Jack Goodwin left home at the age of fourteen and went on the road with medicine shows and carnivals. He joined the United States Army in 1948, eventually being shipped overseas to Japan and then Korea. Among the first to engage in combat as part of Task Force Smith, he was captured in 1950 and remained a POW until 1953. He recounts his experience in the Death March and shares details regarding living conditions during his time as a POW. He details crossing the Bridge of No Return upon being freed and speaks of it being an emotional experience. He shares that he was not officially released to speak of his experiences as a POW until 1993. He adds that despite the hardships he has faced, he has no regrets and has lived a good life.
First Engagement: Task Force Smith
Jack Goodwin recounts his experience in Task Force Smith, the first group to engage with North Korean soldiers during the Korean War. He shares that they were severely outnumbered and ill-equipped with only four hundred or so men against roughly twenty thousand North Korean soldiers, having severely limited ammunition. He recalls remaining U.S. soldiers being forced to leave their position and walk during the night to a village where they were captured the following morning.
People Who Fall in a Death March
Jack Goodwin describes the Death March as a POW which took place November 1st-9th, 1950. He shares that 86 men died along the way from either wounds sustained prior to the start of the march or from being shot by the North Koreans who were forcing them to march. He recounts civilians being forced to march with them as well, including nuns, priests, engineers, and politicians.
The Aftermath of the Death March
Jack Goodwin recalls his experience after surviving the Death March. He describes being housed in a school building as a POW until February 1951. He recounts frigid conditions as temperatures dipped to forty and fifty below zero and shares that roughly two hundred men either froze to death or died of malnutrition during that time frame. He describes there not being much to do during the day other than kill the lice that infested their bodies.
Crossing the Bridge of No Return
Jack Goodwin shares memories of crossing the Bridge of No Return in 1953 after having lived as a POW since 1950. He recalls men tossing their clothes off along the road and feeling emotional upon seeing the American flag. He briefly speaks of losing his faith during his time as a POW.