Korean War Legacy Project

Earl Coplan

Bio

Earl Coplan was born in 1950 in Lavender, Texas.  After completing high school, he was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War.  While in the army, he completed two tours of duty in Korea.  He served in a medical supplies unit and patrolled the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).  While in Korea, he met and married his wife.  Together they return to Korea every 2-3 years to visit his wife’s family and have noted how much Korea has industrialized and modernized.  He is proud of his service and the U.S. military’s ongoing partnership with South Korea and hopes that one day the Korean peninsula will be reunified.

Video Clips

Impressions of Korea

Earl Coplan describes his experiences while in Korea. He describes the excitement he felt on his way to Korea. He goes on to explain the one scary moment he experienced: when the South Koreans and Americans were no longer in sight of the North Koreans along the DMZ, the North Koreans crossed the line and attacked them.

Tags: 1976 Poplar Tree Ax Incident,North Koreans,South Koreans

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmUazjmye3E&start=238&end=344

Living Conditions

Earl Coplan details the living conditions while he served in Korea in the 1970s. He explains having to adapt from American food to Korean food, such as Kimchi. He recalls receiving a monthly pay of $120 a month before taxes.

Tags: Home front,Living conditions

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmUazjmye3E&start=500&end=576

Modernization

Earl Coplan describes the vast changes that have occurred in Korea since he was stationed there. He explains that the traditional homes that once existed are no longer inhabited; rather, they are only available to see as tourist attractions. He explains that homes in Korea have modernized in much of the same ways as American homes.

Tags: Impressions of Korea,Modern Korea

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmUazjmye3E&start=654&end=814

Video Transcript

00:00
well a little bit about himself from the
00:03
beginning i was born in a little town
00:05
called out of your texts and they’ll
00:09
dare in the country was living a
00:11
siblings and we moved the mayor
00:16
different places and wound up in
00:19
Dangerfield Texas where after graduation
00:23
I was drafted in the military and it was
00:31
exciting I guess well i was born in
00:39
nineteen fifty so I was not a Korean War
00:43
veteran but later on my brother oldest
00:47
brother was a cream or veteran it
00:54
progressed from there and as far as what
01:01
I learned in the military would learn
01:03
when with Korea I really enjoyed my wife
01:09
met Mary heard there in the early
01:12
seventies and they were the unit’s I was
01:20
in well first when I got there was a
01:22
medical devil and then after I stayed
01:28
there 13 months I was a tour was 13
01:32
months were in the initial tour then I
01:35
left and came back to the states and
01:41
then I was in the States for about maybe
01:45
a little over a year and then went back
01:46
to Korea for 12 months but then I was
01:50
extended because of the circumstances
01:51
that happened for another six months old
01:54
that tour was 18 months so that’s given
01:58
me nearly three years how old were you
02:01
when ever you were drafted I would like
02:03
18 when I drafting I didn’t immediately
02:06
go to Korea I took her a detour and went
02:10
to Vietnam but
02:11
that’s not to say before getting into I
02:14
went to Korea in September of 71 so you
02:21
had already kind of known about Korea
02:23
and what had already happened as your
02:24
brother was there did he ever speak of
02:26
his experience you talk about he yes he
02:29
would to me beings that I was in the
02:34
military and he was on me as well so he
02:40
wouldn’t talk about a lot of it and I
02:43
understood that because him being him
02:45
one more people would leave with another
02:47
one that was a total differences with
02:53
they are there were situations that he
02:57
went through that I did not but then he
03:04
he done his six years he got out of he
03:07
wept work for y said in his room he
03:09
passed away probably seven eight years
03:14
ago and bothered by that time it was
03:21
here too after that I joined dishing it
03:23
to in member to him in all three minutes
03:28
because we always help something come is
03:33
called military brothers and sisters and
03:36
I don’t think you’ll find any better
03:40
friendship members that that will stick
03:45
to just a quickie you call on them for
03:48
anything you could tell a story you’ve
03:52
done yups and downs and it relates were
03:59
you nervous to go to Korea I mean since
04:01
she had heard about what your brother
04:02
had been through what was your
04:03
impression whenever you arrived there or
04:05
whenever you found out your exciting the
04:08
base word exciting it was a nervous no
04:12
my nurses already chilled out of me and
04:15
69 want to come back so they I’d already
04:20
been to being nurse
04:24
so I export and when I went to supply
04:27
depot would you let us fly you know I’m
04:31
in katonah or in back back of my
04:37
experience in after my second tour when
04:39
I was there I was at the DMZ first a
04:42
nice infantry unit and first and twenty
04:46
third unit any commentary so was a nurse
04:49
in no not really again not really in
04:53
1975 Jim we went on for skilled alert
04:57
because that some North Koreans
05:00
Saturday’s like the u.s. and South
05:04
Koreans going in Dakota tree out of the
05:06
line of sight the camera on my cameras
05:15
so it’s either sat through DMZ so they
05:19
sent their troops across and they killed
05:21
a major in 45 other soldiers that’s
05:26
reason why that they wouldn’t on for
05:29
skill alert that was the first scary I
05:36
guess you’d say mounted I had been but
05:41
after that it didn’t bother me and what
05:44
military unit were you involved with oh
05:47
there I was which person eyes and the
05:50
person 23rd in three unions that’s right
05:55
there at that point that one had 75 but
05:59
my other units i was a young i was in
06:02
medical unit doing a medical fly again
06:09
that was my first tour when I left here
06:11
I come back to states and i was in or
06:18
out of Kansas and then i went i was
06:20
there a problem in a year i guess and
06:26
then i went back to korea from my phone
06:29
to her there did I want to get out no my
06:36
daily isn’t up real
06:37
I loved it the first month I was air
06:39
they won’t leave but yet because of
06:42
military duty and let us go anyway can
06:47
you tell me a little bit more about your
06:48
responsibilities or the TV that you had
06:50
whenever you’re stationed in Korea so
06:51
choose I’m like you said you were just
06:54
the medical unit it’s a little bit more
06:56
the way you how to do that working in
06:59
supply to do resupply for requests that
07:03
would come in for medical equipment or
07:08
clothing so forth so it’s kind of like a
07:12
big warehouse on jejeje but we had data
07:15
machine terror instead of computer
07:18
didn’t know what a computer was they
07:20
give you data cards and so my job was to
07:24
fill the pillow request and then put the
07:27
data sheet cards together and file
07:34
excuse me how are their relationships
07:38
between the soldiers between you and
07:41
other US soldiers or even Korean
07:43
soldiers we be able to build any
07:45
friendships and he met your wife but
07:47
make any friendships with any of the
07:49
foreign troops yes I got along with
07:51
everybody mama taught those kids that
07:56
you know why go to God and a series
07:59
noted as a friend on your bait make
08:02
people happy you know God says you love
08:06
everybody you gotta love what you do or
08:09
say but that’s a requirement my thinking
08:15
my own being a total moment how are the
08:22
living conditions in Korea as far as
08:25
sleeping arrangements your clothing food
08:28
well normal is for as the American South
08:33
house and then I got used to the korean
08:35
food which is teaching and support zone
08:41
living in barracks was like can I live
08:44
at home would hope those when you got 20
08:49
some are big living saying
08:50
run I got monotonous some time but we
08:55
all go on read and do you recall about
09:00
how much you were getting paid when I
09:03
first started out it was somewhere about
09:06
one hundred and fifteen hundred nineteen
09:08
dollars a month out of that they took
09:12
out taxes out of that I had a six dollar
09:16
twenty-five cent savings bond per month
09:19
which was a $25 saving money at that
09:22
time that money went to my mama because
09:26
her raising six of 13 kids at home from
09:30
a day passed away in 1964 so she was
09:35
struggling but i telled whoever if you
09:41
trust God young you gonna make it period
09:46
something really tough for me to be able
09:47
to do that what were the contributions
09:52
made by the US military in Korea post
09:54
53like what was the differences mainly
09:58
between you know maybe I’ll member your
10:00
brother served whenever you served what
10:02
were some of the extreme differences
10:03
that you noticed they were more in a
10:10
wild labor was a support role but they
10:13
they took over support role I guess
10:16
you’d say into a combat role for him
10:21
being there versus my tours whoever won
10:26
we were in the support of almost told me
10:30
if a we still would not allow we
10:34
wouldn’t allow anyone to override the
10:38
Korean and that’s I mean that’s because
10:43
of even has today which stuff going on
10:48
the world us is going to take care of
10:50
the friends while you’re there did you
10:55
notice Korea developing and growing yeah
11:00
explain a thing that little bit to me
11:01
going from Quonset hut living quarters
11:04
in adobe type houses to modernize houses
11:10
very good you know you don’t see very
11:13
many of those the old what the culture
11:17
traditional houses they’ll pretty much
11:20
deleted them except on tour tour places
11:26
that they still have them hasn’t as a
11:29
tourist attraction or that they had on
11:34
door floors or heated floors that in the
11:37
old style they still have them but
11:40
they’re not run by wood or charcoal the
11:49
modernization of is just like here in
11:52
the States it reminds me of my homes
11:56
when I growed up you know farm houses
12:00
where he looked through the floor and
12:02
see the ground versus the houses we have
12:06
now it’s got carpeted air conditioners
12:09
misophonia Sean and was Korea’s still
12:13
recovering from the war when I really
12:14
did it so how they were there I mean at
12:18
that time a lot of it but again you
12:22
transitioning 20 some odd years or 20 22
12:27
years later they’re transitioning and
12:31
getting out of Navigant modernized and
12:34
they were some places that still had
12:37
remnants of the war-torn places they
12:45
were I think there’s one place that I
12:48
remembered in Maine I don’t know if it’s
12:51
there now that may have been hey what
12:58
I’m gonna call a place in going look now
13:01
and see it yourself then they have a
13:06
korean war memorial what you go in and
13:11
you can see the photograph
13:13
you can see uniforms you can see how
13:15
things were then and up-to-date
13:19
modernization them have you been back to
13:23
Korea yes I’ve it I go back my wife and
13:28
I go back at least try to there were 23
13:31
years to wish her mom and family what
13:35
were some of those difficult or
13:36
dangerous memories that you had during
13:39
your duty or some of the most difficult
13:43
or dangerous happiest sort of memories
13:46
that you had during your duty increase
13:48
dangerous number one anywhere else learn
13:53
to have it read and being on dams
13:55
equally happy times almost always I
14:01
didn’t I / I’m human the human side is
14:06
you don’t get flustered here once more
14:09
but be happy what was the war or your
14:17
tour have any kind of impact on your
14:20
life after train home impact y’all can I
14:26
want to stay over again more friendly
14:31
only know they’re very thankful to the
14:34
American people and not only to the
14:36
American people but to tank full to
14:38
every country that help them get for the
14:40
ordinate in 2013 we witnessed the 60th
14:46
anniversary of the armistice which was
14:48
signed by China North Korea and the UN
14:51
on july twenty seventh 1953 there’s no
14:54
war in modern history that lasted 60
14:57
years after an official ceasefire what
15:00
do you think we have to do to put a
15:02
closure on it do you support a kind of
15:04
movement to petition in the war
15:05
officially or maybe sign up or replace
15:08
it with a peace treaty perhaps
15:10
unconditional surrender period it is
15:14
still an ongoing war the war is never
15:16
ending the fighting stopped but the war
15:19
is never ending and the only way that
15:25
will highly
15:26
peace will be that North Korea John an
15:31
unconditional surrender period try the
15:37
best dance track that yes okay I’m sure
15:39
so that’s probably the best answer I’ve
15:41
got yet on that one um it’s like what
15:45
you mainly what you’re saying that’s
15:46
right oh let’s see there anything else
15:54
that you’d like to share as far as many
15:56
memories or stories or anything that you
15:59
have during your time in Korea well if
16:06
you wherever you have just remember
16:10
songs 118 date trust God I put your
16:16
trust in God period and you have any
16:24
messages for younger generations are
16:26
learning about the Korean War go to
16:30
library go wherever you go computers
16:32
nowadays go to you look at whatever is
16:36
online or whatever is in it you know go
16:39
back to the history second thing is what
16:43
it should be the first but second thing
16:45
is get back into the Bible you read what
16:49
the Israeli Israel’s isn’t he went
16:53
through what they did what more people
16:55
to back India because that is only true
17:01
history book in the world so for and
17:06
saying that would be also to say obey
17:11
your parents obey those ahead and show
17:15
them one word is called respect because
17:18
you have no respect for yourself how you
17:21
going to have expect he said we’re in
17:23
situations young kids nowadays what
17:26
happened because is it because your
17:32
parents didn’t teach you something if
17:35
you go to church is not passed on m2m
17:38
teach
17:39
I’m not trying to do politics and
17:42
religion but they go hand in hand or you
17:47
won’t believe it or not do you think
17:50
it’s important for younger generations
17:51
to understand what happened in Korea
17:54
absolutely absolutely why do you think
17:58
that if you don’t learn something from
18:01
bad the best why do I think it’s
18:06
important it because you then can
18:09
hopefully understand what the military
18:12
does man or the world he isn’t in each
18:16
nation is trying to be free and they
18:20
were saying you know freedom Lee is not
18:22
free that’s very true somebody had she
18:24
had blood do you think that the Korean
18:31
War veterans digital memorial what we’re
18:32
doing here and interviewing veterans is
18:35
important absolutely that way you
18:39
hopefully people don’t forget why do you
18:44
think in your opinion is the Korean War
18:46
known as The Forgotten War what gated
18:49
that title in your opinion I wish I knew
18:52
why they call it a Forgotten War okay
18:56
it’s not good it was in history books
18:59
when I was in school so I don’t know why
19:05
I was somebody tell me as why they think
19:11
to do that decree of war was God more
19:14
it’s not it was it they put it on back
19:17
shelf because Vietnam War and in other
19:21
Wars that’s happening but thank behind
19:25
me soldiers and how many military
19:27
personnel died to freedom of the
19:31
preamble 40 up another nation comes the
19:37
United States or we’re going to shed
19:41
blood for our own freedom yes do it
19:46
would we won’t somebody help us yes
19:49
there’s mopping huh is there anything at
19:54
all at else that you’d like to share
19:56
speak about get back get back to God put
20:08
your trash can go I clear step on my
20:15
ends anything else now’s the time thank
20:17
you very much