George Dixon was drafted into the the military and sent to machinist school in 1952 before heading to Korea. To his surprise, he was sent in as an infantrymen without any training. Within a few days of traveling two miles into North Korea with his regiment, his squad leader was killed right next to him. He tells the account of how his weapon was taken away to use as evidence against the Russians. Among his accomplishments, George Dixon captured the first North Korean POW for his regiment. He also assisted helping move young children into the orphanage. While George Dixon has not returned to South Korea, but he was proud of the service and freedom that he provided for the South Koreans.
Death Soon After Arrival
George Dixon was sent two miles into North Korea after landing in Incheon in February 1952. His squad leader kept a close watch on him since he did not have infantry training; George Dixon was shot in the helmet during this time, but his protective squad leader was killed right next time. Shortly after this, George Dixon explains how he captured the first POW for his regiment
Setting up Orphanages in South Korea
Like many outfits, George Dixon and his unit had orphans (many under the age of ten) that had found them. He explains soldiers would cut down GI uniforms for them to wear and help find them food. He remembers an orphanage that was started where he helped place children.
Proof the Russians Were Lying
George Dixon was an infantryman regardless of his training as a machinist. As a result, he was given a Burp Gun which was manufactured by the Russians in 1951. He explains that the gun was ultimately taken from him as a way to prove that the Russians were lying about not providing weapons during the war.
[Beginning of Recorded Material]
George Dixon: George Dixon. G–G–G– George, G-E-O-R-G-E T. D-I-X-O-N Dixon.
Interviewer: What is your birthdate?
G: Sixth month eighth day 1926.
I: Sixth month.
G: Sixth month, eight day, 1926.
I: Wow. So how old are you today, then?
G: I’ll be 91 this Friday.
G: This Friday, yeah.
I: You look to young to be 90.
G: [laughing] yeah.
I: What is the
G: Well, having a good wife, a good wife and a good relationship with her, that helps, that helps tremendously.
G: And she kept me and with good food.
I: How long have you been married to her?
G: It’ll be 66 years on–on June the 17th.
I: You are the endangered species here.
G: Yeah okay, okay.
I: Marrying for 66 years. Where were you born?
G: I was born on–in the state of Washington.
Pasco, Washington in 1926.
I: Mm-hmm. And tell me about your family when you were growing up.
G: Well, my dad was a–worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad. And we originally came from North Carolina so I grew up a lot in North Carolina so I’ve been in two states, mostly.
I: How about schools you went through?
G: Oh, went to Bonlee High School, which is in North–
I: Can you spell it?
and it’s in–
I: Bonlee? Bonlee High School?
G: B-O-N-L-E-E. And it’s in a small–it’s been torn down now, it’s gone it–.
I: Where? In the state of Washington?
G: it’s–no, it’s in North Carolina.
I: When–when did you graduate?
G: 1945 and I went–
I: So, since you born in 1926, you went through this
I: You were four years old when the Great Depression occurred.
G: Yeah. Yes.
I: How was it?
G: Well, my dad was working for the railroad, but he-he got laid off–he got laid off part of it and I got to know it. I was just a kid then and we–we lived on a farm in North Carolina 80–88–about 90 acres of farm land.
I: Must be hard.
G: I didn’t hear you.
I: Must been hard.
G: Oh yeah, it was. Farmed it with a mule, team of mules. Later got a tractor, but that was after I left.
G: I’m the middle kid of two–two brothers. I have one older than I am, one younger. We all served in the military.
I: Mm-hmm. So, did you know anything about Korea when you went to school?
I: And graduate?
G: No, it was a foreign country to me.
and I never knew nothing about it.
I: Nothing knew about it. What about other countries in Asia? Did you know about China or Japan?
G: Yes, I knew about China and Japan.
I: How? Did you learn about it?
G: Well, we were at war with the Japan and when we we’re at war with something I kind of studied a little bit to find out what it was about, you know. And we–of course we dropped the atom bomb over there and that ended that
relationship. And by the way, I was in the hospital over there in one of the targets for the atom bomb. It didn’t–it wasn’t used because it was fogged over
G: it couldn’t get–Kokura, you know where Kokura is?
G: That’s in the southern part of Japan.
I: But, when did you join the military?
G: I didn’t join, I was drafted.
G: Let’s see–June the–June the 21st1950.
I: Oh, so–
G: Right after I got married.
I: And–oh, you were married at the time right then?
G: Yeah, mm-hmm I just got married.
I: And then you joined the military right before the Korean War?
G: I–I didn’t–it was during the Korean War. I was drafted by Harry Truman’s–
I: Then it’s not June 21st. The Korean War broke out June 25thof 1950.
G: Yeah, right. Right.
I: So, did you join–
G: That was 1950. I was in ’51.
That I joined the military.
I: Oh, ’51.
I: So, did you know that you were going to drag into the Korean War?
G: I had no idea.
I: so, where did you get the basic military training?
G: When I was–Aberdeen Maryland.
G: The Army proving ground. I had no combat training. I’m one of the few that ever did that.
I: You didn’t have a combat training?
G: I had no combat training.
I: What kind of training did you receive?
G: I went to machinist school.
Did that in Atlanta, Georgia. My diploma is right in there if you want to look at it. [laughing]
I: What did you learn?
G: Being a machinist.
I: Like what?
G: Operating metal lathes, shaper, and milling machine. All that stuff and–and a little bit about welding, not too much, but a little bit about welding.
I: So you–were you good at it?
G: Well, I–I was about–we had 33 in our class and I was one of the top three.
G: So, I worked at–I worked for General Motors at the time when I was drafted. And I retired for them after 41 years.
I: But–so when did you leave for Korea?
G: Let’s see–I left in January the 1st1952.
Got over there in February of 1952.
I: Where did you landed in Korea?
G: I land at Incheon. Because I went to Japan first and then went–ship around there to Incheon.
I: And what was your unit?
G: Well, I wasn’t assigned to any unit at that time, but I got assigned to the 40thdivision the 223rdinfantry regiment item company.
I: Oh. Regiment.
G: And went to the f–almost immediately the front line. It was on–my wife’s birthday is February the 12thand I was on the front line right after–the day after she was–her birthday.
G: That’s why I remember that.
I: So, you said 2–223 regiment and what battalion?
G: The 223 regiment and the 4th–4thdivision, the–the
223rdand Item Company. Item Company–I was having a brain cramp.
I: So you right into the front line
G: Right into the front line.
I: One day after the birthday of your wife.
G: Right, sure.
I: In 1952.
I: Where was it?
G: It was in–in the kind of a rolling hills area. And we were on outpost about a mile and a half in front of the main line. We–I was told that we
was–now I don’t know whether this was true or not–but we were the most northern troops in Korea. Now whether that’s true or not, I don’t know.
I: Do you remember the name of the post or camp?
G: No, it was just out there in the wilderness. [laughing] just a place out there–out there from… And I would tell you about the–I went on patrol from that group from that out and we went another further probably two miles into–into North Korea. I think we were in North Korea at the time.
And my squad leader was George Smith, and he kept me very close to him because he wanted to keep an eye on me. And he was–we came on the back side of a patrol, of enemy patrol and they opened fire on us. And I dived for a little mound of dirt that was bout the size of a pitcher’s mound, but on the slope. And they–my helmet fell off, but they–they hit my helmet they didn’t get me. They got geo–killed George.
I: You almost killed.
G: almost, yeah. Close, very close.
I: How was it? How did you feel it?
G: Well, it was so much going on I didn’t–I–you know you don’t get your feelings there. And then while I started this, I might as well tell you what happened. They were–they killed three of us I believe, and we wounded a couple guys. We were getting the wounded guy first then we were fighting the enemy off and they left. And they were on
they were on a hill–over a hill and anyway, we fought them off. And I stayed there with George Smith because he was just a few–well the enemy left, supposedly all of them left. But we–it took us a while to get–we got all the wounded out first and then I stayed there with George Smith and he–we didn’t have stretchers for everybody. So, Walt Farley was there with me
and he was from Chicago. It must have been probably 30 minutes til they got all the wounded out and they got back with the stretcher. And we put George Smith on it and just–I was looking over my shoulder there and all of a sudden a white flag appeared. One of the enemy wanted to give up. And I was the first one that he came to. I motioned him to me and we
captured a prisoner. And it wasn’t anything special on my part, he just happened to be
I: How many?
I: How many?
I: And that’s a North Korean?
G: He was North Korean?
I: How do you know?
G: I don’t know whether he was North Korean or Chinese.
G: That’s the one I have a–some money in there that came from him and you might be able to tell where it came from that money, but I’m not sure, but I think he was a Chinese.
But anyway, I had– had his burp gun. This is another story. I got his burp gun. You know what a burp gun was?
G: It was a very fine and a simple weapon that didn’t fire very far. It was only effective about really effective for about 50 yards or less. But it fired very, very rapidly. Called a burp gun. Russian made. And I had that for a little while. They– they took it away from me. The why reason they took it away from me,
they were starting to negotiate the settlement over there, at the time, and the Russians swore under oath up there that they had not shipped any arms into Korea since the war started. Well, this made a liar out of them, because it had a manufacturing date of 1951 on it.
G: 1951 on the we–on the weapon. But [silk] wasn’t far and I got to fire all the–the ammunition we had out of it just for the fun of it.
And they took it away from me as evidence that they were lying up there I don’t know how much they collected in that order, but they collected one from me. Okay.
I: Ah-hah. But you told me that you won–went to machinist school.
G: I went to machinist school.
I: But you were infantry just rifleman.
G: I was –just like that, yeah.
I: So it has nothing to do with your MOS.
G: It had nothing to do with my training, no, nope. I was a good shot.
You might tell you that. And I still am a good shot. I used to –I did a lot of hunting in my lifetime and I’m a good shot with a rifle or a shotgun. In fact, I’ve shot a lot of [trap] and nobody–very few people ever beat me.
I: But was it around–I –is–is this name familiar to you, Iron Triangle?
G: I’m not really sure where it was. I was–it was all–it was over the right hand side of the Army in a con– Korea.
And then we were there only a–oh–
I: Punchbowl? Heartbreak Ridge?
G: Might have–might have been in the punchbowl, but I’m not sure it was.
I: Heartbreak Ridge, does that familiar to you?
G: No, it wasn’t heartbreak ridge, no.
G: More of like a Punchbowl,
G: And anyway, getting back to this prisoner, we had a new regimental commander at that time. Nobody knew who he was. He put out an order that morning, that very morning he wanted to talk to a prisoner. And the first person to capture
that prisoner was going to get a five–honorary five day R&R in Japan. I’m the one that got that.
I: Wow. Lucky you.
G: And I talked–I talk–I talked him into well Farley had so much to do with it as I did because he searched him down, so we got–both got an R&R to– an honorary one. And this new regimental commander, nobody knew who he was–was Harry Truman’s first cousin. You know Harry Truman, the president at that time?
G: And I got to meet him just
briefly over that issue.
I: You mean you went to R&R with him?
G: No, I didn’t go to R&R, I went to R&R with Farley. But not–I meant we met Truman at–at Louis V. Truman as a result of it. He shook our hands, you know and talked to us just a little bit. But we–we left–
I: What was his rank?
I: What was his rank?
G: He was a colonel, at that time. But when he left Korea he was head of the division and he was a one star General.
So, Harry sent him over there to get him promoted.
I: What was his name?
G: Louis Truman. First cousin of Harry.
I: Alright. And then what happened?
G: Well, we left on R&R on Easter Sunday morning. We was at a different location on our front line then, and they moved us way over to North of–of Seoul. It was North of Seoul up in a–
in a very mountainous area. There was a hill right in front of us called–we call-we called it another name but it was called Marilyn Monroe hill or it was–it was shaped like a big breast, human breast, and anyways, in about 1,500 yards from where we were. We were on outpost and we were the closest people to the enemy. We left there and
I came back from my R&R there was an awful going on and I got back out there. I got to see a pilot– the plane had been shot down–an F-84 had been shot down right between us and the enemy line. I couldn’t see the plane as it was burning, but –was the train keep you from seeing the plane but I saw the pilot coming down and the enemy was shooting at him while he was in his parachute.
G: He went limp in the parachute
and then I saw him hit the ground. And we had some binoculars up there and I said he’s still alive. He–he pulled his feet up underneath the parachute. So, we–they put together a–a patrol to go out and get him and Silkwood and Farley and I kept with the machine gun kept the enemy away from him. They were trying to get to him to capture him and we–we laid down a blanket of fire there that they couldn’t get to him. And we go him out of there. It turned out,
he was only hit a gra–a bullet grazed the back of his neck that did not break the skin, just burned it. And they shot his heel of his boot that was what… But he went limp and faking–faking they killed him and we got him out of there.
I: So, you went to the UN R&R at the North of Seoul and then that happened there?
G: That happened when I got back, just when I come back.
I: So you didn’t really have an R&R there.
G: Well no, I didn’t get an R&R I spent the R&R in Kokura, Japan.
That’s where I was at,
G: Kokura, Japan. Kokura was a–was one of the R&R centers. They had three–three different ones over there in Korea–I mean Japan. And I was in the Kokura one, which is a nice area, it’s the southern part of Japan.
I: Were you scared when you were hit first with your helmet?
G: yeah, in a way. You–you’re gonna be afraid.
I: You were married–you were, at the time.
G: I was married, yeah and when you get–you’re married in Korea you get four rotation points a month. And acquire rotation points a lot more rapidly than the rest of them in the command. But we left the–the front lines a–about a week after July the–July the 4thit was in July, the [middle] fourth. And I never got back in combat–back in combat
after that. I never left the front lines then. Went down in the rear.
I: You mean the July 4thof 195?
G: Yeah, it was about a week or 10 days after July the 4thwe left the front line. Got back there in the rear and we had picked up some–some orphan kids, probably had 8 or 10 of them in the outfit. One was a little girl. They were all under the age of
- And for some reason or another their parents either got killed or they got separated from them. And I’ll get to another story about one of them–well I had add one to it and I’ll tell you that in a few minutes. But we had nicknames we called all of them, you know. They put a cut down–some of the local people down there had cut down some of the GI uniforms to put them in clothes.And eventually
we started an orphanage over there. Now, I had nothing to do with that, we just put the kids in that, you know, all the kids were collected. Their–practically every outfit over there had them that I know about, did collected them. And you know they’re the real victims of war. And their parents–they don know what’s going on–they don’t know what’s going on but they’re–they’re victims too. And one was a little girl and she was very young
and anyway, we were down there–we was guarding–you know and they promoted me to squad leader at the time. And I was checking on my squad I was going out and checking out my squad, and a guy named Silkwood, who was from Louisiana, said there’s little boy running around here, we can’t catch him he’s hiding and he’s eating out of our trashcans. So–we can’t catch him and we’d like to put a uniform
on him. I said well, I’ll get–one of–all these kids you know that we had given them nicknames we called one [Skoshie] and we had one [Moskoshie] and [Skoshie] knows–know a little bit of English and I’ll talk to him and see if we could come up with a candy bar and maybe lure him out.
G: And it worked. We got [Skoshie] and we got him in a uniform. But he was eating out of the garbage cans. He had–only thing he had on the garment he had– this is in August I think– only garment he has was a–what we called a burlap sack
with holes cut in it. And we put him in a uniform.
G: And that–added to that group of kids that later became an orphanage over there. And now it’s a school. And the division built that and I don’t know– I didn’t have anything to do with that, but we–I did have something to collecting this one boy. And where they are now, I don’t know. But, I–
I: What? Did you see the Seoul completely destroyed? Were you able to look around the Seoul city?
G: I–Seoul was about 50 miles from where I was. We went through it and it was–as–as I remember there wasn’t any paved roads in that place, hardly any. And it’s a totally different city now. And I landed in Incheon and that was–wasn’t a beach landing, we– that landing occurred before we were there, but I did land there.
I: What were–what did you think about when you see this whole thing Korea? What–what made you feel about it?
I: Did you feel that it was savage or its a barren or? What did you feel? Please be honest. What did you feel that this destroyed?
G: Well, it was a country I didn’t know much about. Didn’t know much about the people. And it was as strange a land to me as it–as America would be to them. And I–I had a little education, but I –I
about a year in college in–in the mountains of North Carolina and I was active in sports and I messed my leg up playing sports. But I reinjured the same leg over there and got me out of there.
I: So you thought this strange?
G: Yeah, it was a strange land. People spoke this language that I don’t know–I didn’t understand and–.
I: But did you know why you were there?
G: Yeah, oh yeah I knew why I was there. I was fighting a war [laughing].
I: For what?
G: and you know I–that that just puzzled me for a little while, but this is a strange land and the–and I’ve learned a little bit more about it since then, because of that, Korea was–we rescued Korea twice. They were prisoners of the Japanese and then we rescued
them from that and then we rescued them again from the North Korean–North Korean going down through there. And I wasn’t a part of that. We drove them back, just til they got back up there to one of the– the 38thparallel is when I joined them. And I wasn’t a part of that drive. There was a lot of people–a lot of our Americans lost their lives over there, and two of them next to me. And I still remember their names. One from South Dakota and one from California. But–
they nearly got me, but they didn’t. And I didn’t even get a scratch out of that. I didn’t–I have no scratches out of the–out of the Army.
I: Very good.
G: Out of the war.
I: Did you write letter back to your wife? What’s her name, by the way?
G: Yes, I wrote practically every day for–when I could, you know. And I–I got free postage when I was on the front lines, you know, it didn’t cost me anything just writing letters. And I have the — I don’t have–
maybe four of those letters in there but they–they were– just the address is where I was. I have an, a–photo album in here of a lot of my Korean… I had a camera with me and I couldn’t get film for it–for–for–I did get a little film. Most to those are color slides, but I don’t have any of the color slides in there, but I do have some–
I: It must be hard for you and your wife, Joanne, right?
I: To be separated like that.
G: Yeah. And I called her up I remember each of my–I went for two R&R’s,
the first one with the honorary one on the–and I got a regular one and I’m one of the few people that ever got two R&R, only because of Harry Truman’s’ first cousin and that–capturing that prisoner.
G: I was did–just happened to be at the right place at the right time and he was looking or a place to give up, he had enough of that. [laughing] And that weapon that he had was evidence that they–they were lying up there on that negotiation. Yeah, so
but we did, Farley and I did get to fire the ammunition out of it, it was just for the fun of it.
I: What did you write to your wife?
G: Oh I tried not to worry her too much about where we were. And I don’t remember too much about it, but… By the way, on that first R&R, she always told me if you ever get a chance to get some silverware–
some dishes, get them over there. And so, that first R&R I went on a–on a –this is kind of a funny story. They sold them at the PX over there, but the PX was kind of expensive. But you could go into the town, a guy told me he wanted to go, and I walked in–it was about a mile and a half–I walked in there in–into one of their outlet stores and bought her a–a set–a 98 piece set of china.
I: In Japan, you mean?
G: In Japan.
And–and mailed it to her. It cost me more to mail it than it did buy the–buy the china.
I: [laughing] that means that they steal those, you know, dishes– or any other items and
I: then sell it at the plant market right?
G: and–and–and the bill of sales is in that album there. [laughing]
G: If you want to see it, I’ll show it to you in a few minutes. The bill of sales is in there. And four of my letters are in there, but only sent–the only reason they’re in there is so you can see my return address is where it was in at–in those dates.
So, that’s the only reason why they’re in there.
I: What was the most difficult thing during your service in Korea?
I: If I ask you one thing, what was the most difficult thing to you?
G: Well, facing the enemy that was the most difficult thing. You never knew when one of those little bullets was gonna hit you, you know. And they– by the way, that fire fight started as a result of us rescuing that
pilot lasted for about oh 10 days, 8 or 10 days. Because we had a –we had a big–they were shooting at–they knocked my machine gun out with the mountain guns–those mountain guns are like the old silver they were 78, 75 caliber, 76. And they got my machine gun after about three shots. But the first one, thank goodness the first one was under it.
And it gave us, Silkwood, Farley and I a chance to get out of the–harm’s way. And we got in the back, back there and laid own in a–in a trench and about the third shot they hit that machine gun and knocked it up in the air about 40, 50 feet and bent the barrel of it. But in the process, we had a big 90mm cannon back there on the artillery piece back there and dug into the hill. And they started knocking the mountain guns off and I heard they got seven of them,
I don’t know if that’s true or not. But then, as a result of that, about three days later the artillery– their artillery, which was over the hill, was shooting at this 90mm and for two days they–it took them two days to hit it. I heard, and I don’t know how true it was, there was 300 rounds of artily around–incoming rounds before they broke it and that was almost around the clock deal.
Except we sent up a spotter plane and it’d get up there, they–they’d qu9it shooting. And they were–they had some good information. And you couldn’t find out where this–this artillery was coming from. We knew basically where it was coming from but you couldn’t pin point it. And–anyway this–this happened for about three days.
G: And that was–that was really the worst part of it, because you never knew one of those–one of those was gonna hit you. And it killed six of our guys in that–
in that bunker over there. They–I don’t know why they didn’t get out of there, but they didn’t and they thought they were secure there, the p–punched a hole in it and got those guys.
I: What is–let’s talk about the soft side of it. Where did you sleep? What did you eat? And how much were you paid?
G: [laughing] we ate C-rations.
I: All the time? When you were in the front line, right?
G: All the time–all the time I was in the front lines. If you got a –about every
fifth or sixth days, I can’t remember exactly, we rotated people out of our front lines back to the rear, where they’d get a shower and clean clothes. And when you went back to the rear, you could eat good food. As, just like Army cafeteria, you know, everybody–but you had a tray to eat out of and it was pretty good food when you went out there.
I: What was your best–favorite menu out of c-ration?
G: You want to hear the worst one. You want to hear the worst one.
I: What is it?
G: Worst one is corned beef hash.
I: Everybody is saying that.
G: Corned beef hash.
I: Why is that?
G: Oh, it was like–
I: Too salty or what?
G: No, it–if you could imagine eating a bunch of grease–of–of lard, that’s about what it was in and you had no way of heating it up. That–we was out on the front line we had no ways of heating it up it was all cold.
I: Oh, I see. I see. I see.
G: And some of the best ones was the–and you
Might laugh at this, was corn–was beans and franks– franks and beans one of the best one.
I: That’s what–that’s what others saying too.
G: [laughing] and it– I’ll tell you it’s a good way to lose weight. Because I went to Korea I weighed about 160 pounds. When I got off the front lines, I weighed less than 120. So, it’s a good way to lose weight. And now, I’ve gained a lot– a lot all that back plus.
I: Where did you sleep was it in the trench or?
G: We slept in the trench on a sleeping bag and we was on two hours
on and two hours off. You can imagine being waking up every two hours and we had to have half of us awake at all times. We really slept more in the day time than we did in the night actually sleep. But at night time its two hours on two hours off.
I: That’s horrible.
G: Yeah. And about the time you get to sleep you be waking up. Somebody wake you up. And often times they wake you up before you had your two hours too. It depend on who the person was.
I: And you a–arrived in February on–in the front lines.
G: In–in–in February.
I: It must have been very cold.
G: It was pretty cold. We weren’t there during the real cold weather, but it was cold enough. We had snow on the ground and–
I: And you sleep in the trench.
G: Sleeping in the trench.
I: With the sleeping bag?
G: With the–no heat. No heat. Just a sleeping bag.
I: I cannot image how you went through those.
G: Well, the sleeping bags were pretty heavy they were down filled sleeping bags. And they’d keep you warm. And we had
fairly warm clothing. We had gloves and–and had what was called a Pile cap, a Pile cap was a cap was and then you had your helmet over the top of that. It covered your ears and underneath your chin. It was named for Ernie Pyle. You know Ernie Pyle was–he was a photographer–a photographer that traveled with the troops and one time and–and
he was a writer and he wrote about Army troops. Ernie Pyle.
I: How much were you paid, at the time?
I: How much were you paid?
G: Not very much.
I: Annual salary how was it?
G: Well, the biggest part of my pay went to my wife. She–she got the biggest hunk of my pay. But, I think you get about $25 $30 a month something like that.
I: To wife. To your wife.
G: Yeah I did–she got most of it, yeah. And well we– we
were–actually, I’ll back up a little bit. When I was going to machinist school, I went to machinist school in Atlanta, Georgia and she came down there to live with me when I was–I lived off base when I was down there. And that was a lot like a –just like a honeymoon for us. And we lived about a mile off base. I had my car down there with me. And she worked–she transferred her job down to–down to Atlanta.
G: And she was working during the day time and–
I: Where did she work?
G: She worked for Prudential Life Insurance Company. She just was able to transfer he car down–her work down there and stay with me.
G: And that was basically our honeymoon down there
I: Have you been back to Korea?
I: So now, you have a vivid memory of Korea in 1952.
G: In 1952.
I: Miserable place. You said it was a strange.
You know Korean economy
G: Oh yeah.
I: And Korean democracy right?
G: Oh yeah.
I: What do you know and how do you contrast this? How do you compare that? Can you put it into perspective?
G: there’s no comparison to the–there’s no compares it’s more like our country here. Korea is now the–and it’s a because of the war there the people in the south have freedom they have freedom. And by the way I know one of the girls, she was a 9 year-old girl,
Therese Park. You know, you’ve heard the name, Therese Park. She lives here in Kansas City, she was a 9 year-old girl in South Korea at the time the war broke out.
G: And she has written three books. And I have all three of them. And one about the life when she was young and–and then the title of one is The Rooster Crows at Midnight. The other one is about the girls, young girls, being taken by the Japanese and made–
I: Comfort women.
G: Comfort women out of them.
I: And she writes about that in one book. And then the other one is basically Korean, you know. But she lives here in Kansas City. She used to play in the symphony orchestra, the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, she’s quite talented. She plays the cello. And I see her from time to time. She’s a nice gal. Nice woman. She’s married and living here in Kansas City area. Therese Parks.
I: When did you leave Korea?
G: I left Korea in a plane with my leg torn up and a sprained right ankle. And I couldn’t hardly stand up. I could just barely stand up. I spent a week–week in the hospital down there in Taegu I believe is the name, Taegu. And then I spent 30 days in the
141stGeneral Hospital in Fukuoka, Japan. And when I landed in–when we landed in Fukuoka Japan, that was in the following year, because I know when it was the yank–I was–I’m a baseball nut and I was listening to the–to the World Series at the time and the Yankees were playing the Dodgers, I believe, in the old Aud in New York. And one of the doctors that was looking after me, that was in Korea,
was a doctor by the name of Dr. Bobby Brown. He was at one time a third baseman for the Ro–for the Yankees. So we had a little conversation. He heard me listening he was—I was listening to the ball game and he kind of talked to me a little bit. He didn’t–I didn’t know at the time that he was a –and he told me he was so–. We were getting a rebroadcast of the–of the ball game it wasn’t as it was happening. And I was listening to that and–
over in the hospital in Japan, that was in Korea, in the hospital in Fukuoka, Japan took about oh about two weeks I was totally in the bed like I could barely get up. And then I started moving around a bit and then walking with crutches. And then after about 30 days, I began to walk pretty good.
Doctor Major Duffy was my physician. And he said I’m gonna put you on a 30 day rest and recuperation leave to–in Japan. You can go anywhere you want to. And I didn’t have much money and I to–called a train up to Kokura again, where I had spent two R&Rs. I’d met one of the guys that I’d played–while I was on R&R I met one of the guys that I was in
machine school with, he was stationed up there. So, I stayed with him for those 30 days. And visiting around Kokura during the day time, walked around, and–and got to know a little bit about Japan and–
I: When did you leave Korea?
G: I left Korea in–I don’t remember the exact date, but the world–the World Series was going on at that time
I: So what’s the month?
G: Yeah, it was in the fall, yeah
I Fall of 19–
G: in the fall of ’92–’82
’52. Fall of ’52.
I: Fall of ’52?
G: Yeah and I got home–
I: So, it was September or October?
G: It was about September somewhere around there. But they had to–
I: And tell me about this. What do you think about whole thing that happened to you? Korea, you didn’t know nothing about it.
G: Didn’t know nothing about it.
I: You went there. Korea was miserable. Now, you know, Korea is one of the 11thlargest economy in the world.
G: I know it is.
I: What–how do you express this?
How do you characterize this?
G: I think it–you know I’ve wondered why we were over there. And you look now and you know why we were over there. People have the freedom there– over there they have the same freedom that we do. And this jack bird in the North wants to take it away from them. He wants to enslave South Korea again. I’m–I have mixed feelings about that I–I think that they were–
it was a good thing that we did that–tremendous thing, but it’s hard for me to deal with the fact that we lost so many guys, GI’s over there. You know there was more people killed in Korea in 3 years than there were killed in Vietnam in 10.
I: 10 years, yep.
G: And people don’t realize that and we were treated not too kindly when we got back to the states. I remember getting–I was had about 3 months left
in my military before I could get a discharge and they stationed me down at Camp Crowder, Missouri. And I was giving tests then at the –to new inductees and grading them. We had an aut–IBM machine that automatically grade them just shove them in there. And I while I was down there I took the test again just to see what I could do on it. I improved my score a little bit, but not a lot more. But that was a fun thing to do while I was down there.
And I had a lot of–my wife came down there to be with me and we had Monday Tuesday and Wednesday that we were doing this, Thursday Friday and–and I was with my–living off base. I was living off base in a camp ground and I really got to know my wife again. And we–we–we read a lot of books. We had access to a library and read a lot of books.
I: So, what do you think is the legacy of the
Korean War and your service?
G: Well, at the time, I didn’t think it was a good thing, but Harry Truman did a tremendous thing to that. Look at the freedom they have. Freedom is–is not free. And a lot of people lost their lives doing that and I think it was a good thing, but looking when I was over there I didn’t think that way. But now.
I: Are you proud of your service?
Yeah. For a long, long, time I –the best thing I’ve done since I’ve come out is joining this organization because it bothered me a long time why and the best thing I had is–is a bunch of other guys that went through similar stuff to me and I wouldn’t–I wouldn’t trade that for anything. These guys are all my friends.
I: You told me that your grandson is going to go to Korea?
I: What’s going on? Tell me about it? What’s his name and
What he’s doing?
G: He’s a relative, he’s not really my grandson he’s my grand–grand nephew, my grandnephew. He is quite talented in music, with music and he plays a cello, a bass, kind of a bass instrument and his orchestra from Dallas, he lives in Dallas, and he’s going over there. And I don’t know the date, but but it’s not going to be very far from now but he was there–I in there talking to him yesterday.
He didn’t know the exact date yet, but they’re all scheduled to go to Korea as a–as a–as a group and they’re going to sing over there perform for somebody. And–
I: Isn’t that wonderful? The country you saved, now your grandnephew is going there.
G: Well, yeah. Yeah it is. And he’s quite talented. He’s about 6 foot tall. Nice guy. We spent some time with him yesterday and he played four numbers for us, my wife and I. And
he’s a nice kid. His–his father is my–got to be pretty wealthy. He–I’ll tell you a little bit about him. When he– he’s quite talented and he plays in the Dallas Orchestra, my–my nephew, he plays in Dallas Orchestra, bass filin– bass violin. But he about–he won a musical scholarship to SMU.
And while he was down there he met two guys that were Vietnam veterans and they bankrolled it. They wanted to start a company that does background checks on people and while they were–he went to detective school to start this company up and they bankrolled it. Well, about 15 years ago, they wanted their money out of it and some New York firm wanted to buy it out and they bought–bought it out and it made them all multimillionaires.
G: All–all–all three of them multimillionaires and they hired him back to run it. So, that’s why he’s still in Dallas and that was his son that’s so talented with it. They all-the whole family is talented in music.
I: Thank you for sharing that. Any other specific episode of your battle experience in Korea that you want to share with us?
G: Well, I’m going to tell you about the little boy in the lumber yard. Now, I think I’ve mentioned that a little bit, but we became one of those–
Those guys and the rescuing of the pilot we–okay…
I: Keep talking, please.
G: We got him–we got him out of there and I–I don’t know–I don’t know where he-where he is today, but I hope he’s still alive. So…
I: Thank you very much.
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