Korean War Legacy Project

Dennis McGary


Dennis McGary was born in Cody, Wyoming on September 23, 1942. He graduated from Cody High School in 1962 with dreams of working on his father’s ranch. When faced with the prospect of being drafted, he chose to enlist in the Army so that he could choose his field, and he chose diesel engineering. He received orders for Vietnam, but those orders were changed at the last minute to South Korea. He served at Camp Rice, located two miles from the DMZ,  from 1965 to 1966 and was considered to be a Korean War Era Veteran since his service was after the armistice.  Though trained in diesel engineering, he never turned the first wrench for it was discovered he could type which landed him a job as a shop clerk.  Dennis McGary is proud to have served in Korea and hopes to revisit one day and see firsthand the amazing economic recovery made since the war.

Video Clips

First Impression of Korea

Dennis McGary recalls his first impression of Korea, ten years after the Armistice. He describes the horror of seeing children rummaging through the garbage in search of food due to continued starvation from the decimation of war. He remembers a young boy crawling on his hands and knees under the seats on the train in hopes of finding scraps of food that passengers may have dropped and how upsetting it was not knowing how or when the child boarded or where he got off.

Tags: Civilians,Food,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Poverty

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Korean Interactions Post-War

Dennis McGary recalls various interactions he had with Koreans during his time there, including KATUSA and R.O.K. soldiers as well as civilians. He discusses how civilians would take care of laundry detail for the American soldiers and how well they got along with the KATUSA and R.O.K. soldiers on duty. He describes leaving base and exploring Seoul, often interacting with the locals in town.

Tags: Seoul,Civilians,Impressions of Korea,KATUSA,Living conditions,Rest and Relaxation (R&R),South Koreans

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


D:        My name is Dennis McGary.

I:          Could you spell your last name?
D:        MCGARY.

I:          And what is your birthday?

D:        Nine, 23, ’42.

I:          Forty-two.  So, that makes you

D:        Seventy-seven.

I:          Seventy-seven year-old man looks like that?  I cannot believe it.  Is it the air of Cody, or what makes you so young?

D:        Well, I don’t know what makes me so young.




I:          Come on.  You share the secret with us.

D:        No.  It’s just, well, it must be Wyoming.

I:          Where were you born, right here?
D:        Right here.

I:          Cody, Wyoming.  I’m telling you.  On the way from South Dakota to here, I was mesmerized by the Shell, what is it.

D:        Shell Canyon?
I:          Yeah.

D:        That’s a beautiful canyon.

I:          It’s a big part of Big Horn National Forestry, right?

D:        Yes.

I:          Oh.  You’re living



in a beautiful place.

D:        An hour in any direction, you’re in the most fantastic country in the world.
I:          I want to come back.

D:        Come back, we’ll take you up.

I:          So, tell me about your family background when you were growing up here.

D:        I have cousins that are in Hyatville, Wyoming that came in the 1800’s



They came in the early 1800’s and homesteaded in Hyatville, Wyoming.  And my dad’s mother, my grandmother, she came to Wyoming in 1895, and she was 16 years old and taught school.

I:          Oh.

D:        And she came here to teach school.

I:          What did she teach, everything right?



D:        Yeah.  It was a one-room schoolhouse from grade one to whatever, and she taught it all.

I:          Um hm.

D:        When she started teaching school, she was 16.

I:          Sixteen years old?  Wow.  That’s news.

D:        Her and her girlfriend went to, I think they called it Ladies School.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        And they went together, her and her friend.  And the friend was a little bit older than she was.  But they went to school.  And so, when they had her interviewed,



my grandmother wasn’t interviewed, and the other girl didn’t come.  So, we’ve been out here since that long.

I:          And how many siblings did you have at the time?
D:        When my grandparents were married, they had 15 children.

I:          Fifteen.

D:        Fifteen.

O:        Okay.  And so, when did you graduate high school here?



D:        Nineteen sixty-two.

I:          Nineteen sixty-two.  What high school was it?
D:        Cody High School.

I:          Cody High School.

D:        Still is.

I:          Still is.  So, in your school, did you learn about Korea?

D:        In our school, when I graduated from high school, our graduating class was in the top 10 schools in the United States.
I:          You mean Cody High School?



D:        Cody High School.

I:          Are you sure?

D:        I’m positive.

I:          Wow.

D:        We had some fantastic teachers, and we had some you couldn’t get along with.

I:          Wow.

D:        But they all did a good job.

I:          So, did you learn anything about Korea?

D:        Well, you know, at that time in my life, about the only thing I really cared about was my dad’s ranch and being outdoors.

I:          Hm.
D:        So, a lot of the school just



kind of slipped by and that.  So, I graduated.

I:          So, you were pretty much involved in your dad’s ranch.

D:        Yeah.  We had a big ranch up towards the mountains.

I:          Do you still have it?
D:        No.  It’s been gone a long time.

I:          Long time.

D:        Yeah.
I:          So, but for example in 1961 and ’60 when you were in high school, in your World History of US History book, did that cover the Korean War and Korea?
D:        Yep, it did.



I:          Uh huh.  But you were not very interested in it.

D:        Well, no.  What I was interested in was automotive classes, FFA, technical engineering and stuff like that.
I:          So that you can run the ranch.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Oh. So, you wanted to be a cowboy.

D:        Well, I was already a cowboy.

I:          So, you are the young Buffalo Bill.

D:        Yeah.  Well, I don’t know about Buffalo Bill.



I:          So, after you graduated, what did you do?

D:        Most of the time when I was in school, all the other kids that wanted to get out of school in the summer and do different things, baseball and that stuff.  Well, I got out of school in the summer, I worked on the ranch.  It was not much summer.

I:          So, what kind of work are you talking about on the ranch?  Give me the details.  What did you do?
D:        Details?  Our ranch, my dad’s ranch was about 800 acres.


I:          Wow.

D:        And we had some different lease.  I don’t know how much lease we had at that time.  But we had 100 dairy cows we milked morning and night.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And my sister had 100 head of sheep.  And my dad had 75 or 80 steers, Peter steers.  And when we first got the ranch, we did everything with horses.


We put up hay and everything with horses.

I:          A lot of laboring.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

D:        When I was seven years old, my first job was leading the big workhorse that kicked the hay up onto the stack.

I:          Did your father pay you well?
D:        Not a dime.

I:          Not a dime?

D:        Not a dime.

I:          Oh, my goodness.

D:        Not a dime.

I:          Oh, that’s not fair.

D:        Oh.  But you should have seen the way I ate.

I:          Okay.



So, your father fed you.

D:        Oh yeah.

I:          And you provided the labor for that, okay.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Okay.

D:        He taught me how to drive a pickup when I was seven.

I:          That’s amazing.  When did you join the military then?
D:        Let’s see, I was working with my dad, construction, in ‘62



when I graduated.  And I got a letter from the military that I was gonna be drafted.

I:          When?
D:        The didn’t say.  Well, I got the letter the first of ’63.

I:          Sixty-three.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Okay.  So, what did you do?
D:        Well, of course they sent me the information.  And I had to go to the busses. I had to go to Butte, Montana.

I:          Um hm.

D:        To go through the induction center.  And I went through all that



and everything.  And when I got through, I went over and asked them, I said when do you think that you guys will send a letter for me to be drafted.  And he said I have no idea.  I said well weeks, months, years?  He said I have no idea.  I said what am I supposed to tell my employer when I get back?

I:          Um.

D:        That I might be gone?  And he said well, that’s the way it works.  So, I came home and talked to my dad and my mom, and a couple weeks later,



I joined the military.

I:          A couple weeks later?

D:        Yep.

I:          Joined?

D:        Yep.

I:          So, you were not drafted.
D:        No.

I:          Why?
D:        Cause I could get a school.

I:          What school?

D:        Diesel Engineering.

I:          Oh.  So, you joined the military to get into the Engineering School.

D:        Yeah.
I:          So, you gave up your dream job which is ranching.

D:        Ranching.

I:          Without being paid.

D:        Well, the military didn’t give me much, either.  So.

I:          But enlisted pays you, right?



D:        Right.

I:          Yeah.  I want to talk about that, too.  So, you joined it, and where did you go to the basic military training?

D:        Fort Ord, California.

I:          Fort

D:        Ord.

I:          ORD?

D:        Um hm.

I:          California.  And how was it, the basic military training?  Easy?

D:        Well, you know, when you grow up on a farm, ranch, things come pretty easy physically.  So, I didn’t have much trouble.

I:          Yeah.


You could be an instructor there.
D:        Yeah.  When you’re Irish and you have a bad temper, it’s really tough to

I:          Oh, so you are Irish ethnic origin?

D:        Yep, we’re Irish.

I:          Yeah.  So, Irish loves to drink and dance and singing, right?

D:        No drinking, just a bad temper.

I:          Just like a Korean.  So, how long was the basic military training?

D:        Oh you know,



nine weeks.

I:          Don’t cheat.

D:        Well, you know, I just did the job, and I didn’t pay attention.

I:          And by that time, did you ever think that you’d go to Korea?
D:        Never.
I:          So then, what were you thinking?  Just going to the Engineering School?
D:        Just going to the Engineering School and doing whatever they told me to do.

I:          Um hm.  So, what happened after that?



D:        Well, after basic training, I went to Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

I:          Fort

D:        Fort Belvoir.

I:          BEL

D:        Virginia.

I:          BEL

D:        Yeah. Belvoir.  BEL, I don’t know what it is, Belvoir.

I:          Belvoir, okay. Virginia.

D:        Yep.
I:          And then, what did you do there?
D:        That was with a school.
I:          What school?
D:        Engineering.  Army Engineers.

I:          So, you



accomplished your dream.

D:        Yep.

I:          What did you learn there?

D:        When I graduated from school, the military gives you a driver’s license for everything.  When I graduated from school, I had a driver’s license to run a generator or run a tank.

I:          Tank.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Those are two radically different things.  And so, were you able



to really drive the tank?

D:        They didn’t have any.  But I had a lot of bulldozers and stuff like that.  But the tanks were in another post.
I:          So, actually you were not trained to actually drive the tank.  But you had a license.

D:        Yep.
I:          Okay.  That works good.  So, how did you get into Korea?

D:        It was in ’65,



I was back there in ’64 and ’65.  And my platoon Sergeant.

I:          What do you mean?  You retired from the Army?
D:        No.  This is in 1965.

I:          Okay.  In the Engineering School and so on, yes.

D:        I was in school.  And my platoon Sergeant, his wife and my soon to be wife worked together.

I:          Um hm.
D:        In the



Payroll part of the Marine Corps.  So, we had a party one night, and the platoon Sergeant’s wife introduced me to the girl I would marry.

I:          What’s her name?
D:        Judith.
I:          Judith.  And?

D:        Well, I say, I had to go all the way from Wyoming to Washington, D.C. different block to find her.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And we were married in ’65.

I:          Sixty-five.

D:        Yep.

I:          Then?



Did you go to Korea or what?
D:        No.  The school that was there, one of the main warrant officer W4 was in charge of the school.  And they had been mustered from France to Fort Belvoir, Virginia a year before I got there.

I:          Yes.

D:        So, everything they were doing was in preparation



to build up their company and go back to France.  So, that’s what we were working for.

I:          Um hm.
D:        Was to go back to France.  Well, when we graduated from school, we had everything put together, and we had stripped down all of our trucks and jeeps and everything and loaded them with all of our supplies ready to go back to France.  Well, a couple weeks later we came in, and everything we had was gone.



I:          What happened?

D:        The military came in and confiscated all of our equipment cause they had a military outbreak on one of the islands. I don’t know which one it was.  But they took all of our equipment.  So, our French trip was off.

I:          So sorry.  I am so sorry to hear that.  Instead, you were stuck with Korea.

D:        Yeah.  Well, then we didn’t know where we were going.  And one morning I came in, and they had us all in line, and they said



gentlemen, these are your new orders.  And they started to hand them out.  And when I looked down at mine, it said Viet Nam.

I:          Huh.

D:        And they said go home and pack your duffle bag.  You’re leaving in the morning.

I:          Yeah.
D:        So, I went home and told my wife what was going on and packed my duffle bag.  And the next morning, I went back, and I got in line, and they called ten of us out.

I:          What?
D:        They called ten people out of the formation.  And he said, and they handed me new orders.


And he said these are your new orders.  And I looked down, and it said South Korea.

I:          What a story.  So, you actually wanted to go to France, right?
D:        Yep.
I:          You were very excited.

D:        Yes.

I:          Why?
D:        Cause my wife could go with me.

I:          Oh.  And it’s not because of Paris and France but because of your wife?
D:        Because of my wife.
I:          I mean, obviously Paris is much better than Seoul, Korea, right?

D:        Yeah.



Oh yeah.  Well at that time, you know, I didn’t know much about Korea.

I:          You didn’t know.
D:        No.

I:          Did you know where Korea was?
D:        Oh yeah.  I knew where it was at.

I:          Okay.

D:        [INAUDIBLE] My wife’s brother went through the whole Korean War.

I:          Oh.

D:        He was there from ’50 to ’53.

I:          Judith’s brother.
D:        Yes.

I:          Okay.  So, did you hear from him about the Korean War?

D:        He doesn’t talk much about it.



I:          See, that is the problem of Korean War veterans.  And

D:        And he just talked enough to say it was hell on earth when he was there.

I:          And from France, you were assigned to go to Viet Nam.  Were you excited?

D:        No, I wasn’t excited about going to Viet Nam.
I:          Why not?
D:        Well, that was starting to be in the middle of a conflict.

I:          Okay.  It was in the War so that you couldn’t carry with your wife.

D:        Yeah, I couldn’t take care of her in



Viet Nam.

I:          No wife in the War.

D:        No.

I:          And then from Viet Nam, your job assignment changed again.

D:        I never even had to go to Viet Nam.  They just change my orders.

I:          Exactly.

D:        Yep, that morning.

I:          When was it, still 1965?

D:        Sixty-five.

I:          What month?

D:        May.

I:          Where did it happen that you were one of 10, and you were reassigned to Korea?



D:        In our company, we had, the school company.

I:          Where?

D:        In Fort Belvoir, Virginia.  We were still at the school company.

I:          Uh huh.
D:        Cause that’s where we were supposed to leave the school company and go to France.

I:          Uh huh.  So, when you realized that you were sent to Korea, what were you thinking?
D:        I just, they gave us, I forget what it was, about 10 or 15 days.



We got on the plane.  I came to Wyoming to spend some time with my family, got on a plane and flew to California.

I:          Um hm.    And then where were you married, in Virginia, right?
D:        I was married in Vermont.

I:          Vermont.  But your wife was in

D:        She worked for the Pentagon Payroll in Washington, D.C..

I:          Washington, D.C.  So, when did you leave for Korea from where?



D:        Let’s see.  Oakland, California.

I:          Um hm.
D:        I don’t know what the month was.  We got married in February, and I think it was May.  It was probably the first of May when I got my orders.



I:          So, you flew, right?
D:        I flew from D.C. to Wyoming, Billings, Montana.  And then my folks came and picked me up there.  And I flew out of Billings, Montanna to Oakland, California.

I:          From California to Korea, directly?
D:        No. I flew to Oakland, California.  And they took me down to the ocean and put me on a ship.

I:          Um hm.

D:        I got on the ship and spent 17 days on the ship.



I:          And where did you land?
D:        In Inchon, South Korea.

I:          When did you arrive?
D:        Well, 13 days after, I think it was the middle of May.  When you’re on a boat like that, the boat was 3,500 GIs. There was 1,500 people that were gonna be in Korea.  And there was 700



ship crew on the ship, and it was only built for 1,000 people.

I:          So, you were packed like sardines.

D:        Yeah.
I:          So, you enjoyed throwing up and smelling each other.

D:        Ninety-nine percent of the time, I was on deck.

I:          Okay.  So, before we talk about Korea, now you are sitting with one of your best friends together.


D:        We didn’t know each other yet.
I:          But you met him there.

D:        Yes.
I:          When did you meet, where, and how did you meet?
D:        When the ship pulled into Korea, the tide was out.  It was out seven miles.  So, they put us on landing craft and took us

I:          So, oh.  You didn’t know Jack Martin in the United States.  You didn’t meet him in Oakland, California or basic training or in Belvoir.

D:        No.

I:          Okay.  Go on.



D:        So, when we got on the ship, they went in alphabetical order.  When they went up the gangplank and they guy was up there counting them,

I:          You mean in Inchon?
D:        No, in Oakland, California.
I:          Yeah.

D:        When we got on the ship, we got up to the gangplank.  And when they started alphabetic order and when they go to Ms, they sent the Ms in another direction.  All the people that went on before us pulled KP for 17 days.


The guys from M to Z didn’t pull anything.  We just sat on our butts.

I:          Are you telling me the real genuine story? Or are you crafting up last night.

D:        No.  The guys from M to Z must have worn out a thousand decks of cards.

I:          So here again, the destiny of your last name M as in Mary or Martin



or McGary, that made you friends.

D:        Well, we never seen anybody on the boat.

I:          And so?

D:        So, when we got on the ship and on the landing crafts,

I:          So, you didn’t know him?  You were in the same ship, right?
D:        Yep.  But somewhere there was 3,500 guys you don’t know.

I:          No.  You can say 1,500 soldiers were assigned to Korea.  You didn’t know each other.

D:        There was 3,200 GIs



I:          Yeah.

D:        And 1,500 other people.
I:          Yeah.

D:        We didn’t know each other.  We got on a linercraft, and we got down to the beach.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And they had a real long thing coming out on the beach, and it was a set of ropes.  There must have been, what do you think, probably 20 sets of rope, Jack?

J:         A lot of them.
D:        A lot of them.  So, we carried our duffle bag down, put it on the roller, and we pushed it probably 150



yards up.  And then when we got to there, there was a railroad track and a station.  And when we started getting up there, there was a whole bunch of Sergeants standing there, and they all had a little piece of colored yarn in their hand.  And as we come up, and they checked our names and put a red one on this guy, a blue one in that one, a green one in that one, a yellow on that guy and sent us in all these directions.  All of us went down,


whoever had the little red one, I think I had a red one, I’m not sure.

J:         I don’t remember that part.

D:        We all went down this way.  And we stood there for a while.   And then they said okay.  This bunch, you get on the train.  And this was an old steam locomotive.

I:          Um hm.
D:        So, when we got on the train, they handed us a little paper bag full of food. I went down the aisle, and there was a guy setting there.  The seats were like this facing each other.  So, I went down, and he was one of the guys there,



And I said can I sit with you.  And he said sure.  So, we set there and visited for a little bit.

I:          And that is the guy, Jack Martin.

D:        That’s the guy, Jack Martin.

I:          So, that should be around the middle of May or the end of May, right?
D:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  Do you remember him?  How was he?  Was he smelly or was he handsome?



D:        Let me, I don’t want to offend you.  But when we were sitting there, and the train started.  And of course, we’re supposed to eat our lunch.  Well, outside the windows was a big 55-gallon drums.

I:          Yeah.
D:        And after we ate our lunch, we were supposed to throw the bags into the garbage cans.  Well, when we finished our lunches and threw the bags into the garbage cans,



there was about 50 little Korean boys and girls that dove into those barrels after those empty bags.

I:          Um hm.
D:        So, that was Jack and my first impression of Korea.  The children were starving to death.

I:          So, it was pretty negative, right?
D:        It was, yeah, unbelievable.  Him and I were setting there, and all of a sudden there was a little, what’d you say, probably four or five?



J:         He wasn’t very old.

D:        Came crawling under all the seats, through our legs and went on down to the end of the car picking up scraps off the floor of the train.  And he was still on it when the train took off.  So, we have no idea where he got off.  He was still on the train.  He just disappeared.

I:          You’re talking about a small Korean child under the seat of the train?
D:        Yeah, on the train.


And looking for anything to eat.

D:        Yes.

I:          And that was 1965.

D:        Yes.

I:          In Korea in 1962, we had launched a five-year economic development plan by Park Chung-hee, President Park Chung-hee.  And so, we were developing and changing Korean nation.  But it was still the early phase.  And that’s how much the situation



was there.

J:         [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Yeah.  Just please.  You look at me.  And please you look at him please.  Jack, you look at me.  Excellent.  Thank you.  This is going to be edited by the way.  So,

D:        So, we’re sitting there, and we started down to Korea.  The train started out.  We didn’t know where it was going.  We’re just on the train, and we’re going.



Well, him and I are talking, visiting, and we’re going down this thing, and there was a woven wire fence on both sides [INAUDIBLE] probably seven or eight feet tall.  And we were visiting, and all of a sudden, he looked at me and I looked at him and I said what’s that terrible smell?  I grabbed my handkerchief up and put it on my face.  And we finally looked out the window.  Well, there was dried dead fish on those wires



for blocks and blocks and blocks hanging on that fence drying.

I:          Um hm.
D:        So, that as one of the things that we would think oh my goodness.  Are we gonna have to put up with this for 13 months?
I:          Yeah.  You’ve been putting up with the shit of bisons and cows, right?

D:        Yeah.

I:          We still dry those fishes.  And it’s one of the best menu in Korean dishes.



And I think you would like it if it is cooked properly, okay?  But anyway, so from there, where did you go?

D:        Well, we were visiting there.  And Jack’s a smoker and I’m not.
I:          Oh.

D:        He reached in his pocket and got a package of cigarettes out and took one and he handed it on, and I said no, I don’t smoke.

I:          Why didn’t you smoke?
D:        I never have.

I:          I mean, you didn’t like it?
D:        No.

I:          Um hm.  How about your father?

D:        My father and my mother smoked.

I:          That’s why.



My sister smoked.  But I never did.

I:          Okay.  That’s why you don’t like it.

D:        Yeah.  And Jack, well he said well, it’s no good.  He says I haven’t got anything to light it with.  So, I reached in my pocket, and I handed him my lighter.  And he said well, why do you have a lighter in your pocket when you don’t smoke?  And I said for people like you.

I:          So, where did you go?  I mean,



Where was your last destination?

J:         Camp Rice.

D:        Camp Rice, 2 ½ miles from the DMZ in the north.

I:          Camp Rice?
D:        Rice.
I:          RICE.

D:        Yeah.

I:          And that was two miles from the DMZ.

D:        Yeah.

I:          And what was your unit at the time?
D:        What is that?

J:         The 702 Maintenance Battalion



I:          Seven o seven.

J:         Seven o two.

I:          Maintenance.

J:         Maintenance Battalion.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         Second Infantry Division.

I:          Second Infantry Division.  And what was your specialty?

D:        My specialty was, I was a diesel engineer.

I:          What?

D:        A diesel engineer.

I:          Diesel.
D:        I was an Army engineer is what I was.  And a diesel engineer.



That’s what I went to school for.  So, Jack and I were going there to be mechanics.  That’s what we were going for.

I:          Yeah.  He told me about his love of automotives and so on.

D:        He was a fuel and electric man.  That’s what his part was.

I:          Um hm.  So, you became buddies from there.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Uh huh.  Did you like him?
D:        Oh, it took me a while to get used to him.  [LAUGHING]



I:          What was your rank at the time?

D:        At the time, I was a PFC.

I:          PFC.  Okay.  Do you remember how much you were paid in the beginning?

D:        Sixty

J:         The first check I got was $62.

D:        Yeah, $62.

J:         A month.

I:          With the $62, what were you able to do at the time?


D:        Well, about anything I wanted to do.  Mostly I kept about $5 or $6 or $7.  And the rest of it, I sent home to my wife.

I:          And what did your wife do with that money?
D:        I have no idea.

I:          What do you mean?  Didn’t you find out any savings after you returned from Korea?
D:        You’ll probably laugh at me.  But when we got married,



And got together and got married, one of the things she asked me was if I would go to church with her on Sundays.  And I said yes.  And I said if you do all the financials for our family.  And she said yes.  So, she still does the finances.  I don’t.

I:          Um hm.  That’s why you’re poor.  Okay.


Tell me about the routines of your duties in Camp Rice as a diesel engineer.  What time do you wake up?  What did you do?  Where did you sleep?  What did you eat?  What did you do after the War?
D:        Okay. You have to understand.  When we got to Camp Rice, they dumped us out of the trucks and had us all in the parade ground in formation.  And they went through, they called everybody’s name, and they introduced everybody, the captain and the sergeant and the lieutenants.



And then, you know, you’re never supposed to volunteer for anything.  Never volunteer.

I:          But you did.

D:        So, they asked all these questions.  And pretty soon the first sergeant says does anybody type?  Nobody answered.  Finally, I said first sergeant, I do.  He says you’re the shop clerk.

I:          Um hm.

D:        So, I spent 13 months behind a typewriter and desk, never turned a wrench.

I:          So, you didn’t work on diesels.



D:        Nothing.  Several hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on my school, and I never turned a wrench.

I:          What about Jack?  What did Jack do?

D:        Well, you’d have to have a centered book to tell all the stuff that Jack did.

I:          So, I’m going to grill him in Yellowstone, okay?  You’ve got to come to Yellowstone.  Promise me?  Okay.  How as life there?



D:        Well, the first thing I had to get used to was when the bugs and the crickets were this long on the side of our barracks.  It was a little different thing that I’d never seen.  The barracks were all metal Quonset huts with a stove on each end and no insultation.  They had probably 20



regular bunks and then a cubicle for the platoon sergeant and a stove at each end.  Well, I got a bunk on this end, and Jack happened to be across from me.
I:          Oh, you were in the same Quonset.

D:        The same Quonset hut.

I:          Oh my God.  You guys have never been separated.

J:         There were bunks beside each other.  Sometimes they were across.  We moved around trying to stay warm.

I:          Imagine that.

D:        We had been there



oh, a couple weeks, and it started to rain.  And it rained, and it rained.  Well, our barracks was setting on a little hill.  Well, the water came in this door and run down and tried to run out that door.  But the Quonset hut was setting at a little angle.  So, it all went underneath my bed.  There was about 2 ½ feet of water under my bed.

I:          Were there any fish?
D:        No, I couldn’t find any fish.  So, I went over to the shop, and I got a long wrecking bar.



And I rammed holes through the side of my hootch so the water’d run out.  So, that’s what it was for 13 months.  I had holes in there so the water would run out.

I:          Right now Korea has a lot of rain.  So, most of it is submersed right now.

D:        Right now?

I:          Right now.  So, basically, it wasn’t that hard, right?
D:        No.

I:          Um hm.  But what about the situation in the DMZ?  Were there any skirmish or any heightened



D:        There was different, they would call us out probably once a month.  Something would happen on the DMZ, and they would call us into the field.  That would happen probably once a month.  A couple times we had to stay for two or three days, somebody actually came across and caused some trouble and then went back over.

I:          Um hm.

D:        We were close enough to the DMZ that every night we could hear the loudspeakers



with the propaganda.  It would just blast all night long.

I:          But there were no real battles.

D:        No.

I:          No skirmish.

D:        There was, what was that, that was just before we went home when they came across again, wasn’t it, Jack?
J:         Yeah.

I:          In 1968, North Korea abducted USS Pueblo.

D:        Yes.

I:          In 1969, North Korea shot down EC121, the spy airplane.



And then in 1976, there was a popular accident so that American officers and soldiers were axed by the North Koreans in the DMZ.  Other than that, there was not much heightened, right?

D:        Right.
I:          Is that right?  How was the situation?  Did you feel threatened by the North Koreans at the time.

J:         No.

I:          Not really.

J:         No.

I:          Okay.  Were there any Korean soldiers or



Korean people working with you?
D:        Oh yes.

I:          Tell me about it.

D:        We had, well, most of the barracks had a Korean civilian that took care of our barracks.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Took care of my clothes, my shoes, everything for me.  And then we had Katusas.  And then we had ROK soldiers both on the post.  And we got along fine.

I:          Katusa means a Korean Augmentation To US Army, right?
D:        Yeah.



I:          Yes.  So, they were able to speak some English.

D:        Yeah.
I:          Um hm.

D:        Most of them a whole lot better English than I could speak Korean.

I:          Yeah, right.
D:        Jack’s the one with Korean.  I [WAVES HAND]

I:          Yeah, he knows.

D:        Yeah.
I:          So, after the War, were you able to go out of the camp?

D:        Oh yes.

I:          What did you do?
D:        Well, there was villages.  There was nightclubs.

I:          Um hm.
D:        And I spent a lot of time at the military, it had a big,



I:          Military prison?
D:        No.

J:         [INAUDIBLE]

D:        It was a military where you had a gym and a theater and recreation center and a café and a place you could buy groceries and stuff like that.

I:          Was that inside of the camp or outside?
D:        This was in a different place, another camp.

I:          Another camp.

D:        Another camp.

I:          Um hm.
D:        And we would go with one of the guys



that was going that way in a military vehicle.  Or we would catch a Korean cab.

I:          Um hm.  Have you been to Seoul?

D:        When I was there, there were five of my buddies.  Jack didn’t go.  He was busy.  But there was five of us that went to Seoul on a religions thing.  We went to the big church and stuff down there.  And they showed us around in Seoul.



And that was when I went to Seoul.  And another time I had liberty, and there were three of us. I didn’t realize it.  In the Northeastern part of Korea, there’s a big mountain enough that you could ski on.

I:          Yeah.
D:        And I’m a skier.

I:          Oh.
D:        So, we had a trip up there for three or four days.  Well, the rain came and melted the snow.  So, we were in Seoul for a few days.



And then we went back cause the snow was melted, and we couldn’t go skiing.

I:          That must be Yongcheng, you know.

D:        Yeah, I think so.

I:          Yeah.  And how was Seoul at the time?  It was still 1965, right?  How was Seoul?
D:        Seoul was, there were parts of it that the military wouldn’t let us go down.  It was still pretty devastated.  Loss of buildings that were in a really bad shape.



I:          How about people?

D:        The people, we just mingled with them.  We just went with them.
I:          But how did they look?  Did they look poor or were they looking for anything to eat?

D:        Seoul was a little better.  Up north, it was bad.

I:          So, did you share your food with other people?  Or did you give our chocolate or gum?
D:        In Seoul, nobody ever asked for food.
I:          Okay.

D:        And we were in a small group,


And they would take us here or they would take us there.

I:          Um hm.  And have you been back to Korea since then?
D:        No.

I:          Do you know what’s going on in Korean economy and Korean democracy?
D:        Korea is one of the most fantastic economies in the world, South Koirea.

I:          Do you know the ranking of Korean economy now in the world?

D:        I think Jack said it was like 10th or 11th.

I:          Yeah, 11th.

D:        I thought it was more.  I was



placing it at about 5th.

I:          Fifth?

D:        Yeah.

I:          Oh, you’re kidding me.  You know

J:         I heard 8th.  But I saw in your book, I read the first couple pages, and you said 10th in the book, but you say 11thnow.

D:        Well, South Korea, I’ve done some research on it.

I:          Tell me about it.

D:        And it

I:          What do you know?
D:        I’ll tell you it’s probably one of the most industrialized small countries in the world.  And the medical facilities it has is unbelievable.  They are one of the few countries



I know of that produce artificial ears, and noses and eyes, stuff for people.

I:          Plastic surgery?

D:        Yeah.
I:          You come to Korea.  We can fix your face, okay?

D:        [INAUDIBLE]

J:         Make him funny again.

I:          You want to look like whom?  I’m just kidding.  But so, you know how much it’s been advanced.

D:        Oh yes.

I:          What do you think about that?  I mean, compared to 1965



and now?

D:        With all the wars and stuff, the United States, as far as I’m concerned, has rebuilt the whole entire world.  First World War, Second World War, all that stuff.  We’ve poured more money into all of the rest of the world put together.

I:          Martial plan for Europe.
D:        Well, South Korea is one of the countries



That we helped, gave money to that actually did something with it.

I:          Right.  When did you leave Korea?
D:        Well, it was

J:         Nineteen sixty-six.

D:        Sixty-six, yeah.  June ’66.

I:          And when you left Korean in June of 1966, did you think that Korea would become like this today?

D:        No.

I:          Why not?


D:        Well, cause it was so devastated that I didn’t know whether it could be done.

I:          Um hm.

D:        When we were there, we would be, Jack was one of them that was sent out.  We did some work for some orphanage.  And Jack said that well, we gotta go get some trees to help build a fence.  Well, there were no trees left in Korea.


So, they took him up on a little hillside, and the trees they got were about this big around and 4’ tall.  That’s not a tree.

I:          But now Korea is one of the most successful reforestation countries in the world.

D:        Yeah.
I:          Yeah.  So, if you go back, Ken Price, I don’t think he still exists.  But you will see full on big trees like Wyoming in Big Horn National Forestry.  And it’s all covered.



So, that’s what happened.  But my question is, still in World History textbook in the United States and all other countries that participated in the Korean War, don’t talk much about the Korean War.  Why?

D:        I have no idea.

I:          So, what should we do?

D:        Well, I’ll tell you what.  Right now, the American people are deserting history.

I:          Um hm.

D:        If you can find



a decent high school teacher that still teaches and a decent history class, you’re gonna find a one in a million.

I:          Hm.  So, that’s why we are doing this.

D:        Yeah.
I:          And, if you know of any history teachers who wants to work with my Foundation, please let me know, okay?  While you were in Korea, were you able to write letters to your wife?

D:        Yes.

I:          What did you write?
D:        I just would write what I was doing, what the country was like, what they people were like, what Jack and I were doing.


I:          Do you still keep the letters?
D:        I don’t know what she did with them.  She might still have them.

I:          Oh.  So, the first job that you need to do after this interview is to ask your wife.  And if you have, would you be willing to share with us so that we can scan it except those portions which is x rated, you know, so that they can tell Korea in 1965 and how you thought about Korea.  I mean,



please think about it, okay?

D:        Well, it was different, you know.  Everybody was poor.  All the Koreans were poor.

I:          Um hm.

D:        I don’t know if they had any money in Seoul or Inchon.  But everybody was poor.  And they collected everything.  And they would come on our post, and they would leave with a bicycle with 200 beer cans fastened to the back of a bicycle and go down the street.


I:          And they’d build a house with it.

D:        Well, I don’t know what they built with it.  But they did a lot of stuff with it.

I:          Yeah.
D:        The next bicycle that came by would have a 200 lb. pig on the back, and he’d pedal down the road with a 200 lb. hog on the back of the bicycle.

I:          That’s how it used to be in Korea, right?
D:        Yeah.
I:          Yeah.  But now Korea is offering aid to other poor countries, you know, developing countries.  So, a big part of your Korean mission was



spending time with Jack, right?  Any episode that you want to share with me about Jack?
D:        That would have to be a whole different book.

I:          Give me some please.

J:         He was the dad of the bunch.  We were the kids.

D:        When I went in, I was 24 years old.  Jack was 17.

I:          Oh.  Okay.  So, he was a kid, and you were an adult.



D:        Well, I guess you could call me an adult.

I:          Yeah.  And?

D:        Well, Jack was a farmer, and I was a rancher.  So, we hit it off there.  We knew what was going on.  Jack was a hunter, and I was a hunter.  So, that’s a lot of our conversations about those things.  But I had been married only a few months.  So, all the single guys, they went to the village.

I:          Um hm,

D:        I stayed at the post



and went to the Rec Center or read.

I:          Is he telling the truth?
J:         Yeah.

I:          Okay.

J:         He was a good boy.

I:          Okay.

D:        The guys were always hollering at me because, so I went down.  And I went in a little village house.  And I put beer and pretzels and stuff in it.  And I would go down with the guys, and I would spend time there.  And they would go out to the bar and whatever.  So, that was where I’d go.  Most of the time, I was on the post.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Rec center or whatever.



I:          So, now you are sitting.  Jack’s hometown is not Cody, okay.

D:        No, Wisconsin.

I:          I know.

D:        Yeah.

I:          He’s from Wisconsin.  And now he’s sitting here.  He’s living here.  What happened? How did it happen?

D:        Well, the more he was there, the better friends we got to be. He got to be a little bit of a partier, you know.  And well, when you

I:          I’m going to tell Diane about it, okay?



D:        When you stay out more than curfew and you come trying to get through the concertina wire at 2:00 in the morning,

I:          Yeah.

D:        Well, you have to have somebody inside to help you from the outside in.

I:          Okay.  So, you are accomplice.  And

D:        Before he left the post, he would find out what guard station I was on.



I:          So, you let him in.

D:        I let him in.

I:          Yeah, not being caught.

D:        No, didn’t want to get him caught.

I:          How much did you charge him for that?
D:        Nothing.

I:          It was free?

D:        Free, it was free.

I:          Okay.  So, you have to buy lunch today for him.  So, after you came back, how did it happen that Jack’s still with you?

D:        Well, we came back on a plane.  So, we came back.

I:          Oh, you came back together



in the same plane?

D:        I was two weeks ahead of you.

J:         A day or two.

D:        A day or two, something, on the airplane.  And of course, he flew, Wisconsin, right?  You went to Wisconsin, and I flew to Wyoming and was gonna go back to Vermont and find my wife so I can go to my next post.

I:          Yeah.

D:        Well, when I got here and walked off the airplane, my wife was in the terminal waiting for me in Billings, Montana.

I:          Um hm.



D:        My folks had sent her an airplane ticket and brought her out for me.

I:          Yeah.  So,

D:        So, we stayed here, we were here for a couple weeks.  And then we drove from Wyoming to Vermont and picked up some of her stuff.  And then we drove from Vermont to Fort Hood, Texas.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And during that time, Jack had been sent to Fort Hood, Texas, too.



When Judy and I got there, we got housing off post.  And I’d come in every morning, and Jack of course, was in the barracks.  Well, when I finally found out that Jack was there, then he would come down to the house and have supper or whatever with us.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Off post.

I:          Um hm.  And then?

D:        Then we spent our time in Fort Hood, Texas.



J:         Then we got discharged from there.

I:          What kind?  When was it?

J:         He got out before I did.
D:        I got out in ’67.

J:         I got out in May of ’67.

I:          Okay.  And then

D:        We were all friends.  Jack and I would sit and visit and talk.  And I told him, he would tell me in Wisconsin when hunting season opens, there is like



300,000 people in the woods the first day.  And I told him, and he said you have to duck behind a lot of trees.  So, I said well, if you come to Wyoming, I’ll take you to a place where there’s no people at all.  And he said that sounds good.  So

I:          He came to [INAUDIBLE]

D:        He came to [INAUDIBLE]

I:          When was it?

D:        Well, that was

J:         Sixty-eight first time I came.

D:        Yeah.  He came by himself in ’68 to visit.

I:          Um hm.



J:         His mom got me a job.  I worked in the oil fields for a while.

I:          And then how did he meet his wife?
D:        Well, how long did you work there, Jack?
J:         I only worked here a month or two.

D:        A month or two.

J:         Then I went back to Wisconsin.  And then I met her.  And then we came out here on our honeymoon because I wanted her to meet Dennis and Judy.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And I wanted her to see this place because I wanted to come back.



And so we came on our honeymoon and went through Yellowstone and stuff.  And she liked it.  So, we made plans, and we moved down here.

I:          Excellent.  So, let me wrap this interview by asking you, you didn’t know much about Korea.  Now you are the Korea Defense veteran.

D:        Yes.

I:          How can you link this?  And what is Korea to you, and how was your Korean service?  Tell me.  What is Korea to you?  How do



you put it into perspective?

D:        Well, I don’t know how to put it.  But from all the stuff I’ve been through and the different things I did.  South Korea is probably one of the countries that is actually a friend to the United States.  I can’t put it any different than that.
I:          You’re not talking because I’m here.

D:        Nope.



I:          So,

D:        Korean people have done, South Korean people have done, every time Jack and I turn around, they’re doing something.  They’re sending something.  They’re visiting with us or talking to us.  They send an ambassador to us, and they gave us a medal.

I:          Yep.

D:        And we weren’t even in the hot shot.  We were there afterwards.

I:          Um hm.  But still, Korea Defense veterans,



their contribution needs to be re-examined because as you know, the Korean War never finished, okay.  It’s never been replaced by a Peace Treaty.

D:        Nope.

I:          And the main enemy was between north and south.  But at the same time, it was between China and the U.S.  And that game never ended.

D:        No.

I:          Right now.

D:        But at that time, President

I:          Sixty-



D:        Well, ’53.

I:          Truman.

D:        Truman.  If I’d had my way, I’d have hit him in the head with a hammer.

I:          Why?
D:        Cause MacArthur was ready to go into China and finish the job.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And he wouldn’t let him.
I:          So, you think that we should have fought against China.
D:        I think that he should have gave MacArthur and Hydrogen bomb and fixed the Chinese people.

I:          Oh.


D:        That might be cruelty.

I:          Yeah.
D:        But it would have stopped a lot of stuff happening.

I:          So still, there are trade conflicts, and there are two U.S. aircraft carriers in the South China Sea.  U.S. is trying to control China.  China is trying to challenge the [INAUDIBLE] of the United States.  And it’s a natural extension of the Korean War right now.
D:        It is.

I:          That’s how important the Korean War is now



and will be, you know, for the regional peace and

D:        South Korea has some of the best military pilots in the world.

I:          Pilots?

D:        Pilots, aircraft, fighter pilots.

I:          Yeah.  My father was Air Force.  He was the Phantom F4D [INAUDIBLE] before F86.  And he was in charge of Taegu Squadron, the whole thing, you know.  So, I know about this.


I was brought up in the air base, K2.

D:        Oh, K2, yeah.

I:          U.S. airbase and Korean air base.  They are together.  So, I know all about it.

D:        That’s where our bugler was, K2, and security.

J:         So, Dennis and I are members of the VFW [INAUDIBLE] And we had an old gentlemen that sounded Taps for us



for 42 years, and then he got too old.  And so what we do is we recruit a young man or a girl

I:          Um hm.

J:         In high school

I:          Um hm

J:         And they blow bugle for us for three or four years.  And then we give them a scholarship to go to college.  And

D:        [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Yeah, good.

J:         And one of our buglers, he enjoyed being around us veterans so much he joined the Army



when he got out of high school.  And the first place they sent him to was South Korea.  And he was a computer guy

D:        Military security.

J:         does the, directs missiles and stuff.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And he’s made a career out of the Army now.

I:          Um hm.

J:         He stayed in.  And a real nice young man.  But

I:          By the way, this gentleman is the friend of Dennis McGary,



Jack Martin. And Korea brought these two gentlemen together, one from Wisconsin, one from Wyoming.  And Jack is ending up in Wyoming, Cody, beautiful city.  This year is the 70th anniversary of the breakout of the Korean War, 2020.  What would you say to Korean people about your service and the relationship between U.S. and Korea?



D:        Oh.  That’s a hard one.  I don’t have that much to say. I just think we still need to be working together.

I:          Um hm.

D:        I don’t know what’s gonna happen with China, but it’s not gonna be good if we let it go.

I:          Um hm.

D:        I think right now North Korea may be just a puppet of China.



I:          Are you proud to be a Korea Defense veteran?
D:        Oh yes, I am.
I:          Uh huh.  Do you wanna go back to Korea to see what’s happened?

D:        Well, I would enjoy a trip back, yes.

I:          Okay.  Now the Korean government MPVA, Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, is running their Revisit program.  It used to focus on the Korean War veterans.  But they are old, so many of them cannot make it.  So, now they are trying to invite the Korean Defense veterans back.  And I’ll put two of your names together



So that you can go back to Korea together.  How about that?

J:         That would be wonderful.

D:        It would be interesting.

I:          Maybe this time you can take your wife with you.

D:        It would be, I talked to her about it the other night, and she kind of looked at me like you know, and I thought well, hopefully it’s [INAUDIBLE] the virus has gone down and all that stuff, and it would be, I would really like to see the changes.

I:          In terms of



public health policy on the pandemic, Korea is much better than the United States right now.

D:        I think you are, yeah.

I:          Yeah.  Except Wyoming because it’s very sparsely populated.

D:        Yeah.

I:          And it’s so clean so that you don’t have much problem.  But if you go to New York City, Florida, Texas, you are in hell.

D:        They were dirty before the pandemic.

I:          Yep.  Alright.  Dennis, it’s been a very



enjoyable moments to have a conversation with you and how you ended up as a Korean Defense veteran.  And you talked a lot about Korea, the transformation that the Korean people made and also the friendship you made with Jack Martin.  And I’m going to interview him soon in Yellowstone.  So, I want to thank you for your honorable service.  And please, remain as a best friend to the Korean people.



D:        Yes.

I:          Um hm.
D:        Definitely.
I:          Thank you, sir.

D:        You’re welcome.