John Jefferies was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1929 and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1951. His older brother’s high blood pressure kept him out of WWII, and he felt it was important to represent his family in one of America’s wars. He was sent to Non-Commissioned Officers School, Officer Training School, and Medical Administration School prior to serving in Korea. He shares his first impressions of Korea and of how he served as a medical administrator with the 514th Medical Clearing Company at a hospital that tended to North Korean POWs. He offers an account of a large POW escape where he was serving and describes a POW exchange he later experienced. He comments on having benefited from the GI Bill, using the benefits to attend graduate school at the University of Minnesota to obtain a hospital administration degree. He is proud of his service and his time spent in Korea as he feels it led to a long and successful career as a hospital administrator.
Arriving in Korea
John Jefferies recalls landing in Pusan, South Korea, in 1953 and the reality of war sinking in as he disembarked. He recalls being assigned to a Medical Clearing Company and describes his role while there. He shares that he worked in a POW camp where North Korean soldiers were detained.
John Jefferies recounts a successful and massive North Korean POW escape that occurred early one morning. He details how the North Koreans used towels to destroy part of the fencing around the camp and remembers watching thousands of them flee. He recalls having to defend himself to survive the situation.
John Jefferies recalls a POW exchange in Panmunjeom. He describes how the North Korean POWs reacted to being part of the exchange. He shares that new uniforms and other items were distributed to the POWs as well as haircuts given prior to the exchange. He recounts that the POWs threw their clothes out of the trucks and scratched themselves on the way to the exchange as a means of falsely displaying how poorly they had been treated.
A Sergeant's Mistake and a South Korean helper
John Jefferies shares memories of an encounter with a drunk American sergeant. He recalls happening upon a drunk American sergeant who was firing at children running in a village. He shares that when he confronted the sergeant, the gun was turned on him. He recalls running to seek the help of several South Korean soldiers, but upon his return with aid, the sergeant had fled. He adds that he luckily found no children wounded.
G.I. Bill Benefits
John Jefferies shares that he used his G.I. Bill benefits to receive a Master's degree in hospital administration at the University of Minnesota. He recounts the route he took to landing successful employment over the years. He is thankful for the G.I. Bill and comments on how his time in the military and serving during the war helped prepare him for his career.