John McBroom was born on November 17, 1933, in Asheville, North Carolina, and graduated from Lee H. Edwards High School in 1951. He does not recall the Korea ever being discussed in high school. Post graduation, he enrolled at the University of Tennessee where he majored in electrical engineering and joined the ROTC. On July 1, 1952, after one year of college, he decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy, and he attended both boot camp training and sonar school in San Diego, California. After finishing school, he left for Sasebo, Japan, in the spring of 1953, and boarded the U.S.S. Symbol (AM-123) to Wonsan, Korea, soon after. He left Korea and arrived back home in December of 1954.
Enlisting in the U.S. Navy
John McBroom recalls his short experience in college. On July 1, 1952, after one year of college, he decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy and attended both boot camp training and sonar school in San Diego, California. He recalls leaving for Sasebo, Japan, in the spring of 1953 and sailing to Wonsan, Korea, from there.
The U.S.S. Symbol
John McBroom speaks about his experience aboard the U.S.S. Symbol, the oldest minesweeper ship in the United States fleet. He explains that the ship was built out of steel in 1941. He recalls how large the ship was, capable of holding 100 men, and describes how it was reinforced in the front so it could safely smash into submarines. He describes minesweeping as mostly a middle-of-the-night type of work and shares how they avoid daytime sweeps at all possible. He details one particular incident north of Wonsan.
Several Incidents on Board
John McBroom recalls several incidents on board the U.S.S. Symbol while in the Heungnam area. He remembers North Koreans firing at the ship from the beach and recalls gunfire from both the North Koreans and another U.S. ship that was posted nearby for protection. He describes a minesweeping mission.
John McBroom recalls what life was like aboard the U.S.S. Symbol. He remembers the sleeping arrangements were very close and recalls having to strap himself into bed because the ship was small and would move up and down with the waves. He remembers having the best food in the Navy, such as baked beans and cornbread and shares how, at times, they would even have steaks and pork chops. He fondly remembers coffee always brewing on board and helping the cook clean in exchange for extra fresh bread and butter. He recalls how showers were regularly available but very short. He describes the four-hour watch shifts aboard the ship.