Korean War Legacy Project

Eilif Jorgen Ness

Bio

Eilif Jorgen Ness was born in Barcelona, Spain in 1931 to parents involved in shipping. His family left Spain during its civil war in 1936 when he was 5. This adventurous beginning to his life continued when he left school at 15 to become a sailor on tankers and cargo ships sailing around the world. For 5 years, Eilif Jorgen Ness traveled to places like India, Australia, Iran and the West Indies. After this period in his life, he joined the Norwegian military and served in the occupation forces in Germany. In 1952, he was one of a 1000 applicants of which only 106 were picked to join the Norwegian Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (NORMASH) serving in Korea. Eilif Jorgen Ness served as an infantryman guarding the NORMASH camp. He spent his free time traveling to the frontlines or to Seoul. He is proud of his service and called the Korean War the last war were returning servicemen were honored for their sacrifices.

Video Clips

Why Norwegians in Korea?

Eilif Jorgen Ness explains why 1000s of Norwegians applied to serve in Korea. He believes that some, like him, were adventurous while some did it to improve their resumes. He thinks that the majority, however, were idealists who fought for the principles that Korean freedom represented.

Tags: Dongducheon,Pride

Share this Clip +


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oV_f5HR2g4&start=1042&end=1145

MASH Got it Right!

Eilif Jorgen Ness explains how the TV show, MASH, accurately displayed life in a MASH unit. He was amazed at how if faithfully depicted the camp set-up and living conditions. His one complaint is that the show overstated the use of helicopters which only became a major part of delivering the wounded toward the end of the war.

Tags: Dongducheon,Front lines,Living conditions

Share this Clip +


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oV_f5HR2g4&start=1574&end=1799

Seoul - Then and Now

Eilif Jorgen Ness describes the Seoul he knew in 1952 compared to the Seoul upon his return in 1995 and 2013. In 1952, Seoul was not a city, it was ruined a landscape. Upon his return, years later, he describes that there was no resemblance between the two. He was impressed with the efficiency and ability to deal with large numbers of people.

Tags: Seoul,Civilians,Impressions of Korea,Modern Korea,Physical destruction,Poverty

Share this Clip +


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oV_f5HR2g4&start=2563&end=2717

Legacy of the Korean War

Eilif Jorgen Ness believes that the Korean War was not a forgotten war and was instead the last war that returning men were seen as heroes. The war stopped communism. It was the first time the West put their foot down hard!

Tags: Pride

Share this Clip +


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oV_f5HR2g4&start=3108&end=3269

Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

E:        My name is Eilif Jorgen Ness, spelled E-I-L-I-F  J-O-R-G-E-N, and the surname is N-E-S-S.

I:          Ness.  Great to meet you, sir.  What is your birthday?

E:        My  birthday is 8 September, 1931.

I:          So you celebrate your birthday a few days ago.

E:        Yes, I did.
I:          My birthday was September 12, too.

0:00:30

So I celebrated it right before I leave for Norway.

E:        Yeah.

I:          Where did you born?
E:        In Barcelona, Spain.

I:          Barcelona.

E:        by Norwegian parents.  My parents were, uh, business people in Spain at the time.

I:          But your parents are Norway.

E:        Yes.  We escaped from the Spanish Civil War in 1936.  so I came to Norway

0:01:00

five years old.

I:          Um.  So you have some remembrance of the Spanish War.

E:        Not of the War itself,

I:          But Spain.
E:        But from the evacuation when I was five.

I:          Um.

E:        We were evacuated by the British.

I:          I see.

E:        with warships.

I:          So what did your parents do in Spain?
E:        My parents had a shipping office, uh.  It was a ships magnate which is, uh, uh, a shipping agent.

0:01:30

I:          Um hm.  And do you have, uh, siblings, brothers and sisters?

E:        If I, yes.

I:          Do you have any

E:        Five siblings.  I had.  I have a brother and a sister, both older than me.

I:          Um.

E:        Both are dead.

I:          So you are the youngest.

E:        I was the youngest and the only surviving.

I:          And tell me about the school you went through in, in Norway.

0:02:00

E:        In Norway, I went to the normal public school, uh, public school in a Norwegian sense, in the government school.

I:          Um hm.

E:        Uh, up to

I:          Where?

E:        In Fredrikstad.

I:          Could you, could you give me the name of the school that you finished?
E:        Yes.  Uh, Fredrikstad  Folk school.

I:          Fredrik.  F-R-E

E:        The, the name, the, the place name?
I:          No, the school name.
E:        The school name is Fredrikstad.

0:02:30

I:          Could you spell it?
E:        Uh, F-R-E-D-R-I-K-S-T-A-D

I:          S-T-A-D

E:        Folk, Folk School which means people school.

I:          So that’s a high school or is it

E:        No, that was up to including, uh, 10.

I:          Ten.

E:        Then I left school.

0:03:00

I went to sea.

I:          So when did you graduate that, uh, Fredrikstad?

E:        I didn’t graduate at that time.  I left the school

I:          When?

E:        When I was 15.

I:          Fifteen.

E:        And went to sea as a sailor.
I:          Oh.  Was it popular to be a sailor at the time by that age?  Wasn’t it too young?

E:        No, it was exactly at the minimum age.

I:          Oh.
E:        That’s why I went.

0:03:30

I:          Why?  Did you like it?

E:        That was in, that was in 1946, and we just had the whole war behind us, and I wanted to get out.  I didn’t want to stay in Norway.

I:          Why  not?

E:        Because I was adventurous.

I:          Ah ha.  Where did you wanted to go?

E:        Anywhere the ship took me.  We went to India, Australia, uh, Iran, West Indies, a number of things.  So I was in a number of

0:04:00

places over the five, next five years.

I:          So in order to be qualified as a sailor, what did you have to do?

E:        Nothing.

I:          Did you go to school or

E:        Nothing.  Hard work.  I qualified, I started as a deck boy.

I:          Deck boy?

E:        Yes.  A deck boy means you do the, uh,

I:          All the chores in the deck.

E:        You shine the brass.

I:          And did your parents allow you to do that?

E:        Yes.  Um,

0:04:30

after all the discussion.  They didn’t want to.

I:          They didn’t want to, right?
E:        No.  But I was, um, I was very rebellious.

I:          I can tell.  Your face is telling me that.

E:        Yes.  So when I came home, I weighed about 10 kilos more and was 7 cm. higher because I wasn’t fully grown because of the War and bad, uh,

0:05:00

bad nutrition and all that.

I:          Hm.

E:        I grew up, you know, eventually when I was out.  So I went back home, mother hardly recognized me.

I:          How was it, uh, working in the ship?  What was the name of the ship?
E:        Oh, I had several ships in, uh, succession.

I:          Okay.

E:        T he first was an oil tanker

I:          Um.
E:        named Koll, K-O-L-L.

I:          Um hm.

E:        And then I was on, uh,

0:05:30

line ship called Farnmoore, F-A-R-N-M-O-O-R-E.

I:          Um.  What kind of ship was it, cargo?

E:        Yes.

I:          Okay.

E:        It was what we, uh, the first one was a tanker, fuel tanker.

I:          Yep.

E:        We went and we’d gasoline.  And, uh, the other one was a, a normal,

0:06:00

uh, cargo ship which was very common from Norwegian Merchant Navy at that time.  They went, uh, uh, in regular schedules, uh, circuits between Europe, Norway and Australia and Far East back
I:          Um hm.

E:        because they turned around trips of six to eight months.

I:          So almost you trained yourself, too, to go to Korea then, almost.

0:06:30

E:        Almost.  I left, actually, I left Australia on a ship the day the Korean War started.

I:          Oh.

E:        I heard it on the radio aboard.  We, we had, we had the, um, internal use sheet that was made by the, the radio telegraphist aboard

0:07:00

the, the radio operator.  He issued once a week a note sheet about international news.

I:          Um hm.

E:        And so on that, I said the day after I came aboard, that was the, North Korea had invaded South Korea.  And the, of course, I had little idea at that time that a few years later

0:07:30

I would be right in it.

I:          You never knew that you going to be there.

E:        No.

I:          What an irony, right?  Um, let me ask this question.  Did you learn anything about Korea from your school?
E:        No.

I:          Did you know

E:        I knew what, what you learned in school and, uh, of course, we, limited knowledge. I knew about the Korean Peninsula.  I knew about North Korea and

0:08:00

South Korea

I:          At the time?

E:        At the, yes, of course.

I:          How did you know?  I mean, why were you interested in knowing about Korea?
E:        Well, you know, the

I:          You mean when you were sailor?

E:        Yes because we got it in the news.

I:          I see.

E:        So first it was the establishment of the, uh, South Korean and the North Korean Republics which came on the news.  That’s why I knew, I didn’t know anything more about it than that.

I:          Um hm.

E:        That was sort of the limit

0:08:30

of my knowledge of Korea.

I:          Obviously.  Nobody knew anything about Korea at the time.

E:        Not really.

I:          Not really.  So

E:        We knew that it was not China and not Japan.  We knew that they were different.

I:          Did you know anything about China or Japan at the time?

E:        Yes.  I mean China was a very, we didn’t visit it.  I never set my foot there.  But, uh, Japan

0:09:00

from the War.  I mean, this was 1946-47

I:          Um hm.

E:        48 and to, up to 1950.  And, uh, Japan was the ex-enemy.

I:          Right.

E:        And, uh, China was initially [Shangkaichek].

I:          Yeah.
E:        But, uh, then, of course, small came and all this, uh,.  All this we got through the news all the time.

0:09:30

I:          Um hm.  So what do think about this?  You never imagined that you going to go to War in Korea.

E:        no.

I:          And, have you been back to Korea since then?

E:        Eh, twice.

I:          Twice?  When?

E:        When the last time was a revisit.

I:          When?  What year?

E:        2013.

I:          2013.  And

E:        It was the anniversary of the Armistice I believe.

I:          Yes.  Yes.

0:10:00

E:        We had this large contingent went then, and there were six of us, all veterans.

I:          That is the latest occasion?
E:        Yes.  Before that, I was in Seoul once on an International Conference in 1955, ’95.

I:          1995.

E:        Yes.

I:          You have a such a good  memory, huh?

E:        Yes because it was a big, uh, international conference,

0:10:30

and I saw nothing of Seoul except it took three hours each way to get to the airport or from the airport.  It was absolutely terrible the traffic.  And last time I had seen Seoul, no house was more than one story.   It was, it was absolutely flat.  So when we came there, it was a modern city built  up.  I had no recognition whatever.

0:11:00

I:          I mean, that’s the point that I want to discuss with you.  The first time when you saw Korea, when was it?  When did you land in Korea?

E:        We came in Korea via, we went out by air from Norway around the long way around the  Far East via, uh, India and Bangkok and Hong Kong to, uh,

0:11:30

uh, Tokyo, uh, [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Um.

E:        And then to [TAJIKOWA] and then with American transport [TAJIKOWA] to K16.

I:          K16.

E:        That’s my, first time I stepped out on Korean soil.

I:          K16 in Kimpo, right?
E:        Yes.

I:          Yes.  And when was it?

E:        Kimpo, no Kimpo to me.  It’s quite the same.

I:          When was it ?  What year and month?  Do you remember?

0:12:00

E:        This was 1952, and it was, uh, I don’t remember the exact date.  It was on

I:          The month.

E:        Late October.

I:          Late October.  So tell me about this.  What, what was the  first image of Korea when you landed?  Just be honest, okay?  What did you think about  Korea for the first time in your life

0:12:30

to be landed there?

E:        Well, when we landed, it was pitch dark.

I:          How about next day?  What did you see?  How was it, Korea?  Give me the details.  Give me the details.

E:        I, I, well I, I have to, I have to relay to you that when we came there, it was pitch dark and we were put into GMC trucks, and they drove up to, uh, the,

0:13:00

to Normash, to our, our future station.

I:          Was it in Uijeongbu or [Dongduchjun]?

E:        Uh, [Hobolonglie] is the right

I:          [Hobolonglie] ?

E:        Yes.  And, uh, then, when we got there, it was pitch dark.  So the next day when we woke up, it was the first time we got an impression what was

I:          Yes.

E:        what Korea was like.
0:13:30

I:          Yes.  What was it?

0:13:30

E:        Uh, it was pretty cold.  It was windy, gusty and, um, we were very busy in the beginning transferring duties because we were taking over from other people that we were relieving.  And, uh, we used a lot of time to get settled in the, into the camp.

0:14:00

But then after a few days, we started finding out how we could move around.  But I need to tell you another thing we could have skipped.  Uh, before I went to Korea, I did military service in Norway.

I:          Ha.

E:        Because after I had been at sea, then I went to

0:14:30

military service from 1951 to 1952

I:          Um hm

E:        And I served in the Norwegian Brigade in Germany.  I served in the occupation of Germany as part of the  British Army on the [RIGHT]

I:          Um.

E:        Brigade 521.

I:          521.

E:        So when I went to Korea, it was because we had a

0:15:00

circular that we received when I was serving in  Germany that,  uh, offered the opportunity of volunteering for service in Korea with the Norwegian MASH.

I:          Um hm.

E:        And, um, I jumped on that because I was still very  adventurous.  There was a war on. I wanted to be part of it.

0:15:30

So it was a very, very hard to get into that contingent because for every 106 that was chosen

I:          Um hm.

E:        there was 1,000 applicants.

I:          Wow.

E:        10 to 1 who wanted to go there.  Some were idealists, but very many were military personnel who stepped down one rank to get there,

0:16:00

to qualify.  So a lot of them were, uh, Sergeants and Officers in Norway who went to, uh, Korea to serve in the Normash in all kinds of capacities, um, as Privates.  I started out  a Private and made Corporal.

I:          At the time.

E:        At the time.  So I came, I was

0:16:30

Corporal in Germany, and I retained my rank and became a Corporal in, in, in Korea.

I:          Um.
E:        The difference being, of course, that in Germany, we were British troops, British uniforms, British insignia.  When we came to Normash, it was all American uniforms, American insignia, American titles, American arms.

I:          Were you belonging 21st

0:17:00

Division or what was the unit in Korea?  Unit?  The American Army, but it was 8th Army and what?

E:        The 8th Army First Corp.

I:          First Corp.

E:        Yes, [MOOSI]

I:          Yep.  [MOONSONI] right?

E:        [MOONSI] is a, uh, name for the First Corp.

I:          Yep.  So let me ask this question.  Why was it so competitive?  Why do the people

0:17:30

why did they, the Norway people, wanted to go to Korea?  Was there any benefit, or why, why was it so competitive?  I mean, you told me that almost 1,000 applied, and only 106 people got in.

E:        Yes.
I:          Why?

E:        That’s an interesting question.  Uh, some of them, I think, was to, uh,

0:18:00

get them, uh, for the CV.

I:          What is CV?
E:        The, the, the Curriculum Vitae.

I:          Ah.

E:        To get, uh, actual service on their records.  But that was not the majority.  I think that the major, [STAMMERS] very many people were idealists.

I:          I see.

0:18:30

E:        And, uh, I don’t want to [INAUDIBLE] myself, I was adventurous.  Some of the other people were adventurous.  I also had recent military experience.  So I was very well qualified.  That’s why I came in.

I:          Um hm.

E:        Also, I spoke several languages.

I:          What, what language?
E:        Well I, I speak reasonably well Italian, Spanish and German.

I:          Wow.

E:        In addition to English.  So that was, of course, plus factors.

0:19:00

But I didn’t  get much to use it.  But, uh,

I:          Not in Korea.

E:        No.  So, um, and of course, the [INAUDIBLE] that we did, that I did and together with those who are you going to interview now, most of them, was guard duty.  We were not  medics.  We were actually infantry.

I:          Um hm.

0:19:30

E:        And we, regarding the camp and responsible for the, what do you call, the close to the fence of the camp in case of attack.  And the, the camp was, of course, surrounded by barbed wire.  But  we worked together with, uh, a platoon of Korean Army, uh, military  police.  And those we got to know very well.

0:20:00

They had a lot of friends there.  We made friends with them.  Very good people.  Very, um, they told us that quite a lot of them were actually North Koreans

I:          Um.

E:        that had come South to join.  I don’t know the truth in all that, but several of them told us this.  So it must have been true.

I:          So refugee.

E:        They were all well educated.  [INAUDIBLE] At the time, I was preparing to go to

0:20:30

technical school.  So I had a correspondence course which I had to go to lectures every now and then, uh, with, with tasks I had to do in mathematics.

I:          Um.

E:        I remember one of these guys helped me with the mathematics.  He was good at it.  So, yeah.

I:          Your, your friend Nils talked about it.

E:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

E:        Yes.  He, uh,  knew more mathematics than I did.

0:21:00

Oh.  But, uh, they’re very, very good, very good people.

I:          But what was your first image of Korea to be honest?  How was it?  Did you see around the city, Seoul, and what did you feel about it at the time?

E:        Well first of all, we had little contact with our surroundings.  It was the camp and geography

0:21:30

and of course, we sensed immediately that the, the North/South, um, geography and climate because the winds were always blowing from the North and the South, and from the North it was bitterly cold.  And the winter came from the North.

I:          Um hm.

E:        So I learned that, we learned a lot about that

I:          Yeah.

E:        cause it was terribly cold when it was cold.  But we had very good equipment.  But then

0:22:00

we started getting out of camp because we, we had a, a guard system where it would, uh, two hours off, six hours off, two hours, two hours on, six hours off for 10 days.

I:          Um hm.

E:        Then we had 24 hours of free time.

I:          So you, uh,

0:22:30

served as a guard for two hours

E:        Yes.

I:          And then you have, uh, six hours rest.

E:        Yes.

I:          And then what?

E:        Two hours again.

I:          Two hours again.

E:        This for 10 days.

I:          Ten days.

E:        Uninterrupted for 10 days.

I:          Right.

E:        And then on the 11th day

I:          Uh huh

E:        Or all, no.  On day 10, we had 24 hours off.

I:          Twenty-four hours off.

E:        Twenty-four hours off.

I:          Okay.

E:        But from midnight  to midnight.
I:          Um hm.

E:        So it was a day.

I:          Yep.

0:23:00

E:        And at that time, we always used to get around.  And we were right on the  main route, the main supply route between North and South, to that sector of the front.  Actually, it was a Red Ball Express, um.  And, uh, what we used was to hitchhike, uh.  Sometimes we hitchhiked up to the front, and we often had contacts

0:23:30

because some patients, not all patients, uh, that we had, uh, they, nobody could stay after treatment more than, uh, 72 hours.

I:          Um.

E:        Then they had to move to keep the beds open.  But not all of them were bed patients.  Some were recuperating and went back to their units.  That  way we

I:          Yes.

E:        got friends in different units.

0:24:00

So, and we knew where they were.  So we hitchhiked with, with the supply trucks

I:          Um.

E:        and came all the way up to the front line.  So we went to Old Baldy and White Horse and Westview and, all the key points of, of the front .  We always [INAUDIBLE] them.

I:          Ah.

E:        So we were very close up.

0:24:30

And, uh, of course only as visitors.  But the other times we went to Seoul.  Seoul was nothing.  I mean, Seoul was a battleground.  It was, it was all ruins, uh.  I think maybe a few houses [INAUDIBLE] two stories.  But most of them were one story.  Most of them were shacks, and it was, you know,

0:25:00

it was a tremendous life there, you know.  And, uh, activity.  But we didn’t  get to know any, any Koreans that way.

I:          Hm.

E:        But we saw how it was, and that was our impression, that it was a totally devastated city and, uh, it was a wonder to us how people could live there at all because there were,

0:25:30

there was nothing there.  No services, nothing.  Very, very bad.  So, um, more often when we went North to, to the front line.  That’s, most time it was at was particularly to for the wounded soldiers were in the guard detail because we were the most military minded.

I:          Um hm.

0:26:00

E:        Most interested in going to the front.  The others were medics.  We had nurses, doctors of course who served and, uh, we, they had, uh, I, I used to say that the American television series

I:          MASH

E:        MASH

I:          Yeah

E:        is absolutely perfect rendition of the conditions of a MASH,

0:26:30

not the action, not the, not, not the, not what happens but the tents, the mud, the operating rooms, the patient, patient receival, everything was picture perfect

I:          Um.

E:        in, in, in that tv series except one thing.  In the tv series, you had the impression that people, the wounded came in by helicopter manually.

0:27:00

They did not. Ninety percent of all patients came by road ambulance.

I:          Um.

E:        Uh, we had a lot of ambulances  part of the MASH who went and fetched them for their [INAUDIBLE]  The patients, technically, the patients generate from battalion aid stations.  Battalion aid stations is right in, in the trenches.

I:          Yep.

E:        And then when they’re patched up temporarily,

0:27:30

they are taken out the quickest way.  And at the  time we were there, there were helicopters.  But they would need small bubbles, you know, with two outside stretchers, could only take two.

I:          Um hm.

E:        Then later on, you got the, uh, I remember, I don’t remember the number, uh, H16, I can’t, a bigger helicopter

I:          Yeah.

E:        which was,

0:28:00

uh, could take eight to ten

I:          Um hm.

E:        stretchers.  That’s when it got, got really, uh, shifted to, to, um, uh, helicopter recreation.  But that was really only at the very end of the War.  It was a very fast few months.  Before that, there was, we had helicopters coming in every now and then.  I think we had, I think we had the record

0:28:30

I:          Go ahead.

E:        I think we had the, the, the record of the entire War when it came to time from being wounded to being on the operating table.  And I can’t vouch for it, but I was told that it was only 18 or 19 minutes because there was a helicopter in place

0:29:00

at an OP, uh, Observation Post when someone was hit by a, uh, by a grenade.  Uh, and, uh, it was immediately just not even by the battalion aid station, it would just put on the stretcher on the helicopter and straight to us.  So I think that constituted probably the shortest time

I:          Um.

E:        in the whole War.

I:          Um.
E:        But, I mean,

0:29:30

normally they came in from, uh, by ambulance into what they called the Pre-Op, and they had Pre-Operation treatment where they were diagnosed, x-rayed, determined what was necessary, and then the operation and then to Post-Op.  Uh, it was very well defined, you know.  It was like a machine.

0:30:00

I:          Um hm.  At the time when you were there, how many nurses and how many doctors were there?  Do you remember, about  roughly?

E:        I meant that the nurses were 20 or 24.

I:          Um hm.

E:        Females.

I:          All of them?

E:        Yes.

I:          Um.

E:        Oh, well there were nurses, male nurses, uh, service nurses.  But I don’t think they were called nurse.  When they, those who were called nurses were, were women.

I:          Um.

0:30:30

E:        And then, of course, the doctors were all male.

I:          Um.  How many, remember?

E:        I think, [I grabbed the out of there].  I may be wrong.  Say 14.

I:          Fourteen.
E:        I have written about this.

I:          Um.  And how were they?  They, I mean, they must have a lot of wounded soldiers every day, right?  Was it like that ?

0:31:00

Tell me about  this operations in the, uh, medical unit, that you know.

E:        Um, the total amount of injured patients were 5,000 something in the period that we were, 700 odd days.

I:          Seven hundred a day?

E:        Oh, no, seven hundred and some days

I:          Oh, uh huh.

0:31:30

E:        that were in operation in War time.  Then there were the Armistice and all that’s happened after the Armistice.  There’s a total difference.

I:          Right .

E:        They, the, the MASH in military operation handled, I have all these written down.  The Ambassador has that.

I:          Um hm.

E:        I gave it to the Ambassador.

I:          About 90,000?

E:        No, no.  The 90,000 is nonsense.

I:          Um.

E:        The 90,000 is

0:32:00

something that has been used for P.R. purposes, and it’s a useless exaggeration.

I:          Um.

E:        because most of the 90,000 were Korean civilian outpatients.  And t e vast majority of them were during the time after the Armistice.

I:          Um hm.

E:        because then the time limits on the post-op

0:32:30

were extended and extended and extended.  And the[INAUDIBLE]  While it was War, there were also Korean day patients, civilian day patients, and during the wartime at [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Um.

E:        where they came in by, some might have been damaged by mine blast or even traffic accidents or just illness, uh.

0:33:00

And we had a separate voluntary unit in the MASH that take care of the outpatients, civilian outpatients.

I:          I see.

E:        Volun, volunteer basis.

I:          Um hm.
E:        It was, it had to be watched because it was essential  that they didn’t drain, that the civilian [INAUDIBLE] civilian patients, couldn’t drain resources from the main task

0:33:30

which was serving the military.

I:          Um.

E:        We had four divisions, 60,000 men in the front line that we were serving at the MASH.

I:          Um.  And

E:        But, uh, the, I, I,  I  remember the, the, As I said, the Ambassador actually, uh, has, has the numbers, uh.  I bet there were 5,000, they would take in 5,700

0:34:00

that were actually wartime casualties into the hospital.  And there was

I:          Um hm..

E:        135

I:          Um.

E:        the Amer, you have to correct all these numbers, 135 with Chinese and North Korean prisoners.

I:          Yes.  Did you see t hem?

E:        Yes, I saw them.

0:34:30

I:          So is there any story?

E:        We went, we, we, we always had to guard them because they couldn’t leave it to the medics to be responsible for them.  You never knew what they had.

I:          Um hm.

E:        They had to be checked if they had, uh, explosives all over, whatever.  There were all kinds of crazy people.  So we watched them.  That was our duty and, uh, what I remember  vividly was that  several, particularly the Chinese

0:35:00

ones were absolutely convinced that we were going to kill them.  They had no, they, they, they acted like they were going to their death.

I:          Ah.  Chinese, not North Koreans?

E:        Hm?

I:          You say Chinese?

E:        Yes because the majority in my time it was in, near the last winter, War of the winter

I:          Um hm.

E:        and, with Chinese and the major

0:35:30

attacks with Chinese troops, the whole, the, the, the, the, the, the weight of the forces, uh, of the enemy forces were Chinese.  There were not many North Koreans left then/

I:          Were they resisting you or were there any incidents, episodes, something story?:

E:        If?

I:          With the China and, and North Korea, uh, soldier?

0:36:00

Were there any problem with them?

E:        No.  I didn’t observe anything of that.
I:          Okay.  Um, so your duty as a guardsman, you protect the area.

E:        Yep.

I:          and then you watch this, how, what did you do after North Korea and Chinese soldier treated, where did they go?

E:        Well, the, the ones, the ones that came in, there were [INAUDIBLE] prisoner of war.

0:36:30

Uh, they didn’t, they didn’t really make much out of them because they were wounded, severely wounded

I:          Oh.

E:        and, uh, they were, um, it was an easy job.  I mean, our guarding, uh, was more a formality.

I:          Um.  And

0:37:00

when you visited the front line for those people who were treated in the NORMASH, how do they, what was it like to see them again in the front line?  How was it?  Any, any story you remember?

E:        Yes.  I mean, the, it, it, it was a very, it was very strange.  We were there, all our visits were in daytime.

I:          Um.

0:37:30

E:        And most of the action on the frontline was night time.  So that was a night patrols and all kinds of skirmishes and things that happened.  So usually it was relatively peaceful to use that expression in daytime except for one thing that I remember.   It didn’t happen in t he front line you know.  For the  entire time

0:38:00

I was there, not for one second was there not artillery fire.
I:          Um.

E:        Twenty-four hours, 24/7.  Immense, immense, immense artillery fire.  The ground shaking all the time.  There, just North of us there were a battery of 155 mm long-range guns that were firing all the time.

0:38:30

I:          Um.

E:        So, [INAUDIBLE] the, the artillery fire was dominating all the time.  But most of the artillery fire was, was for, [INAUDIBLE] units.  So, but the, the, when we, we came up to the front line, went into the bunkers, had coffee and a smoke with, with guys who were there.  It was very [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Um hm.

E:        And, uh, these people were very,

0:39:00

very, uh, routined, very professional.

I:          Um hm.
E:        And we went, visited because one of the divisions that we supported after the 6th was the Commonwealth Division.

I:          Um hm.

E:        Uh, the Commonwealth Division had Brits, Canadians, Australians, everything.  So, and we actually had more friends in the Commonwealth Division

0:39:30

than in the [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Um hm.

E:        and those in the 1st., 1st Marine Division and the 7th Division. But the 7th Infantry.  But in the Commonwealth Division, we sort of had, it’s a tradition. you know, that they had good contact with them Brits and Norwegians.  That’s, that, it’s always like that.

I:          Um hm.

E:        And Australians.

I:          So you had a good time with them.
E:        Yes.

I:          Hm.

0:40:00

If I ask you what was the  most difficult thing during your service in Korea, what is it that really bothers you or you really have a hard time with it?  What is it that really

E:        I don’t really remember any hard time at all.  It did not, does not come into my memory as any hard time, hard experience.

0:40:30

I mean, it was, it was a great adventure, very exciting and, uh, it’s left me with an experience that I tried to share with other people.  We had nothing to do in Korea as such.  But I, I’m sure not everybody senses this.  But

0:41:00

the feeling of being one tiny, tiny cog in an enormous machinery, only one million men gathered on one side

I:          Um.

E:        and there was a war on, and there was no way out.  The only way to get out was on a stretcher.  So you just had to be, even if we

0:41:30

were not in actual combat, you know.

I:          Um hm.

E:        we had this, and we were, had no guerilla activity which was very, because we were so close to the front.  So there was this sort of void area where guerillas couldn’t op, and the rest of the country we knew very well that guerillas were a terrible menace.

I:          Um hm.

E:        But we were spared for that.  So we didn’t have much of that.  But I said the sense of being this

0:42:00

tiny, tiny cog in a huge, huge operation where you really don’t count at all.  At the same time, you’re doing a necessary job.

I:          Um hm.

E:   So, yeah.

I:          Um hm.  When did you leave Korea from there?

E:        We left in May ‘53

I:          Um hm.

E:        from K16 to [Tajikawa], and then we went

0:42:30

the same, all the way around from Japan to Hong Kong to, uh, Bangkok and in Japan.

I:          Yeah.  So you went back to Korea 2013.  How was Seoul looking to you compared to the Seoul that you saw in 1952 and ’53?  Give me the before and after picture because students, young students

0:43:00

will hear from you.  Give me the before and after of Seoul.

E:        Well, Seoul, when I was there in ’52 and ’53, Seoul was not a city.  It was a ruined landscape with a lot of activity, a lot of people and a lot of shacks and things and things that happened,

0:43:30

tremendous activity but all in the dust.  And, and, and ruined houses.  And I said maybe a very few houses had more than one story.

I:          Um.

E:        When I came back, first time in ’95 when I was at the conference and then in 2013,  uh, it had no resemblance whatever.  I mean, you can’t, it was, it was like New York.

0:44:00

or bigger than New York.  It just like, uh, tremendous, fantastic.  And, uh, was in a fishing place.  Also North Koreans and Japanese are much, much more able to manage in huge crowds and heavy traffic

I:          Yes.

E:        and walking

0:44:30

around on sidewalks than you are in Europe, particularly in Norway.  Norway people are very clumsy.

I:          You have only five million people here.

E:        yes.  When you come with the Korean Airlines, the Japan  Airlines and land in Seoul or, or in, in Tokyo, the empty a jumbo in 20 minutes.  And  you fill it in 20 minutes.  It’s, it’s incredible.  Um, it has to do with

0:45:00

people used to living [INAUDIBLE]  And it’s nothing impolite about it, not at all.  It’s very, it’s smooth.  If I should get there very, very smooth operating city.

I:          Now Norway has a lot of natural resources including oil.  As you know, Korea doesn’t have a drop of oil.

E:        Yep.

I:          But we have a strong economic

0:45:30

relationship because you are ordering a lot of ships to the Korean industry

E:        Yeah.

I:          shipping industry, and we import a lot of, uh, your products, too.

E:        Yep.

I:          When you leave Korea, when you left Korea in 1953, did you ever thought, think that Korea would become like this today, 11th largest economy in the world?

E:        No.

I:          So what do you think about this

E:        I would never, I would never have foreseen that.

I:          Hm.

E:        But of course, it,

0:46:00

in the, in the afterthought when you see now, you understand why.  It’s because you got out of a, a, uh, you got into a, a modern, uh, I would call American system of, of industry and [INAUDIBLE] and whatever].

I:          Um hm.

E:        Totally different and, uh, it’s, uh, you don’t have to see

0:46:30

just have to see how North Korea is today.  It’s nothing.  But when I came out, when we came out, uh, I have this Korean Presidential citation which we’d call the Syngman Rhee Medal.

I:          Um hm.

E:        Uh, Syngman Rhee was not very popular outside of Korea.  He was considered a dictator.

I:          Right.

E:        Probably he was.  I don’t know.  We didn’t mind at the time.  But , uh,

0:47:00

it, it, it didn’t look too optimistic.  But the North Koreans had been beaten so badly, and the Chinese were stuck and couldn’t really get out of the mire they were in.  But we never saw a real, real chance for starting again.

I:          Um hm.

E:        So, that’s why I think everybody has acted as if the War was ended

0:47:30

which it has not.

I:          Um hm.

E:        But, uh,

I:          So you didn’t know much about Korea when you were growing up and even when you joined the, did the  volunteer unit, you really didn’t know  much about Korea.  I mean, you are the very few veterans that actually have an experience in, uh, abroad at the time so that you are the exception.  But now Korea is

0:48:00

very close to Norway, too.  And so what is it?  What happened to you while you were in Korea looking back, and put that into a, a perspective.  What is Korea to you now?  I mean, you are in Norway.  It’s, one of the most farthest country from Korea, and you never knew, there were no relationship at all at the, at the time.  Now we are linked

0:48:30

through this NORMASH.  What do you think about all these things?

E:        Well, first of all, I, I don’t think there’s really  that feeling of closeness between Norway and Korea.  We know Korea.  It’s a large country.  [INAUDIBLE] countries and the front  runner in many things.  We have great respect for Korea.  Culturally, I think there’s a great difference

0:49:00

still.

I:          Yep.

E:        So, that’s why it takes, uh, I don’t really think I’d ever get real close.  But it’s a feeling I have.

I:          Right.  What is it?

E:        That, um, clo, mutual respect definitely, very, very much so.  Mutual respect.  I think that’s what I, what I would say.

0:49:30

I:          Very good.

E:        Sometimes we wonder, of course, because we get the news over there and, and there are unrest in Korea and I think most of, uh, Norwegians hearing that just shake their heads and say how can they mess it up?  I mean, they are so good.  So they going to straighten it out.  So you don’t expect, uh, South Korea to fail.

I:          Um hm.

0:50:00

What do you think about Trump and Kim Jung Un of North Korea talking to each other and fighting against each other?  What do you think about that?  Do you think that there’ll be something going around from that dialogue between Trump, President Trump and Kim Jung Un?

E:        Well, most Norwegians, of course, uh, think that Trump is an idiot.  Uh, almost all [INAUDIBLE]

0:50:30

I don’t share that, in that. I think he’s a businessman, acts like a businessman, and that is the first time they ever had a President to act like a businessman.

I:          Right.

E:        which is very dangerous because it’s very dangerous being a businessman.  Therefore, therefore I, I consider the Trump situation to be dangerous.  I do that.  But I don’t, I don’t think he’s an idiot.

0:51:00

It’s, uh, theatrical in many ways.  How the hell is thinking of getting anything out of North Korea, I don’t know because I don’t, I don’t understand how, how that situation is going to terminate.

I:          Um hm.

E:        [INAUDIBLE] I mean, the North Korean people have been starving for 60  years, 70 years and are starved to death.

0:51:30

And still they haven’t resumed.  [INAUDIBLE] have control of them.  I don’t understand how that works.

I:          Um.

E:        But then I credit Asians with having a much more resilient minds than Europeans.
I:          Wow.  So what do you think is your legacy as a Korean War veteran and as a part of NORMASH, and what is the legacy of the Korean War in your mind?

0:52:00

E:        Someone called the Korean War the War, the Forgotten War.

I:          Um.
E:        And, uh, it was never even called a War.  It was a police Action.  And, um, I think it was the legacy of the

0:52:30

Korean War was that it stopped the Communist march South.  And, of course, you had the terrible Viet Nam War afterwards which served the same purpose but did not reach their goal.  The big difference was in North Korea, they were stopped.

I:          Um hm.

E:        In Viet Nam, they were not stopped.  On the other hand, these republics

0:53:00

China has changed tremendously.  Chinas has nothing, nothing in common with the [MALL] China

I:          Um hm.

E:        except a tremendous, uh, unanimous discipline.  It was very different for, it was difficult for Europeans to understand.  So

0:53:30

if I were to put it short, it, it, there was a first time that really the West put their foot down hard, and the second time they put their foot down hard in, in, in Viet Name.  The rest of the West didn’t join in.  And the most, I, I have said before, I don’t know if that’s interesting, but the Korean War was the last war

0:54:00

which you could come home and go around the uniform with your medals and be a hero.

I:          Um.

E:        because it was an honorable war

I:          Um.

E:        and everybody recognizes as an honorable war and to have been in the Korean War is a plus.  If you say you’ve been in the Viet Nam War, you were being spit at.

I:          Right.
E:        That’s the main, main difference.
I:          Excellent point, excellent point.

0:54:30

Um, we have to end this interview because there are, uh, one more person to interview.  But for the 70th anniversary of the break out of the Korean War, actually that’s ridiculous because, you know, we have the cease fire in 1953, and there is no peace treaty at all.  Um, next year will be the 70th.  Do you have any special message to the Korean people?

0:55:00

E:        No.  I just, keep going.  Get going.  Stick to your guns.

I:          Um hm.

E:        And don’t be tricked.

I:          Yeah.

E:        Don’t, do not be tricked by the people on the other side because they are crooks.  They’re lawyers and cheats.

0:55:30

I:          I leave

E:        Harsh words, but I have no, no feeling whatever.

I:          Um hm.

E:        of [INAUDIBLE].  And I think people will go in there and cooperate with them and do what everything.  I think they are foolish idiots.

I:          Thank you.  On behalf of Korean nation, I want to thank you for your honorable service, uh.,

0:56:00

And, uh, we really, uh, thank you for your service.  Thank you.

E:        Thank you for hearing me.

I:          Thank you.

[End of Recorded Material]