Korean War Legacy Project

Kenneth Oberstaller


Kenneth Oberstaller was stationed on the USS Valley Forge CV-45 during the outbreak of the Korean War.  The USS Valley Forge was taking a goodwill cruise around the world after World War II but the carrier’s mission immediately changed at the start of the war; they began preparations to assist South Korea’s government.  The USS Valley Forge was one of the first ships to arrive and assist in the conflict.  He describes being one of the first to arrive at Korea as well as his duties and responsibilities.  He reflects upon the war and why it is considered the forgotten war.

Video Clips

One of the First Ships to Arrive

Kenneth Oberstaller recounts his early experiences on board the USS Valley Forge which was embarking upon a goodwill cruise around the world after World War II. He recalls the Korean conflict emerged at the time when his was the only carrier in the Pacific and was one of the first to arrive and assist South Korea. He goes on to explain that his duties as a Plane Captain were to ensure the planes were in good condition to fly, otherwise they remained grounded until repaired.

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MacArthur at Inchon Landing

Kenneth Oberstaller describes MacArthur's strategy for aircraft at Inchon. Since it was the only carrier in the Pacific at the time, the USS Valley Forge had to sail around both sides of Korea to launch aircraft. He explains how launching aircraft from both sides of the peninsula was an attempt to confuse and intimidate the North Koreans, leading them to believe there were two task force at sea.

Tags: 1950 Inchon Landing, 9/15-9/19,Incheon,North Koreans

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Winters on Deck

Kenneth Oberstaller describes a typical day and his duties on the flight deck while stationed near the Korean Peninsula. He often had to sleep on deck, on the catwalk, in his aircraft and even standing up. He elaborates on enduring these conditions while not being at all prepared for the extreme winter cold. He goes on to describe the close relationship between crewmen and pilots.

Tags: Cold winters,Living conditions

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Floating Bodies

Kenneth Oberstaller recalls sailing in the Yellow Sea near the mouth of the Imjin River. He describes feeling very upset upon seeing dead bodies, hands bound, float down the river and out to sea. He goes on to describe going through minefields and being grateful none were ever touched.

Tags: Imjingang (River),Yellow Sea

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