Jake Feaster Jr.
Jake Feaster Jr. served as an Artillery Officer during the Korean War. His unit, the 92nd Field Artillery Battalion, was stationed along the 38th Parallel where it took a defensive position as the peace negotiations were ongoing. He served as part of the Fire Direction Center that controlled the eighteen weapons in his battalion. He began his work in Korea as a Forward Observer and later was assigned as a Fire Direction Officer. Later, as a Battalion Troop and Information Officer, he helped run a school that provided members of his battalion who did not have at least an eighth-grade education with further education. His service in Korea ended as an Artillery Battery Commander for Charlie Battery of the 92nd Field Artillery Battalion. Upon returning to the United States, he was promoted to Captain and continued his twenty-seven years of military service serving as an Instructor for Advanced Air Training and as the Liaison/Recruiter for the U.S. Military Academies. Since leaving the military, he has remained active in the Korean War Veterans Association and members of his chapter actively share their stories with local university and high school students.
Arriving in Korea
Jake Feaster Jr. describes his arrival in Korea and the role of artillery in providing protective fire for the infantry during the peace negotiations. He shares he joined a unit holding a defensive position along the 38th Parallel. He recalls a session with Outpost Harry and another occasion when his unit provided protective fire all night long as the enemy was attempting to attack U.S. troops who had dug in.
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Combat During the Week of the Final Cease Fire
Jake Feaster Jr. describes the movement of his artillery unit during the week leading up to the cease-fire. He recounts how being sent back to his unit's original position to gather supplies left behind possibly saved his life. He notes how the majority of his battalion got out, but they did lose two or three of their guns. He explains how his company pulled back to a new position and began firing upon the Chinese who had overrun them earlier.
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Education and Integration
Jake Feaster Jr. was given a position as a Battalion Troop and Information Officer. His main duty was to run a school that offered the one hundred or so members of his seven-hundred-man battalion that did not have at least an 8th-grade education additional learning opportunities. He notes that at the time, the units had become integrated and that many of those without such education were African-American soldiers. Eventually, he was given a teaching assignment running a NCO training schools which prepared sergeants with advance training requirements.
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00:00:00 [Beginning of recorded material]
- Feaster Junior. Uh, born in uh December 23rd, 1929. Uh 82 years old a year ago, almost well half a year ago. And uh born in Peoria Floridia, a native Floridian, Floridian. And uh first I lived in Mikanoibe Florida. Lived there for the past seventy-six years in the general vicinity…
Grew up there and then I built a home within a half mile of where I grew up. Uh I had three brothers and a sister. And uh my brother who was uh joining the Air Force, was in the Air Force when I was in Korea… And he had uh… he was in his uh flight training. He had gotten his commission and was doing advanced training in Virginia
went down in a plane accident.
He went down in a plane accident in the Atlantic. And that’s what met me when I got off the ship in Washington, D.C, Washington.. I got a telegram saying that they were holding his services until I got home. April of 53. And I got over there- I was in the uh 92nd, assigned to the 92ndArmored Field Battalion. That was my major in ROTC was artillery.
In ROTC, they between your junior and senior year they send you for two weeks of training at a… an army post, so I went to uh Fort… Uh, let’s see in North Carolina…what’s the artillery school in Forth… North Carolina?… and uh I attended… we had artillery training there, so uh…
So you must be glad this artillery training because that involves a lot of mathematical formulas and stuff…
Well then later on I used it in the uh… Southport Observer and now I was on the hill. They call that for about a month or two and then later they assigned me to the fire Direction Center where I used my math mathematics for directing the fire directions center which control the eighteen weapons in the battalion.
What were people talking about the Korean war, when, back in your college days?
It’s hard to think back that far, very difficult. It didn’t… you know what to me, it just seemed like a part of life… that that was my obligation, I didn’t see it, I didn’t.. I don’t know … our families didn’t make a big deal out of it. They just thought that was part of what I was obligated to do to be a part of the activities over there.
I’m not sure that the full extent of what was going on was uh assimilitated. We are in a little country group. You know, it just didn’t get a lot of discussion.
Did you know about that Korean War before you leave?
No never heard about it.
There were no Koreans in Florida at the time?
Not that I know of.
None that you know of:
I went to a country school. And the nearest town was
Gainesville Florida, which was a university town. They didn’t… As far as I know we didn’t have a lot of uh, foreigners as we called them, coming into the university. And none in the school where I went to school.
How did you get to Korea?
I went to Travis. I went by train to Travis Air Force Base in cAlifornia. and flew to Hawaii.
I think we also landed in Okinawa. And went to…then to Japan to Camp Drake. Well, yea, and I then went by bus to Sassivo. Took two weeks of CBR training– Chemical Biological Radiological training. Two weeks of that. Then carried over to Korea and train to Seoul,
just outside of Seoul. And picked up my unit, bu- truck. Took me to the 38thwhere our unit was in defensive position- had been for about a year I think. They were still negotiating the peace so we weren’t moving a lot. We were still getting fires and we were firing back, but we didn’t move any. And we were prepared.
Interviewer: How secure was the battle was, the trench war?
Well at that time
it was kinda low, except we had spurts I believe. There was a session without post harry during that time. And uh, I recall that when I was a Fire Direction Assistant Operation Officer, we fired artillery all night long- thirty-five hundred rounds. We fired what they called “protective fires” over the infantry. We had uh
variable time fuse. Proximity they called it. Are you familiar with that?
Radar control. When the projection got within fifty, I think it was about fifty feet or yards to the ground, it would go off. So our infantry was dug in, but attacking troops were in the open. So we could fire right over our troops and catch the enemy on the ground even when they were close to our troops. And uh so uh…
There were some real fights at that time. And then the week of the cease fire, our battalion was ordered to move over near Kunsong, and along with a lot of other artillery because there was a lot of fighting going on there. And uh we moved over that night- it was a temporary move so to speak. I don’t know whether it was ten, fifteen, twenty miles, but we pulled in
up in firing position. Before we settled down for the night, the battalion commander said, “ Hey, uh, Jake, you need to go back there to old position and pick up a load of supplies that we couldn’t bring, or forgot to bring, whatever.” So I went back to the old position and loaded up and was ready to come back the next morning. I got a phone call saying “don’t go back to your old position- they got run over last night.
The Chinese had broken through the South Korean lines and attacked the artillery even that was behind the infantry.” And uh it turned out that our battalion was able to get out. They lost two or three guns they couldn’t, couldn’t start. They were on the tanks- they apparently had trouble when they went in- they kinda pulled them in… had engine trouble. They hadn’t been dug in long time back
at the other position. They weren’t really, what do you call it, serviced correctly or had that much runnings. They couldn’t take, go out with them. We lost, uh, probably about a dozen uh people in the pull out, either POWs or killed or wounded in action. And, uh, all this is indicated on our battalion website on the, on the internet.
Descriptions of our battles, and this particular incident. So uh I missed that kind of hand to hand action that night because I was not there. They were able to pull back and set up another position and start returning fire. In fact, they fired back on our old position. I mean our new position where we had left weapons to keep the Chinese from being able to use them, uh,
you know repair them, or pull them out. Uh later on, I was a battalion troop and information officer, which they call it TI&E. And I was I assigned the job of training, well running a school since that was my background. For, we had a battalion of about seven hundred and of those over a hundred of those didn’t have an eighth grade education.
We were integrated then. Uh, for a long time the services had separate black units and white units. And so we were uh integrated. Most of those who didn’t have the eighth grade were black. And I was assigned the job of having teachers to bring them up through an eighth grade level with their schooling. Later on I was given a teaching assignment running a… I mean participating in
A NCO school, training the sergeants in advanced areas of our, uh, requirements of our unit. And then uh, later I was… got assigned an executive officer of the Charlie battery. And then when the battal-, battery commander left, rotated, I became battery commander of Charlie battery for the last two, three months.
And then uh rotated home in July of 54. I was promoted to Captain and uh, instead of two and a half years later getting out of the service or at least getting inactive, I stayed active the whole time and they kept promoting me. So that’s how I ended up a full Colonel. Uh, after 27 years of reserve,
active reserve duty, I did a three year tour, well assignment, of liason officer for West Point. Well for the academies … so I recruited in the high schools around my area for getting seniors to apply for, to get an appointment to either WestPoint or Air Force or Naval Academy.
And uh so I had quite.. And then I was instructor with
the USAR school which we had going in which is a reserve training to teach people who had just gotten their officer training to advance their training.
Let’s go back to the armistice July 27 of 1953.
You were there at the moment- what was it like to be there?
I don’t know, it was…
What did you feel?
You know since it wasn’t, we weren’t on the front line, it didn’t uh… it was just sort of a process and, uh. Well I guess after this many years, even though you felt a lot then, again it seems like it was just a part of how life goes. They said “quit firing” so we quit. And uh there was sort of sporadic back and forth
And of course the negotiations were going on and we sorta followed those real close and wondered when they were gonna decide to agree on what they wanted ,what each side was gonna do. And they couldn’t do it. But finally they decided to finally quit. Well, we’ll stay where we are for the time being and see what happens, so we’re still there.
Looking to see whose gonna do what.
It’s been sixty years since the armistice was signed.
That’s a long time.
Can you think of any war that lasted sixty years after a cease fire in twentieth century?
No, no. I can’t, uh, I got the American history war in high school and I don’t remember studying about anything that lasted this long.
There’s still a lot of problems in North Korea, but if there is a petition
to replace the armistice with a peace treaty, would you be willing to sign that?
I think so as long as uh, you know the, they allow similar to what East and West Germany -they finally torn down the wall. So we can tear down the 38thparallel barbed wiring and uh..
That’s too far ahead. If there is a petition
to ask, replace the armistice with a peace treaty, would you be willing to consider to signing?
I, you know I’m not sure what the legal ramifications are, but I don’t see uh, I don’t know what the agreements are going to be for that, what each side would agree to whenever they sign it. Uh… I don’t, I can’t, I don’t see, you know,
anyone taking over anyone else’s territory as such. I think we can stay where we are and peacefully integrate back. I know there are a lot of families. South Koreans that have families in North Korea that they need to get back with and I, uh, I think they repatriated all of the prisoners involved in both sides,
so that’s, that would be not a part of it. That was- what operation was that called? Big Switch? What was it- when they, let the, quit the firing and then later on… I did revisit Korea in 2002 and went over to the, to the uh where they…?
And also where the prisoners…
Point of, Reach of, Point of No Return
Yea. And they had a what was it? An alley, or a tunnel, or a bridge where they, where they came across back and forth. So my son is a Korean War Veteran.
He went to Korea in the eighties and spent a year there so… You know at that time we were still recruiting. We’re still recruiting
Korean Service Veterans so he’s a uh… he’s a member. And we have not a lot, but we don’t differentiate when we recruit. If you served in Korea, you’re eligible to join our chapter so.
So going back to the point, um, you belong to two chapters, and now you can work with them…
Well, I’m actually the sorta the Membership Chairman for the Department of Florida. We have twenty-two, twenty-two chapters and I monitor all of their activities and then I’ve got also a monitor that gives the other 233 chapters throughout the United States- I’ve got all of that data that I am access that Jim Doppelhammer maintains on the website. And given direction as I did the other day
Trying to get the uh people to use the website to make their job easier and make mine easier too.
What do you think is the legacy of the Korean War and Korean War Veterans?
Well, uh, we’ve got a good start through our Tele America program to pass it on to the other generations. And in face, here a couple of years ago we got an offer
from someone. I don’t know who it was… I think it might have been the Korean government that came through our organization and sponsored uh some of us Korean War veterans to go back to Korea. I mean not to Korea, I’m sorry, I’m getting ahead of himself. To go to the academies, so it wasn’t to Korea. But in, anyway, through our national government and, uh, I took my son and myself
and we went to the Air Force academy and I lectured to the cadets on a Tele America type program. I had some of my Korea slides that I showed and PowerPoint presentation to them, so that’s… And then we do at the University of Florida still with my unit. A chapter that we have there we do a lot of visits to high schools and talk to their,
to the classes, the history and the senior classes. And, uh, we have about half a dozen of our chapter volunteer to sit down and have a roundtable discussion to the, to the students and tell them about our experiences in Korea and get them interested in it.
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