Korean War Legacy Project

Gerald Cavagnaro


Gerald Cavagnaro’s unit was attacked and captured while serving overseas in the Korean War, forcing him into POW camps. He describes his job as a rifle operator prior to capture. He explains his experience as a POW in four different camps between November 1950-August 1953.  He describes the living conditions and daily life in the POW camps. He contrasts the challenges of life in Korea during the war to the modern sites he experienced when returning years later.

Video Clips

Captured near Pyongyang

Gerald Cavagnaro describes how his unit was cut off during an attack by the Chinese. He describes running out of ammunition. He shares how he along with 100-150 other men were captured in November in 1950. He describes a march he took to what the soldiers named "Death Valley".

Tags: Osan,Pyungyang,Chinese,Cold winters,POW,Weapons

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Release for POWs

Gerald Cavagnaro describes moving to the last POW camp. He describes being transferred by train and ambulance to the border. He explains the welcoming home by American officers but didn't see the American flag. He explains the delousing process and receiving his first real shower in thirty-three months. He shares his fingerprints, picture, and information given on a laminated card to him once he returned to the US Army.

Tags: 1953 Armistice 7/27,Living conditions,POW

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Killing Lice

Gerald Cavagnaro describes his days in a POW camp. He shares how everything was covered in lice and how they would try to kill them. He explains how other countries later had POWs added to the camp. He explains the Communist indoctrination sessions he was subjected to when there.

Tags: Chinese,Communists,Living conditions,POW

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