Korean War Legacy Project

David White


David Linn White was born on July 8, 1926, in Worcester, Massachusetts. After graduating from North High School in 1944, he spent one term at Harvard College before being drafted into the US Army. He arrived in France in 1945 as a part of the 71st Infantry Division and helped clear villages through the end of the WWII. After discharge from the Army in 1946, he returned to Harvard College and graduated with a degree in Geography in 1949. He was recalled from the Army Reserve to Korea in March 1951. After arriving in Pusan, he was assigned to the 40th Infantry Division, 160th Regiment, C Company where he acted a as liaison officer to the 6th ROK Division. Later, he requested to be an infantry platoon leader, receiving the Purple Heart and Silver Star for his commitments. He was wounded in both legs and feet during the war. He went back to the US in February 1952, and remained in the Army Reserve. Later, he graduated law school and practiced law as an attorney. He was married and raised his family of two boys and two girls. He has six grandchildren. His hobbies include gardening and studying the German language.

Video Clips

Working and Living Among ROK Soldiers

David White talks about working and living among ROK soldiers during his time serving as a Liaison officer to the 6th ROK Division. He describes the ROK soldiers as very disciplined. While he was there, he began to enjoy Korean food.

Tags: Food,Impressions of Korea,KATUSA,Living conditions,South Koreans

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Life as a Platoon Leader

David White talks about his duties as Platoon Leader. His responsibilities included setting up ambushes and relieving his men and the conditions under which they operated. Most of these operations were against the North Koreans and took place at night.

Tags: Cold winters,Communists,Fear,Front lines,KATUSA,Living conditions,North Koreans,South Koreans

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Stacking Up Bodies

David White describes one of the jobs he and his men were assigned, clearing the battlefield of fallen soldiers from both sides. He had to get a body count of both sides. They also had to put out more barbed wire and traps as well.

Tags: Front lines,Living conditions,Weapons

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Danger from Mortar Fire

David White talks about the frequent danger of enemy mortar fire. A lot of soldiers would get scared and try to run. However, they would get hit and it was better to lie low to the ground to avoid it.

Tags: Communists,Fear,Front lines,North Koreans,Weapons

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A Close Call from an Enemy Mortar

David White tells a story about an incident when he and his sergeant's position was hit by a partially exploded enemy mortar shell. Both he and the his sergeant were not injured. In surprise, they laughed after the situation.

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

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Kill or Be Killed

David White describes in detail a battle that began when the patrol he was leading came across a North Korean soldier. During the ensuing battle, both sides sustained heavy losses. He was wounded by an enemy mortar.

Tags: Communists,Front lines,North Koreans,Personal Loss,Weapons

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Wounded in Battle, Recovery, and Returning Home

David White describes how he was recovered from the battlefield after being wounded by an enemy mortar. He talks about his month-long recovery. He also discusses returning to service before going home.

Tags: Front lines,Home front,Living conditions

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


D:        My name is David White.  And middle name is spelled Linn.  That was my mother’s maiden name.

I:          Um hm.
D:        Her family came from Germany.  And she had six children, and I was the youngest of six children.  And I was the only child who took her maiden name.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        And I’m very proud of it. I went,



I had

I:          When were you born?

D:        I was born on July 8, 1926.

I:          Um hm.

D:        In Wooster, Massachusetts.

I:          Yeah. Go ahead.

D:        I had four older brothers, five older brothers.  I’m sorry.  Four older brothers and a sister.  And I was the youngest.  In World War II, my four



older brothers all went into the military service, and they served all over the world.  I had one brother serve as a machine gun on a B17 in Europe.  And he survived.  I had two brothers who were stationed in India during World War II.  One was a base engineer.  He was a captain.  I had another brother who was a captain,



He flew the Hun from India to China with supplies.  And he flew a C47, a cargo plane.  And he was stationed in Assam Province in India.

I:          India?
D:        India.

I:          But India was not part of the axis power.

D:        India was a part of the CBI, the Chinese, Burma, India Theater.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        So, there were US Air Force bases in northern India,



Assam Province.  And my one brother was an engineer there.  My other brother was a pilot, and he flew supplies over the hump to China.  Then my other brother was a radio operator in the Pacific with the US Army Air Force.  All four of them were Army Air Force. And I attended high school, North High School in Wooster, Massachusetts.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And I graduated from there in



June of 1944.

I:          June of 1944.

D:        Correct.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        I was then accepted to college, to Harvard College.  And I went one term to Harvard College.

I:          Um hm.

D:        I studied German there.  Prior to that time, in high school, I had studied four years of Latin and four years of French.  And I enjoyed languages.  When I went to Harvard, I



wanted another language, so I studied German.  I thought that was appropriate.
I:          Uh huh.
D:        And it came to me very easily.

I:          Cause your blood is German.
D:        Perhaps.  I was drafted, I turned age 18 on July 8 of 1944.  And I was still in college, but I was drafted.

I:          Wow.  You graduated



high school in June 19

D:        Forty-four.

I:          And then you were drafted on July 8 of 1944?
D:        No.  In July, from high school in June 1944, I went to high school.  I turned 18 while I was in college.

I:          But you graduated high school in 1944.

D:        I went immediately, correct.  I went immediately to Harvard College.

I:          Right.
D:        And I served, I had one term.

I:          Um hm.



D:        Roughly.  And then while I

I:          When you were in Harvard.

D:        While I was in Harvard, I turned 18, and I was drafted.  So in August of ’44, I was drafted into the US Army.

I:          Um hm.
D:        And was sent to Florida to a training camp in Florida.

I:          What did you feel about being drafted while you were studying in Harvard College?  You were at the right place, you know,

D:        Yes.



I:          Learning different languages.

D:        I felt a duty to my country.  My brothers were all in the Army, in the Service.  And I felt it was my duty.  I finished Infantry training In Florida, and we were sent by train up to Boston, the Port of Embarkation.  And that was in February of 1945.  And I arrived in Lahare, France



in March of 1945.

I:          Yep.

D:        And was immediately sent to Germany.
I:          Um hm.

D:        And I joined the 71st Infantry Division in Southern Germany in March of 1945.  And I was a rifleman.  I was a Private.  And we were clearing



a lot of villages.  My Division and my Platoon was assigned as an Infantry soldier.  And we were taking a lot of prisoners and clearing villages.  And my German came in pretty handy.

I:          Must be.

D:        My Sergeant said wait, you speak German. Talk to these guys.

I:          Um hm.
D:        So, I would tell them.

I:          Were they the prisoners?
D:        They were German soldiers.

I:          German soldiers?


D:        German soldiers.

I:          So, tell me about the battle between your Division and the German soldiers.

D:        It was towards the end of the War.  The German soldiers knew that the War was almost over.

I:          Um.

D:        The Russians were coming in from the East.  And the American Army and the British Army were moving in quickly.  So, we were clearing villages.



We’d go in in small German units, and the Sergeant would say to me White, you speak German.  Talk to these German soldiers.  I said sure, Sarge.  So, I’d say (GERMAN SPEAKING) which means come out with your hands high.  And the German soldiers would usually say yah yah, yah yah.  And then we would send them to the rear.   We didn’t bother having to, they just walked on their own back to the rear.



Where they’d be handled by a camp.  And the War ended in

I:          So, it wasn’t that difficult. They were dispirited and ready to surrender.

D:        Most of them were.  There were a few that wanted a fight.  But they knew.  Cause the German civilians would say (GERMAN SPEAKING) which means everything is done, everything is ruined.

I:          Um hm.



D:        (GERMAN SPEAKING) That was a favorite expression.  The War ended on May 8, 1945.

I:          Right.
D:        And the Division started sending their equipment back to the United States and all the US Army units.

I:          Um hm.
D:        But I was assigned to guard some displaced persons, Russian, Poles, Ukrainians.  They were in separate camps.



We had to keep them apart because they didn’t like each other.  So, I did that for a while.  And in August of 1945, the Sergeant told a group of us who didn’t have enough points or time in Germany, they loaded us on a deuce and a half ton truck, and we were going to the Port of Marseilles, and we were going to be going



through the Suez Canal.  We were headed for the Japanese War in the Pacific.

I:          How was the Suez Canal?  Was that the first time you saw that?
D:        No because on August 8, we were on the trucks with all our equipment and our packs, and the Sergeant came out and he said alright you guys. Off the truck.  The War ended August 8 in Japan.  It was VJ Day.  So, we got off the trucks,



And I was reassigned to Supreme Headquarters in Frankfort, Germany as a Personnel.  And I spent the rest of the time traveling around Europe. I got to Rome, met the Pope. I went to Denmark.  I had a wonderful time.

I:          As a soldier?
D:        As a soldier.

I:          Oh.
D:        And I practiced my German a lot.



And I would talk to them.  I’d go to a farm and ask for eggs (SPEAKING GERMAN) Do you have eggs to sell?  Yah, yah.  So, we would buy eggs.  And the local brewery opened up, and we had fresh beer and a civilian ice cream.  This was in Augsburg, Southern Germany, Augsburg where we were stationed guarding the DPs.  But anyways, we had a great time.



I spent a total of a year and a half in Germany, in Europe.

I:          Oh.  So, when did you leave for Japan?

D:        I didn’t go to Japan at that time because the War was over.

I:          Um hm.

D:        They didn’t need young soldiers in the Pacific.

I:          Yeah.

D:        So, I was discharged in August of 1946.
I:          Oh.

D:        We were sent home.  We left the Port of Hamburg, Germany and came back to New York, and I went back to school.



I went back to college.

I:          Oh.  Harvard College?

D:        Back to Harvard College.

I:          Um hm.  And?

D:        I was the class of 1948, but we graduated in 1949 because of the interruption in the Service.  And they gave us credit for some courses that I had taken in the Army.

I:          Um hm.



D:        I graduated from Harvard College class of ’48.  But that was in 1949.  I have a 65th reunion coming this May.

I:          Um hm.
D:        So, 65th college reunion from Harvard in May of this year.

I:          Oh.
D:        End of May.

I:          What did you study there?
D:        I studied Geology and Geography.

I:          So, wow.  Why did you change your major?


You were interested in language.

D:        I enjoyed languages.  But I needed a technological education.
I:          Uh huh.

D:        Anyway, I went to work for a bank in Boston.  And I worked for that bank until March of 1950 when I was told that I was being recalled to go to Korea.

I:          In.

D:        March of 1950.

I:          It was before


the Korean War broke out.

D:        That was after.  It was March of ’51 I was notified.

I:          Right.  So, it’s before the Korean War, right?
D:        I had served two years in the Army before the Korean War.

I:          Right.  But you were asked to serve in Korea?

D:        I had received a direct commission in the Army.

I:          Um hm.
D:        As a Second Lieutenant



Based on my education and my military experience.

I:          But was it for Korea?
D:        It was for an Army Reserve.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        So, I stayed in the Army Reserve as a Second Lieutenant.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And while I was working, they notified me that I was going to be reactivated for active duty.  And they said because they said I never



had any active duty.  I said yes, I had two years active duty.  But the Army said that was as enlisted, not as a commissioned officer.  I’m now a commissioned officer, so now I have to go back on active duty.

I:          Um hm.
D:        So, in March of 1951, I was recalled for active duty.

I:          Oh, 1951, not 1950.

D:        Not 1950, 1951.

I:          Okay.  So, you worked until



March of 1951 in the bank.

D:        Correct.

I:          Okay.  So, you knew that the Korean War broke out.

D:        Oh yes.

I:          How did you know, and what did you know about Korea?
D:        Just read the newspapers, and you’d know there was a War there and that the north had invaded South Korea.

I:          Had you known anything about Korea or Asia?
D:        I was always interested in international affairs.  I studied



the world.  I liked world affairs.  I just had a great interest in international matters.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And when I was recalled, I was

I:          You knew about Korea?

D:        Oh yeah.

I:          Oh.  Did you read about Korea, or how did you know?
D:        I read about Korea.  My brothers had been in Asia.  They’d been in India and China.

I:          Um hm.

D:        They had



flown to China.  So, I was well aware.  And I knew what had happened, the surrender in Japan, and we followed that international news.  Everybody followed that.

I:          You are the only Korean War veteran that I have ever interviewed that knew something about Korea before you were dispatched to Korea.

D:        I knew that there was a Korean peninsula.  And I was interested in international affairs.  I still am.  I read the



newspaper every day.

I:          Um hm.  So, what happened to you?  Were you trained again to be dispatched to Korea or, tell me about it.

D:        I was recalled. I was sent down to Fort Benning, the Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia.  And I was trained as an Infantry Officer with Infantry tactics.  And then I was assigned to a training division in Kentucky.



They called it the 101st.  It was a training division, but it later became an airborne division.

I:          Hm.

D:        And I signed up for Airborne training.  I wanted to go to Airborne training.  And I had been accepted.  But they needed Infantry Officers in Korea.  There was a great turnover of Infantry Officers in Korea.



Terrific losses at the beginning of the War.

I:          Yeah.

D:        So, I got orders to report to duty to Japan.  And I flew out of Westover Air Force Base on a plane.  I landed in San Francisco.  We were sent to Fort Lewis, Washington, and we boarded a troop ship in Fort Lewis.



And that was near Seattle, Washington.

I:          When was that?  When did you leave for Japan?
D:        I left in January of 1952.  I was now a Second Lieutenant.  So, we had three men assigned to a cabin.

I:          Ah. That’s good.
D:        And we had our own wardroom.



I:          Uh huh.
D:        And we were served meals.  There were dependents on the ship, women and children who were military dependents, and they were going in the same way.  So, referring to the troop ship, I had been on a troop ship when I was going across the Atlantic.  And we had bunks, five bunks high, and people were so sick, and they were vomiting in their helmets all the time.

I:          Right.



D:        The Atlantic was a very rough crossing.

I:          Yeah.
D:        We were in a convoy.  Going back now to my enlisted time.

I:          Yeah.

D:        And I spent most of my time out on the deck, and I figured I’d look for submarines.  If I ever saw a submarine, I’d alert the ship.  But anyways, I knew about troop ships cause this was quite a change.

I:          For you, right?
D:        Yes, it was.

I:          You were a soldier when you crossed the Atlantic?

D:        Correct.

I:          The condition was horrible.

D:        Exactly.

I:          Now you are headed to




D:        Yeah.

I:          But you were in a cabin.

D:        Yes.
I:          Only three.

D:        Three men, three officers in the cabin.
I:          Wow, that’s good. How many children and dependents, do you remember?  Were there many dependents?
D:        I remember there was a group of women with young children.  They were perhaps about I would imagine there were about 100 of them on the ship.  It was not a troop ship.  It was a combination; it was a nice ship.

I:          Um hm.

D:        We left Seattle.  We went out of


Puget Sound.  And it was very nice.  In my article, by the way, I started my story by leaving Seattle in the fog on the water.  We took the Great Northern route to Japan.  We went up to the Aleutian Islands, and we stopped on Adak Island where they unloaded supplies for the military base on Adak Island, part of the Aleutian chain in Alaska.



I:          Um hm.
D:        We were there about two days.  Then we went down past the Russian Coast, and we arrived in Yokohama, the Port of Debarkation.  And when I arrived in Japan, I was assigned to Camp Drake for some CBR training, Chemical Biological Radiological training.  I had two weeks on that.

I:          Um hm.


D:        Then we boarded a train, and we went down to the Port of Sasebo, Japan.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And we were boarded on ships, and we boarded a troop ship, and we went to Pusan

I:          Um hm.

D:        Where we unloaded.

I:          What was your feeling? How did you accept the fact that you are going to another battle in Korea?



D:        I didn’t

I:          Were you afraid?
D:        Not really.

I:          Not really.

D:        No.

I:          You had an experience in

D:        I’d been in combat.

I:          Yeah.

D:        I was not afraid.  But anyways, I joined the 40th Infantry Division which was a National Guard Division that had been reactivated.  And they were up on the main line of resistance above the 38th Parallel.  They were in the Kumsong area.

I:          Kumsong?

D:        Kumsong.

I:          Um hm.

D:        North of Seoul.



I:          Um hm.

D:        And I was assigned to C Company of the 160th Infantry Regiment.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And they were on line.  There were Chinese forces in front of us at that time.

I:          One hundred sixtieth Infantry, Regiment.

D:        I was 40th Infantry Division.

I:          Yeah.
D:        One hundred and sixtieth Infantry Regiment.

I:          Uh huh.




D:        And I was assigned as a liaison officer to the 6th ROK Division to the right.

I:          Um.

D:        I was assigned as a liaison officer to a regiment to our right.

I:          Um hm.

D:        So, I would travel back and forth to them and exchange information.  And I lived with the tent there



at the Regimental Headquarters.

I:          Tell me about the situation at the time in the front line.  Was there a severe battle always going around, or what was the situation there?
D:        The 6th ROK Division had taken heavy casualties on line.  And I have photographs of them.  They conducted a burial ceremony, and I have photos which I’ve supplied to you.  They would carry the ashes of the dead Korean soldiers in a little



box.  And they had a ceremony.  They carried them in a box with white ribbons holding the box, and I have photos that I have.  And they were very good troops.  The officers were not easy on their soldiers. I think that some of these South Korean officers had perhaps been in the Japanese Army at some point.
I:          Yeah.

D:         They were good soldiers.



I would report back to the Regimental Headquarters and keep in contact as to what was going on on both sides. At some point, however, I wanted some action.  So, I volunteered to, I said I wanted to be a platoon leader for a rifle platoon.  So, I was assigned as a rifle platoon leader to Charly Company, C Company.  And I was the first platoon leader on



line.  And I was now an Infantry platoon leader. I was assigned to Charly Company.

I:          Um hm.

D:        We were on line with Chinese in front of us.  At first, I was on a combat outpost which is out in front of the MLR.

I:          Yeah.
D:        And then we would conduct patrols every third night.



And we had skirmishes.  There was a tank battalion from the 40th Infantry Division, and they would conduct raids out in front of the lines, and they would shoot up off Chinese positions and then come back.  But the Chinese, after several times, they realized the tanks were coming, and they got ready for them.  And on one occasion, they had tank hunter



teams that ambushed two of our tanks, and they took prisoners, and that was very unpleasant.  I watched that.

I:          Oh.  So, you saw your colleagues, your soldiers arrested by Chinese.

D:        They were captured.

I:          Did you see it with your eyes?
D:        Yes, I did, from a distance.

I:          How far was it from you?

D:        Oh, about 500 yards, 600 kilometers.

I:          Can you describe in detail how they were



captured and what was the situation?

D:        It was very upsetting to see.  They were confused.  These tank soldiers were confused.  And it was sad.

I:          Okay.
D:        They were more careful after that.

I:          Was there fighting there every day?  How was it on the front line?
D:        It was intermittent.



The Division Headquarters wanted information.  So, at times, we would conduct patrols into the Chinese to try and get some prisoners.  And I took part in one of those.  But in August of 1952,

I:          Fifty-two.

D:        July of 1952,

I:          Uh huh.


We were sent back in Reserve.  Actually, it was August.  We were relieved by the Second ROK Division.  And we went back for training.

I:          You were in Korea in early 1952.

D:        Correct.

I:          And then you’d been there for six months. And then you were

D:        We were relieved

I:          Okay.

D:        From the front lines

I:          Okay.

D:        The Division was relieved by the 2nd ROK Division and was sent back for training and replacements.



I:          Um hm.

D:        Because a lot of the National Guard casualties and National Guard people were now going home.

I:          Um hm.

D:        So, we had new soldiers coming in.  We received a new commanding general.

I:          Um hm.  Who was the new commanding general?

D:        The new commanding general was a General McLellan.

I:          Oh.

D:        He was an Airborne General.



And he conducted very severe training, very rigid training, more less Airborne training.  We would get them up at 04:30 and exercise.  And then we would conduct military training.

I:          Um hm.

D:        For a while, I was assigned as a liaison officer again to another ROK division.

I:          Um hm.  Tell me about your experience working with the Korean military.  How were they?  Were they ready?



Were they capable?

D:        They were

I:          Did you have any friends?  Tell me about those.

D:        Yes.  They were very disciplined troops.  I was assigned a liaison officer to a South Korean battalion.  The commander was Lee Kee Man.

I:          Oh.

D:        Lee Kee Man.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And I stayed at



his command post during those training periods.

I:          Um hm.

D:        I ate their food.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And I began to enjoy kimchi and rice.  And occasionally, we’d have small pieces of meat in the rice which are later learned was meat from a canine, a dog.

I:          Oh.  (LAUGHING).



How was it?
D:        It was very tasty.  It was very nice.  I developed a close relationship with Major Lee Kee Man.  He was a fine gentleman.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And a great soldier.  He disciplined his soldiers.  And we had a training hut, like a command post.  And he had a red flag, and their training was in,



they had a bright red flag.  And we would observe the training from there.  And then I was

I:          What kind of person was he?

D:        What kind of person was he?

I:          Yeah.
D:        He was very disciplined but very gentle, a gentle man I called him.

I:          Did he speak English?
D:        No.  He did speak some English.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And he taught me some Korean.  But we more less managed to



understand each other through Japanese.

I:          Oh.  So, you spoke Japanese, and he could understand Japanese.

D:        I had been in Japan, and I began to pick up Japanese just from talking and being there.  It was a fascinating language.

I:          Um hm.

D:        It’s an expression, (SPEAKING JAPANESE)



I:          So, after that, what happened to you?

D:        I was there for about two or 2 ½ weeks.  And then I was called back for training with my company C, the 160thInfantry Regiment.

I:          Yeah.

D:        And we conducted live field training in preparation for going back on the



line.  So, in September, it was actually October. October of 1952,

I:          Um hm.

D:        The 40th Infantry Division was sent to the Heartbreak Ridge area

I:          Um hm.

D:        North of the 38th Parallel.

I:          Um hm.
D:        To relieve the 25th Division which had been hit hard by North Korean Army forces.

I:          Um.

D:        They took a lot of losses.



I:          Yep.

D:        So, the 160th Infantry Regiment was sent up to the Heartbreak Ridge area.

I:          Heartbreak?
D:        Ridge.

I:          Ridge.

D:        That was in Sataeri area.

I:          Um hm.

D:        SATAERI, Sataeri.

I:          Sataeri, yes.

D:        The Punchbowl was the 223rd Infantry Regiment of the 40th, in the Punchbowl.



And we were in the Heartbreak Ridge area, the 160th Infantry Regiment.

I:          Okay.  Yep.  And then?
D:        All the fighting went on at nighttime.

I:          Which Chinese that you dealt with?
D:        We had North Koreans.

I:          Oh.

D:        The North Koreans were very active, very aggressive.

I:          Hm.

D:        And I had 10 South Korean soldiers in my platoon, Katusa.

I:          Um hm.



D:        And they did not like the North Koreans.  They were sort of afraid of the North Koreans.  They called them Ebu.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Had you heard that expression?
I:          Yeah.

D:        Ebu? What does that mean?
I:          Ebu means North Koreans.

D:        Oh.  Well, they would say Ebu.  That’s a Ebu ship, cut acuta, bali bali.  Let’s go.  Let’s fight.

I:          Yeah.

D:        So, there were clashes at first.  But they were willing to learn.

I:          Um hm.


D:        And they turned out to be good soldiers.  They were willing to fight and to shoot.  All our fighting went on at nighttime.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And we stayed up there in bunkers.  There were existing bunkers.  And we were busy adding logs and sandbags to our bunkers.  And there were trenches connecting the bunkers.  And the soldiers lived in the bunkers.



That was their fighting position.  They had their machine guns there.

I:          Yeah.

D:        Automatic weapons and their rifles.  And it was a very difficult existence for most people.    The action went on at night, and every third night, I was leading our patrols usually eight to nine men infantry patrols.



And we would go out the mountain ridge, and we’d set up an ambush and sit there all night long waiting for North Koreans to come in.

I:          Um hm.

D:        It got cold up in the mountains.  And these young soldiers would go out



in the evening at dusk and would set up all night sitting out on the ridges and waiting.  And it was very cold.  And as soon as the sun began to rise, I’d notify them time to come in if we had no action.  And these young soldiers, 18- and 19-year-olds would have to get up.  They were like old men, just getting and trying to move.

I:          Yeah.

D:        I felt compassion for them.

I:          Yeah.



D:        It was a rough life.  And you’d be out there, and you couldn’t take a bathroom break.  You’d just hold your bladder.  Coming back in from a patrol, our own men would sometimes fire at us because they, we told them to hold fire because, everybody was very alert on there.


There were a lot of bodies from out in front of the bunkers, North Korean and friendly bodies.  And higher Headquarters wanted a body count.  And we would spend a lot of time picking up bodies and bringing them back and just stacking them up.  And there were so many, we’d have to stack the North Koreans with our own soldiers to clear the battlefield.



At the same time, we were putting out more barbed wire and booby traps.

I:          So, you saw many of your soldiers being killed there.

D:        We were under heavy mortar fire.  The North Koreans used a lot of mortar.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And 82 mm, they had 82.  We had 81 mm mortars.



They had 122 mm mortar.  They were very effective.  And we had a lot of casualties from mortar fire.  You never knew when it was coming.

I:          Um hm.

D:        So, when you’re out there, mortar fire at nighttime when you’re often out there on patrol, they would drop in mortar fire.  And some of the soldiers would get scared and get up to try to run.  And the worst thing they could do, I always told them when mortar



fire comes in, just drop to the ground and you won’t be hit.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Unless they hit you directly.

I:          Right.

D:        So, we had a lot of casualties from mortar fire.

I:          What did you feel when you saw your soldiers being killed?

D:        It was sad.  But you couldn’t get upset.  It was part of the job.  One day when I was directing mortar fire from my



own platoon mortars, we had 60 mm mortars.  And I was directing fire.  I had my Sargeant next to me, and we were on the radio.  Actually, we had wire back to the mortar position which was close by on the back slope.  And I was directing fire, and the fire seemed to come in closer and I said, I told them to add clicks, not drop.



But it turns out that the North Koreans were zeroing in on us, and they were dropping mortar fire.  And one of their, I think it was an 82 mm mortar shell, it landed right on our position. But it partially detonated.  And it kicked us about.  And the blast went out to the back, and the Sergeant and I were not injured.

I:          Um.

D:        It was a

I:          You were lucky.

D:        It was only partially, there was a Chinese mortar shell I believe.



And it was only partially detonated.  And we picked it up.  We looked at each other and laughed.  So, it was a very active scene.

I:          Very dangerous.

D:        Yes, it was dangerous.  We had a lot of replacements coming in, young soldiers.  Sometimes a soldier would come in.  The next night he was wounded from mortar



fire or a direct fire.  It was a big turnover.  On the night of three November,

I:          Um hm.

D:        I was taking a patrol out in front of the lines, it’s in my story I mentioned.  I was going out on ridge,



And I was followed by my radio man.  And then the rest of my patrol was behind, following me out this mountain ridge.  And it was sort of a bright moon that night.  And I used to be a small game hunter. I used to hunt when I was a child.

I:          Um hm.

D:        With a 22 and a shotgun, a 22 rifle and a shotgun.  And when I was going out the ridge, I would always top.  I’d go about 10 yards, and I would stop



and look and listen.  And then I would continue further.
I:          Um hm.
D:        My radio man was right next to me.

I:          Um hm.

D:        But on this particular night, as I came around the ridge, there was a knoll.  And I thought I was traveling too high on the ridge.  So, I dropped down.  And as I came around the knoll, I saw a figure in front of me.  And I was about to ask if GI which means American.

I:          Um hm.

D:        But



your training kicks in.  And he had a soft hat.  He did not have a steel helmet.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Soon as I left the MLR, I had an M2 automatic carbine.

I:          Um hm.

D:        with banana magazines.  Each magazine had 30 rounds.  I had three of those taped together.  But I carried that at waist-level.  When I left the main position, I took off the safety.  When I saw this figure, I was about to ask him if he was a GI.



But he had a soft hat.  So, I gave him a burst of fire from my M2 carbine, and he moved.  So, I gave him another burst.  And my radio man came running up, and some of my patrol.  And then I sprayed the ridge with my M2 carbine.

I:          How close was he?
D:        He was about five yards away.

I:          That close?
D:        He was close.



You have to be careful out there.

I:          Yeah, of course.  And so, what happened?
D:        The rest of my patrol came up, what’s going on?  What’s happening?  So, I set up a perimeter around my position there.  And the dead soldier was there.  I didn’t know what he was.  He had a Russian burp gun.  I didn’t know who he was or what he was.



But I was on the radio back to my commanding officer, the captain, the company commander.  And he wanted to know what had happened.  I told him what had happened.  And I said there’s movement. I said there was movement on the ridge off to my one side and off to the other side.  And I said he should bring in some artillery fire where I was hearing the



But the captain said he thought that they were going back.  So, he was directing fire back towards the North Korean position.  Before midnight, I told the captain I had a body.  So, I said send out



a couple of soldiers to pick up the body and bring it back to the command post, the CP.

I:          Why?
D:        For information.
I:          Oh.

D:        You wanna know who it is, what it is, what does he have.

I:          Yeah.

D:        So, two soldiers

I:          You must have killed many others.

D:        I don’t know how many.  I know.

I:          Yeah, I know.  But why especially this man that has to be picked up and then brought back to the Headquarters?
D:        For information.



Back to the company CP.

I:          Um.

D:        We want to know who are you, what is it?
I:          But you didn’t bring other North Koreans or Chinese back to Headquarters to get information, right?
D:        No.  That will come later.  This is just the beginning.

I:          Okay.

D:        This is just the beginning.

I:          Yeah.

D:        So, we sent out two soldiers, and they carried out these canvas ammo belts.



They carry machine gun bullets.  They’re not metal links, but they’re like a belt.  So, they wrapped this body up and carried him back to the company CP.

I:          Um hm.

D:        The Warrant Officer had come up, and he thought they’d been overrun, the Company had been overrun already. But it was just the one soldier.  But he said that it was a North Korean Sergeant, and he had the Russian burp gun which I had kept.



But he also had wire cutters and a whistle.  And he was a North Korean Sergeant.

I:          Um hm.

D:        It turns out, he was the point man for an attack which occurred later that night.

I:          Um.

D:        Do you understand?
I:          Yeah.
D:        Alright.  So, I’m out there, and the captain is calling in artillery fire.  But then about midnight,



All this artillery and mortar fire started landing on the MLR on our bunker position and flares.  And we were under attack.  And I told the captain that we were firing.  When all this lighted up, North Korean soldiers were on this ridge coming up towards our position on one side and on another ridge coming up, there were North Korean soldiers coming up that way.



I told my men to take fire on them.  And in the meantime, the company was under heavy artillery and mortar fire.  So, the captain told me on my radio he wanted me to come back to my position to take charge of my platoon.  And I said I can do a lot of damage out here.  I’d rather stay. He says no, I want you back there.  So, I said well,



make sure that Sergeant Peterson is there, that they don’t shoot at us when we’re coming back in to our line.  So, we got back.  I made sure all my guys, I was always the first one out and the last one back.  So, my patrol got back to our position, and we cleared, and the entire company and the Regiment was under attack by North Koreans.



So, I was checking my position.  On one ridge I had Irish heavy machine guns.  These are water-cooled machine guns.  And I had some Irish immigrants who volunteered to serve in the Army for citizenship.

I:          Um hm.

D:        So, I had two great, they were a team.



They were firing on the North Korean attackers.  And one would fire, and another would fire.  And this went on all night.  The attack went on all night.

I:          Wow.

D:        At one time, I was checking all my positions, my riflemen, my machine gunners and all.  I was also checking a bunker where there were now two South Korean soldiers.  And unfortunately, they were not


firing.  They were sitting with their gun between their legs.

I:          They were scared.
D:        Yes.

I:          Um.

D:        So, I grabbed one of their M1 rifles, and I kicked one in the ass and said cut acuta, and I took the M1 rifle, and I fired out eight rounds from the M1 rifle to show them this is what they’re to do.  And at that point, a mortar shell came,



landed on our position.

I:          Oh.

D:        And they were wounded severely.  And I was wounded with shrapnel in both my legs and feet.

I:          Wow.

D:        I stayed there all night. I continued to direct mortar fire.  But the fighting lasted all night.  And at one point, the North Koreans broke into the other platoon



area.  And my company commander, Captain Wood Hardy, led a counterattack. He got some of the American soldiers to go fight cause the North Korean soldiers had broken into our bunkers and our trenches.  So, he called in artillery fire, and he led a small group of soldiers to kick them out of that line.


And it went on all night.  The North Korean sustained a lot of damage.  We had 51 killed in action that night, Americans. And we had 157 wounded.  But the North Koreans had 131 soldiers killed in action.

I:          One hundred thirty-one?
D:        One hundred thirty-one, yeah.  They had



450 wounded in action estimated.  And we took seven prisoners that night.  Very unusual to take prisoners from North Korea.

I:          Um.  So, what happened to your leg?

D:        They had to cut off my boots, but I spent the whole night there.  I was with them.



I didn’t want to leave.

I:          Um.

D:        One of my South Koreans got a belly wound.  And he was severely wounded.  And he had tapeworms spilling out of his abdomen.  It was sad.   He had moaned quite a bit.  I said stop moaning.



But he was evacuated later the next day.  This went on the night of November 3 into November 4.  Finally, a medic cut off my boots, and I was taken back off the mountain by a stretcher.  And then they had a liter jeep, and I was put on a jeep.  Then I was loaded on the



skids of a helicopter.  This is when they first were transporting the wounded.  And I was transported on a stretcher and put on a helicopter and taken back to a MASH hospital, field hospital.  And then I was

I:          Do you remember what the unit was, the MASH?

D:        I don’t remember the MASH unit, no.  I was then treated there briefly.  Then I was loaded on a C54, and I was flown back to Japan to the southern island of Kyushu.

I:          Um hm.



In the city of Fukuoka.  And 141st General Hospital, an Army hospital.  And I was treated there.  They removed shrapnel from my legs and feet.  And I was there until early December of 1952.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And the doctor said that I was ready to go back to my unit.

I:          Again?


D:        Again.  So, I was sent back to Korea. I rejoined my company up on Heartbreak Ridge on Christmas Eve, 1952.  Things were still active.  The North Koreans were still making attacks against us.  And I would still take out some patrols.  I wasn’t taking much.



Before, I was taking out patrols every third night almost.

I:          Um hm.

D:        But, I would take out a few patrols.  My soldiers were happy to see me back, especially the South Koreans.  The South Koreans were so happy to see me back, the ones who were still there.

I:          Um.

D:        And I stayed there until February of 1953.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And I had enough points to go home.  So, I was



sent back to Pusan, no, I went to Inchon.  Then we went back to Japan, and I boarded a troop ship to go back to the United States, left Yokohama and went back to the United States.  I had a copy of a telegram from, the Western Union sent my family a telegram.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Saying I was wounded.  I thought I had a copy of that.



I:          You can show that to me later.

D:        No, I did not.  I’ll show it to you later.   But yes, I wrote to some old girlfriends.  And I subsequently married one of them.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        Just one.

I:          Just one.  Do you still keep the letters?



D:        The letters.

I:          You wrote, and you received letters from them too, right?
D:        Yes.

I:          They wrote back to you.

D:        Once in a while.  One did.  And the other one didn’t.  The one that didn’t write back so much, she said she wrote to me, but I didn’t receive them.
I:          Oh.

D:        But I happened to marry her.

I:          Okay.

D:        But she is now Eugenie M. White.  We’ve been married for 56 years.  We have four children, two boys and two girls.  And they’re adults.  They’re



all grown up.

I:          How about grandchildren?
D:        We do have grandchildren.  We have six grandchildren.  Her name is DeSonya, a French name.

I:          Your granddaughter.

D:        Yes.  She’s very smart.

I:          Yeah, must be.  Do you talk to her?

D:        Yes.  I talk to her.



She’s a creative writer.  She was always fascinated by my Korean experience.  But she never got me to talk about it.

I:          So, please ask her to contact me, okay?
D:        Um hm.  PhD Candidate.  Very smart.  You’d enjoy talking with Jen.

I:          How much were you paid?  You were the officer, right?


D:        As a soldier or as a

I:          During the Korean service?
D:        During the Korean service?
I:          You were an officer, a Second Lieutenant, right?
D:        I was promoted to First Lieutenant.

I:          So, please tell me about how much you were paid then.

D:        I don’t recall honestly.  We had to pay for our meals even though we were up on the battlefield.  They still docked our pay for meals.

I:          What did you do with that money?

D:        I sent my money back to my




I:          Your parents?
D:        My parents, yeah.

I:          Oh.

D:        I had no use for it.

I:          Right.

D:        I did have an automobile.  I left my automobile with them.  And I was single.

I:          What was the happiest moment for you during the Korean War service?

D:        The happiest moment.



It’s the memories.  I don’t think any single moment.  The memories.  The Korean people, it was a very primitive country at that time.  It’s difficult to say.  We had line crossers.



The interesting point was that we’d have not so much yes, even then the Chinese we’d have line crossers.  Regiment would send out a civilian, and when we’d go out on patrol, we’d have to take him out with us and then get out in front of the lines in the so called no man’s area.  And we’d release him.  But



I haven’t trusted them.  I would always take them one point and then release him.  And then I would double back and set up my patrol elsewhere.  You didn’t trust anybody like that.  But then, in the morning sometimes in the platoon area, my soldiers, a squadron would alert us and say we have a line crosser and would look out and down in the valley, you’d have a civilian type and



indicated he wanted to come back in.  So, we would bring him back in and frisk him and then pass him back to the company CP.  They were exchanging intelligence. I don’t know whether they were double agents or single agents.  Probably double agents.
I:          Were you recognized with a medal for your wounds?
D:        Yes, I have a Purple Heart.  I was also awarded the Silver Star which is

I:          Silver Star.

D:        Which is a



high decoration.

I:          What was it for?
D:        For my action the night of three to four November because basically, I alerted the Division (never finished that statement) (Showing certificates)

I:          Okay.  And the other one?

D:        (Showing another certificate)

I:          Okay.  Tell me about the Purple Heart.  What was that for, and the Silver Star?

D:        The Purple



Heart is for if you were wounded in action in enemy contact, you get the Purple Heart.

I:          Um hm.

D:        It has to be with enemy action.

I:          Right.

D:        And you’re wounded, whether rifle fire or mortar fire or whatever.

I:          What about Silver Star?
D:        By direction of the President, under the provisions of the acts of Congress, the Silver Star for Gallantry in Action is awarded to the following named officer:

I:          Um hm.



D:        First Lieutenant David L. White, and they gave me my serial number, Infantry, United States Army, 160th Infantry Regiment, Distinguished himself by gallantry in action near Sataeri, Korea on 3 November, 4 November 1952.  During the hours of darkness, Lieutenant White led an ambush patrol deep into enemy territory where they engaged the enemy.  In the ensuing fire fight, Lieutenant



White killed one enemy, and the fire patrol drove back the remaining of the fold.  Lieutenant White then set up a perimeter defense and sent word back for a liter bearer to carry back the body of the enemy soldier.  The enemy then opened up a devastating attack with artillery, mortar and small arms fire.  Lieutenant White observed the enemy moving up on both sides of them and thus began to withdraw.  That was under orders from the captain.



Under Lieutenant White’s calm, efficient and courageous supervision, the patrol moved back to the main line of resistance, that’s the MLR, without a casualty.  The alerting of the men on the main line of resistance saved many lives as it eliminated the element of surprise from the vicious enemy attack.  Lieutenant White then resumed leadership of his platoon and repelled the attack of a numerically superior and phanatical enemy force.


During this action, Lieutenant White was wounded in both legs and feet but fearlessly and with disregard for his own personal safety refused to leave the line.  And though not being able to stand up, directed his men’s fire and that of the mortars.  Not until the attack ended and the wounded men of his platoon had been evacuated did Lieutenant White agree to be carried to the aid station.  Lieutenant White’s inspiring leadership, courage and devotion to duty



reflects great credit upon himself and the United States Army.  And to the Federal service from Massachusetts.

I:          You must be very proud of your service there.

D:        I was never awarded that until I came back. It was about three years later I got, or a year later, maybe two years later, I received the medal.

I:          Um hm.

D:        But it was never awarded.  So, some of my children got a hold of



the Infantry school in Fort Benning, Georgia.  And they arranged to have my medal presented down there.

I:          That’s very good.
D:        At Fort Benning, Georgia.  That was a real treat.

I:          Um hm.  Even despite such bravery and so many people killed in action and wounded, people in the United States didn’t see the Korean War as a real war.  They


used to call it conflict.  And they said it’s a forgotten war.  What is the problem with the United States?  Why is it said to be forgotten?
D:        World War II was a major event of the United States Army, or the United States.  The population of the United States was 150 million at the time of World War II.  And not only did a lot of



people volunteer, but a lot of people wee drafted.  Almost every family was affected by World War II.  And coming back, they were treated as heroes.

I:          Yeah.
D:        They were greeted with open arms.
I:          Right.
D:        We had two major theaters of war.  We had beaten the German power in Europe, and we defeated



the Empire of Japan in the Pacific.  It was an amazing feat.

I:          Um hm.  What about Korea?  Why is Korea said to be forgotten?
D:        Korea was an after, people were tired of war.

I:          And?

D:        They’d experienced firsthand the devastation, the loss within the war.  A lot of families were affected.  They didn’t want any more war.


The United States just wanted to come back to the United States and live a peaceful life.

I:          Um hm.

D:        If the Japanese had not surrendered, I would have been, invasion of Japan.  I would have been going into Japan as an Infantry soldier.  That would not have been pretty.  That’s why



I always supported Truman’s decision.  It was a difficult decision.  But he ended the War over there.  It was too bad.

I:          Have you been back to Korea?

D:        No, I have not.

I:          Oh.  Do you know what happened to Korea after you left?
D:        It’s turned into a metropolis over there.  In my note, it’s a leading technological country in the world.

I:          Um hm.

D:        It’s amazing.

I:          Yeah.  What do you think about that?  What is the legacy of the Korean War



and your service?

D:        Well, I thought I helped the Korean people see themselves rebuild their country and become known throughout the world as a great technological place. Industry and,



they’re a leading group in the world.  I look back at Germany, and they had tremendous devastation in Germany.  The cities were bombed out.  Frankfort, Germany was devastated.  They took awful losses over there.  I can empathize with both the German people and the Japanese people and the Korean people.


In my little, I ended my, in this, you have a copy of this.  But it was a, would you like me to read this last.

I:          How long is that?
D:        Not very long.

I:          Okay.
D:        It was a bitter cold day in February 1953 when I left South Korea to return to



my New England home in the United States.  Often on a frigid cold February in Massachusetts when the snow lies deep on the ground, my mind wanders back to my winters in Korea and the sufferings of the Korean people.  It gives me tremendous personal satisfaction to see the nation of South Korea rise from the ravages of war and take its’ place as one of the leading technological countries in the world.  My prayer is that South Korea will continue to



maintain and enjoy the hard-earned peace and prosperity.

I:          Thank you very much.  Any comments that you want to leave for this interview?
D:        Well, I enjoyed speaking with you.  And you’ve been very courteous and patient with me.  And I think it’s a wonderful opportunity if it can help people to understand what happened.  But I appreciate the time.

I:          Thank you



very much for your service actually.  Do you have any message to the young generations in America about your experience and about the wars that are taking place right now?

D:        You can’t say that war is inevitable.  But looking in the Middle East, the Middle East is a problem.  I was sad to read in the paper about Afghanistan who have lost another seven American soldiers killed.  Some of them by the



Afghan military.  That’s tragic.  When I was with the South Koreans, I trusted them, and they trusted me.  And it was a nice feeling.  You didn’t have to worry about being attacked from the back.

I:          Um hm.

D:        By the South Koreans.  We did fight North Korean.

I:          I want to thank you for your bravery and saving Korea from the attack of Communism.


And I want to thank you for your precious time for today to do this interview with me.

D:        I enjoyed it.  Thank you for conducting this, taking the time.

I:          I appreciate your kind comments.  And your name in Korea, Dave White, is there.  Thank you again so much.
D:        Thank you.