James Houp was born in Oley, Pennsylvania, on July 14, 1931. He and his family moved to Boyertown, and he later graduated from Boyertown High School in 1949. Shortly after graduating, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He attended basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and then went to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, to train as a teletype operator. He graduated from his training just before the Korean War broke out and was soon sent to Toyko, Japan. He served in the signal corps of the 7th Infantry Division at the base of Mount Fuji until he boarded a ship in Yokohama, Japan, which was set to join the invasion of Incheon, Korea, on September 18, 1950. He served in Korea until July of 1951.
Enlisting in the U.S. Army
James Houp recalls his experience enlisting in the U.S. Army. He graduated in 1949 and enlisted in the Army that same year. He recalls not learning anything about Korea in school. He attended boot camp at Fort Knox and advanced training at Fort Monmouth where he graduated at the top of his class. He describes being sent to Tokyo, Japan, before ultimately heading to Korea for the Invasion of Incheon.
James Houp reflects on his experience at the Incheon Landing. He shares how he and his unit went in on the third day of the invasion, on September 18, 1950. He explains that his job was to lay telephone wire. He remembers that Seoul had not been recaptured yet when he arrived. He remembers seeing enemy soldiers sticking their heads outside of the foxholes as he was re-laying wire that had been run over by tanks. He shares how, at that point, he recognized they were actually at war.
Time in Korea
James Houp speaks about his time in Pusan and Heungnam, up towards the Yalu River, and recalls meeting Chinese forces. He describes how his unit was pushed back to Heungnam where he worked to set up communication lines with the ships. He recalls how his unit stayed in a warehouse and remembers seeing the Army retreating away from the Chosin (Jangjin) Reservoir. He comments on the temperature being thirty-two degrees below zero at the time. He recalls his departure via a U.S. ship headed back to Pusan and then to other locations south of Seoul.
Korea Today and the Honor Flight
James Houp recalls reading about Korea today and recognizes its great economic achievements. He remembers participating in an honor flight to the Korean War Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. He shares how three South Koreans stopped him to take a picture and were very grateful for his service in Korea. He emphasizes how he cannot believe the transformation Korea has made from a very poor country to one of the richest in the world today. He expresses his pride in being a Korean War Veteran.