John Turner was born in Annapolis, Maryland, on February 20, 1930. He graduated from Southern High School in Annapolis in 1949 and recalled never learning anything about Korea in school. After high school he worked as a carpenter, and on October 8, 1951, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He attended bootcamp at Parris Island in South Carolina and remembers how brutal his basic training was. He graduated from bootcamp on December 10, 1951, still not knowing exactly where he was headed. He remembers not being scared of going to war but knew he was sadly going to have to leave his new wife, Mary Lou, behind. He then attended advanced training at Camp Pendleton in California. After graduating from advanced training, he boarded a ship in San Diego set for Incheon, South Korea. He operated flame throwers and bazooka rockets as part of the 1st Marine Division, Weapons Company near the 38th parallel. After multiple injuries, he was forced to spend thirty days on a HOPE hospital ship in Incheon before being sent to a hospital in Wakasa, Japan. He earned 2 Purple Heart medals.
Prepping for War
John Turner discusses the process he went through from enlistment to arriving in Incheon, South Korea. He enlisted in the Marines and attended Parris Island for bootcamp. After he graduated from basic training, he attended advanced training at Camp Pendleton in California. After advanced training, he departed from San Diego for Inchoen.
What was Korea like when you were there?
John Turner discusses what Korea looked like on his journey north towards the 38th parallel. He recalls the destruction he witnessed in Incheon, Seoul, and Panmunjeom. He recalls starving people begging for food. He would give them some of his rations, as would other soldiers. His unit went on patrol near the 38th parallel, walking along deep trenches, and spying on North Koreans at Outpost Kate, about five hundred feet beyond the front lines .
Were you afraid? Did you ever think you would die?
John Turner talks about his experiences on the front lines of the war. Once his leg was grazed by a bullet, which ended up sending him to a M.A.S.H. (mobile army surgical hospital) in Seoul for a ten-day recovery. After feeling better, he returned to the front lines and was injured again shortly after, this time with a concussion from North Korean fire and explosions in a cave. He recalls trouble sleeping at night due to constant loud and bright explosions.
Everyday Life in Korea
John Turner talks about what it was like to sleep and eat in Korea. They slept in sleeping bags inside two-man tents and would receive one hot meal a week; other than that, they ate rations. He recalls the weather not being as cold as it was up north. They were occasionally allowed to shower. He recalls writing letters to his wife when he could.