Korean War Legacy Project

George Covel


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.

Video Clips

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.

Tags: Busan,Seoul,Basic training,Home front,Living conditions,Pride,Weapons

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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.

Tags: Food,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Physical destruction,South Koreans

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Armistice Signing

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.

Tags: 1953 Armistice 7/27,Panmunjeom,Chinese,North Koreans,POW,Pride

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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.

Tags: Home front,Impressions of Korea,Message to Students,Pride

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American G.I. George Covel

Incheon Harbor, low tide

Seoul Railway Station in 1950s

Korean Vegetable Garden

Korean Traditional House


Traditional Korean House

LST 520 that took communist POW from Keojedo to Incheon, Wolmido

Shoeshine boy in Incheon

Lst 520 (side view)

American G.I band and Korean children

Load a Korean Woman carries

Korean girls presenting flowers to band

Pagoda behind Chosun hotel

Incheon Custom House

Pagoda around Chosun hotel

Shoeshine boy


Water fountain in Chosun hotel

Woman carrying load using her head

Chosun hotel

George Covel


band marching in


A memorial for the dead 8th army in seoul

Government center (Senator Knowland Korean People Welcome You)

Plaque in the memorial for the dead of the 8th army in Seoul.

Behind bus depot (trace of severe battle between the 8th army and communist)

Inside Finance building courtyard

General Taylor

Bernie Powers

The 7th TMRS field


Where I live now


Barracks on old Japanese officers

Indian troops

Jim Beaty our room in the old compound

Indian troops

Desolate Seoul

Desolate Seoul

Indian troops

Seoul in 1953

Indian troops

Seoul in 1953

Honey bucket

Indian troops

Papasan with a frame

Indian troops

Seoul street

Kids in Seoul street giving out candy

Seoul street

Group of kibitzers over a game of Korean chess

Welcome Vice President Richard Nixon

Korean kids

Yongsan school house

Women in Seoul street

1000 steps


Incheon harbor

Korean burial ground


Han River bridge

US Finance building

Han River Railroad bridge

George Covel

Old rice store