Korean War Legacy Project

Jose A. Vargas-Franceschi


Jose A. Vargas-Franceschi was born on September 16, 1927, in Ponce, Puerto Rico. After graduation from Ponce High School in 1946, he moved to San Francisco and began work at Fuller Paint Factory. In 1952, he was drafted into the US Army at Fort Orr, California. After basic training in Salinas, California and infantry training, he was ordered to Korea and traveled there on the troopship, USNS General Walker. He spent a short time in Japan before being deployed to Pusan. He spent time in Pusan doing clerical work before an injury (broken kneecap) forced him back to Osaka, Japan to recover. While on convalescence, he worked as an interpreter. After returning to Pusan, he worked as a postal clerk. In 1953, he left for Puerto Rico on emergency leave to be with his pregnant wife. He has proven to be a successful businessman in Puerto Rico and desires to revisit Korea.

Video Clips

"I Didn't Know What Poverty Was"

Jose A. Vargas-Franceschi describes the difficult living conditions for refugees in Pusan (Busan). He describes the crowded nature as well as the difficulty in acquiring foods due to the lack of good roads and transportation.

Tags: Busan,Food,Home front,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Physical destruction,Poverty

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Thousands of Letters

Jose A. Vargas-Franceschi recounts interesting aspects of his job as a mail clerk in Pusan (Busan). He recalls seeing thousands of letters, sometimes three months after they were written. He shares that, many times, the letters never made it to the intended soldiers due to their movements.

Tags: Busan,Home front,Letters

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Keeping Warm with Newspaper

Jose A. Vargas-Franceschi describes what he found most difficult during his time in Pusan (Busan)--the cold. He recalls layering in heavy clothing yet was still cold. He shares that he took part in a local Korean tradition of using newspaper to help him stay warm.

Tags: Busan,Cold winters,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions

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Danger in Busan

Jose A. Vargas-Franceschi recalls the danger imposed by plain-clothes North Koreans in Pusan (Busan). He describes how the North Korean's infiltrated the area, which made it impossible to determine who they were.

Tags: Busan,Communists,Fear,Living conditions,North Koreans

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Emergency Leave from Korea

Jose A. Vargas-Franceschi describes his arduous journey from Korea on emergency leave. He notes how his leave allowed him to be with his pregnant wife in Puerto Rico.

Tags: Busan,Home front,Women

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