Korean War Legacy Project

Gerald Land


Gerald Jake Land Sr. was drafted into the Korean War and he arrived in Incheon with the 40th infantry division, 224th infantry regiment while being stationed in the front lines of Heartbreak Ridge as a part of the Howell Company of heavy weapons, as well as the Punchbowl area.  His specialty was driving a military jeep with a “105” Recolis Rifle that was mounted on the rear end of the Jeep.  He was also assigned to a 50-caliber and 30-caliber Browning machine gun on an outpost in the Kumwa Valley.  Gerald Land was awarded the CIB, The Korean Service award, Good Conduct, and UN Service medal for his commitments. He left Korea after the ceasefire in 1953, and says that he went home to Long Island to surprise his folks that he was home.  The most memorable experience of the war for him was the “Cease fire,” which he says with quotation marks.  What impacted him the most was, “being able to help Korean people” and helping them “keep the ‘Commies’ out of their country.”

Video Clips

Bayonet Checks "Across His Neck"

Gerald Land admitted he had never heard of Korea before he was sent and he described his Marine friend, Bill Carroll, of Fox Company, who Gerald Land thought had been wiped out at the "Frozen Chosin." Bill Carroll managed to survive after being shot by laying on the ground pretending to be dead during "bayonet checks". His friend recalled the bayonet sliding across his neck, but he survived and woke up on the hospital ship even though he wanted to go back with his Company. A soldiers' best advice was, "don't get captured!"

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Cheongcheongang (River),Chinese,Cold winters,Fear,Front lines,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Weapons

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Live or Come Home In A Box

Gerald Land described how long the journey was from California to Japan which was a total of 14 days. When he arrived in Yokohama, Japan, they were picking up more soldiers to take to Korea and he stumbled upon an old high school friend (yelling down from the top of the ship to the deck). They had some time to talk about why he was in Japan, and his friend said he had gone AWOL while in the Air Force because of a girl he wanted to be with in Japan, but was located and brought to trial. He was given a choice: go to Fort Leavenworth to serve a 4-year sentence or be sent to Korea with the 40th Division. "Live and your record is wiped clean or come home in a box."

Tags: Civilians,Fear,Living conditions,Personal Loss,Rest and Relaxation (R&R),Women

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Government Issued (G.I.) Gear

When they arrived at Inchon, Gerald Land had to wear khakis and a short sleeve shirt in the middle of the winter while traveling to Chuncheon. Once the soldiers arrived at Chuncheon, they were given two pairs of long underwear, a towel, soap, brush, pants, fatigues, field jacket, and pile lined jacket (no overcoat). The men were also given a M-1 Rifle w/ bandolier, cartridges, and a helmet.

Tags: Chuncheon,Cold winters,Front lines,Living conditions,Weapons

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Homesick Soldiers

Gerald Land described how he felt in December 1952 on Heartbreak Ridge in the middle of the winter. An Army loudspeakers would play Christmas carols and a woman would be telling stories back home of your girlfriend cheating on you with your best friend. He also recalled a time shortly after New Years when one of the guys started firing his weapon by making a series of shots that sounded funny and the Patton tank at the base of that mountain fired a round which it lifted their spirits. He said he felt very homesick.
He ment

Tags: 1951 Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, 9/13-10/15/,Gangneung,Cold winters,Depression,Front lines,Home front,Living conditions,Weapons,Women

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Gerald Land's First Encounter with North Koreans

Gerald Land described how his Company Commander and his Sergeant were at an Outpost at Kumwha Valley for 3 days for 3 nights with no sleep. They barricaded themselves with barbed wire and hung C-ration containers so if anything hit the wire, it would make a sound, and the men knew where to shoot. Gerald Land spoke often of rats crawling around touching the C-rations, but it did alert him when the North Koreans were near.

Tags: 1953 Sieges of Outpost Harry, 6/10-18,Pyungyang,Chinese,Fear,Food,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,Physical destruction

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War Is Hell: My First Kill

Gerald Land recalled when he was shot by North Koreans for the first time, and how terrible he felt knowing that he was tearing the enemy to pieces with his gun. As a Methodist, he carried a prayer book around and prayed for guidance/forgiveness for his time in the war. He also hoped and prayed that he would make it home safe to his family.

Tags: 1953 Sieges of Outpost Harry, 6/10-18,Pyungyang,Chinese,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Weapons

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Forgotten War

Gerald Land was disgraced by the term police action instead of calling the Korean War, a war. He was also upset that people, particularly educators, didn't know anything about the war when he came home. With so many people who risked their lives for the people of South Korea and to label it the way people have, is just awful.

Tags: Civilians,Depression,Home front,Impressions of Korea,Message to Students,Pride,Prior knowledge of Korea,South Koreans

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Released POWs Had a Blank Stare In Their Eyes

Panmunjom was the site of disembarkation at the time when Gerald Land left in September of 1953. He came across American soldiers who had been held as Prisoners of War. Gerald Land was overcome by sadness when he saw how sick the POWs looked. They just stared into space and this made Gerald Land reflect how lucky he was to come out alive. He couldn't imagine the type of torture those men had been put through.

Tags: 1953 Armistice 7/27,Panmunjeom,Depression,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,POW

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Don't Take Life For Granted

Gerald Land left the interview with advice for the listeners. Don't take life for granted, buckle down, get out to get a job, and earn what you get. Don't expect handouts and work your way to the top. He also said the technology that kids have today isn't completely necessary to live a good life. Working hard is the way to go!

Tags: Civilians,Home front,Message to Students,Pride,Prior knowledge of Korea

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Video Transcript


[Beginning of recorded material]



Gerald Land:   It’s Gerald, G-E-R-A-L-D; the middle name is ‘S’; and, uh, last name is capital ‘L’ as in ‘Larry,’ ‘A’ as in ‘Anna,’ ‘N’ as in ‘Nancy,’ and ‘D’ as in ‘Donald.’


Male Voice:    Land


Gerald Land:   Land, lots of land



Male Voice:    [laughter]  Alright. So, when were you born?


Gerald Land:   April 14, 1931



Male Voice:    31 . . . and where were you born?



Gerald Land:   In, uh, Long Island and that’s Bayshore at Southside hospital; it’s a big hospital. It’s probably much bigger now because they added on, you know. My mom and dad lived on Long Island in Smithtown, NY



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.  So, what school did you . . .?



Gerald Land:   I went to Smithtown Branch High School.



Male Voice:    And when did you graduate?



Gerald Land:   I did not graduate


Male Voice:    Oh.



Gerald Land:   Yeah. The draft came along and, uh, out I went. I got drafted



Male Voice:    So you got drafted, do you remember when was your drafted?



Gerald Land:   Oh, I think in uh, oh let’s see, um, I think it had to be. . .’51 or close to ’52, yeah, ’cause I arrived in Korea in ’52, November and, uh, yeah, I think it was around ’51 or ’52



Male Voice:    drafted?



Gerald Land:   drafted, yes.



Male Voice:    Did you know anything about Korea at the time?



Gerald Land:  No, nothing. We heard. I had a friend that I went to high school with, his name was Bill Carroll and he was in the Marines and he was in that company– fox company–that was wiped out in the frozen chosen reservoir. But he didn’t die; he got wounded. And, uh, he says that “there was a lot of enemy” and, uh, “we were cold, very, very cold.” And, uh, “guns were freezing,” “guys fingers were freezing,” everybody was freezing. Yeah, and he got shot. And he played dead. And he felt a bayonet go across his neck like this. And, uh, he just laid there; he didn’t move. Because that’s what they were doing. They were running over them and bayoneting our guys.  Yeah, and, uh….



Male Voice:    But he survived?



Gerald Land:   Yeah, he survived and woke up in the hospital ship and he wanted to go back. He wanted to go back to his company. But he was wounded twice and once you could go back, twice–depended on the wounds–you know . . .


Male Voice:    So, he returned and told you about Korea?



Gerald Land:   Yeah. He told me and I hadn’t gone into the service at the time. He told me, “Don’t get captured.”



Male Voice:    Where did you go to receive basic military training?



Gerald Land:   I went to Camp Brackenridge, KY to receive sixteen weeks of heavy weapons training.




Male Voice:    in weapons



Gerald Land:   And they trained us on the 75 recoilless rifle



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.



Gerald Land:   The 81 mortar, the 4.2, and uh, the uh, Bazooka, Browning 50 machine gun, the Watercool 30 machine gun–which froze when we were over there, the 30 caliber machine gun, and the M1 rifle and I spent 16 weeks there.  I got there in May and we didn’t graduate until, let’s see . . .May, June, July, August, September–around–September, yes. From there . . .



Male Voice:    So, ’52?



Gerald Land:   ’52, yes. So, from there, we went home. We got a thirty-day leave and then I received my orders, which was the Far East [unintelligible] and, uh, my dad and my brother took me to La Guardia field and I flew from La Guardia to California.



Male Voice:    What do you mean? You took the civil–



Gerald Land:   Civilian, yes.



Male Voice:    Civilian aircraft?



Gerald Land:   Yes.



Male Voice:    How come? Did they pay you?



Gerald Land:   No.



Male Voice:    Then why’d you–



Gerald Land:   No, no, no– yes, they did. But at that time, they had to get, uh, they didn’t have the jets, big jet aircr–they had propeller-driven . . . We took a, I think it was a…one of the old C47s they used for paratroopers. We took off in a thunderstorm. And uh–



Male Voice:    So, you didn’t take the civilian aircraft but military?



Gerald Land:   No, it wasn’t military, it was civilian.



Male Voice:    And that civilian was C-54?



Gerald Land:   No, it was a, uh, C-47



Male Voice:    C-47



Gerald Land:   the old paratrooper planes


00: 05:35

Male Voice:    I see.



Gerald Land:   Yeah.



Male Voice:    I never heard of the Korean war veteran who took the flight, the civilian flight from La Guardia to California because most of them drive or take the train; I never heard about taking civilian airplane.



Gerald Land:   Yeah, my dad, I think got the tickets for me.


00: 05:55

Male Voice:    But military pay them?


00: 05:58

Gerald Land:   Yes, yes, yes.



Male Voice:    So, where did you go from there?



Gerald Land:   I went to– we flew to Burbank, and then we had to fly from Burbank to Camp Stoneman in California.



Male Voice:    So you were army but you had to like, you know, you took the series of airplanes…



Gerald Land:   [laughter] yeah, yeah . . . Burbank was nice! Yeah, that was beautiful there. Then we had to take a flight from Burbank to Camp Stoneman, in California. And we had to stay there, and– I’ll tell you a little story about that one. Yeah [laughter]… We were there, and uh, we decided we wanted to go off-base, you know. So, me and these other two guys said, “C’mon, let’s take a chance and we’ll take the bus and get down to ‘Frisco, go see a titty joint, you know? [laughter]



Male Voice:    What is that?



Gerald Land:   Well, girls [laughter]. So, we go in this place and we get a table and we sittin’ down there and all of a sudden in comes these two MPs and I look at my buddy there and he looks at me–



Male Voice:    Were you in uniform?



Gerald Land:   Yes. Yes, we were. And he says, “Uh-oh.” [laughter] “I think we’re in deep… we’re in deep.. yeah, I know…don’t say it” [laughter]. And they come over to us …”C’mon fellas, gotta go.” “Argh, c’mon Serg, we’re going to Korea– give us a break will ya? I mean, you know? We want to see some girls.” “Not tonight boys–c’mon, let’s go.” I said, I said to the Serg out there on the sidewalk “c’mon, c’mon, give us a break. Put us on the bus, promise we’ll go back to base. “Ok, being that you’re going over there, we’ll give you a break. But you’ve got to get on the bus because I’m gonna stand right here and watch you get on the bus.” “Ok, Serg. Ok.” And we got on the bus and went back to camp. And from there we got on the ship.



Male Voice:    Finally, you are on the ship, not on the airplane.



Gerald Land:   [laughter] . . .yeah, finally, we got on the ship, and, uh, it took us fourteen days to get there.



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.



Gerald Land:   Yeah.



Male Voice:    Where did you go?



Gerald Land:   We went to Yokohama, Japan and, uh, we were taking more soldiers on the ship and I’m, uh–



Male Voice:    –from Japan?



Gerald Land:   –from Japan and I’m looking over the railing and I see a guy I went to high school with down on the dock with an M1 strapped on his back and I yelled to him, I said, “Freddy! Freddy [Knapp]!” He g–, “Hi [Jake]!” I thought, “the hell are you doing in the army uniform? I thought you were in Airforce.” “Longstory!” [laughter]



Well it comes to that, when he got on ship, he got up to me, we shook hands, he said that he was in the Airforce, and he had good rank, he was a mechanic. But he went AWOL with a Japanese girl for thirty days and they caught up with him and they gave him, they brought him back to his base and he had to go to trial and they gave him two choices.  One choice, the 40th Division, is going to Korea. The second, is Leavenworth for four years. Now, if you want to, we’re going to give you this privilege, you can go to Korea. If you make it out of there, everything is wiped clear. If you don’t, well, that’s it.  Well, we’ll bring you home in a box. So, he took 40th Division.



Male Voice:    [laughter]



Gerald Land:   Yep, so, we  . . . I think we had, we had to go to I think it was Camp Drake, Japan, we hadda have a briefing on what to expect when we got there



Male Voice:    Tell me about that contents of the briefing; what did they tell you?



Gerald Land:   Well, they said, they told us about this, uh, ‘capturing’ you know? They told us, they, uh, told us about this young fella, and he was there, that escaped. And the way he did it is he hid in a river. And he put the straw up underneath the water; he laid in the weeds underneath the water and he breathed through the straw. He had to do that during the day. And at night he’d get out of the water and start running, and uh these civilians found him and got him back to his regiment. And he lost a lot of weight.



When, uh, when US Army guys picked him up, at the civilian camp, he weighed 90 lbs. Yeah, he was very thin.



Male Voice:    So, where did you arrive, in Korea?



Gerald Land:   In the, Incheon. But we had an anchor out in the bay because they can’t go in. Uh-they could go in so far at high tide and then they had to take us in on landing barges and the barge could only go in so far. And we had to get off the barge and walk in. And we had, uh, khakis on and combat boots and, uh.



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm. . . Summer-wear?



Gerald Land:   Summer wear! Yeah. And, uh, they put us on trucks and took us up to Chuncheon.



Male Voice:    Oh.



Gerald Land:   And there, they issued us, uh, two pairs of long underwear and, uh, uh let’s see they gave us a towel and uh they gave us a bar of soap. It wasn’t Dove, or Ivory, or anything like that. [laughter] And a brush. And they gave us pants, fatigues, and uh, they gave us field jacket, and uh, I think we got a pile liner, I’m not sure. They gave us–they didn’t give us any overcoats or anything like that. They gave us our M1s, a bandolier, that had all the cartridges in it, and a helmet, and we had to get on these trucks and they took us up to the– as far as they could–they couldn’t go any further. They took us up to Heartbreak Ridge.



Male Voice:    Oh,



Gerald Land:   And, uh, we had to get off and walk up. I remember walking up a hill. And we walked up to the line and we had to report to this black fellow who was a Sergeant and the Colonel, and he’s looking at all of us, he says, “Where’s the rest of you guys?” “You’re looking at ’em; you’re lookin’ at us, sir.” [imitates Sergeant looking around] “Argh! I’m supposed to get 245 guys!” [laughter] One of the guys says “Surprise!” [laughter]



Male Voice:    [laughter]



Gerald Land:   Oh, my God. He s’, “What happened to the rest of you guys?” “Oh, they all went to Europe. You got the choice few.”



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.



Gerald Land:   And he looks at me, he says, “How old are you, son?”



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.



Gerald Land:   “Nineteen, sir.” “Nineteen? You don’t look any older than ten.” [laughter]



Male Voice:    [laughter]



Gerald Land:   “Alright, you go with the Sergeant here.” So, I was assigned to this Tennessee sergeant. And he found out that I was from NY. And those Southerners don’t like New Yorkers. And he says, “Outta all the people in the US army, they gotta give me a Yankee? [laughter] I said, “Yeah. You’re stuck with me, Serg.”



Male Voice:    Tell me about the typical day at the Heartbreak, uh, Ridge.



Gerald Land:   Typical day was cold. Okay? And they issued us a case of c-rations. And I was assigned to the Sergeant and he took me up to a bunker. The trench was eight feet deep. You could walk in this trench, you had to duck a little bit; and the bunkers were protruding out; they were log bunkers. Sandbag bunkers, with chicken-wire across the front. So, if the enemy threw a hand grenade, or whatever, it would bounce off and go down the hill.


00:16:33          And I was assigned to a Browning 50 machine gun, with this Sergeant.



Male Voice:    Wasn’t that heavy?



Gerald Land:   No, it was mounted. It was mounted in the bunker, on, uh, on this ledge. And it was sandbagged in because, you know, it was a heavy machine gun. And the gun kept jammin’ on us. It wouldn’t fire, it would only fire single shots. We had to fire, every other round was a tracer. So, we had to line the gun up with the, with the uh enemy across, then we had to have armor piercing in there. Armor piercing, tracer, armor piercing, tracer.



And then, it jammed on us at night. We had trouble with the links. The links would jam the gun. If you recall that when B17s flew over Korea, they had web belts. ‘Cause they had trouble with those Browning 50s, too. So they switched to web belts, instead of link. And we got gifted with the links.


00:18:03          So, we had to pull this gun out of the aperture, out of the hole, we had to clear it, we pulled it out, and put it on the bunker floor. Now, no lights. You couldn’t use a cigarette lighter or anything like that; it was all by feel. We had to take it apart. We did that in basic training; took it apart, they put a blind fold on you, you took it apart, you put it back together again. That was a long time ago.


00:18:39          And, this Sergeant, he did it, and I helped him. I took the parts.  “Gimme that! This is the problem. You threw it away; what are you doing, Serg? You don’t want to throw nothing away.” “Don’t worry about it!” He put it back together again.


00:19:00          Well, it worked. But . . . the gun wouldn’t stop firing.




Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.  [laughter]



So, did you have many encounter with the North Koreans or the Chinese?



Gerald Land:   Well, we didn’t, they were mostly North Koreans.



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.



Gerald Land:   We didn’t really get into the Chinese yet.



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.



Gerald Land:   We had mostly North Koreans. But they would fire flares and light up the whole countryside. And they’d try to attack us at night. And we held them off. We had a lot of fire power up there.



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.  So, you engaged in that battle many times?



Gerald Land:   Yeah.  Well . . . quite a few.



Male Voice:    Tell me about it on the specific night that you remember about it specifically.



Gerald Land:   It was cold.



Male Voice:    I know. [laughter]



Gerald Land:   [laughter] Very very cold.



Male Voice:    Was it only 1953 or are you still talking about December of 1952?



Gerald Land:   No, it was in December of ’52. Very cold and, uh, they played Christmas carols. And then they had this girl on the PA system.



Male Voice:    What do you mean PA system?



Gerald Land:   Well, uh, loudspeaker.



Male Voice:    Okay.



Gerald Land:   And she’d be sayin’, “Your girl back home would be going out with your best friend and stuff like that.



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.



Gerald Land:   You know. And, well, Christmas time was pretty bad. You know, it’s tough, Christmas time.



Male Voice:    Why?



Gerald Land:   Well, you know–



Male Voice:    –you want to be back home



Gerald Land:   Yeah, you want to be back home. You know, and they’re playing Christmas carols out there and Christmas music



Male Voice:    It’s a horrible time, right?



Gerald Land:   Yeah, it really is; it’s a tough time. You know and then, of course, New Year’s, you know, it’s all quiet. So, a couple of the jokers on our side, they start, they’re playing the . . . all kinds of old fashioned music, you know, and, uh, trying to get us homesick and everything. And so one guy up there he goes and he fires a couple of rounds and another guy down below–can I explain what it sounded like?



Male Voice:    Yeah.



Gerald Land:   “Boom-boo-dah-boom-boom! BOOM! BOOM! Boom-boo-dah-boom-boom!” Then the, uh, [batton] tank down below, uh, and the valley would go, “BUH-OOM!” [laughter] Yeah, so. That kind of lightened up the atmosphere a little bit.



Male Voice:    Yeah.



Gerald Land:   But it was very cold. And, you know, we didn’t have the proper attire. And, uh, they came and brought us the Mickey Mouse boots.



Male Voice:    Yeah.



Gerald Land:   Those boots were alright but your feet would sweat in them. And then, if you took your feet out, your feet would freeze. So, there was no happy medium. You could put on your combat boots and your feet would be cold; or you could put on the Mickey Mouse boots.



I think, uh, December and January were the bad months up there. Is kinda was, towards February was very cold but then it started to warm up a little bit



Male Voice:    Did you have any specific encounter with North Korean soldiers, enemies?



Gerald Land:   Well, yes, and no. My, uh, company commander took me and the Sergeant off the gun; we had to go out to the outpost and that was in Gumla Valley. And we were out there for three days and three nights with no sleep; you didn’t sleep out there. And we thought we heard them sneaking up on us. We had barbed wire stretched out in front of our gun emplacement with cans, c-ration cans, hooked up to her. And if they hit those c-ration cans it would make a “tinkle-tinkle.”



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.



Gerald Land:   And sometimes the rats would be out there, too, you know. And they tried to get up close; but when they hit the cans, they backed off. That was the closest encounter I had with a, with a Chinese soldier, North Korean.



Male Voice:    Do you remember when you killed North Korean?



Gerald Land:   Excuse me?



Male Voice:    Do you remember the moment you killed, ever killed, North Korean?



Gerald Land:   It was at night.



Male Voice:    So, you couldn’t see it?



Gerald Land:   I couldn’t see it. Uh, they–



Male Voice:    You just shoot a lot, right? You just shot at them?



Gerald Land:   Yup. Yes, I did.



Male Voice:    What is it feel like, working on the machine gun? When you firing at them continuously?



Gerald Land:   Well, it’s a terrible feeling because you’re killing another person, you know? And, uh, it’s terrible, you know. They’re out there and they’re getting hit by these bullets that are tearing you to pieces, you know? And you wonder how they feel. You know? It’s hard. It’s tough.



Male Voice:    Yeah.



Gerald Land:   I had a prayer book with me and I had it in my pocket, here, and I used to take it out and–



Male Voice:    You Christian there?



Gerald Land:   Yeah, well, Methodist. I used to talk to the Lord. I told him I wanna ask for forgiveness for all the sins I did and, uh, try to help me out, you know? Keep me safe, so I can go home. You know, I was scared; I was scared. I don’t care–everybody was scared up there. We were all young. We were kids. But we were trained; we were trained to kill.



And we were told, “They’re gonna kill you. So, you gonna get it in the back of your head. You gotta kill him. You know, or whatever they were. You know, it’s a hard war. War is hell, wherever it is. It’s tough.



Male Voice:    You said it was hell and you were scared; and you said it’s a war, right? But, American president said it’s a police action, some say it’s a conflict, right?



Gerald Land:   Yes.



Male Voice:    What do you think about that?



Gerald Land:   Well, we didn’t have any time to think; we were there.



Male Voice:    Now, what do you think about that?



Gerald Land:   Now?



Male Voice:    Yeah.



Gerald Land:   Well, I think they should’ve told us when we were up there, maybe they didn’t wanna because it would break our morale



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.



Gerald Land:   And, uh, that’s one thing they didn’t want to happen.



Male Voice:    No, it’s a war, if it is war they should told you it’s a war



Gerald Land:   Yeah, it’s a war.



Male Voice:    Not police action.



Gerald Land:   Police action? We never heard o’ –We heard, we heard stories about that, “police action.” [laughter] oh, yeah, oh boy! Yeah.



Male Voice:    So, what do you want to say to the politicians and the people who said that it’s a ‘forgotten war,’ or ‘Korean Conflict?’



Gerald Land:   Yeah. That’s terrible, ‘a forgotten war.’ You know, people didn’t even know that was, war was going on.  I spoke to high school kids



Male Voice:    Oh, you are in the working Tell America Program?



Gerald Land:   no, no. I worked in a high school.



Male Voice:    Oh, okay.



Gerald Land:   Okay, in my civilian life I worked in a high school. And I used to talk to the social studies teacher. And he said to me, “well we used to bring it up every once in a while,” and I said to him, “every once in a while? Do you realize how many people were- how many young people were killed in that war?”  “No! I didn’t realize.” I said, “Well, maybe you outta look it up, sir.”



We lost 56 thousand young people. Guys that had families, some guys were 17, 16 years old, they lied about their age so they could go in and fight for their country. And then you tell them this gossip story about it being a ‘police action.’  Can you imagine? What would go on in your mind, sir? Yeah, you know? Put yourself in their shoes.



Male Voice:    Yeah.



Gerald Land:   How would you like it? How would you like it if somebody told you, “hey, guess what? They’re calling this a police action.” [laughter]



Male Voice:    And they asked you been when you return to the home, right?



Gerald Land:   Yeah. So, yeah. They were wondering where I was for twenty-four months. I was in the service, in the military. I had to go to war. I had to go to Korea. A ‘forgotten war.’ You know? And, they couldn’t get over that.




I just told one of the gentlemen out here that, you know when that really came up, about that ‘forgotten war’, is this young fella that went to a high school in NJ and he was a sports guy. And he, he played all kinds of sports, everything,  and he got all kinds of medals and everything.



He enlisted and went in the Marine Corps and he got killed in action in Korea. Nobody knew about this young fella. I forget what his name was. It might have been ‘Stillwell’ or something to do . . . ‘Still . . . ‘ ‘Stillweld’ or something like that.



It came back to their high school and one of the kids said “Oh, my God! Sergeant Stew, he went to our high school. And they got a big, big monument. And a plaque. And they put it out in their showcase out in their high school hall. They had a big ceremony for him. They had all kinds of dignitaries there. And they put this high school on the map. And this one gentleman said, “Remember, this one fella was killed in the Forgotten War.



Male Voice:    Yeah, yeah.  When do you leave Korea?



Gerald Land:   I think, ’53 of September. We rotated, we went to Panmunjom first. We saw the prisoner exchange.



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.



Gerald Land:   And, you know, it was a very upsetting thing to see.



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.



Gerald Land:   A lot of these fellas looked like patients from a hospital. They’d sit a’ table and they’d be staring at, uh, emptiness.



Male Voice:    How often did you go to the Panmunjom?



Gerald Land:   Well, that was our area to disembark at that time.



Male Voice:    Oh, okay. Right, yeah.



Gerald Land:   And, uh, we were fortunate that we got out of there alive. These poor devils. They were captured and God knows what they did to them; brainwashed ’em, and tortured ’em, and starved ’em, you know, and it was upsetting.



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.



Gerald Land:   You know? Our guys, you know? I’m sure that we didn’t treat their people like that. Yeah. Tough war.



Male Voice:    And then you left Korea, uh, September 1953?



Gerald Land:   Yes.



Male Voice:    So, you were there when the Armistice was signed?



Gerald Land:   Yes, I was.



Male Voice:    Do you remember the day that it was signed?



Gerald Land:   Nah, uh, no, not really. It was, I know they were very happy after, uh, you know, uh.



Male Voice:    Yeah.



Gerald Land:   Everybody was happy.



Male Voice:    You didn’t know?



Gerald Land:   We, uh, they kinda shuttled us outta there quick-like.



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.



Gerald Land:   You know? There was too many, uh, dignitaries there and, uh, camera people and they put us on a truck and said, “C’mon guys, you gotta go.”



Male Voice:    Wbat was the most difficult thing during your service?



Gerald Land:   Well, I think, enduring that cold. So, I was born on Long Island. We used to have cold winters. Very cold winters. You know? And I did a lot of outside work. I used to shovel snow for the town. And I always worked outside. And I worked landscaping in the summer and digging trees and, uh, shoveling snow in the winter, you know? It was tough. Went to high school and, um, didn’t stay there long. You know.



Male Voice:    But it was colder than that?



Gerald Land:   Yep. Korea was colder than Long Island. I met a fella from North Dakota [laughter] and he says, “You know, I’ve been cold, but, Damn! This place is colder than North Dakota and I thought that was the coldest damn place in the world.” Yeah, ah, Jesus



Male Voice:    Um, you know that now Korea and the United States celebrating 60 years anniversary of the alliance, military alliance,



Gerald Land:   Yes.



Male Voice:    And, what, we have free trade agreements; the relationship can’t be any better than this. What do you think about this? You know Korea, what happened after you left, right? Economy and democracy and–



Gerald Land:   Yeah, it all built up.



Male Voice:    What do you think about those and what do you think about your service for the Korean nation?



Gerald Land:   Well, I think we did something for them. We got ’em their freedom. And they built up their cities. They’re living nice. And, uh, it was nice to see them getting something that we fought for and helped them build up their country. You know. It gave ’em, uh, freedom. And that they don’t have to worry about being under, uh, communist, uh, rule.



Male Voice:    Mm-hmm.



Gerald Land:   And I felt bad for the civilians because civilians are the ones that suffer. They suffer the wars. They have to go through all this. We had to fight around them. And they kept on raising their rice paddies, you know, doing their jobs and taking care of their kids, and finally living a halfway decent life.



And we built a high school over there for ’em, the 40th Division did.



Male Voice:    Uh, huh.



Gerald Land:   We built a high school and they have a university there now and they have a football team and they have bands; in fact, I think that they were at the Tattoo, in Norfolk, recently.




Male Voice:    Oh, really?



Gerald Land:   They had a drum court there and they were very good.  Yeah.



Male Voice:    They came here?



Gerald Land:   I think they did, yeah. I think they did. I’m sure I read that. I’m sure I read that. I know they do get involved in drum and bugle corps. They’re very talented. You know. They’re very smart, very smart kids.




Male Voice:    What do you want to say to the young generation in America about your experience and about general things about the war?



Gerald Land:   Well, don’t take everything for granted. You know. Don’t go to Mom and Pop after you get out of high school and you can’t make it. You gotta buckle down, get a job, and don’t ask for the top pay. Earn it. Earn it.  I hadda earn it.



And all these gadgets you got today, we didn’t have that. We didn’t have anything like that. The only reason my Dad and Mom got a telephone in the house was because of me. I joined the fire department and I hadda have a telephone in case they wanted to get ahold of me.



And I went to work and I think every kid today and they’re standing there and wanting it handed to them in hand and fist. Go out and earn it. Help them out, help Mom and Pop out. Don’t go home and live with ’em and live off them. Get off your butt and go to college. Go to school. Get an education. Get off the street corner with a piece of paper, “I’m homeless.” That don’t go with me, if you can work. If you’ve got two hands and two feet, get out and go to work.



Male Voice:    Any other message that you wanna, anything that you want to say about your experience in Korea? Your combat experience? Anything that you didn’t say so far?



Gerald Land:   Well, I’m proud to be an American. I’m proud. I went to war. And I’m proud that I did my part for my country. And, uh, I love my country and I hope we don’t have to go to any more wars with North Korea. And I like to see everybody, all the guys in Afghanistan come home. There’s too many young fellas over there gettin’ killed, comin’ home with no arms and legs, just beginning to live and they have no arms and legs. I’d like to see that war ended quick. And our guys come home. And, uh, that’s about all I have to say.



Male Voice:    Gerald, thank you so much for your, uh, fight and sacrifice. Because of that, there is a Korea now and our democracy and economy is strong. So, I want to thank you on behalf of Korean nation.



Gerald Land:   Thank you.



Male Voice:    And I want to present you with this certificate of Ambassador for Peace which was made by the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs



Gerald Land:   Thank you.



Male Voice:    And also, Korean Veterans Association. I wrote your name in Korean [sounds out in Korean] “Ger-al-Doo, Esuh-Lan-Doo.”



Gerald Land:   Okay.



Male Voice:    Around your chin, okay? Great, thank you.



Gerald Land:   Thank you very much.



Male Voice:    So.



Gerald Land:   My wife will like that.



Male Voice:    Gerald, thank you, again.



Gerald Land:   Thank you, sir.



Male Voice:    Thank you for the interview.



[End of recorded material]