Korean War Legacy Project

Joseph F. Gibson


Joseph F. Gibson was born in Fulton, NY  and he enlisted in the military as a seventeen-year-old student. He carried out his military service from March 1949 to June 1952. During his service period, he went to Korea, where he was stationed from August 1950 to October 1951. He received medical training and was a combat medic. He served in the 24th Division, 21st Regiment, Medical Company and B Company as Private First Class, transitioning to Sergeant before his discharge. For his commitments, he received a Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, Good Conduct Medal, and Medic Combat Badge. After he returned to the United States, he served as a medic at Camp Gordan, GA. After being discharged from military service, he worked as a photoengraver for Sealright in Fulton, NY.

Video Clips

First Battle Came Soon

Joseph F. Gibson describes going straight from a ship to a train after landing at the Pusan Perimeter. He explains how he was trained to jump into a ditch when he heard shooting. He shares how shortly after arriving in the Pusan Perimeter he was under fire by the North Koreans. He shares how he had to run alongside the Nak dong River while dodging bullets.

Tags: 1950 Pusan Perimeter, 8/4-9/18,Busan,Fear,Front lines,Weapons

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Working with Korean Civilians

Joseph F. Gibson shares how he worked daily with Korean civilians who helped take care of the wounded soldiers. He shares how he was often invited into the village to eat within the homes of civilians. He explains that he built a relationship with South Koreans. He shares how he learned some bad words in Korean.

Tags: Nakdonggang (River),Civilians,Food,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,North Koreans,South Koreans

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"All Hell Broke Loose"

Joseph F. Gibson describes having to protect seventeen injured patients who were under his care in the medic tent as the Chinese broke the line. He explains how his unit was only fourteen miles from the Chinese border. He explains how he was told that the war would be over soon since they had pushed all the way through North Korea. He describes how the Chinese joined the North Koreans and how he took a lot of incoming fire in order to hold his tent safe from invasion. He shares how many Chinese were captured by the US and the loss of a Catholic priest.

Tags: Chinese,Fear,Front lines,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Weapons

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

J:         Joe Gibson, and I’m, have to think, 79 years old.

I:          Okay, so you know about the project and, and we’d like you to maybe speak a little bit about what it means to you to participate in this project, what, what do you know about it, what it means to you.

J:         You know, it means that future generations will know


about, that I was in it. If it helps, great.  But it also lets my children know, my grandchildren and so on, that I was in it.  Maybe a point of pride for them.

I:          So what does that mean, that future generations know, know that you fought in the War?  What do you think they can learn or


benefit from it?

J:         Maye to stay, stay clear of fighting in a war.

I:          Yeah?  So you would not, uh, I guess, push young children to enter in the Army when they become of age?

J:         Well, let’s say I, it’s not that I wouldn’t push. I wouldn’t want my kids to go in the war.  But it’s up to them, and it depends on the circumstances.  I mean if we’re in a war,


that’s important, yeah, I would expect them to, uh, protect our country.

I:          So it depends on

J:         But, uh,

I:          what they’re fighting for.

J:         Right.  Like I don’t believe in this war in Iraq.

I:          Um hm.

J:         I don’t believe we should have ever gone into Iraq.  And, I, I hate to think of all the kids that died over there.


I:          Um hm.  Um hm.  So it is unfortunate that a lot of lives have been lost due to whatever motivation it may be, but it’s something that’s not necessarily accurate.

J:         Yes.

I:          And the Korean War was.

J:         Yes, I do, you know, when I look, hindsight you can look back, and you can see,

I:          Um hm.

J:         and you can see what’s happened since then, and

I:          Um hm.

J:         Yes.

I:          So what, what has happened


that you

J:         Well, it’s turned out to be a great nation, very productive and democratic.

I:          Yeah.  And do you feel that that’s I guess, you know, a result of, of your presence and the military’s presence in the country?

J:         Yes, I do.  They couldn’t have won that war without us.

I:          Yeah.  Yeah. So, now


I’ve asked this to some other veterans, and you might have caught the tail end of that last interview, but, okay, you clearly have opinions about how, you know, entering a war, I’m wondering what, if you could maybe speak to how South Korea and North Korea have both developed since the war?

J:         Well, well, we know before the war, North Korea was very productive.   Their economy was way up, and South Korea had nothing.

I:          Um hm.


J:         Now, it’s complete change.

I:          Yeah.

J:         It’s, South Korea’s one of the better economical countries in the world.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And North Korea’s nothing.

I:          So they kinda

J:         The people are starving and

I:          Why?  Why did this happen?

J:         You know, you have to look at it that they were Communists.


Course, us having things against them so that they can’t do much

I:          Um hm.

J:         makes a lot of difference.  But, uh, that’s their own fault.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Cause they’re run by a, I consider a mad man who doesn’t know how to run a country.  And I think he’s all backed by generals that don’t want to give up their power.


And the thing is, it’s, to me, the people that aren’t in power would be in power anyway even if it was under a democratic government.  If they had gone for a democrat instead of, democracy instead of, uh,

I:          Um hm. Assuming other people approve.

J:         Right, cause you, you got the same people.  They’re, they’re gonna be up there.

I:          I guess, you know, taking, taking, let’s go back to


before you entered the war.  What, what were you doing and, and why did you decide or were you drafted or

J:         Well,

I:          joined

J:         I came from a broken family.  My mother left us when I was three years old.  My brother was a year and a half.  And she stuck us in this orphanage in Oswego.  It was, uh, St. Francis Home.  We were in there maybe six months, and my father took us out, and we lived


with his sister for a couple years, and then she got tired of us.  She was an old maid, and she got  tired of us. So, cause we were pretty wild.

I:          Um hm.

J:         So she put us back in the home, and then we were in there three years, and, and we started to live with friends of his, the families, and, uh, so I was


only waiting for one thing.  That was to be 17 years old so I could join the Army, get out and, uh, which I did. The day I was 17, I went down to enlistment, to the,and signed up for the Army.  Then it took me till March 16 before I could get in cause they put me on the waiting list  or what they, I went in for


a physical and everything, but

I:          Um hm.

J:         uh, when I got done with the physical, I was top shape, so they put me right at the top of the list.  Oh, it was March 16 before I finally got in.  From there I went down to Fort Knox, Kentucky where I took my basic training, and then they sent me down to Fort Sam Houston


for medical training. And when I finished the medical training, they kept me, they put me in Headquarters Company where, uh, we put on demonstrations for nurses of combat, demonstration of combat, uh, conditions for out in the field.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And I was there for almost a year when


the Korean War started.  And

I:          You were there a year before it started?

J:         Yes.  Yeah, I was in Fort Sam the year before it started.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And, uh, that’s when, where I put the demonstrations on for nurses that were taking and warrant officers that were taking their basic training and, uh, then the war started.  So they didn’t


need that outfit anymore.  They shipped us all overseas.

I:          Um.  Did you feel at home, like you, you were accepted into

J:         Well, oh yes.  [STAMMERS]Yeah. you, you had something.  Like my brother, I had an older brother.  He was a year and a half older than me, and he went in before I did.  Like he says he got, a friend of his talked him into going in the, he says he got in there and then he, then he had a chance to get out if he wanted to.  It was


something he told me about it, that for some reason, they were off, they were offered a chance to go home.  But his friend that talked him into going in with him went home, and, and he says I wasn’t gonna go home.  He says I was getting three meals and a place to stay, boy.  So he stayed, and I stayed.

I:          Um hm.

J:         In fact, I was in the same outfit he was in when he got discharged just as I was goin down there.


Just before I got, in fact, I was home on leave when he came home discharged from his two years and, uh, I put, then like I say, I put about a year in when the war started. Then, then they

I:          [INAUDIBLE]  So what would

J:         and, um, in the meantime he had rejoined the, uh, Air Force, in April of `50, and he come down, we had some time together


down Fort Sam Houston. He was, and he was, he was in Lackland Air Force base which was in, uh, was outside of San Antonio.  And, uh, then they sent him to, uh, he got reassigned to Hill Air Force base in Utah, and he arrived in Utah the day the war started.

I:          So he probably didn’t stay there too long.

J:         Well, he was there for over a year because I went up,


I got my orders to go to Korea, and I didn’t have the money or the time to get home and go back, go over.  They gave us 10 days to get to, uh, Frisco

I:          Um.

J:         to be shipped out, and

I:          So you passed through Utah on the way there.

J:         I went to Utah and spent, spent, uh, my, about a week with him, and that was, we had one night out because he got in trouble. He only had


one night we could spend, we could spend out.  So, had a buddy with a car, and we went out

I:          How was that?

J:         That was quite a night.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Hus wi, he, uh, he met his wife that day.

I:          Really?

J:         That night.  And his buddy met his wife.

I:          Wow.

J:         And they, he was married 54 years.  His wife died about three years ago.

I:          Um hm.


J:         But he’s still, and his buddy, he had died about 15 years ago, and they were still friends with, he’s still friendly with his buddy’s wife and

I:          Yeah.

J:         her, her kids and

I:          That’s great.  I mean, it’s important to

J:         But he would, yeah, uh. I got back from Korea in October of ’51.  I think it was, oh, about November, December he went over to Korea for a year.


J:         In the meantime

I:          You guys were kind of following around, following each other around.

J:         Yeah.  In the meantime, my younger brother joined the service, but he joined the Army, and he went, they sent him to Germany.  So

I:          Um.

J:         So he missed out on the Korean War.

I:          Did he miss out, or did he get lucky?

J:         He got lucky.

I:          What was he doing in Germany?

J:         I have no idea.  I, I, I really didn’t, we really didn’t talk that much about what he

I:          Yeah.

J:         what he did in the service.

I:          Um hm.


so what, what did you know about the Korean War leading up to it?  I mean, you

J:         Leading up to it, I didn’t even know where Korea was.

I:          Yeah.

J:         I found out when the war started.

I:          So you were probably talking with your brother, and that, you know, that one night you’re going out you’re like you know, I don’t know where I’m going.

J:         Yeah.  He, he knew as much as I did about Korea.

I:          Yeah.

J:         You know?

I:          We knew were going over there and

I:          Um hm.  So, um,


what was it like, you know, the days leading up to you leaving?  Was it kind of a, a scary thought?

J:         Oh yeah.

I:          I mean you, you’d probably been in the, in the Army, but you were, you know, doing training and stuff.

J:         Oh yeah.  It, it was, you worried.  You were worried, you know.  We were getting the hell kicked out of us over in Korea.  So yeah, you’re worried about what’s going on.  I don’t know.  It’s a different kind of worry.

I:          Yeah.

J:         You know?  You’re worried, but you still, it’s in the back of your mind.


I:          Um hm.

J:         Well you know what’s back there.

I:          Um hm.

J:         You know what you’re gonna be facing, although you really don’t.

I:          So it’s kind of something, yes.  You know what’s happening, and you don’t really know

J:         You’re a little bit afraid of what’s gonna happen, but

I:          And at the same time, you don’t really want to think about it too much.

J:         Right.

I:          So then I assume you took a boat over to Korea?

J:         No.  I took an airplane ride.

I:          They flew you over?


J:         Yes.

I:          I think you might be the first veteran that I’ve talked to that’s had an opportunity to fly over.

J:         Yeah.  We had a plane full of them.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         We got, we, I was in Frisco, oh, probably about four or five days, and it’s, and they sent up to the Air Force base, and we were up there two days and got into a, got on the plane, and we supposed to fly to, to Alaska and over.  Well we got up and one of them loaders caught fire in a plane.

I:          Hm.

J:         So they had to


land in Washington. We were in there three hours and they had it all fixed so then we got back on the plane, and we had breakfast, I think it was in, it was in Alaska, Anchorage, I think it was in Anchorage. Then we flew from, after breakfast we flew to, uh, Sitka, Alaska, through Aleutian Islands

I:          Uh huh.

J:         This was nothing but a rock.

I:          Hm.


J:         Just see the whole thing where we’re landing. Weren’t nothing on there.

I:          And you’re like where are we going.

J:         We, we landed, and they put us on a bus to take us up to have supper, yeah, look at all these barracks were all burned,

I:          Um.

J:         and I asked what happened?  Well, he says, these guys learned just before the Korean War started that they were gonna close the base down.  So they were happy.  There were so happy.


They’re running around and burning the place down.  So anyway we had breakfast.  We had supper there, got back on the planes, and at dawn,

I:          Um hm

J:         midnight we landed in Tokyo.

I:          And when, when, what month was this?  What year?

J:         This was in August of, uh, ’50.

I:          Fifty, okay.

J:         Uh, well, gotten, uh, we had about, I don’t know, three days

I:          Hm.

J:         three or four days in Japan.


And next thing you know, we were on the train going across to Japan.  We, I think it was in Sasebo.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         They put us on a ship, an old Japanese ship.  It stunk, terrible ship, but it was just to take us over to, uh, Korea.

I:          Um hm.


J:         Uh, it was the end of August, uh.  It might have been 28th, 29thof August we landed in, uh, Korea.

I:          So what was it like, you know, you’re kind of going from one place to the other.  Is it you’re getting a little more scared at each place cause you’re getting closer and closer.

J:         No, I don’t think, yeah.  For some reason, you weren’t any more scared.

I:          Yeah.

J:         In fact, it was, you had to be looking forward to, at least in my view, you’re looking at something different.

I:          Yeah.

J:         You’re looking at country.


I:          Yeah.

J:         Or you’re looking at the ocean, you’re up in the plane looking down.  So, you really put out where you were going.

I:          Yeah.

J:         That you weren’t, that part of it was out of it.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Thought.  You were just enjoying what you

I:          Yeah.

J:         I would have liked to gone to Japan when I first got out of, got away from basic training.

I:          Um hm.

J:         But I got a chance to go down to, uh,


Fort Sam Houston, and that was a great place to work.  I had, uh, banker’s hours.

I:          Nine to five?

J:         About, yes, about.  We’d get up at 6:00 in the morning, have breakfast every roll call. Then we’d go up and have breakfast and go, if we didn’t have anything to do that day,

I:          Um hm.

J:         first thing you know we’d, just as soon as inspection was over, get out the cards and sit there and play Pinochle all day.


I:          Um hm.

J:         Or whatever we wanted to do.

I:          That’s a nice life.

J:         Oh, yeah.

I:          [LAUGHS]

J:         Well, it’d come Friday.  Once a month, they’d hold a general inspection.

I:          Um hm.

J:         So just soon as general inspection was over, we had Class A passes, then we could leave for the rest of the day.  Though, it was

I:          Um hm.

J:         It was, it was a, it was a great life.

I:          Yeah.

J:         And San Antonio’s a great city.


And, they had an awful lot going on down there.

I:          Um hm. Uh, that life must have been kind of different from when you arrived in Korea.

J:         Yes, it was.

I:          [LAUGHS]

J:         Time you’re in Korea, then, then you’re on duty 24 hours a day.

I:          Yeah.

J:         No stop, yeah.

I:          Yeah.  It’s not a nine to five job.

J:         No.

I:          You can’t just fight till 5:00

J:         Right.

I:          and say alright, I’m off for the rest of the day.

J:         That’s it.

I:          What was it like when you first got in the country?

J:         Well,


we got off the ship and got right on a train.  And they took us from Pusan up to, I think it was Taeju.  That was right when the, we were in the Pusan Perimeter then.  And I was in, uh, I was in my company for about two weeks, and they were just more or less training us for what to expect


cause we knew we were gonna be up in the front line troops.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Like I always remember the one time.  One question a guy asked if he was going, and he says, he says if you hear any shooting, don’t look down to see if they are shooting.  He says jump in a ditch.  And the one guy says well, what if there isn’t a ditch?  He says there’ll be a ditch.

I:          Yeah.

J:         Well, when they sent me up through the, my company,


I was in the company a couple days and we’s moved up.  Next, next day we were across the Nakdong River.  Attacked them.  Now, next day I woke up.  We went to sleep that night in a yard there, they woke us up, we, in the morning, and we walking along this road, and all of a sudden bullets started flying all over.


And I looked up. I was, found myself in a ditch looking up.

I:          So you didn’t even think.  You just fell in a ditch.

J:         Yeah.

J:         And it was right alongside the road, but you’d never notice it until you’re looking out of it, thinking about what the Lieutenant had said.

I:          Yeah.

J:         But uh, yeah.  We, uh, ran down the beach, and they ordered us down this road and we right alongside the river


and down on the beach. I can remember running across, I forget how long, about a football field or longer

I:          Um hm.

J:         to get to the river.  It was all sandy.  All of a sudden, everybody hit the dirt

I:          Um hm.

J:         and I looked up, and I could see little holes goin in the sand where bullets were going right in front of me.

I:          Was that your first experience in live battle?

J:         That was, that was the first experience.

I:          Okay.


J:         Then, uh, I got up and said okay, I come at ‘em, and it stopped.  For a couple minutes, we run towards the boats.  They had these boats there, engineers and, and just like we got to the boat, there was guys laying on the side, and I reached down to, he said forget him.  He’s dead.

I:          Hm.

J:         So I got in a boat.  Everybody piled in with me,


and we had to row to the other side of the river.  Didn’t matter whether they were shooting or what.  You just get rowing.

I:          Yeah.

J:         That, that was my first experience.

I:          Um hm.  Did you see anyone get shot?

J:         Not that I can actually pick.  I see, you know, I took care of people that were shot

I:          Um hm

J:         but I, didn’t actually see them get shot at that,

I:          Yeah.

J:         No, I

H:        So what was that first experience like then?


I mean, you know, I guess you weren’t expecting it.  You weren’t even preparing cause you were just

J:         No.  You’re, you’re never prepared for something like that.

I:          Yeah.

J:         Until it happens.

I:          Yeah.

J:         I mean I, they can get you all prepared, but it,t you don’t get it until it actually happens to you.

I:          You don’t know how you’re really going to react until that

J:         You’re not going to rea, you don’t know how you’re going to react or what to do.

I:          Yeah.

J:         I can remember that, uh, a couple days before I was left,


before we got in, I, I had to, I had to go back to Collecting Company and rode back with a litter jeep driver and this guy with him and, uh, I was thinking when I got over there, I was thinking boy, I’d like to be with that, like to have his job.

I:          Huh.

J:         Yeah.  Until I found out that


he got his head blown off that night, that day down on the beach, getting, taking the wounded back.

I:          So you rescinded that.

J:         He was, oh, he, when I seen him, we, we drove back in the jeep to Collecting, and I took care of what I was doing.  When I got back, I don’t think it was about an hour, he was so drunk he didn’t know his own name.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And, you know,


this few days before

I:          Um hm.

J:         couple days later he’s gone.

I:          What’s that, I mean,

J:         That dope that told me didn’t care where you were. It’s

I:          How does that affect you while you’re over there?

J:         Yeah, it, anytime somebody you know dies or he gets hurt real bad, it’s, it affects you.

I:          Yeah.

J:         I was always nervous anyway.



I:          Did you have pretty close friends that were killed in action?

J:         I, I had one that, which I liked.  He was, uh, when I met him, he had asked me where I was from and my company and my platoon, and I was attached to, and we got talking, and he asked me where I was from, and I told him Oswego, and he says you’re, you got the Oswego, uh,


SUNY, Oswego College there

I:          Um hm.

J:         with, uh, Engine, Industrial Arts?  I, I says yeah.  He says that’s where he wanted to go when he was, he says that’s one of the best in the country.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And he says I wanna go there when I get out of this.

I:          Um.

J:         Yeah.  But, but seven months later we moved into South [INAUDIBLE]


we moved up on this hill one time, the front line, and we all went to bed, and we all went in our

I:          In tents.

J:         Not our tents, our

I:          sleeping bag

J:         our sleeping bags.

I:          Um hm.

J:         The next morning we wake up and just getting up and somebody hollered medic, went over, he was dead.  To this day, I don’t know


what killed him.

I:          Really?

J:         I just got him on a litter and got him back to, uh, took him down to, to the litter jeep, and they took him away and

I:          Um hm

J:         They, but that rocked me because he was a, such a nice person.

I:          And that he told you about his aspirations, what he wanted to do after life, or after the war.

J:         Yeah.


I:          So does that kind of

J:         Things like that, they, they don’t stay with you too long there.

I:          Um hm.

J:         They’re there, and then they’re gone.

I:          Um hm.

J:         As a medic though, I mean, since you must have seen these types of things a lot, maybe you became a little

J:         Oh yeah.  You become a little hard on them, but I had 15 Korean litter bearers.


They were there just for me to, for when somebody gets wounded or something, I

I:          Um hm.

J:         And they took real good care of me.

I:          How so?

J:         They have, we’d moved into a village, and, and they’d come up and come here, come here.  So I’d go it with them.  Sit down behind me on the porch, and they’d bring out


some old mama san.

I:          What’s that?

J:         Woman.  Oh, an old, on older woman.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And she’d have a bowl, you know, like this full of rice and meat

I:          Um.

J:         And didn’t know what the meat was, but it was good.

I:          [LAUGHS]

J:         Could have been rat.  Could have been dog

I:          Whatever it was.  Yeah.

J:         Oh.  Whatever it was, it was good.  And they, they always treated me good.

I:          That’s nice.

J:         And if somebody was,


one of their South Koreans or North Koreans, we were up there. One of the civilians had something wrong with him, they’d always get me to look at them.

I:          So maybe that, is that why they, they probably treated you so well, because

J:         Yeah,

I:          you were helping them out as well or?

J:         Yeah.  I was helping their country.

I:          Yeah.  So not only were you helping their country, but you were more on a personal level.

J:         Oh yeah.  You, you get real personal with them, you know?


They were all different ages, too.  We had one older fella

I:          Um.

J:         And, and the, from there on down, maybe one about 18, 17, somewhere in there.

I:          I assume you haven’t had a chance to keep in touch with them.

J:         No.  I, in fact it, before I left there, of course when I left there I would, back, I was back in the collecting maybe three to four months before I went home and, uh,


I ran into a Sergeant there one time, and I asked him what had happened to him?  I guess they just separated.

I:          Um hm.

J:         They, uh, some of them went home and never came back and

I:          They had enough of the Army.

J:         Yeah.  They, they just got tired of it.  They, course they weren’t getting anything out of it.  They weren’t getting paid or anything.

I:          Oh, they weren’t?

J:         They were, they were in this

I:          I thought some of them got paid.

J:         They were in the government service, and

I:          Um hm.

J:         As far as I know, they never got paid.

I:          Right.

J:         They got, they ate with us and


I:          Um hm.  They got through it I guess.

J:         Yeah.

I:          So did you learn anything from them in particular?

J:         Um, probably dirty words. [LAUGHS]

I:          That’s the first thing that you learned.

J:         Yeah.  It’s, you know, it’s a fact of life, you know.  They, whatever I wanted to know, they, they always helped me there.  They were there for me.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Oh, and I took care of them.


I:          Yeah.  So you, you do that, I mean, clearly you’re closer to the American soldier, but you do have those kind of different relationship

J:         Right.

I:          with them.

J:         Yeah.  You have a relationship with them and.

I:          What about other, I mean, Korean, uh, Korean Army or KOC or foreign troops?

J:         You know, we, uh, we didn’t intermix with the others.  We did, you,


Columbians had a brigade or something over there with a, and they were attached to us.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Oh we, I remember when we come back, when I came back in Collecting Company. We, uh, they would come back with us. They, they would come to us for any medical treatment.  fact, one come back one time, husky, short but husky, and he went in there and doctor looked at him and said


one time he told me, he says give him a shot in the butt.  Said okay.   Well I took him in, give him a shot in the butt, went bing, bing, went in about just less than a fraction of an inch, and it just bent my needle.  So I got another needle, give em a crack and bang.  It was and I say uh oh?

I:          Was it all muscle or something or what?

J:         I don’t know.


It was tougher than that wall there.

I:          Huh.

J:         I couldn’t do it.  So he says well, sorry doc.  I’m giving it to him.  Doc wasn’t there.  But, uh, I gave it to him in the arm.  I’d never get it in that fanny.   But he, uh, they were all, they were all okay with us.  They, they were, seemed a very exaggerated people.

I:          Yeah.  That’s interesting because in, in a prior interview, uh, one of the veterans was explaining how they were told to stay away from the


Columbian attachment.

J:         Yeah, by the, we couldn’t very well stay away from them if they, in fact, we, uh, had a, what’s that, what’s that game they play on the beach, volleyball?

I:          Volleyball, um hm.

J:         Yeah, we had a volleyball game with them.

I:          Oh yeah.

J:         Our, our company and their, their things.

I:          Did you represent America well?


J:         Eh, I, I don’t remember.  I, we won.  We wo, uh, yeah.  I remember that.  We won because they were, they would exaggerate their moves, you know, ahhh, and, we just beat the hell out of them first.

I:          Right.  That’s fun.

J:         Yeah, that was, but we

I:          Those things like that that they’re gonna

J:         We just enjoyed it.  It was enjoyable.

I:          Yeah, you gotta enjoy those things cause

J:         Right.

I:          if you’re on the front lines, especially you seeing all these difficult situations, it must have been a relief to kind of step back.

J:         Oh yeah.


And it, you took your fun when you had it.  You’ve seen the, I couldn’t tell you when, since you, uh, ever watch MASH?

I:          Uh, you know, I’ve seen some episodes but I can’t say I’m a

J:         One, one episode they had where they got up where they all, the officers got drunk, got up and shot out their tents and things. Well, this, that


actually happened.

I:          Um.

J:         In our, uh, what is, our first aid.  We had, not the Collecting but the company.  The Collecting’s back here, and then they have a small outfit that goes in front where a doctor and, they would have a doctor and things, I can’t think of, my mind goes blank at times.

I:          Yeah, well?

J:         But it’s like a first aid station

I:          Yeah.

J:         where, when I get a, I send them back to them, then they send them to uh,


back to Collecting.

I:          Um hm.

J:         They give them the first aid, then they send them to Collect.  Collecting does what they can for them, then they go back to a hospital or whatever. But yeah.  They, that, uh, first aid, every month they would get so much, so many gallons of 190 proof alcohol.  Well, if you cut that

I:          It’s not meant for drinking.

J:         Huh, yeah.

I:          [LAUGHS]

J:         Yeah.  If, if you cut that with grapefruit juice or some juice,


it’s great. [LAUGHS]  [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Plus, that’ll definitely take away your senses from the wound.

J:         Right. They get drunk, they got drunk one time, uh.  They’d get drunk like that every month.  But, uh, they got drunk one time and got out and shot up their tent and

I:          So what was the motivation to shoot your tent up?

J:         They’re, you’re drunk.

I:          It’s just [INAUDIBLE]

J:         You know?  It ‘s

I:          Yeah.

J:         Just one of those things.

I:          Yeah.

J:         Uh, one other experience I will tell you about


is when, uh, I got back, when they finally took me back to Collecting.  I was up in the line, and I came back one time to, uh, get stuff, and this one Lieutenant, he, that I was with when I was back in, when I was in the States, he was my Sergeant.  When I got over to Korea, he was already there,

I:          Um hm.

J:         and he, they had already made him a, battlefe, given him battlefield commission,


and he was a Lieutenant.  So he always looked out for me, kept telling me I, I don’t come back here enough.  He says you get promoted if you come back and he says I mention your name every once in a while, and they don’t even know who you are.

I:          Hm.

J:         So, anyway, I went back and, to get some stuff, and I got ready and went around seeing friends of mine.  Then I got ready and I, I need a jeep to get back to company.


He says no, you’re not going back.  He says you’re staying here.

I:          Uh huh.

J:         So I said well you sent a replacement up to take your, take your spot.  Well, I was back there, oh, probably about a week when these, when I ran into George.

I:          Yeah.  Well, let’s talk about that a little bit.

J:         Yeah.

I:          I like this story.

J:         Yeah.  Well, George is, uh, this one.  George Henderson.

I:          Um hm.

J:         This is, oh boy.


Yeah, I’m lucky I know this guy’s name.

I:          And that’s you.

J:         Yeah.  But anyway, I ran into George.  I, we were traveling, moving from one place to another.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And all of a sudden somebody hollered hey Gibson, and I looked around.  I know the voice right away

I:          Yeah.

J:         cause I lived with his aunt and uncle and his cousins, and I see, uh,


seen George and,

I:          So this is George in the middle.  This is you.

J:         Yeah.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Anyway, he, uh, he was right down, I was always riding on his trucks.  We never knew it.  We just never

I:          You were passing each other and just never knew it.

J:         Whenever a paid kid trucks ride.  We had to move, and we could get on a truck.  They’d put us on the trucks, and moves, he was in the artillery,


and, oh cripes, it kills me I can’t.

I:          That’s what you were gonna say?

J:         But, uh, anyway

I:          Yeah.

J:         he come a, he showed up a few days later

I:          Yeah.

J:         and brought, oh cripes

I:          You’ll remember, that’s okay.

J:         with him.  Yeah.  And, uh, took our pictures and sent us home.

I:          So you, and you, you’ve known George

J:         I knew him all my life.

I:          All your life.

J:         My father and his father were great friends.

I:          Um hm.


J:         And, uh,

I:          And you knew [INAUDIBLE]

J:         Hell, I lived, I lived next to him

I:          Yeah.

J:         just before he joined the Army.

I:          Small world.

J:         And, uh, we talked about it, but he’s a year older, he was a year older than me.

I:          Um hm.

J:         So I, I was hoping he’d stay a, another year and

I:          Um hm.

J:         home in three.  But he went in before I did so.

I:          And did he make it out?

J:         Yeah. He’s put, he put, uh, over 20 years in the


service.  He was, in fact, he put a couple tours of duty in, uh, Vietnam from what I understand.

I:          Um hm.

J:         But then he turned out to be an alcoholic.

I:          Um.

J:         After he got out, he tried to quit drinking, but he couldn’t.

I:          Yeah.

J:         The daughter,

I:          It’s hard,[INAUDIBLE]

J:         his daughter-in-law told me he’s just, well, he’s a couple times he had gone, and he says he’d be in tears because he just had to get back to drinking, and it finally killed him.

I:          Um.

J:         And then, and the other fella, he, uh,


he, he got out after his first year.  He went on the boats, and when he retired, he put one check in and died right after that.  Got one, one check from Social Security and died an alcoholic.

I:          Um hm. Well, I guess, you know, the experiences in the war will take its toll on you.

J:         Oh yeah.  But, uh, yeah.  But just before I met, er, uh, I seen George


and then, it was either that night or the next night they woke us up, told us to get on the line.  Well, outta this bank for, uh, in the hills back, there were rice paddie thing in front of us.  It was dried in March or May, it was in May, and the Chinese had


broken through all along the line.  So they come, they come at us.  Oh, we had a hell of a battle.

I:          Um hm.

J:         We had a, I was in charge of a ward tent, but it was on the line.  We had

I:          [INAUDIBLE]

J:         We had 17 people in that ward tent, 17 patients.

I:          Yeah.

J:         They just told them to stay right there, and we, we went probably from


here to that wall there, from, uh,

I:          Uh huh.

J:         Where our thing was, and all hell, they, when they came down off that hill, all hell broke loose.  I don’t know how many we killed.  We captured 300 of them.

I:          Really?  So there’s a lot of[INAUDIBLE]

J:         That, I think the only one that was killed was our


priest, Catholic priest.  They went over, woke him in his tent, and he was coming back and then he remembered he, that he didn’t have Communion with him.  So he went back to get it and, uh, he got killed.

I:          Hm.

J:         But the, uh, next morning they looked in that ward tent.  It was like a sieve.


It had so many holes in it from the bullets.

I:          So this site’s really close to the line then.

J:         And, oh yeah.  And, uh, General, I forget which general it was, came up that day, and he looked at that tent

I:          Said[INAUDIBLE]

J:         You’ll have a new tent.

I:          Yeah.

J:         Within a week, we had a brand new tent.  And not one person in that tent that was in there, all those patients laying on the


not one of them got hurt.

I:          That’s lucky.

J:         Yeah.

I:          Maybe the priest left something before he died.

J:         Could be.

I:          So was that, would you say that might have been one of the most difficult experiences of the war?

J:         Yes, it was.  It was one of the, uh, it was probably one of the scariest.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Because we were [INAUDIBLE]

I           Hm.  But you’re there.

J:         Yeah.  We all, we always carry.  Like I had a carbine with me all of the time.  A 30,                             I got a couple,


I had a 30 round clip, and I carried two of them.  You, you taped.  You put one on, and you tape the other.  So one empties, you just turn it around, pull it out, switch it around, put it in. Then you, cause you had 15 or 30 round clips, and, and two 30 round clips and, oh, they, uh, and they gave us a, well, we got a Presidential Unit Citation


for being in Korea while the, anyone who was in Korea while the, we were at the [INAUDIBLE] We were at the Pusan Perimeter, and, uh, so they gave us, for that battle, they gave us the Cluster.  In other words, it was the same thing as getting another one.

I:          Um hm.


J:         for, uh, another Presidential Unit Citation for

I:          Well you saw some pretty

J:         for that battle.

I:          You saw some pretty

J:         and his name was Chuck Coyer.

I:          Hey John, you, you remembered.

J:         Yes.  I remembered his name.

I:          How did you pull that out?

J:         I don’t know.  It just come to me.  A lot of friends you made, the people you meet.


I:          Um hm.  So

J:         Knowing we, knowing that we came out on top, you know? That we had stopped, we had stopped an Army that was more than twice our size.

I:          That sounds like it was giving you a pretty hard time.

J:         Oh yeah.  Yeah.  Would, we, I went from, like I say, when I got, landed, I landed in Pusan

I:          Um hm.

J:         and when, when, uh, after we crossed the Nakdong River, we just kept going on up, and I got as far as 14 miles from the Chinese border, and


we were supposed, they told us, it was, I think it was early in October, early in November or late in October, and they told us the next day to ward me over because we were going to go those 14 miles and get the, we would be up the river

I:          Um hm.

J:         you know, right across.  We’d have the bridge in our hands then, and then it… So that night we, we slept in a ditch


it was about six foot, at least six to seven-foot deep

I:          Uh huh.

J:         And, oh about probably at least eight foot across. It was right across the thing

I:          Uh huh.

J:         and at, at night, 3:00 in the morning they woke us up, get on the, well, I ended up on a tank

I:          Uh huh.

J:         We were bugging out.  The Chinese had entered the war, and we were, they were just two miles down the road.


J:         Not much.  We were only a battalion.

I:          [INAUDIBLE]

J:         Regiment.  So, yeah. We had to get out of there because we were just going up the road to, uh, the North Korean Army had just

I:          Um hm.

J:         gone capute.

I:          Uh hm.

J:         All.

I:          Hm.

J:         I, I never realized how bad it was till years later. In fact, just a couple years ago when I read a book on some of our, uh, about some of our troops got


trapped and got shot up.  But I was on the last tank leaving there.  It, it was, like I say, it was about the first of November

I:          Um.

J:         And you’d get on the tank, and it was cold. We had snow packs on, shoe packs, or, at a, they were rubber.  You’d sit on the, get on this heater on the tank.  It’s hotter than hell, and you’d get on there to get warm.


First thing you know, your feet would start, your boots would start getting hot.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Well, you’d have to get off.

I:          You’d get off into the cold again.

J:         Get cold again, then you’d get back on.  You know, we’re going down the road

I:          Um hm.

J:         Like I said, we were the last tank, and we come to this one bridge that was blown out, so they’d go around right up the river. The river was dry.  We crossed the river and up the other side was narrow river.


The third tank, or the sec, I was in the last tank.  The second tank in front of us went down right to its turret in mud going across.

I:          That’s what I was just wondering.

J:         So the tank in front of us went around and hooked on.

I:          Pulled it out?

J:         And he tried to pull it out and couldn’t.

I:          Um hm.

J:         So then we had to go around and get on, hook on, and we pulled them out.  But in the meantime, everybody else had left us.


I:          Yeah.

J:         They didn’t wait for us.

I:          Right.

J:         Oh, then we had to catch up to them.  But

I:          So you got out of there.

J:         We got out of there.  We, we went back, and I remember we came, we made one more pass up, then they took us back, and we were right back.

I:          So you mentioned, you know, the happy, one of the happiest moments of the war was the relationships that you met.

J:         Yes.

I:          You had.  So

J:         Yeah.

I:          So you mentioned some of the Koreans

J:         Right there.


that, and somebody’s fighting’s right there, Greg and Chuck, right?

J:         Yeah.

I:          So do you have any other stories about any, you know, particular relationship you’d like to talk about?

J:         Not, not really.  Like I say, it’s, I knew a few guys that

I:          Um hm

J:         I came over there with, like, um, my one Lieutenant. He was my Sergeant, and I had two other guys that I can remember

I:          Um hm.

J:         that I went over there with.

I:          Yeah.


J:         They were, one guy was ok.  The other guy was a little off.

I:          Yeah.  So

J:         If I were back, I was supposed to go back in October.  I was supposed to go back to the States, the first, well, I was supposed to go back in September.

I:          Even earlier.

J:         And, uh, then when it was my turn to go back, I had all things planned.  My brother was coming from Utah with his wife.


Back home, and I was gonna be there at si, and I was gonna be there.  So the three of us altogether and, uh, then they come back with a different thing for, different way of

I:          Keeping you there.

J:         Keeping, of going home.

I:          Yeah.

J:         And, uh, so I got stuck with another month.

I:          So when did you actually get a chance to go home?

J:         A month from there.  I went, I


don’t, I left Korea, I think it was about the fourth of October.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Oh.

I:          So how did it feel when you got home?

J:         Uh, great.

I:          Don’t hide it yeah?

J:         Course it had been two years since I had been home.

I:          Yeah.  It’s a long time.

J:         Yeah.  I’d been from July of ’49 till October of ’52.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Uh,

I:          And were you discharged,[INAUDIBLE] since you stayed so long?

J:         Uh, uh, I, I, uh,



went down, when I came back, they sent me from back on the train to Indian Town Gap and so then I went home on a 30-day leave, and then, uh, I took another 30-day leave because I had the time.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Then I, uh, I think it was just right after New Year’s, I had to report to, uh, Camp Gordon, Georgia,


and I was down there. Then in June of ’52, they called me up, called me down to Headquarters, says you’re getting discharged.  So we go down to Headquarters, said what do you want? I says I’m down here.  I’ve been ordered down here to get discharged.  Ah, you got another six mon, six months to a year.

I:          Oh man.

J:         Cause I had, dis, well, I was on my Trumanyear then.

I:          Yeah.

J:         When the war started.  Then they put another year on


everybody who was in there.  But, so you had, which we called the Truman year.

I:          Um hm.

J:         So on top of our three-year enlistment, you had to go on that year.  So I says ok. So I went back.  I was in the, working in the hospital as a ward master and, uh, so I went back, and I, uh, next week called me up again, come on down, you’re getting discharged.  Again?


I:          You thought I’m fine with this.

J:         Yeah.  So I get down there, come on.  You got months to go.

I:          Again.

J:         So I go back

I:          Wow.

J:         Next week same thing.  Call me up again, this time, bye.

I:          This is

J:         June, June

I:          True this time.

J:         June the 19th, 1952.

I:          That’s my Dad’s birthday.

J:         I got discharged.

I:          That’s great. That’s great.  And that must have been kind of a long time coming I guess.

J:         Yes.

I:          Yeah.  And so what, what happened immediately after?


J:         Well,

I:          You came back here?

J:         Yeah, I came back to Oswego, got myself a job.

I:          Um hm.

J:         That’s when my brother was, was over in Korea.

I:          Yeah.  So how does, how did the war been in your experience or impacts, you know, the, the first few years and then throughout your life?

J:         Well it impacts me because I was really thinking, uh, if I, if the war hadn’t started, I would have stayed in for 30 years.

I:          Um hm.

J:         So I, at that time,


you got $600 which was a lot of money at that time, to enlist for six years.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And I was considering it.

I:          Um hm.

J:         if, I wanted to get my three years in.  Then I was gonna enlist for six more, and that would have carried me up to nine years, and I would have stayed in from that point on. But, a lot of guys I was with were World War II veterans, and they said they were in there for 19,


they were in there for 20 years, and some of them already had 10, 15 years in.  They said they were out just as soon as they got

I:          Good?

J:         their orders.

I:          So they convinced you not to do that then?

J:         Well, the war convinced me not to do that, yes.

I:          Yeah.  So what was it like then, you know, you entered the Army because it kind of gave you a home.

J:         Uh.

I:          Something that you didn’t necessarily have before. How was that adjusting to life without the Army?


Well, I, I did have a family I was living with.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And I was real young then.  They asked me to come and live with them.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Uh, the father, a Polish fella.  He was, he was, uh, 10 years older than I was.  His wife was 10 years older than I was.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And they treated me like family and, you know.

I:          That’s great.


J:         They, they, uh, the rest of my life.  In fact, I lived with them right up until I got married.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And their, their daughter and son are just like my sister and brother.

I:          Um hm.

J:         But their daughter still sees me for birthday and Christmas and every once in a while I go out, we go out for dinner and

I:          So you found something that you didn’t necessarily have before.

J:         Yes.

I:          You had someone to come home to.

J:         I had a relationship, too,


that I could come home to and

I:          Um hm.  Un hm.  So, you know, what, I guess, how did your perspective on life change then after coming home?

J:         Yeah.  I don’t know. It’s, I felt I was gonna get married and settle down and

I:          Um hm.  And you did?

J:         Yeah.  I’m, I was married 14 years

I:          Um hm.

J:         then got divorced and

I:          Um hm.


Did you get a chance to share your experiences with your, you know, your family and friends when you were back?

J:         Not, uh, not really.  We, we didn’t talk that much about it.  In fact, I don’t think it, if you talked to my kids now, they wouldn’t know half of what I told you. I think they probably know less than that.

I:          Um hm.  Well, hopefully, and that’s one of the reasons that we’re doing this project so, you know, families

J:         Yeah, my, my son doesn’t talk too much anyway.

I:          Um hm.

J:         He’s,


he, uh, he’s pretty quiet when he’s around me.  He’s a good kid.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Well, he’s 50 years old.  He’s, works for the college as a printer, and he’s got his own video business.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Well, it’s video and, uh, these high school cheerleading competitions.  He used to video the races down in Oswego.





I:          Um hm.

J:         Then he videod weddings or what have you.

I:          Well, hopefully they’ll get a chance to see this, this interview and, and learn about your experiences.

J:         Yeah.  Yeah. That be what he probably mostly about what he’s [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Yeah.

J:         Every once in a while I might come out and say something to him about it, but

I:          Um hm.

J:         Not to sit down and really talk about it.

I:          Yeah.  So, you know, since so much time has passed, you know


almost 60 years, is there one particular memory that kind of sticks out?

J:         Such as what?

I:          Anything that maybe during the war or, you know, you’re, you’re talking about your relationships build, you know, once

J:         Well, I’ll tell you.  When, since I’ve left the Army, I really haven’t run into anybody I knew in the Army.

I:          Um hm.

J:         I’ve gone to, uh, these reunions for my Division,


and, you know, I just read in the paper, I just read in that book I got from the 24thDivision book, I just read where one of my friends that I went over to Korea with, he came back before I did because his, his name was Baker, B instead of a G.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Oh,

I:          A couple letters.  So, what do you think, what can you say about the legacy of Korean War veterans than, uh



J:         Well, we’re getting old.

I:          Yeah.

J:         And we’re getting less and less every year.

I:          Um hm.  Well that’s why we’re doing this.  We need to get, need to capture that.  Uh huh.  And do you have, um, you know, for your son, for instance, who might see this video and for children in school that might be doing research on the Korean War, what, what can you say?  What kind of message can you leave with them for us?

J:         Stay away from war


if you can.

I:          Um hm.

J:         Don’t volunteer.

I:          Unless it’s a war that they believe in, right?

J:         Right.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And don’t, don’t believe a politician.

J:         Do their research.

J:         Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  Okay, well, Mr. Gibson, I think that that’s our interview.  Actually, do we have time to, for him to go through those pictures?


J:         They, uh, I gave them a whole bunch of pictures.

I:          Um hm.

J:         They’re gonna

I:          Okay, so we can cover that.

J:         Yeah.

I:          Later then.

J:         In fact, I, when I, when I got back to the States, a guy was selling a pack of pictures. I think there was about 50 in them, and he wanted $5 for them, and I was looking through them, and I spotted this one picture, and I knew I was in that picture, but I couldn’t find myself. So I bought the pictures which I was gonna do anyway because they, they were all, all, of taken


them all over.

I:          Um hm.

J:         And it took me two days, but I found myself in that picture.

I:          That’s

J:         I was fast.  We were on this truck, and I knew everybody on the truck.  They were in my outfit.  So I says I gotta be on that.

I:          You had to be there, yeah.

J:         When I found myself I, from here on up.

I:          Um hm.

J:         On the picture.

I:          You said I recognize those eyes.  Well, appreciate you coming.


[End of Recorded Material]


Profile photo of Joseph Gibson

Profile photo of Joseph Gibson

Profile photo of Joseph Gibson

Joseph Gibson at his military base

Joseph Gibson at his military base

Joseph Gibson and his friend shaking hands

At military base, closer look

At military base

Joseph Gibson and his friends holding each other's hands

Joseph Gibson and his friend shaking hands

Joseph Gibson and his friend shaking hands

Helicopter lifting the wounded

In front of tent

Joseph Gibson and three other soldiers

With Korean boy

Joseph Gibson at his military base

Joseph Gibson at his military base

Chinese prisoners

Three of soldiers at military base

Two soldiers wearing helmets

Carrying a wounded

The em-mass movement

Korean Palace, Deoksugung Seokjojeon

Korean driving calfs and A tack fallen in the wayside

Korean kids in pieces of junk

Burial ground of deads

The sign of 38th parallel

One U.S. soldier lying down on street and many koreans backward

Broken buildings in the war

Korean workers

Checking bodies

Funeral for sacrifice


Funeral for sacrifice

Koreans sitting behind wire entanglements

Rifle drills

Warship and flights of navy


A bomb ruin in city

Fire on the battle field

Bodies in a valley

Dead bodies in a valley

Chinese soldier

Tanks and soldiers in a field

Working on tank and vehicles

A Korean sitting on a jeep

Koreans waving their hands to US army tank


A Korean driving a cow and cart

Construction on the broken bridge


An enemy

An enemy

Trucks and soldiers in snowfield


View of US army corps

Watching with binoculars

Soldiers watching with binoculars

Soldiers checking armaments

Tents and trucks setting a base

Soldiers on a road,

Warning sign

View of explosion and warship in battle


Tanks on snow field

Tank and jeep

The North Korean war bond (front)

The North Korean war bond (back)

Indication of purple heart recipent