Korean War Legacy Project

Franklin O. Gillreath

Bio

Franklin Gillreath enlisted in the United States Army in 1949. He was captured as a prisoner of war (POW) by the Chinese and North Korean forces during the Korean War and explains the difference between Chinese and North Korean treatment of prisoners. He describes the march deep into North Korea up to the Yalu River where he was placed in a POW camp. He also explains the conditions during the cold winters and how it affected all the soldiers, from lice to death by freezing. He recalls not being able to confide in some of his own countrymen in the POW camp at times as some would leak information to their captors as a means of receiving more food and better treatment, and he shares that this weighed heavily on him mentally. Despite all he endured, he is proud of what South Korea represents and has become.

Clips

Surrender and Difference Between Chinese and North Korean Treatment

Franklin Gillreath describes the events leading up to surrendering and the difference between Chinese and North Korean treatment. He explains that the North Koreans were harsh and would hit any soldier who could not understand their directions in Korean. He compares this example to the Chinese approach which involved finding a translator rather than hitting a soldier who could not understand directions.

Tags: Pyungyang,Chinese,Fear,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGlF6HEmLP8&start=543&end=762

Barbed Wire Fence along the Yalu River

Franklin Gillreath describes the march north as a prisoner of war (POW) deep into North Korea. He explains that villages would be emptied so that the prisoners could be stowed in the huts of North Korean civilians where there was only enough room to sit up. He describes the camp along the Yalu River where barbed wire used to keep in cattle was the only border between him and escape.

Tags: Pyungyang,Chinese,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGlF6HEmLP8&start=766&end=929

Lice Popping Contests

Franklin Gillreath describes the grass mats they were given to sleep on in the POW camps. He explains that the mats were infested with lice as well as the clothes they were forced to remain in for two years. He describes contests between the captured men to see who could kill the most lice between their fingers.

Tags: Chinese,Cold winters,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGlF6HEmLP8&start=932&end=1095

Daily Life in Camp Five

Franklin Gillreath explains what daily life was like inside of POW Camp Five. He describes the food mostly comprising of millet. He explains the wood and burial detail he was forced to engage in with the dead. He also describes indoctrination attempts and memories of soldiers dying due to cold temperatures and malnutrition.

Tags: Pyungyang,Chinese,Cold winters,Depression,Food,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGlF6HEmLP8&start=1096&end=1524

Traitors in the POW Camp

Franklin Gillreath shares memories of traitors among fellow soldiers in the POW camp. He explains that not being able to confide in some of his own countrymen weighed heavily on him mentally. He recounts fellow soldiers snitching on other soldiers in hopes of receiving more food and better treatment. He recalls one soldier in particular snitching to receive a lapel pin and adds that he suffered for his actions on the way home from Korea.

Tags: Chinese,Communists,Fear,Food,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGlF6HEmLP8&start=2002&end=2149