Korean War Legacy Project

John C. Delagrange


John Delagrange was born on the 27th of July 1932 in small town near Barberton, Ohio.  After graduating from high school, he and a friend enlisted in the United States Army in 1952.  John Delagrange received his Basic Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky and was then sent to Fort Riley, Kansas where he received training as an Arial Photo Interpreter.  In December of 1952, he arrived at Kimpo Air Base via Inchon and was assigned to the 4th Arial Photo Interpretation Company (G-2) where he served until being released from the Army in 1954.  During his service in the Korean War, he analyzed photos from reconnaissance missions and helped develop action plans for future missions.  It was at Kimpo Air Base in September of 1953, where he witnessed the defection of North Korean MiG 15 Pilot, No Kum Sok (Kenneth Rowe).


Identifying Targets During Korean War

John Delagrange was trained as a photo Interpreter and he had difficulty identifying targets in North Korea. Using reconnaissance photos of battles throughout the mountains and hills, the United States Army Aerial Photo Interpretation Company (API) Air Intelligence Section pieced together maps in order to create a massive map of Korea. Every ravine, elevation, mountain, and hill was labeled by this photo analysis company.

Tags: Incheon,Seoul,Yeongdeungpo,Basic training,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,Physical destruction,Pride,Weapons

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Enemy River Crossing

John Delagrange spent most of his time at Kimpo Air Base analyzing areial photos for intelligence. He sent a reconnaissance flight to investigate an area of concern on the Imjingang River. This is the location where many of the Chinese troops hid and invaded Allied forces during the Korean War.

Tags: Hangang (River),Imjingang (River),Seoul,Chinese,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,Physical destruction,South Koreans,Weapons

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North Korean Defector - Kenneth Rowe

John Delagrange remembers the day No Kum Sok landed his MiG 15 fighter at Kimpo Air Base defecting to South Korea in 1953. No Kum Sok's (Kenneth Rowe) wrote a book and John Delagrange heard it first hand during their phone conversations later in life. No Kum Sok was a North Korean pilot during the Korean War, but he stole a MiG-15 and flew over the DMZ to Kimpo Air Base to earn his freedom.

Tags: 1953 Armistice 7/27,Panmunjeom,Seoul,Suwon,Yeongdeungpo,Fear,Front lines,North Koreans,Pride,South Koreans,Weapons

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

J:         My name is John C. for Charles Delagrange. I always put the C in because there are other John Delagrange.  But, uh, uh, I, uh, date of, I was born in 1932 during the Great Depression in America.

I:          Birthdate?

J:         And my birthday was June the 27thwhich has something I want to talk about.

I:          Exactly.

J:         The Korean War started on June the 25th.

I:          Where were you born?

J:         And I was born in a little town is called Western Star,


but the, the town, the closest was Barberton, Ohio.

I:          Barberton?

J:         Barberton.  B A R B E R T O N, Ohio, and it was called the Magic City because it grew up so fast. It was an industrial town, and that’s where I, and, um, but, um, then I moved to, to Lancaster in, uh, after, of course way up till the war was over.  But, uh, came home to, from the Army, uh, mustered out at, uh, Fort Sheridan and, uh


uh, they, uh, the State of Ohio, the only money I’ve ever taken and wanted, I, I didn’t expect to even be paid.  I was doing my duty as American citizen to go to help other nations and to defend our country against Communism.  So it was, I was very altruistic about how I thought about it.  But when I came home back in 1954, the State of Ohio, shortly after I was at home, did a wonderful thing.  They sent me a check for


$300.00.  Back then, it’s today would be over $1,000.00

I:          Um hm.

J:         It may even, $900.00 or so probably.  But I don’t wanna get

I:          But before the

J:         get too far with that.  But that was part of the things I want, okay, go ahead.

I:          So you, as you mentioned, you born, uh, right after the Great Depression, and tell me about your parents and your siblings when you were growing up

J:         Okay.

I:          and how was it like to grow up in the era of the Great Depression?  By the way, there is a reflection because of your, uh, glasses.

J:         Okay.


I:          So you are welcome to use whenever you need to

J:         When I do that, okay.  Okay, good.

I:          look at it.  But, yeah

J:         That, that’s [INAUDIBLE] because I, I have good

I:          So tell me about

J:         I have good eyesight like that, but it’s right here.

I:          Tell me about your family when you were growing up,

J:         Well, I’ll

I:          Your siblings.

J:         try to make it quick.  My mother and father, uh, she, he was 11 years older than she was. It was during the, uh, Roaring 20’s. My mother had worked on a farm, was on a farm, but she got off the farm.  But they, um, they met and were married, and I was the first child born. I’ve got pictures of her holding me as a little boy and, uh, and


I:          So your father was farmer, too?

J:         and, and, and my father was a, a, a pattern maker, and during the Second World War now, when it finally came, I was worried that he was gonna have to go to war when I was just a young boy.  But he didn’t have to go because he had a priority job.  He made patterns for the war effort.  He made all kinds of, for, cassocksand that.  So, but, uh, growing up we didn’t know there was a Depression.  We had things to eat like peanut butter sandwiches and, and vegetables and things like that


as children and, uh, but my mother and father, they got a legal separation after we, there were four brothers, and my youngest brother had Cerebral Palsy, and his name was Jimmy, and my other brother, and I just talked to my other brother.  He’s my only other, uh, family member living in Eugene, he lives in Freemont, Ohio.  And he, by the way, is a, is a, was a veteran but not of the Korean War. He went later.  But

I:          So when did you graduate high school, and what high school?

J:         Okay.


That’s, uh, I was from the Barberton High School on June the 8th, 1950.

I:          June the 8th.

J:         8th, 1950.  One June the 25th, the Korean War started on a Sunday when wonder, wonderful great leader Kim Ill

I:          Sung.

J:         Kim Yung ill.  Kim Jung Ill.

I:          You mean Sung.

J:         Kim Ill Jung, yeah.

I:          Kim Ill Sung.

J:         Chung.

I:          Sung.  S U N G.

J:         Okay.

I:          Yeah.

J:         But when he decided, by the grace of Joseph Stal,


I read this book. I’ve read this book, and I learned more and more about how Stalin and the, and the Russians were involved in this whole thing from the very beginning.  So, uh, okay.  Now, what was I, where was I at I did,

FEMALE VOICE:       Graduation.

I:          After graduation, what did you do?

J:         Oh, okay.  Um, my first job, let me get this straight now, and I, af, let’s see

I:          Let me ask this question, John.

J:         Yeah.



I:          Did you learn anything about Korea from the school?  Anything?

J:         From, in school.  Uh, I loved geography and that, and I knew where Korea was.  But I didn’t know much about it.  But, uh, in the days when I was in the, in grade school.

I:          Um hm.

J:         We said the Lord’s Prayer. We started the day with the Pledge of Allegiance, and   on a, and uh, it was awesome, and we sang many times Christian songs.  But, uh, that became the, but, um, now I, I digress. I, you know


I:          So you didn’t know much about Korea.

J:         No.  I, I, I, I really

I:          and school didn’t teach about Korea either.

J:         And, no.  It was a general thing, like, you know, starting with the Indian going across through Indonesia and all and then into Korea, then Japan, and then, and then north and, you know, we we learned it, so I had a good idea where most of these nations were because we had, the teacher would have a map and show.  So we did, uh, it wasn’t specifically Korea, but Korea


was in it, you know.

I:          Yeah.

J:         It never was, never at that time did I think I would ever be in Korea helping defend the nation.

I:          So when the Korean War broke out, you didn’t know much about it.

J:         No.

I           And do you, did you think that you were going to go there?

J:         Did I was

I:          Did you think that you

J:         I was gonna go to

I:          going to be dragged into the Korean War?

J:         because the war had started, and I had to go sign up for the draft, and I figured it’s for the Korean War.


I:          Hm.

J:         I’m gonna go to Korea.  So I took some

I:          What about Germany?  Many people went Germany.

J:         Well, let me tell you how that happened.

I:          Tell me.

J:         We were trained, I, I went, uh, I tried to kind of cut it down cause it’s a long story, but, uh, went in, took my medical exam, went to Cleveland, was sworn in, sent from Cleveland to the east coast to, uh, Maryland, to Fort Meade, Maryland. Am I talking too fast maybe?

I:          No, no.  You’re fine.

J:         Fort Meade, Fort Meade, Maryland, and, uh


there I took a battery of tests of all kinds, psychological tests, uh, and, and the one that, I didn’t realize made the difference, I’m an artist and a designer, and I can recognize shapes and forms upside down and backwards because I can, the idea of somebody could show me something upside down, and I knew what it was. So I did great in those tests, never once realizing that, um, that was gonna play a major role when went to further training.  But I was


what you call A profile.  I was cannon fodder.  I’m as a young man, and I had, I had good eyesight.  I didn’t have flat, everything was fine.  I didn’t need glasses.  And so I went to Fort, they sent me from there by train, um.  But oh, back up.  One thing I forgot to say in there.  At Cleveland, I had, uh, I had a chance, because I, I had signed up for,


I joined the Army instead of waiting, and I had, I waited, oh, the better part of a year, and I wasn’t called yet, and I, it, waiting is miserable, and my friend and I, we both, we were both engaged to be married. I forgot to tell this, and, um, so, uh, when we got to Cleveland, he said, uh, we better change, we better not, cause we had, we went and joined the Army is what we did.  We joined for three years.  Well, we found out that we didn’t have to join.  We could have joined


for two years. So at the time when we were gonna be sworn in, just before, the mean old Sergeant come out, and we setting there and, and we was talking to all regular Army guys our age.  If you’re, if you’re drafted, you’re a U.S., you’re, and mine’s RA15477531 was my, I’ll never forget that number and, because if you did, you didn’t know where you were at.  But, um, my, my best friend, we went to school from the time we were in the first grade, to, through


high school, we had just graduated, he looked at that Sergeant, he said now, if anybody needs to change anything on your papers no, cause he knew we were all, we had all joined, anything, now’s the time to do it before you’re sworn in.  And every, boy, these, everybody, he talked pretty mean. Everybody, I was scared silly.  I didn’t know.  I was just a kid.  I was 18, 19 years old, just turned 19.  But my buddy, Eddie, he said I wanna change mine to two years, and my buddy John


does, too, and he pointed to me, and I went up and I thought ooh, Eddie, thank you.  Boy, I was scared, and that Sergeant took his pencil, and he went, does anybody else wanna change theirs?  And, and nope.  Nobody said a thing.  And that was the thing that that, that’s the reason, one of the providential reasons that I call it, providence, I’ll take the good long look in that [INAUDIBLE]  At the time, I didn’t know that. But that one thing,


I went to Fort Knox, Kentucky, took basic mili, basic rifleman training at, at, at

I:          When was it?

J:         And that was, I got there in, in, uh, I got the date right on here.  I, cause I had to, enlist in the Army in ’52, uh, basic training in July.  I went, uh, after basic training, so it was a four-month training.  I went, uh, after I was sworn in and went directly to Fort, Fort Knox, Kentucky


to the, uh, I was in the, in the, um, um, now, I was trying to think the name of the, the

I:          John, be careful.  Be careful your glasses there in your lap.  I don’t want you to

J:         Yeah.  Yeah.

I:          sit on it, okay?

J:         I’d better put them out there, yeah.

I:          And

J:         Yeah, I, I probably should put those on now just to, to, try and read my dates and stuff.  Oh gosh, we got a lot of time.

I:          But I know you have a lot to say, so we need to be really wise in time, in terms of reusing

J:         Right.

I:          our time, okay?

J:         Yeah, yeah.


I:          So let’s focus on you went to Fort Knox

J:         Fort, Fort Knox,

I:          for basic.

J:         uh, and, uh, for, um, basic infantry training for four months. After basic in 1952, July of ‘52

I:          Oh, 1952.

J:         2, yeah.

I:          So you didn’t go to Korea right away.

J:         Oh not right away because, um, what happened when the, half of the Company was sent to Ukom, U, U, U, would, would be Germany for,


I:          Um.

J:         you know, and had I, my name been called, I would have gone to Germany.  I wouldn’t have even gone to Korea.  But I was supposed to go to Korea

I:          Um hm.

J:         because, how do I want to connect this now, that, um, um, the orders finally came down to out, to the orderly room, and a, a Master Sergeant, he was a wonderful guy, bug, heavy guy, and he’s an Army man for, forever, yeah, take that, and and a wonderful guy, and he


called.  He, we went in.  Carl Trump and me were the only two guys.  Trump was in the, the first half of the, the way the Army does it is they go from A through N or halfway through the alphabet, and they go to, they went to Europe.  They got their orders, and a few guys were still there cause they had to have some, had to have teeth fixed or something like that.  But anyway, um

I:          So what was your, when did you leave for Korea? From where?

J:         And I, that, okay.  So what happened is I was sent for three more months in the country. My wife and I


were engaged to be married, but we weren’t going to get married.

I:          What was your wife’s name?

J:         Catherin.

I:          Catherin?

J:         Catherin Marie.

I:          C A

J:         Yeah, Cat, C A T H E R I N, Catherin Marie.

I:          You were engaged.

J:         And we were engaged to be married.  Well, I was com, the, the war, this, this Sergeant said you’re gonna be three more months in the country for Special Intelligence training.  You’re going to the Army General School at Fort Riley to, to learn.  But he didn’t, he said I don’t know what this means, A P I, and he’s reading all this.  You’ll have to find out when you get there,


Delagrange, is what he said to me, and to Carl Trump, he, so we, Carl and I drove up to, to, cause we had 10 days at home.  We got, My wife and I got married because we didn’t get married

I:          Married.

J:         and, yeah, because I’m gonna be three more months. So we got married, and I, as soon as I got to Fort Riley, uh, um, I met a wonderful, uh, uh, Staff Sergeant there, and he drove, he had a, he was allowed, he was married, so he was allowed to live off the base, and we go into Fort Riley for the training, for


for, it was Aerial Photo Interpreting is what I was going for.  Okay. So we went and did that and, uh, when I got to Fort Riley, I, like I say, I met this, uh, Sergeant, can’t, I should remember his name, a wonderful guy, but he said John, he said, um, I told him I was just married, and he said, and I want to find out, he probably said there’s a place, a small little apartment, you know. It wasn’t much bigger than this room.  But, uh, right down the street from me he said.  If, uh,


and, and it was like, if I remember right it was only $10 a month. It was very in, cause it was a one room practically, and a little old lady owned it.  But he says, uh, then he says I’ll pick you up and we’ll, we can, we can sleep at home, and in, in the morning get up and get in for Reveille and, you know, and for all that stuff and then, and then I’ll bring you back home.  So I had an extra, and, you know, profits.  I, there, I, so it made it.  So I called my wife, told her, she’s all excited she can come out, but her mother was, oh.


She’s gonna have to get on a train and go all by herself.  So

I:          John, I know you have so much story, but we have only one hour

J:         Okay.

I:          I want to concentrate on your battle experience, okay?

J:         Okay, yeah.

I:          Uh, but let me ask this.  Catherin must be really brave and courageous to marry the guy that who’s going to go to war.

J:         We were in love.  I mean, and I’ve, she’s the only woman I’ve ever known

I:          Uh huh.

J:         and we were married for 63 years.  She went home to the Lord.  I’m gonna see her again.


I:          Must been very hard for you to be separated, right?

J:         That, that it was.

I:          Oh.

J:         And, uh, she sent pictures every day, and when Diana was born, she sent pictures of her, and it was so, uh, and I just kept doing what I did in Korea which I’m gonna tell you about

I:          Yeah.

J:         in my, my story.

I:          So let’s focus on that.

J:         Okay.

I:          Um, when did you leave, from where, to Korea?

J:         Well, okay.  From Kor, uh, we went to, after Fort Riley, I got a leave of, of, uh, 10 days.


I, I went, my dad took me, I’ll get it.  I went, met Carl, and he had a car and, no, we didn’t drive.  We had, we, we got an airplane, and I flew on one of the Lockheed Constellations, that funny shaped plane with the twin tails, a big passenger plane.  I never flew on one again after that.  But we flew from there to Camp Stoneman, California where I was, uh, mustered out to go to Korea where I had received assignment to board the U.S.S. General Anderson and, uh, I looked that up.  I even found pictures of that.


I:          When was it?

J:         In, um,

I:          When did you leave?

J:         It would have been in, um, still in ’52 in the end of October it was.

I:          And where did you arrive?

J:         Boarded a ship to Japan and then on to Korea on December, but, uh, in, in 1952, Camp Stoneman, California, Fort Riley, yeah. And, um, I didn’t put the, November of, uh, I was at Camp Stoneman.  So I was on the sea in ’50 and


heading on a, on a troop ship, 5,000 men going to Korea.  But basically, to Japan first.

I:          Yeah.

J:         And, uh, on the way, we, uh, the, the, we, we stopped at, uh, Hawaii and the n to, uh, at, uh, Okinawa, and then we hit Camp Drake, Japan, and I went through, and that’s where I received assignment to Korea. They put me on another ship, and I landed at Inchon the second time

I:          When?

J:         I was, the first, in, at Inchon and in 19, uh, 52, um


and, [MUMBLES] in 1952 did I didn’t put, Camp Stoneman, landed at Inchon on, uh, landed at Inchon on December 16th, 1952.  I arrived at Kimpo Air Base, was assigned to the, you know, to, that, to the, I, I didn’t know where, where I was gonna be going, but I, you know, I, they, I didn’t know where Kimpo was, which Kimpo was right there at Yeongdeungpo

I:          Right.

J:         right at Inchon, and, and, uh, it’s only


16 miles from the 38thParallel.

I:          So what was your unit?

J:         It was called the 4thAerial Photo Interpretation Company

I:          Fourth

J:         Aerial

I:          Um hm.

J:         Photo Interpretation, ah, it’s API is the abbreviation for it.  Fourth API. It’s a G, a G2 air which is, uh, uh, intelligence, air intelligence section.

I:          Okay.

J:         And then a G2 in our me, terms is intelligence section.  And, um,


I:          What kind of training did you receive to do that job?

J:         Well, I didn’t, I, actually that’s a good question because I was trained on, at, uh, Fort Riley on how to use a stereoscope and all the special stuff you use, but we didn’t have Korean terrain.  We had Ger, we had stuff from the second World War. So everything I learned there, 90% of it didn’t help me cause we were looking at Germany, radars posi, all open, open, uh, uh, gun displacements and everything


were, were taken by, usually back then it wasn’t directly down.  It was, uh, oblique photo, photography where, for reconnaissance when they, uh, before, uh there were, you know, battles would start and that.  So what happened when I got to Korea, I had the one thing that was different is Korea was a guerilla war.  They camouflaged everything.  They were genius at camouflaging.  Digging through the backside of a mountain, uh, to, with a tunnel all the way        through and bring the cannon


in from and build a para, parapet up front that was in a little v shape and, and, uh, so, what I’m saying is we had photogr, we had maps which is another thing, and, and I have this in, in some of the other papers that tell about, I didn’t, we didn’t, I didn’t know this, but I would never have questioned it.  Why, how did we have all these perfect, uh, topographical maps of all of Korea, South Korea, all the way to the north, I did, I


Google searched that just the other day and found out why.

I:          Um hm.

J:         The Army Corp. of Engineers, by the Senate of the United States, was sent to Korea to help Korea get back on, to get on their feet.  They were, they, you know, a, a, a, a struggling country, and, so they, the Army Corp. of Engineers, they must have had aerial planes to, to check it out. But the surveyors went.  They made ma, perfect maps of North Korea and South Korea.  That’s what our Army had


and Kim Ill, I don’t know that he even knew this was in existence.  We had maps within a foot.  It showed every ravine, every elevation, the heighth, the mountains of hills, every hill

I:          So

J:         from East to West.

I:          John, tell me about specifically what did you do with that, uh, the aerial photos.

J:         Okay.  Well, what we did, the Air For, you know, we were at an air base, and I was Army, so we were billeted by the Air Force and that.  We were in the Aerial Photo Center.   In the same Center was the,


the photo group from the Air Force.  They were professional, you know, to develop the film, develop, uh, and the, the planes flew right out of Kimpo. They were the, uh, F, and I’ve got this documented in there if you wanted to, you know, get any more.  But they were F80 shooting stars, but, uh, that, the plane was, it had wing tip tanks, but it, they took the, they had guns on it, but they, they never flew armed.  They didn’t have to.  They flew at 32 thou, 36,000 feet, and they had a special camera


that could take pictures of the ground with overlapping photos.

I:          Yeah.

J:         So you take every other photo and put them in, put a stereoscope over it.  Everything’s in 3 dimension when you look through it.

I:          What did you do?  Did you look at

J:         and that’s what I did.

I:          Oh.

J:         Looked for targets.

I:          Okay.

J:         And when we found something, and one of the stories that I’m, that we’re gonna get way ahead of time because I, it’s amazing. I rehearsed it so much.

I:          [LAUGHS]

J:         Some of the things that happened while I was there, but the most important thing was the, we knew that the front lines


guys were, were, were, were, relying on us to find this stuff, and one night, a forward observer on the, and this is when the fighting had gone clear to the north, down to Pusan and, and back onto the north and then back to Seoul and then back up and then ended at the 38thParallel.  That’s what my things show in here, but we won’t even do that, and, uh, uh, I’ve, but this, this is the stuff I told, ja, to the school

I:          We’ll see that.

J:         so that they could see it.

I:          Yeah.

J:         But you’ll see that.


But, uh, this is great cause I’m, I’m way ahead of my schedule now.  But the airplane, uh, not the airplane, the, um,

I:          So you are the one who looked at those aerial

J:         The photo, the air photos

I:          pictures, and then what, what can you, what do you suggest?

J:         Well, well, it’s, you gotta know the territory, and you gotta know what you’re looking, so I learned from the guys that were already there, and they are, you’re looking at, when you look and scan, you scan, you look, you don’t see anything until you really start looking close cause


the photos were taken in daytime.  The Koreans, our Air Force was so over powering, they didn’t dare do anything after that main line settled the 38th, they didn’t do any tr, troop movements I, in the daytime.  Everything was done at night.  One evening, a forward observer heard a train where it shouldn’t have been.  It was on the Imjingang River.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Uh, it had to be.  There’s a bridge at Imjingang, but the bridge is blown out. So he couldn’t, but the,


he’s way down from where the, I’ve got a map that I marked where it’s at it, so I, maybe 10 or 15 miles behind the lines or more, where, uh, the Imjingang River, it comes from the north down into, when it gets into South Korea, it crosses, it becomes the Hanh, Hangang River I believe is, yeah.  But, um, one of the, I didn’t find it, but one of the other photo interpreter guys, we said, we got this message, and we looked at all


of our, we had missions that had already been flown over those areas.  All it showed was that bridge was out.  We couldn’t find out how in the world could a train get across a bridge that’s been bombed out.  Well, we ordered another mission, a daytime mission, fly over the same area but fly farther north.  They did. We found a bump on a side, sticking out of the river, and it was like a little, u h, it was, another coming out into the river.  It was a pontoon bridge welded


together with steel. They floated it down the river, put it in place, bolted it in, the train come across, unloaded troops, supplies and everything, back the train went, and it’s gone, and back they, then, how they got it up, I don’t know.

I:          Um hm.  So those kind of intelligence that you produced.

J:         Yeah.  That’s what we produced, well, I, I have to say it’s a joint thing because all of us were looking for this.

I:          Okay.

J:         So we, we, this is, it was, I didn’t pers, personally discover it, but I got to see it after the guy that discovered it.   So I


I:          But that, that was your job, to be

J:         And that was my job, to do

I:          to be, to print

J:         to, to find this, because quite frankly, North Korea was so well camouflaged, you, you, the on, the only time that we got, there were, one more thing.  The B20, the B29 bombers from, from, un, um Okinawa, flew MPQ2 missions, that’s on my board.  It shows the picture of the plane.  They flew night, raids where they dropped flares, and then they took multiple pictures, and


they dropped bombs.

I:          Diana, why don’t you take it out?

J:         Yeah, take those out of there.

D:        I’ll get it.

I:          But John,

J:         Just slide this

I:          you talk, you talk to me,

J:         Okay, yeah.

I:          you talk to me, okay?

J:         Okay, I forget that.

I:          Diane can

D:        I can do this.

J:         Okay.

I:          Take care of this.  You talk.

J:         Yeah, okay.  Now, okay.  Back to where I was at, um.

I:          So you has, you produced a lot of intelligence, right?

J:         Oh yes.  That’s, that was the thing.  And, and this is the first chance other than the school in, in Lancaster where I told those children, and it wasn’t the whole, and there was, uh, 500 fifth


graders.  But I talked to only about 16 of them.  But I had this which I’m gonna show you in a minute here, to show them pictorially, graphically so I really didn’t have to explain much, you know.  It was there, but I, I’m, but I did explain.  But they got a real lesson on how the Korean War started all the way through, and you can open, open that up for it

I:          Yeah.

J:         Yeah.

I:          Uh, and you have another, um, episode

J:         Yeah.

I:          with a

J:         a bombing.

I:          bombing

J:         Yeah.

I:          and MG- 15.

J:         Well

I:          So

J:         Yeah.  Okay.


The MG- 15 is the piece de resistance in Fren, that’s the icing on the cake when I tell that story.

I:          Yeah, just put it in

D:        Just put it, okay.

J:         Okay.  See here.

D:        I’m going to set it where you can see it

J:         Yeah.

D:        And he can see it.

J:         Yeah.  This is, this is what I put together for the, for the school class.

I:          No no.  You can

J:         Now, this, I made this.  I put this all together with photographs and everything.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         So.

D:        How do you want me to do this?

J:         Yeah, okay.

D:        Just prop it on this table?

J:         And it, it starts, um, and

D:        Let me get out of the picture.

J:         Yeah.  Yeah. You just sit, hey, this is great. This works


just fine. Yeah.  And, and you know what?  I brought that, where’s that little red bag?  It’s got my little pointer, oh, it’s right here.  It’s got, I thought I might just need this.  I used to do presentations for my company at a packaging corporation.  Where is it? It should be down in there.

D:        It is.

J:         It’s, it’s all folded up.

D:        Yeah, I know.

J:         It’s a, a pointer thing.

D:        It’s way on the bottom.

J:         Yeah.  Yeah. I had this, and I told, it was missing that end thing, so I had to make one for it right there.


I:          Yeah.

D:        But, okay.

I:          So give us brief

J:         From where I started, it actually starts, I started here with the kids.  Here’s North Korea, and, and here’s, uh, South Korea and North Korea, the, and I had the war started in, began June 25th, 1950.  Hostilities ended with a cease fire truce in July of 1953.  Neither side won.  Korea is still a divided nation at the 98thParallel.  Communist invasion into South Korea was defeated by


freedom loving nations by the U.N.

I:          Um hm.

J:         So I, this is what I told the kids.  And then they came to here.  Then it goes over to here, over to this one here, and here’s where, uh, North, the North Korea, when they, when the war started, they went down, clear down to the Pusan, they drove almost every, all the South Korean soldiers and the Ameri, the few Americans right at the time they were just uh, uh, uh, a token amount of Americans there for training, uh, the Nor, the ROK troops of South Korea.


But, uh, here’s, here’s, here’s when, here’s the Yalu River right up here, and the first one they, they, they started, and here it is.  They come down, they come down past Seoul and, uh, and, uh, I’m sorry.  It should have been here.  It comes down, all the way to the Pusan.  We pushed them, then, then we finally got troops in here, enough that, uh, uh, from, com, from the States, fresh troops coming in with tanks and everything we needed and, uh, and the, the wonderful


leader of the, the Communists, that guy was in, thank God he was an idiot because he tried to run the show, and he didn’t know anything how to do it, and that’s why they lost the war because, but we drove them clear back to, almost to the Yalu. Then they, then the Chinese come into it.  Boom, and down we go again.  But they got just past Seoul, and that’s all the farther they got.  Then and, uh, and then, well, we pushed them back into the main, to the 38thParallel which had already been decided earlier, I guess, that that was gonna be the,


the, the, the line where it ends.  So there’s where it ended, right there.  And, and I, and now I was at Kimpo Air Base which is, here is Seoul, Panmunjeom was right there and, uh, then I have another map here.  This map right here, the same map, and there’s Kimpo Air Base right there, and this is the story.  The one more story I want to tell is about this airplane here.  This is, they called him Bedcheck Charlie and he, it


was a, they were North Korean pilots flying a World War I bi-plane called the PO2, and what did they do?  They were just for harassment.  They would fly at nighttime, usually on moonlit nights was the reason they flew. And they would come down just to harass. Well, they, the one night we were, I was on third shift, night duty, looking at photo interpretations, and we heard the, I can’t remember.  It come over, over the intercom, says, uh, hey, we got, we got one bogey.  It was a, you know,


this is Fire Control Center.  We got one bogey at, uh, Charlie Chair 2379.  Charlie Chair 2378 said oh my, he, he’s heading for Kimpo, he, cause we knew the maps.  We could, when all we needed to hear was the grid coordinates.  We said Oh God, he’s coming, and, uh, the, the officer in charge, he says come on, guys.  Grab your rifles and get out, get on, and right outside the emergency door of our center was, uh, zig zag trenches with sandbags on them.  We ju, all ran on and jumped in and you know what?  We didn’t have any ammunition.

I:          [LAUGHS]


J:         So we had empty rifles.  But we though, didn’t think of that till later.

I:          So John.

J:         So, the rest of that story.

I:          Yeah.  John, John, let’s talk about MG -15.

J:         Okay.

I:          Yeah.

J:         Okay.

I:          So could you explain it?

J:         And

I:          MG- 15 episode, MG

J:         Oh, oh the Mg-15.

I:          Yeah.

J:         Oh, yes.  That’s, that’s the key one.  And, uh, I, I, cause it’s so long I need to, I’ve gotta take my paper here.

I:          So this is all you directly experienced, right?


J:         Okay.  Okay.

I:          John, this is what you experienced.

J:         Oh, yes, yeah.

I:          This is not what you are reading

J:         Even that bombing.  I was there

I:          from the book.

J:         That plane flew, the, the plane flew right over a, a artillery thing, but they didn’t have fire, uh, they didn’t have a release to fire because the plane hadn’t fully been identified.  But we pretty well knew what it was, and we were shouting at the, at the, the, uh, at the, for, it’s a, a half track with, uh, 50 caliber machine guns, and, uh, they were following him, but they didn’t have a clearance to fire.  They could have shot


him down right then. But they, he went [sound effect] down around.  We couldn’t hear him anymore.  He cut his engine [sound effect], and he went to

I:          So what happened to this

J:         till he, he come back

I:          pilot?

J:         over, and, and, boy.  He come right over the top of us.  He was so, if we’d a had bullets, we could have shot him down.  He was no more than 50 feet in the air, and you could hear the guide wire, the wind going [sound effect] right over our heads. And he went down and boom, boom, [sound effect] and away he went just like that.


I:          Um hm.

J:         We found out later the two men in a, a, a, a group, in a, a, uh, steel Quonset hut, uh, one man was killed by shrapnel from the, from, the man dropped, they dropped, of all things, real mortar rounds. They would, they would arm the mortar round and just drop it, and when it hit the ground, off it went.

I:          Um.

J:         And, uh, that’s what they were doing.  So that was the one little, the thing where if the bomb would have dropped a little sooner, I might have been in the trench,


and I may not be here to tell the story.  But that’s the closest I come to, uh, I was not a, I was a basically a non-combatant because I’m behind the lines.  So I’m not, I’m not any brave man, and thank God it was that because, um, I don’t, I always worried what I would do if I had to shoot another man.

I:          Um.

J:         But um, anyway, so that’s straight.  Now, to the story at Kimpo Air Base.  And here, I’ll, I’ll tell it from here, see if I can read it here.  This is the pilot after he had landed,



but my friend, yeah

I:          That’s a MG-15 pilot, right?

J:         Photo, photo [INAUDIBLE] we had to work with.  Okay, let me, let me get, yeah.  The MG-15 pilot and the story, it went really well.

I:          Go ahead.

J:         I, and I’ll tell whoever’s watching this to apologize, but I want it to be accurate, and there’s so much here.  So, please excuse me not looking at the cue.  So, at Kimpo, and here it is.  Kimpo Air Base 9:30 A.M. September 21, 1953.


A Korean North, a North Korean pilot landed his MG-15 to freedom, this is a true story.  I saw it happen.

I:          What do you mean September?

J:         What?

I:          Sep, when?

J:         It was on September 21, 1953, after the cease fire was signed.

I:          Oh.  Okay.

J:         They were still flying, you know, and he took and landed, it’s a long story, but any, my friend Jim Dunwoody and I had just finished night shift.  We still were doing photo interpreting because the, the hostilities weren’t all completely gone.


There was a lot of sniping and a lot of baloney going on at the time, even though there’s supposed to be a cease fire.  At the photo interpretation center, we were walking, after we got off early in the morning, walking alongside the main runway.  Two F, F, F86 Saber jets had just landed from the correct direction coming towards us as we walked along the runway.  They were halfway down the runway when another jet came from the wrong direction coming with the wind.


And it was landing. My friend Jim and I, we couldn’t believe our eyes.  There was a red star on the side.  Oh my gosh, we said, it’s a MG-15 as it touched down between the two Saber jets, barely missing them.  The control tower had not, had no warning of an enemy plane because on that very day, the radar was out of order.  It was down to be repaired.

I:          Just happened to be.

J:         It, that’s God’s providence.


I:          That’s one of those days.

J:         That’s, that’s one of those, that’s one of those things that’s written in the Bible, and I tell you it, it happened.  And, uh, okay.  We didn’t believe our eyes.  We said, okay.  The control tower had no warning of an enemy plane.  The radar had been shut down.  Therefore, they had no idea that a MG was even in the vicinity until a churn taxied to the end of the runway, parked alongside the ready line.  He actually parked between two of the ready, uh, saber sets for another mission were getting ready to go and, um, a, a, and, uh,


the North Korean pilot, had he wanted to, could have straped the entire ready line and wreaked havoc across the entire, he could have, he could have leveled that air, with, if that was his intention cause he had 50 ml cannons on that MG.  They were heavys, armed, and he was at ground level, and Korea’s perfect, uh, Kimpo’s level.  It’s the levelest spot in Korea probably.  And he come to [sound effect], and he didn’t do it.


I:          Hm.

J:         One of the men, one of the pilots was in one of the planes just checking out stuff.  He was gonna fly a mission later, and he come by real slow in this MG with a red star on the side, here comes No Kum Sok and he didn’t look at anybody, and, and they, one man almost pulled the trigger, and this is the story I read later. The second, third plane had a man in it, and he did almost the same thing, but he said no.  If he was gonna do anything, he’d of done something by now.


He got to the end of the, okay, now we go back. Yeah.  After he, oh wait, no.  However, there was not, that, that was not the reason he flew in.  The North Korean pilot, had he wanted to, could have straped the ready line.  However, that was not the reason he flew his MG-15 to Kimpo.  The pilot climbed out of the plane for about 10 -15 minutes.  We could see something way down the, we could see that there was somebody on the wing of the, of the MG,


way down the runway, and we’re, by then we’re quite a ways from it.  Then the air base MPs arrived and took him into custody.  The time from when he landed down there was almost a half an hour, 15 minutes to a half an hour, and nobody still knew he was there.  Only the people that actually saw him land and those pilots down there.

I:          So No Kum Sok.  You located him?

J:         I.

I:          Where is he?

J:         I have located.  He’s in [INAUDIBLE]  He,


this is a wonderful story about him, and

I:          Tell me about it.

J:         he should be in there because he’s a, I’ve, when I first talked to him on the phone, I had been trying to find him.  I knew that he, when he came, he, he was given $100,000 award that he didn’t know he was getting cause we had sent out, but nobody in North Korea got to read those pamphlets that the Air Force dropped pamphlets saying, uh, anyone that will bring a MG, you know, if you,


In North Korea, if you even looked at one, they shot you.  That’s how bad it was.  So even, and the pilots especially.  They, boy, did they, if they even, of course, uh, No Kum Sok had already had this plan.

I:          What’s his last name, Ro or So?

J:         Ro Kum Sok.

I:          Ro is

J:         Well, his,

I:          his last name?

J:         But his, his father’s name, uh, but, I, I, I think that Ro Kum Sok is his name, but, you know, his last name is, uh,

I:          Ro or Sok?

J:         I’ve got it.  I’ve got it in, in one of the,

I:          It’s okay.

J:         One of the books here.

D:        We’ll find it.

J:         His father, cause


I have pictures of him when he was a tiny little boy, uh and, uh, I got it from his book, The, The MG-15 to Freedom.  And, and, but, uh, okay, now let’s see if I can just show these

I:          So do you have his contact information?

J:         Yes, I do.  I’ve got it all

I:          So

J:         It’s got it all in here for

I:          I wanna, I wanna do interview him.

J:         Oh, yes.  Oh yes.  And if you do, I’d love to go with you.

I:          Yeah.

D:        He’s in Florida.

J:         Cause I’m, I can’t travel far, and of all the people I’d ever want to meet, he’s the same age as me.


He was 21 years old, just as I was, when I saw him land.

I:          You didn’t see him?  He

J:         But I didn’t get to see him because they, they, sequestered him off.  They took him for a quick interview, and then they took him to Okinawa, to the Intelligence Group in Okinawa.

I:          No, I mean in, in the United States.

J:         I’ve never met him in, by person.  I’ve talked to him three

I:          You just call

J:         three times on the telephone

I:          over the phone.

J:         I called him, and when I called him, it was so awesome.  I said, I said No Kum Sok,


and he said, and then I said Kenneth Rowe, that’s his American name, and he speaks very good English. Kenneth Rowe, I said, you, we’ve never met, but I saw you land on the runway at Kimpo back in 1963.  He got real quiet, and he said oh my goodness. And here he is.  He came to America in ’63.  He, and he, and, and he was, uh, uh, he wanted to be an Aeronautical Engineer.  He’s a very brilliant man,


and, uh, he went to, uh, Univer, uh, an Aer, um, uh, Aeronautical En, uh, Engineer, Aeronautical Engineering school in Delaware which he did so good he ended up as a professor in Embry-Riddle, I have all this information for you, it’s in there so, but you can write it down anyway.  He went to Embry- Riddle in Da, Daytona Beach, uh, which is the top, uh, Aeronautical school for all airmen and for all, all types of aircraft.  So that’s where he


taught in, then he retired from there.  And it was in 2014 when I first sent a letter to Embry-Riddle to help, to find out where he was at, and, uh, and, uh, I forget just how it happened, [INAUDIBLE] but I did find out that he’s living in Daytona Beach, but they didn’t have his exact address.  So Daytona Beach, no Deltona, there’s two, Daytona Beach and I’ve got his address, uh, okay.  It, well, here.


I’m just telling what I’ve already had.  His escape from freedom was an incredible fight from Suwon north to Korea, across the 18th, the 38thParallel without being seen or recognized.  He landed safely at runway at 9.  At that time I said 9:30, 9:30 on the, on the 23rd.  A brave North Korean pilot who landed from the wrong direction safely on the runway. No Kum Sok was a graduate of North Korean Naval Academy, one of six Korean pilots


in his wing. His superior officers said that his five other comrades should have known about his plan to defect.  The five pilots were summarily executed.  The majority of the MG-15 pilots were Russians. They flew over North Korea because, if shot down, they did not want the American allies to know that Russian pilots were directly involved in the fighting.  That was, that was Stalin’s direction I’ve discovered.  No Kum Sok was a graduate, yeah, one of six Korea.


After the cease fire was signed, he received $1,000, um $100,000 reward, and the U.S. had promised to any North Korean pilot that would defect

I:          But that was already after the Armistice.

J:         That was after the Armistice.

I:          Yeah.

J:         Yeah.

I:          Yeah,

J:         Yeah.  And, but it was in September, the Armistice was in June or

I:          July.

J:         July, yeah.  So it was in September.  He was totally surprised by receiving the large sum of money.  American interrogator, is, in, in, interrogation



experts assumed that he must have seen the pamphlets that were all dropped over North Korea. No Kum Sok said he never saw a pamphlet. If anyone picked up a pamphlet, the Communist guards would, had orders to shoot you.  That’s what he told me, that’s what, what it says in his book, too. This is how the Socialist Communist Society controls its people.  See, this is for the kids to hear.  No Kum Sok to Amer, came to America in 1953, became a U.S. citizen,


brought his mother to America

I:          1953 or ’60, ‘63

J:         Well, uh, 1953.  That’s the, he got the, he got home before I got home.  I didn’t get home till ‘54.  They sent him to America where he was, no, before, the part I didn’t put in there, while he was still in Korea, his mother was living in Seoul, and he didn’t know it.  And when they met, this is awesome.  When he met his mother, he was so happy, and he hugged her, and she said No, I’ve prayed for you, and God answered my prayer.


I:          Um.

J:         Those were his exa, his words are in that book.

I:          Um.  Did you write about this to your wife, Catherin?

J:         Yes, and she, yes.  Oh, she knows all about it, but she’s in Heaven now, but she, but she was, she was living when I did this presentation.

I:          So do you have, uh, your letter

J:         To

I:          that you wrote to your Catherin about this?

J:         Uh, well, no.  She, she

D:        Did Mom keep any of your

J:         No, this is after, the, this, what I ‘m writing now is what I’ve

I:          No, no, no.


D:        Dad, did Mom keep any of your letters from back then?

J:         Oh I

D:        [INAUDIBLE] you.

J:         I don’t remember that one.

I:          If you can find

J:         Oh, yeah, I remember

I:          that letter, that will be dynamite.

J:         I, oh yeah.  I did write, there’s something, but I

D:        I’ll look and see.  We’ll look, Dad.

J:         I don’t, we had them because I remember

D:        She didn’t keep a lot of things.

J:         they got word, the, in, back in the States, they, the, the, the press told them the Army gave a great big lie.  They, the Army had been embarrassed, and the Air Force had been embarrassed.  They covered it up.  Our own people


covered it up, and they told it to the New York Times, of all the scandal sheets, they told it to the New York Times which I just discovered and, and what they told them was we, we, we watched him on radar.  We followed him all the way down.  We sent up interceptor pilots, and they chipped their wings to him to say follow me, and they led him to Korea to the Kimpo Air base and had him, and showed him where to land.  That’s what it said in American newspapers.

I:          Um.

J:         So we got some

I:          So

J:         stuff that’s really

I:          John,

J:         Yeah.


I:          I need to bring Diana with you, too, but let me ask this question.  Have you been back to Korea?

J:         I’ve had opportunities to go back.

I:          When?

J:         Well, by the Korean people.

I:          When, when?

J:         When?  Well, it’s been in the past year or two, a little, recent, you know. It’s, it’s for any veterans who would want to go back.  Korea is so, wonderful

I:          So you went back to Korea?

J:         I’ve, I’ve been back, and I really don’t want to go back.  Korea’s a


beautiful country now. Korea’s one of the top, you know, that’s one of the things I wanted to say in it, too, that, in one of my other things that I have, we got time yet, that I just wanted to say how, how proud I am of the South Korean people because they do the right things.  They, they’re right guided.  They’ve been oppressed for so long, and this is what really struck me.  Of all the nations that America has gone to help,

I:          Um hm.


we’ve never took a piece of ground, we never did it for property or, or territory.  We did it to help oppressed people.  But the news doesn’t want to talk about any of that stuff.

I:          Um.

J:         And even Americans today don’t even understand what the Korean War was about.  Our children don’t.  That’s why it’s so important.  I want to keep this, and I want to keep it as long as I’m living, and I want to tell them about this because if somebody does it that’ll say this is where it comes in that, that, uh,


what was his name, the, the Irish, Irish in, in 19, in 1729, what was his name, and he said all it takes for the, for triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing, and America has lived by that.  It will, and, and, and

I:          See?  That’s why, John, we are doing this.  You are going, visiting schools, right?

J:         Yes.

I:          And talking about all this things

J:         Yes.

I:          to our children, right?


And you made wonderful, what is it, the board, right?

J:         Yeah.  The posters too,

I:          Posters.

J:         because I’ve, my, my, I was always an artist, and I knew that people understand visuals.  Words are good, but words are for, quickly forgotten, and that’s why this is, these are important, these interviews, but I would like to see this, maybe, I, I spell checked it and everything.  But make it, put it, actually it worked very well at the school. When this was over


when, when, at the end of, one of the young boys said tome did you ever have to kill somebody in war? And I started crying cause I looked up here.  This was me at basic training.  We had just marched 25 miles on Bivouac.  It was the last thing we did, and I know that some of them men went to Korea and didn’t come back, and I don’t know who they were.  And that’s what that young boy asked me,


and the little girl, she, she wrote me a letter after, there were only 16 children in that class. I’m glad it was small because they really got it.  They wanted to know.  Kids are, fifth graders.  That’s the perfect time.  They’re not adults yet.  They’re still children, but they don’t want to see themselves as children any more.  And they listen.  They were so polite, and, and I was so

I:          See, that’s why

J:         and I wrote a letter to the Superintendent of the Schools.  I said after that


presentation to your children at, at the, um, Landis Run Intermediate School, I said our country’s in good condition if our, if the children, the fifth graders are being taught this kind of stuff is what I said.  And

I:          That’s why we are doing this.  We are outnumbered.  You cannot do it forever

J:         Yeah.

I:          and I cannot do it forever.

J:         That’s right.

I:          But this interview

J:         Yes.

I:          will be there forever, and now high school

J:         Yeah.

I:          teachers are making lesson


plan analyzing this interview.

J:         Oh, right.

I:          So your interview will be one of our curricular

J:         Oh yeah.

I:          resources.

J:         And I wanted to say

I:          And Diana will continue to see how this interview will be utilized

J:         Yeah.

I:          in our educational system.

J:         Okay.  Yeah.

I:          I think this is the time that I want to invite Diana.  Just sit beside your father, that side, and

J:         Yeah.  I got my darn thing tangled.  Oh, it’s tangled in one of the threads

I:          This is beautiful.

D:        Thank you.


I:          Please introduce yourself.  What is your name?

D:        I’m Diana Thomas, and I’m John’s oldest daughter, and I was born in 1953 when he was still in Korea.

I:          Wow.

D:        I was nine months old when he came home, and I looked at him, and I thought who is that guy?

J:         Yeah.  I have a picture holding her, and I tried to find it, and I can’t find it.  But when

D:        I have it.

J:         I come home, and she’s looking at me like who is this, but I knew who her because my

D:        Um hm.


dear wife, her mother, sent me pictures of her as, when she was born and everything.

I:          So do you still have that picture with you?

J:         Not, I have it, but I don’t have it with me cause I was scrambling, and I thought oh, I, where’s that picture?  I have it at home.  It’s just a little picture but I, I could

I:          So now, I’m ordering you, Diana,

D:        Yes?

I:          You have a mission.

J:         Yeah.

I:          Scan everything that he has including the letter if you can find

D:        If I can find it.

J:         Okay.

I:          Sure that he mentioned about this No Kum Sok,

D:        Sure.

J:         Yeah.


I:          I think his last name is No, and his first name is Kum Sok.

D:        Okay.

J:         Kum Sok.

I:          Okay? And if you can find the letter that your father wrote to your mom at the time

D:        Okay

I:          It’s going to be in the newspaper, okay?

D:        Oh, that would be wonderful.

J:         Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

D:        I’ll see what I can do.

I:          So you have a o do, okay?

D:        I do.  I always have a lot to do with my father.

J:         But she’s like, like father like daughter. She’s, she’s a better artist than I am. She’s also

I:          So

J:         she’s a missionary [INAUDIBLE]

D:        You don’t have to brag on me, Dad.


I:          So you are the boy of Great Depression, and you are the girl of Korean War.

D:        Amen.

I:          Okay?

D:        Yeah.

J:         Yeah.

I:          So tell me about what you have heard from your father about the war.

D:        Well, all the things that he has on his display board, I

I:          Did he talk about those?

D:        I heard that many times, yes.

J:         Yeah, yeah.

I:          Too many times.

D:        No.  No. I’ve heard it many times, not too many.

J:         Many, no.

D:        Not too many.  Actually, earlier on he didn’t talk about it a lot.  But after retirement when he had more time, uh, he started to talk about it,


and we have a, um, a special presentation we did for him one time for his

J:         My children got together

D:        I think it was Father’s Day

J:         and made, got this for me

I:          So what are you doing?  What did you do?

D:        Um, what do I do now?

I:          Yeah. no, no.  Af, when you were,

D:        when I was growing up?

I:          young and, yeah.

D:        Well, growing up we had a big family, um.  Dad worked a lot and traveled a lot, and so we didn’t really start hearing a lot about Korea, except I heard many times the


story of how I didn’t know who he was.  And then I would say probably about 10 years ago he started to really get interested in his, his life in Korea.

I:          Why did you said he became interested in talking about it?

D:        Um, because he had more time on his hands, and I think

J:         once I retired from Packaging Corporation.

D:        Yeah, and also we had presented him with this, uh, as a surprise.  My sister found this

J:         They surprised me with this.

D:        Yeah.  We found out that we could get a Korean plaque for him,


and we knew that that was an, a really hugely important piece of his history because he had been talking about it.  So we put this together and had a, a, an Army, uh, guy come and, dressed in period, um, uniform, and he presented this to my dad and, um, I think it was after receiving this that he really started to dig into things and started to research about the MG and, and be able to just put it all


into a sequence. And then, um, the school’s invited veterans to come and talk about their experience

I:          Um hm.

D:        and so I think that gave him the opportunity then to spread it

J:         To really

D:        further than just family.

J:         That’s what prompted me to put all this stuff together.

D:        Um hm.

I:          So Diana, do you know about South Korea now?

D:        Um, only a little, um.  We

I:          What do you know about it?

D:        Um, we had a foreign exchange student who was, um, from Seoul, and he lived


with us about six months.  Um, mostly what I learned from him was some of the food, and it was,

J:         Kum chi, you kno.

D:        how good it was.  But as far as the nation itself, I don’t know a lot about South Korea.

I:          Do you know how strong the South Korean economy is now?

D:        Uh, well

J:         One of the top 20 nations.

D:        I was gonna say by his lifestyle, I would say it’s pretty strong.  I saw pictures of the area where he lived, and I know what his lifestyle was,

J:         Yeah.

D:        and I would say that he had no lack of anything.

I:          John, tell me about the country that you saw in 1952 and ’53.


J:         It was totally devastated.  It was, uh, just a wasteland of Seoul, Korea.  There only one building standing was, uh, the University of Seoul, and it was repairable, and so they repaired it, and later on I was promoted to a Corporal and I was sent as Target, Target NCO at the Joint Operation Center in that building


in Seoul, and I don’t know if it’s still standing.  It’s a historic place.  I hope they kept it and didn’t because Seoul now I, I wouldn’t know anything.  The PX, the main PX was on a corner right downtown Seoul with all the little vendors were around when we’d get a, we’d get some time off from, of duty cause we were behind the lines far enough that we could go where the shooting’s still going on.

I:          John,

J:         Yeah.

I:          The country that you saw completely devastated now 11thlargest economy in the world.

J:         Eleventh it is.

I:          Eleventh.

D:        Wow.


I:          Do you know how our trading partners of the United States?  South Korea is seventh largest trading

D:        Wow.

I:          partner to the United States.  By 2020, 2050 I think, South Korea will be the seven largest economy in the world, seventh.

D:        Wow.

J:         That’s why that idiot up north is scared silly.

D:        Wow.

I:          Do you know how big South Korea is?

D:        Not very big.

I:          It’s a little bit bigger than the state of Indiana.

D:        Yeah.


I:          We don’t have a drop of oil.

J:         That’s true, no?

D:        It’s amazing.

I:          That is the legacy of your father.

D:        That’s pretty awesome, isn’t it?

J:           It is. And I’ve often thought about it, and I’m thankful.  The war that I complained

I:          But you know, the thing is

J:         A, a part of it that was so critical to the, you know?  And, uh,

D:        That’s awesome, Dad.

J:         It’s, uh, I never thought much about that, but putting this together was the thing


that made me realize John, you were a part of history.

D:        Yeah.

J:         And I was thinking that I got a, and then I got a call from our President of our chapter 327, and he said John, Dr. Han of the Korean Legacy Foundation wants to interview you, and I said oh, praise the Lord. I said to him, I said I was hoping something like this would happen so that my story

D:        Yeah.

J:         could be told the way I told it to those children.

I:          John and Diana, but,


our history textbook doesn’t tell much about it.

D:        No.

I:          Just one paragraph.

D:        Wow.

I:          Why is that?  And how do you think that we can overcome that?

D:        How can we make that better?  How can we make sure that history tells more of this story?

I:          Of the

J:         Well,

I:          Korean War that you fought?

J:         One of the first things is to educate children, but even our own school system today in America is [sound effect].


There’s so much dissention in the world now.  So nobody, our own government can’t even get along with each other.  So I don’t know what the answer to that is.   So, you wanna, is it time. It’s

I:          We, so tell me.  What is the legacy of your service in the Korean War?

J:         I see it as, it sounds awful, not, it sounds like a high and mighty thing, but I see it as


one more step in what the Bible was always talking about. There will always be trouble and wars and the, and the, and, and, as, I don’t know what the, the answer is when men finally wake up and, and see.

I:          Um hm.

J:         But I don’t know.  I’ve, I’ve hoped and prayed for that and, uh, I can only say this as a believer in the one loving God, the Great I Am.  He knows what he’s going to do, and he’s gonna do it.


Now, many people call me a fool for saying that. Yes, I am a fool just as Paul in the Bible said, If I be a fool, I be a fool for Christ’s sake, and God is in control, and that’s my hope and stay.  That’s what I believe in, and I’m trusting.  We sing an old song, Christian song, trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be joyful and happy in, in Jesus than to trust and obey.  To obey His word which is love one another.


Until we finally get that down, we’re doomed to repeat history over and over and over.  I wish there was a easy way, but there isn’t.  It’s actually easy, but people don’t want it, and I guess that’s my take on it.  I’ve lived long enough.  I’ll be 86 in June, and, uh, I, uh, have finally come to the point that I’m at complete peace with myself and with the Lord, and I


no longer, I don’t fear death at all.  I’ve got a promise of a greater place later. To, to the average people in the world, they, they don’t want to hear that.

I:          Um hm.

J:         I know that folks that they’re listening to me right now if you’re gonna see this, but I t tell you something.  You’re missing, you’re missing the greatest thing that ever could have happened in your life by just walking away form a man named Jesus Christ.

I:          Um hm.  John, I know one


hour is not even

J:         That’s alright.  This

I:          close, but

J:         this, this, this, I feel good.

I:          I think we got all of your story, and I think what Diana can do for this is to follow up scanning those things and put up together, okay?

D:        Um hm.

I:          We can have a beautiful digital memorial

D:        Yeah.

I:          about this things. So

D:        Yeah.  That’d be great.

I:          And John, I want to thank you for your fight. You are very energetic, passionate, and very nice man, and I’m sorry that Catherine couldn’t be

J:         That’s alright.

I:          here, but Diane will, will do the things

J:         Yes, she will.

I:          to follow up, okay?

J:         And I just wanna thank you, Dr. Han, for the gentleman that you are and to thank you for, for taking the time to do this

D:        Um hm.

J:         because it’s a piece of history that hopefully will be, we don’t know.  God’s plan is something beyond man, and it may just be part of His plan and the world may change around.

I:          Alright.

J:         I don’t know.  That’s where we’re at.

I:          Thank you, sir.  I want to thank you for your fight, and thank you, Diana.

D:        You’re welcome.

I:          It’s so nice meeting you.

J:         Yes.

D:        Thank you.

I:          Okay.

D:        Alright.

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