Korean War Legacy Project

Kenneth David Allen

Bio

Kenneth David Allen was born in Syracuse, NY and graduated from Syracuse University Maxwell School Class of 1952. Shortly after graduating,  he was drafted for military service. He describes the journey to Korea which included several stops after basic training. He remembers his interactions with the Korean people, including the houseboy in his tent. He continued his military services through 1964, receiving two battle stars and a commendation ribbon for his commitments. He explains how he still assists veterans before they go to the Middle East, developing an appreciation for their service as he can relate to what happened in Korea.

 

 

 

Video Clips

Contemporary Wars

Kenneth Allen continues to assist the military by helping soldiers in contemporary wars. He is active in assisting soldiers before they head to the Middle East. He makes a comparison to how Korean soldiers were not celebrated or acknowledged due to the Korean War being labeled as the "Korean Conflict".

Tags: Home front

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQilSlMcO9k&start=1520&end=1762

Journey to Korea

Kenneth Allen explains his journey to Korea which started shortly after he graduated college. He remembers attending basic training in Ft. Dix, New Jersey before being sent to Japan then Pusan before headed to Seoul. He describes the train ride and how they had to be very careful.

Tags: Busan,Seoul,Yeongdeungpo,Basic training,Impressions of Korea,Physical destruction

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQilSlMcO9k&start=67&end=227

A Very Thankful People

Kenneth Allen describes his interactions with the Korean people, stating that they did what they could for them. He remembers a house boy they had at their tent and how they would give him clothes and food from the mess hall. He states that overall the Korean people were a really thankful people.

Tags: Food,Living conditions,South Koreans

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQilSlMcO9k&start=563&end=640

Video Transcript

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

K:        Ok, uh, my name is Kenneth, is my first name, Dave, David Allen. A L L E N. Ok. And I’m, I’m gonna be 82. I’m 81right now. I’ll be 82 in July, so uh.

I:          Ok, and, I guess to start out, uh, we’d like to get an idea of how you feel about this project, what this project means to you.

K:        I think it’s an important project because, uh, it can be held for a long time,

0:00:30

and possibly my great grandchildren or grandchildren and so forth can look at, at the website or whatever it is and, uh, maybe give a little background of what, what I did there in the Korean War.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        Ok, should I keep going or?

I:          Yeah, yeah.

K:        Ok, well, I might as well start from the beginning. I didn’t really know anything about Korea. Uh, I read it in a paper. I knew they were invaded by, by, uh, the Chinese. And, uh, I knew there was a lot of trouble.

0:01:00

K:        And, um, I, uh, graduated in 1952 from Syracuse University and Maxwell School, and when I graduated, I, I, had a deferment because I was in college so I was not drafted by United States Army. So, once I graduated, I received the greetings from the President, went through basic training, uh, commuted, uh, from, uh, Syracuse, where it was my home

0:01:30

and was born and brought up there. And, uh, uh, traveled to Fort Dix, New Jersey, where I took my basic training and infantry training. I just was very lucky because, uh, I organized a dance band at the time. I played trumpet, and still do, and, uh, uh, for Fort Dix in New Jersey. And we used to travel it, back to Syracuse every weekend and, uh, played a lot, uh, through officers’ club and for special events there

0:02:00

because our company was primarily college graduates at the time. Uh, we were all handed our orders. My orders were to go to Korea, so after a about a week, uh, at home, I, uh, had a plane to Seattle, Washington. And after a week or so of indoctrination there, we got in a ship headed directly to Korea. Uh, we stopped to re, re, re-provision outside of

0:02:30

Japan and ended up in Pusan where we, uh, were put on a train like a, a boxcar train. Uh, didn’t even have a good bathroom on the train,

I:          Yeah.

K:        and, uh, took the train north which took about, oh, probably a half a day

I:          Yeah.

K:        cause it didn’t go very fast. But, uh, on the train we had to be very careful. We put up, uh, wire on the windows so they couldn’t throw hand grenades and stuff through the windows.

0:03:00

And, uh, the second and sad part about it was the poor little kids that’d come by the train when the train stopped to ask for food or clothes or anything, and we gave whatever we had, uh, to them. But that was shaken part of it,

I:          Yeah.

K:        of Korea, to me. When I arrived, I arrived in Yeongdongpo, got off the train, uh, was escorted through Chungch, or, uh, Seoul, Korea, and there was nothing standing in Seoul except the

0:03:30

presidential, uh, palace which was a, uh, empty building. It was all bombed out, and I understood they went through Seoul, frontwards and backwards. This was in January 1953. Really we didn’t,

I:          Yeah.

K:        we didn’t realize just what was happening. Course, you know, Chinese, China was an ally of United States, you know, during the second World War with the Japanese and so forth. And, of course, we had no love for the Japanese then though either, you know.

0:04:00

And this was soon right after the war, you know. Uh, in fact, a lot of our, when I was in college, there were guys came back from the war, from the, from the far East. So, I really didn’t know much of anything about Korea, right.

I:          And, when you found out you were going over there, what were your impressions? You know, what

K:        Well, I had to, I had to

I:          You just kinda followed your orders, and

K:        I just followed my orders

I:          Yeah.

K:        and did what I was told.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        Uh, I, I, was lucky because I was very limited

0:04:30

time on the time because they were looking for somebody that could read and write and use a typewriter. In those days, you know, there was the, uh, the old hunt and peck typewriter; there was nothing electric then, really.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        And, uh, somebody who had had some sort of a business training, which I did too because I worked at summers,

I:          Um hm.

K:        you know, at the business end of it. And it was interesting because our whole group there was all, uh, you know, you, uh, educated. One was an English

0:05:00

mayor, major; he’s retired, and, and just died a year ago as a principal of a high school down in New Jersey. And, uh, 2 or 3 other ones that I still correspond with all had college training in one way or the other, you know.

I:          That’s interesting because it seems like a lot of soldiers that went over there didn’t have, I mean as you said, you know they were looking for maybe a, you know, people that have that experience. How did they divide that up when, you know, when you went over there?

0:05:30

K:        Yeah, they was, it was kinda tough because I know I was asked to interview 150 Puerto Ricans, and I couldn’t speak Spanish.

I:          Yeah.

K:        So I had to find out 1 guy out of the Spanish group that could speak partially Engli- English.

I:          A translator.

K:        And, uh, and my job was then to allocate these, uh,

I:          [COUGH}

K:        Puerto Rican ki, uh, kids, guys,

I:          Uh hm.

K:        we were just kids then, uh, to the various units, uh, that was up on the line

I:          Uh hm.

K:        in Korea. At the time, it was, it was a, it was,

0:06:00

I would say we were 50 miles north of the 38thParallel, and we, we had ‘em stopped cold there.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        Uh, right.

I:          What was rank when you entered the war?

K:        When I went in, I was a Private,

I:          Ok.

K:        just a Private. Yeah.

I:          Great.

K:        And I, I came out, I came out as a Staff Sergeant. Uh, I was promoted to Sergeant First Class, and when I told them I had no interest in continuing in the Army anymore, they cancelled that, which

I:          Oh.

K:        didn’t, I didn’t care.

I:          Yeah.

K:        I didn’t care. I just wanted out. I want to go back.

0:06:30

I:          Um, and when you were leaving for Korea, what was your family’s reaction?

K:        Uh, well, they

I:          Say like, you know when, didn’t, from the time that you enlisted to when you left was pretty

K:        Yeah, when I, when I left on, left on a boat, I was, uh, I knew I, I either, either had to work in the, down in the cafeteria or the, hull, hull of the ship or volunteer as ship’s editor, which I did do. And I was

0:07:00

ship’s editor o, going over, and coming back, I came back with the 1st Marine Division. I was ship’s editor coming back too. Uh, which meant every night, we would, we would put a newspaper out. We give ‘em ball scores; we give ‘em up to date things about Korea about the various things. I also organized on both comin’ and goin’ a band. We, we’d entertain the troops. Eh, every night we’d have a little show for them, and it gave them somethin’ to think about other than just worrying. Goin’ on,

0:07:30

going up was bad. We went up through the Aleutians, very rough sea. And the boat was really going, so lot of, was a lot of sick guys then.

I:          Yeah.

K:        Yeah, so, uh, uh, uh, made it a little better for the troops there. They, they enjoyed it every night.

I:          So was there, you know when you were taking the ship over there was there this kinda anxiety that there’s this impending war, you know, cause a lot of people haven’t experienced that before

K:        Right

I:          So

K:        Right, we really didn’t know what we were getting’ into.

I:          Yeah.

K:        In, in fact, we were

0:08:00

pretty well provisioned. Outside Japan, we never got off the ship. We were provisioned on the ship, and the next morning we were in the Pusan Harbor. And, uh, luckily they had a plank that we could go down. I, I carried my trumpet with me the whole time, and I played when I was in Korea. I used to do all sorts of playin’ for, at night for the guys for, for somethin’ to do. Uh, I, you know, I played with the university marching band for 4 years for with Daddy Grover’s time, so.

I:          Right, I think that’s

0:08:30

something that, you know, isn’t really talked about that much. It’s, you know, personal possession, but it’s something that keep people’s mind off of what’s going on, you know, it must have been so chaotic and

K:        Yeah.

I:          crazy over there that, you know, the soldiers needed something to

K:        Yeah, they used to break it up. They had the USO in there, in fact, uh, Marilyn Monsr- Monroe was there, and, uh, I went to her show. I didn’t play in their band but because, uh, u, uh, regular Army band playing there. But, uh,

0:09:00

she ca, she came in with a helicopter, and they couldn’t land the helicopter there were so many guys milling around. So, they had to take her out with a Sherman tank. [LAUGHS}

I:          [LAUGHS]

K:        And they put her in the tank, and

I:          Yeah.

K:        and, uh, and uh, and finally got her out of there. She would have been mobbed. These guys were up on the line.

I:          Yeah.

K:        They’re goin’, goin’ wild.

I:          Yeah.

K:        Sha, it was it, so was it, it was a fun time but sad time too

I:          Yeah.

K:        you know. I felt very sorry for the Korean people when, the, the efforts they put in. We used to, uh, do whatever we could

0:09:30

for ‘em. Uh,

I:          Which

K:        I was telling her we, uh, our, we had a like a house boy where we were in. In fact, that picture of me shows the tent that we, I slept in for over a year. And, uh, we had oil heat. So in the middle of the winter time, was kinda cold in Korea. Same temperature as it is here in New York state. And, um, same parallel on fact.

I:          Yeah.

K:        The 38thParallel goes through New York State too. So, um, he would, uh, OG would come in, and,

0:10:00

you know, and we, we give him food and clothes. And

I:          Yeah.

K:        we’d pay for him, and, uh, what we could get out of our mess hall, we’d, we’d

I:          Yeah.

K:        give to him to give to the people. Yeah

I:          What was that like, the interaction between the Americans and the Koreans?

K:        Uh, they were pretty, uh, cordial, except for one guy who was hair cuttin’, and I was going, buggin’ him, you know. And he cut it all off or something like that, and he chased me with a razor down the street, you know. And I said, “Don’t fool with me guy.” [LAUGHS]

I:          Yeah.

K:        So, cause we had, we usually, usually traveled 3, 3 or 4 guys

0:10:30

together, you know, and

I:          Uh hm.

K:        just in case there was somebody that

I:          Right.

K:        that we really didn’t wanted to, but for the most part, the Korean people

I:          Yeah.

K:        were, were really thankful people.

I:          Did, did you get an impression that they fully understood what, what was going on, why the military was there, and

K:        Yeah, I think they did because they were invaded, pretty much the whole country, I mean they were infiltrated a lot with the North Koreans.

I:          Hm.

K:        And the Chinese really, uh, got into it a little bit later

0:11:00

I:          Um hm.

K:        than the first part, you know. But, uh, it was strictly political.

I:          Yeah.

K:        It was a political war; it ended up a political war.

I:          Yeah, wha, so, explain that a little bit.

K:        Well, you got guys that run certain countries that

I:          Uh hm.

K:        that want to take advantage of the country or their, their, natural resources or the

I:          [COUGHS]

K:        economic, uh, upper, uppern of these countries. And the only way they knew how to do it is war, you know. And, and they kill’em and take it

0:11:30

over, you know.

I:          Yeah.

K:        But, uh, they didn’t understand that, uh, once, once you do it like United States takes somebody over, they reconstructed; they rebuild their country; and they rebuild the, their economy the democratic way. They don’t understand that, you kn, and, uh, totalitarian

I:          So

K:        way.

I:          do you think that’s one of the main differences between North and South Korea then today?

K:        Ya, uh, well there’s no difference. They’re the, the same as US.

I:          Yeah,

K:        Uh

I:          but I’m saying, you know, the United States

0:12:00

intervention within South Korea verses

K:        Verses North Korea,

I:          Chinese, yeah.

K:        Yeah. That’s the main difference, absolutely. So, uh, un, until, until they, they let their people run the country, and let, and elect the people that’ll do the job for ‘em,

I:          Uh hm.

their country is now, not going to succeed, you know. And I think they’ve learned that lesson.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        Yeah, fact we’re learning a lesson right now in this country, you know. I met the Turkish troops coming back, when they came back, uh, from, from

0:12:30

school. They were leaving, highly disciplined

I:          Uh hm.

K:        troops. They didn’t get out of line at all. And, uh, took a picture, uh, there’s a picture of some Canadian troops that I ran into too. Uh, surprising, you know, guys that you even, yo, went to high school with all of a sudden you see ‘em coming back from Korea. And they say, “What are you doing here?”

I:          Yeah.

K:        And I say, I wondered the same thing. They were coming back Master Sergeants. He said, “Either we got killed or we got promoted, one or the other.”

I:          Back then.

K:        You know. And when I got back to Syracuse,

0:13:00

I, I ran into 2 or 3 guys. They said, “Oh, we saw you in

I:          Yeah.

K:        Korea.”

I:          So, what’s that like, being with, you know, your, your buddies that you knew for so long and, you know,

K:        Yeah.

I:          you have all these experiences.

K:        Yeah.

I:          You must be able to share a lot.

K:        Oh, yeah.

I:          Yeah.

K:        Yeah, we do. It’s, so it, it was a good and bad thing,

I:          Yeah.

K:        you know. Uh, I learned, uh, a lesson on, that I didn’t know an about even though I went, and, and studied that sort of thing, you know. And, course,

0:13:30

uh, we were brought up World War II, Germany and Japan, you know, strive

I:          Hm.

K:        and that sort of thing. Uh, yeah, so.

I:          So

K:        I don’t know what else I can tell ya. I can when I come back I, uh, they flew me back and, uh, from, um, uh, the, um, uh, see the Marine barracks in California, Treasure Island. And threw me back through, uh, uh, what cha call it, um, um, it was, um,

0:14:00

Texas, through Texas. And, I landed back in New Jersey. And they said, “Well, see, you’re, you’re the Senior Sergeant; you have to paint these three buildings.”

I:          Um.

K:        So, I said, “Give me 5 gallons of paint,” which they do, “and 5 paint brushes.” I picked up 5 guys. I give ‘em each one a paint brush, and the, and the paint, and said, “I’m leaving.” My wife came down, drove down from Syracuse, picked me up, and I never went back again to anything, no reserve, no nothing.

I:          How far, how soon after that?

0:14:30

Wha, how soon was that after you got back?

K:        Uh, within a, within a week,

I:          Ah, yeah,

K:        weekend.

I:          so you’re completely done. You’re just like

K:        Completely done.

I:          Yeah.

K:        All I knew was I was in some reserve group out of, uh, what cha call it, out of, uh, Long Island

I:          Uh hm.

K:        because I went as a trainee for a training, an insurance training in, uh, in New York Cit. And, uh, all of a sudden I get a discharge, honorable discharge, in, in the mail.

I:          Hm,

K:        Right. Yeah, I, I, I, I got 2 battle

0:15:00

stars I know I was in, you know. We had a big one in January, and a real big on in July.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        Um, um,

I:          Battles.

K:        Battles,

I:          Yeah,

K:        oh, yeah.

I:          Could you [SOUNDS LIKE COULD YOU COMMENT ON THEM]

K:        Yeah, well see, see as even though you’re administration, you’re still a basic infantry man.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        And, uh, the First Marine Division got hit by

I:          [COUGH]

K:        2 divisions of, uh, what cha call it, uh, Chinese and went through their, close to their 3rdline of resistance. See there are 3 lines, and it was barbed

0:15:30

wire between each line of resistance. And if you get passed your 3rdline, you’re into their headquarters. So they pulled back off our, our left flank, was our boys were up at the left flank. And they said, “Ok, that’s it; grab your rifle. We gotta shore up the Marine Corps.”

I:          Uh hm.

K:        So I, I, accused the Marines of runnin’, you know.

I:          [LAUGHS]

K:        [LAUGHS] They don’t, they don’t like, but

I:          Yeah, what did, how did they

K:        they

I:          respond

K:        they don’t like that

I:          [LAUGHS]

K:        very much. They said, “No, well, you know, what happened.” I said, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure that you got overrun.

I:          [LAUGHS]

K:        But, you love

I:          That’s

0:16:00

funny because the Marine Corps guys who come here say it was them who, who saved the war, so

K:        Yeah, yeah, I,

I:          I’d like to have both of you guys [CONTINUED UNRECOGNIZABLE]

K:        that ain’t the way it worked.

I:          [LAUGHS]

K:        So, so anyways, uh, I said, “Well, uh, you left our left flank exposed which means they’re gonna come in there and then take in us.”

I:          Mm.

K:        You know, they was right up all the in Heartbreak, break Ridge and stuff.  But, uh, so eventually we stopped ‘em

I:          Mm.

K:        and the thing, and that was the end of the war right there.

I:          Do you think that was the hardest part for you?

K:        Yeah, well, well, there were, it taught me that

0:16:30

even though I had sort of a plush job compared with some of the other guys sleepin’ in a hole up there, we were least in a tent.

I:          Yeah.

K:        Um, there’s still, you know, you still are basically, uh, an infantry man through.

I:          Well, I mean that must have some, you know, cause some anxiety cause you don’t really know what’s, what’s going to happen, you know. One, one day you’re in the tent, the next day, you’re on the line. You know, you don’t

K:        That’s right.

I:          So how is that kind of adjust, you know keeping yourself sane

K:        Well, well you train because, uh, uh, being a

0:17:00

sergeant, of course, I was, I was in charge. We had to patrol our compound and make sure nobody comin’ in would, would take some of this, uh,

I:          Uh hm.

K:        top secret stuff that we, we were doin’. And, s, we, so we had guards every night, and I was up sometime all night with, with that, making sure the guys didn’t go to sleep or whatever, you know, so. Uh, we, there was still soldierin’

I:          Uh hm.

K:        Right. Even though you had a lot of fun, you still a lot of soldierin’.

I:          Yeah. I guess the happiest moment of the war

K:        Yeah, comin’ back,

0:17:30

I:          I knew you were going to say that.

K:        comin’ back,

I:          [LAUGHS]

K:        and now the, the associate I have with the, with the Korean community

I:          [CLEARS THROAT] Uh hm.

K:        [CLEARS THROAT] which, uh, never expected. And, uh, never thought that they would grow to the, to the extent that they have, not only here locally but all over the United

I:          Yeah.

K:        States.

I:          Could you talk a little bit about your relationship with the Korean community here?

K:        Uh, yes, uh, course being a graduate of Maxwell School, and I was talkin’ to [SOUNDS LIKE YA-MU]

I:          Maxwell.

K:        yeah on this thing. And, uh,

0:18:00

I been to their, their, uh, honoring things. Uh, I usually do all the, the trumpet work at all the cemeteries, and I do a lot of funerals, uh, around, still. And, uh, and now, uh, I, I was 7 years or 8 years with the State of New York, Department of New York as secretary. So I used to set up con, the conventions and all the association with the different Korean factions that would come to our conventions

0:18:30

all over the state of New York. And that was a good experience for me,

I:          Uh hm.

K:        uh, as, uh, settin’ up not only the food but also the accommodations for them and a contact with them. Uh, I had a call from, uh, Washington, D.C., from the consulate of one of our guy’s remains that they found, uh, up there, and he was from Liverpool, New York. And I, uh, helped arrange that with young, young, ru, uh,

0:19:00

to have dinner with their families, and uh, and the proper burial for him. And he’s buried with his mother and father in Li, in north

I:          Syracuse.

K:        Syracuse, right. So, little things like that

I:          Yeah.

K:        brings it all back, you know.

I:          What is, so what does that, you know, mean to you being able to maintain

K:        Well,

I:          that relationship [INAUDIBALE COUNTINUATION]

K:        well I’m glad I lived long enough to be able to do these things

I:          Yeah.

K:        and still try to hang in there so to say.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        To, uh, to continue, you know,

0:19:30

yep. Yeah, ok.

I:          Um, alright so, you talked about coming home. You met your wife after you got back, or sh

K:        We were married before,

I:          So, how was,

K:        before I left.

I:          how was that?

K:        She graduated

I:          You talked about your, your letters that

K:        Yeah, well she graduated from nursing school

I:          Uh hm.

K:        with a, with a degree in RN and later on got her, got her, uh, Bachelor’s degree in nursing too. And

0:20:00

worked as a surgical nurse in Crouse Urban Hospital here.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        And when I got back, she had everything, uh, s, s, setup. We had an apartment; we had car and a TV set.

I:          Uh

K:        And what else do you need?

I:          This is great.

K:        Uh, that’s right. [LAUGHS] That’s right. So, uh,

I:          What was it like being separated from her during the time that you were gone?

K:        Uh, it wasn’t bad because she was busy. Uh, frankly, she wasn’t supposed to get married or would have been kicked out of nursing school, so

I:          Oh.

K:        so it was sort of a QT.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        I don’t think they’re that strict now, but,

0:20:30

uh,

I:          [COUGHS] Definitely that

K:        [LAUGHS]

I:          to be in nursing school.

K:        Yeah, yeah, so, uh,

I:          [CLEARS THROAT]

K:        so this is, uh, this is what happened. We had to keep it quiet. Uh, and all of a sudden, a year’s gone, and, uh, and, uh, and it was all over, you know. Yeah.

I:          And, how, how do you think you coming home affected her. And, how, how was your separation, how did that affect her then how, you know, was your family life affected upon coming back?

0:21:00

K:        Uh,

I:          Yeah.

K:        R-Really,

I:          You said she was really busy, so.

K:        Yeah, she, she was busy and, and even after we were, uh, we moved to New York City, and, and, uh, she worked down on Long Island in a hospital down there. And I was in a training program with an insurance company,

I:          Uh hm.

K:        and then we were both transferred back, I was transferred back here to Syracuse. So, we just came back and rode, and had our family.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        Now we have 3 kids, and we got 5 grandchildren.

I:          That’s good.

0:21:30

K:        Now, and they run everywhere from 22 down to, I think, 12 years old now, so. So, uh, we’re busy keepin’ up with them too. Yeah.

I:          That’s great. And do you have an opportunity to share your experiences with them?

K:        Uh, off and on.

K:        Every

I:          Yeah.

K:        once in a while.

I:          Yeah.

K:        Yeah, yeah, they would ask me about, you know, certain phases of the thing.

I:          Well, I think that’s really important cause, you know, just talking to some other veterans they say a lot people don’t know much about the war, but

0:22:00

as, you know, the generations pass it seems like younger generations are more interested in, in what happened whereas previous generations were kinda sick of talking about it and didn’t really want to know about it.

K:        Yeah. Course we were kids during the second World War,

I:          Uh hm.

K:        and we played war all the time. Uh, you know, when, uh, up at my grandfather’s camp, I had 2, 3, 2 friends of mine, and we used to go play war and play shootin’. And we had 22’s. We learned how to shoot when we were probably 10-

0:22:30

11 years old.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        And we would play war games then.  And that was a game,

I:          Right.

K:        but, but it wasn’t real,

I:          Yeah.

K:        the, the way we found out after we

I:          So do you think it’s important that, you know, these young kids know about

K:        Sure is.

I:          the Korean War history?

K:        Sure,

I:          Or, yeah.

K:        sure is. Yeah, cause it, his-history can repeat itself sometimes, you know.

I:          That’s right.

K:        Yeah.

I:          Well, it’s important that we know about our own history.

K:        I, I know.

I:          So, what do you think, um, I guess what has impacted you the most

0:23:00

by serving in the war? Any

K:        Well, it, it helped me grow up a bit,

I:          Uh hm.

K:        you know, and look at things a little more, a little more ob-objectively, you know.

I:          [COUGHS]

K:        Um, I, I was really, I was young, even, even as a college graduate, I was, I was young and,

I:          Hm.

K:        and had a lot to learn.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        And, uh, so it matured me a little

I:          So,

K:        bit.

I:          what did you learn?

K:        Huh?

I:          What did you learn?

K:        I, I, I did, [LAUGHS]

I:          [LAUGHS]

K:        I learned to, to look after myself and my family.

I:          Yeah.

K:        And, and the,

0:23:30

and the, uh, to teach them the good and bad things of life, you know, it’s still going on.

I:          So, those are, I guess, the, the new perspectives that you have towards life,

K:        Right.

I:          with the discipline and

K:        Right.

I:          responsibility, right?

K:        Right. Right. Yep. Uh, the, the legacy, well, we’re gettin’ old,

I:          [COUGHS]

K:        number 1, and we’re losing a lot of them,

I:          Uh hm.

K:        lot of our, our friends. And, uh, they, wer-we’re friends, uh,

0:24:00

even though we weren’t in the same units, uh, we were in the same place.

I:          Um hm.

K:        And, uh, uh, every once in a while we’ll have a certain story. Well, I didn’t know you were there or, or I was there and so forth. We, and we didn’t even know, and in, in fact a good friend of mine was r, was uh, refilling a, a, gun emplacement. And, uh, and the Chinese, uh, he, he was takin’ the shells out of, a, a truck.

0:24:30

And he went to the gun emplacement and put the shells there. He turned around, and a, and a sh Chinese shell hit the truck, blew it to smithereens. And, uh, with the, with the, uh, ammunition that was left in the truck. Killed everybody in the truck. If it was 2 minutes before that, he would have been killed. And, as it was, all he had was some sh-shrapnel mo-mowed on his leg

I:          Right.

K:        and still goes to the VA hospital

I:          Yeah.

K:        for it and everything, so, uh, and we still are good friends.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        We work together a lot.

0:25:00

He, he does a lot with me, and I do a lot with him. And, uh, course I don’t go to the VA hospital, but he does, so

I:          Um hm.

K:        because I had a, I had my own business and ran my own business and sold it. Right, right, and retired. So I been retired for almost 20 years now.

I:          Yeah.

K:        Right.

I:          So, do you, um, have you ever had a chance to interact with younger soldiers?

K:        Yep, yep, we, uh, we do, uh,

0:25:30

with Camp Drum. I, uh, I do a lot of, of funerals with them,

I:          Uh hm.

K:        that they come down from Camp Drum. And, we, we talk. We have a, uh, place at the Handcock Airport, you know, for them when they’re, uh, gonna be dispersed to Afghanistan or whatever. And, uh, uh, it’s completely equipped with, with, uh, chaise lounges, TV sets, computer, and the whole thing. Cause these kids are at the airport, and they’re, they’re, k-kept there before they’re dispersed

I:          Uh hm.

0:26:00

K:        to go to Afghanistan, or Iraq, or whatever, you know. So, uh, we help finance that and, uh, contributions.

I:          Uh hm.

K:        And, w-we took the old baggage room at Handcock Airport and used, redun it into a, a holding area or reception area rather than have these guys run all over the town or

I:          Yeah.

K:        somethin’ like that, or

I:          So, what does it mean to

K:        To

I:          you that you’re able to

K:        To

I:          help them out and interact with them?

K:        Uh, I think it’s an important thing,

I:          Yeah.

K:        really is. And these, these kids

0:26:30

are my grandkids’ age, you know. And, uh, God forbid, I hope th-they don’t get involved in this thing, but, cause now there’s no draft system, there’s just a

I:          Um, voluntary.

K:        just a, uh, enlistment.

I:          So why is it important? To give them more support or?

K:        This-t-to show them that somebody cares,

I:          Um hm.

K:        that we care about them, we care what they’re doing, and, uh, and, uh, and we support ‘em in any way that we can. Right, right.

I:          Do you think people

0:27:00

didn’t care that much about the Korean War veterans

K:        Yep,

I:          coming home?

K:        I don’t think they did. I don’t think they did at the time.

I:          Why?

K:        Well, I never remember anything like this, no, no send-offs, no nothing. Fact, when, when we, when I got back from Korea, they said, “Well, you’re, you’re not eligible to, to join the VFW because, uh, Korean, wasn’t a Korean, wasn’t declared a

I:          Wasn’t

K:        war.

I:          technically a war, right.

K:        So, I have never joined the VFW because of that. I’m part of the American Legion and the K, uh, Korean War Veterans’ Groups, right.

0:27:30

I:          So, you know, what was that like

K:        Yeah.

I:          listening to these people, and, you know, you, you went through this experience and [INAUDIBLE CONTINUATION]

K:        Well, these were, these were probably World War II guys, you know.

I:          Yeah.

K:        We were in a big one.

I:          Yeah.

K:        Big, they prob, they probably spent all their time in some place coo in cookin’ or something, you know. That’s what I know. But, uh, so I don’t know what else more I can tell ya. [LAUGHS]

I:          Well, I, um, I guess regarding this tech-technical declaration of war, uh,

0:28:00

Norm was tellin’, telling me about in 2003 or 2004 when Bill Clinton, you know, after, y-um, he was out of the presidency, he acknowledged the fact, you know, yes, this was a war. And, I guess, uh, Norm was, you know, he was, I, happy, he was proud because it, you know, the veterans were finally being recognized.

K:        Uh hm.

I:          Um, did, did you remember when Bill Clinton said that, you know?

K:        Yeah,

I:          If you could,

 

0:28:30

K:        yeah,

I:          did, did it same feelings? You have the same emotions?

K:        Yeah, yeah.

I:          Yeah.

K:        Yeah, uh, I think so. Course now it’s mainly politics,

I:          Yeah.

K:        you know. And, and, uh, and we’re gettin’ involved with things right now that we shouldn’t be gettin’ involved in, you know. And, uh, uh, it, it’s, it’s no good because we’re takin’ sides, you know.

I:          W, so, let’s dig this out a little bit, w-what kind of things w, should we not be involved with?

K:        Well, we shouldn’t be gettin’ involved in taking over these countries

0:29:00

or bombing these countries that we’re doing now because we don’t know the situation in the countries. And, it, it’s just a political thing,

I:          Yeah.

K:        you know. And it’s costing us a lot of money, and a lot of time, and a lot of lives unnecessarily.

I:          Hum.

K:        If we’re goin’ to war,

I:          [COUGHS]

K:        go to the war, and get it over with,

I:          Yeah.

K:        you know. But not, not play games like they are now.

I:          Yeah.

K:        Yeah, I don’t think it’s right.  Alright.

I:          So, last question.

K:        Yeah. [LAUGHS]

I:          What [LAUGHS],

0:29:30

what message can you tell me, and us, and future generations of people that, you know, are gonna do research on the Korean War and see your interview. What, what could you tell us, to s, you know, uh, last message about your experience or the war or anything?

K:        Well, I think to be their own person,

I:          Uh hm.

K:        and to get involved as mu, as much as they can without only the political process but, you know, the economic process in their own communities. And if there

0:30:00

are invite, or if this is threatened, or is trouble, then support whoever it, whoever it is. There’s too many, uh, politic, political people, uh, makin’ decisions without proper, uh, discussion with military and with the general public of whether they’re gonna get supported or not. And, and all of a sudden, you’re in, and the money’s spent, you know. And this what we’re paying for now.

I:          Um hm.

K:        Yep,

I:          So,

K:        ok.

I:          kids should keep that in mind.

0:30:30

K:        Yeah!

I:          When they’re the

K:        Keep at it!

I:          decision makers, they should keep that in mind.

K:        Keep at it, and, uh, s-so,

I:          Well,

K:        can tell you no more.

I:          No, I think that’s great.

K:        Ok,

I:          Appreciate

K:        guy.

I:          you taking the time and

K:        Ok.

I:          sittin’ down with us.

K:        Ok, ok, thank you.

I:          Alright, well, Mr. Allen, uh, we would like to present you with this medal on behalf of the Korean government. Oops, I have this backwards. From the Ministry of, uh, Patriots and Veterans Affairs and the Korean Veterans Association.

I:          Ah, isn’t that nice.

0:31:00

I:          From the Republic of Korea, we have this medal.

K:        Isn’t that beautiful.

I:          I’m told it says, “Korean War Veteran Honor,”

K:        Beautiful.

I:          and I’d like to place this around your neck, if you don’t mind.

K:        Yeah.

I:          There you go.

K:        I’ll wear it in 2 weeks when I’m in the, uh, Saratoga area.

I:          Absolutely.

K:        They’re, they’re havin’ a state convention there, and, uh, I, I’ll wear it there.

I:          Alright, well we appreciate

K:        Yeah, thank you.

I:          you participating in this project, and hopefully

K:        Thank you.

0:31:30

I:          we can

K:        Thank you.

I:          do you service.

K:        Will do, thanks. We’ll see ya, huh.

[End of Recorded Material]