John V. Larson
John V. Larson was born in Victoria County, Texas in 1928, and graduated from Victoria High School in 1945. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1946, where he served in a Naval Combat Demolition Unit (NCDU) in San Diego, California, until 1949. During a short-term discharge, he attended Victoria Junior College before being drafted into the U.S. Army in April 1950. His basic training for the U.S. Army was at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where he was trained in engineering for a Military Occupation Specialty (MOS). Afterwards, he was transferred to Fort Walters, Texas where he was given a new assignment in a special unit of the U.S. Air Force. Special Company Army Regular with Air Force (SCARWAF), Company B, was tasked with mine removal, infrastructure repair, and training personnel throughout post-World War II Europe, working from Dreux-Louvilliers Air Base, a former United States Air Force base, about fifty miles outside Paris, France.
Rebuilding Europe During the Korean War
John V. Larson explains that in 1950 he was not deployed to Korea, but instead to Dreux-Louvilliers U.S. Air Force Base, about fifty miles outside Paris, France. He worked to deactivate and remove mines, repair U.S. bases and bombed-out runways, and build touch-down strips for bombers in France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Poland. He recalls seeing the crematorium pits left at Nazi Death Camps.
U.S.-France Relations During the Korean War
John V. Larson describes the importance of guard duty, and having a lot of leftover World War II equipment to manage. He remembers the merging of races in the military as many African-Americans were being placed into all white units in Europe. He explains why getting help from the French seemed to be difficult when U.S. troops broke down on the roads.
The Leftovers of War
John V. Larson recalls that when compared to other bombed-out areas of Europe, it seemed that there was not much destruction in Paris, France. He describes seeing places that were demolished, and other nearby places such as cathedrals, historical areas, and key cities that were never touched by bombing. He recalls feeling fortunate to be stationed where he was because he knew the combat equipment in Korea was not very good.