Donald Schneider (Part 2/2)
This is a continuation of an interview with Donald Schneider, a former Army Ranger who served in the Korean War and saw combat at Heartbreak Ridge, White Horse Mountain, and Pork Chop, as well as many others. He has vivid memories from his service, including how Whirlybirds were a lifesaver on the steep mountains. The harsh conditions in Korea, according to Donald Schneider, include a tremendous lack of sleep and difficult weather such as the rains of monsoon seasoned. While his time in Korea was difficult, the hardships did not end there as he faced resentment when he returned and relived dangerous moments in his dreams. Donald Schneider’s interview is a testimony to the lasting impacts of the Korean War on those that served.
Medical Care in the Field
Donald Schneider describes how important the “Whirlybird” helicopters were during the war. Because the mountains were so steep, often it was difficult to get the wounded down to receive treatment. The Whirlybirds and their talented pilots were able to maneuver the mountains and rescue the wounded, making them a “lifesaver.”
Experiences at Heartbreak Ridge and Bloody Ridge
Donald Schneider was a participant in several battles while stationed in Korea, including Heartbreak Ridge and Bloody Ridge. He provides a firsthand account of what it was like in these two areas, including how hard it was to take them. He explains why they gave Heartbreak Ridge back to the Chinese.
Sleeping Conditions on the Front Lines
Donald Schneider describes the limited opportunities that soldiers on the front lines had to get any sleep, which often resulted in what he called a "zombie-like" state. While they had sleep bags sometimes that wasn’t a guarantee- they often would cover themselves with snow as an insulator on their ponchos. On a typical day, they would only get 2-3 hours of sleep.
Weather in Korea
Like many other soldiers in Korea, Donald Schneider talks about how cold it was during the war. He states that the weather was like that in Wisconsin- really hot in the summer and freezing in the winter. He said that the difference was the monsoon season, which would include massive amounts of rain in short periods of time.
Transitioning Back to Civilian Life
Donald Schneider's challenges in the early 1950s didn't end when he returned to Wisconsin. In this clip, he describes his personal struggles returning to life as a civilian and to the workforce after having been gone for two years. He had been guaranteed his job when he returned, but this caused a woman to become resentful towards him. After a while, he said that he just learned to not talk about it and “clammed up”
Donald Schneider shares his experiences of what combat soldiers often deal with when trying to transition back to life as a civilian. He describes vivid nightmares which often made him not want to go to sleep. He explains how he worked a lot to avoid having to sleep and experience those vivid nightmares, and how he has made other adjustments to avoid potentials triggers.