Korean War Legacy Project

Henry River, Jr.


Henry River, Jr., was born on June 28, 1931, in East St. Louis, Illinois. He attended East St. Louis Senior High School and dropped out his senior year. He immediately went to work in a bank, and a couple years later,  he enlisted in the Army in December of 1951. He went to infantry basic training at Camp Breckinridge in Kentucky and also gained his GED. Afterward, he went to officer training school in Fort Bliss, Texas, and became 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army Artillery. He was on a troop ship, headed for South Korea, when the ceasefire was signed. He landed in Incheon and headed to Panmunjeom with the 7th Infantry Division where he served as a forward observer. After his service, he attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and later went into the banking industry.

Video Clips

Dangerous Moments

Henry River, Jr., describes a couple moments during his service where his life was in danger, including a training session with RCATs. He recalls an additional time when he was involved in the capture and torture of some North Korean soldiers.

Tags: North Koreans,POW,South Koreans,Weapons

Share this Clip +


The Korean War in World History

Henry River, Jr., states he has personally never thought of the Korean War as the Forgotten War because so many Americans served in the war and have served in Korean defense since. He shares that his grandson attended the Peace Camp in Korea during college and enjoyed the experience. He adds that the experience in Korea enlightened him on the what the world should be.

Tags: Impressions of Korea,Message to Students,Modern Korea,South Koreans

Share this Clip +


Modern Korean Economic Growth

Henry River, Jr., talks about the economic growth in Korea he witnessed by being a banker in the United States. He recalls being impressed by the Korean automobile and banking industries in particular. He discusses other South Korean advances and just how tremendously successful they have been as a country, especially given both where they came from and the constant stress created by their northern counterparts.

Tags: Seoul,Impressions of Korea,Message to Students,Modern Korea

Share this Clip +


Korea in the 1950s

Henry River, Jr., recalls the living conditions of Koreans in the 1950s. He remembers life being tough for the Koreans and speaks about a nine-year-old Korean boy who did his clothes in exchange for bags of rice. Additionally, he recalls the human waste fertilizer smell in Incheon.

Tags: Incheon,Civilians,Depression,Food,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Physical destruction,Poverty,South Koreans

Share this Clip +


Living Conditions

Henry River, Jr., talks about his wife and how much he was paid. He recounts what his living conditions were like. He recalls his division having a tent compound which included the officer's tent, mess tents, and squat tents for the soldiers.

Tags: Food,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Message to Students

Share this Clip +