Korean War Legacy Project

John I. Reidy


John Reidy was born in Syracuse, New York, on August 4, 1928.  He enlisted in the Navy in 1945 at the end of WWII and served until 1949. He later joined the Army in 1952 and was eventually deployed to Korea where he worked as a communication specialist. He offers an explanation of the point system utilized to send troops back home after a certain number was accrued and comments on it being a complicated system. He describes what fighting was like during the final days of the Battle of Pork Chop Hill, comparing the difference between American and Chinese military tactics, and shares his fondness of the KATUSA soldiers attached to his unit. He is proud to have served in both WWII and the Korean War and is encouraged by how well South Korea has embraced democracy and develop economically.

Video Clips

Point System Explanation

John Reidy chronicles his enlistment in the Army and basic training prior to being sent to Korea in the winter of 1952. He explains the point system utilized to send troops back home after a certain number was accrued. He comments on it being a complicated system when it came to computing the points and discusses the correlation between payment and point zone in which a soldier served. He shares how the point system, unfortunately, did not apply to him since he had enlisted.

Tags: 1953 Armistice 7/27,Front lines,Home front,Living conditions

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KATUSA Soldiers and First Impressions

John Reidy explains the connection between the U.S. Army and KATUSA soldiers. He comments on his fondness of those attached to his unit and the camaraderie they shared. He recalls ways he and fellow soldiers entertained themselves to pass the time, and he offers his first impressions of Korea, describing it as primitive.

Tags: 1953 Armistice 7/27,Impressions of Korea,KATUSA,Living conditions

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Final Days at Pork Chop Hill

John Reidy describes what fighting was like during the final days of the Battle of Pork Chop Hill. He recalls showering the Chinese with leaflets stating that in celebration of the United States' Independence, the Americans were going to take the hill. He remembers the fighting continuing and compares the difference between American and Chinese military tactics.

Tags: 1953 Battle of Pork Chop Hill, 3/23-7/16,Chinese,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Physical destruction,Pride,Weapons

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

J:         My, my name is John Reidy.  I’m on the short side of 83 years old.  I, 1945 I did what most, a lot of 17 year-olds did.  I joined the Navy.  I was separated from the Navy in 1949 in August.  In 1952, July, I enlisted in the Army, went to Korea and, uh, was separated from the, uh, Army in,


uh, 1955.

I:          When you were in Korea?

J:         No, no.  I put this stuff together after.

I:          You made this?

J:         No, no.  No. I ordered it, you know.

I:          [LAUGHS] Alright.

J:         Put it together after I came back home.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         Now, uh, let me explain this thing here.  Oh, that, that’s my ship.  It was in World War II.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Is there one or two there?

I:          There’s, there’s a couple pages.

J:         Oh, you can have them.


I’ve got more. This is the line of resistance, just before the end of the war.  It has all of the, uh, outposts on it.  Now, when the war ended, it was a war of outpost activity.

I:          Yeah.

J:         In other words, on the, when the Chinese wanted to hit the main line of resistance which is up here somewhere, they had to come through the outpost first.  So that’s where all the action took place.

I:          So the outposts were the triangles then?


J:         Yep.  Those are the triangles.  Now, once they overran an outpost, then they came up in what they called the main line of resistance.  And, uh, that was brute force.  That was

I:          [INAUDIBLE]

J:         major operations

I:          Yeah.

J:         100,000 Chinese, you know.  Uh, uh,

I:          How many people were stationed in the outposts?

J:         Depended on the size.

I:          Um hm.

J:         For instance, Pork Chop.  Now Char, Chorwon, where’s Chorwon here?  Someplace.


I:          Here’s Pork Chop.

J:         Yeah.  Pork Chop. We were on Pork Chop.

I:          Um hm.

J:         17thInfantry, uh, the 7thDivision, uh, Man, mon, man Pork Chop.

I:          Um hm.

J:         That was a battalion sized outpost.  Out in front of the, out in, down in the valley.

I:          How many is, make up a battalion?

J:         A battalion, three companies make a battalion, and the company’s usually a hundred people maybe.

I:          Oh.

J:         The, never, they never at full strength.

I:          Um hm.


J:         Three, three platoons of, uh, 25 or 30 men a piece.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Plus, you know, weapons and things like that. So it may be 130, 140 people in, in a company.  Now, uh, the last action on Pork Chop, for instance, was in July, 1953.  The commanding general for the 7thInfantry Division showered, you know those leaflets like I had in there

I:          Oh, yeah.

J:         They put them in artillery shells, and


fired them over the enemy.  Showered them with, uh, leaflets claiming

I:          Saying please surrender.

J:         No, no.  Not please surrender.  No, no. It was just the opposite.  To, to celebrate our country’s birthday on July the 4th,

I:          Ha.

J:         They were going to attack a hill on the other side. Now, in that hill was a, Asians love to dig tunnels

I:          Yeah.

J:         You understand?

I:          I’ve heard about those, yeah.

J:         And, uh, so they


had a, had the tunnel, they had tunnels all along, but in that one tunnel, they had a field piece, artillery, and every now and then they would drag that field piece out and bang away four or five rounds, you know, and drag it back in before they could register our defensive artillery on it.  It was harassment mainly.  So the commanding general showered them with leaflets telling them that to celebrate our country’s birthday, the Fourth of July, they were going to take that hill with that


[LAUGHS] field piece in it, and, but before they could do that, they had to take the field piece. They would take the tunnel.  So they sent Charley Company down.  That’s a company of infantry.  They had sneaks on them and everything like that, you know, to had all kinds of different, uh, sophistication

I:          Um hm.

J:         to make them feel, the sneaks don’t make a bit of difference, you know.  And, uh, so they went down, and they hit the, uh,


hit the mouth of that tunnel, and when they did, they didn’t drag out the, uh, field piece, but they did drag out a regiment of Chinese soldiers.

I:          They had no idea they were there.

J:         No, they didn’t notice. They, you know, they kind of simple, right.

I:          Um.

J:         Figured this is what we’ll do.  They’re gonna do what we want em to.

I:          Um hm.

J:         So, uh, they overran that company of infantry and overran the battalion


on Pork Chop. But they didn’t push them off.  So they fought on Pork Chop for about, uh, better than a week. They had to pull the, they, they, uh, relieved the battalion that was on there, and pretty soon our whole regiment had been cir, cycled over that hill.  Then they had to, they brought in another regiment to res, to relieve the 17th.


And, uh, eventually, of course, they couldn’t, and the interesting about it was the 17thRegiment alone decimated over a division of Chinese regular soldiers. Just plain fighting.  But they, their fighting was different than ours.

I:          Was there more a guerilla warfare type?

J:         No.  It’s the, we were more organized.

I:          Um hm.

J:         For instance, they would shell


the hill, and they had, would have their infantry coming right through the shelling, just walk right through the shelling.  Well, we, we didn’t do things like that.  We, we were defensive.  We’d be in bunkers and, and

I:          Yeah.

J:         trenches and things like that.  We didn’t come right out in the open.

I:          Uh.

J:         Until we had to.

I:          You don’t want to expose yourselves.

J:         That’s right.  That’s right.  You want to take care of yourself.  You, you know.  You don’t want any casualties.

I:          No.

J:         Un, undesirable.

I:          Yeah.


J:         So, eventually both sides give up the hill. And nobody knew why the Chinese wanted it because, you know, it was in July.  The, the Peace Talks were coming along fine.  Well, not fine but, you know,

I:          They’re com, they’re moving, they’re progressing.

J:         They were, that’s right, that’s right.  They were [MUMBLING] but the, so, here’s an interesting thing.  One of the big arguments


at, over the, over the Peace Talks in Panmunjom was that the, the Chinese wanted prepatriation

I:          Um hm.

J:         back to the original, uh, company, uh, country. For instance, they wanted all the Chinese soldiers back from the POWs.  Well, we said we don’t want them, you know.  If the POWs want to go back to China, we’d send them back.  But if they don’t, if they wanna go anywhere else,

I:          Oh, so the Chinese government wanted to


force the soldiers to go back to China.

J:         That’s right.

I:          Oh, okay.

J:         And, and, uh, and I don’t know whether they wanted to go back or not, you know.  I have no idea cause, you know, that’s politics.

I:          Right.

J:         And, uh, uh, the, uh, the United Nations said we’ll send them anywhere they want to go as long as they can find a host company, country, that’ll take them.  Well, fighting, fighting, see, and the Chinese said no.


They demanded their own people back.  I had no idea why they would have an international squabble like that.  When Syngman Rhee was the President of South Korea at the time,

I:          Um hm.

J:         he got sick of it.  So in June, he opened up the POW camps.  Just opened the gates and let em all out.

I:          Let’s go.

J:         Let em all out.  Go where you wanna go.  You don’t have to, well, the ones that wanted


to, didn’t want to go back to China, they stayed in the camps.  They didn’t leave.

I:          So they said it was better to be in a POW camp

J:         Yeah, well

I:          than to go back to China.

J:         Yeah.  Well see, they wouldn’t have, they wouldn’t, to go anywhere.

I:          Yeah.

J:         Better to go

I:          Anywhere.

J:         anywhere than go back to China.  But if they stayed there, they would be, uh, emigrated to somewhere else, see.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Maybe South Korea.  Who knows.  But, uh, cause maybe a lot of em maybe wanted to go to Taiwan.  Well, about 20,000 of them


wanted to go back to China.  So here they are loose now in our rear, and things started happening.  For instance, the, uh, reverse slopes, you know, companies that are, uh, troops that are on the line, well they, their headquarters are right in the rear area, right behind the main line of resistance.  You understand the lm, MLR, main line of resistance.


Well their, their headquarters and their billets and everything are right behind the line, maybe a mile or so back in the line.  Division was maybe two or three miles back of the line, see, Division Headquarters.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Uh, the Regimental Headquarters, I we were about a little over a mile back on the reverse slope.  You understand the reverse slope?

I:          Behind the

J:         The, the slope, this is a hill.



J:         Okay.  This is the forward slope.  It points towards the line of resistance.  There are hills.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Right?  This is the reverse slope.  Now it’s very difficult to drop a artillery round into the reverse slope, understand? You can hit the forward slope easy because, you know,

I:          Hm.

J:         But you can’t drop it over the hill and into the reverse slope.  Well, all of a sudden, the people back at Division and the


people back at Regimental Headquarters and, you know, reverse slopes, they started getting rounds in, and that’s impossible, see?  You know, it’s, it’s, it’s impossible.  You can’t

I:          Someone is firing but you don’t know who is firing.

J:         Someone is calling in the rounds.

I:          Huh.

J:         So they went back to, uh, search, went searching for them, and they had a Korean start monitoring the radio waves.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And he picked up someone


giving coordinances, map coordinances, over the radio.  So they, they got the, uh, uh, radio direction people to find out where these waves were originating.  They, these guys at the, some of these 20,000 people who were in our rear had made it into the motor pool, got into a couple of spare radio trucks, turned up the radio, and they


were calling the rounds in.

I:          Really?

J:         Calling the rounds in.

I:          So, you said 20,000

J:         20,000, they figured 20,000 were wandering around in the hills.

I:          That’s a lot of POWs to have.

J:         In South Korea.  Well, they, they took a lot of prisoners.

I:          Um.

J:         [INAUDIBLE]

I:          And where do you think that others went, they stayed in Korea?

J:         Oh, I had no idea.  That’s not my department to figure that out.

I:          Did you get a chance to meet any Chinese at all or, I mean besides

J:         No.

I:          fighting them, you know.

J:         I didn’t meet any civilians whatsoever.

I:          Oh, really?


J:         No, I, uh, I enlisted in 1952.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         I was, I already done four years in the Navy.  I didn’t have to go.  I was regular Navy.  I was not subject to the draft or Reserve recall or anything like that.  My obligation was complete.

I:          Um hm.

J:         But, so when the war started, I got out, I got out of the Navy in August of 1950, uh ’49.  When the war started, it was June, 1950.


It was just a short time.  And I was still military oriented.

I:          Um hm.

J:         But I said should I go; you know?  Should I go sign up and help?  But it appeared by, while I was making up my mind, it appeared that the United Nation troops were gonna be pushed right off the pen, Pusan Peninsula, you know, right out into the sea.  I figured well, by the time I got trained and got over there

I:          It’d be over.

J:         Yeah, I said, and I, then I would be stuck for an enlistment see.

I:          Oh.


J:         So then I decided, uh, to wait awhile.  Well then MacArthur went to Inchon, and it looked like that was gonna end it all.  So, so, then I said well, what’s the sense of going now because it’s all over. But then the Chinese came in, and then, uh, then they started going back and forth down to Seoul, you know, then.  So I said well, it’s time for me to go now.  Then I’m gonna go end the war.  So here, I figured like this, I would go over there,


get trained, you know, so in, in, uh, I’d, I enlisted in the Army in July, July the 22nd, went to Fort Dix, New Jersey to radio, uh, to, uh, basic training and then to, uh, and then radio school.  Now, and I became a communications specialist.  And they sent me to Korea.  I knew I was gonna go to Korea, you know.


There was no doubt.

I:          Yeah.

J:         FECOM, Far East Command.  [LAUGHS]

I:          Like, I wonder where that is.

J:         Ha, yeah.

I:          [LAUGHS]

J:         And, uh, then I got there in the wintertime, and I figured I’m here now.  The war will end, and sure enough six months later it ended.  I, I must have done something right.

I:          It’s all you.  They heard John Reidy was coming and

J:         Yeah.  But, uh, I, uh, and they had a point system, too.   The point system said that, uh,


if you could earn 36 points, you could go home.  Now, to get 36 points you had to be in a line company.  I was back at Regiment, so I was in a three-point zone, and then back to Division was two points, and everything else was one point.  Now, when you got down past the 36-point zone, then you needed 40 points.  But, and they had a complicated system of, uh, computing your points.


If you, for instance, if you were in a three- point zone and you went up on the line for a certain amount of time, they gave you that benefit, ha ha, that, uh, those points. And they did the same thing with, uh, combat pay.  Now, if you were in a four-point zone, you got combat pay for the whole month.  If you were in a three-point zone, you got, you know, your, uh, uh,

I:          Combat pay?

J:         Your, well, your combat pay.  You got that portion of your combat pay.


So it, so I

I:          So did you volunteer to go to the line then because you wanted

J:         Yeah,

I:          points.

J:         Well, you know, sometimes you could volunteer and not go.  They wouldn’t take you up there,

I:          Uh huh.

J:         you know?  It, it all depends on whether you’re needed or not.

I:          Um hm.

J:         So, uh, um.

I:          Um hm.

J:         So I went when, when the cease fire start, came in J, July the 26, 27thI think it was.  I went back to Personnel to


find out how I stood, and they said to me well, Corporal, you don’t have to worry about it cause you’re regular Army.  That means I had a three-year hitch, see?  And I still had a year and a half to do.  And I said what’s that got to do with it?  I got the points.  She said the points don’t enter into it as far as you’re concerned.  We got all of these two year draftees we have to send home. [LAUGHS]

I:          So you, so you had no chance of going home then.

J:         No chance.

I:          [LAUGHS]


J:         So I said to him, well, how about sending me to Australia?  And he said well, Australia you need 36 months obligated potential, and you only got 18.

I:          So you’re staying put.

J:         Yeah.  He said if, if you want to, uh, extend for that other 18 months, we’ll send you to Australia.  I said well, if you could send me to Australia, why can’t you send me back to the States?  [LAUHGS[
I:          Yeah, seriously.

J:         But it came sooner than I thought, you know? It, maybe four or five months later.

I:          Um hm.

J:         They sent me back to, uh


to, back to Fort Benning, GA, and I just as son had been left in Korea to tell you. If you haven’t spent the summer at Fort Benning, GA

I:          It’s hot.

J:         Oh, terrible, terrible.

I:          At least you’re not fighting.

J:         Yeah.  Well, I wasn’t fighting anyway.  The hostilities had ceased.

I:          Yeah.

J:         So.

I:          So when you got over there, basically it was, the Treaty was already in the process.

J:         Well, they was talking.  They were talking.

I:          Yeah.

J:         They, they, they, uh, negotiated for two years.


I:          But the harshest battles, weren’t the harshest battles

J:         No, no, no.

I:          kind of towards the end?

J:         They, they kept pushing.  See, the Communist Forces did not negotiate under, uh, uh, under a time of weakness.

I:          Um hm.

J:         You, if you, they believed if you’re in a weak position, you can’t, uh, you can’t negotiate.

I:          Um hm.

J:         You only can negotiate when you can back off, and you, and, you know, make your  concessions.  Oh no, no.


They, they, uh, they were attacking, and the, the worst part about it was they were pushing all the time.  Every one of those, um, every one of these outposts

I:          Um hm.

J:         was contested, every single day.

I:          Yeah.  And, and you said you were about a mile behind those outposts?

J:         Well, yeah, yeah.  My headquarters was about a mile behind the outposts.

I:          So what was it, what was it like when you were stationed?  I mean, was it kind of scary seeing people

J:         No, it was

I:          What was like your personal experience like

J:         Oh,

I:          stationed there?

J:         Well I, well I, I worked the switchboard


I:          Uh huh.

J:         because I was a communications and, uh, I worked the night shift cause I didn’t want to work shift work.  I’d always worked shift work.  I didn’t like shift work.  But during the day, I would go out with the wire teams and stuff like that, see.  So I’d keep myself busy.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And, uh, it was boring, boring, very boring.

I:          Why?

J:         Well

I:          Cause you didn’t see any action?

J:         That’s right, that’s right.


You’d see the people goin up, uh, that hill.  Now, the service, the Army, operates on a triangle-type table to organ, organization and equipment.

I:          Um hm.

J:         For instance, uh, Army has up to three corp. in it. Each corp. might have a number of divisions in it.  Each division has three regiments.  Each regiment has three companies plus a heavy weapons company, [INAUDIBLE]


and, you know, each company has three platoons plus a heavy weapons platoon.  So that’s the way it worked.  And when they relieved them on the, out on the, uh, outpost, one regiment would take control of the, uh, MLR, but that would be their, uh, place of business.  They didn’t, uh,

I:          Um hm.

J:         They didn’t, uh, rotate other regiments there. When they rotated with regiments, they moved the whole regiment, replaced them.  But out on the, uh,


on the hill, there’s three battalions. One battalion would be on the hill, one battalion would be up on the main line of resistance in blocking position, and the other, uh, battalion would be back in reserve

I:          Uh huh.

J:         see, taking care of their equipment, things like that.  And then every month, they would rotate them.  And they had their problems back in, uh, uh, medical problems.  We used to


wash our clothes whenever we got the chance.  Now, if you’re out on a, on the hill, you don’t get a chance to wash your clothes. You don’t waste water.  You’d wash your clothes and your helmet,

I:          You need to drink the water.

J:         but you don’t waste water.

I:          Um.

J:         If water comes up into the bunker in five gallon cans and, uh, the, the bunk, the, trench warfare is almost like, uh, you know, just neighborhood down the street.

I:          Um.

J:         People lived in bunkers, had regular trash pickups, you know.



They had to drag their trash, had to be fed, you know, sleep routines and things like that.  So for instance, uh, when you, when you want a hot meal, they, they try to get a, one hot meal a day to you no matter when it would be.

I:          Cause C-rations you’re, you’d fire up [INAUDIBLE]

J:         You, well, yeah.  If you wanted hot C-rations yeah, okay.  But, you know, you didn’t always make, make that hot meal, see, because of the duties.

I:          Um.

J:         You understand?  Things you have to do.


But the bigger, the bigger, uh, uh, hills, the bigger outposts on the reverse slope from the enemy, they had chow bunkers.  Now, you understand what I mean by bunker?

I:          Um hm.

J:         Big timbers, uh, stone and rocks on top of them.

I:          Right.

J:         And, and each one was connected by a trench. And, uh, you’d go back to the chow, if you could make it, you get back to the chow


bunker, and you’d get fed.

I:          So did your, did your camp ever receive artillery fire when you were

J:         Oh yes,

I:          stationed there?

J:         Oh yeah.  All the time.

I:          Um.

J:         The,

I:          What was that like?

J:         Air bursts, air bursts.

I:          What was that like?

J:         Well, you go to bed and, you’d go to bed and, uh, you sleep in a tent.

I:          Yeah.

J:         You come out in, in the morning, you know, aft, er, wherever you’ve been, and you find a, a fuse off of the nose of an artillery shell laying there.  So you know how close you came.

I:          But, did it, did it, were there any, ever attacks where, you know, you were running for your life


or people were getting hit or anything like that?

J:         No, no, no, no.  None of that, none of that.

I:          Um hm.

J:         It’s a, when, uh, after the, they started fighting on Pork Chop, everybody was scared.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Now, I used to, in my spare time for instance, I would ride shotgun on the message center jeep, regimental message center. That’s where all of the communications and everything came in, and I had one break for about two weeks where the commanding officer and a lieutenant, uh, communications officer.


I:          Um hm.

J:         And he didn’t know how to run this little loaf of bread we called it, M222, three twos.

I:          What’s that?

J:         Converter.  It, uh,

I:          A radio converter?

J:         No, it was just for message, uh, code.

I:          [INAUDIBLE]

J:         Code.

I:          Okay.

J:         It’s one of those things with wheels on it, see.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And, uh, you have to know what the, uh, day’s code was.  You, you


put those into the wheels, and then the words would come in in five letter groups.  We might take 15, 8, 12, 13 letters to make a word.

I:          Um hm.

J:         So you had to know how to do that.

I:          Um hm.  And so you’d fix it.

J:         And so you, you adjust the wheels before you start the message.  Then you, using the wheels, you put the letters in where they belong and, uh, would, tape would come out the other end,


and then you’d have to piece it together, you know?  You have to figure out what the messages were.  Well, his Lieutenant didn’t know how to use that.  So

I:          So you had to teach him.

J:         Yeah, I had to teach him. [LAUGHS]  Two weeks, keep the message, officers mess, you know, and

I:          Yeah,

J:         and go to the Officers Club [LAUGHS]

I:          That’s great.

J:         I enjoyed it.  Then I

I:          So what, what as it like interacting with all the soldiers, responsibilities, you know, like, what was that like interacting with any soldiers or [INAUDIBLE]


J:         Well, yeah, I was regular Army.   The most of them were draftees.

I:          Um hm.

J:         There’s a little conflict there.

I:          So,

J:         They resented me enlisting, monetarily.

I:          Why would they resent you?

J:         Well, because they were called from their bed and board

I:          Um hm.

J:         And I come and delivered it.  Uh, well one, one way we, uh, my friends and I, uh, broke up the monotony, we would go to the motor pool and steal a jeep.  Now, you look at that, see how far away


from it we are from anything.  Pork Chop was way up there.

I:          Um hm.

J:         I never saw any civilians.  Saw the katusas and the KSC, but never any other civilians.

I:          What was, yeah.  Tell me about the katusas and the

J:         Katusas were Korean Army attached to the U.S., uh.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Now, in order to satisfy Congress and the Geneva Convention, we had to have Korean Nationals



I:          fighting with you.

J:         That’s right.  That’s right.  Just, just a minimum of them, but they had to be, uh, attached to each, each outfit.

I:          So what was that like working with them and

J:         Good, good.

I:          living with them.

J:         Good.  They, they, they were interesting.  I’d try to talk to them, they’d try to talk to me, and we, you know,

I:          How, how did that work out?

J:         Oh, it, well, you get to know the pigeon English. [LAUGHS]

I:          Yeah.  Uh huh. Uh huh.

J:         And, uh, they

I:          Did you, were you guys able to share experiences or learn about each other,

J:         Uh huh.

I:          the cultures at all?


J:         Not too much because we couldn’t understand each other that well.

I:          Right, right.

J:         But they were buddies.  They were buddies.  For instance, we played blackjack, and the, the katusas, they didn’t make much money.  But if I had to deal, you ever play blackjack?

I:          Of course, yes.

J:         Okay.  If I had to deal, I’d get my buddies, I’d say get in, and I’d give them a free ride, you know?  [LAUGHS]

I:          Um hm.  Yeah.  So you guys got to kill time with each other, you’d have fun with each other.

J:         Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.  That, well, we would go to,


my buddies and I would go to the motor pool and steal a jeep

I:          Yeah.

J:         and head towards Uijeongbu

I:          Uh huh.  Drive around the countryside.

J:         Yeah.  We never made it.

I:          [LAUGHS]

J:         It’s very dangerous.  First you got these guys, in June, wandering around in the hills. But, uh, the Army, every two or three miles,

I:          Um hm.

J:         on their highways.  They’d put up a checkpoint.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And you gotta figure out ways to break these checkpoints.  So when you’re going down the road, keep track of the outfits that you’re goin by.


They all have a little sign post identifying themselves.  You come to the checkpoint.  If they wouldn’t let you through, then you’d say we’re looking for the 23rdMess Kit Repair.  You know where it is?  And they’d say oh yeah, back there about a mile.  Oh, we missed it.  Turn around and go back.

I:          Um.

J:         Take the jeep back.

I:          Heh.

J:         Never made it to Uijeongbu

I:          So, well what were your, what were your impressions of Korea when you first go there?  I guess, you know, the land size.  You didn’t, you said you didn’t meet any civilians, but the people and

J:         Just, when we got there,


we got off the ship

I:          Um hm.

J:         and got on a train.  Have you ever been down south when the old, uh, Jim Croak railroad cars?

I:          Um hm.

J:         Did you ever see them?

I:          Uh, you mean with the big boxcars?

J:         Well, not much better.

I:          No.

J:         Not much better.  Uh, convert, uh, con, uh, you know, seats the, contoured seats.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And not very comfortable.  And


narrow gates railroad, very narrow gates railroad.  In fact, first thing I noticed about Korea, everything was so small.

I:          [LAUGHS]

J:         The only thing that was large were the oxen. I mean, they were big.

I:          They had a lot of grass to eat.

J:         Well, I don’t know about why, but even, the horses were small, you know.

I:          Yeah.

J:         The and, uh,

I:          Why do you think that was, cause there just wasn’t anything for them to eat or

J:         I have no idea.  They, just, no.  It’s just that the people were demuted, demu, you know,

I:          Um hm.


First since I noticed it in Japan.  I said to my buddy, I says look at these people.  They ruled half of the world.

I:          Um hm.

J:         How did they do it?  They’re little tiny things.

I:          [LAUGHS]

J:         You know?  [LAUGHS]

I:          Intelligence I guess.

J:         Nah, dedication.

I:          So, so it seemed like everything, you know, is kind of a poor

J:         Uh,

I:          society

J:         No, not poor, primitive.

I:          Primitive.

J:         Primitive.  Primitive.

I:          No technology or

J:         You ever see an A-frame?

I:          An A-frame?

J:         Yeah.


It, made out of tree lumber.

I:          Yeah.

J:         So so, with at, with a, I don’t know how to explain it.  But

I:          What was it for, for their houses?

J:         No.  For carrying things.

I:          Oh yeah.  Okay, okay.

J:         Carrying things.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         And they could pile stuff on that.

I:          Yeah.

J:         Cane, you know, they made a lot of cane.  Pile it on there.  We, we were goin down the road in the jeep one day, and I said to the driver, I said look out, there’s a tree in the middle of the road there,


and he said okay. So we went over a hill, here’s an old farmer goin, got two sticks

I:          Oh.

J:         goin down the road with that A-frame on his back loaded with, with, I, maybe sugar cane.  I don’t

I:          Uh huh.

J:         know just what it was.  And it was constructed so that he could take it off, and it would stand there, see.

I:          Okay.

J:         And I was sent in the, in the forward party to, uh, open up a new ar, a new, uh, we were moving,


so a new se, a new, uh, location.  And, uh, we’re up on a hill setting up the radio truck, way up on top of a hill, and down below was the old, uh,

I:          Farmer.

J:         garrison.

I:          Sorry.

J:         And the way they moved, they would send people down, uh, you know, sergeants, whoever was in charge of things, to in, inspect what we were going to be trading.  Now, if a tent was no good, then the sergeant would reject it, and they would take it down and send it back.


You know, you slept in squad tents, 10, 12 people.  So they had rejected one tent, and the tents were on wooden platforms. So the sergeant says to me, cause there is some in, indig, indigenous we call em?  Koreans down there.

I:          Locals?

J:         Yeah, locals down there.  He says Corporal, go on down and see what they’re, the guys are doing down there.  So I went down with the jeep, you know.

I:          Uh.

J:         And, uh, they were cutting up


one of these tent floors. Big mammoth thing.  Big mammoth thing, you know, maybe 20 x 12.  Lumber.  And when I got down there, they had a half of that on this A-frame, and the guy’s chugging along, you know, with that

I:          So you’re like, you’re thinking to yourself how are you guys doing this?

J:         That’s right.  So I st, I try to talk to the people that were left.  See, they were picking up the other one, the other half.


Well, you know. If you’re, the, the local and I’m the GI, you’re not gonna understand a thing I’m saying, see,

I:          Yeah.

J:         but you’re gonna keep on working see.

I:          Yeah.

J:         So I said back, back, back, back up to the, up top of the hill and the sergeant says well, what’d you find out, Reidy?  I said nothing.

I:          Nothing.  We can’t communicate.

J:         After the hostilities, we were allowed to hire civilians as house boys and things like that, see.  And


they were thankful for the employment.  But they were more thankful for the pilferage. [LAUGHS]

I:          Um hm.

J:         They would send em, we, we couldn’t, uh, wash our own clothes anymore, see, because of, uh, what they call hemorrhagic fever. Did you ever hear of hemorrhagic fever? Well,

I:          What’s that?

J:         we were washing our clothes by this, by the creeks, you know.  Whenever we’d get near a creek or a stream or something, laying them on the, on the ground

I:          Yeah.

J:         to dry, and they were picking


up mites

I:          Uh huh.

J:         from the robots, uh, ro, rodents running around. And the mites would contaminate your blood

I:          Um hm.

J:         cause it to boil.  And it took them a while to figure out what it was.  It would kill you.  Finally, they figured out that the blood’s overheating, and the only way they could cure it was to pack the body in ice

I:          Yeah.

J:         and, you know, take it out periodically, put em back in.  Finally, they would


lower the blood temperature, and it would kill the mites.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And they figured out that we were doing it by these

I:          Because of the washing the clothes.

J:         Washing the clothes.  So we couldn’t wash out clothes anymore.  So we had to go back to the shower part, which is maybe 10 or 15 miles back, and when you went into the shower part, they took everything you had except your weapons, your boots and your helmet.

I:          Burn it.

J:         And, yeah.  And then when you come out of the shower, they give you all clean

I:          Uh huh.

J:         see?  And you were allowed to finally


accumulate two outfits of everything.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Now the poor guys who went up on the hill, they were there for 30 days.  They couldn’t, couldn’t wash their clothes or anything.  So whenever you, and, you know, when you came back, whenever you got back to the, for instance, if you had to leave the hill to come back to the company for something or other, you made sure you went to the shower point while you were there.  So, uh, finally, they, after, at the cessation of the hostilities, they allowed


the, uh, women to set up shower facilities, or not shower, uh, laundry facilitates by the streams. But they had to impregnate the clothes with some kind of chemical.

I:          So the mites wouldn’t

J:         So they would retard the mites.

I:          Um hm.

J:         So the, and they had an outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever here in the United States down at the four corners, Utah, was it Arizona, New Mexico,

I:          Wyoming.

J:         Yeah, [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Yeah, Colorado


J:         and, and they discovered that they were caused by the rats running around down there.

I:          Huh.

J:         I wondered why they were so interested

I:          Um hm.

J:         in what we were gonna, what we, we were gonna do for them.  They had to do it for themselves, and I realized later on in, uh, my studies, that, uh, they had been dominated since 1985 by the Japanese.  I mean, we had turned our back on them and let the Japanese take over,


and they were enslaved.  They were enslaved.  You didn’t do anything unless the Japanese gave you permission to do it.  So one, in 19, uh, 45 when we occupied the south of, south of, uh, Korea, we introduced to them free enterprise, free enterprise, uh, democracy, uh, liberty, freedom,


the whole, the whole business.  They did not understand it.

I:          Um hm.

J:         They had no idea what it was.

J:         New concept.

J:         That’s right.  They had been dominated for so long.  But in five years’ time which is not very much time at all, they had began to recognize what we were doing for them, and what they were doing for themselves cause I wondered why they would, uh, come out and fight like they did to preserve that.


They didn’t want to lose it, and look where they are now.  What are they 10th, 10th, 11th, 10th

I:          They’re doing well.

J:         man, most, largest industrial country.  Yeah, they went through all of the, uh, hazards of democracy,

I:          Um hm.

J:         you know.  Sand and cement, when they built, build a skyscraper.

I:          Yeah.

J:         And, uh, prosecution for doing it.

I:          Yeah.  And there probably weren’t many buildings when you were there.

J:         Oh, nothing, nothing.

I:          Yeah.

J:         Well, I didn’t see anything.

I:          Yeah.

J:         I got on a train in Pusan,

I:          Yeah.

J:         went up past


Yeongdeungpo. Now the reason I remember Yeongdeungpo cause it’s such a funny name. I

don’t know if that’s a airport

I:          Um.

J:         or a town or what it is.  And, uh, went through Seoul, didn’t see anything.  And when I was there, all the hou, all the houses and hooches, you remember name, name, recognize the name hooch?

I:          Um hm.

J:         Oh, look, it’s like this.  Thatched roofs and stuff like that, see.

I:          Yeah.

J:         And, uh, so now


I was number 85  on a list to go back

I:          Um hm.

J:         but I was talking to a guy that had gone back. He said no more rice paddies, [LAUGHS], all super highways.  You want to eat; you can go to Arby’s.

I:          So you haven’t been back yet?

J:         No, I’m not gonna go back either.

I:          You’re not gonna go back.

J:         I can go to Arby’s here, right?  Why should I go to Korea and go to Arby’s

I:          Yeah.

J:         or McDonald’s.

I:          So you’ve talked to people that have been back, and they say there’s buildings everywhere?

J:         Yeah, yeah.  Oh, they, they take good care of ‘em.

I:          Yeah.

J:         The Korean War Veterans Association of Korea, uh, owns some


hotels and things like that, see, and they, uh, put up, put ‘em up.  They feed ‘em

I:          Um hm.

J:         you know.  It’s all free.  All you have to do is pay the, pay to get there and back.  Ah, oh here’s the guy.

I:          So what do you think about, um, what do you think about the fact that Korea is much more developed and

J:         Oh, it’s amazing.

I:          Yeah.

J:         It’s amazing.  Now, when I was in the Navy, 1949, I served aboard the, uh, destroyer Hammann.  We were dispatched


from the 6thfleet to the Port of Haifa which was then Palestine to assess the United Nations and support because they were trying to broker the peace between the Israelis and the Arabs.  And I as there for about six weeks, and I say to myself, you know, I’m proud of the fact that I was instrumental, about one of about a thousand enlisted men in


the, assisting in the emergence of the democratic, freedom-loving nation of Israel.  Well, I also was instrumental on a much larger scale in the emergence of the democratic, freedom-loving, uh, Is, country of South Korea.

I:          Right.

J:         The Republic of South Korea.


There’s only one problem.

I:          What’s that?

J:         Both countries are still at, at somebody’s throats.

I:          That’s right.

J:         Now I wonder, I’m gonna ask you a question. What do you think of the reunification of North and South Korea?  What’s your, what’s your

I:          Well, my, I guess my impression is that many Koreans hope there is a reunification one day.


But it almost seems like there’s this doubt, uh,

J:         Yeah.

I:          lingering among everyone

J:         Right.

I:          if it’s actually possible.

J:         Now, if it happens, what are you, what’s your, what’s your fix on it if it happens?

I:          If it happens?

J:         Yes.  What do you think?

I:          I think it’ll potentially end a lot of conflict in the area.

J:         You think so?

I:          What do you think?

J:         Well, you’re gonna have to accept northern philosophies

I:          Uh huh.

J:         down into the south.  And I don’t think that’s


gonna, I, that’s not gonna work.

I:          Well, what do you mean by northern philosophies?

J:         Well, they, they will, the politicians from their provinces will have to be accepted into north/south configuration.

I:          Um hm.

J:         How do you think that’s gonna work?

I:          It’s complicated.

J:         Complicated.

I:          Yeah.

J:         When we were down at the, uh, Korean church on East Genesee Street,

I:          Uh huh

J:         I asked some.  I said what kind


of flag are you gonna have, because they got the North flag, and they got the South flag, and he said well, uh, this guy said well, we’re gonna have to, uh, negotiate that. And I says how?  He says by debate.  I said the people in the north do not debate well. [LAUGHS]

I:          So do you think it’ll be possible then one day that both peninsulas will be unified?

J:         Uh, if you go to the north now, they tell you when we go back, they tell you don’t look them in the eyes.

I:          Um hm.


J:         I’m not gonna go someplace where I can’t look a foreign soldier in the eyes.  The thing

I:          Well, maybe that’s one of the problems then, the cultural differences that

J:         Yeah.

I:          people need to learn about and,

J:         Yeah.  The, the thing that burned me the most was during the cease fire talks, when they finally got down to the nitty gritty, the United Nations personnel were taking, driving their jeeps up,


any part, anybody that went to the negotiations had to do so under a yellow flag.

I:          Um hm.  And what does that symbolize?

J:         Well, that simple, sym, that sym, sym, that symbolized that they were in the negotiating party.  But you don’t hang a yellow flag on a United States service man.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Oh, burned my ass terrible.  Terrible.  Oh, I didn’t like it.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         See those jeeps going by with the yellow flag

I:          Uh.

J:         and the trucks.


I:          So maybe your, your thought is that it won’t.

J:         Uh, I don’t know if it will or not.

I:          Hm.

J:         For instance, the, the two national philosophies are, uh, completely different.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Completely different.  Now, you ever watch the History Channel?

I:          Of course.

J:         You ever see the satellite view of the Peninsula?

I:          Yeah.

J:         At night?  You know what I’m talking about.

I:          The lights are in the south, and there’s not too much in the north.

J:         All the light s but maybe three or four in the north.

I:          Yeah.

J:         Yeah.

I:          So


How do you think, you know, the United States government’s relations towards South Korea plays a role in this do you think?

J:         Oh, in the negotiations?

I:          In the negotiations or just, you know, the

J:         Well, right now they are, what is it, 6 point, uh, treaty.

I:          Um hm.  Six party talk.

J:         The two, two Koreans, Chinese, American and, who else?  Russia. Five point.  And they, they aren’t getting anywhere.  Nobody’s getting anywhere.


I:          So what are we gonna do?

J:         Yeah, can, let it go like, you know what, I, I hate to, uh, revert to the Chinese adage that, uh, in, in time this, too, shall pass.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         But, uh, I hope it passes before China owns the United States, and then Korea.  We owe them a lot of money, too.

I:          Yeah.  That definitely plays a role in it, huh?

J:         Yeah.  China and North Korea don’t


get along that well from what I read.

I:          Um hm.

J:         We get along good with South Korea.  We get along good with South Korea, and we do, we have treaties.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And it, uh, we, a few years ago I was at a dinner with the, uh, Mayor of Seoul.  He was here at the Syracuse University, and we had it down near Sam’s. There’s a restaurant down next to Sam’s, and we had, uh, and I


was sat next to the interpreter, and we were batting it back and forth, and I says what about these, uh, tunnels that the North Koreans are digging down into South Korea? He says well, we know about them. I said what do you do?  He says board them up.  I said what do you do that for?  Why don’t you just keep em open so in case you have to use em?  He says oh, we have our own tunnels. [LAUGHS]

I:          Huh, that no one knows about.  That’s funny.


Your life, back in America

J:         I came back to the United States, I served a year, my final year in the Army in, uh, uh, Fort Benning.

I:          Um.

J:         I was, uh, interviewed to go into a Special Forces cause I was a career soldier

I:          Um hm.

J:         seven years.  And, uh, at that time, President Roosevelt, or President Eisenhower, General Eisenhower, was sending advisors into Vietnam.


Now I was watching that very closely. General de Gaulle begged the United States to assist them in, in Viet, in, uh, Vietnam

I:          Um hm.

J:         and we refused.  Now here we are sending advisors into Vietnam, and they were getting killed.  There was dribble, just a dribble of advisors and, uh, and you know what happened in Vietnam?

I:          Um hm.

J:         And I, I read that correctly

I:          Yeah.

J:         and I said to myself


I got 16 years to go.

I:          Um hm.

J:         No, I had 13 years to go, and I’m not gonna do it.

I:          Um hm.

J:         I’ll get killed in Vietnam.

I:          Um hm.

J:         I made it through Korea.  I’m not gonna go.  So

I:          So what did you do then when you decided not to do it?

J:         I, well I came home.  I came home and, uh, there was a recession

I:          Um hm.

J:         and, uh, I got married, got myself a borg, a mortgage, and my wife gave me four great children.  They gave me 10 grandchildren and, uh, I got four grand, great-grandchildren now.

I:          That’s great.

J:         And, uh,


I:          So what was the impact that the war had on your life then, you know?  Uh, because you were in the military for a really long time

J:         Seven years, seven years.

I:          Yeah.

J:         It matured me.  It matured me.

I:          Yeah.

J:         For instance, uh, before I went in the military I was minimally educated.  I was born in 1928, in the Depression, and I left home soon as they started drafting people. They had to open up the employment picture because all the entry-level positions


were not being filled. Then so when I was 12 years old, I started, this one here is really a dirty deal.

I:          What’s this?  Taps?

J:         Tap, cu, could, that’s when the United States and Japan sold out the Philippines and the Korean Peninsula.

I:          So this is when the United States went to the Philippines then, when we invaded the Philippines?

J:         No.  No. This is the, uh, in 1905.


I:          [INAUDIBLE]  Alright.  Well, we’ll go through this.

J:         Yeah. Ah, that’s it.  Oh, you, you the historian?

I:          You know, I, I’m not.  But I love history.

J:         Oh, that’s my ship.


This isn’t much. We have another man that has a much better chart now.  I’ll run, I’ll speak to him and have him bring it when, when he, uh, when you interview him.

I:          Hm.  So this is a map of the whole Peninsula.

J:         The whole Peninsula.

I:          And you had this when you were in Korea?

J:         No, no.  I put this stuff together after, when I came home

I:          You made this?

J:         No, no, no.  I ordered it, you know.

I:          [LAUGHS] Alright.

J:         Put it together after I came back home.

I:          Uh huh.


J:         Now, uh, let me explain this thing here.  Oh that, that’s my ship.  It was in World War II.  There one or two there?

I:          There’s, there’s a couple pages.

J:         Oh, you can have them.  I got more.  This is the line of resistance, there are no, just before the end of the war.  I, I worked a lot of entry-level jobs, and then finally we, we goin?

I:          Are we rolling?



I:          Yeah, okay.

J:         Finally, I managed a job in the, which is the primary ingredient in glass.  You can’t make glass without soda ash because you have to melt the sand, and it takes too much heat to, uh, and, uh, go ahead.

I:          No, I was just gonna say so you, so you mentioned that matured you.

J:         Yeah.  So it, the service, of course. I went in when I was 17.  I come


out when I was 25.

I:          Um hm.

J:         So it matured me, and I learned a lot.

I:          What, so I’m wondering what kind of perspectives, you know, you, you learned.  What, what actually did you learn from the war?  How did it reflect on your life?

J:         I’ll tell you.  At, in the later years, I recognized the futility of it.

I:          Of what?

J:         War.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         It does not solve anything.  All it does is cost money, and it costs the young men.


I:          Um.

J:         In, you’ve heard the saying that the, the old men send the young man off to, to die.

I:          Yeah.

J:         And that’s it.  And they refuse to recognize their efforts when they come back.

I:          Um hm.  Um hm. Well that’s, I mean I think that’s especially true with the Korean War veterans people didn’t even want to acknowledge that it was a war.

J:         Oh, I came home, they didn’t, the said where, where you been?  I haven’t seen you in a while.

I:          Um.

J:         I said I was goin in the Army for three years, went to Korea.


He said really? Didn’t know that.

I:          And how does, how is that, what’s that [INAUDIBLE]

J:         That’s it, that’s it.

I:          Um. Yeah, at least now it’s clearly recognized as a war, and I think people in our generations are

J:         We, we left 8,177 people there unaccounted for.  If it were not for the Vietnam veterans, because they were involved for so many years with their, their 2,500 uh, MIA/POWs, we would not, us Korean War veterans would not even have known about it.


I:          Yeah.

J:         They brought, that to the com, country’s attention, and we started looking at that too, then.  And they’re still over there, and people say well, don’t worry about it. They’re all dead.   Well, I don’t know they’re dead.

I:          Yeah.

J:         Show me the bones.  Show me the dog tags.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Then I’ll believe they’re dead.  But otherwise, keep on looking for ‘em.

I:          Yeah.

J:         He could have been one.  I could have been one.

I:          Huh.

J:         In a few years, you could have been one, you know?


When you get into your fifties, you could have been one of those guys.  Every place I go I see these old guys, and I say to myself that could have been a POW.

I:          Yeah.

J:         MIA.

I:          That’s important, too.

J:         Yes, it is.  It, oh, I could have been one, see?  I, you know, you don’t turn your back on these people.

I:          Right.

J:         And, uh, when they decide to send us a set of bones, they charge us about $25, $30,000 for them.

I:          Who, who charges, the government?

J:         Well, the, the, the Koreans.  And they have to, has to be a diplomatic



I:          Um hm.

J:         a convenience for us to send people over there to look for the bones.

I:          Yeah.

J:         If, if they, if they want a, a, if they want to let us send our team over there, what we gotta come up with something.

I:          That clearly frustrates you then.

J:         Yes.  Yes. See, we don’t, we have a different concept of death.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         And, uh, you know, and the, uh, memory of things like that than the, than the Orientals do.


Do you understand what I mean?  Probably not.

I:          Well I mean there’s clearly a difference in culture.

J:         Yeah.  It’s a cultural difference.

I:          I think [INAUDIBLE] culture value death. It’s just that maybe it’s just the

J:         Yeah. For instance, uh, some Oriental cultures believe it’s a benefit to go to their ancestors.

I:          Um hm.

J:         We don’t.  No benefit to that.

I:          Yeah.

J:         I’m 83 years old.


If there was a benefit to it, I’d a been gone a long time ago.  I’d a collected death benefit.

I:          Yeah.

J:         You understand what I’m saying?

I:          Yeah, of course.

J:         They have a different concept of mortality.  Okay.  Today’s veterans are both patriotic and economic.  Some people join the military for the career for, and patrism.  Others join the military because they need a job.


I:          Um hm.

J:         Uh, the job picture is very bleak.  Now, there’s no more, there’s no more draft.  You have to register.  Did you have to register for the [INAUDIBLE]           ?

I:          Um hm, yeah, of course.

J:         You’d register for the draft?

I:          I was 18 years old.

J:         Yeah, you had to register for the draft.  Now when it hits the fan, they may call you.  You may have to go.  What do you think of that?

I:          I don’t like the idea of me having to

J:         Would you carry

I:          fight. But if I have to do it

J:         Would you carry a sign down in front of the Federal Building saying Hell no, I ain’t go?

I:          I don’t know.


J:         I don’t know.  Well see, that’s, most, most, most of the guys your age probably would.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         They have lost that sense of stability

I:          Uh.

J:         that this country needs.

I:          Yeah.

J:         Now, the, now the military is an all-volunteer military.

I:          Right.

J:         It’s made up of National Guard, Reserve, and regular forces.  Now, uh, they all volunteer because


you have to volunteer for the Reserves and the, and the National Guard, see.  But don’t think they won’t supplement

I:          Yeah.

J:         those forces with the draft if they have to. And I look at the, uh, Reserves and the, and the National Guard as the backyard, back door draft.  If the worse comes to worse, they won’t draft you into the military.  What they’ll do is draft you into the, these other two, uh, functions, and then


and then deploy you.

I:          Yeah.

J:         So you’re gonna go anyway no matter what you do.

I:          So in your opinion on war, it’s not the answer.

J:         No, not at all.  You know what the answer is?  Young people like you.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And the people that are in grade schools now. They have to be educated to become functional, and we have made all the mistakes.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And they, none of them worked.  None of them worded.  None of the things we did worked.


But we have made some progress.  We made some progress.  But evidently, none of it worked.  You have people that, uh, deal with, like the, you have people like George Bush and Saddam Hussein, and I don’t understand either one of them,

I:          Um hm.

J:         you know?  They didn’t, neither one of them accomplished anything.  Now you got Khadafi, and that stuff and, uh, nothing.  Look what’s happening in Libya right now.


I:          Yeah.

J:         You see?  Nope.  The people, the different philosophies around the world are in conflict.  No, no discussion.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         No, uh, conception

I:          Uh huh.

J:         of other people’s functioning.

I:          So maybe that’s the message that we need to send to future generations, that one day we’ll, we’ll be doing research on the Korean War.  I mean it’s not

J:         Have to, have to get rid of all the isms.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         Get rid of all the isms.


I:          And do dialogue and exchange and education.

J:         For instance, uh, I was down at a function at that East Genesee Street Korean church, and, uh, I was talking to, the guy’s name is Joe Kim, Pastor, Joe Kim.  And he says how do you, how do you do something like that, and I says when your people come here from the old country, don’t let them move within a quarter of a mile from anyone else from the old country.


That way they gotta at least walk a quarter of a mile to get over there.

I:          Yeah.

J:         They have to walk through the, you know,

I:          Yeah.

J:         through citizenry to get there.  Then eventually the children will not, the grandchildren will not eat kimchi for supper. [LAUGHS]

I:          And it’s also the same with, uh, people from the United States originally

J:         Yeah.

I:          You know, it’s on us to learn about other cultures as well.

J:         Yep.

I:          Right?

J:         Yeah.  Well you see, we don’t build rubber


rafts out of old plu, old tires and barrels to go to some other country.  They do that to come here.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Now if they’re gonna come here, let ‘em assimilate themselves into the culture, you know.  Don’t join the mafia.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         Don’t do drugs.  Don’t sell drugs.

I:          But we hate to open our arms to them.

J:         Yes.  Oh yes, sure, by all means.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Why not?

I:          Why not?

J:         They’re here.

I:          That’s right.

J:         I told my granddaughter, I says you’re gonna marry, uh, Pedro Gonzalez.

I:          Uh huh.



J:         [LAUGHS]  She don’t like that.

I:          Well, there’s a

J:         She, she doesn’t like that.

I:          Yeah.  Well, it’s a reflection of how international United States is now.

J:         Yes.  Yeah. Well, we are an immigrant-born country

I:          That’s right.  We’re all immigrants.

J:         to start with.

I:          Yeah.

J:         And because of the Civil War, it was exemplified.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Because all of the people that were killed in the Civil War practically were United States citizens.

I:          Um hm.


J:         And they had to be replaced.

I:          Um hm.

J:         So they let the immigrants come in.  They sent them out west.  They sent them all over, and, and, uh, they brought their cultures with them, you know.

I:          Um hm.

J:         For instance, the Italians brought pizza [LAUGHS]

I:          [LAUGHS]  Everyone brought their own local cuisine.  Um, well, I think let’s read on that note.

J:         Oh.

I:          I appreciate you sitting here with us.

J:         Oh, thank you for inviting me.

I:          It was very interesting to hear about all your stories, and as a token of our appreciation and


the, um, Republic of Korea, they would like to present you with a medal that they have.  Here it is.  The Ministry of Patriot and Veterans Affairs as well as the Korean Veterans Association of the Korean government would like to present you with this peace medal, and I’m just gonna hang this around your neck

J:         Yeah.


I:          Alright.

J:         Oh, thank you.

I:          You’re very welcome, and we appreciate your service and coming here to share your stories with us.

J:         I’m very proud to do it.  I am proud of my service.  Does not make, may not sound like it, but I am proud of


my service.

I:          So why is this important to you, participating?

J:         People should know about things like this, know about why we went there, what we did when we were there, why we did what we did when we were there, and mainly what the results were on the culture that was already there when we got there.  And everyone can see what we did in South Korea.  They tell me there are no more thatch huts, no more rice paddies,


super highways. Now, how can they put a super highway in a little place like Korea? [LAUGHS] You drive 55 miles an hour, 65, 70, you’re already across it.  And, uh, I’m glad I went.  When I got there, I said to my buddies, what in the hell am I doing in a place like this? I don’t have to be here, but I’m glad I went.

I:          Well, we’re glad you went, and I’m sure many Koreans are glad you went as well.


J:         Well, and I’m gonna tell you people what I tell all Koreans when I speak to them like we’re doing now.  When you write to the old folks, you got old folks over there? When you write to them, you tell them John Reidy says take good care of our country because I feel like it’s my country, too.  I spent enough time there, was involved enough.  Didn’t see very many civilians at


all except them the KSCs.  You ever, you know what the KSCs were?  Korean Service Corp.?  They patched up the roads and things like that.  Very few of them.  Saw very few of them and, uh, of course the Katusa soldiers, some of them very good friends of me.  I don’t know their names.   I couldn’t pronounce them if I did. [LAUGHS]  So.

I:          Well, thank you for sharing again.

J:         Oh, it’s my pleasure, my pleasure, and thank you for, thank you for inviting me.

[End of Recorded Material]



Close up Shot of John Reidy

Subject : Close up shot
Description : Close up shot of John Reidy
Publisher : John Reidy
Contributor : Jongwoo Han
Rights : KWVA veterans & KWVDA

Close up Shot of John Reidy

Safe conduct pass - propaganda (front)

Subject : Propaganda, safe conduct, money, one hundred
Description : A copy of money, one hundred won in Korea
Publisher : John Reidy
Contributor : Jongwoo Han
Rights : KWVA Veterans & KWVDA

Safe conduct pass - propaganda (front)

Safe conduct pass - propaganda (back)

Subject : Propaganda, safe conduct
Description : Targeted at enemy, Chineses and North Korean soldiers
Publisher : John Reidy
Contributor : Jongwoo Han
Rights : KWVA Veterans & KWVDA

Safe conduct pass - propaganda (back)