George Covel was born in Brooklyn, NY, and he was a college student at Juilliard School of Music and Hofstra University before enlisting. Serving in the 8th US Army Band and the Honor Guard as a SGT-E5 while in Korea, he offers an account of his unique experience. He was a bandsman, a high-speed radio operator, and participated in Spring-Summer 1953 while there. For his commitments, he received the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Award, the Korean Campaign Medal, and the UN Medal. After returning to the United States, he became a court reporter and raised a family. He is proud of his service and the legacy of Korean War veterans, and he offers a message to future generations in his closing remarks.
Enlistment and Leaving Loved Ones Behind
George Covel describes his enlistment and leaving behind his wife who was 6 months pregnant at the time. He details his role as a bandsman and placement in the Honor Guard and recounts serving as a ceremonial bandsman during the war, about 11 miles away from the front lines. He expresses that he was fortunate enough to avoid firing weapons on most occasions.
First Impressions of Korea and Living Conditions
George Covel describes his first impressions of Korea as shocking and recounts significant devastation. He recalls his living conditions, stating that he was one of the fortunate ones to have lived in an old sergeant's quarters with cots, houseboys, and enough clothing. He mentions that an officer peddled their food on the black market which rendered poor food options for the bandsmen.
George Covel shares his memories of the day the Armistice was signed. He recalls making bets with fellow soldiers who did not believe it would occur when he predicted, and he recounts their surprise when it actually took place. He also describes the "big switch, little switch" and the release of prisoners following the Armistice.
A Rewarding Life, Legacy, and Message
George Covel discusses some of the challenges he faced regarding the GI Bill and choosing a differing career pathway when he returned to the States following the war. He emphasizes that the Army and his service made him a better man, and he offers his thoughts on the importance of the Korean War and the legacy of Korean War veterans. He stresses the importance of not forgetting history and encourages future generations to listen and learn from veterans so that they avoid the mistakes made in the past.