Korean War Legacy Project

Julio Cesar Mercado Martinez


Julio Cesar Mercado Martinez was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, eventually drafted into the United States Army, serving in Korea following the ceasefire Armistice. He recounts his memories of Pusan upon arrival and details the war torn, poverty stricken area with emotion. He shares a touching personal story of befriending a boy he looked after for a short time frame. He speaks of the importance of peace and living in harmony with others. His experiences during his time in Korea lead him to encourage kind treatment of others.

Video Clips

The Poverty of Korea and Puerto Rico

Julio Cesar Mercado Martinez recounts sad memories of Pusan when he arrived. He remembers seeing hunger in the war torn areas of Korea. He compares the poverty to that he had witnessed in Puerto Rico and emphasizes that war is a terrible thing. He adds that Korea has changed immensely since then, becoming a major world power.

Tags: Busan,Food,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Modern Korea,Poverty

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


Befriending Charlie

Julio Cesar Mercado Martinez shares that seeing the children in Korea experiencing poverty made him more family oriented. He recounts a touching story about a boy he befriended in South Korea. He shares that he offered food to the boy, receiving hugs in return.

Tags: Civilians,Food,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Orphanage,Poverty,South Koreans

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


Living in Peace with Others

Julio Cesar Mercado Martinez shares his hope for all war and discrimination in the world to end. He emphasizes the importance of living in peace with others. He encourages everyone to treat others kindly.

Tags: Home front,Impressions of Korea,Message to Students,Pride

Share this Clip +

Share YouTube:

Share from this page:


Video Transcript

INTERVIEWER: It’s February 16, 2016. Arecibo Puerto Rico, my name is Jongwoo Han, I am the president Korean War Legacy Foundation, and this is great honor and pleasure to meet you here. Please introduce yourself, your name what is your name?


MERCADO MARTINEZ: My name is Julio Mercado.


I: Mhm. Could you spell it?


MM: J U L I O   M E R C A D O.  




MM: And I live in Arecibo.


I: Yes, let me ask you a question, ok? What is your birthday?


MM: January 3, 1934.


I: 34, so you’re a young man. 


MM: I’m 82.


I: 82 among Korean War veterans 82 is young.


MM: Yes,


I: Right?


MM: Yes.


I: Where were you born?


MM: I was born in Ponce a Puerto Rico.


I: Ponce, beautiful town.


MM: Yes sir. 


I: Yeah, I was there.


MM: Aha.




I: Yeah, I saw the catholic church.


MM: Yeah.


I: And firehouse, red firehouse. Beautiful town.


MM: I remember all that.


I: Yeah, tell me about your family when you were growing up, your parents and your brothers and sisters.


MM: When I grew up, I was part of the family of seven children.


I: Seven children.


MM: Two sisters and four brothers, we had a…




MM: We were poor family; Puerto Rico was going through the depression times, at that time.


I: Right.


MM: And it was very difficult for my father to find work, so he had to get job, two days in one job, and maybe one or two days in another job, and so on, but we managed, we managed to survive the depression time.




I: Mhm. 


MM: I went to school in Ponce, my hometown, up to the ninth grade, then we move to another town Mayaguez. Where my father became a manager with cooperation, and I was there for four years. 




MM: At the age of 17, my parents got divorced…


I: Hmm.


MM: I went through New York at 17, I went to super high school in Manhattan up to my third-year high school. 



MM: I remember when I was drafted, I was only 19.


I: So, when did you graduate high school?


MM: I had an equivalency diploma after, after I came out of the service. 


I: After. Ok.


MM: I took a test.


I: So, then when were you drafted?


MM: I was drafted in 1953. April 1953.


I: Ohm.




MM: And I was fourteen and a half months in Korea.


I: So where did you go to basic military training?


MM: Camp Kilmer New Jersey.


I: New Jersey?


MM: Yes.


I: What kind of training did you receive?


MM: I took… when I was drafted, I came to Camp Kilmer, from Camp Kilmer we went to basic training in Kentucky.


I: Hmm.




MM: Fort Breckinridge. Fort Breckinridge was disappeared after our training because they did away with that camp.


I: Mhm.


MM: For one reason or another, and the nearest town over there for you was Justice Virginia. 


I: And then what happened to you? After the basic training…




MM: Then I was in Fort Justice Virginia, I was the mail clerk for a while, for a few months, from there I was sent to Korea.


I: When…


MM: To Japan, to Japan first.


I: But when did you left for Korea?


MM: In nineteen… that was like December 1954.


I: Aha.


MM: Because there I had my 20th birthday…




MM: Was while traveling in the ship to Japan.


I: Mhm. So, you knew that the Korean War broke out, right?


MM: Well, when we were in B Brock in basic training, we received the news that there was a true being talked about, and we were very happy the war was over.


I: Yeah.


MM: But there was still something to be going… 




MM: The exchange of prisoners and all that, and that’s when I came to Korea. When they were exchanging prisoners, and I visit… I went to Incheon one time.


I: Mhm. 


MM: I went to Sasebo. No Sasebo it is in Japan. I went to… I saw change of row,




MM: Changing of row, the valley of death, and the high mountain of the… when they have difficulties with the soldiers to take over that mountain.


I: Did you know anything about Korea before you left for Korea? 


MM: No, no, no.


I: You didn’t learn…




I: …anything from history class?


MM: They never gave us history class.


I: Hmm.


MM: They told us that we were going to go there, and combat the enemy that was taking over, but luckily, you know, when I was in basic training and you know basic training, the truth was…


I: Right. So, you didn’t know anything about Korea before you left?


MM: No, no.


I: So, when you arrived in Korea where did you arrive?




MM: At….


I: Incheon?


MM: No, no, no. Pusan.


I: Pusan? 


MM: Pusan.


I: Oh, by ship?


MM: Yes.


I: You arrived in Pusan.


MM: We went to Japan and from Japan to Pusan.


I: Pusan. Do you remember when you arrived in Pusan?


MM: Exactly, exactly I don’t remember.


I: Is it 1955?




MM: No, no, no. I was in Pusan in 1954.


I: Uh-huh.


MM: 1954.


I: You said that you left for Korea in…


MM: 1953.


I: 3. 


MM: At the end of 1953, like December,


I: Mhm.


MM: November December. I remember because of my birthday.


I: Yes, birthday.


MM: Was while we’re traveling to Japan. 


I: And then you arrived in Pusan early 1954. 


MM: 1954.


I: Yes…




I: Tell me about to Pusan you saw. How was it?


MM: Oh boy, I tell you… I was so sad all the time because there was as I saw families carrying their homes on the back.


I: Hmm.


MM: Very sad.




I: Very sad. 


MM: I saw… I saw all the hunger that the little children where we’re going through. So that when I went out for security gard.


I: Hmm.


MM: I used to carry crackers in my pocket…




MM: …to give up.


I: Mhm.


MM: I saw many things that hurt my young mind because poverty in Puerto Rico was really bad, but compared to the war, the war area…


I: Hmm.


MM: The war is a terrible thing.


I: Yeah. 




MM: I saw a documentary about Korea about 20 years ago, and I was surprised the big change That Korea went through.


I: Hmm. Very big change. 


MM: I know the people, most of the people that I knew there, their used to work in the oil pool…




MM: …and they used to get water, we had to ask permission, we used to say: “G.I. Mul muranda” I think that’s the way it’s pronounced: “Mul, mul, mul, muranda” to drink water war…


I: Ah.


MM: To drink water.


I: Aha. “Mul marada” 


MM: “Mul Marada”, something like that.


I: Yeah, yes, yes.


MM: And I used to allow them, you know…   




MM: …”just go up, okay”. In the time we were there we have carry a rifle recovering, searching, and… and asking everybody “where you going? Where you come from?” and all that you know, whoever came in there had to go through the process, to get into the office or even the visitors that came off well-dressed, we had to, because that was ours orders…




MM: …and I used to do as security guard for or four hours on and eight hours off.


I: Mhm.


MM: Around the clock, then I… after that I asked for a transfer from security guard to quarter master, to work in a… 




MM: …they put me to work in a in a shoe factory, shoe repair place, that’s why I mentioned “change it on row”…


I: Mhm. 


MM: …because we had to go through, to the shoe repair place, and I expend quite a few months there. 


I: So, you were in Pusan?


MM: In Pusan.


I: And then, did you move to anywhere else?




MM: Uhm…


I: Or did you stay…?


MM: I went to a place called “Maysan”.


I: “Masan”. Yes.  


MM: “Masan”, it was… we used to pick up some guys that they were… it was an exchange of prisoners.


I: Ohm.


MM: They had to be held in a certain place…


I: Yes.


MM: …and just transferred to another one.


I: Yeah. 


MM: We went there, we went to Incheon one time, with some of their troops, 




MM: To pick up some prisoners, even… it’s funny thing, you know,  there were not only prisoners of the Korean from north or south, it were prisoners of the GI too, that were imprisoned, that they were rotating back through the states, and the full rotation they had to be brought over to…




MM: …to the security place to recheck, the check in point.


I: Mhm.


MM: They went through a sanitation check and everything?


I: When did you leave Korea?


MM: In 1955, in April 19… No… February, March… in March. March 1955.


I: Five. 


MM: Yes.


I: So, until you leave…




I: …until you left Korea. You were mostly in Pusan?


MM: In Pusan.


I: Yes.


MM: Most of the time I expended in Pusan.


I: Mostly, yeah. What was your unit?


MM: 961 Quartermaster Battalion.  


I: Of…? Battalion of Regimen, Division…. What Division?


MM: I think was 296. Something like that.


I: Okay.


MM: 296.


I: Mhm.




MM: It’s difficult to remember…


I: Right, right, right. 


MM: It was sixty years ago.


I: Yeah, and even though the ceasefire was signed but according to the US federal government the Korean War extended until January 31st of 1955 so you are Korean War era veteran. Right?


MM: Yes, yes.


I: How was the situation in Pusan? There were there any guerrillas…




I: …or the enemies there still? was it dangerous?


MM: No. Once on a while, they had the Eris Alert.  When somebody trying to cross the parallel and everybody went on alert and they will run there, sometimes over there…


I: But you were in Pusan, right? You were in Pusan?


MM: Yes. Pusan.


I: So, Pusan is not close to the 38 parallel. 


MM: No but they put everybody on alert.


I: Yeah.


MM: And I remember a five o’clock in the morning they used to throw mustard gas…




MM: …and we had to run with all in our underwear to get on there a bunker.


I: Why it’s Pusan, it’s in the south?


MM: No but they stole it, and escaped the soldiers alert, the government did all the time, the army, that how the army works.


I: So… you… okay. By the alarm you went back to bunkers and ready to…


MM: When they had the alarm, we all…




MM: With the siren… the siren sounded and…


I: Right. 


MM: We went to the bunker or with parade outside, and they told us what was going on, to be on the alert in case we had to go over to the north…


I: Yeah.


MM: …All like that, it was a nerve breaking thing.


I: Absolutely.


MM: Yeah




I: What was your rank?


MM: I was a corporal.


I: Corporal?


MM: Yes.


I: Quite high. how much were you paid?


MM: I don’t remember exactly; I think at that time it was a eighty ninety dollars. 


I: Mhm.


MM: 89 dollars a month.


I: Did you send the money back to your family?


MM: I used to send.


I: Mhm.


MM: In fact they gave me a PFC rank in Virginia, and for a couple of hours I was AWOL…


I: Hmm.


MM: On that time because my father came from Puerto Rico and…




MM: …to New York, and I didn’t a track of time and I missed the bus going back to Virginia, and I had to stay overnight, so when I came back I was AWOL for four hours…


I: Hahaha.


MM: So, the Major… I remember the Major said: “you’re no longer a PFC”…


I: Hahaha.


MM: …One stripe that I had, you know, so I said: 




MM: “Why didn’t care to much, it was about 50 dollars”.


I: What was your specialty? While you were in Pusan.


MM: I was quarter master, at one time I was interpreted for CIA… CID, CID. I remember one case where they had there, this young kid that there was coming out with a barrel of oil, from the oil depot…




MM: …and they turned to stop and one of the GI’s there… for some reason or another there was a loose bullet came out, boom! and I hurt him…


I: Hmm.


MM: …and they were looking for somebody to interpret like I was an interpreter for that, you know, this is a Puerto Rican guy. I could speak English, so I said: “well yeah I want to spend a couple of days with a CID”.




I: So, what did you do for CID? what was your job in CID?


MM: Just interpret, interpret what the gut said the other guy was saying. 


I: So, you interpret?


MM: I say interpret. 


I: Interpreting what? 


MM: Ahh?


I: English to Spanish?


MM: Spanish and English and English to Spanish, both, back and forth.


I: Was there any dangerous moment that you might have lost your life?




MM: The only time is… there was a warehouse, the warehouse was vandalized, it was on fire. 


I: Mhm.


MM: It was a food people, where all the warehouses. We were coming in with all the companies to go there pick them up, the grows, the supplies, and… 




MM: …I remember that, everybody got on alert and run over there with the helmets and everything, I remember that big pieces of wood falling down, burning, and that night I was scared…


I: Mhm. Most been very scared.


MM: A war and a fire is something similar.


I: Right, all very good point. 


MM: When you need a fire…




MM: …I mean you have to run for your life. In a war, I speaking you mind, is your life.


I: How was your life in Pusan? Where did you sleep what did you eat and any other things that you did?


MM: It was normal one time…




MM: I ask a girl to… I wanted to taste to they called it “Kimchi” …


I: Mhm.


MM: I tasted it, it’s fish and salad 


I: Can you eat spicy?


MM: Sometimes I eat spicy.


I: Aha. Wasn’t it too spicy for you the kimchi?


MM: No.


I: No?


MM: No.


I: Ahh, you’re pretty good.


MM: No, it’s like… 




MM: …fish salad.


I: Right.


MM: It’s very good.  I remember when… I used to visit the houses around the area where I used to work, when we were on leave, on pass, sometimes that’s what I did. 


I: What?


MM: Go visit some of their Korean houses, and try to talk to them…


I: Really.




MM: …in Korean, and see because I had a notebook and I used put down…


I: Oh…


MM: Every word that I heard, the way sound to me in Spanish, or in English, I wrote it down, and I used to practice, to practice seeing if I could… because right, you will be in Korea and you have to get some Korean.


I: That’s very good point.


MM: Yeah.


I: Yeah. Many soldiers who…




I: …did not even try to learn.


MM: No.


I: But all they knew was Japanese, you know, but you are exceptional you wanted to learn Korean language.


MM: Yeah. 


I: That’s very nice.


MM: 14 and a half months in a place…


I: Yeah.


MM: …you have to learn some words.


I: Mhm.


MM: I said: “origan shimika” you know, “ani ha-shimika, olon habnida” all those things…




MM: I cannot remember to put more together now, but at that time, yes because I was there, and I was used to it, talking back and forth. 


I: Any Korean soldier that you work together?


MM: We had that… there was a security guard, Korean security guards and us. US soldiers security guard…


I: Right.


MM: …Korean security guards…


I: Americans.




MM: …and American security guards.


I: Mhm.


MM: Now, one time I remember that, there was a guy that went by, and on the way back, I saw he was he was like some kind of gangster, this guy can get so fat, you know? So, I give him a “halt” and the Korean security guard searched him, he had a lot of tools hidden…




MM: …hidden on his shirt and his jacket. I remember, they held him and… and I don’t know what they did to him. He had gone into a boat that was on the shore. He went to that boat and, they took some of the tools that they had. 


I: Hmm. So was he arrested?


MM: Yes, yes.




MM: …because the Korean guard called the supervisor, and they came in a Jeep and they took him.


I: Hmm.


MM: It was very mad at him. But people there were very pleasant, they are pleasant people, they always make…


I: You mean Koreans?


MM: Yes, yes. I remember a guy to have a food stand…




MM: …I used to go there and see, he always gave me an apple, Korean apples are different than the ones over here. 


I: Exactly.


MM: They are rounded are bigger.


I: Mhm.


MM: And it tastes different.


I: It’s pretty good, right?


MM: Yeah.


I: Yeah.  You said that you knew nothing about Korea when you left for Korea… 




I: …you were there for 14 months and have you thought about like this: “what am I doing here? what the hell am I doing?”


MM: At the beginning yes. At the beginning I wouldn’t go out and pass that we can come of, and I didn’t want to go out, I went to the Marine… there was a marine camp next to ours…




MM: …and they had a movie house, I used to go to the marine camp and go to the the movies there, watch a movie or with the… burum bum bum burum, there all were showing the same thing.


I: Right.


MM: But really, we could have drinks because we don’t know sodas, and pies, 


I: Mhm.




MM: And… but after about the third week, I went out…


I: Mhm.


MM: I went out with the camera, with a couple of guys, we took pictures, I remember the rice patties, I don’t know if I should say that but… one day we were walking…




MM: …we’re taking pictures of some birds…


I: Mhm.


MM: …and it was raining, and I slipped, and I felt down into a rice patty…


I: Hahaha.


MM: You’re going to tell how terrible it was.  


I: Do you know what happened to Korea after you left? Now Korean economy? 


MM: The… well like I told you, I saw a documentary…




MM: …about Korea about 20 years ago, and I was surprised that it went through so much change, because the Korea, I remember, was devastated, people running with their house and on their back…


I: Mhm.


MM: …and they used to put it together here, they pick it up and go someplace else… 




MM: …these people they had no place to go… they were going here and there, wherever they could, set a tent with a couple of pieces of plywood that they had, that was a house.


I: Yeah.


MM: They used to carry on the back…


I: With the apron.


MM: Yeah, yeah. And the Mama-san with the babies in the back.


I: Mhm…




I: But now the Korean economy is what? do you know? 


MM: Well, what I see what I see now it’s like… more like the United States.


I: Mhm, yeah. Big cities, right?


MM: I saw people smoking those kinds of cigarettes, and drinking, party…




I: Korea became the largest shipbuilding country, can you believe that?


MM: Yeah, and cars too.  


I: Cars, semi-conductor computer chip so now Korea is very well-established, prosperous economy, and strong democracy…


MM: Mhm.


I: What do you think about that? can you imagine that the country you saw…?


MM: No, as I said the documentary surprised me…




MM: …20 years ago, now more.


I: Mhm.


MM: Now more because now they build cars and everything, I remember the… they used to have factory of building plywood putting pieces of plaques, and got one on top of the other, and brushing the gloominess, you know, very primitive there, like they were no factories there…


I: Mhm.


MM: No factories there. Whatever factory they had, they had the…




MM: …the agriculture, agriculture for fertilizer, and things like that. That was the biggest factory they are over there for the rice…


I: Right.


MM: They grow rice…


I: Yeah.


MM: It was growing rice.


I: Mhm. So, isn’t that amazing?


MM: Yeah.


I: Such a great transformation, right?


MM: Mhm.




I: We were able to do that because you came and protected us from the Communists attack.


MM: Wow, thank you.


I: Oh yeah. That’s why we are doing this, we want to preserve your memory, honorable service and sacrifice, many people who died during the war, no? 


MM: Yeah.


I: So, we want to keep the record of your witness, your oral history…




I: …and to be able to teach to our young generations, that’s what we are doing this.


MM: That’s great.


I: What was the most difficult thing during your service in Korea? 


MM: The most difficult thing in service, I tell you a day when… in Korea I knew I had to be there as long as they kept me there…




MM: …So, I don’t have place to go. Nothing acceptable, receiving letters from my family, for my now present wife, we have been married 60 years.


I: Mhm.


MM: Three months after I came from Korea, we get married. 


I: So, you told me that you met your wife through PenPal.


MM: PenPal.


I: How tell me about it?


MM: Well, there was a magazine called “ECO”…




MM: …Puerto Rican magazine. See? 


I: Uh-huh. Magazine?


MM: Yeah, magazine and they had two pages that says the column of the soldiers.


I: Mhm.


MM: I wrote to them, I had some poems that I wrote, and I told them that they could put them on the magazine, and they…




MM: …They wrote back to me and they say they couldn’t publish them because they have to be in a book. 


I: Aww.


MM: They can publish poems and somethings like that.


I: Mhm.


MM: But at the same time, I sent a picture that I wanted to have exchanged, mail exchange with girls at my age… and a couple of girls wrote…


I: Really?


MM: And one of them was my wife.




I: Hahaha… what did she write to you?


MM: Well, she wrote to me about how life was going on in New York.


I: Aha.


MM: And I wrote her what was going on in Korea. Yesterday I went here, yesterday I went there… so we exchange whatever happened just in a friendly way, so when I came back…




MM: …and went to visit her, we…


I: Became friends.


MM: …we became very good friends.


I: Hmm. I saw the picture of your wife with you together…


MM: Yes.


I: …and two of you, you are look alike.


MM: We had the same last name, that’s one of the reasons of why she wrote me. 


I: Ohh…


MM: Because she has…




MM: …she had…


I: Mercado.


MM: …a cousin Julio Mercado.


I: Ahh…


MM: And she was surprised to see a Julio Mercado, but it was a different picture.


I: Ha!


MM: So, it’s curiosity killed the cat.


I: That’s very interesting, isn’t it?


MM: It was, there really, it was a fantastic story, but it is a true story, happened that way.




I: Hmm.


MM: And I think the reason why, I have seven children. I could have more, because the time I spent in Korea, but the children and I saw that did something to me… 




MM: …made me more family-oriented, and when my children were little, I used to look at them, I remember…


I: Remember those Korean children?




MM: Yeah.


I: Yeah. It was too…


MM: Still hits me, you know, I’m very sentimental about that…


I: Hmm.


MM: …because children should not suffer.


I: Do they appear in your dream? do they appear in your dream? children in your dream? No?




MM: Occasionally.


I: Occasionally. Hmm. Anything you remember from Korea again?


MM: In Korea one time there was a little boy, that the other guard chase him out of the security shack, where we used to you stay… 




MM: …and when I was there, I let him stay in there, sleep there. Bringing cookies for them, I used to call him “Charlie”… 


I: Ohh…


MM: …I spoke to my sergeant and another GI and we decided let’s see maybe we can bring him to the…


I: States?


MM: …to the company to the barracks…


I: Ahh…




I: …for boss boy. 


MM: So, he could eat something but the company commander, he said: “okay, okay, but we have to call the family affair something…


I: Mhm.


MM: …so, they came and let him too. We had him for about two weeks.


I: Two weeks.


MM: Then they took him. 


I: That Charlie wanted to stay with you, right?…




I: …didn’t he?


MM: G.I, G.I, G.I to hugged me. He was like a son, yeah, so, Charlie is watching.


I: Yeah. If right?


MM: If. He was a young kid about… 




MM: …maybe five six years old at that time.


I: Mhm.


MM: So, he could be at the 50’s now, right? 


I: No, if he was five years old at the time…


MM: 65 because its the difference.


I: Yeah. Mhm.


MM: 65 maybe.  


I: Almost 70. but that’s another good thing…




MM: You never know, you never know.


I: Exactly. 


MM: Someday he might see something at a magazine or something that become across and might remember.  


I: Remember? Yes. He…


MM: Yep, say hello to Charlie.


I: Say it to him.


MM: Hello Charlie, this is the GI Julio from Korea, and hello…




MM: …to another person that I remember the name “Moonta Soon”.


I: Say message, give them message. What do you want to say to them they and look at the camera?


MM: Huh… I remember when I was in Korea and I still remember you Charlie, and Moonta Soon more than anybody else because…




MM: …we used to spend time together, and the wonderful times to remember.


I: Any other story you want to share with them? any scenes that you can describe to them so that they know you? any episode?


MM: Charlie I was G.I that let you sleep in the guard hot.   




MM: …and we brought you to the company, you spend a few days with us, and then they transfer you to orphanage I think it was in 1954.


I: So, this message is from Julio to Charlie and MoonSu from Puerto Rico now, it’s in 2016…




I: …right?


MM: Mhm.


I: This is amazing, this is Amazing, it’s Arecibo Puerto Rico, and February 17, 2016, Julio is looking for the Korean boy that he used to live with for two weeks…


MM: Yeah, yeah.


I: …Charlie. What is the impact of war two human being what is it?




MM: When I… when I finished basic training, the way they trained you I was I was ready to go to war. They didn’t tell me that was Korea or Japan. You go up to fight somebody that you don’t know…


I: And kill them.


MM: …that did anything to you. But we were under pressure, you build up the pressure.




MM: …that you’re really, really the anxious to come back, because you have to help you country or somebody else’s country, and you have to get this enemy out of there, I mean, the first thing you have to remember is that your life comes first. 


I: Right, yes. 


MM: And when you face somebody…




MM: …that you don’t know, you have no reason to hurt him or kill them, why do it, because somebody else is telling you to do it.


I: Mhm.


MM: And we have no say: “I don’t want to do it”, because they say: “You’re serving your country”. 


I: So, it’s all of a country?


MM: And I say, “Yes I’m serving my country”, but my country is not the United States it’s Puerto Rico.




I: Right.


MM: I’m not fighting for Puerto Rico. Now we’re going through a situation that Puerto Rico was declared like a commonwealth, at one time, the United Nations, and now the Congress says no they never did, they never say that, so, I don’t know who’s lying, but…




MM: …I’m an American citizen and I don’t know where, I hope someday all the wars stop, and someday the solution, there would be solution for Puerto Rico.


I: There was a segregation…




I: …policy, right? toward to Puerto Rican soldiers.


MM: Oh see, that was another thing. When I got to Korea they had that 3 separations they Puerto Rican, the white, the black.


I: Mhm.


MM: At that time a Truman gave an order that everybody had to be treated equal, so now…




MM: …they had Puerto Ricans blacks and whites, Hawaiians, Japanese, whatever they have, all in the same barracks…


I: Mhm. 


MM: The same barracks, but there was discrimination…


I: Mhm.


MM: I remember the 65th regimen for Puerto Rican…


I: Yeah.


MM: …they were discriminated they would like discarded as cowards.


I: And court-martial.




MM: Yeah, but I saw changing… I so I saw the Death Valley in Korea, and I saw the mountain, the mountain… I don’t remember the name of the mountain, you have to cross the valley to get to the mountain.


I: Mhm. 


MM: and that’s what they had a difficulty.


I: Are you talking about Kelly?


MM: Kelly, Kelly.


I: Yes. 




I: Yeah. Mhm.


MM: Yeah, Montaña Kelly. Mountain Kelly.


I: Hmm.


MM: I saw it.


I: Mhm. Do you want to go back to Korea?


MM: Not really.


I: Korean government has a program called Korea re-visit program, they invite you back to Korea, to show the changes being made by the Korean people after you left…




I: …after you protected us. Would you be interested in going there?


MM: Well, I have to consult that with my wife.


I: Right, right.


MM: We do everything together.


I: Mhm.


MM: Because I would like to really see with my own eyes, I’ve seen it in the… you know they have the soap operas, Korean soap operas.


I: Are you do…


MM: That they show on television.




I: Yeah


MM: And you see all the changes, the people how they…


I: Did you watch?


MM: Yes.


I: Do you watch?


MM: Some of them, they have the soap operas. 


I: So very, very much being changed right?


MM: Yeah, yeah.


I: Tell me about it? Tell me?


MM: Well, they didn’t have no all those things that you see now on the soap operas existed, because also everything was dead roads…




MM: …and if it rained you have to be walking on the mold, and everything. In fact, some soldiers were so badly oriented, they used to throw cookies in the mud to the kids. So they can pick them up.


I: Yeah, we were miserable, we were miserable.


MM: Yeah. I mean it you cannot…




MM: …have fun of misery, you know.


I: That’s true.


MM: If I want to give a kid a cookie, why should I throw it on the mud, so they will pick it up, for me to hard. I saw that, and I saw people doing 




MM: …a lot of things that I don’t really want to talk about…


I: Hmm.


MM: …because it is miserable way of treating people, 


I: Hmm. But I want you to know that Korean people never forget, and they, you know, that’s why we are doing this…




I: …recording your witness, so, that people learn from it, okay? You know, you know that the Korean War regarded as forgotten war, right? Forgotten? 


MM: Forgotten. Oh.


I: Yeah.


MM: Oh, yes. I asked that when I went to the disabled veterans, they gave me some literature, I say: “what happened to the Korean soldiers?”…




MM: …you have all the Vietnam, the Afghanistan, all that. I don’t see the Koreans.


I: What happened? 


MM: I mean, another fellow I knew there, we were from Korea: “Oh, but there are only a few left”, Tommy, and so they forgot, they forgotten us, that’s it. Well now they’re having problems, you see.




I: Yeah.


MM: Because I heard the news that this young…


I: North Korea.


MM: …kid.


I: North Korea.


MM: North Korea, he dropped the atomic nuclear bomb in the south, to the south. 


I: No, no, no. They tested.


MM: A menace, a menace, that was a test to see how far they could get to the to the United States.


I: Hmm…



I: What is the importance of the Korean War? why is it important do you think?


MM: The only thing, the only important say I should that the Koreas should be together, no South no North Korea, 


I: Mhm.


MM: It should be one Korea. I don’t know what the differences between the South Korea and the North Korean are… 




MM: …when I was there, I knew that they act different, because the South Koreans are more humble than the North Koreans, I noticed that, the ones I knew…


I: Mhm.


MM: …but why they have all those differences?


I: Right.


MM: Reminds me of the German mural, the wall, the…




MM: Reminds me the East Germany and the Germany… East and…


I: West.  


MM: East and west Germany. They built a wall, and now nobody knows who’s who now.


I: Mhm.


MM: There are families for hundreds of years, maybe for decades, they never knew each other.




I: Right.


MM: They are family and they were separated by war. Korea is the same thing.


I: Same thing.


MM: Separate by parallel.


I: 38th parallel. Yes, Mhm… I think you made excellent points a lot of them, that Korea need to be reunified, the war is unbearable to human beings…




I: Any other message that you want to leave to this interview?


MM: Yeah, I wish someday there’ll be no more war…


I: Mhm.


MM: And we all can treat each other as a friendly manner, we let not that to happen…




MM: …in Mexico discrimination with the farmers, and their people from the city, in South America, Dominican, Haiti, these islands are separated by the difference of… I don’t know what kind of differences because they are people like everybody else.


I: Mhm.


MM: We have the same feelings; we all have the same feelings. Right?




I: Mhm.


MM: Why not try to live in peace and treat each other as fellows, like Christ said: “love my father above everything else, and love your neighbor as you love yourself”


I: Right…




I: …and someday we really hope that we can be reunited, and see if we can find your body Charlie, 


MM: Charlie…


I: Yeah. I’m very moved by your witness…




I: …and your love of those children that actually affected your family life.


MM: Yeah.


I: And I want to thank you for your fight for Korea, and your love of Korea…


MM: Thank you.


I: …and you pray for us so that we can be reunited.


MM: Mhm. I only have… I remember the good things about but my time in Korea…




MM: …because there were more good things and bad things there, you know, in fact, I don’t remember any bad things that was caused by the Korean people, or the Korea War, or something like that.


I: Hmm.


MM: Just the touch of the misery that was going on, a country on war with so much poverty, but now it is different.


I: Mhm.




MM: Now we could say: “long live Korea”.


I: “Long live Korea”, long live Julio…


MM: Thank you.


I: …and bless on Korean War veterans from Puerto Rico, you are very exceptional.


MM: Thank you.


I: Yeah, thank you very much.


[End of Recorded Material]