Korean War Legacy Project

Jake O’Rourke


John Jake O’Rourke enlisted in the Marines shortly after graduating high school and was sent to Korea in 1950. He recalls boarding a ship in California with other soldiers, only to find out halfway across the Pacific where they were all actually heading to serve. He recounts the Battle of Inchon Landing and discusses the impact of seeing death, particularly the death of fellow Marines. He details the Marines’ position movement, frostbite among the Chinese, napalm usage, and the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. He is proud of his service and shares that he has no regrets.

Video Clips

Destination Unknown & Inchon Landing

Jake O'Rourke shares that he and other fellow soldiers boarded a ship in California, not knowing its destination, in September 1950. He recounts orders not being revealed until they were halfway across the Pacific and adds that he had never heard of Korea let alone where it was located prior. He recalls arriving in Japan and experiencing a cyclone before sailing on and landing in Inchon where their mission centered on cutting off the supply routes of the North Koreans.

Tags: Incheon,Basic training,Monsoon,North Koreans,Prior knowledge of Korea

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Remembering Death

Jake O'Rourke recounts seeing his first Marine casualty and shares the impact the encounter had on him. He continues by describing his participation in an ambush of three North Korean tanks shortly thereafter. He recalls casualties on both sides and shares that he sees them in his dreams, causing him to take inventory of his life. He also adds his thoughts on why there will always be war.

Tags: Front lines,North Koreans,Weapons

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On the Move to Chosin Reservoir

Jake O'Rourke describes his time spent in the hills fighting guerrilla forces and moving to and from various locations. He details the high casualties caused by frostbite among the Chinese soldiers, adding that it was both an ally and an enemy. He attributes much of the Marines' successes to experienced leadership as many higher ranking soldiers had served during WWII. He also recounts his experience at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, sharing that the Chinese would play their bugles when they attacked and retreated, and he describes the use of napalm against the enemy.

Tags: 1950 Wonsan Landing, 10/25,1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Hagalwoori,Hamheung,Wonsan,Yudamri,Chinese,Cold winters,Front lines,Weapons

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No Regrets and Pride

Jake O'Rourke shares that he has no regrets and compares the experience to a baseball game in that one plays the game the best he can, sometimes winning and sometimes losing. He feels he played his best and had a good time while doing so. He describes being proud of his service and adds that while he has not revisited Korea since the war, he keeps up with its progress.

Tags: Seoul,Impressions of Korea,Modern Korea,Pride

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