Korean War Legacy Project

John A. Ciburk


John A. Ciburk enlisted in the United States Army after World War II when jobs were scarce as so many men were coming back from overseas. He served around the globe from England to Japan, where he flew forty-three missions over Korea as a flight engineer/mechanic. He describes several targets they were ordered to bomb as a means of stopping enemy forces on the ground and shares that they were later ordered to bomb villages as the Chinese were using them for housing. He details two particular missions where mishaps occurred, including one which required bailing out of the plane. Despite being sent to fly missions in Korea rather than being stationed in Puerto Rico, he is proud of his service and feels that everyone who serves is a hero.

Video Clips

The One Good Thing about General MacArthur

John A. Ciburk describes where he was based in Japan. He shares that he generally disliked General MacArthur but describes the one thing he really appreciated about the him. He recalls General MacArthur's disdain for wearing ties in the summer, and due to this, no one had to do so.

Tags: Living conditions,Pride

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Bombing in North Korea

John A. Ciburk describes several bombing missions in which he participated. He recalls bombing an oil refinery as well as roads and bridges in North Korea as a means of stopping enemy forces on the ground. He shares that when the Chinese forces came in, they were ordered to start bombing villages as the Chinese were using them for housing.

Tags: Pyungyang,Chinese,Civilians,Cold winters,North Koreans,Weapons

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Fear of Jumping

John A. Ciburk elaborates on the need to bail out of a plane while on a mission due to 2 engines catching fire. He describes the conditions at the time which entailed dense fog and close proximity to mountains, making it hard to judge when the plane might strike as it was quickly losing altitude. He recalls his fear of heights from childhood and shares how the fear of jumping from a plane claimed a life.

Tags: Fear

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Stationed in "Puerto Rico"

John A. Ciburk describes extending his enlistment in order to be stationed in Puerto Rico and what happened to that wish once the Korean War began. He explains that his extension was redirected by the government to Japan instead. He recalls arriving at the airbase in Yokota, Japan, to a large sign that jokingly read, "Welcome to Puerto Rico."

Tags: Home front,Living conditions

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Flights and Mishaps

John A. Ciburk explains that he flew 43 bombing missions while serving during the war, carrying 20,000 pounds of bombs each mission. He recounts 2 particular mishaps that fortunately ended well. He shares that on one mission the bomb door kept opening which forced them to drop their bombs before reaching their target, and on another mission, 2 engines caught fire, forcing them to parachute from the plane.

Tags: Physical destruction,Weapons

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