Korean War Legacy Project

Edward L. Kafka


Edward Kafka was born in South Dakota in 1929 and only went to high school until his sophomore year in high school so that he could be a farmer once his brother went away to WWII.  After being drafted in 1952, Edward Kafka was trained to be a surveyor and radioman.  He fought in the battles known as the Iron Triangle, Pork Chop Hill, and Heartbreak Ridge.  When he was about to be sent home, a mortar hit his bunker and went through his foot.  After surgery in Japan, Edward Kafka was sent to Wake Island, and then onto California where he met up with his family again.

Video Clips

Inchon Landing and Radioman Training

Edward Kafka landed at Inchon in April 1952 and the military switched his MOS (military operational specialty) from surveyor to radioman while being stationed two miles from the front lines. While dealing with severe battles every day, he deciphered messages that were send through Morris Code from the outposts.

Tags: 1951 Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, 9/13-10/15/,1952 Battle of Triangle Hill, 10/14-11/25,1953 Battle of Pork Chop Hill, 3/23-7/16,Incheon,Pyungyang,Front lines,Impressions of Korea

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Life as a Soldier in Korea War

Edward Kafka worked near a mess hall and the headquarter's battery since he ran radios. Therefore, he had access to a shower once a week and he was able to get clean clothes too.

Tags: 1951 Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, 9/13-10/15/,1952 Battle of Triangle Hill, 10/14-11/25,1953 Battle of Pork Chop Hill, 3/23-7/16,Panmunjeom,Yeonpyeong,Food,Front lines

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Korean Terraign and Fighting in Major Battles in Korean War

Edward Kafka described the mountains and farm land that reached all over that land. He fought at Heartbreak Ridge, the Iron Triangle, and Porkchop Hill.

Tags: 1951 Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, 9/13-10/15/,1952 Battle of Triangle Hill, 10/14-11/25,1953 Battle of Pork Chop Hill, 3/23-7/16,Pyungyang,Front lines,Physical destruction

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

E:         My name is Edward Kafka.  K A F K A.

I:          What is the ethnic origin of this last name?

E:         Uh, Czech Bohemian.

I:          Right?  And I know very famous writer, Kafka.

E:         Yes.

I:          Yeah.

E:         France.

I:          Yep.

E:         Yep.

I:          So are you descendant of this family?

E:         I got no idea.

I:          [LAUGHS]

E:         That’s way to far beyond me.

I:          Got it.

E:         Yeah.


I:          So, what, what is your birthday?

E:         Octo, December 21, 1929.

I:          That’s the year of Great Depression, remember?

E:         Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  Where were you born?

E:         On a farm, Wagner

I:          Wagner?

E:         Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  Where, in South Dakota?

E:         South Dakota, yeah.

I:          And tell me about your family when you were growing up, your parents and your siblings.

E:         Well, I


had a father and a mother.  They were both raised and, and farmed all their lives.

I:          Farm?

E:         Yes.

I:          Yeah.

E:         Farmed.  I had one brother

I:          Um hm.

E:         One sister, a brother is deceased already.  I got sister younger than me by five years. She’s alive yet.

I:          Um hm.  So during the Great Depression, everybody suffer from the lack of food,


but you were in the farm, so did you have any problem?

E:         Well, we were raised on very little.  I don’t know what you would call it, but we called it mush, you know, just ground cereal or corn of some kind

I:          Um hm.

E:         And, uh, cooked on the stove and, and that’s what we survived on.  There was very little, very little livestock to be killed, you know, for food.

I:          Yeah.


E:         And other than that, you had a little bit of poultry, too, that you raised, and that’s about all, you know.  Just

I:          Um hm.

E:         You [INAUDIBLE]. You lived off the land, you know.

I:          Most of the veterans that I did interview, they really suffer from poverty and lack of food around the time that Great Depression.

E:         Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  So when did you graduate school?

E:         Well, I went two years to high school


and then I stayed home because my brother had to go to the second World War.  So I had to stay home, help my dad farm.  So I never finished my last two years of high school.

I:          Oh.

E:         But I did finish those in the service.

I:          In the service.

E:         I had an option to go there and so I finished my high school education, yeah.

I:          Um hm. Your brother’s name?

E:         Felix.

I:          Philips?

E:         Felix.


I:          F E

E:         F E L I X

I:          L I X, yeah.  I X.  And he went to the World War II?

E:         Yes.

I:          Army or

E:         Army.

I:          Army.  So your family has a great tradition

E:         Oh yes.

I:          Being military there.

E:         My dad was in the World War I.

I:          World War I.  So then when did you join the Army?  Was drafted or enlist?

E:         I was drafted, yes.


I:          Drafted.  When was it?

E:         October of ’51.

I:          ’51.  Oh.  So it was after the breakout of the Korean War.

E:         Oh yes.

I:          Uh huh.

E:         Did you know anything about Korea before?

I:          Very little.  We had relation or friends that came back from the war already.  They were discharged, you know, and just from what


history they gave us, you know, and that’s a little, as much as I knew about the war.

I:          Um hm.

E:         Yeah.

I:          99% of the veterans that I have interviewed, they didn’t know where it was.

E:         Well, yeah.  That’s true.

I:          Yeah.  So where did you get the basic military training?

E:         Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

I:          Fort

E:         Sill, Oklahoma.

I:          Could you spell that?

E:         S I L L.

I:          Oh, okay, yeah., Fort Sill.

E:         Fort Sill.


I:          Yeah, yeah.  And how long was it?

E:         Sixteen weeks I think.

I:          Um.

E:         I think it was eight weeks of basics and then eight weeks of advanced training.

I:          What, what was the advanced training?

E:         A surveyor.

I:          Surveyor?

E:         Yes.

I:          Can you explain it to the children that who will listen to your oral history?

E:         Well, a surveyor does distant


land objects or, or places, you know, of, I don’t know how they decipher it from, from degree or miles or whatever, you know, and, and well, I, I don’t know.  I guess evidently I went to that survey school there, and after I


left there, I got put on the ship at, at Washing, in, in Seattle, Washington I think

I:          Um hm.

E:         And then I got shipped overseas.

I:          When did you leave Seattle?

E:         Probably in March, somewhere in there.  We spent 21 days on the, on the ocean


I know.

I:          So that’s 1952, right?

E:         No.  ’51.

I:          No.  You said you

E:         Oh.  Okay.

I:          Yeah.

E:         No, I, I arrived in Korea in April of ’52.

I:          April ’52, yes.

E:         Yeah.

I:          Yep.  Where did you arrive?

E:         As far as I can remember, Inchon I guess.

I:          Inchon.  So now


you arrived the country that you never knew before

E:         No.

I:          And can you describe how Inchon was to you?

E:         Well, we were all treated, you know, okay, and somewhere along the line when I went overseas or on that ship, they found out that I was good in a radio school.

I:          Hm.

E:         So, or deciphering codes, you know,


and stuff, and so I went two months to a, a radio school.

I:          Where:

E:         You got me.  Somewhere

I:          In Korea?

E:         In Korea, yes.

I:          Wow.

E:         It was, it was about two miles behind the front lines.

I:          Uh huh.

E:         Because we could, every night we could see the glare from the, from the heavy bombing and shelling at night, and I went to school there


for two months.

I:          That’s a rare.

E:         And then I got shipped on the front lines.  I spent 12 months on a front lines.

I:          Front line.  Do you remember anything of Inchon when you arrived in Inchon?  How was it?  People, house,

E:         Yeah.

I:          Scenes, just tell me

E:         A lot of women raising flag and, you know, flagging colorful flags


and, and clothing was colorful, and, and a lot of yelling and stuff, you know, and

I:          Um hm.  And so, but your specialty was so rare, right?

E:         What?

I:          Surveying the land.

E:         Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

E:         Yep.

I:          But you changed your specialty as a

E:         That’s right.  My MOS got changed then.

I:          Yeah.  What was your unit?

E:         I was with the 981stField Artillery Battalion.


I:          980

E:         981

I:          Uh huh.

E:         Headquarters Company

I:          Yep.

E:         Field Artillery.

I:          Field.  And do you remember the, the, the location where that you were stationed after the two month of school, communication school?

E:         Well, only towns I can remember is Chuncheon.

I:          Chuncheon, yes.

E:         And


Chungmunjang or something, and Chong

I:          Um hm.  Panmunjom.

E:         Jung, yep.

I:          Panmunjom.

E:         Jung.

I:          Um hm.  So you were, Chuncheon is the east side of the peninsula, and Panmunjom was in the west.  So you were all over there.

E:         Yeah.  All along the 38thParallel, yeah.

I:          Um.  Around the time that you arrived in there is June of 1952.  How was the situation in the main line of resistance?  How was it?  Was there severe battles?


E:         Well, there was.  We moved about, well, to answer your question, yes.  There was severe battles almost every day.

I:          Almost every day.

E:         Yeah.

I:          Uh.

E:         And we moved about, I don’t know.  I’m guessing four times, four or five times over in between the, along that 38thParallel.  I was in a radio section

I:          Um hm.

E:         And we were always


had a bunker that was set aside from the main headquarters battery because we were, had antennas from our radios and stuff.

I:          Um hm.

E:         And so we were set aside from the main headquarters battery, you know.  And we received the SOS or the Morse Code, I copied


that, and we received that from the, from the outpost.

I:          For the observation, right?

E:         Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

E:         Yeah because it, the out post was ahead of the enemy lines actually, front lines, you know

I:          Um hm.  So you received a communication, and then you

E:         You had to decipher it

I:          Yeah.

E:         And send it over to the, to the firing batteries, and they adjusted their


angle and coordinates

I:          Coordinations, yeah.

E:         to, to fire their batteries.

I:          Um hm.  Was it difficult to decipher the code?  How was it?  Did, just give us a example because school children will listen to you, and they are wondering what’s the code system and how you decipher it and things like that. Give, give us example.

E:         Well, the, the, the code all come in dots and dashes.


I:          Right.   Morse code.

E:         Morse code, yeah.

I:          Yeah.

E:         You know, and you, that’s what you went to school for is, is to decipher that, you know, and you didn’t only copy the words that was, or letter that was coming over the, over the radio.  You had to remember and, and pick up maybe three letters back, you know, and that’s the way you copied it down.  Eventually you made your sentence out of it, you know. Your air, air volume


or air flow and everything and

I:          Were there any code books?  Did you have a code books?  You don’t have to remember all the codes, right?  You look up to the code.

E:         No, you remembered them all.

I:          All of them.

E:         All of them.  Every one of them.

I:          How many?

E:         Well, every letter in the alphabet and the numbers

I:          Uh huh.

E:         You had to remember those, which, which I all forgot already.

I:          [LAUGHS]



E:         It’s been 64 years.

I:          Exactly, yes, yes.  So it wasn’t that difficult for you?

E:         Once you picked it up, no.

I:          Um hm.

E:         But I forgot it all, you know, and, yeah.

I:          Yeah.  We never use now Morse Code, but that’s the, the system of digital, being digital. 001 or dot or

E:         Yeah.

I:          Right.  So how was life there?  I mean where did you sleep?  What did you eat?


E:         Well, Headquarters had their own mess hall, so we generally, our bunker was maybe a couple of hundred yards from the Headquarters battery, so we dragged our mess kits and, and we went down to the Headquarters battery to, took shifts.  There was, I think, seven of us in that Head, in that bunker that operated the radios

I:          Um hm.


E:         And we took shifts going to eat and went to the Headquarters battery and ate there, you know, and, and as far as the other life, you know, you, as far as bathing or showering

I:          Um hm.

E:         We had the engineers come down with a, with a, a shower system, and they always set up a tent by a, by a


river someplace

I:          Um.

E:         and provided us with hot water and everything, and, and we could go there maybe once a week and take a shower or something. Otherwise, you just took a sponge bath out of your helmet.

I:          Um hm.

E:         You heated water in your, in your helmet.

I:          You used a lot of helmet, right?

E:        Oh yeah.

I:          Lot of times.  You do many different things with your helmet.

E:         You bet.

I:          That’s what I’m hearing from them.  But it wasn’t too bad because you were


able to take a hot shower once a week

E:         Yeah.

I:          in this, right?

E:         You didn’t, as far as change of clothes, why you just turned in the clothes you had, and you picked up a, a clean set of clothes.  They didn’t always fit, but you provided and, and made them fit, you know, and

I:          What was your rank at the time?

E:         Well, my MOS, all it called for was a Corporal.


I:          Corporal?

E:         Yes.

I:          Um.

E:         That’s what I ended up being.

I:          Did you write letters back to your family or friends?

E:         Very few.

I:          Very few.

E:         Yeah.

I:          Um.  Why? Some of them wrote almost every day.

E:         I know.  I guess, well I had a sister at home.

I:          Um.  You were not married at the time.

E:         No.

I:          No.

E:         No.

I:          Okay.  Because you are here with your son and your wife.

E:         Yeah.

I:          here, and


some of them were married, and they were

E:         No, that, that all came later.

I:          Yeah.  What was the most difficult thing during your service in Korea?  What was the most difficult thing?  What bothered you most?

E:         Well, probably when I was off duty, I also drove a ammo truck, and we done that mostly at night .

I:          Um.


E:         With blackout lights, and we’d go back, and we’d get a load of ammunition to bring up to the front lines, and I guess that’s probably most difficult thing I had to do, you know, because the roads weren’t all that good in Korea

I:          Um hm.

E:         at the time, you know.  And

I:          Were there any sniper


attacks or gorillas sneak up on you?

E:         Not actually where we were.  Only time I had any experience with that was I also carried batteries up to the OP, the outpost which was out in front of the, of the enemy lines, you know?  I carried batteries up there on my back, you know, and


you’d come back, and you’d find your windshield was blowed out or, or a flat tire or something like that, yeah.

I:          Um.  Were there any Koreans working with you?

E:         Very, yeah, quite a few.

I:          Could you tell me about them?

E:         Well, we had a, a mamas an.

I:          Uh huh.

E:         Uh

I:          Mamasan means what?  They don’t know what means, what

E:         Mo, Mamasan was a, well she was a work lady, you know.  I mean

I:          Korean lady, right?

E:         She, Korean lady, and


she done our cleaning of our tent or our bunker, you know, and stuff, and, and, and we had a houseboy.  He carried all the garbage and stuff like that away, and

I:          Anybody you particular remember now?   Names or

E:         Koreans?

I:          Yeah.

E:         No.

I:          No?  How young that houseboy was?

E:         How old was he?

I:          Yeah, yeah.

E:         Oh, I would say maybe



I:          Twelve.

E:         Yeah.

I:          Were they good, working hard?

E:         Yes they were.

I:          Um hm.

E:         Very good, and thorough.  Some of them would wash our clothes.  They’d go and take our clothes and beat them on the rocks by the river.

I:          Yeah.  That’s how we did it a long time ago.

E:         And washed our clothes and bring them back and, some of them were pressed real nice, you know.  I don’t know.  They used hot rocks


or something and just, they pressed them out real nice and dried them and

I:          They folded very nicely, and then they’d cover with the cloth, and then they push it.  They   just, you know, so that it, it looks like a really well pressed, right?

E:         Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  Do they, did you pay them?  Did you pay them for their work?

E:         I don’t know.  I guess we had a, a kind


of a collection in our tent or something.  We gave them some little bit of money, you know, or, or whatever I guess, and

I:          Um hm.

E:         Yeah.

I:          Were you able to go out your camp and

E:         No.

I:          No.  Not at all?

E:         No.

I:          So there’s no encounter with

E:         No.

I:          Korean people?

E:         No.

I:          Other than Mamasan and houseboy?

E:         In the, in the camp, yeah.

I:          In the camp.

E:         In Headquarters battery.

I:          Um hm.

E:         Then after I was there I think, five months,


I got to go on R and R.

I:          To Japan.

E:         Yeah, rest and recoup, recuperation.  I went to Yokahama.

I:          Yokahama.

E:         Yeah.  Spent five days there I think, and there you could do as it’s your leisure, you know. They had nightclubs and

I:          Bars.

E:         Bars and a lot of geisha girls, you know, and

I:          Yeah.  How


much were you paid at the time?

E:         I think I got $75 a month.

I:          $75.  Did you got the combat pay, too?

E:         Yes, I collected combat pay.

I:          Uh huh.

E:         I think almost every month I was on the front lines, and that was another $75.

I:          So it’s like $150 for a month, right?

E:         $150, yeah.

I:          What did you do with that?

E:         I mostly sent it all home.  I bought

I:          To home.

E:         I bought a new car when I came home with it.


I:          That’s what I was hearing.  Many veterans return, and they buy brand new car with the money that they saved.

E:         I paid $1800 for that car.

I:          $ 18?

E:         $1800, yeah.  It was

I:          What did you buy?

E:         It was a Studebaker.

I:          Studebaker.  Ah. But nice, right?

E:         Yeah.

I:          Um hm.

E:         That was my courting buggy.

I:          Um.  How about weather?

E:         Well, I would say it was like South Dakota. The winters were


darn cold, and, and the summers were, some were hot, you know, and, but the winters were, some of them were real bad, you know.

I:          Real bad.

E:         Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  Many, many veterans suffer from frostbite.

E:         Yeah.

I:          Um hm.  Who was the enemy?  Was it Chinese or North Koreans?   You couldn’t see them, right, because you were in the

E:         I, I, I never seen any, no.

I:          Any.

E:         No.

I:          Um hm.


E:         We were far enough behind the, the trenches that we actually never seen any, any hand to hand combat

I:          Um hm.

E:         And so I couldn’t tell you if they were Chinese or Korean.  But, yeah, even then probably I couldn’t tell the difference anyway, you know, and, because they were dressed alike and

I:          Right.  Have you been back to Korea?


E:         No.

I:          Do you know what happened in Korea, economy and its’ democracy?  Do you follow with the stories that

E:         No I don’t.

I:          the Korean society has developed?

E:         No.

I:          No?   Did you know why you were there?

E:         We were sent there, I know that.

I:          To

E:         To defend our country.

I:          Exactly.  The Communism, right?  North Korean Communism.

E:         Yeah.

I:          And so you never came out of your camp to see


any of the city. How was Chuncheon by the way?  Do you remember anything from Chuncheon?

E:         I can only remember the name.  That’s all I can

I:          That’s all.

E:         That’s all I can, yeah.

I:          So you’ve never been out to city?

E:         Never, never been in the city or the streets or no, uh uh.

I:          Um hm.  When did you leave Korea?

E:         In June of ’53.

I:          So that’s one month right before the Armistice

E:         Yeah.

I:          was signed.


E:         That’s right.

I:          Uh huh.

E:         I left a day before I was supposed to get a, I was all packed, in fact, to go home when I was wounded over there.

I:          You were wounded?

E:         Oh yes.

I:          Why?  Tell me about the day and how you were wounded please.

E:         Well, we got the orders that, there you went on a point system.  You had to have 40 points

I:          Yeah.

E:         To get out of there, and, and


up until then if you didn’t have a replacement, why you, you stayed there, you know, till they found a replacement.

I:          Um hm.

E:         And I spent an extra, I think, a couple of months there probably because they couldn’t find a replacement, and I had enough points.  So when the time came, why they moved us from our, our bunker that we had up on the, radio had on the side of the hill, they moved it


us to the, down to the Headquarters battery, and I had my duffel bag laying right alongside of me all packed ready to leave the next morning, and that night a, a shrapnel, I mean a mortar round hit the corner of that bunker, and it killed one person, a Sergeant, and wounded nine of us.  So

I:          That was June.

E:         That was June.

I:          So right before you


left Korea

E:         You’re right.  Exactly the day before.

I:          Oh my goodness.  Day before.

E:         Yep.

I:          Geez.  Where did, where were you wounded?

E:         Left foot.

I:          Left foot?  And, so what happened?  Did you go to MASH unit or?

E:         Well, a Red Cross truck, a little jeep picked us up, I guess, and, and we got all the way back, I don’t know where we went to, but anyways,


someplace where they could treat us a little better,

I:          Um hm.

E:         And then the flew us out and, and flew, flew me to, I think it was back to Yokahama or someplace in, in Japan where they operated on my foot.  I had a Phillipino lady doctor that, that done the surgery.

I:          Um hm.

E:         Done one hell of a job.  But, I got my foot anyway.

I:          Um hm.

E:         And


from there they flew me out to, to Wake Island, I think, [INAUDIBLE] Air Force Base out there or

I:          Yeah.  Wake Island.

E:         Yeah.  And then I ended up in the States at, at, what was it, Tripler?

I:          Um hm.

E:         Air Force Base in California

I:          Um hm.  And then, when were you discharged from the military?

E:         In October of, of

I:          ’53?


E:         ’53.

I:          Oh.

E:         Yeah.  I spent, I spent eight extra days.

I:          Um.

E:         I got discharged, I got inducted in, on the 5th, and I got discharged on the 13th, two years later.

I:          Um.

E:         But that was because all of my, because I wasn’t healed up I guess or something from, from my wounds yet, and

I:          What is your memory of Korea when you left Korea? How,


What is Korea to you in your memory in 1950’s?

E:         Well, it was mountainous.

I:          Mountainous, yes.

E:         Yeah.  A lot of mountains.  I don’t know if there was any, well, I guess there was some flat regions because they had farmers or, or whatever you want to call them, you know, that raised crops there, too, you know, and, and they were mostly on the flat, you know, and some of them


on the side hills, you know.  They had terraces built and, and they raised crops there, and, but  most of it was, was mountains I guess.

I:          Seventy percent of our land, our territory, is mountain.  So it’s really, especially the area that you served.  It’s a really

E:         Well, the only thing I can remember about those is like, like Heartbreak Ridge and, and


Iron Triangle I guess and, and

I:          So you were in the Heartbreak Ridge?

E:         Yeah.

I:          And Iron Triangle, too?

E:         Yeah.

I:          Oh.

E:         And there’s another one, Pork Chop Hill.

I:          Pork Chop Hill.

E:         Yep.

I:          So you were almost everywhere.

E:         Well, we moved about four or five times.

I:          Yeah.

E:        It was another one they gave, some of those hills they just went by,


by numbers, you know. I don’t know what the numbers of them hills were, but, and then I can remember we were in a, they called it a smoky valley.  They kept a, kept a constant layer of smoke over the, over the whole Headquarters battery

I:          Um.

E:         To prevent the enemy from looking down on you, you know.

I:          Oh, so it was artificial smoke?

E:         Yes.

I:          Oh, I see.

E:         Yeah.


I:          Heartbreak Ridge, Iron Triangle, Pork Chop Hill, these are the most, the

E:         Well, that, that I can remember, yeah.

I:          Yeah.  So you’re a big part of this 1952 to ‘53

E:         Well, ’52 and ’53, yeah.

I:          Yes.

E:         That’s when the biggest share of the battles were fought over there.

I:          Uh huh.  The country you saw in 1950 and the country now in 21stcentury are completely


different, you know?

E:         I’m sure of that.

I:          Ah.  Do you know anything about modern Korea?

E:         No.

I:          Contemporary Korea, no?  Can you believe that the Korea that you fought for 64 years ago now 11thlargest economy in the world?

E:         Is that right?

I:          The South Korea is the size of Indiana, you know, the state

E:         Yeah.

I:          of Indiana, right?   It’s a little bit bigger

E:         Yeah.

I:          than Indiana.


Everything completely destroyed, right?  Especially in that area, 38thParallel, and it was one of the poorest country in the world at the time.  Now it’s the 7thlargest trading partner to the United States.  Seventh largest trading partner to the United States, and we are offering aid to the  country who are in needs of those.


We used to receive a lot of aid

E:         Yeah.

I:          From the United States.  What, and the 3rdlargest international student population in the United States.  Third largest.  Do you know which one is the biggest one?  Largest?

E:         Probably China.

I:          China.  Because they have a 1.3 billion population and then second is India, another big population country.  We are only 50 million


population, but this is the 3rdlargest international student, Korean student in the United States.  Can you believe that?

E:         Well, but it’s been 64 years, you know.

I:          Sixty-four years, yeah.  But it was a very rapid industrialization.  We have reconstruction of the whole country, and we are the strongest democracy in Asia.


I:          The country that you didn’t know much about, now very well known in the United States.  Do you know Hyundai or Kia, the auto, automobiles, the vehicle, cars? It’s made by the Korean company.

E:         Oh, Kia?

I:          Yeah.

E:         Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  You know?

E:         Yep.

I:          How about Hyundai?

E:         No.

I:          You never heard about it?

E:         Hyundai?

I:          Uh huh.

E:         I’ve heard of it, yeah.

I:          That’s a Korean car.  Do you know Samsung cellular phones?  Samsung tv?

E:         Yeah.


I:          Yes.  They are the company belong to Korea.

E:         There’s another, there’s a sa, san, Sano, S A N O ?

I:          Sanyo is a Japanese.

E:         Japanese.

I:          Yeah.

E:         Yeah.

I:          So the country that you fought for now really, really prospering. Are you proud about that?

E:         Well, yeah.  Have to be.

I:          Have to be, really, yeah.  Your service never been wasted.


Korea is now strong because we were given chance to rebuild our nation, and you gave that chance as a part of Korean War veterans.

E:         Was there ever peace on that 38thParallel?

I:          It’s one of the most heavily militarized zone. There are so, so much, so many mines still there.  But we were able to, to, to secure the kind of peace


over there.  Sometimes there are some skirmish.  North Koreans have some, you know, provocations from time to time.  But we were able to build this nation as one of the largest economy in the world.  Did you, do you know anything about North Korea right now?

E:         Well, I know they’re firing missiles all the time, or, or testing them anyway.

I:          Testing nuclear missile,

E:         Yeah, they just test

I:          nuclear weapons, yes.

E:         Just tested


one off a submarine

I:          A submarine.

E:         Yesterday I think.

I:          Yesterday, yes.  So still very dangerous

E:         Yeah.

I:          Still very heightened.  But because there are U.S. forces in Korea still, since after the war, there has been 25 to 30,000 U.S. forces stationed in Korea all the time.

E:         All that time?

I:          All the time.  Still, currently, now.


We have about 27,000 U.S. forces there, Navy, Air Force and Army.  Do you want to go back to Korea?

E:         Well, in my condition now, I would probably never make it.  But a few years back I would have liked to gone back just to see what, what it was like, you know, and see if I could


remember some of the places we were, we were, been in.

I:          Um hm.

E:         And, but today, no.

I:          No.

E:         No.

I:          The Korean government has a program called Revisit program, and they invite Korean War veterans back to the Korea, and they cover hotel, meals, everything, half of airfare, and you can bring your, one family member, and they still cover all the things except the airfare,


and you can see, you’re not going to believe your eyes.

E:         I don’t suppose.

I:          If you go Inchon, you’re not going to believe your eyes, so much different.  So I’m sorry that you cannot go back physically, but many of them are going back and see what’s been done there, and they are so proud of their service.


E:         Yeah.  The only thing I can remember about that Inchon is that, is our ship embarked or, or stayed out maybe five, six miles or I don’t know how far anyway.  Then we loaded on a barge

I:          Um hm.

E:         to come to the, to the docks, you know, and then we got put on trucks, and


I:          That’s not the Inchon anymore.

E:         No.  I don’t suppose.

I:          Is your son also veteran?

E:         He was in National Guard for 26 years.

I:          Twenty-six years.  Um hm.  Has he been back to Korea?  Has he served in Korea?

E:         He, he was never in Korea, no.

I:          Never in Korea.  So that’s why we are doing this.  We, the, our history textbook have a,


about a paragraph coverage on the Korean War.  Just paragraph.

E:         [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Yeah.  And you know that it’s been known as Forgotten War, right?

E:         Yep.

I:          Why?  Why it’s been known as forgotten?

E:         I don’t know.  But that’s the way it’s always been.

I:          Always been, right?

E:         Yep.

I:          But as I told you, the Republic of Korea now is very, one of the leading countries in the  world, and I think


we have to teach more about the Korean War that you fought for.  So we are going to use this interview and many other interviews that my Foundation has already collected, make it into a visual history textbook on Korean War. So that’s what we are going to do. Do you agree?
E:         Yeah.

I:          Um hm.

E:         Yeah, we supported a, a rock division when I was there.  The 223rdRock Division.

I:          Um hm.

E:         We supported them.  They had a whole infantry division there, and, and we were the artillery supporting them and


I:          So you remember the Korean soldiers that you are working with?

E:         I didn’t work actually with

I:          Individual basis.

E:         on individual basis or anything.  No, it was, they had their own, they had their own camps and stuff, you know, and


I:          Um hm.  Do you have any comments about this interview you want to join your. Please introduce yourself.  What is your name?

G:        My name is Gary Kafka.

I:          Gary Kafka.

G:        Yes.

I:          Yeah.  And you are the son?

G:        I’m the son.

I:          Yeah.  You were in the military?

G:        Spent 26 years in the Army National Guard.

I:          National Guard.

G:        Yes, sir.  I worked, basically I worked full time for the Guard. I was just like active duty.

I:          So tell me.  Very good.  I want to, I want you to tell the, the children, to the children


that what is the difference between National Guard and Reserve.

G:        Basically, the National Guard and the Reserve are one of the same.

I:          One of the same.

G:        But you can be in the Army Reserve or you can be in the Army National Guard.  Every branch of service has a Reserve to it, but the Army also has a National Guard, and our basic mission is for security and helping out the state in an, in time of a disaster, and that’s what we do


most of.  But as everybody knows, over the last number of years, the Army relied heavily on the National Guard to help with the current wars that they’ve been in.

I:          But there is some difference, isn’t it?  The Reserve, mostly the people who retired from the military still be in the Reserve.  Is that the case?

G:        Correct.

I:          And, but they don’t work full time, right?

G:        No.  They just go on weekend, weekend drills.

I:          Right.  Every, not every weekend?

G:        One, one weekend a month.


I:          One weekend a month.

G:        One weekend a month.

I:          Yeah.

G:        And then they train for two, two months, two weeks in the summer time, normally what they call an annual training period.

I:          Um hm.  So that’s the Reserve.

G:        Reserve and the National Guard does the same thing.

I:          Same thing.

G:        They do the same thing.

I:          Why do they have two different names, Reserve and National Guard?

G:        It’s, it, there’s two little, two different systems. The Army Reserve is more of, they don’t work directly with the states. They don’t fall under the, I believe they don’t fall under the Governor


of, of the state as their, their Chief.

I:          Um hm.

E:         And the Army National Guard, they’re basic mission is within the state, although we do have a Federal mission

I:          Okay.

E:         to go and, if there’s a, a Federal call up, we have to.  If we have blizzards, we have tornadoes, floods, we react.  The National Guard reacts to that.

I:          So that’s the main difference, that the National Guard belong to the Federal level, and the Reserve under the, I mean the authority of State.


G:        Reserve is Federal level.  National Guard is State level.

I:          Oh, the other way around.

G:        The other way around, yes.

I:          Okay.  Got it.

G:        Yep.

I:          And you worked as a full time National Guard?

G:        Yep, for over 20 years.

I:          Twenty years.  Army.

G:        Army National Guard.

I:          Yeah.

G:        There’s an Air National Guard also.

I:          Yeah.  Tell me about the interview that we had today with your father.  What do you think?  I mean,

G:        There’s a lot of parts to the story.  Over the last few years we’ve been talking about it more,


you know.  We’d pull out his old uniform, look at some of his old records, discharge papers, and we’d ask some questions, but we’ve never fully heard this whole story ourselves.  I mean, for many years all we knew he was in Korea, and we had no idea what he ever did or where he was or anything like that, you know.  So as, it’s, it’s very interesting

I:          Really?

G:        Since they came in January to give the Peace medal, you know, it kind of brought things to the surface, and more questions were


asked, and that was very nice ceremony, and then, now this is another part of it.  So we’re, we’re kind of capturing this whole story from what we never knew.

I:          So what, what was the new, the most interesting thing to you that you, he said today?

G:        Oh, I guess I didn’t know the, I mean, hauling the ammo when they did have time off, you know.  It, it, that was,


I mean, probably the most interesting.  I’ve heard the story before of how he got wounded and, and that type of thing, you know. But that, we never knew that up until the last probably few years ago.  It’s just something he never talked about.

I:          Um.  Why didn’t you talk about those things to your son and your family?

E:         I guess just kept it to myself I guess.

I:          [LAUGHS]  So you got the Purple Heart?

E:         Yes.

I:          Very nice.  Yes.  As I explained, he


never been back to Korea, and I wish that he can go with you.  If you want to, you let me know so that I can put you, two of you, on the list, and they will pay for the, most of the, you know, travel.

G:        Do they have any type of a, I mean he can’t walk very far.  I mean, so do, I mean is it wheelchair capable?

I:          Yeah.  They going to provide wheelchair and everything, yes.

G:        Okay.

I:          Oh yeah.  And the whole transportation from hotel to destination and, you know, back and forth, everything will


be taken care of by them, and so if you want to, you let me know because you’re not going to believe.  He’s not going to believe his eyes, to looking at those things.

G:        Um hm.

I:          That is your dad legacy.

G:        Right.

I:          Since World War II, U. S. has involved more than dozen war, you know?

G:        Um hm.

I:          Total and limited wars.  You name any war that came with concrete outcome like the South Korea.  I don’t think so.

G:        Um um.


I:          The most successful outcome, and that’s the war that your dad fought for.  So we need to remember that.  We need to teach about them.  That’s why we are doing this, and next year we going to have a History and Social Studies teachers conference in Mount Rushmore.  Secretary [INAUDIBLE] and I’m going to go to Rapid City to look around the venue so that my Foundation is going to invite 200


of them so that they can learn more about the Korean War.  We want to use this materials so that they can teach our young generations about the Korean War that

G:        I, I didn’t realize your History books had just a small, very small paragraph of the  Korean War

I:          That’s terrible.

G:        You know.

I:          It’s terrible.  I don’t expect our student, our young generations to learn more about the Korean War by reading that one paragraph.  It, it, it’s, it’s start with June 25th, 1950, North Korea attacks South Korea. Our hero men got the


General MacArthur did everything, Inchon Landing, and he says it’s known as Forgotten War, and it’s still divided.  That’s it. That’s all about it.

G:        Amazing.

I:          I’m not exaggerating.  One paragraph, longest one page, but compared to the Vietnam War it’s just 1/3 of it.  But if you see the, the war, the real facts of the war, the Korean War was much


more devastating, and we need to tell this things to our schools and young, young generation. Not to promote the war but to learn about

G:        Yep.

I:          the lessons, yes.

G:        I know I’ve, since January when they had the Peace Medal, I’ve been on the internet  myself and, you know, you can do research, you can Google, different people have written different stories about it .  So you get different views from different people, and it, it’s, it’s amazing how, you know,


the stuff that me, myself, I’ve never been a history person, but now since then I’ve been kind of digging into it, and you learn a lot more about it.

I:          Final message to the interview?

E:         Well, yes.  We were sent over there for one reason, and, and that’s to defend our country as best we could, you know, and, and that’s what we were taught to do. And that’s all we done.


I:          And that produced Republic of Korea.

E:         Yeah.

I:          now.  Yep. So that is your legacy

E:         Yep.

I:          And that’s why we are doing this, to preserve your memory as a historical fact.

E:         Yeah.  There, as much as I can remember.  I forgot a lot of it, I guess, but as much as I can remember, why,

I:          You did it.

E:         Yep.

I:          Yep.


Thank you again. On behalf of Korean nation, I want to thank you for your service and fight for the Korean nation.  Thank you.

E:         I thank you for having me here.


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