Korean War Legacy Project

Joseph Calabria

Bio

Joseph Calabria is an active member of the Korean War Veteran’s Association and is also the commander of the Corporal Allan F. Kivlehan chapter of the Korean War Veterans of Staten Island.  He was drafted to the war at twenty-one years of age. Calabria was part of the 55th Truck Battalion, where the main task was getting goods and ammunition to the frontline. During his return to Korea, he noted the quick growth of buildings, infrastructure, and the creation of the Hyundai car company.

Video Clips

Thoughts on Peace Treaty

Joseph Calabria speaks about how he would like for the Koreas to be reunified. He believes that he would then sign it. He gives the suggestion that North Korea should follow the model of South Korea.

Tags: Impressions of Korea,North Koreans,South Koreans

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NiP-ToWK7I&start=1006&end=1062

Returning Home from War

Joseph Calabria discusses what it was like returning home from Korea. He shares how it was a normal day. He parallels the experience of what others may have felt returning home from Vietnam.

Tags: Home front

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NiP-ToWK7I&start=903&end=935

Korean War Veterans Group is Formed

Joseph Calabria discusses how veterans of the war that they would not recognize them due to it being known as the "forgotten war". He shares how the veterans needed to find a way to connect with others. He explains how the Korean War Veterans was founded to help the veterans have a place.

Tags: Home front

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NiP-ToWK7I&start=60&end=118

Korean Then and Now

Joseph Calabria discusses his war memories of Korea. He juxtaposes his memories of Korea with what he saw on a recent return visit. He shares the growth of the industry in South Korea. He expresses his pride in seeing South Korea going from destruction to a place of growth and infrastructure in such a short time. He shares how the South Koreans are very appreciative of the veterans for what they did for their country.

Tags: Seoul,Impressions of Korea,Pride,South Koreans

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NiP-ToWK7I&start=220&end=325

Photos

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Fort Dix, NJ

Joseph Calabria in Fort Dix, NJ

Joseph Calabria in Fort Dix, NJ

Joseph Calabria in Fort Dix, NJ

Joseph Calabria in Fort Dix, NJ

Joseph Calabria in Fort Dix, NJ

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Joseph Calabria in Chunchon

Video Transcript

0:00

my name is uh.. Joseph Calabria.

0:02

I am the commander of the Corporal Allan F. Kivlehan Chapter of the Korean War Veterans of Staten Island

0:10

but also any member of the korean war veteran’s association

0:16

this uh… organization has been in effect

0:19

effect since 1990

0:23

it was founded by uh… a fella by the name of Ed Greiger

0:28

who is uh…

0:29

I believe the latest I heard

0:32

was in a  veterans hospital in Saint Albans

0:35

but there was a couple of other commanders

0:38

Richard McNeill

0:40

and a fellow by the name of  James Janes

0:43

uh…

0:44

I got elected into the position in 1995

0:50

I’ve been a commander since that period of time

0:52

up to the present

0:54

and uh…

0:55

we’ve picked up quite a number of members

1:01

what happened is that

1:03

right if the Korean War

1:07

a lot of the  members

1:09

wanted to join the Veteran of Foreign Wars

1:12

and American Legion

1:14

unfortunately they told us, or told them

1:18

that they wouldn’t  recognize them because

1:22

it was the forgotten war

1:24

so they say

1:26

and it uh… it

1:29

it made them feel that they were inferior

1:32

and since the Korean War Veterans uh…

1:35

got together

1:38

we’ve got a lot of more a lot more members

1:41

because they related to each other

1:44

the other way you had

1:45

members from the second world war

1:48

for whatever reason that i cant explain

1:51

make the move through discrimination against us

1:56

Korean conflict

1:58

forgotten war

1:59

in the newspapers the same thing happens

2:02

you hear

2:03

World War II

2:07

Vietnam

2:09

Just recently on July the thrid

2:12

there was an article in the Staten Island paper

2:16

The Staten Island Advance

2:19

and again it mentioned

2:21

World War II

2:25

and Vietnam

2:27

I got quite annoyed with that and called up the Staten Island Advance

2:32

the reporter

2:33

and explain to her don’t you do any research

2:37

before you write an article

2:40

she’s says why

2:41

I say because you skipped a war.

2:46

and speak to the storms we mentioned

2:50

casualty figures and everything

2:53

after the meeting was over

2:55

two teachers approach me

2:58

were not aware

3:00

what would happen what happened

3:02

In the Korean War

3:05

i says well this is the point

3:06

i’m trying to point out

3:08

you as an educator

3:10

should be aware of these things

3:13

should be aware that the children should know what this country has

3:17

gone through and what it has done

3:20

i don’t i don’t think there’s any excuse for that

3:23

you should be aware of that

3:25

well we apologize for not being aware of it

3:28

so you know it’s a never ending battle

3:32

trying to educate the public

3:35

to know what’s happened

3:37

they should also know uh… we told them

3:40

the korean people of very very

3:42

appreciative

3:44

of what we’ve done

3:45

for them and for the country

3:48

i said

3:50

we help them get freedom and democracy

3:53

Their close to being one of the powers in the in the world today

3:58

uh…

4:00

I say now we have the Hyundai and the Kia

4:05

when i was in korea we had to be careful of the honey bucket and papa-son

4:10

but I..I drove a truck Korea

4:13

and uh,

4:14

looking back to read a story where the Hyundai

4:18

when they made that car

4:20

they made it out of fifty five-gallon drums

4:23

they cut the drums up and make a body parts

4:26

today it’s a beautiful car

4:29

last year

4:31

myself, George and

4:33

uh… two other members went to Korea

4:37

totally totally remarkable

4:40

in sixty one years

4:42

what they’ve done in the country

4:44

makes you feel proud

4:46

that what you did what you could help contribute to

4:50

made this country what it is today. They got high-rises

4:53

you got a subway

4:54

you’ve got a highway

4:56

your all kinds of bridges

4:58

and it just

5:00

really really makes you feel proud of the fact

5:03

that hey i was here at i’ve helped do what had to be done and

5:09

the people are very good

5:11

and i did say it would

5:13

we can expect nothing more

5:15

of all the

5:16

wars that the United States has fought

5:19

Koreas

5:20

is the only one

5:22

message that you give us the

5:24

credit were due

5:25

i was twenty one years old

5:27

when i got drafted into the United States army

5:31

and uh…

5:34

i want to basic training and uh… in the course of basic training

5:39

they turn around and that they pulled me out

5:42

it was sixteen weeks basic training

5:46

round the eighth week

5:48

we want to what they call a Bivlack where we would live out in a field

5:54

before we went back to camp

5:56

we had a meeting you want to do

5:58

volunteers for the paratroopers

6:02

after the meeting

6:03

they read off a bunch of names

6:06

my name was one of them

6:08

to report back to the orderly room…

6:14

I had what they call a class c profile

6:19

nobody seemed to know what a class c profile was

6:22

finally found out I wore glasses at the time

6:26

and they said that

6:27

if you happen to be in combat in you lost your glasses

6:31

you would be incapacitated

6:33

so we are not combat

6:38

so report in a truck driving school but i don’t know how to drive a truck

6:43

I also learned to take care of the furnaces to keep the barracks warm

6:47

after eight weeks there

6:51

i wanted to check in with the finance department as he got mine

6:55

records were straight

6:58

if someone overseas the money would be setbacks

7:00

but my mother who was a widow

7:03

they could’t find my records then I saw this fellow walk a mile and a whole bunch of records

7:08

Say you got this fellows records there

7:10

Yeah, just let me put it down

7:13

he’s a he’s a schedule for overseas

7:17

where is he going

7:19

FECOM

7:20

FECOM is Far East Command

7:24

okay

7:26

now Far East Command includes Hawaii

7:29

and all those places…Japan

7:32

so now we turnarounds and say okay

7:34

you’re gone home on what they call delayed route

7:39

so when I got home

7:41

I told my mother

7:44

uh… I was going overseas

7:47

she said where you going, and I said FECOM

7:50

She said what does that mean, you going to Korea

7:52

I said no no. Could be Japan, could be Hawaii

7:54

I don’t know

7:55

when we got there it had been 19 days on a ship

8:02

sick the whole 19 days going

8:05

Coming back, sick the whole 19 days coming back

8:08

my contention

8:12

is that the Korean War was brought on

8:14

was instigated by the Russians

8:20

now, i say

8:21

as an ally you’re not supposed to do this

8:24

as an ally

8:25

but it doesn’t seem that the Russians are our ally

8:29

they instigated the start of the Korean War

8:33

instigated the North Koreans to invade the South Koreans

8:38

fortunately uh… General MacArthur

8:40

was able to

8:42

invade Incheon

8:44

to cut the supply lines

8:47

for North Korea

8:49

8:51

I arrived in Yokohama then they sent us to Tokyo

8:55

and we processed

8:58

well we had to turn in all our clothing

9:01

that we brought with us

9:02

and the issues us

9:04

fatigue uniform

9:07

they put us on the train

9:10

took us down

9:12

to the very end of Japan

9:17

Sasebo

9:19

we were there another day or two to get processed

9:21

that it was on the japanese ship

9:24

it took us to Pusan

9:26

when most of it with you and i thought that in april of nineteen fifty two

9:31

fifty-two yet

9:32

i wish they had total eighteen months according

9:36

when i arrived in korea they took us by train

9:41

all

9:43

up north to Chunchon

9:45

where i was stationed

9:48

I was in a trucking

9:49

company

9:51

55th truck battalion

9:53

seven fifteen trucking company

9:57

we supplied

9:59

troops

10:00

ammunition

10:01

fuel

10:03

and food

10:04

to the front line

10:07

we were a

10:09

rear echelon

10:11

uh… operation

10:14

and we used to go up

10:16

following the convoy

10:18

over the mountainss and so on so forth

10:21

we were very fortunate

10:24

when you look back at as seen in a situation that happened

10:27

in afghanistan and the mideast

10:30

where trucks get bombed

10:31

and hit land mines

10:33

and so and so forth

10:35

why we say we’re fortunate

10:39

there north koreans

10:40

didn’t have the kind of airpower

10:44

if they had the airpower we would have been sitting ducks

10:48

because they go upsides the mountains in Korea

10:51

cut out of the side of the mountains

10:53

very steep

10:54

virtually

10:56

We were only able to get two trucks by

11:00

and uh…

11:02

and delivered what we had delivered so forth

11:06

and uh…

11:07

I had one experience

11:10

when I was up on a convoy

11:13

all of a sudden my steering wheel

11:15

went around and began

11:17

spiraling out of my hand

11:20

what had happened

11:21

i hit the break and it started going to the mountain

11:23

the steering rod broke

11:32

so

11:33

the convoy passed me by and told me

11:36

they would said someone up

11:39

fix the truck

11:41

which later on i stood there

11:42

during the night

11:43

pitch black

11:46

no lights

11:48

but i had heard Korean voices I don’t know weather they were Korean

11:52

North Korean or South Korean

11:55

but you could hear them it was kind of scary

11:57

young fella

11:59

twenty one years old

12:01

foreign country

12:03

seven thousand miles from home

12:06

what could you say

12:09

and uh…

12:10

the area i was in was mostly farm land

12:14

and small villages and so on so forth

12:17

they had told us not to fraternize with the people

12:24

and we did that’s why you know when we come back to it

12:27

you didn’t learn to much because the people didn’t speak our language

12:31

and we didn’t speak their language

12:34

so we

12:35

did the best we could

12:36

Chunchon at the time i got there

12:38

a lot of buildings were destroyed

12:41

periodically we used to have a fellow by the name of

12:44

bedcheck charlie

12:47

used to be a small plane

12:48

use to fly

12:51

in uh… in between amounts

12:53

used the river

12:55

as a guideline

12:56

and would try to get into Chunchon to try and bomb the airfield

13:00

but fortunately he didnt

13:03

we would have to jump out and go into foxholes stated and stay there for what they called a red alert

13:09

then later on

13:11

there would tell us all clear that we go back into our tents the most dangerous

13:16

thing is uh…

13:18

the roads

13:20

will primitive all dirt roads

13:23

and added just barely enough

13:26

here went well

13:28

go one way one truck or the other way

13:32

not to be disrespectful

13:35

but Korean drivers left a lot to be desired

13:38

you know the truth

13:40

you’re know how they drive

13:43

they just

13:44

went by each other

13:46

and i wasn’t going to go to the other side down a hill

13:49

and uh…

13:51

that’s the scary part of it is not uh…

13:57

not being able to uh… go

14:00

and see

14:03

see the roads

14:04

that that was safe enough to travel on

14:07

and like i said

14:08

we had a worry about the

14:11

honey bucket

14:13

and the papason

14:14

papason used to have the branches

14:16

carried on his a-frame

14:18

so you had to be careful you don’t want hit him

14:21

and the honey bucket was also slow moving

14:25

and i say when i first got to Seoul

14:27

it was flat

14:30

bombed out

14:32

and uh… when i finally went back last year

14:36

I was very

14:38

surprised and very

14:40

very honored to see

14:42

What the Korean people did

14:43

very resourceful people

14:45

and very

14:47

hardworking people

14:49

and it is just a credit to them

14:52

what do you think

14:54

your service meant when you came back to the United States

14:59

came back to the world

15:02

when i first came back to the

15:03

United States

15:05

There was no bands

15:08

You just blended in

15:11

with what went on

15:13

Hey, haven’t seen ya in a while

15:15

I went for the papers and forgot to come back

15:18

people didn’t

15:20

just like the unfortunately this is the vietnam veterans

15:23

disgraceful

15:24

what they did to them

15:26

what they were with the people in this country did to them

15:30

they did the same thing we went to Vietnam for

15:33

freedom freedom and democracy

15:36

but it didn’t work out that way because

15:38

the peace movement here in the United States was terrible

15:43

they threw rocks I met

15:44

some of my friends that a vietnam veterans

15:47

one guy took his uniform and didn’t want to wear it again

15:50

they threw rocks at him spit on him

15:53

wrong

15:54

totally wrong

15:56

you’re an American your there

15:58

to help

16:00

not to be ridiculed

16:02

any message or

16:05

to the young generations about the Korean War veterans

16:08

you want to pass along

16:10

the message I can tell them is if you have to go and do something for your country do it

16:21

and be proud of what you are doing

16:26

like I say sometimes things work out for you and sometimes they don’t.

16:30

but the fact of the matter is that

16:32

if your country needs you you should be available to go and do it

16:36

naturally most of us don’t want to do it

16:40

but after its done you look back and say it

16:44

wasn’t bad after all

16:46

If there is a petition to replace the armistice with a peace treaty

16:51

16:52

would you be willing to sign it

16:59

provided that it shows unification for the Koreas

17:05

providing that

17:06

both Koreas

17:07

get-together and become one

17:10

then i will be willing to sign it

17:12

not if they stay split

17:15

i mean uh…

17:17

the guy up north

17:19

what can I say about him nothing

17:24

but the

17:25

what they should do

17:26

is look at it realistically

17:29

and seeing what the South Korean

17:31

people

17:33

have done take it and say well lets join

17:37

lets be part of it

17:38

then I will go along with that

17:39

but not to be split

17:43

this is from the ministry of patriots and veterans affairs of the Republic of Korea

17:48

this is the official proclamation for Mr. Joseph Calabria

17:53

thank you professor thank you Danny

17:56

thank you sweetheart

17:58

And I hope that Daniel will continue to work with you guys