Donald Michael Walsh
Donald Walsh was born in Boston, Massachusetts on September 3, 1930. He grew up in nearby Belmont and graduated from high school in 1948. After a short stint at Boston College, he worked at an insurance company. He was drafted into the Army on February 8, 1952 and completed basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. In July 1952, he boarded a troopship in San Francisco bound for Tokyo. Shortly after, he arrived in Pusan and was assigned to the 3rd Armor Division, 64th Tank Battalion where he served for the next year through the signing of the Armistice. He left Korea in September 1953 and returned home to Massachusetts.
Feelings About Being Drafted
Donald Walsh describes how he and friends felt about being drafted into the Army.
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"Hey Kid, Take the Top Bunk"
Donald Walsh describes traveling to Japan on a troop ship and the sage advice he received from a veteran merchant seaman.
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Daily Life in a Tank Battalion
Donald Walsh talks about a typical day as part of the 64th Tank Battalion.
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The Food Was Pretty Good
Donald Walsh describes the food that he received as a soldier in a tank battalion.
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Picking Up a Familiar Hitchhiker
Donald Walsh talks about a fortuitous chance encounter with his brother along the 38th parallel with whom he had not seen in over a year and did not know was in Korea.
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Relief After the Armistice
Donald Walsh describes how he felt after the armistice was signed.
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[Beginning of Recorded Material]
D: Donald Michael Walsh. W A L S H. September 3, 1930. Makes me younger than some people.
D: Uh. I was born in Boston. Boston, Massachusetts. [Langon?] Hospital. My grandson was born there 50 years later.
I: Same place?
I: You born in a very good month. September.
D: September, yeah.
I: That’s my.
D: I was born on Labor Day actually. Is a celebration. It’s like, it’s a holiday in this country.
I: So what school did you go through in Boston?
D: I moved. I lived in Belmont when I grew up. Belmont. Outside of Boston. Maybe four or five miles outside of Boston. Belmont, Massachusetts. I graduated high school in 1948.
D: And I went into the Army in 1952. Well I went Boston College but we won’t go into that. I didn’t last long. I went into the service.
I: When did you go to the?
D: 19 . . .
I: When did you join the Army?
D: 19. I didn’t join. I was drafted. 1952.
I: Oh, so what did you do?
D: February 8th.
I: What did you do between ’48 after you graduated?
D: Well I tried to go to college, but college didn’t agree with me or I didn’t agree with it. Well, so I went to work.
I: What kind?
D: In a insurance company in Boston. It was the only job you could get cause you’re waiting to get drafted. Lasted there until I went in the service. 1952. On February 8th.
I: Um. So you came to know the breakout of the Korean War while you were working in the insurance company?
D: Yeah. Yeah. It happened, 19, I believe 1950? And there was a draft at that time.
I: What people say about the war? Do you remember?
D: I don’t think they paid too much attention to it. They were questioning whether it was the thing to do or not to do I guess. Politically. You know?
I: What was people’s opinion?
D: Well I think they felt that President Truman did the right thing under the circumstances. You know? We had pledged allegiance to certain people and agreed to it and we had to support it.
I: Had you known anything about Korea at the time?
D: My uncle. World War 2. When the war ended, uh he was one of the first troops to go into Korea after they kicked Japan out of there and he stabilized it I guess. Part of his job. My uncle John McCann.
D: John McCann. My uncle.
D: My mother’s brother. That’s the only thing we ever heard of or knew Korea existed as a matter of fact. He used to, when he came home, he used to show us on the map just exactly where Korea was. I had no idea where it was.
I: So you were the very few well-educated about Korea because nobody knew . . .
D: No. No they didn’t.
I: where Korea was.
D: Didn’t know it was North Korea South Korea. Had no idea. You know. And until that day until after that, I never knew anything about it until I got there to be honest with you. So you know some of the indoctrination we had at Fort Knox, Kentucky. But other than that . . .
I: You said that you were drafted. Right?
I: How people react to that draft?
D: Well, I . . .
I: Compared to these days.
D: my friends and I, we didn’t want to be drafted. We weren’t interested in military service at the time.
I: You were not?
D: No. And I don’t think many were in my group, the group that I hang around with. I’m not talking about the others that . . . But as far as the reaction to the draft, it wasn’t something we looked forward to it. But we didn’t object to it either. Some of the controversy was that some people didn’t get drafted. Perhaps should have been. They were exempt and so forth.
I: Why? Why is they being exempted?
D: I don’t know. They go to school for one thing. They go to college. They were exempt. They had jobs. They made them exempt. They had a lot of money. They made them exempt. But I don’t think the people that I associated with, hung around with school friends and buddies, I don’t think we had any real problem with it. It was something we had to do. That’s all.
I: But you never knew that you would be dispatched to Korea when you were drafted. Right?
D: No, no. We had no idea. We had an idea we would be, but you know that’s the chance you get. It’s 50/50, you here, you go to Europe or you go to FE-Com they called it, Far East Command.
I: Mm-hmm. So when you joined the Army, where did you go to receive basic military training?
D: I went through, indoctrinated at Fort, at Fort Devens. They took you up there. They process you up there. They sent me to Fort Knox, Kentucky. Which is the home of General Patton’s tank Corps Third Division. General Patton was a famous World War 2 general.
I: Oh yeah.
D: With tanks. And my training was at basic training was at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
I: But you didn’t know anything about tanks at the time?
D: No. No I didn’t. No. I saw them on tv and movies and stuff. But I had no interest . . .
I: How was military training? Was it hard?
D: It was difficult sometimes. Yeah. Yeah. Interesting as we used to say. A big hard thing was the KP duty and that stuff. With the, it was interesting. It was something that with my background, not something you’re not used to. The regimentation and the discipline that was involved in that. And it was, quite frankly it was probably the best thing to happen to me in the long run.
I: Okay. We’ll talk about that.
I: So, after the military training, where did you go?
D: After I went down to basic training?
D: I went to Korea.
I: Right after that?
D: I was drafted on February 8th and in Korea in July. They didn’t fool around.
I: So you were in Korea before the Korean War?
D: No no no. 1952.
I: You said, oh, you drafted in 1952.
D: Yeah. That’s right.
I: So. So that you . . .
D: The Korean War had been on for a couple of years.
I: Right. So you knew that you were going to be dispatched to Korea?
D: No. When you were drafted there was no determination where you were gonna wind up. You might end up anywhere in the world that the United States was involved in.
D: And it wasn’t necessarily Korea. You could have gone to Europe. A lot of my friends went to Europe.
I: What was your first reaction? To know that you were going to go to war to fight?
I: Be honest.
D: Kind of frightening.
I: Be honest.
D: Frightening. Not something you think about or planned on, you know. I don’t know how you describe it. I would . . . I don’t know. You just, you’re young. You’re dated. Who the hell cares? You know. But you were concerned.
I: You were concerned that you might lose your life, right?
D: Yeah, yeah. That thought crossed your mind.
I: You scared to death?
D: No. Not at that time.
I: Not at the time?
D: Maybe I was too dumb to be scared. I don’t know. You’re young and you fool, you know? Those things roll off you, you know? You divert your mind, you divert your mind to some other thinking, you know? You don’t get bothered by that. You have a lot of friends, people you went through training with. You became very close with. And that kind of offset any fear you might have to a degree.
I: How did your family react to it?
D: I don’t know if I’m saying that well. Well, my family, my father had been World War 1, my brother had been in the Navy in World War 2 . . .
I: Your uncle been in Korea too.
D: My uncle as well been in Korea. And my cousins, one of my cousins was killed in World War 2 in China, Burma area. And so we were all, knew, all associated with people who had been in the service. I think everybody in our family eventually was in the service. My brother Navy, my other brother was in Korea, and he served with me in Korea in fact.
I: Let’s start from your family. How did they react to the decision made that you going to go to war.
D: Well even at the time when I came on leave, from three day leave, from Fort Knox Kentucky before I shipped out, there was no determination that I was going to go to Korea. I was going to the Far East Command which could have been Japan, it could have been Okinawa. Uh, I don’t know where else it could have been. But generally speaking, the higher percentage that went to FE-Com, went to Korea.
I: So what did your father or and mother say to you?
D: My father was the old school from Ireland and he didn’t have much to say. My mother was of course very concerned, had her prayer beads out, rosary beads. She was upset.
I: So how did you go to Korea?
D: My girlfriend got upset.
I: Oh you did have girlfriend?
D: Oh sure I had a girlfriend.
I: What was her name?
D: Well, she’s not, she wasn’t my wife. But at the time . . .
I: For the record.
D: Sweetheart. Wonderful girl. Wonderful girl.
I: She was really concerned.
I: So what did you say to her?
D: I said . . .
I: Wait for me?
D: No. No. Nah. [unintelligible] That’s getting into too deep now. It’s a, that’s
I: You don’t want to?
D: That’s 60 years, 50, 60 years ago, I mean.
I: Okay. So where did you go and how did you go to Korea? Did you fly or
D: No, no, with the troop ship and
I: Where? When and where?
D: That was San Francisco. Out of San Francisco. Camp Stoneman. Landed in Tokyo.
D: No. Camp. Yeah. I guess Tokyo.
I: When did you leave for Japan?
D: I’d say July of ’52.
D: And I’ll always thank the old merchant seaman I had that when I got on the boat. He said, “Hey kid, take the top bunk.”
I: Uh- huh.
D: And I said, “What the hell do I want the top bunk for? It’s a lot easier on the bottom bunk. You can get in and out easier.” He said, “Take the top bunk kid.” So I said, “well I’ll listen to him, he’s been in it for 30 years.” I found out why. Seasickness. Right?
I: Yeah right.
D: So when you were above all the [vomit noise]. We slept on the deck a few days. I was one of the few that didn’t get sick on the boat, three or four thousand on the boat.
I: Where did you arrive in Japan?
I: Yokohama. And how long did you stay there?
D: Shipped us right up to Camp Drake. Which is in what Tokyo I guess? So we’re in Tokyo for, and Camp Drake for couple of days. And they send me down to Gifu, Japan to go to CBR school. Chemical, biological, radiological war school. Some of us pulled out to go down there. Spent a week down there so forth. And then left from Sasebo to go to, landed in Pusan.
I: Pusan. Any special training
D: I always remember going into the Pusan harbor, how calm it was. And I found out later it was the Land of the Morning Calm, right?
I: Any special training that you receive in Japan except the chemical and biological warfare?
D: No, that’s it.
I: That’s it?
I: Okay. How was
D: We had already been trained for 12 weeks or so in Fort Knox.
I: Right. Do you remember the day that you arrived, date that you arrived in Pusan? July or August?
D: I would guess is around the first week in August. I don’t remember the exact date.
I: Mm-hmm. And what was the first impression?
D: Not very good. We’re, I was in a replacement wait to be assigned to the outfit I’m in and I got guard duty that first night. They left me out hanging there for, instead of two hours on, two hours, I was out there four hours so. I wasn’t too happy about that. But nah it wasn’t, it wasn’t, you know I had no impression at all, I was just curious where the hell I’m gonna wind up. It’s a, that’s the basic. We were all kinda in limbo as they say.
I: What was the scene that you saw in Pusan? How was it?
D: Chaotic I guess. A lot of ships landing and going in and out. Troops coming in and out, mostly coming. And supply ships coming in. It wasn’t, the war was way beyond that. It’s wasn’t Pusan under siege or anything. That was up further, way up further in ’52.
I: How was the civilian life there?
D: Something. I don’t know, that’s hard to describe.
D: Crowded I’d say. A lot of people seemed to be congested in that Pusan area. I don’t know if that’s indicative of the country itself and big cities. But that was my first impression. Very crowded, you know. People from my background were of course different than, dress-wise and appearance-wise and so forth, you know, so.
I: So what was your first assignment after the Pusan? Where did you go?
D: I was sent to what they called the Third Division Repo Depot. Replacement depot. Where you were processed into what outfit you were gonna go to.
I: Where was that?
D: Third Division in replacement area.
I: The. The name . . .
D: That was up by Seoul University if I recall.
I: Oh. Seoul University.
D: Yeah. It might be up not that far up. But it was up there.
I: Can you describe the scene? Can you remember the scene? Around the Seoul University?
D: Big and a lot of GIs running around. Going to chow or leaving chow or doing a little parade mount, you know, marching. Playing softball.
I: You did?
D: Oh yeah. Yeah. They didn’t know what the hell to do with us for a while. In fact, I was the catcher on the softball team for
I: Oh really? Any Korean
D: There was big Quonset huts. They were big Quonset huts. They just, that’s where you processed. Then somebody came down and took you to the outfit you were going to.
I: Any Korean soldiers join you?
D: Yeah. Capital ROK division. R O, R O, ROK, Capital ROK, Capital division. Of ROK. R O K.
I: Many Kims or Park or Lee?
D: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. Mamasan. Papa, Papasan. He was our barber. Great guy. Wonderful man. Yeah. We were attached to the ROK division for awhile.
I: So you
D: The outfit that wound up joining was 64th Tank Battalion. That’s what they called in in our parlance was a bastard outfit. We were attached, we weren’t permanently attached to any one division. We were assigned where we needed to go. So we were all over. Back, left, right, up, front, anywhere, anywhere we’re needed. Tank division We’re like mobile artillery.
I: So after you were assigned in the Third Division and then you went up to front line?
D: The Third Division, I was assigned to the 64th Tank Battalion which was part of the Third Division.
D: But only for permanent attachment. We were with the Second Division sometimes, the 15th Division. We were wherever we were called upon. We were kind of mobile. We could move pretty quick.
I: But did you stay inside of the Seoul or did you go up to front line?
D: Oh no. We went up. Right up to the front line.
I: Tell me about the front line. Where were you and what did you do?
D: Oh I, I don’t remember. The only ones I remember over there are the Chorwan Valley.
D: Chorwan Valley.
I: Chorwan Valley. Yes.
D: And Kumhwa.
D: I don’t know. All, they all nicknames for all the others. I don’t remember half of them. We covered the ROK division when they run to the, we overlooked the Turkish Brigade that was there for a while. Who else? British. We get involved with everybody I guess.
I: How was
D: I don’t remember the names. The only two I vividly remember is the Kumhwa and the Chorwan. I think, what the hell was the other one? First day I was there. Crack Valley? Oh we called it Crack Valley, I don’t know what the hell it was. But that was, we named everything.
I: Yeah. How was the situation in that front line at the time that you were there?
D: Well, it wasn’t bad for us because we just went up and fired and come back home. We come back to our bivouac area. But the infantry had to sit up there in the bunkers, be there all day and night, so we end up coming, they didn’t want us coming around anyway, cause we attracted a lot of attention. From the smoke. They’d see that and they’d throw some rounds in. It was interesting.
I: What I’m asking is, were there severe battle all the time? At the time that you were there or did you engage in a big battle? Did you shot so many …
D: Well every day we went up and mostly every day we went up and fired whatever
I: Did you?
D: load we had. Not every day, but you know. Quite a few days. We’d just go up and fire. Pick out, they’d give us a site. Mountain, the other way. That’s about we did. We didn’t get in too many hand-to-hand type combat stuff. Like I said, we moved around. We covered the triple nickle who got overrun one time. We had to bail them out. But that
I: So mostly the front line was stabilized?
D: Pretty much so, yeah. Moved up. Moved back and forth. When I, from the time I was there, was pretty much stabilized, give or take a few miles here and there. You know. So it wasn’t a lot of… Like the early part of the war I would be through Seoul and beyond and then all the way up the Yalu River and then all the way back again and I went back and forth through Seoul I think a couple of, three times. In fact got all the way out of Pusan Peninsula just before I got there and they were, the Incheon Landing from MacArthur kind of cut it and pushed them back. Once they got beyond the 38th parallel I think the powers that be in Washington said stabilize it there. You know. They wanted to see if they could negotiate a truce I guess, I don’t know.
I: Describe the typical day of your service. You said that you were a tank driver, right? So what’s feel like
D: I was, I was, in the tanks, when you’re trained you’re trained in every position of the tank. When I first got there I was what they called a bow gunner, assistant driver. No no I’m sorry. Back up. You’re a loader. And inside the tank you loaded the weapons.
D: Then you went to the bow driver I guess. Everybody had to learn every position. And then I was the driver for awhile. First thing I drove was the personnel carrier though, which was not a tank. It was an open carrier that you transported infantry squads to different spots. You know, you had the, just same tracks and everything else, but you had the open so they get nine, ten guys and over. Bring them up to the line, drop them off and come back. That’s the first couple weeks. I don’t like that.
I: How do you feel being in a tank?
D: I was fine. I was fine with it. I didn’t have any problems with it.
I: How about in the summer? Wasn’t it too hot?
D: No. Not too bad.
D: You weren’t in the tank 24 hours a day. You were in it, some days four, five hours. Some days, well, one time we had to sit in it for two, three days. But other than that it was … you drop the escape hatch out and get the air up in there. In fact we picked up prisoners, I mean wounded through that. But, no you had the little openings you could open up and get some air in. You didn’t button up all the time. You had the opening, the driver would have his opening, the gunner would have his, you know.
I: Were there any dangerous
D: When you buttoned up you got hot.
I: Were there any dangerous moment in your, during your service?
I: Tell me about, what happened to you?
D: I don’t remember a lot of it. We got cut off one time and lost a tank.
I: Oh you lost tank?
D: Had to bail out. Yeah.
I: Who were the enemy, the North Koreans or the Chinese?
D: The Chinese.
I: How was the enemy tank? Was it better than yours?
D: Never saw it, one too often. They had Russian tanks at the end. Chinese tanks. Who got them, they got them from Russia I guess.
D: Only time I saw them, and when we had to move back when they signed the truce. We had to move back a mile and a half. They put a buffer zone, what did they call it, demilitarized zone.
D: Three miles. Each side had to move back a mile and a half.
I: So the UN forces out-power in terms of the tank forces?
D: I don’t understand you. What?
I: I mean you have the more tanks and better equipment so that you guys out-power
D: Yeah. I would think so. In my experience, yeah.
D: Our Air Force outnumbered them ten to one too I heard.
I: Yeah right.
D: But there was no war in the air at all. But as I said, when they stabilized the line they just didn’t move it a half a mile, a mile back and forth. Take this hill and lose it and then take it back. The Marines and the infantry did all that. We just went up and give cover. Sometimes we’d have to go cover a road while they bailed out. Cover the different spots and so forth.
I: Where did you stay? Were you in tent or?
D: Yeah. Yeah. Five men in a tent.
I: Uh-huh. Five men?
D: Tank crew is five men. You stayed in tank. The mess hall was a big tent. They had a beer tent set up. You know, a recreation tent.
D: Food was, our outfit was a small outfit, battalion, it was the headquarters company it was a very, food was very, very good. Yeah the cook was fantastic. You know.
I: What was your favorite?
D: Well, you didn’t … some of the food you get over there was, you had to savor. We were lucky. You get eggs, were powdered eggs. They turned green sometimes I think. And milk was powdered. Once in a while they’d get some fresh eggs in. Used to get a lot of liver which nobody liked. SOS which they, creamed chipped beef on toast. They used to call it shit on a shingle. It was good though. I liked it. I liked it. The food was generally speaking was pretty good when I was in Korea.
I: Yeah, compared to the
D: Surprisingly, surprisingly. The repo-depots were the worst food when you were placed in there with so many people. The boat was terrible food, going over and going home.
I: Let me ask you soft side of it. How much did you did you receive for your salary? Salary.
D: Well when I got there I was a Private, then I was a Private First Class. No, when you get out of basic training and then you were Private E1, and Private E2, and Private First Class, then Corporal Sergeant then Sergeant First Class. By the time I came home I was Sergeant, I was a tank commander at the end.
I: Oh. How much was it?
D: Money wise?
D: I’ll be honest to God, I don’t remember. I’d get combat pay for, we used to get, I used to get $40 a month for combat pay over and above your regular pay. And I don’t think, I don’t even remember what the hell sign we picked, we didn’t get paid. You know, you agreed not to be paid because what were you going to do with the money? There was nobody around us.
I: Somebody gamble, somebody ran off to the city.
D: Oh yeah. No, once in a while a guy would disappear too. But there was no place to go where we were. You know? It was too far. I went back one time with a friend of mine back to see, we were back right outside Seoul University, I think. The Air Force was in Seoul and we had a camp outside, looking, in bringing, we bring back
D: Back there to get replacements. We had to get, find, some of the guys had rotated home, some had been killed. So we had to get replacements. So I was down there with. So while we’re down there they had a January first, New Year’s Day, 1953. They had a big show come over there with Debbie Reynolds,
D: A movie star.
I: Debbie Reynolds there?
D: And a number of people, so we were in, where were we, Kimpo whatever the hell that was.
I: Where the air base was.
D: Yeah. Yeah. It was a big show they had there. And it was entertaining and we went back.
I: Tell me about your own brother that you were there with him.
D: He was going to college when I was in Korea and he was graduating from college. Well the minute he graduated, he’d get drafted. Cause he was exonerated from draft while he attended college. And then he went to Fort Knox, Kentucky too.
D: Well that was probably 1954. No no, couldn’t be ’54. For Gregory in ’53 probably. He went to Korea after the war was over.
D: Yeah, so then yeah, and, I had a, true story, but I had to go back to Seoul one, no what was that? Oh had to go down back to Third Division headquarters. I was asked to take a jeep and a driver to bring some papers down. I don’t know, I volunteered just to get the hell out of where we were for a while. We were back on reserve just sitting doing nothing. So the captain asked me to take it back, anyway I went back they took the jeep back. And coming back they had already signed the truce and when they signed the truce the line was, had a bend in it like this,
D: You know, we were over here, and I had to go back around here. But you could go a shortcut through here,
D: but you weren’t supposed to go, would get you there quicker. So I was, dropped off what we had, got the re-orders, sealed orders, brought them back to the captain. As I’m going back the road, when I said the hell with it, let’s cut through here, take off about 15 miles or 10 miles or whatever the hell it might be and we cut through there and there was this GI thumbing a ride out there and, this is a true story I don’t tell it to this many people, and who the hell was it but my brother.
I: You didn’t know your brother were there?
D: No. I knew he was in the service, but I didn’t know where he was.
I: So you just, you just ran across him.
D: First time I had seen him in about a year.
I: You just ran across him?
D: He was just standing there. I asked him what the hell he was doing. The driver he had was a Korean, ROK, member of the ROK army, he got scared as hell. He had his rifle out, ready to shoot me. We weren’t supposed to be there so I couldn’t argue.
I: What was your brother doing there?
D: He had gone to the dentist from where he was and he decided, he got permission from his outfit to come up and visit me. Because he told them his brother was up there and there was no, the truce was on, so the captain said sure why not, the chaplain or whatever, said go ahead. So he went to the dentist and he missed the bus, the jeep or the truck to take him up to our outfit where I was going.
I: No no no, you said
D: So they said it’s up that way, so they got on the road and started.
I: But you said that you ran across him. You didn’t know your brother were there.
D: I didn’t know he was in Korea, yeah.
I: Oh my goodness.
D: Yeah. My son when I told him later, he wrote that into Reader’s Digest, they never published it though.
I: You want to send that to me?
D: I just told you. Sure. Yeah, he died. My brother’s dead, so
I: Did you take picture with him?
D: No. No. We didn’t have any. For a long time, the health providers (?) wouldn’t allow any pictures to be taken or anything where we were. I don’t know why. Don’t ask me why. I have no idea. Lot of people had pictures, we didn’t have any.
I: So what did you do with your brother?
D: We went, had chow together. And then we went to the, what they called the [unintelligible] tent where you could get a beer and we sat there and drank beer the whole night. You know? Reminiscing about, and he wrote a letter back to our parents the next day.
I: Did you keep the letter?
D: I got a couple of pictures of us later, but my grandchildren and everybody else has confiscated them. His kids, because he died a few years ago. He was two years older than me.
I: Do you still keep any letter that you wrote?
D: No. No. My mother had them.
I: Or your brothers?
D: No. No. We weren’t into that. We didn’t…
I: Did you write back to your parents that you met your brother?
D: Oh sure. He did too.
I: What did you write?
D: We both wrote and signed the letter together. Just how we had met.
I: Signed together.
D: We didn’t go into detail about how we met. We just, that he came up to visit. In fact, another friend I grew up with in Belmont, my home town, was in, came up and visited us too. Two of them did. One of my very close friends was a medic over there in the Third Division.
I: What a story.
D: He came over and visited a couple of nights and got kind of little heavy drinking I guess. The captain had a, when he went in to say something to the captain, oh if he could stay over that night I guess. You had to get permission. And they had one pole in the captain’s, one chair like this, very small tent. He went to salute and he had had a few, to hit the pole and the whole tent come down. He wasn’t too happy. Anyway.
I: So had you met your old brother after that too? More times?
D: Yeah. When I went home, he was there, he eventually got assigned to the same outfit I was with.
D: Why the hell he wanted to, I don’t know. But he was back in Pusan, he had a nice deal down at Pusan. And he, I don’t know, he just wanted to be up, he thought he’d get home earlier, I think that’s why.
I: When did you leave for the states?
D: September, ’53. I could have gone home couple of months early because they had a point system in those days.
D: To rotate. And you needed 36 points to rotate. I had 36 points in ten months. But they signed the truce and they asked us would we volunteer to step aside while the all the prisoners were processed and the engine, the war and all that stuff and I said sure, what the hell. So they froze us for a couple of months which is what they said, which is, it turned out okay.
I: What was the most rewarding moment during your service?
D: Probably when they signed the truce.
I: What did you feel when, what did people
D: Well, relief, that’s for sure. Nobody’s going to be, you don’t have to worry about being shot at anymore. They were still firing their weapons right up until, I think the truce went into effect at 10:00 on the 27th in the morning? And they were firing weapons right up until the, one minute before. We got rid of everything we had in the tank to get rid of. And then the, a lot of helicopters, I remember a lot of helicopters going overhead, probably news media. Korean, one, a couple of Korean soldiers we had with us came over and thanked us and you know gave us hugs and all that stuff. It was pretty exciting actually. Very rewarding. Very relieving, is that what they say?
I: You know this year is the 60 years anniversary of the armistice.
D: Yeah, we’re going to have a ceremony. That’s what Stan was talking about.
I: Yeah. What do you feel about the Korea still divided between north and south and the war is still there.
D: I feel, from what I read, and I read quite a bit about it, I feel bad for the North Koreans. I mean from what I understand, they don’t have much of a life over there. You’d know a lot more on that one, but. And I’m seeing how Korea’s been built up, whether it’s been over-built or not, I don’t know. I saw a story on Seoul which I was in and out of quite a few times and not the Seoul I remember you know? It’s all built up.
I: You’ve never been back to Korea, right?
I: No. Do you want to go?
D: I wouldn’t mind going, yeah. My wife died a year or so ago.
I: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.
D: It wouldn’t be the same anymore but yeah, I’d go back.
I: Here’s official from the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs. And they have a re-visit program. You know that right?
D: Yeah, I heard that. Stan went I think right?
I: Do you want to go?
D: I wouldn’t mind going, yeah.
I: Yeah. Let me know.
D: I figure I’d love to go, but you know financially, who the hell knows?
I: I mean they cover most of the expenses, so.
D: Well I like that part.
I: Yeah. What do think is the legacy of Korean War and the Korean War veterans?
D: That’s a good question. I know most of the people I dealt with in the Korean War were very proud of the service they gave, you know, in Korea. I think the military has lost that a little bit, maybe in Vietnam or something, I don’t know. But I guess the legacy is we stopped aggression I guess, in its track. We stabilized the world for a while there, it didn’t too long I guess so…
I: How do you assess the status of U.S. / Korea military alliances and economic cooperation?
D: Today? From what I understand, it’s pretty good. Pretty good. I’m really not into that too much but, from what I understand it’s pretty solid you know. I think we have a lot of respect for each other. I had an interesting thing down here that memorial if you want to hear about it.
D: I was down there visiting, myself and my grandkids one day. And we get bricks down with the names on them and so forth and I was showing them the brick I had and Koreans happened to be visiting Cape Cod at that time, a busload. And they came in and they come over and they were asking, as best they could, asking me about it, where was the Kennedy memorial well it’s right next to it, they’re right next to each other. I don’t know if you have seen it yet. And they came over and they said what a beautiful monument and they in numbers of four, five or six come over and said thank you very much. Because I had told them my name was there and I had served there.
I: You’re talking about the Hyannis, right? Harbor?
D: Yeah, right. Yeah over in the harbor. And they said we thank you very much and I felt pretty good about that.
I: You said that your military service was good to you in your life.
D: Oh yeah.
I: Tell me about it.
D: Well I was, I had no direction when I got out of high school. I was after, is this all taped here?
D: I was after two things. And one was booze and the other was women when I got out of, mostly women and booze.
I: Who’s not?
D: I know it. So I mean when I went to Boston College for about two months. I didn’t attend classes. It was because my father was a hard working laborer telephone lumber worker. I wasn’t fitting in, so they kicked me out of BC. I wasn’t right for college. I was immature, like anybody, 18, 19, 17, 18 years old. I worked up Hampton Beach a couple of summers. That did me in. But it was fun. I enjoyed myself. But that was interesting. But when I went in the service of course, we got disciplined. You had to do certain things. If you didn’t do them, you learned in a hurry you better do them. And you met a lot of guys that were in the same boat you were and we grew up together, I guess that’s the best way to put it. You know, some terrific guys. Brothers for life I guess.
I: What would you do if there is another war breaking out in the Korean peninsula? What do you think the U.S. should do?
D: Well they should honor their commitments to them. We got a heavy commitment over there. The problem is there only what about 40,000 troops, well the Korean army should be up, pretty up to snuff by now, and the air force I noticed. From what I understand, the air force is quite strong now.
I: Yeah. Anything that you want to leave to this interview?
D: No. I hope it went well.
I: Did you like it?
D: Yeah, it was fun.
I: Okay. We’ll be
D: Some things I, you know, haven’t even thought about in 60 years, 50 years. Not something you talk about every day, you know? Sorry I didn’t open up a little more on stuff, but ok?
I: Thank you very much Don
D: You’re welcome.
I: For your service.
D: My pleasure.
[End of Recorded Material]