James L. Friedel was born on July 6, 1931, in Yoakum, Texas. He was raised on a farm and had two younger brothers. He briefly attended Victoria College after graduating from Cuero High School in 1949. He and three friends decided to enlist in the US Navy together in 1950 because they wanted to see the world and do their part in Korea. After boot camp and fire control school, he was deployed to Japan on the USS Hector, an auxiliary repair ship. He spent the next fifteen months taking care of the sights on the guns of the ship mostly in port in Sasebo, Japan. While attending additional training stateside, he got married. He was deployed back to Japan in 1953 and returned to the United States in 1954. He shares he would not trade anything for his experiences during the Korean War.
Life at Sasebo, Japan
James Friedel talks about daily life when he was stationed on the USS Hector in Sasebo, Japan. He recalls playing basketball and baseball during his free time. He comments on how the Japanese were very helpful and cordial to the Americans.
"A Most Rewarding Christmas"
James Friedel tells the story of when he volunteered to host a Japanese orphan for Christmas festivities on the USS Hector in Sasebo, Japan, in 1950. He recalls how it was his first Christmas away from home and how homesick he was at the time. He shares he and other volunteers spent the day with the orphans, watching movies, opening presents, and enjoying a Christmas meal together. He adds that it was a rewarding experience and shares that it was emotional to see the orphans leave.
Repairing Damaged Ships at Sea
James Friedel speaks generally about the process of repairing ships off the coast of Korea while deployed on the USS Hector, an auxiliary repair ship. He discusses how divers would conduct underwater welding to repair damaged ships. He adds he did not participate in this specific duty.