Jack Sherts was born on May 4, 1929. His father was a civil engineer, his mother a homemaker, and he had one older brother who served in World War II. He was drafted into the Army in 1950. Jack Sherts served in Korea along the front lines working as a radio operator in an artillery unit as well as a Jeep driver in the area known as the Punchbowl. Jack Sherts got engaged before leaving Korea, married upon his return, and has raised a family with her happily for over 60 years. He is proud of his service and happy to see how Korea has become today.
Retracing my Steps
Jack Sherts is telling the exact locations that they traveled during the war the entire time he was in Korea. His work as a radio operator helped him to know the towns they were in at all times. He recorded these names in a Bible that he carried around the entire time he was in the war.
Radio Operation in Battle
Jack Sherts describes his job as a radio operator during the Korean War. In one episode, he had to take batteries to the soldiers in the infantry line. On the journey, he slipped and went down a mountain while trying to deliver the batteries under enemy fire. Jack Sherts also describes relaying fire orders for the 18 guns of his unit.
The most difficult part of war
Jack Sherts describes the intense cold. During his time in the Punchbowl, he would have to break the ice off of his eyelids. The weather during this time was 20 degrees below zero. Since he was also a jeep driver, driving in the snow and mud was very difficult as well.
[Beginning of Recorded Material]
J: Jack Sherts. S H E R T S.
I: S as in Sam.
I: Both ends.
J: Both end.
I: Yes. What is your birthday?
I: So you born at the, in the year of Great Depression.
J: Oh yeah, um hm.
I: You didn’t, you didn’t know, right?
J: Well, not for quite a while.
I: Right. How was it to, to grow up in the very difficult times?
J: Oh, fine, yeah. We, yeah. My, my father was working good jobs of a, yeah.
I: Um hm.
J: He was, he was a surveyor in
I: Where were you born?
J: In Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
I: Right here?
I: Um. And tell me about your parents and your siblings when you were growing up.
J: Their names or just, uh, a mother, father
J: and, and a brother.
I: So what your father do?
J: He was a civil engineer.
I: Civil engineer?
J: All over, for, some for the government and, uh, I’m not sure of all the names of the place, but
J: for the government mostly.
I: So he didn’t, so he didn’t lose his job during the Great Depression.
J: No. Um um.
I: That’s very lucky.
J: Yeah. Yeah, it was.
I: Um hm.
J: So we really didn’t feel it too much.
I: How many siblings did you have at the time?
J: Just a brother, one brother, an older brother.
I: Older brother?
J: He was in the second World War.
I: I see. And tell me about the schools that you went through here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
J: Uh, an elementary school on the same street I lived on, and then, uh, McCaskey High School.
I: Could you spell it?
J: M C
I: Uh huh.
J: C A S K Y.
I: High School?
J: High School, right.
I: Uh huh. And when did you graduate?
J: In, uh, I graduated in ’47.
I: Let me ask this question. Did you learn anything about Korea during that high school and, you know, from the elementary to high school?
J: Not, well, we had, uh, geography. So that, that way. That’s the only way, yeah.
I: Was Korea included
in geographic, uh, education?
J: Yeah, um hm. Yeah.
I: So did you know where it was?
J: By a map, yeah, right. I, I was, I always loved to see maps and all the different countries of them, yeah.
I: What about history and culture? Did you know anything about Korea at the time?
J: Not no more than where it was and, right.
I: That’s it.
J: That’s it. Yeah.
I: And now you are the Korean War veteran.
I: What do you think about that? You didn’t know anything about our country.
I: Now you are the war hero.
J: And it, and it’s too bad that I saw it when it was because it was in very bad shape.
I: Tell me about it. How bad? Just describe in detail please.
J: Well, we came in at Inchon.
I: When was it?
J: In, uh, ’51.
I: Uh huh. And what did you see there? Tell me the details of what you see.
J: Well, of course in Inchon it’s, uh, uh, the
high tides. We had to wait. The tide was in at, they said 40’ tides, and we came in, and that’s where we waited, and then they, they took us by truck in through Seoul, and Seoul is, well, just nothing but broken buildings and, uh, I, I couldn’t imagine that this was the capital of the country. Of course, it was run over three times, too, during the war. So, you sort of expected
that, yeah. And then we went into about Central Korea. [INAUDIBLE]
I: Oh before, before, have you been back to Korea after that?
J: No. No.
I: You never been?
I: Do you know about what’s going on in Korea now in terms of its economy and democracy and so on?
J: Oh yeah. I
I: What do you know, and how did you know?
J: Well, through tv and, uh, yeah, and, of course the Olympics now in particularly.
I: You mean the Winter PyeongChang Olympics?
J: Yeah, yeah.
J: So, think about it. The country that you saw in 1950, right?
I: And the country that you know through the tvs and Olympics, what do you think about this?
J: Oh, it’s great. I mean I, I can’t, I can hardly believe it. I see, when I see pictures of Seoul with the big skyscrapers and beautiful buildings, what I saw was nothing but rubble in, through the whole town. But it’s neat. And then, uh,
of course, I’m, I like golf, so the golf courses are there, they look beautiful when you see pictures of those, yeah.
I: Do you know of any Korean golf, golfer?
J: Um, not by name. I’m not great at
I: Know about the female Korean, Korean woman’s?
J: Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I can’t, um, I’m lousy with names like.
I: Sarry Park.
I: So what do you think about those? [LAUGHS]
I: There was no golf course in
J: Not that I saw. [LAUGHS] No. Uh, no. I saw, well once you got out of Seoul, it was dirt roads everywhere. They weren’t, didn’t have any, mack, uh, mechanic roads or, yeah. It was, uh, oh, it was a mess. We came over, I think that was before I got to Seoul, we, we came over a bridge on a little train we were on, and, uh,
it was shaky, uh. The bridge didn’t look too good, and when you looked down below the bridge, here was a crane laying down there, and that, that didn’t make you feel any better. Yeah.
I: But now the Korean woman, they are the top in the world in, playing golf.
I: What a transformation.
J: Oh, it, the whole country. I mean, what, what you see now on television, it, I, I couldn’t. Course you still see the mountains.
I mean, they were, we got into those briefly.
I: So when did you join the military and why?
J: I was drafted.
I: You were drafted?
I: When? Remember?
J: In, uh, ’40, let’s see. No, ’50, in ’50.
I: How bout month? When? What month?
J: Um, I’m not sure.
J: It was in, it was in spring or sum, yeah, spring I guess. yeah.
I: Uh huh.
J: Yeah. Yeah.
I: And, so you drafted into Army?
J: Into the Army, right, right.
I: And where did you get the military training?
J: Well, uh, down at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
I: Um hm.
J: That was Infantry training there.
I: How long?
J: Uh, I guess two months.
I: Two months.
J: Yep. And then we went from there
by train down to El Paso, Texas.
J: And there we had, uh, in, uh, Artillery training.
I: And when you were drafted, the Korean War didn’t break out, right?
J: Yeah, it, it was, yeah it was going on, yeah.
I: Oh. So you know, you knew.
J: Oh yeah, I knew, yeah.
I: So it’s not spring. It’s, uh,
The Korean War broke out in June.
J: In June.
I: 25th. So you were drafted after that?
J: Eh, no, I’m trying to think what
I: When you were drafted
J: I knew, yeah. I
I: When you were drafted, did you, did you know that, I mean, when the Korean War broke out? No.
J: Yeah, the war was on when I, I don’t know if it was from drafted, but when I was in training, definitely.
I: Oh. So when you were
in training, there were war in Korea.
I: Okay. And
J: And, and I, I didn’t, I didn’t know if I was going to go to Korea or Germany. At the end of training, the, uh, the Army’s great Army way, the alphabet, A through S
I: Um hm.
J: Korea. T through, T through Z Germany.
J: So by one letter, I, I got the Korea.
I: You mean the, the name?
J: Yeah, the last name, Sherts, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it was A through S Korea and
I: Jack, be honest with me. Did you wanted to go to Germany rather than Korea?
J: Well, there was no war going on, yeah. I, yes. I could
I: I mean, [LAUGHS]
J: I didn’t have much choice, but
I: Who didn’t want to go to war, right?
J: You’re right, right.
I: So you actually wanted to go to
hope to be in, in Germany, but
J: If I had to go to either one at the time. I had nothing against Korea. It was just that’s where the war was.
J: Yeah. And, uh,
I: I’ll do the same thing.
J: Yeah. And my brother was in war in Europe.
I: Uh huh.
I: So when you found out that you were headed to Korea, what were you thinking to yourself?
J: Well, I didn’t have much choice. I had 10 days off
after that training to get to San Francisco. We had to be there and, uh
I: When was it? When did you finish your, um, Artillery training?
J: Uh, that had been ’51 I guess, yeah.
J: No, ’50, the end of ’50 I guess it was, yeah.
I: And so when did you leave United States, from where?
J: We left from San Francisco by, by ship, yeah. And 10 days later, we were in Yokohama.
I: And do you remember when you left for Korea from San Francisco? Was it 1950 or ’51?
J: Well, it was, no, it was ’50 because I, at, I got to Korea in ’50, yeah. Yeah.
I: And from Yokohama, where did you arrive in Korea?
J: At Inchon.
J: Um hm.
I: Do you remember when? Was it December, November?
J: No, it was, uh, got it down here. Uh, can I put my glasses on?
I: Sure, sure, sure. Please.
J: Not too good without glasses. Got to Inchon September the 10th, ’51.
J: So I would have had
I: So you left San Francisco in 1951, right?
J: In ’50, oh in ’50, definitely in ’51, yeah.
J: Because there was only 10 days to Japan and
J: Then another three. Yeah, it was September the 10th, ’51.
I: Did you know what was going on there, in Korea, in terms of battles against this Communist?
J: Yeah. I, I did because I
follow that pretty close, at.
I: Yeah, tell me about it. What did you know? Can you take off glass?
J: Oh yeah, I’m sorry. Yeah. Well, uh, I had, I always follow everything on the news on the War because I, I was interested to start with. So I knew it, uh, uh, they had taken, they had come down and taken Seoul, and then went back, back up again over the, our forces
drove them the whole way up to, uh, the border at Yalu River. In fact, my outfit is one of the units that got to that point, and then, then they were forced back way down to the perimeter, I mean, way down at the bottom of South Korea and then that’s where we fought back. MacArthur came in through Inchon, that way, and cut, cut off the Chinese, yeah.
I: Um. So what was your unit?
J: I was in, uh,
J: Seventh Infantry Division.
J: And the 49thField Artillery.
I: What was your, uh, specialty?
J: I be, well, I became, even though I wasn’t trained for it, a radio operator.
J: We got, we, two of us were the ones left in the truck getting
up to the front which I didn’t like, and the banging was going on pretty much, and, and there was only two of us and, and the officer, it was at night time, and this officer, we were talking with him, and, and he said I need a, a radio operator and a wireman for the Radio Division. Well, I, I’m not trained for either one of them, and we kept talking, and he said you talk better than him, so you’re
the radio operator.
I: That’s how it’s done.
J: He’s the, that’s how I got the job. So that’s what I was in the, yeah.
I: So from Inchon to Seoul, how was it? Were there any resistance?
J: No. No. The line was for the, the line was above the 38that that point, and we crossed 38, too. I was in North Korea mostly while I was over there, yeah.
I: When you see for the first time in your life, the Korea and the Korean people,
what did you think about it? Just be honest. Just.
J: Yeah, no, I,
I: Give us detail about what, how did you feel? How was it?
J: Well, really I didn’t have much to do with any of Korean people, and you see some of them from a truck or a train, and some were, wanted to sell you something, too, and, and that. But no, I never. I, I was always interested in
Oriental and, yeah. I don’t know. But I was, and that, uh, no. I thought they were great. I took a lot of pictures of them and, yeah.
I: Did you have your own camera?
J: Oh yeah. I, I carried a tiny little camera, and it was colored slides. That’s, yeah.
I: So do you have those?
J: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
I: Wow. I, I, I wanna look at it. Are you coming to Wednesday meeting?
J: Yeah. Oh it, yeah. Um hm.
I: Yeah. Can you bring that?
J: Yeah. Now I don’t have my projector that, that you show on the screen.
I: So you put everything into slide?
J: Slides. They’re all
J: Colored slides.
I: Yeah. I, I would like to see it.
J: Yeah. I have, I guess, 100 and something, yeah.
I: Because that’s the Korea that you saw
I: from your own eyes and your own perspective.
I: And that’s very important.
I: You know, when young students in the school, if
they see it, they’ll be fascinated.
I: And that’s why we are collect those, okay?
J: Oh, okay.
I: We have more than 6,000, but I’m, you know, happy to add yours, too.
I: So from Seoul, where did you go?
J: Seoul, we, we kept going, uh, East, to about the middle of the country, and then headed, uh, North and crossed the 38thParallel.
I: Um hm.
J: I mean, I, yeah, I have
a, a list of the different
I: Tell me please.
J: Can I get the glasses again?
I: Free to do it, but after you take it out.
J: Okay. Yeah. So, uh, I can’t pronounce them probably, H W A C H
I: Um hm.
J: And then a slash at the top, O N, yeah.
J: Yeah, okay.
We got there on the 12th, September 12th.
I: September 12thof ’51?
I: That’s my birthday.
J: Oh, is that right?
I: No, no, no. I mean just the September 12th.
J: Yeah, right, right.
I: And then?
J: And then, uh, Chiperee, Choperee
J: C H U P
I: C H U P
J: P’A R I.
J: That was the same day. I got
I: And then?
J: In fact, that’s, that’s where I probably, these are, in other words, I’m not in a town there. I’m in the vicinity.
I: You just passing through.
J: In the vicinity, yeah, right.
I: Um hm.
J: And then, uh, well I was with the outfit then, around that, that area. Do, do you want the whole list of
I: Yeah, yeah.
J: Then, on October 6th, I was in Yangchow,
I: Um hn.
J: We kept, in other words, our outfit moved back and forth along the line. But this was all on the line. Then, uh, Uijeongbu
I: Uh huh.
J: On the 18th, then Myeongdong
I: Um hm.
J: On the 22nd, and in November 18th, we moved to the Punch Bowl,
and we, that’s where we wintered, and that was a heck of a winter.
I: November when, Punch Bowl?
J: November 18thwe got there, yeah.
I: Um hm.
J: Now we were there until next March, in that area, yeah. That same area.
I: And then?
J: Well then, then it was, uh, heading, uh, Chorwon. That was March 26th.
I: Um hm.
J: And Kunwha
I: Um hm.
J: That was April 27, and Chuncheon, I guess it is.
I: Yeah. Chuncheon.
J: Yeah. On July 23rd, and then back to Inchon July 29th. That’s when I left, in ’52.
I: Wow. How did you kept this, how did you keep this whole thing? Did you write it down?
J: Yeah, I had a little Bible with me at all times, in my jacket pocket, and if, if we moved, I’d write it down because I knew where we were because I was with the radio, you’re in where all the maps are and everything else. So I knew exactly what area I was in. I wasn’t in these towns particularly, but right around them, yeah.
I: Did you, do you still have that Bible?
J: Yeah, I do. In fact, this is from the, I just took out of the front.
I: Could you show to the camera [INAUDIBLE] ?
I: Higher. No no. That’s too high. Yes, that’s it. Wow. That’s the part of your Bible.
J: Yeah, right.
I: And you have all those things, right?
J: Yes, I do, yeah.
J: I should have brought that along here yesterday.
I: So are you Christian?
J: Yes, um hm.
I: And, so Bible kept you safe.
J: Right, right, yeah. Yeah they off, they gave it to us as we got off the ship in Inchon. They gave each one one.
I: Um hm.
J: Yeah. And I, so I kept it in my field jacket till the end.
I: Did you pray all the time?
J: Well, sometimes more than others.
I: So you, who were your enemy? Were you, was it Chinese or
J: Chinese at that.
I: North Koreans?
I: Had you seen any North Korean?
J: Oh yeah.
I: During the battle?
J: No. I, you know, I saw mar, some that were being, come, going, bringing back for prisoners that way. But, uh,
I: But main enemy was Chinese.
J: Chinese was the main enemy, yeah.
I: You know, the places that you were there was a severe battleground from, you know, from Kwachung to Chuncheon, Kunwha, Chorwon. They, uh, try, triangle, right?
J: Yeah, right.
I: So tell me about your battle experience. Were there any dangerous moments? How was it? Please give us detailed description of any episode that you remember because it’s not for me, but young student in our
I: classroom will hear from you.
I: Because we are making curricular resources with your interview. So please give us detailed description of your battle experience.
I: Anything that you remember.
J: Well, one of the first things, uh, as, by accident, you know, we, I, I went on the radio at that time. We had to take, uh, batteries up to a forward observer on the infantry line. He was in a mountain. And another guy and I were carrying these heavy things along the side of this, it was on along a mountain. I slipped,
went down the, started down the mountain, caught onto some, uh, trees on the way down. But my helmet and, uh, rifle went off, but I got a hold of the rifle, and we, I’m sorry, and we came back, back up, and, but I didn’t have my helmet now and, and I’m running over to get to where the forward observer is which is right on top of the, looking down at the line, and, and
I was just about there, and some guy jumped out of a foxhole and said where in the blankety blank are you going? And I said we’s going to the forward observer up there. We’re taking batteries there. He said where in the heck is your helmet. I said it, it went way down in the valley. I could, I couldn’t get it, and he said you shouldn’t be up here, and at that point there were some zing, zing hitting around me, yeah. So some
sniper, I guess, was working on us. But, uh, we got to, we got up to the thing without getting hit. That was as close as I wanted at that point.
I: Yeah. What were you thinking
J: That was the first couple days I was there so
I: What were you thinking to yourself?
J: Well, I thought this was a heck of a time. I just, just here and didn’t even get my job the whole way yet and I could be dead or hurt, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it shook me up a little
bit at the time, but we had no choice, uh. We had to go back through the same way to get back to the jeep at the other end of the, yeah. But mostly I was on radio which was with, uh, uh, Central where the, where our unit was. We had, uh, apparently a bunker in the side of a hill, and all the officers were in there with maps and everything, and a forward observer would, uh, call back and say fire
mission and give us the coordinates of where, exactly where he wanted hit, something hit, and I’d repeat this. The officers would hear, hear this and calculate and call the batteries which were right outside, uh, to fire whatever that he asked. He generally asked for, he called it William Peter. It was a white phosphorous shell, and it, when it would hit would just put white smoke up.
So he knew exactly what, where it was hitting, and if it was in the area he wanted, then he’d say, uh, fire. Fool everybody, yeah. So we had 18 guns, uh. There was, uh, quite a boom going, yeah. But, and once in a while we’d get hit, the shells come in. That, that’s, I didn’t, small arms after that first thing. I didn’t have any, any trouble with that. But we
did have mortars and, and artillery shells come in now and then, yeah. More than I’d like, but, uh, yeah. But I was never wounded, yeah. And
I: That’s lucky.
J: Oh yeah, yeah. Very lucky, yeah. And, and then I did a lot of jeep driving, too, that they, the one Sergeant, he wanted to be taken to some place, and, and, he, his driver, I think, I think he was hurt,
and, and he just said who can drive? I said well I can, I can drive a car, and he said hell, a jeep’s not much different so, then I was his jeep driver off and on quite a bit, and that was back through Korea some because there it, um,
I: And what was the most difficult thing during your service there? If I’m asking you to come up with one.
J: Well, it was a lot of them. I mean, but it, where you would be hit or they’d land right next to you and yet you didn’t get hurt and, um, but one thing it, one thing was the weather was one of the worst. When we were in the Punch Bowl, it was down as low as 20 below,
and we still had the old second World War boots and boy, our feet were freezing all the time, and it would be so cold that when you were out on guard duty your eyelids would freeze shut, and you had to break the ice off your eyelids, and I mean it, it was bitter, and that was another joke we laughed about because when we left, in came the Mickey Mouse boots
J: Too late for, yeah, ready to go. But, yeah. There was, well, there were so many that were close, and then even driving. I mean, they’re, they’re all dirt roads and especially when it’s muddy, uh, oh, what a, what a time.
I: Um hm.
J: And the one time we went up along this mountain, and it was really high and narrow.
But it was alright for the jeep. Here we ran, came around the corner, here’s a tank coming down, and he, I don’t see how he even, his one tread was right at the very edge of it. But we had to back the jeep. We couldn’t turn it around. We had to back it the whole way down. That was, that was risky there.
I: How was life there? I mean where did you sleep? What did you eat? How often were you able to eat, things like that?
J: Well, eating was fairly regular.
But a lot of it was rations, canned rations and actually for, from the World War II that had dates on some of it, yeah. That, so it was
I: No hot meal?
J: Yeah, yeah. we, one, once in a while we’d get a hot meal, yeah. But mostly it was cold, yeah.
I: What was your favorite menu in C-ration?
um, even just the beans and the, and bacon in one. That, that was good, yeah. But cold, it’s a little different. I mean we tried to warm some of it up, and, yeah.
I: How? How did you warm up?
J: Well, we had a little heater that was in our bunker, uh, that, that kept it pretty good during the, during the night and all. But, once you’re outside, not, uh, too cold. But
I: So you sleep in the bunker?
J: Yeah, yeah. On the, on the ground but, yeah. Just a tarp, tarp on it, yeah.
I: Were there any Korean working with you, or
I: for, for bunker or clean up, things like that?
J: I was going to mention it, uh, yeah. We had, we had some that were working around, and we got to be good friends. I got many pictures of them, too, yeah. Out there we had, we had
fun with some of them, yeah.
I: They children or grown up?
J: Uh, I’d say more teenagers.
I: Teenager? Anybody you still remember?
J: Well, then a couple little ones, a couple little guys that we’d, I don’t know where they came from. But they
I: How was them?
J: Oh, good. We, we all, oh we had a good time with them, yeah.
I: Like what?
J: Well, we’d play games with them and ball. We had, you know, things like that when we could, yeah. When we were off, yeah. But, uh,
yeah. They were, they were fun, yeah. We, we didn’t, never had any trouble with anybody, yeah. Yeah.
I: What were you thinking when you see them, that during the war? They are all, some of them were orphans, right?
J: Oh yeah.
J: I think some of these were, yeah. And some of the older teenagers were taking, sort of taking care of the younger ones, yeah.
I: Did you pay them?
J: Some. But we, we fed them, too. At, yeah.
So they, they were getting meals from us, yeah.
I: Uh huh.
J: Yeah. Uh huh. So they stuck around us when they could.
I: Let me ask this question. What, how much were you paid at the time?
I: [LAUGHS] Not much, right?
J: No, no.
I: About $100? Less than $100?
J: I don’t think it was that much.
I: Uh huh.
J: I think it was only $40 or, $40 or $50, yeah.
I: And what did you do with the money?
J: Well, I have to admit I played poker. We did that. I did pretty good.
I: So you made the money?
J: I, I made some money that way, yeah.
I: Okay. So you were a millionaire there.
J: Well, I wouldn’t say that. But, and it was in one, yeah, it was in, yeah.
I: Was not script, dollar? But it was one?
J: Well, it
I: Korean one?
J: Yeah. Yeah, Korean one, and then some, uh, some were, was American
money, but not like our money.
I: Yeah. It’s a script.
J: Script, yeah.
I: Um hm.
J: Yeah, that’s all it was, yeah.
I: Did you write a letter back to your family or
J: To my, uh, fiancé.
J: And this is, this is when we, we, uh, I gave her the ring before I left for Korea.
I: Oh, how nice.
J: And, uh,
I: What was her name?
J: Uh, Jane.
I: Um hm.
J: Jane Dussinger.
D U S S I N G E R.
I: D U S S I N G.
J: I N G E R.
I: And did you marry her?
J: Um hm, when I came back, yeah.
I: And? Is she still alive?
J: Oh yeah, yeah.
J: We’ve been married 60 some years, yeah.
I: Am I going to see her on Wednesday? Is she coming?
J: She, well, maybe, she hasn’t yet come to the meetings. It was just, I generally went to the meeting.
I: Please, I want to invite her to Wednesday meeting, your chapter meeting.
J: Right, okay. I’m sure I, I can get her, yeah.
J: Yeah, we were, so I was actually, and then she didn’t want to, uh, we were engaged just in our mind. But she didn’t announce it.
I: Uh huh.
J: She wanted to wait till her birthday which was in November. I was already over there. So I was 10,000 miles away when we were engaged. Yeah.
I: Must been hard for her to wait for you.
J: Oh yeah. Yeah. She, she got, I got to her after she graduated, she, she graduated in ’50. So she got jobs, where she worked in the hospital in Lancaster and she was from Lititz which is north of here.
I: So you must been writing a lot of letters to, to her.
J: Oh yeah. Yeah.
I: Do you still keep those?
J: I, no, I don’t have it. I, she may have some. I’m not
I: Find it out.
J: Yeah. okay.
I: What did you write?
J: Oh, just what’s going on and what we hoped to do and, yeah, yeah, things like that, you know. Yeah. I’m not big, I ‘m not a big letter writer but, uh,
I: How often did you write?
J: Oh, quite often. In fact, uh, I, I would write at least once a week and, and then I, I, I liked to draw a lot, so I had, drew a lot of
different things and sent those along. She sent a, a small picture of herself, and I, I drew it and, but I couldn’t wait, uh, that,
I: I would love to see that.
J: Yeah. I’ll have that in
I: So are you good at drawing?
J: Well, I think so. I mean, I do pretty good, yeah.
J: Yeah. I enjoy it, yeah, yeah. Yeah, we, and we have three children and, two boys and a girl.
I: Did you send money to her?
I sent some, yeah, yeah.
I: Very good.
J: Yeah, yeah.
I: Nice young man. [LAUGHS]
J: [LAUGHS] It was an experience. But I was glad, I mean, after it was, I was on the ship coming back, I was glad I went through it and, and glad I saw Korea. I mean, really just a shame it was in the shape it was in. But, but that’s why now I really appreciate when I see beautiful pictures of how it looks now. Boy.
I: When you left Korea from Inchon,
J: Um hm.
I: What was on your mind about the future of Korea? Did you think that Korea would become like this today, 11thlargest economy in the world?
J: No. I mean, of course I saw it so badly beat up. I never, never a thought, and when I see it now I’m so happy to see it, you know. That, uh, it is beautiful and, beautiful buildings and beautiful roads. We had those dirt roads everywhere and, yeah. It,
they really coming around alright. It’s too bad they had to put up with that guy in the north there, yeah.
I: Now our President Trump
J: Um hm.
I: Told us that he’s going to meet with Kim Jung Moon.
I: What do you think?
J: Well, I don’t agree with hardly anything he does but,
uh, and that’s, that’s one thing I think he, I don’t know. He should let his hands off. I don’t know. I don’t trust, I don’t trust either one of them to tell you the truth, yeah. Yeah, it’s a shame.
I: Why do you think the war, Korean War that you fought has been known as forgotten? Why?
J: I don’t know. How I,
certainly not in my mind. I mean.
I: But didn’t you,
I: want to forget about that miserable war when you left Korea?
J: No. I mean, once I, I was out and safe, I, no. I, um um.
I: So you didn’t forget at all?
J: Oh no.
I: What about people here in the United States when you came back? Did they ask you where have you been?
J: No, most of them knew.
I mean, the ones I, people I knew, yeah. And I was, when I came back, I got, uh, went to Indian Town Gap. I still had some time left in the service. So I was up there teaching.
I: Teaching what?
J: Well, I had a choice. It, is that there’s two things open, prison guard or, uh, some kind of first aid, uh, class that they would teach the troops that were there,
and I was like I don’t know first aid, and, so I looked the whole way through, and here at the back, the last thing in the book was something about poisonous snakes, and I always, I was always crazy for snakes. I’d catch snakes as kids. We’d have all
I: You did?
J: Oh yeah. And, uh, the reasoning they wanted to be taught is to recognize a poisoned snake because if you’re in the field and you drop down and there’s one next to you, you want to know whether that guy’s a poisonous snake or not, yeah.
So that’s what I taught. But it was an easy job. Only had to do it about an hour or so, and then I could go, yeah. In fact, I came home [INAUDIBLE]
I: Did you get the GI Bill?
J: Yeah. Um hm.
I: What did you do with that?
J: Oh, the GI Bill.
I: GI Bill. Did you went back to school or did you go to college or?
J: No, I, I never went to coll, in fact, I, I had a job, and when I graduated I was 18, and I
wanted to be a printer in printing, and, uh, so I tried the Intel and different ones and thought well, they were filled up. They wouldn’t. So I went to the Lancaster Press at that, and, uh, and when I went in there, I just said I’d like to be a printer. He said we don’t have anything. But he said, here he sort of knew me because I had, uh, I was President of a Youth Group, and his, his club
sponsored it, and he said oh, you’re, you’re the guy from down there and said I’ll tell you what. If you’re not that, if you don’t have to be a printer, we’re starting a new department and, uh, you’d be it to start it off. And here they printed, the Lancaster Press printed all scientific journals from all over the world.
I: Um hm.
J: And, uh, and then we’d be ship them all over the world and that was my, that was my job, and I ended up with warehouses
all over the place with millions of books and, and, and, uh, had 10 employees. Yeah, I, I was there 48 years, so.
I: Very good.
I: You said that you never been back to Korea.
I: The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, the Korean VA, they have a program called Revisit Program, Revisit Korea, and they pay everything
and half of your airfare. Do you want to go back?
J: I would, but I don’t think my wife would. She, she’s not one to fly, and I’m not thrilled with flying, either. But, uh, yeah. I, I, I would. I’d love to see it, but yet I’m, I sort of doubt if we could.
I: Are you proud of your service as a Korean War veteran?
J: Yeah. Yeah.
J: Well, I helped my country, yeah, and, and I’m glad I, now I’m glad I was over there I went
J: through it. Well, it was quite an experience, and really, and I’m proud that I could do it, yeah, yeah.
I: What do you think about the current Korea? Are you proud of Korea?
J: Oh yeah. South Korea, not too much for the North.
Never was. Uh, uh, no, I am. I, they’ve done, oh, remarkable what I’ve seen. Well, and then we had a lot of pictures that they showed at the, our outfit, too. Yeah. Yeah.
I: It’s amazing that the American citizen from Lancaster who didn’t know anything about Korea other than the location
I: You went there
rather than Germany
I You fought very cold winter, and now that country is one of the most prosperous country in the world
I: and closest ally to the United States.
J: Yeah. No I’m, I’m proud of it. I, I think they, from what I saw over there, they’ve done a heck of a job, yeah. Just even the appearance of it let alone being a rich country and, yeah. Yeah.
I: So you are in the chapter 327, right?
J: I guess so.
I: You chapter is 327.
I: And your chapter name is John Mckalus.
J: Right. Right.
I: Mckalus or Michael? What is it? General John
J: Mckalus I think.
I: Mckalus, right?
I: Well, when you gather, what do you do guys? Your chapter members, when you guys get together, what do you do?
I: Do they, do they talk about Korea or do they talk about battle experience? What do they do?
J: Oh, well, different things. Uh, we have a regular service, uh, and of course saluting the flag and, and all that and, uh. and go through a service. If somebody, generally have a speaker, uh, there for part of it, you know. We’re, we’re in, we’re only in a couple hours, you know, that, yeah.
I: Any other things that you want to say to this interview about your battle experience or anything?
J: I’ll probably think of something later. I, I can’t think of any particularly, yeah. Uh, the whole experience is, even just coming over in the ship
I: Uh huh.
J: And in Japan and, uh, we stopped at Yokohama, and like the Army does, they,
they took us on a rickety old train ride up through Tokyo, up to Camp Drake, gave us a couple shots. Next day they sent us back on the same train, and you got on a ship that was right next to the one you just got off. I always say that’s the Army way. [LAUGHS] And then we, yeah. And I, I, I enjoyed it. That’s why I didn’t, I knew I was going to war, but, uh, the ship all going over the world like that,
that was, that was something I thought, yeah.
I: To Korean people maybe or young students in the United States about your war experience?
J: Well, just, I just hope and pray that it stays the way it is now with a wonderful country and, and
what they’ve done with, since I saw it the other way, uh. They should be proud of what they were doing, too, yeah. Yeah.
I: On behalf of Korean nation, I want to thank you for your fight for Korean people, and because of that we are here what it is now, 11thlargest economy in the world and more substantive democracy in East Asia.
J: Oh yeah.
I: I want to thank you.
J: Well, you’re quite welcome. Were you, were you in, uh, you were born in Korea?
J: Were you?
J: Okay. What part were you?
J: Seoul? Oh
J: In Seoul, huh?
I: I was right there.
J: Okay. Alright. I saw Seoul was very bad. But right now when you see it, oy yoi yoi. It’s hard to believe.
I: It’s one of the 10 largest metropolitan city in the world.
J: Oh, is it? Wow, okay. I, I, it had to be the way
I: Much bigger than Manhattan.
J: Oh, ok. Yeah. Yeah, it was great. I saw a good portion of it, up through the middle anyway, and up, I was in North Korea most of the times that we were just above the 38thparallel, yeah. Couldn’t be there now I don’t think too much. But
I: Thank you, Jack.
J: Oh, well you’re quite welcome.
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