Korean War Legacy Project

Doyle W. Dykes


Doyle W. Dykes is from Alabama, and he grew up in the Deep South during a period of much racial segregation. He enlisted in the Army in 1947. His family, except his father, had a military background. He served two tours in the Korean Peninsula. The first was from 1947-1949, and he then returned in 1950 and left in 1951. Due to being involved in many of the early campaigns in Korea, he had many turbulent experiences. When he first arrived, he suffered from the measles and had to be quarantined for a month. After recovering, he worked as a DDT supervisor, in charge of the spraying the insect repellent. In 1950, he arrived to Korea again in Pusan and served in the Nakdong River Battle as well as the Chosin Reservoir.

Video Clips

Working with the KATUSA

Doyle W. Dykes describes having to work with the KATUSA (South Korean soldiers) because there were not enough American soldiers to prepare and fire the ammunition. He led training with them due to his knowledge of the Korean language. He describes his relationship with them, enduring the experience of the Nakdong River Battle, as well as preparing and carrying ammunition along the Manchurian border.

Tags: Nakdonggang (River),Food,Front lines,KATUSA,Physical destruction

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Ruined Gloves

Doyle W. Dykes reminisces on a time he wrote his family asking for a new pair of gloves to endure the extreme cold. Upon receiving them that day, he had to bury over two hundred and seventy Chinese soldiers who died after a napalm attack. He shares that his gloves were immediately ruined and that he buried them with the soldiers.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Chinese,Cold winters,Front lines,Letters,Weapons

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Life Back at Home

Doyle W. Dykes remembers what it was like to arrive back home from Korea. There was disconnect from civilian to military life. Community members wanted him to speak, but he wanted to simply move on with his regular life.

Tags: Home front,Pride

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Video Transcript


[Beginning of recorded material]

D:        I was born one of five children in Alabama, Barbour County.  Um, my name is Doyle Dykes, and I’m born in 1928.

I:          192

D:        The 22nd.

I:          1928.

D:        Second, twenty-second day of 1928.

I:          Yep.  So school that you went?

D:        I went to first to twelfth grade at Blue Springs High School.  It’s no more a high school.


It was tore down when they integrated the school because the people who donated the land for the school system when quit being all-white school there’d be no more school. After high school, I immediately joined our service, June the 6th, 1950.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And, and when the Korean War broke out, I was already been to Korea one time, ’47 – ’49 I was in Korea.

I:          Before you leave for Korea, did you know anything about Korea?


D:        I knew the, it was a five-letter word and it was a place, but no, nothing else.

I:          Nothing else.

D:        My father and mother didn’t even know where it was at.

I:          Uh huh.  So wh, you said that you joined the Army 1940 what?

D:        Seven.

I:          ‘47

D:        June the 5th.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Went to basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, went to a plumbing school in Eustice, Virginia and directly to Seoul, Korea.

I:          Um hm.  Did you enlist?


D:        Yes.

I:          Okay.  And what kind of training did you receive from the basic training camp?

D:        Infantry training only.

I:          So for example,

D:        Shoot the rifle,

I:          Uh huh.

D:        KP, um, dig foxholes, learn basic military things.

I:          Um hm.  The World War II ended in 1945.

D:        Yes, sir.

I:          And so it’s been only two years, right?

D:        Right.

I:          What was the people’s mood about the war


and, and defense and joining military?
D:        Well, my family was all military except my father.

I:          Oh.

D:        I had two uncles and cousins [INAUDIBLE], from, from Marines to Navy and everything.  Well, I had two brothers.  One of them was in World War II.  He put 14 years in the Air Force.  He wound up on Kwajalein Island during World War II, and he came home.  He never put the


uniform on again. I had a baby brother that was going to LSU and he run away and went into the Air Force, and I was half-paying his tuition with $25 a month.  And he decided not to go to a college anymore.  [ABRUPT START] I landed on the 17that Inchon, on the 16thof December, 1947 and went straight to Seoul because of a measle attack.

I:          Do you remember how

D:        about, about 4,000.

I:          Four thousand American soldier


D:        And some Puerto Ricans.

I:          Puerto Ricans in the ship.

D:        Yeah.

I:          And all of them went to Korea?

D:        No.  We dropped off some in, uh, Japan.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        Tokyo.  Or Yokohama,

I:          Uh huh.  And how many were staying there, in Japan?

D:        I’d say 7,000.

I:          So then, how many actually arrived in Inchon?

D:        The whole boat, everybody that was on that ship


unloaded there.

I:          So 4,000?

D:        I think, maybe 4,000.  But they, not 7,000 stayed in Seoul.  About 3,000.

I:          Three thousand.

D:        Sec, uh, 7thDivision had a bunch of people there.  That hourglass was packed.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        And there were some engineers in the group and some infantry.  But I can’t tell you exactly how many hundred it was.

I:          Yeah.  So engineers, infantry.  Any other


can you think of?

D:        Not that I know of.

I:          Um.

D:        Not so I remember.

I:          Do you know that you are the first American soldier arriving in, in Korea or there, were there any other soldiers there?

D:        There might have been some, but I didn’t know where they were at, and

I:          Right.

D:        and I didn’t see any.

I:          Yeah, um hm.  How did Inchon look to you when you were landed?

D:        Well, kind of weird.  Inchon was a weird place.  The ship that I was on had to wait


till the tide was up to come into the dock, and when we unloaded, it was in the mud.  The gangplank had mud on it.  And we had about eight hours’ period of time between tide out and tide in to get the thing unloaded where it would float back out empty.

I:          So what transportation did you take to get to the Seoul from Inchon?

D:        Um, train.


Uh, regular cars for railroad

I:          Um hm.

D:        with seats.  I think it was three people per row of seats, and that’s how we went to Seoul.

I:          So you saw all the scenery from Inchon to Seoul.

D:        Yes, sir.

I:          How did it

D:        Askam City

I:          Uh

D:        Yeongdeungpo, all that I seen.

I:          How did it look to you?

D:        It was so cold, everybody was staying in the house except one farmer had his ox cart


out there on the streets of Seoul, and there was one guy had a horse hooked to his wagon. That’s all I seen that day when I walked down the streets of Seoul.

I:          Um hm.

D:        From the rail head. [ABRUPT START] They said occupation troops from the World War II.

I:          Okay.  So what is the sort of typical, what was the typical day of your, uh, of your service in Korea?

D:        Well, I was quarantined from Measles that were quite interesting.


I’ve had guard duty, and I didn’t know about the drums at night at 11:00 going down the street, and that was kind of scary.  If you walking guard and the drums are beating and you don’t know why they was beating at 11:00 and it was curfew, I know now it was curfew.  But I didn’t know what the hell it was back in them days.

I:          Oh.

D:        But I pulled guard duty for about a month, and I had a offer to do another job to stay in a warm place.


So I raised my hand, and I got the job.  We had our own bakery, but the chief baker was a, a elderly guy.  I’d say he was probably 45 or 50 years old, but he’s still in the service.  And he was too weak to mix dough with his hands.  So I raised my hand, and I got a dough mixing job,


mixing dough in big containers to make bread.  So that was my second job till

I:          Uh huh.

D:        we got off the quarantine for the measles.  They drilled and cleaned house and picked up paper and marched and, we had full activity, activity every day.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Make sure the fire barrels was full of water in case we had a fire. That was one most important thing


It was peaceful there.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        There was no activity outside the gate.

I:         Oh, So

D:        Course you

I:          you were not

D:        being quarantined from measles you don’t spread ‘em.

I:          So how, when did it, that end, the measle?

D:        About 30 days after we arrived there.  Thirty days after the 17thof December.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        They, we started to go into different places to be a part of the group that was up or somebody had it waiting for us to work. I went to Yeongdeungpo after the measles attack.


I:          What did you do there?

D:        I was in charge of 35 plumbers, about 35 carpenters, and about 75 laborers, and we done all the maintenance for dependent housing in Seoul, Askam City and Yeongdeungpo.  [Abrupt start] I supervised all the DDT that came into Korea.

I:          DDT.

D:        Yes.

I:          Yeah.

D:        [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Yeah.

D:        Um, I had enough DDT to go from here to Mt. Picca. In five gallon buckets.


I:          Yeah, well

D:        Stored in the, the engineer depots, see.  Boy, it was a hot iron for black marketeers.

I:          Um.  Who stole it?

D:        The American soldiers sold it to the Koreans.

I:          [LAUGHS]

D:        They got caught.

I:          So there are many fleas and stuff, right?

D:        Oh, yeah, flea, mosquitos.

I:          Mosquitos, too?

D:        Yeah, bad.

I:          Bad.

D:        Every, every bunk had a mosquito net for guys, and I


in that book that I can’t find, I had a L19 that flew, sprayed DDT over Seoul, as it flying over, that’s home.  But I couldn’t find the book.  Maybe I’ll find it in a day or two.

I:          So when did you leave for state from Korea?

D:        I went to Japan from Korea.

I:          Uh huh.  When did you leave?

D:        Uh, uh, let’s see.  About August of ’49.

I:          Um hm.


D:        I went to Sendai, Japan from post-engineers to 13thcombat engineers, 7thDivision, overnight.  I was tender as lettuce leaves.  In four days, I was the toughest Corporal walking.

I:          So why you stay there from December 16 of 1947 and up to August of 1949?  Were there any political crises,


kind of, uh, symptoms of collusion, war, disorder

D:        I, I didn’t hear of any.  I, I didn’t hear anything.

I:          Anything?

D:        Um um.

I:          Oh, not at all.

D:        The water, when I cut the water off, it was the major thing.  [Abrupt start] I think it was August something, and we landed, and we didn’t have any ammunition for the big guns.

I:          You landed in Kor, Inchon in August of 1950.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        And we didn’t, we had all the guns, but we didn’t have no ammunition for them.  So


we had to wait in the school yard in Pusan because those guns just, during the monsoons and the wet weather, they weighed so much that they just sank.

I:          Oh, so you arrive August, arrive at Pusan, not Inchon, Pusan, right?

D:        Pusan.

I:          Yeah, yeah, yeah.  And you didn’t have ammunition so

D:        We trained.  We had enough Americans to fire the guns, but


we didn’t have enough Americans to, to do a eight-hour [INAUDIBLE]  So they give us a katusa boys to train to help us with the gun. So my job was to American Captain, he’d take all American troops, and we went over the hills around Pusan training in the morning, and I brought all the katusas up with me because I’d been there and I could speak a little Korean.  And we just trained to death.


We’d walk them guns down at least four or five times every afternoon.  But when we got ammunition, General Dean was already captured at Taegu, see.

I:          Ah.

D:        And man, quick as we had the ammunition of the ground, we took off.  There was 12 guns.  But when we got on the road, nobody else could come.  You couldn’t, we had, when we went, the road had to be clear. Nobody could go this way.

I:          Um hm.

D:        So when


we found a place where we could put 12 of them guns and all the gear, we’d park them and then put ‘em in bazooka and started firing.  We went all the way to Manchurian border with them.

I:          You up to Manchurian border?

D:        Yes, sir.

I:          Ah.  So please tell me about this, uh, uh, the battle on Naktong River.

D:        Massive killing.

I:          What did you do?

D:        We just killed, and then we, when we was firing the guns, it killed everything.


We cut the gra, that bullet that’s over on that picture, when it busted it cut the grass into football field size.  Cut all the trees, and if you put the right fuse in it, the thing would go off about eight foot above ground.  Anything in, in that area going down dead.  There was just lots and lots of people killed on the Naktong River.

I:          And you finally defeated them, and then you were in no, no

D:        And went on to, we went to, I, we had four guns, and I was one of them.


I went to fire the gun, fire on the reservoir, Chosin Reservoir.

I:          Oh.  Were you not afraid?

D:        Oh hell, yes, sir.  I wouldn’t be here if I wouldn’t have been afraid. Yes, it would, it would make your brain turn over two or three times.

I:          Have you, had you worked with the Korean, uh, soldiers, like a katusa around, uh, Naktong area?


D:        Oh, yeah.  We still had ‘em.

I:          How was your relationship with them?

D:        I could, man, I, could just go on and just, this is good.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Eat the rice, white rice I can take tons of it.

I:          Not kimchi?

D:        No, not too much.

I:          [LAUGHS]

D:        Um, I guess the most fun thing I ever done to a Korean katusa was they thought that, uh,


mustard, hot mustard, was peanut butter, and the whole, had a whole gallon of mustard, hot mustard.  What’s the name of that?  I got a mustard, it’s real hot.  Anyway, the katusas thought it was peanut butter.

I:          Um.

D:        And I give them a big junk of it.  Course it was too hot for them to, it, it


hotter than kimchi.

I:          So he was on fire.

D:        Yeah.

I:          [LAUGHS]

D:        At, when we was in Kaesong when that happened, I remember.

I:          Oh, you were in Kaesong?

D:        Oh, yeah.  We stayed in a schoolyard in Kaesong for a long time.

I:          Do you remember the scene because Kaesong was the capital city of Korea dynasty.

D:        Yeah.

I:          How was it?

D:        It was a nice town.  First, we had Kentucky Fried Chicken in there.  Did you know that?

I:          No.

D:        Yeah, there was a Kentucky


Fried Chicken, but it was gone when we got there.  But they had KFC up there.

I:          Are you kidding me?

D:        No, I’m not kidding you.

I:          During the war, there was a KFC in Kaesong?

D:        Yeah, yeah.  It was, yes, sir.

I:          How come?  I don’t, I don’t get it.

D:        I don’t either.  It, I just seen the sign.

I:          You saw the sign and this kind of

D:        Building, yeah.

I:          Building?

D:        Yeah.

I:          In the building, there was a sign of KFC

D:        C, up here.


I:          And they were what, distributing the KF, the chickens

D:        No, no, have no, no, nothing.  Nobody home.  They gone. Everybody gone.

I:          But you saw the sign.

D:        Yeah.  I just saw the sign.  I didn’t see any Kentucky Fried Chicken.

I:          [LAUGHS]  How do you think that it was there?

D:        I don’t know.  I don’t know how long it was been, but it looked kind of, eh, uh, weather beaten, the sign.

I:          Did you see any palace or ancient buildings around Kaesong?

D:        I seen ‘em, but I didn’t have time to go look at ‘em.

I:          Um.

D:        We didn’t have time to breathe cause we was on the move.  See, the Chinese wanted them big guns, but, and we had that anti-aircraft support, halftracks with quad fits on it, right, setting right there and the gun right here and me.


I:          Did you see North Korean soldier in person?

D:        Yes, sir.

I:          Oh.  Tell me about it.  How did you?

D:        They were hungry and wet.  And they almost froze to death.  They had quilted uniforms of cotton in the middle.  When they got wet, you couldn’t get the ice out of it.

I:          Were they, did you capture them or

D:        No, they were


captured by our infantry, but see, we had to help the infantry sometimes.  And that’s how seen ‘em.  I have, I got pic, that book that I can’t find has got ‘em all in it.

I:          Um.

D:        Their pants is all torn and ragged here. They’d been going for weeks, no food.

I:          So what did you do to them?

D:        We put them in a enclosure made of barbed wire in, uh, Panmunjon.  There musta been at least 500 there.  [Abrupt start].  We went all, we went, uh,


Kumhwa Valley. We went to, um, Chuncheon.  We went to a little town south of the, uh, Reservoir.

I:          Chosin Reservoir?

D:        Yes.  We fired 24 rounds in the Chosin Reservoir.

I:          When was that?

D:        November 1950,


I can’t.  It’s,

I:          So

D:        is no, it was in November

I:          So you actually helped US Marine

D:        Yes.

I:          to get out of there and to defeat the Chinese, right?

D:        Yeah.

I:          Oh.  So you are part of Chosin Few.

D:        Yeah.  They, I joined the Chosin Few, and they told me no.  I get the First Marine Division general order, and my unit is on that thing. So I sent it to ‘em.  I said send me my money back.  [Abrupt start]  It was, I can’t remember what date in November,


but we hadn’t the right bullets to, it’s called concrete Pearson Fuses for that bullet that you see in that picture.  It drills into concrete like electric drill until, and it explodes.  So we only had 25 fuses like that.  They dropped them from a L19 in a box after we was in position about six, maybe six hours.  And they


give eac, they had four guns.  Each gun got six, six and four is 24.  When the last round of the 24 was fired, they said march order.  That means close shop, put the thing together, and let’s go.  So we told a Marine captain that there’d be a lot of water coming down, and his captain told him, American captain of the Army, go to hell.  Next thing he knew his mess truck and his water trailer and all his


clothes that they had in the river, near the riverbank, went down the river, and we got on the road and left.  I, I can’t remember.  It was near Chipyong-ni is where we was at.  And I mar, I can mark a map for you and tell you.  The town was a five letter, three or, uh, four or five letter word on the east coast.

I:          Yes.


How, did you know how desperate the situation was in the Chosin Few among the American Marines?

D:        I knew how serious it was with me.

I:          [LAUGHS]

D:        I was scared like you ain’t seen.  [Abrupt start].  I wrote home one time.  I said send gloves, the best that money can buy.  Got a pair of gloves that were out of this world bout, and there was 200 Chinese up there in, in North Korea hit by Napalm,


and we had to bury ‘em the morning after I got the gloves.

I:          Ah.  Two hundred seventy Chinese soldiers?  You have to bury them?  Ah. How was it?

D:        Bad.  Uh when I got through that detail, we took about 100 guys to do it.  When we got through, my gloves were ruined.  So I just buried them, too.


I never did tell my family that.

I:          That’s the glove that you got it from your family, and you buried with Chinese soldier.  Have you thought about why I have to be in a country I have never heard about before, not once but twice, and especially at the second round, it was so desperate.  Why do I have to be here?


D:        Oh, I thought about it.  But I’m pa, I’m a patriot .

I:          So you withdraw from Chosin and came down to Seoul?

D:        No, no.  We, we stayed in North Korea.  But I don’t know where we went.
I:          But you, ultimately you came down to, to South Korea, right?


D:        In, uh, November the 27th, 19

I:          Um hm.

D:        50.

I:          Um hm.

D:        We, when we was going back to Pusan, but we never made it because the Colonel, he passed

I:          Uh huh.

D:        and we lost men and guns and I lost a jeep, and it took about three weeks to get back to Pusan to re, refurbish the gun and get that all set up again.

I:          Oh.  So you


came down to Pusan?

D:        Yeah.

I:          Not Seoul or Inchon?

D:        No.

I:          Why do you have to go for such

D:        I don’t know.  That was the Commander’s order.  I did, I didn’t have no, I, I know one reason we went because we had to get in the hard stand for those guns.  Hard ground.

I:          So after that, what happened to you?

D:        We started back up going North, and we went


almost to the Manchurian border the second time.

I:          Manchurian border?

D:        Yeah.

I:          After then?  No.

D:        When, we went way up north, yeah.  I wish I had brought a map with me.

I:          But after you withdraw from Manchuria and Chosin Few, you never went up to the North Korea, right?

D:        Yeah. Yeah.

I:          Yeah?

D:        Yeah.

I:          Huh.

D:        Uh huh. [INAUDIBLE]October 1951 in North Korea.


I:          Um hm.

D:        By truck and went to Inchon.

I:          Inchon.

D:        Yeah.  And got on a, a, some kind of little fishing boat and went to Japan, and they took all my money and all my junk, give me a new pair of shoes, new socks, new clothes, cut my hair.  Didn’t give me much money, but I was happy.

I:          How much were you paid?

D:        Well, it depended on your rank.


My first tour in Korea I was making $17 a month.

I:          $17 a month.

D:        Four of that went for laundry before you ever seen it.

I:          Um hm.

D:        By the time it, uh , I, I’d made E6, I was drawing about $300, $400.

I:          You mean monthly?

D:        Yeah.

I:          When?

D:        1951.

I:          You got $300?

D:        Yeah.

I:          Um. So what did people say when you got, got back to the United States?


D:        Well, we’re glad to see you, boy.

I:          Um huh.

D:        Glad you’re alive.  Would you speak at the, uh, Chamber of Commerce meeting tomorrow night? No.  I ain’t talking.  I never did go to that.

I:          Why:

D:        I didn’t want to.  I had a girlfriend in Oklahoma, and I was getting ready to marry her, and I wanted to stay with my mother and daddy.  I didn’t need to be running around at night.

I:          So you had a girlfriend while you are in Korea?


D:        Yeah.

I:          Ah.  Did you talk to her through letters?

D:        Oh yeah, every day, every time the mail would come.  She wanted me to marry her before I went, and I said no.

I:          Uh.

D:        I’m not gonna do it.  Anybody gonna get my insurance it’ll be my mother.

I:          [LAUGHS]

D:        That made her kinda angry.

I:          Do you have any comments about young generation, about Korean War?

D:        I would like for all the young ones to know what’s goin on and how bad it was, and it was never published in any history book or nothing else


I:          Um.

D:        that I know of.

I:          Why people say the Korean War is forgotten?

D:        Well, I, I don’t know, but I never forgot it.

I:          You never forget, no?

D:        Well, I was there to help the people, and I think we done it.

[End of Recorded Material]