Edward B. Heimann
Edward B. Heimann was born October 13th, 1932, in West Point, Nebraska. After graduating from high school, he saw a poster of a Marine in his dress blues in the local post office and decided to enlist. He completed the necessary training required before being sent to Korea but was held back after another Marine stole his shoes. After writing the Commandant of the Marine Corps requesting to be deployed, he was finally allowed to ship to Korea. He landed in Incheon in December, in the dead of winter. He served as an administrative assistant to the battalion adjutant and later became a sergeant. He expresses his interest in returning to Korea with the Revisit Korea Program.
Edward Heimann describes the Marine rotation on the front lines in Korea before the draft. He explains that when the Marine sector in North Korea was hard hit, they were asked to volunteer to fill in on the front lines. He recalls how the North Koreans seemed to know when new Marines were being rotated in and describes how the North Koreans would hit them the hardest when the new Marines arrived.
Thanks and Appreciation
Edward Heimann explains the reason why he agreed to be interviewed. He recalls that one day, while playing golf, a young South Korean man joined his group of three. He describes the man as being incredibly grateful for what he did for South Korea and being quite taken aback by the young man's gratitude.
Life in Korea
Edward Heimann describes life in Korea after his winter arrival at Incheon. He recalls his living conditions, being fed well, and being able to take warm showers most of the time. He explains that he was also able to enjoy leave (rest and relaxation) in Japan and received care packages from home.
00:00:00 [Beginning of Recorded Material]
Interviewer: This interview is being taken on April 20, 2015, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Good afternoon, how are you doing?
Edward Heimann: Very good.
Interviewer: Awesome. It’s a pleasure to meet you. My name is Ivy Belle. I’m the great-granddaughter of an ex-POW William Baker, from Nemo, Texas. I am also the vice president of the Korean War Veterans Youth Corp and the Texas Regional Interview Director for the Korean War Legacy Foundation. So thank you so much being able to come in to talk to me today. Would you please introduce yourself and tell me a little about you?
Edward Heimann: My name is Edward B. Heimann.
Interviewer: Please spell your last name for me.
Edward Heimann: H-E-I-M-A-N-N.
Interviewer: Thank you so much Mr. Heimann. Appreciate you coming in.
Edward Heimann: I was born at home in Westpoint, Nebraska, on October the 13th, 1932. I enlisted in the Marine Corp, ten months after I graduated from high school in 1950.
Interviewer: What made you decide to enlist?
Edward Heimann: I went by the local post office and they had a poster of a Marine on seagoing duty in his dress blues.
Interviewer: And that was it.
Edward Heimann: Yes.
Interviewer: Sold you?
Edward Heimann: I wanted to be a seagoing marine and I found out that the MOS for seagoing marines was the same as infantry.
Interviewer: Alright then.
Edward Heimann: And after I was in then, finished boot camp in San Diego.
Interviewer: You went to San Diego, okay.
Edward Heimann: My next duty station was Camp Pendleton.
Interviewer: Camp Pendleton, where is that at?
Edward Heimann: California. After mess duty for 30 days, through normal routine for marine corp PFCs, I went through training replacement command. When I finished up my um next duty assignment, was supposed to be further training in either the artillery or the tanks, but anyways, amphibious vehicles. But before the day we were shipped out, we were packing to to go the next duty assignment and I had tried to follow all of the directions the Marines gave me and one was to label all your equipment and so I put my name with the rubber stamp they gave me in all my equipment and I had a pair of shoes that I normally set out, I spit-shined for inspection and when I was packing, they were gone. So I said I probably won’t need them in Korea so it was no problem.
Interviewer: So you knew you were going to Korea?
Edward Heimann: Yes, after the training, secondary training.
Interviewer:Have you ever heard of Korea?
Edward Heimann: Yes, hmm. In fact when I enlisted my parents ah asked why and those kind of things. They reminded me that Korea was going on and I said I have no problem with that and they did too so they agreed was okay for me to enlist. And ah The training replacement in Camp Pendleton for the units going over to Korea and they were on a 30 day rotation but this extra training was prior to going over there and it was I don’t remember what they anticipated six weeks or two months or something but so you wouldn’t go immediately. It was after the training was completed. They called after I discovered my shoes were gone one of my tent mates said so and so in the next tent over has them. So I went over there and asked him if he had my shoes and he said no he didn’t and I said lets see them. And he showed them to me and I pointed out that my name is in my shoes and I took them and packed them in my bag.and someone had told the commanding sergeant major what had happened, I didn’t know this so when when we were supposed to jump on the trucks to take to this other camp, they called his name and my name. And we went to see the sergeant major and he said you guys aren’t going and I said why. Well because this man stole your shoes and he has to be court-martialed because Marines don’t do that. And I said why do I have to go? He said you have to testify. So they put me me in another training and I started to receive the same training I had already received. And they put him in the brig until his trial., so…
Interviewer: You get court-martialed for stealing a pair of shoes?
Edward Heimann: Yeah. That was the process.
Interviewer:Did he, did it ever come out why he stole your shoes?
Edward Heimann: No.
Interviewer: Like did he lose his? I’m so confused.
Edward Heimann: No he didn’t and he didn’t need those shoes because he was going to Korea. It was just the code of conduct that they expect from the Marines–you don’t treat your fellow Marines that way. So um, one of the jobs I had was a prison chaser. Eight months after, no it wasn’t that long.
Interviewer: A prison chaser in the states or in Korea?
Edward Heimann: No in Camp Pendleton.
Edward Heimann: So whenever they had a prisoner to go from the brig to the court or from the court to wherever it might be, I was one of those that did that. And um, all of the sudden I went to pick up a prisoner and it happened to be this young man who stole my shoes. So we went to court, and he went to court, but I didn’t have to testify. I waited until this processing was over. He came back out and I asked him what happened. He said well, I have to spend some more time in jail and then get a dishonorable discharge. So I took him back to jail, back to the brig, and i went to my commanding sergeant major and said and told him what happened and now can you put me in a unit that was going to Korea? He says no we want you to work in the record book section so I worked in the record book section for awhile. Finally I asked him to put me, send me to Korea. He said he couldn’t do it bc we need you here so I wrote a letter to the commandant of the Marine Corp and asked him to go and he said okay you can go so the next, by that time it was late in October or November.
Interviewer: Why did you want to go to Korea so bad?
Edward Heimann: Well because those people who I had associated with all the people who were going through the training first were going to Korea. And I kind of noticed it because wanted to do my part in that respect and didn’t appreciate being the United States for that time. So after the commandant of the Marine Corp approved my request to go to Korea I went through cold weather training and went to Korea and got over there the first part of December.
Interviewer: Where did you land?
Edward Heimann: Incheon.
Interviewer: The first part of December… so it was cold?
Edward Heimann: Yes it was. Very cold. In fact, the first session I had on guard duty they we had cold weather naturally. And um I had they told me to put on everything I had which I did, but it was still cold. It was very cold.
Interviewer: What was your first impression of Korea, I mean apart from the weather.
Edward Heimann: Well, it was you saw the rice patties all over, some were being worked, some were not being worked. And I had no direct contact with any Korean person at all. They put us on the train and took us from Incheon to Moosonee where the first engineering battalion first ___company was and I just never had any contact with any Korean populace but I did see the countryside. And uh was in the same camp forever until I went R and R to Japan. They had a 4th of July or Veteran’s Day ceremony at near Seoul we went to and after the treaty ceasefire was signed they had a gathering that we could go they transported us to the celebration but other than that, I was at the same tent everyday for a year.
Interviewer: So tell me about your living conditions? How much were you getting paid? Where were you sleeping?
Edward Heimann: As a sergeant and overseas and um they had combat pay. I think my total pay was $160 a month.or something like that but Prior to going, I sent $100 a month an allotment to my bank in West Point, so I was getting $60 a month well maybe $40 a month about $40 a month in military script you had no way to spend. I don’t know why I didn’t send my allotment of $150 a month but regardless when it was time to go to R and R in Japan you did were able to use the script to make the trip. They transport us but when we got to Japan why we were able to spend it there but I basically worked for the battalion agitent, his office, and primarily my duties were to go to message center everyday, pick up the classified documents and bring them to his office. And he would analyze them and talk to the commanding officer who was the colonel and then do administrative functions at the battalion headquarters were part of my I’d type letters for him and basically filed and did normal office functions for the battalion. Pretty… pretty good job, right?
Interviewer: Yeah, it was actually quite impressive. So were you able to keep in contact with your family back home pretty easy?
Edward Heimann: Yes, we always got care boxes and um the mail delivery was adequate and timely. There was no problem with that, but..
Interviewer: Where are you being stationed at? Were you in Incheon?
Edward Heimann: No, Moonsonee. Stationed in Moonsone–at least that is what they called. I guess I never did see a road sign or anything to that effect, but..Our living quarters were tents. We didn’t have any floors in them so it was on the ground. It was a five man tent we had a mess hall we had an enclosed shower, group shower facilities to where you could take a warm shower most of the time. But we were fed well and the um Catholic priests would come through periodically and we could go to mass maybe once every two months or something like that. So we had you know a good group of guys working there. Periodically before the draft would come through they would ask and if the Koreans had hit the Marine sector that was on the line pretty hard they did ask for volunteers to fill in until the regular draft came in to the North Koreans also knew the timings on the drafts. So they would generally and they knew they seemed as if they knew when the Marines were rotated on the front line so that was their time to attack. And so…
Interviewer: How did they know? Were they kind of..of spying in?
Edward Heimann: Yeah I think it was some kind of a clandestine information gathering process they could do whether they um I’m not sure how we communicated about the draft rotation. But they were pretty regular once a month and that was when the new people arrived that was the time the North Koreans and if they killed enough on the front line then they would have to be replaced and the replacements were the back echelon people like our Italian headquarters or company headquarters so we had to had to fill in for a short period of time. I was never asked to do that. I did volunteer once and my command… my battalion said, Ed you don’t want to, no Sergeant Heimann, you don’t want to go and do that. But probably over my course of my year over there we had to supply maybe 8-12 men to.. to fill in during those times.
Interviewer: So always, and that may have been difficult. What were some of the other difficult or dangerous situations that you encountered?
Edward Heimann: Basically the guard duty because we were in a no fire zone and this was some perimeter around Panama John I don’t know whether it was a five mile perimeter or ten mile perimeter but we were not supposed to fire our rifles there and in the process of doing the guard duty that we had to do were had to do, we had some some infiltrators that came and fired at our people on guard duty and wounded a couple of them. But we had no casualties in that respect. The casualties that the headquarters company had were patrols. When our people went out on patrol to a to clear the path for the patrol because they were mines everywhere that was and we had an EOD unit attached to us that disarmed incoming rounds, mortars, or
Interviewer: Will you tell the audience what an EOD was?
Edward Heimann: Explosive Ordinance Department. And then they were charged with camouflage in areas and disarming duds that came in and sometimes they did lose people as a result of disarming incoming rounds that didn’t explode. It they headquarters company was responsible for that not the battalion. There were really that many in battalion there were just a few of us that were Italian personnel most of the other people were headquarters company personnel other but ah… other than that we ah in July they signed the treaty so, the Cease Fire, for 7 months I was there while they hadn’t, and as far as I was concerned that I remember there were some confrontations after the Cease fire but I don’t think the Marines were affected but I’m not sure. You can tell the difference. We no longer what we called Bedcheck Charlie that would fly over in a single engine airplane and I don’t know if they had small bombs that he dropped but we had blackout when Bedcheck Charlie was flying around. But other than that it was pretty peaceful.
Interviewer: Awesome. You’re, I guess you are one of the lucky ones.
Edward Heimann: Yes, I’m sure of that. I’m sure of that.
Interviewer: So, whenever you returned home, did you speak of your experience in Korea with your family, your friends?
Edward Heimann: Outside of my family there were few people that were interested in unless you belonged to a veteran’s organization.
Interviewer: Umm hmm
Edward Heimann: And we all told of our experience in those situations and when I started college in September of 1953, the college, Regis College in Denver, did have a veteran’s group so the veteran’s group and one of the Jesuit priests up there had been in the military and he was sponsoring our group so we had the opportunity to do it, but as far the average student they, they weren’t that interested in it, but we made ourselves known as best we could.
Interviewer: Yeah…Did your participation in the war impact your life in any way after coming home?
Edward Heimann: Yes, it did. It paid for my G, under the GI BIll it paid for my for my college.
Interviewer: So you went back to school?
Edward Heimann: Yes, I did.
Interviewer: What did you go to school for?
Edward Heimann: Well, I have a BS in accounting.
Interviewer: Weren’t you guys in school?
Edward Heimann: Ah, Pardon me?
Interviewer: Where did you get your degree?
Edward Heimann: I got my degree in accounting.
Interviewer: But where?
Edward Heimann: Regis College
Interviewer: Regis College?
Edward Heimann: Now Regis University in Denver
Interviewer: Oh, fancy.
Edward Heimann: It was a Jesuit sponsored school.
Interviewer: I see. So, have you been back to Korea?
Edward Heimann: I have not been back to Korea, but I’d like to go. I signed up for the Korea revisit tour. I selected Sept as my first choice and July as my second choice. I wanted to go last year. I hadn’t heard about the program until I joined with this the Korea War veteran’s post in Albuquerque. Some of the men had been on the revisit tour and talked about it and I was interested so I tried in 2014, but they were all filled up by the time I so I made my deposit in 2014 with the idea of going in 2015. And I hope to do that.
Interviewer: Well, I wish you luck. I hope you will get the opportunity to go back. I visited Korea last year and it was amazing, it was beautiful.
Edward Heimann: Everyone that I have spoken through that has in our post that has gone and there’s three of them that have that I’m aware of that have gone over there and they speak very, very, highly of the …
Edward Heimann: Hospitality, that was offered by the Korean people and I’m anxious to do that.
Interviewer: What do you think is the legacy carried on by the Korean War and Korean War veterans?
Edward Heimann: Well first of all they have been shown very very appreciation of what they United Nations forces has done for them. They have supplied us with this um Korea cocktail book.
Interviewer: Korea Reborn?
Edward Heimann: Yeah, Korea Reborn. No charge for it. Very nice depiction of now and then.
Edward Heimann: So they must have produced many copies of them because Our post was all supplied with them.and everyone had the opportunity to get one. But one of the reasons I’ve agreed to this interview is what happened to me five years ago, about five years ago.
Interviewer: What happened?
Edward Heimann: I was, our foursome went to play golf here in Albuquerque. We only had three because one of them couldn’t make it and they added a fourth golfer to us who was an Asian golfer. And ah on one of the fairways I asked him what country he was from. He told me that he was from South Korea. So I told him that I had been in his country in 1953 and he asked me if I was military. And I said yes. I was a first Marine, first airpad first Korean division. He immediately stuck out his hand and said thank you for what you had done for my country. It was very, very pleasing to me because prior to his thank you the only thank you I received was from my parents.
Edward Heimann: So we’ve …
Interviewer: How old was this guy?
Edward Heimann: I think he was the second generation below me.
Interviewer: Um hmm
Edward Heimann: I don’t think he was the son of Korean military person who living at that time. I think he was the grandson because I don’t think he was 30 years old.
Interviewer: He was just that grateful.
Edward Heimann: Yes, he very was and someone in generations prior to him I’m sure has informed him of their gratitude and he’s continued. It was very, very emotional for me.
Interviewer: That’s amazing.
Edward Heimann: Yup.
Interviewer: Do you think it’s important for younger generations to know and understand the sacrifices and contributions that were made?
Edward Heimann: Yes, I sure do. And unfortunately each generation is losing sight of some of it is–I think is the result of those of us who have participated in it. Perhaps we have not been our of enough to.. to inform our family, our grandkids, that every generation loses some of what happened during those years.
Edward Heimann: Unfortunate. Groups like yours, the Youth Korean…
Interviewer: The Korean War Veteran’s Youth Corp.
Edward Heimann: Yes, thank you for that. Because we sure need that.
Interviewer: Well, we thank you. You are the reason why we are doing it. And so we invite your grandkids to join us and I will talk to you a little bit more about that after the interview, of course, but I do have another question. Seeing as how you were there in Korea, um obviously you saw first hand what was going on in the war and everything, what do you think we need to do to end the hostility because technically we are still in a war. What do you think we need to do to put closure on it?
Edward Heimann: Well it’s not going to be done by the powers to be I think because they have tried for so many years. You know the um I’m sure the Korean people that have relatives in North Korea and they are attempting to inform those people what it’s like to be living in a free country. And If the same message were highlighted and by those officials that are trying to unite the two countries or at least settle the hostilities between the two would promote the fact that the free country is a better life and there are many advantages to that. Maybe the Korean people themselves would make it known to their leaders that I want to live like the South Koreans do. That the officials have a hard time conveying that.
Interviewer: Yeah. What is one thing you can say that you were able to say that you can take from your experiences in Korea like maybe a lesson or something that you are able to live by today.
Edward Heimann: You mean from the local, from Korean people
Interviewer: From you personally, your experience being in Korea and being in the military, was there anything that stuck with you after you left Korea maybe a life lesson that you learned or something that changed you in some way or impacted you?
Edward Heimann: While we were over there, one of the conversations we often had among ourselves, is how difficult it is for someone for anybody that has been overrun or attacked or by a foreign nation and those people to see the suffering of their lives and it’s something that you don’t want to happen to any country. And that’s why as a veteran, we support what our countries have tried to do for Iraq, Afghanistan, and any other country that asks for our help. We would hope that we would give it to them, provide them what they need to. It’s horrible to see those people suffer as a result of not something that they’ve done. But because of the terror and
Edward Heimann: Yes, so hopefully you don’t want to see any country being forced to do, to live in an atmosphere where they cannot live free.
Interviewer: Exactly, exactly. Well, is there anything you’d like to share with me? Any other memories, or stories, messages anything to preserve your legacy?
Edward Heimann: Well we you know went to work everyday and tried to do our job. They I think I did a pretty good job because I’m unbeknownst to me my commander officer, battalion agent, had written up a citation for me so I received a letter of appreciation.
Edward Heimann: With combat V. and the good part was that I was in school at the time it came to the United States. A Marine Corp recruiter or something had gone to Lincoln, Nebraska, looking for me, or my family and found my mother at the beauty shop. And, so he went in with my citation and told my mother that it was for me and she was not aware of it. And when my mother called me up to tell me about it, because I wasn’t aware of it either, they hadn’t contacted me, and she made me feel I won the war by myself. (laughs)
Interviewer: That’s fantastic though.
Edward Heimann: Yes, it was. Good for her. So nevertheless it was a good experience for me, I hope it taught me a lesson and we hope the Koreans succeed even more even though they are competitors of our now.
Interviewer: With cell phones and automobiles. Yup. Well, they have definitely developed a lot in the past 60 years.
Edward Heimann: Yes.
Interviewer: As I said earlier, I hope you get the opportunity to go back and visit Korea. It’s…
Edward Heimann: We are looking forward to it.
Interviewer: I hope, I hope that you get the opportunity here pretty soon.
Edward Heimann: Thank you.
Interviewer: Thank you so much for being willing to talk to me today. We really appreciate your time.
Edward Heimann: Well, thank you for what this project is doing.00:28:13 [End of recorded material]