Francis Beidle, originally from Ohio, was drafted in 1951 to the United States Army. During the interview he reflects unfavorably on his time in Korea, explaining that he did not understand why he, or the other soldiers were in the war. Even after years of reflection he remains uncertain of his purpose in the war. Francis Beidle describes why the war was a difficult time for him. Francis Beidle shared a difficult time with other veterans when they returned home from the war. Francis discusses the legacy of the Korean War and predicts the future actions of North Korea.
To free you people from the Commies!
Francis Beidle explains what a difficult time he had while in Korea. He was drafted into the military in 1951 and did not understand the reasons and motivations behind the war other than "to free you people from the Commies!" Over the years he's begun to question this justification.
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Discrimination against Veterans at Home
Francis Beidle discusses the difficult time he had finding work after he got back from the war due to the negative attitudes about Korean War veterans. He attributed the negative feelings towards veterans to the unpopular news stories circulating about soldiers raping women.
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Legacy of the Korean War
During the clip Francis Beidle explains that he believes that the war was a mistake. He explains to the interviewer that he tries to forget about his time in the Korean War. Ultimately, he believes that the North Korea might try to start another war and that the US should be on alert.
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[Beginning of Recorded Material]
F: Francis Arthur Beidle. B E I D L E
I: So your first name is not Frank. It’s Francis.
F: I go by both. I had to sign papers. My legal name is Francis.
I: Francis. Ok. Beidle is German name.
F: Yes, it’s pure old German.
I: What is your birthday?
F: December 13, 1929.
I: You were born in the year of Great Depression.
F: Pardon me?
I: You were born in the year of Great Depression.
F: Yes. Right in the beginning of it.
I: Where were you born?
F: Barberton, Ohio.
I: Could you spell it?
F: B A R B E R T O N.
I: Tell me about
your family background when you were growing up, your parents and your siblings.
F: My dad was George John Beidle. My mother was Mildred Mae Beidle, and I had one brother, Richard E. Beidle, Eugene Beidle, and he was born in ‘28, there’s 16 months
between us. He’s born in August 22, and I was born in December. So that’s where the 16 months come in.
I: What school did you go to, and when did you graduate, what high school?
F: Ok. I started going to school in the first seven years I went to grammar school in Ohio,
first in town and then out in the country, the Township of Sherman. And then we moved to Chicago, and my Dad wanted to get on in the defense work. Thought he’d make a lot of money.
I: What happened to you then? What school did you graduate at?
F: I decided to go up to Chicago and get a job and get a place to live, and
we moved up from Ohio. And from Ohio, I finished my grammar school, one year of that, and then I had four years of high school at Harper High.
I: Harper High School.
F: H A R P E R
F: Everything’s simple so far.
I: When did you graduate?
I: Let me ask you this question. Did you learn anything about Korea when you were in high school?
F: No. Just what was on the news at that time.
I: What was in the news about Korea at the time? Not much, right?
F: Not much.
I: Did you know where Korea was?
F: No. Part of our project
one of my classes we had to go digging in the Atlas and all that and find it. And then we had to learn where it was and how small it was. Actually it’s smaller than Japan. It’s a funny thing. Where Japan is a big long island.
I: Yeah. Korea is
smaller than Japan, right. But you didn’t know much about Korea, right?
F: No. I didn’t know much about Korea. That was about the extent of it. But I had to go down and sign in with the Draft Board. So when I got one of them cards in the mail that said greetings, salutations and so forth. You have been selected by your
peers and [INAUDIBLE] all your relations and the neighbors to represent them in the Armed Services of the United States.
I: What did you do after 1948, after you graduated high school?
I; Yeah, ’48. What did you do after ’48?
F: I worked for TB and Q Railroad in Chicago, their
main headquarters was across from Union Station on the edge of the Loop.
F: I worked there till I got my notice to report in. So I, that is my happy juice.
I: No problem. And when did you join the Military? When did you join the Military?
F: The Ministers?
F: Oh, Military. Well, We got married February 2 of 1951. July is when I got the card.
F: Draft notice.
I: When did you join it?
F: I had to report to Fort Sheridan, Illinois,
Time of day, I don’t even remember any more. I had to report in, and I was sent to, from, I gotta think, I was drafted in January, yeah, no, [inaudible] You gotta excuse me. My memory ain’t so great.
I: So you, you drafted and joined the Army? Army?
F: Yeah, I was drafted to the Army.
I: Army. And that was 1951?
I: And you already knew that Korean War broke out there.
F: I knew pretty much about it because one of my evening projects for myself, I was staying at the YMCA hotel downtown
Chicago, and watching television and everything, the news. I knew what was coming, and I had to report to Fort Sheridan, Illinois, and then I was, from there I went to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
for my basic training, and I had eight weeks of basic training and eight weeks of advanced engineer training, and then I was sent home on leave for my short period. I don’t remember if I had my 30 days or not.
I: You don’t have to tell me the exact location, yeah, don’t worry about it.
F: It’s too long.
I: When did you leave for Korea?
F: Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri I was shipped out on the Coast
Fort Lawton, Washington, and they lost my records. It didn’t make me mad. First time I had to spend overseas.
I: So what happened?
F: They found them, and I got shipped to Japan, to the Iwo Jima Specialist School.
F: Iwo Jima Specialist School
In Japan for a track vehicle mechanic. I come out of there, it was May, I was to be shipped over to Korea, but I was so sick that night, I was rash. My whole body was covered with a rash, and the only thing they could figure out was the scarves they used to clean gun
parts, I must have got it into a fresh cut or something that caused a reaction. So back to Japan, and from there I was in the hospital for almost a month, then they shipped me back to Korea.
I: When was that?
F: Back to Pusan. I’m in a bunk up to here
where a luggage rack carrier would be, and guy goes by me, goes back, what the hell were you doing [INAUDIBLE] and when he walked by, he was carrying the cup part of a canteen, and he had ice cream in it. Well, I leaned over the edge of the bunker and looked down in that
canteen bowl. I said is that real ice cream? I hadn’t had any since I went to the States. He g ave me one of those canteen cups full of ice cream.
I: Where did he get it?
F: From the kitchen car I guess. Brought it back to me and I cleaned up the whole cup.
I: Must be real ice cream to you.
in your life. You departed Korea in 1953. Tell me about how was your life in Korea? I mean, where did you sleep, what did you eat? How was it?
F: Different camps we at, whenever I could get out I went out and visited around
the countryside. We were not allowed to walk the camp very much.
I: Where did you sleep, in between Heartbreak Ridge and Saddleback Castle? Where did you sleep, in the sleeping or in the foxhole of in the bunker? Where did you sleep?
F: I was in my bunker.
I: Oh, you were in the bunker.
My bunker headed over to where the Castle was, and I got better leading up to the trail.
I: What was your rank at the time? Corporal, or what was your rank?
F: I never did get any stripes.
I: What was the most difficult day during that period?
Except injuries, shrapnel injuries. But wounds. Other than that, what was the most difficult thing for you?
F: Trying to figure out why and what we were doing there. I was s tuck on, I’ll call it sentry duty or what. We were back on the lines retreat, and I’m standing here by the road
Where a Colonel come over, I salute d him and all that malarkey, and I said I’m gonna ask you a question, Colonel. I said what are we here for and why? And he looked at me and said son, if I knew the answer to your questions, we wouldn’t be here.
I: So you still don’t understand why you were there?
F: To free you people from the Commies. That’s the main thing.
I: That’s it, right? But
F: Oh, I got to back up here a little bit.
F: I’m telling these in the back of my mind and they’re out of order.
I: No problem.
F: Our last night on the front lines, this is after I was wounded, but
It was our last night on the front lines we were out front, four of us, and dropped an order over the radio for us guys to come in. We ain’t coming in. We gonna stay out here. Why? For the simple reason, we found out we were relieved by a National Guard unit.
I: National what?
F: National Guard unit. I don’t have any use for them because when they relieved us, our officer was coming down the trench, and one of the guys says halt, who goes there, bang, bang, bang. He stops first, then ask who goes there. And the
National Guard shot up more ammunition than that first night on the front lines than our unit did in a whole month. Those two reasons are the biggest ones. I don’t have much use for the Guard. They don’t have enough training. They’re more worried about their [INAUDIBLE]
I: Do you now know why you were there, right? And you really didn’t know why you were there at the time?
F: Not at the time. But I have since.
I: But you knew you were fighting against Communism, right?
F: I did.
I: Did you write a letter back to your wife?
I: Did you write a letter back to your wife, Ruth?
After I, the day after I got operated on, I’m right handed, so it was hard for me to write the letter.
I: It was difficult to write, right? Do you still have that letter with you?
F: No. She destroyed them.
I: Oh, she destroyed them, ok.
F: She didn’t want them for a reminder. It that’s what you want, dear, that’s
the way it goes.
F: But I ain’t worried about it. All’s I worry about is my [INAUDIBLE]
I: That’s right.
F: To prove what I went through. You want to back up some more?
I: Yeah. Sure.
F: When I was down here at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, my Mass Engineers training, we were signed out to do a night patrol.
Four men diamond, I was the lead man.
I: Where? Here?
F: Yeah, here in the States. And I was the lead man, and I’m walking along with a guy on this shoulder and a guy on that shoulder hanging on. And that guy way in back there that, we had stopped for, to rest for a moment, and
Sargent [INAUDIBLE] I took one step, and I was out in space. Dropped about 15’, fell off some rocks, it’s all in my records. That was my back injury.
I: Have you had a chance to work with the Korean soldier
there while you were there?
F: Not too much.
I: Not too much. Have you seen Seoul City?
F: A little bit.
I: How was it?
F: I thought it was a nice looking city.
I: But was it much destroyed?
F: Yeah. But what I could see, I thought was nice.
I: What did you see?
F: To tell you the truth, I can’t remember now.
I: Ok. Have you been back to Korea?
F: No, sir. I asked my wife if she’d like to go back over and see where I was, what I went through, she said no. She said you were there, you’re here now. I want you to stay here. And mama wins.
I: So now you know Korea has, South Korea has
enormous economy. Big economy.
I: And we are a strong democracy. What do you know about modern Korea now?
F: I think it was a mistake to split it.
F: You can’t work with them Communists. They got their own goofy ideas.
I: Right. So, what should we have
done? What should we have done?
I: About North. What should we have done? I mean, you’re talking about splitting the Korean Peninsula, right, and that is wrong policy. So what should we have to do?
F: Kick their butts out. Make sure they stay out.
I: You cannot do that. You just
cannot kick them out, you know. I like your gut, though. I like your gut.
F: That is prune juice.
I: Good for you. So, what do you think about South Korea now.
F: I actually seen more South than I did North when we were on the front line, yes,
but same time you keep your ears and heads down.
I: And you know that we don’t teach much about the Korean War, right? Here in the United States.
F: I guess not. I know I never heard much on it, but now I’m back here in the States [INAUDIBLE] in Colorado. That’s where I was discharged.
And from there, I come over to Wisconsin, and I tried to find a job. I came up to Wassau because it was the largest city around to get work, and I had people at different plants or whatever you want to call them, I had a guy
that was telling me right to my face go, and he says out. I asked him what did I do? He says you were in Korea. That’s enough. I had five different places when I first got out that wouldn’t interview me for a job because I was a Korean War vet?
I: Why? Why?
F: Because I was a Korean War vet.
I: I mean what is the reason that they don’t want to hire you because you were a Korean War veteran? Why? Were there bad things about Korean War veteran? Why? What is it?
F: They hatred us for some reason. Because of some of the things that were going on with some of the troops. They’re claiming that they were raping the girls and everything when they got home, all that kind of stuff.
I: Wow. I never heard about that. So, that actually hurt you, right?
F: Yeah. I got to the point I didn’t release the fact that I had been in the Service. I passed over it.
I: Yeah. That’s
F: I was working for American Can
on Bridge Street in Wausau. They make paper trays and
I: I thought that people here would favor Korean War veterans because they went through all this difficult times demonstrating their personality.
F: Now they will after a short period. But it seemed like there was certain groups that just didn’t.
When I went to [INAUDIBLE] because she was living in Mosey, I went to Mosey Paper, you know, to see if I could get in. I walked in and told them who I was and I says how about a job? He says get the hell out of here. We don’t want anything to do with you Korean veterans, and he says and furthermore, he says, you got too damn many relations working here already.
I: Too damn what?
I might have come from a large family. There’s a lot of them that were working in a paper mills. They didn’t want another one.
F: They’re just using me and that I’m a veteran [INAUDIBLE]
I; Why do you think that we don’t teach much about the Korean War here in our History class? Why? Why we don’t teach?
F: Some of the stuff that was on the news what the GIs were supposed to have been doing to the girls, Japan and Korea and in the States.
I: Were there many rapes there in Korea? During the Korean War?
F: I never seen it.
I: You never seen any, right? Yeah.
F: I wasn’t around it. Besides, I told my wife I’m gonna try to be good.
I said I don’t want to bring home something and give it to you.
I: Are you Christian?
I: Are you Christian?
I: Is still your wife alive? Is your wife alive now?
I: Where is she?
F: She’s dead.
I: Oh, she’s dead. I’m sorry to hear that.
F: Five years.
I: Five years ago?
I: So now, what do you think about the Korean War and the modern Korea? What is the legacy of the Korean War to you? What is Korea to you personally?
F: It’s an experience that I’m putting behind me and trying to forget because of the way we were treated, and GIs were treated.
I: So you want to forget about it? You want to put behind this and put a close on it.
F: I seen too much blood that I don’t want to remember.
I was planning, let’s see, After I got on [INAUDIBLE] I got a job at the Post Office. I worked in the Post Office for 26 ½ years, inside,
at night. And I was the first, maybe the only one I don’t know, I know I was the first one, no, the second one, there was one other guy that was a 10 point veteran that come into the Wausau Office who
got the extra 10 points on our Civil Service test because we had been wounded.
I just thought I’d better throw that in here for that guy on the camera.
I: What do you think about North Korea right now?
F: They’re gonna start an atomic war.
I: You think so?
F: Now, I probably shouldn’t say it
I: No problem. Go ahead.
F: I think that our President at that time made a mistake.
I: You mean Truman?
F: He couldn’t let MacArthur have his way because MacArthur wanted to come in there
38thParallel and atom bomb all across the Peninsula. There is several of us young fellows from that era that believe with what MacArthur said at the time. Atom bomb across the 38thParallel
back off. Now I’ll give you any odds if they would have let him do it, you wouldn’t have this trouble we got today. Maybe I’m wrong
I: Maybe you’re right. Maybe you’re right. Yeah. So what would you say to our young
students about the Korean War, not about other things but about the Korean War. What would you say to them? To our young children and young students in high school and middle school?
I: One thing I feel and I published it in my journal. [INAUDIBLE] hear too good.
I feel, I don’t know how to put it. We should have went all the way when they quick come back the second time. We should have went to the Manchurian border, stay out.
I: We could have a very different Korea today, right? Yes.
F: It would have made a lot of difference, a lot.
I: Got it. Any other comments or any other episode that you want to leave to this interview?
F: No I tell you [INAUDIBLE] wow, took about five years after I got out of the service for me to settle down and try to forget.
I: Thank you. Thank you, Francis, for your fight.
F: Please call me Frank.
I: Frank, I want to thank you for your fight and suffering. Because of that, we have what Korea is now, and I understand that you want to put this whole thing in
F: I had a cousin, she passed away several years ago, that
How am I word this? When she found out that I was gonna be receiving compensation from the middle of jury service for my time in the service and for being wounded, when she found that, found that out, she had a fit. She said my son was in the Army. He didn’t get none of that . I said maybe he was the enemy
for us overseas. No. I made sure he didn’t go. She had an influence with the Master Guard there in [INAUDIBLE]
I: Thank you again.
[End of Recorded Material]