Glen Collins was born during the Great Depression. When his father decided to try to make a living as a farmer, he had to leave high school after just one year to help support the family. He was drafted into the Army in late 1949 and eventually spent thirteen months in Korea as a gunner in the 64th Field Artillery. He also describes his struggles with PTSD following his return from the war front.
The Ongoing Effects of PTSD
Glen Collins shares his struggles with memories of his assignment in Korea as a gunner. He describes waking up at night in tears because he has recalled his role in the loss of human life, even though his exposure to their deaths was at a distance. Although it has been over 60 years, he still struggles.
Shelter and Rations
Glen Collins recalls the hardships of war. He describes living in a pup tent. He recalls his favorite rations and the occasional hot meal.
From Not Knowing to Growing
Glen Collins describes his feelings about modern Korea. He shares how the growth is much more than he could have even imagined. He was surprised to learn that Kia is a Korean company during the interview. He shares pride in helping Korea expansive growth but shares that PTSD still bothers him.
[Beginning of Recorded Material]
GC: My name is Glen Collins. G L E N C O L L I N S.
I: What is your birthday?
I: 4/11/28. Where were you born?
GC: I was born in a little town of Statenville.
I: Could you spell it? S T A T T E N
GC: V I L L E I think, and I was born in the same log house my Dad was born in.
That ain’t no lie. I was born in the same log house my Dad was born in.
I: Tell me about your parents and your sibling when you were growing up.
GC: There was 10 of us in the family.
I: 10 of you?
GC: Yeah, and we grew up during the Depression.
I: Yeah. Tell me about the Great Depression. How was it?
GC: Yea, not good. We moved around a lot because I think my Dad, jobs were not easy to find.
And he’d find one once in a while, and then he’d. The last job he had, he was down, went to Milwaukee, worked in a creosote plant, and I’ll tell you, creosote is some wicked stuff.
GC: And then we moved a lot. I imagine that he couldn’t pay the rent, so when he couldn’t pay the rent, they’d kick him out, and then we’d find another place to live. We lived in about 40
When I grew up. So it was pretty tough going during the Depression.
I: Must be very difficult, right?
GC: Yeah, it was very difficult.
I: What school did you graduate high school?
GC: I only went one year to Orbadale High School.
I: What is it?
GC: Orbadale High School.
I: Could you spell it?
I: Orbondale, ok.
I: Orbendale High School? When was it?
GC: That was in, that had have been 1942. ’41 or, no, about 1941 or ’42.
I: No, ’44?
GC: ’41 or ’42.
I: And then you stopped, and then what happened?
GC: Well, my Dad, he wanted to start farming again, so he bought
He bought the, I think there were 9 or 12 two year-old [INAUDIBLE] stock. Well, then I had to go home after high school. It was dark already, you know, by the time I got my clothes changed and everything about 4:30, it was getting pretty dark already. And we had to go about a half a mile down the road, I had to hook a jumper up. A jumper is where, similar to a sleigh, only it’s low to the ground.
There’s planks on it, and we’d put some barrels and milk cans on there, and we had a rope, and we’d dip the pails down into the well. The well was about, I’d say it was about 20, 22’, we’d fill those up and hauling them back to the farm, and then we’d pour them, them in a tank for the cows, the heifers to drink, then we’d let the heifers loose, and they’d go drink, then we’d have to, if they don’t drink you would have to go tie them up again
because we couldn’t have them running all over the barn.. Well that was the end of that there. Then, well both brothers [INAUDIBLE] they was in the, they were in the Army. They was, my one brother, he was Military Police in Alaska, in one of the Aleutian Islands I think it was. My brother Dale was on the way over to Okinawa when, The war ended when he was, He wasn’t quite over there.
I: And when did you join, did… were you drafted or joined the Army?
GC: I still got a few slivers in here. I was pulled off of the
I: When did you join the Army?
GC: I was drafted.
I: Drafted when?
GC: 19, had to be 19, what the heck year was it? 19 started in 1950, I think it was 1949. 1949 I think it was.
I: In Amry?
GC: Late ’49
I think, I think it was in November.
I: Uh huh. And did you join the Army or drafted into Army?
I: Uh huh. And where did you get the basic training?
GC: I got, I didn’t have no basic training.
I: You didn’t?
GC: No. We went to Camp McCoy, and we did everything just once be, they needed our children in Korea. And then we went, We only did maybe two weeks. We did different things. We had meetings
in the meeting room. We didn’t get much basic training. By the time we did everything once, we went under machine gun fire once, went through fighting and [INAUDIBLE] once, just one, so it was on our record. Then we went to Advanced Artillery Training.
GC: Advanced Artillery Training.
GC: In Camp McCoy. That was all done in Camp McCoy. I can’t remember when I got over in Korea.
I: And when did you leave for Korea?
GC: I can’t remember. We was in Seattle. Our ship broke down. The Mariner Link. It was broke down, so we stayed in Fort Lawton for, well it had to be probably right around a month.
I: Fort Lewis.
GC: Fort Lewis, yeah. No, Fort Lawton.
I: And when did you leave for Korea?
GC: I can’t remember just when it was, but I was over there 13 months.
I left in August, 1952.
I: You left Korea in 1952?
GC: Yeah. And I was there 13 months till whenever that
I: 13 months?
I: Okay. So you were there at August of, no, June, 1951.
GC: They was just leaving Seoul with the [INAUDIBLE]
And where did you arrive in Korea, Inchon or Pusan?
I: And tell me about the Pusan that you saw for the first time. How was it?
GC: We didn’t get to see much of it. We got off of the ship and onto a truck, and away we went.
GC: Up to the front line.
I: Front line?
I: Uh huh. What was your unit?
GC: 64th Field Artillery.
GC: 25th Division
GC: I think that’s 8th Army, isn’t it?
I: Um hm.
I: What was your mission? What did you do in that?
GC: I was a gunner and assistant gunner on a 105. I gotta tell you this here. I gotta tell you how I made Corporal. Well, I was readjusting
the howitzer, well, there’s certain things you have to do to readjust them. Well there was somebody walking out there, see the other has the same aiming stake so you can’t see the back one, perfectly in line. Well, there was somebody walking out there, I hollered hey you, I said get over on those aiming sticks, would you? I didn’t say please, neither. And I give him the motions what he’s supposed to, what he was supposed to do, and I got it all done and he walked up to me, it was the First Lieutenant.
I was giving orders to a First Lieutenant. And he said what’s your rank, soldier? I said Private. That’s all that was said, and the next morning I was Corporal. Not an acting Corporal, a permanent rating.
GC: Because I give, supposedly he went in there and said that Private out there is giving orders, giving orders, he’s setting up the gun and the holster and everything. I was assistant gunner which was
[INAUDIBLE] for a Corporal in the first place.
GC: I did either one.
I: So where were you in the 38th parallel? Where were you?
I: Where were you?
GC: We was all over. We was what you call a bastard outfit. We didn’t support one unit. We was supporting every, we’d go back and forth across the line. We supported the English. We supported the, we even supported the Marines one time. We went over to,
I was the biggest piece all the time. We went over to Seoul. They made a little road over the mountain with a caterpillar of some kind, and we went on the other side of the mountain, and the Marines wanted to take a little hill, so we went over there and we was firing charge one to help the Marines out, and we was back and forth right there and raised [INAUDIBLE] back and forth. When they took the hill, they called us back and they said you guys did one hell of a job. We
Were a good outfit. We could have seven shells in the air at the same time with that 105.
I: Were there any dangerous moments during your survey?
GC: Oh yeah.
GC: I got the hell scared out of me a few times.
I: Yeah, tell me about that episode.
GC: Well, it was just we was firing, they’d fire, and they was firing back at us.
I: Um hm.
GC: There was one other time when we went through a dry creek bed, and they started, the enemy started shelling us, and we jumped off
And tried to make a hole in those stones, and it was all stone. But when we first got there, our outfit was being mortared. We got off the truck and scraped a hole so we’d get down below.
I: And let me ask this question. What was your impression about Korea? What did you see, and how did you feel about it?
GC: Well, I didn’t feel nothing about it. It seemed like they was behind times quite a bit.
Like the, at least 60 -70 years. Behind time with their planting and everything they was doing. That’s my impression.
I: Um hm. And did you know why you were there?
I: Why were you there?
GC: We was there to help North Koreas so they didn’t get invaded by the North Koreans.
I: Um hm.
GC: I think that was most of what it was all about.
I: And what was the most difficult thing during your service there in Korea?
GC: Killing all those people.
I: But you didn’t see you killing those people, right? You were in Artillery?
GC: I was still pulling the lanyard and
still firing the gun. We, I imagine with that VT fuels we killed a lot of people.
GC: And that… that still bothers me today.
I: So, you were aware of those, even during that service, right?
I: I mean, it was war, and it was to either kill or be killed, so you should, I mean
GC: I know, but it still hurts.
I: Very hard, yes.
GC: It still hurts. They were all human beings the same as we were.
I: So your main enemy was Chinese or North Koreans?
I: Both. And when you move around the 38th Parallel, did you move with trucks, or how did you move?
GC: We weren’t on the 38th Parallel very
long. Just maybe the last month, month or so. Because we was still firing once in a while when we was on the 38th Parallel. But I don’t remember when we went back to the 38th Parallel. We was in Kuma Valley, wherever that is
I: Yeah, Kumwha
GC: We went through there. Then it seemed like we went, they never tell you where
You were. I think, then we left, and we went, I think it was Northeast, Northeast and we went, then we moved over that way, and we did a lot of firing up over there.
I: That’s the Iron Triangle area.
GC: Oh, that’s what that was?
GC: Oh. Well, we supported, we didn’t support just one outfit.
We did quite a bit of moving. And towards the last one, we, I think, no, it wasn’t back because we moved a couple times after that. I started building little houses for us out of the wooden crates where the ammunition was, a lot of the ammunition was in. I started, I got no idea where I got a hammer. I got no idea where I get a saw.
I: Um hm.
GC: To do that.
But we managed to do it, while I was over there.
I: Were you able to write letter back to your family?
GC: Once in a great while.
I: Uh huh. What did you write?
I: What did you write about?
GC: I got no idea. No,
I: So, how was your life? Where did you sleep, and what did you eat?
GC: Well, we
GC: At first, we slept in a pup tent, even in the winter. We was in a pup tent. I think there was two guys to a pup tent.
I: Two guys in a pup tent?
I: How about the heating? There was no heating.
GC: Oh no. We had our sleeping bag, and we’d crawl in a sleeping bag. It wasn’t all that great.
I: Must have been very cold.
GC: I, you know what? I cannot remember where we went to the bathroom.
I: Yeah, right.
GC: And I can’t remember where we, where the hell the show, if we ever went to shower. That’s just, I can’t remember that. I guess my mind was on the things we had to do.
I: Um hm. How was eating? Did you have a hot meal?
GC: Sometimes, yeah.
I: But mostly, what did you eat?
GC: I got no idea. We had, we had some C-rations, whatever they called them.
I: Uh huh.
GC: I didn’t mind the chipped beef and [INAUDIBLE]
I: Did you know anything about Korea before you left for Korea?
GC: Never heard of it.
I: You never heard about Korea before?
GC: Never heard of it.
I: So what do you think about that you were in a country you never knew before, and you were fighting for that country?
GC: Well, it was just something the United States we went to do to help. They’d been doing it quite often in different wars.
I: Um hm. Were you ever wounded?
I: No, you were lucky.
GC: My head.
I: What do you mean your head?
GC: Well, I’m still got Post-Traumatic Stress from it.
GC: Yeah, I do.[INAUDIBLE]
GC: Well, I wake up crying because I don’t like the idea of me killing, I know I hit and killed a lot of people, and the worst of it was when we fired at night at a certain crossing where there might have been people. There might have been civilians going through there. I got no idea. And then sometimes I’d fire those missions just by myself at night.
I know that before she puts it as VT fuel, made us use that B2 fuels quite a bit. That gets 20 or 30 yards off of the ground and it explodes, and that shrapnel goes all over. Well, who knows. It’s the idea. I don’t know how many people I killed. But I know I did a whole bunch of them. We took 10, they took 2, you’ll send 62
wherever that is. Where is hill 1062?
I: Un hn,
GC: Ever hear of it?
GC: It was a hill 1062 wherever it was. We fired four nights and three days on that hill.
I: And they were Chinese?
GC: I got no idea who we was firing at.
I: And did you finally get that hill?
I: Did you finally get that hill or not?
GC: Yeah, I think they took the hill, yeah.
I: You took the hill.
GC: Yeah. It looked like a spider web was all with the trenches and that. I imagine they had holes dug in the hill and everything else. And then, there was one time they had a cave up on the hill. It was up about ¾ of the way, and then pulled the gun, they had to have to gun on the tracks. So they’d come out and they’d shoot 3 or 4 rounds and they’d pull it back in.
I: Um hm.
GC: Well, they had our guns zero in on, when we got zeroed in all of the guns shot at the same thing and was fuse delay, and we must have got one shell back in there, and they exploded. That was the end of them. They didn’t do no more shooting. There were a few incidences like that, and we was by a big river one time, too. I don’t know what river it was. It was pretty wide.
That’s where they got. [Laughing] That’s where we laughed so darn hard. He fell in one of those there Smith pits, you know, where the manure is.
I: Um hm.
GC: And it must , wouldn’t cross and he fell and didn’t even, right up to here.
I: Oh boy. Smells so bad, right?
GC: Yeah. Well, he quick ran down to that river and he threw all his clothes off in the river. He washed off in the river.
That’s the time we was by that, I don’t know where that big, I don’t know what river it was.
GC: How many big rivers are there in Korea?
I: There are many. But the river that you might have seen is, I think it’s either Han River or Imjin River.
GC: It was one of them. I don’t which one it was. They never tell us nothing.
I: Yeah. So when you left Korea in 1952, right?
GC: August, 1952.
I: When you left, did you think, had you ever thought that Korea would become like this today?
GC: No. No. I didn’t think about it. I thought there’d be a lot of improvements, but I didn’t think it would be this much improvement.
I: What do you know about the current Korea?
GC: Well, I know there are a heck of a lot of nice buildings now.
I: Uh huh.
GC: I think they’re manufacture,
I don’t know what they’re manufacturing, but I know they’re manufacturing, they got more, a lot more manufacturing stuff that they do now, big factories where there’s been a lot of people working.
I: Yeah. They’re making automobile, cars. Do you know? Hyundai?
GC: Yeah. I know they was making cars.
GC: The Kia?
I: Yeah. That’s a Korean car.
GC: Yeah. Oh, it is?
GC: I think my daughter, Georgia, has one.
I: You didn’t know that Kia is Korean made?
GC: Huh? No I didn’t know. “I figured it was making cars, but I didn’t know what kind’.
I: Do you know Samsung or other company in Korea?
GC: Yeah, I heard of Samsung. That’s a computerized thing, isn’t it?
GC: Yeah, Electronics, Yeah.
I: They are the best in the world.
GC: Oh, are they?
I: Do you know Korea is 11th largest economy in the world right now?
GC: Yeah. No, I didn’t know.
I: It is big.
GC: I know it’s really improved over there.
I: It’s not just an improvement. It’s a, one of the best in the world.
GC: Yeah. Well, that’s nice.
I: What do you think about that?
GC: I think it’s very nice, yeah.
I: The country that you fought but you didn’t know nothing about it, now is a strongest ally to the United States.
GC: Yeah. Yeah, I know, that I knew that they’re a strong ally of the United States. I knew that.
I: So, what do you think about this
whole thing, that you are part of this beautiful legacy?
GC: Well, I think it was great that I was, but it still hurts me now. It still hurts me.
I: Um hm.
GC: Well, when you get post-traumatic stress, it’s, I can’t understand how we could, it can bother me 60 some years from, ago. That’s over 60, pretty near 70 years ago.
And it’s still, I wake up at night and I still get that, that feeling in my head.
I: So when you wake up, do you scream?
I: You don’t scream?
I: Oh. Do you cry?
I: Then what do you do?
GC: Oh, try to think of some other stuff, other stuff to get it out of my mind.
I: I’m so sorry to hear that.
GC: We had a, I was doing pretty good for a while, and then they had that, something about the Korean War over at the Martin Center, in that room, and that started all back up again.
I: Oh. I hope that this interview will not bother you.
GC: It might for a little while. I, when I think about it. I
I: Just stick to it.
GC: I’m awful sensitive in thought and things like there, and it bothers the hell out of me. That’s why I shed a lot of tears when I think about all the people I killed. I don’t like that at all.
I: So, what did you do after you come back to the United States?
GC: I was a truck driver.
I: Truck driver?
GC: Well, first I worked in the [INAUDIBLE]
as a spot welder. I worked in the, they made refrigerators, stoves, heaters. We made heaters for Army heaters, yep. They were, I was working, yeah, I worked a little bit before June, I think. I was working in Rondus when I was drafted.
I was, I was working at Rondus. [INAUDIBLE] and made doors. I worked, no, let me see. It seems to me I worked in [INAUDIBLE] for a little while.
I: So, what do you think about, what is the legacy of the Korean War to you?
GC: Well, I would do it again if I had to.
GC: If I was a young person.
I: You’re not afraid.
GC: No. I was never afraid over there. I never thought of fear. Fear never entered my mind at all.
I: You’re a very strong man.
GC: I went through a lot. Because I remember the hard times we had during the Depression. That was tough growing up in the Depression. A lot of times, we didn’t have a hell of a lot to eat.
I: So, what would you say to our young children about your service during the Korean War?
GC: Well, one thing, get a good education. That would be one important thing. A good education. It’s all you can do. Like I can do just about anything. I’m an electrician, I’m a plumber, I can
I can do just about anything. Anything I put my mind to, I’ll do it. I went up to Alaska with my daughter. I built them a big garage, 24’ x 36’, and I did 99% of the work by my, all by myself.
GC: Without no help. I put the carpet in. She bought kitchen cabinets that weren’t varnished or stained which I wasn’t
too happy about. I only got…was living here at the time, and I got 90 days, I can’t think of his name now, he give me 90 days and he called Madison and they said, they okayed it. See, you’re only supposed to get 15 days furlough, and I got 90. Well, I kept paying for everything, I didn’t take no money. I left it just the way it was. Everything was being paid, and they locked my room, and when I
Come back I had my room again.
I: You’ve never been back to Korea, right?
I: No. Do you want to go back?
GC: I can’t stand, I get airsick. I can’t ride a plane.
I rode one coming down from Alaska I was so sick, I thought I was going to kick the bucket.
I: Any other message that you want to leave to this interview?
GC: No, nothing I can think of. They’re going to have to put a stop to that North Korean guy.
I: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
GC: What the hell’s his name?
I: Kim Jung Un.
GC: Yeah. There’s something, gotta be something wrong with him.
I: Um hm.
GC: Actions like that are not, shouldn’t be even thinking about being tolerated as far as I’m concerned. If it would have been up to me, I would have been out of, after him long before this.
GC: But this
I imagine the government is, it’s hard for them, they don’t want to declare war. If they’d go after him, it would have to be, war would have to be declared.
GC: But they gotta, they definitely have to do something.
GC: How did he get the information to make an atomic bomb in the first place? Where the hell did that come from?
I: It’s from Russia and other countries.
GC: Yeah. But it shouldn’t, that bomb. I don’t know how to explain it. That they shouldn’t even be allowed to have an atomic bomb… any country. That includes the United States and Russia. That should not be allowed.
GC: All the other countries should get together and have a meeting, like those
Meetings they have and demand nobody can have a nuclear weapon. Nobody.
GC: That’s what, that’s what should happen because in the long run, they’re gonna destroy the whole world.
I: That’s right.
GC: Because once those atoms start splitting all over, I can understand how that works.
GC: And that, that can, that can affect right in here, if they get, if they get the wrong thing,
And it starts bursting all the atoms, we’re gonna be in big trouble.
I: Um hm.
GC: It’ll be like when the earth all went to heck, millions, thousands of years ago. I think, I think that’s what happened to Mars myself.
GC: That some, some weapon destroyed the whole country. There’s proof that there
Was people living on there. That’s gonna happen if they keep it up.
I: Glen, it was very nice meeting you the other day. You were working on something, and I ran across you, and I asked you to interview with me, and thank you for coming, sharing your story, and, and on behalf of Korean nation, I want to thank you for your fight and your honorable service, and I hope that you can deal with this
PTSD, so that you don’t suffer too much.
GC: It’ll come off and on.
GC: But I try my best to keep it, keep it away.
[End of Recorded Material]