Mongolian because he was higher than me. He was about six, close to seven-foot, bit guy. And I said
look at the size of this guy, you know. He’s no North Korean I said. So, he must have been Chinese or Mongolian or something, you know. But like I say, you know, and he’s the enemy, he’s a friend now. We got him sent to the rear you know. But still, there’s some people that have that inside killing anybody regardless, you know.
D: I’m there to kill if they try to kill me. While they’re taking a position, that’s what my service,
that’s what I do.
I: Have you been back to Korea?
D: Yes, twice.
I: Tell me about it.
D: Well, the Korean Embassy invited me to represent the United States. My wife had just come back from Japan. She didn’t want to go back. So, I took my daughter. We spent one week down there. There were seven other countries there, you know. And I presented the wreath at the
I: Um hm.
D: This last time, I went by myself and with other guys, a month ago. And this time, they drove us around the cemetery. Wow, it’s a big cemetery.
D: You know, there’s places where Syngman Rhee is buried, generals are buried, all that stuff. I didn’t realize how big it was. But this time, I just put my hands on the wreath. The other countries kind of, you know, put the
incense and something together.
I: When was the first time you went back to Korea?
Female Voice: September 2010.
I: 2010. So, tell me about what you saw there and.
D: Well, this last time, I enjoyed it more. Well, see, the first time we saw the Palace, and we went to, what do you call it, aquarium.
I: Um hm.
D: And then we went to a,
place where it was a dedication to the veterans. It had plaques of people that got killed. I know this one guy from Santa Paul there, you know, a US Marine.
I: War Memorial, yeah.
D: And that. And then, what else was there?
I: So, did you feel
D: Then we went to the line, where the line is down there, you know.
Female Voice: I think he was just amazed seeing all the building.
D: This last time, I went, they took us down to the,
Sky (INAUDIBLE) I’ve never seen the Sky (INAUDIBLE). Seoul all over. It’s beautiful, you know. And the buildings are so big and so beautiful down there. And it’s clean. Not like here, you know. People throw junk all over the place. Not like people here. You pick it up on their own, you know. At least where I saw, you know. So, only thing is it’s awful expensive. We stayed at a hotel. It was $240 a night.
Meals were $40 a piece.
I: How did you feel about that? You were there 60 years ago. And now you have a totally different view. What is the legacy of Korean War?
D: They’re really advanced. They really did something for themselves. I mean, I’m so proud that they’re doing so much, you know. And it seemed like everybody’s got a new car over there. Well, I tell you, it doesn’t matter what we did. It’s that this War is
not a forgotten War. This is the only War that people never remember, that the Korean people themselves, I was a (INAUDIBLE) one time, and I had another thing, a t-shirt that had the emblem of Korea on the back. And these Korean veterans said yeah, and he shook my hand, thank you very much for helping me, blah, blah, blah, blah and all that stuff. And appreciation for what we did, you know. And I thought it was gonna be forgotten, you know.
I: You are the Chapter President,
Korean War Veteran Association, Chapter 56, Ventura County.
D: I call myself Commander.
I: Commander. Could you talk about your chapter, how many members, when was it established?
D: Actually, we started, our chapter started in September 1997. Glassy came down from cause they wanted us to start the chapter, you know. And I invited all the veterans. We used to get together at a place called Royal Ribbon Ventura. Guys get together, we had music and stuff like that. And then
we started getting this chapter together, you know. And then they voted me President. And then from there, I’ve been President since then. Nobody wants to take over. So like I say, only certain members are active.
D: About 30 of us have uniforms, when you have uniforms and use them down there, you know. So,
I: Have you looked at the Korean War Veteran Digital Memorial that I, the website that I made? Why do you think it’s important?
D: Because people have to
remember what went on, you know. Like look what happened to the people from Viet Nam. I mean, that was not a War. The only War that I can remember is the Korean War was declared a War eventually. It was called a police action.
I: Um hm.
D: And then it was declared a War. And then after declaring a War, we took people that died all over the United States and Europe and everything, you know. See, when the War ended, we only had 36,670 that got
killed, you know. Then later on, we added everybody, it became a War, and we had picked up the people that had gotten all over, you know. We had 54,000 something.
I: When did you leave for Japan from Korea?
D: Uh, February ’52. I think it must be close to last of the month, you know. See what happened there is that the commanding Generals want the 4th Division, they want to go back.
So that’s the reason the First gap went back. See, the 24th was the first to go to Korea followed by the first gap. And coming back, it was reverse that. First gap came back, then the 24th.
I: So, what did you do in Japan, for how long?
D: I was in Japan, I extended one year. We trained people, I took all kind of training there, Amphibious landings you know. I learned how to make Napalm. Everyone knew how to make Napalm.
We trained the guys exactly what we saw in Korea, what to look out for, you know. You know, like when we’re in line, I remember an OCS guy coming in, you know. See, when we put the concertina up, you know, the wire, we always put three lines across. You put three lines, the enemy can’t fight those three lines. But the guy from OCS was saying that you gotta put the
apron first in front. I said you’re full of shit. I mean, who would have time. If somebody comes up, we gotta stop them right there at the line, you know. So, that’s why we always put the three strands, and we kept going (INAUDIBLE), you know.
I: Next year will be 60th anniversary of Armistice.
I: There is no War that lasted more than 60 years in the 20th Century. Would you be willing to sign the petition if there is a petition to replace the Armistice with a Peace Treaty of the Korean War?
D: Yes, I’d be willing to sign. But like I say, it’s the people on top that stop everything.
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