Korean War Legacy Project

Edgar Tufts


Edgar Tufts was born on March 13, 1930 in Banner Elk, NC. He was in Washington D.C. before entering military service on August 19, 1951. He served from August 1951 to July 12, 1953. He arrived in Pusan and was stationed at the front line from August 12, 1952 until June 20, 1953. He was a part of the 45th Infantry Division, 180th Infantry Regiment, H Company, as a 2nd Lt. upon entering and a 1st Lt. upon discharge. Edgar was an infantry platoon leader and heavy weapons company commander. He participated in the Stalemate situation, and was awarded CIB, a Bronze Star, the Korean Service Medal, and the UN Service Medal with two battle stars for his efforts.  He says that the most memorable experiences of the war were Thanksgiving Dinner and “showers preceding showers.” What impacted him most was the devastation caused by the war. His hobbies now include reading, woodworking, visiting family (as he has 12 grandchildren), playing cards, and church activities.

Video Clips

The Best Thanksgiving Ever

Edgar Tufts describes rotating to reserve after being on the front lines in eastern Korea after three months without a shower or change of clothes and solely eating c-rations, . He talks about getting cleaned up and enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving meal that "rivaled his grandmother's."

Tags: Food,Front lines,Living conditions

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Company Beer Party

Edgar Tufts tells a story when his company held a beer party while in reserve, some soldiers using their air mattresses for rafts in a nearby creek.

Tags: Food,Living conditions,Rest and Relaxation (R&R)

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Most Fearful Time in Korea

Edgar Tufts describes his most fearful memories in Korea when the advanced party he was in was heavily shelled by the Chinese Army,

Tags: Chinese,Fear,Front lines

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"What Do You Think of Our Country Now?"

Edgar Tufts describes a conversation, while revisiting Korea in 2008, when he was asked what he thought about Korea today.

Tags: Impressions of Korea,Pride

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Appreciation of The Korean People

Edgar Tufts describes the appreciation shown by Koreans, young and old, for the service of the United States in the Korean War.

Tags: Impressions of Korea,Pride

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Video Transcript

Edgar: My name is Edgar Tufts. I was born in Banner Elk, North Carolina. I had a small family, I had one sister.

Interviewer: Oh so you are the only son?

Edgar: I am the only son. The tufts came from England and landed in New England in about 1645 I believe. They were quite early settlers. They landed in Boston and I come from a branch that went down to the south. They were mercantile people. So they came down there to set up a business of importing rum from the islands and exporting it to the north.

Interviewer: oh, rum.

Edgar: ahh yes

Interviewer: so you liked it?

Edgar: fair, fair. Then from there, they moved on up to Atlanta which is where my roots really started.

Interviewer: When were you born?

Edgar: I was born March 13, 1930.

Interviewer: So you growing up as the only son in your family?

Edgar: yes

Interviewer: and what school?

Edgar: Well my father died when I was 12 years old and that was at the beginning of WW2. My mother had not had an formal education for generating income, so she had to make a decision which was to send me to boarding school and my sister to, I think went with her to Washington DC. And she got work there as the war effort began to expand more; there were plenty of jobs there.

Interviewer: Wasn’t that boarding school expensive?

Edgar: uh, remebr that was about 70 years ago, yes it was expensive relatively speaking. However, we had many of our dear friends, well one of my father’s dear friends was the Head Master of the school and we were able to get significant financial assistance.

Interviewer: good. So, it was a good school. What was the name of this school?

Edgar: Darlington School, in Rome, Georgia. It is a great school. It continues today to be a coed school but when I was there it was an all-boys school.

Interviewer: When did you graduate?

Edgar: I graduated from Darlington in 1947 and made an application to go to college at Davidson College, which is in North Carolina And entered there the following fall, September of 1947.

Interviewer: What was the name of the school?

Edgar: Davidson.

Interviewer: and what did you study?

Edgar: uhhhhhh I studied chemistry, I did chemistry.

Interviewer: Chemistry?

Edgar: yes

Interviewer: wow, you are a scientist.

Edgar: I was a scientist. I was 2nd in my class, my class was only 2.

Interviewer: hahahaha

Edgar: This was a very special course. It was one which gave me a degree, a special degree of special attainments in chemistry.

Interviewer: You attended 4 years?

Edgar: I attended four years.

Interviewer: So you graduate in 1951?

Edgar: 1951, in May

Interviewer: You knew that the Korean war broke out at that time right?

Edgar: Uh, yes. I was an ROTC student.

Interviewer: you were?

Edgar: I was, so I graduated with a commission, second lieutenant. When our group went to their summer encampment in 1950, we were in the encampment when the war broke out. We were provided newspapers and it didn’t register then that it was taking place. We just headlined “Korea invaded by the north.”

Interviewer: but nobody really payed attention to it.

Edgar: Well they did know that they’ve washed out their thinking about war, WW2 was just still so fresh in everyone’s mind, but I think we realized that we were not gonna miss this one.

Interviewer: why not?

Edgar: because we’ve been trained to serve our country. We were gonna be commissioned. Why should we, why should we be immune to it? There were U.S. troops all over the world. I made a decision I said are usually doesn’t do what you want to do. So I when they asked me where I wanted to go I said the Far East Command figuring we won’t give that to him, well send him to Europe.

Interviewer: Was there air force ROCT too?

Edgar: not at that time

Interviewer: not at that time, what about Navy?

Edgar: um probably, I did not know about navy.

Interviewer: so principally it was for the army.

Edgar: Principally it was for the army.

Interviewer: what kind of training did you get?

Edgar: most of it was classroom work, we had close order drill marching, learned discipline, and learned to be a part of a group a unit. Then we had a summer camp for six weeks, between junior and senior year. My summer camp was done at Fort Meade and there were ROCT students there from several colleges. The one I remember was one from Rutgers.

Interviewer: Rutgers?

Edgar: New Jersey

Interviewer: were you paid by the army being in ROTC?

Edgar: yes

Interviewer: tell me about it

Edgar: Only in my senior year was I paid. I believe it was 100 dollars a month.

Interviewer: wow that was quite a salary.

Edgar: well it was for a student

Interviewer: how about your tuition, what are the benefits of being-

Edgar: none

Interviewer: did you pay your tuition?

Edgar: yes

Interviewer: I thought being in the ROCT would be exempted

Edgar: that is the modern ROTC.

Interviewer: So you payed all of your tuition, but you were paid 100$ a month at your senior year.

Edgar: at the senior year.

Interviewer: Were there any other benefit of being in ROTC?

Edgar: Um none that I know of

Interviewer: uniforms given to you or you had to buy them?

Edgar: The uniform was given to us, yes.

Interviewer: So that’s the benefit

Edgar: that’s right.

Interviewer: anything else?

Edgar: but we didnt wear the uniform except on drill day.

Interviewer: so no other benefit?

Edgar: no

Interviewer: was it respected to join the ROCT at the time? Why did you join the ROCT?

Edgar: One reason is that my father, who had gone to Davidson College also, was in ROCT there. It was just something that I have no way of saying why, it was just something innate.

Interviewer: Im just curious

Edgar: yeah. I really don’t know, there was nothing to compel me, there was no war going on at the time.

Interviewer: It was just natural to run the course of your father.

Edgar: yes

Interviewer: So you didn’t get any proper or basic military training to get ready for the war?

Edgar: That has truth in it, but we learned a lot of basic information. Organization, supply, things of that type, but for combat, we did not learn that.

Interviewer: So I assume you did get some type of training before you left for Korea, right?

Edgar: As soon as I was called, my assignment was to Fort Benning Georgia infantry school.

Interviewer: When were you called to go there?

Edgar: It was the 19th of August 1951

Interviewer: okay go ahead

Edgar: that was called the basic infantrymen course, basic officer’s course. It was more than 6 weeks, it was September, October, November, and part of December. So it was about 12-14 weeks. They are very intensive. We did a lot of live fire exercises. We learned tactics, map reading, night problems. It was very good. after that, I was transferred ingington Gap Military Institution in Pennsylvania. There we were receiving draftees and our job was to train them to be infantryman and that was from December until the end of April, over the winter months. And I would say that was the best training time for Korea because of the winter time, cold, snow, and very steep mountains that we had to hike over. I didn’t realize how good and real that training was.

Interviewer: So when did you leave for Korea?

Edgar: Well I left for Korea in the end of June, I would say in the end of june. I had driven my car, my mother made a trip across the country. I was shipped out by air. They flew me over, they were anxious that I get there. It was a nice trip.

Interviewer: From where?

Edgar: From camp Stoneman California, San Francisco. The trip was uh, first landing was in Honolulu. We overnighted to that, got off the airplane, had breakfast, and we were right back on and flew to wake island and at wake we had supper, and then they flew us out immediately and we landed in Tokyo. I don’t remember what took place the first couple of days in Japan, but I was assigned to camp Geefoo which was in the south and central part of Japan.

Interviewer: Do you remember when you arrived

Edgar: no

Interviewer: So it must have been around july?

Edgar: no no no it was later than that, it was about, it could have been the end of July or the first of August.

Interviewer: and what happened?

Edgar: they put us on a train that night and said you’re going north. Here’s your weapon and be careful because there is still gorillas in the mountains, but they didn’t give us any ammunition. It was an uncomfortable ride because the train at that time was nothing but wooden benches and it was an overnight trip. I just happened to read back on a letter I wrote to my mother just this past week and I said “ I don’t know what im doing here.”

Interviewer: you never knew anything about korea? And you never knew where it was?

Edgar: I wasn’t expert. I knew of Korea.

Interviewer: And what was your mission?

Edgar: I was assigned as a replacement in uh the 180th infantry regimen of the 45th division. I was assigned to H company, which was a heavy weapons company for the infantry.

Interviewer: and heavy weapons means what?

Edgar: We had a machine gun patoon, a morden patoon, and a 75 recoilis patoon.

Interviewer: and regimen, what regimen?

Edgar: 180th, I was the 45th division.

Interviewer: Where did you go to fight?

Edgar: Well division 45 had been pulled back into core reserve. So I went into a reserve situation, which was training. I cannot tell you exactly where it was.