Korean War Legacy Project

James Purcell


James Purcell was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 5, 1936. He grew up in a working-class family. His mother was a teacher and his father was an architect. He enlisted in the army on January 24, 1955. He states that he only enlisted to get the benefit of the GI Bill. Although the war in Korea was over, he was still sent there to work in technical intelligence which included studying foreign weapons, such as tanks and machine guns to help soldiers recognize them on the battlefield.  His specific job was to process captured weapons by photographing them and packing them so that they could be shipped back to America.

Video Clips

Retracing my Steps

James Purcell describes the devastation after the war that he witnessed around Seoul. He arrived after the war had ended to an almost devasted airport that has now been transformed into the largest airport in the world. He was so impressed with the Korean people and their industrious nature.

Tags: Incheon,Seoul,Impressions of Korea,Physical destruction,Pride,South Koreans

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Life After Korea

James Purcell describes his life after he returned home from Korea. He returned to America, followed in his father's footsteps, and began working in construction. His experience in the service helped to expand his career.

Tags: Seoul,G.I. Bill,Home front

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