Korean War Legacy Project

Donald H. Jones


Donald H. Jones was born on May 5, 1929 in Winchester, Virginia. After graduating Handley High School, he began working at a local brake-line manufacturer. He was drafted into the US Army on December 12, 1950 and was sent to Fort Meade and Fort Jackson for training. He was deployed to Korea and arrived in Pusan in March 1951 attached to the 25th Division, 34th Regiment, “K” Company. His unit was stationed in the Kumwa Valley where he worked as an infantry radio operator. He received the CIB, National Defense Medal, Korean Service Medal, UN Service Medal, Good Conduct Ribbon, as well as Air National Guard and Air Force Commendation Medals for his commitments. After returning from his rotation in 1952, he worked various jobs. He started a family and reenlisted in the military continuing his service until May 4, 1989. Today, he lives in West Virginia and is active in the KWVA. His hobbies include collecting easels and putting puzzles together.

Video Clips

Potatoes in the Sea

Donald Jones tells a story about his arrival by ship to Pusan and how Koreans dove into the sea to collect potatoes that the Army discarded.

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

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"To Hell with the Wire, Let's Move!"

Donald Jones tells the story of his group's reaction to being strafed by enemy planes when laying communications wire and subsequent encounter with a new Lieutenant during their escape.

Tags: Fear,Front lines,North Koreans

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Both Heels Shot Off

Donald Jones describes a specific night battle when the heels of both of his boots were shot off yet he was uninjured.

Tags: Chinese,Fear,Front lines,North Koreans

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Bunker Description

Donald Jones describes the interior of a US Army bunker.

Tags: Cold winters,Front lines,Living conditions

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


D: My name is Donald H. Jones.  I’m 84 years old.  I was born May 5, 1929 in Winchester, Virginia, right up the street here was where we lived.

I: What kind of school did you go through?
D: I went through John Kerr and Hanley High.

I: Um hm.  And would you introduce your wife?



D: My wife is Doris Be. Belfort, and she was born March 25, 1934.

I: Hi Doris.

Doris: Hi.

I: Thank you for coming.  So, you want to watch your husband’s interview?

Doris: Yes.

I: Good.  

D: I had three brothers, my mother and father and 



Of course, I had some siblings off of them, my brothers.  And I have no sisters.

I: No sisters.

D: No sisters.
I: Were you the eldest?
D: No. I’m the in between, there’s two of us in between.

I: Um hm.

D: There’s seven years difference between my oldest brother and my next, older than I am.  There’s 14 years between me and the oldest one.



I: I see.

D: There’s only five years between me and the youngest one.

I: What were you doing around the time the Korean War broke out?

D: I was working at the Adex Company here in Winchester.

I: Adex?

D: Yes.
I: What is that?
D: We made brake lines for automobiles and trucks and airplanes.  We made it.

I: When did you join the Army?  You’re Army, right, Infantryman?

D: I was drafted.



I: When were you drafted?

D: Nineteen fifty, December 12th.

I: December 12?

D: Uh huh.

I: And so, then you knew that the Korean War broke out.

D: Yes.  I knew when I was drafted that there was a Korean War.
I: Um hm.  Did you have any knowledge about Korea or Asia at the time?
D: No.



I: You didn’t learn from high school about Asia?
D: Just a little bit, not a whole lot.

I: Uh huh.  That seems to be the case.  Most of the Korean veterans, 99% told me that they never heard about anything about Korea.

D: As far as Korea, no.  We never heard nothing about it.
I: Um.

D: Mostly what we heard was Japan.
I: Uh huh.  What did they say about Japan?
D: Well, the only thing we learned about Japan was that



they came in during World War II.  And they could have taken the United States at that time if they had used their heads.  And they did not come any farther than Pearl Harbor.  They were foreigners to us.

I: Um hm.
D: And that’s the way we treated them, as foreigners.

I: So, did you know that you might end up in Korea



and fighting there?

D: No because I went in the service, I was drafted and we were called in to go to basic training, I went with five other people here from Winchester.

I: Your friends.

D: Three of them were.

I: Uh huh.

D: And we all got separated, went separate ways.

I: Uh huh.

D: I went to Fort Mead in Maryland and left there and



went to Fort Jackson, South Carolina.  From there, I went to Seattle, Washington to be put on a boat, a one-stacker all the way across the Pacific to Japan where we trained in Japan again.

I: Did you know that you were going to be dispatched to Korea?
D: Yeah, we knew then.

I: When did you know?
D: When I received my orders to go on leave for 30 days and to report to


Seattle, Washington, I knew I was going from there to Japan and eventually end up in Korea.

I: How was your reaction when you first knew that you were going to go fight in a country that you never heard of before?
D: I don’t know.  It was a different experience to me which I guess was to everybody.  And I more or less wondered



In my mind what am I getting into.

I: Right.  

D: But I didn’t know.  So, we went from Japan to Korea and Pusan, unloaded off the ship onto landing barges and went into Pusan.  And the funny part about Pusan I remember the very first thing

I: Uh huh.

D: Was these 



trucks were lined up on the dock all backing towards the water.  And there was a whole bunch of people on the dock.  Well, I couldn’t imagine what in the world were those people doing there when this country’s at war.  But then I realized.

I: Were they Koreans or 

D: They were Koreans.

I: Uh huh.  

D: They were going in the water to get the potatoes that the trucks were dumping in the water.



I: You dumped potatoes into the water?
D: Our company, the Americans, did dump potatoes into the water.

I: You mean the sea?
D: The sea.

I: Sea.  And so, why would they dump potatoes into the sea?
D: They were getting on the rotten stage.  And once they get that close to rotting, they’re discarded.

I: Oh.  So, you were dumping the wasted potatoes.

D: Yeah.


And Koreans were eager to get them.

D: Oh yes.  They were hungry for food, so they went after them.

I: What did you think about that?

D: I was amazed that they had no mask on their face, no pipe sticking out of their mouth, and they went down in the water.

I: To pick up.



D: And they had what looked like bags or something like that to put the potatoes in.

I: When did you leave from Seattle?
D: It took us a very good while to go across.  

I: Um hm.

D: Cause we hit the typhoon.

I: Is that the first city that you saw in Pusan where Koreans were hungry.

D: And they wanted the food, so they went after it.

I: Um hm.  



What happened to you after that?
D: We loaded onto trucks and were trucked from Pusan to Seoul.  At Seoul, we unloaded.  And we marched and maneuvered all the way up to the 38th Parallel.

I: How was Seoul?

D: There wasn’t much left.  It was about gone.  The only thing that we saw was



a building that could be used was a train station.

I: Train station. No government buildings.

D: Well, there might have been a couple more buildings because the Army had a warehouse there that they stored the clothing in.

I: Um hm.  

D: That we needed.  And then we 

I: But what was your specialty?

D: At that time, I was a mortar operator.

I: What does that mean?



D: It means I set up the 60 mm mortars and fired them.  They’d hand me the ammo, and I fired them.

I: Uh huh.

D: And I’d set it up.  But then

I: Did you learn that skill during basic military training?

D: Yes.  Not in the United States. I learned it in Japan.

I: Oh, you learned it in Japan.

D: That’s where I found out I was a mortar man.

I: Um hm.
D: Then then found out that I was right fast on my feet at running, and they decided I’d be better at



radio operator than I would a mortar man.

I: So, you were fast.
D: So, I was an operator.  Yes, I was fast.

I: Um hm.

D: And I only weighed about 130 lbs. if I weighed that much.  

I: So, you were very strong at the time.

D: I considered myself, yes.

I: Good.

D: And I remember one time



in Korea that we went on patrol.  

I: Where was it, in Seoul or 38th Parallel?
D: We were up on the 38th Parallel.

I: Um hm.

D: Then the Kumhwa Valley.

I: Kumhwa Valley.

D: Right at the railroad tracks.  

I: Um hm.

D: In fact, we used the railroad tracks to put the heavy weapons underneath it so the MIGS couldn’t get to them.



I: I see.  

D: And we went up to replace the first KF which had pretty well got wiped out.  And we became the 25th Division 34th Regiment Company K.  

I: Company K?

D: Company K.

I: And that’s where Kumhwa Valley is?
D: Kumhwa Valley.

I: Okay.  



D: My first duty was to lay telephone wire.

I: Um hm.  How long, do you remember?

D: I think we went from, we went over two outfits.

I: Two outfits?
D: The Turks were on the left.
I: Um hm.



D: English was on the right.  And the Scots were on the other side of them.  And we took wire down to them.  And I was on my way back with my troops, and we were taught while we were in basic training of jet diving.

I: What?
D: Jet diving.  In other words. a jet would come in, and they would peel off and dive.  When they did that, 



they’d make a noise.

I: Yeah.
D: Of a whistle sound.

I: Uh huh.
D: And I remember hearing it, and I told my troops.  I said let’s move fast.  They said how fast?  I said to hell with the wire, let’s move.  And we moved.  I got up to where my outfit was,



and we were living in bunkers at that time.

I: Um hm.

D: And we had just gotten a lieutenant from West Point.
I: Brand new young boy.

D: Oh yes.  He was real new.

I: Um hm.

D: He stood in the doorway.

I: Uh huh.

D: And I hollered for him to clear cause I was coming through.  He didn’t clear.

I: Oh?

D: About two minutes later, he was



on the ground unconscious.  

I: So, you collided with him.

D: I clobbered him one.  I hit my hands on the ground, made one flip in, and I caught him right on his helmet, knocked him cold as a cucumber.  From that day on, he respected what I had to say.

I: So, because you were chased by a MIG, right?
D: Migs were [INAUDIBLE] at that time.

I: Yeah.  So, you were in a hurry.

D: We were very much in a hurry.

I: You didn’t want to die, right?
D: No, I didn’t.

I: Why didn’t he clear?



D: I don’t know.  I never asked him.

I: He didn’t know that MIG was chasing you?
D: I guess not.
I: Oh, okay. 
D: Cause he was back there, he had no knowledge of what we were doing.

I: Um hm.

D: And we all went to our respective bunkers, and they made about four or five passes.  And then they were gone.  

I: Let me ask you this question.  You said that there was Turk, English and Scot.



D: Yes.

I: Which one did you like most?
D: The Scots.

I: Oh.  

D: The English with teatime.

I: Yeah.

D: Regardless of what was going on, when teatime came, they stopped.

I: That’s unbelievable.  

D: The Turks, all they wanted to do was sell stuff.

I: Sell stuff?

D: The people from Turkey would send them stuff over like blankets,



quilts, scarves, all kinds of stuff, knives, and they’d try to sell it.  

I: So, they were not soldiers.  They were merchants.
D: Oh, they were soldiers.

I: But they were merchants.

D: They were also merchants.  

I: Did you buy anything?
D: No, I didn’t buy anything from them.

I: Why did people have to buy, because of short supply?

D: No.  It was more for souvenirs.  I remember one night



I was on duty.  And I had to walk between Delsam Park and on down to the end of my run and then back as my patrol.

I: Um hm.
D: And all at once I turned on one turn, headed back, and here was a big bonfire.  I hurried up and got to the radio shack and notified our commanders



that there was a bonfire on the line.  Well come to find out, the Turks had built it.  And what they did, once they built it, they separated their line.

I: Um hm.

D: They parted.  In other words, they weren’t like this.  They were more like this.

I: Um hm.

D: The Chinese and the North Koreans could come through.



But don’t go back through.

I: Um hm.

D: And they didn’t believe that they [INAUDIBLE]

I: Why did you like the Scots?
D: They were a true fighter.  They believed in what they did.

I: So, were there any dangerous moments for you except when the MIG was chasing you?

D: Yes. I had both heels of my shoes or boots



shot off.  

I: What do you mean shot off?
D: The Koreans or Chinese, whichever they were in front of us

I: Uh huh.

D: were shooting at us.

I: Um hm.

D: And it was at night.  And a bullet hit one heel, and it went off my shoe.  It didn’t have no heel on it.  I knew something was wrong with it, but I couldn’t tell what it was cause they were shooting, and I was paying attention to them.

I: Was it night?

D: It was night.



I: And you were shooting back at them.
D: Oh yes.  

I: And somehow that bullet cut off your boot?
D: Cut off the heel off my boot.

I: You are lucky.
D: Both of them.
I: Both of them?
D: Both of them.

I: But, you were not wounded.

D: No.  The good Lord was with me.  One time, we were told to take a hill and find out what was on it.



So, we went out and went down, went across the rice paddies, went up this little hill, got about halfway up, and hell broke loose.  

I: The enemy was North Korean or Chinese?
D: We never knew what.

I: Huh?
D: We didn’t know which ones.

I: Oh, you didn’t.

D: Not until night.  Why?  That’s your question?
I: Bugle.



D: Bugle, drums, whistles, anything they could make a noise with, they made.
I: That’s Chinese?
D: That’s Chinese. 
I: How about North Koreans?
D: No.

I: They don’t do anything like that?
D: No.

I: Um.  Were you scared to hear those bugles?
D: Oh yes because the Chinese, the front people are expendable.  If they get to the barbed wire



and are killed and fall on the barbed wire, that’s good because that means the next line can come across them.  

I: Yeah.
D: But then you might have another line of barbed wire

I: Um hm.
D: which we had three lines of it.

I: Um.

D: Then you get to the second line, same thing could happen.  And the third line.  They never were able to get past the third line.

I: So, you lived in bunkers?

D: Yeah, we had bunkers.



I: How was the situation inside of the bunker?
D: Well, after you got into it and got settled and everything, it was just like being in a barracks.

I: Was it warm enough?
D: Oh yes.  We had a big stove about that big around.  We had five-gallons cans of fuel oil that we would pour into them and then light it and heat it.



The bunker wouldn’t be near as big as this.  It’d be half the size of this room.

I: How many were there inside?
D: The one I was in was six or seven counting the officer.

I: How often did you write back to your family, or did you have a girlfriend?
D: Yeah, I had a girlfriend. 



I had one over there.

I: You had a girlfriend over there in Korea?
D: Not in Korea, in Japan.
I: Oh, in Japan.
D: Uh huh.

I: You were not there long enough, right?

D: I was in Japan about a month and a half.
I: Just for a month and a half, you had a girlfriend.

D: I met the girl.

I: Yeah.
D: And then I went back for R & R which was 10 -15 days.

I: Um hm.



D: And she came to where I was.  And a Papasan, him and his wife, ran this house for girls.  And he graduated from the Naval Academy here in the United States during World War II.

I: What was the impact of your service and participation in the Korean War?

D: I was troubled a little bit.



I couldn’t get settled.  

I: Why?
D: I don’t know. I just couldn’t get my body and mind to settle down in the job where I was working.  And I couldn’t settle down.  And then I met her.  

I: Doris?
D: Yes.  I still wasn’t happy, but I stayed with her.  And then we got married



and had a little one.  And all at once, I decided I did not want any more civilian life. I was going back in the military.  

I: Were you suffering from PTSD at the time when you got back?

D: From what I’ve been hearing about that PTSD, it’s a possibility, yes.  But it was nothing real serious.

I: Have had seen nightmares?



D: I see all kinds of stuff.  

I: So, you understand the veterans returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and they suffer everyday with this.  For them, it’s too hard to settle down with family and civilian life.

D: Some I do.  I don’t agree with all that’s going on with them.

I: Um hm.

D: I can’t understand how, they get the help, why they’re not using it cause I know that



during World War II, when my brother who’s seven years older than I am, when he came back, he thought the world owed him a living.  And I’m not too sure that’s not what some of these boys are doing today.  They’re going over there, and they think that the United States should give them a living now.  But I agree that’s not the way it works.



I: Do you regret that you were dragged into the War?
D: No.

I: Why not?

D: I feel I’ve done something for my country.

I: Um hm.  

D: I fought for peace. I fought for freedom.  And I still do believe in that.

I: Have you been back to Korea? 


D: No, and I wish I could go back.
I: You wish, yeah.  Do you know that there is a revisit program?
D: Oh yes.
I: Um hm.

D: But you got to have the money to go and come back.

I: You pay half of international airfare.

D: We’re on a tight budget.

I: Okay.  

D: And our health.

Female Voice:  Our health is not as good.

D: It’d have to be a place where I could be able to go to a bathroom in an instant.



Female Voice: [INAUDIBLE]

I: I see.  What do you think the legacy of the Korean War and the Korean War veterans?
D: I don’t know what to say.  

I: Korea is now

D: A super city I understand.  

I: Yeah.

D: I hear a lot about the new Korea.



I: Um hm.
D: Cause people at a church in our community come back, and they tell us about it.  And they, of course, have it on television, too, showing the pictures of Korea.  And when I see it, I just can’t believe that that’s Korea.  

I: Um.

D: Especially South Korea.  



I: Do you have any comments for the young generations in America about your experience and about the War in general?
D: I would tell them don’t be afraid to be in the service.  It’s a good experience.  It’s a bad experience.   But it’s more good than it is bad because you’re fighting for freedom and liberty.



And freedom of religion.

I: Um hm.  

D: That’s the main three things that you’re fighting for.  

I: Um.  

D: And you take chances living anyway, and you take chances in war.  You don’t know when a bullet’s gonna hit you.  You don’t know when a bullet’s gonna hit you here.



Your car wrecks.

I: Um hm.

D: Different things.

I: Right.  

D: But I say they should, I think that every young man should have at least two years of military time.

I: I want to thank you, and I want to present a Certificate of Ambassador of Peace.  This is from the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs of Republic of Korea, [INAUDIBLE] and the Korean Veterans Association



General [INAUDIBLE].  And I wrote your name in Korean as it’s pronounced, [INAUDIBLE].  Here, that’s Korean.
D: I certainly thank you.

I: Yeah.  Could you show that to the camera so that people can see it?  Right.  And medals.

D: It was my honor.

I: Thank you.