Lacy Bethea Jr.
Lacy Bethea Jr. was born in 1929 in Wilmington, North Carolina. He joined the Marines in 1946 as a 17 year-old and was transferred from Camp LeJeune to Camp Pendleton right after the Korean War started. Right before being deployed to Korea, Lacy Bethea Jr. got married. Lacy Bethea Jr. was at home when the North Koreans invaded South Korea, but he didn’t know anything about Korea so he spent time with family trying to understand the possible invasion site. In Korea, he was assigned to Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, and he was involved in the amphibious landing on Incheon on June 26, 1950. While serving his time in Korea, Lacy Bethea was in charge of daily food and ammunition distribution.
Lacy Bethea participated in the Incheon Landing. He was part of "D+2." Lacy Bethea was a member of the 4th or 5th wave of troops that landed on Incheon. When the Marines landed that day, it was their first combat exposure since WWII.
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Food Rations and Ammunition Delivered Daily
Lacy Bethea helped distribute food and ammunition to soldiers who landed at Incheon after the initial landing in 1950. Company trucks came up with their platoon guides and then Lacy Bethea would pass out only enough rations for that day. The suppliers would always be one day ahead, so that each soldier has 2-days worth of food. Ammunition was also rationed out to each regiment of soldiers.
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Preparation for the Incheon Landing
Lacy Bethea's job was to prepare for the Incheon landing by labeling, measuring, and counting vehicles, ammunition, and supplies. He also prepared vehicles to be secured on the Navy ships during transit. Lacy Bethea really trusted and looked up to his commander because he knew that wherever the commander went, he would be safe.
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Final Preparations for the Incheon Landing
Lacy Bethea worked with the embarkation captain by making diagrams for the placement of vehicles on the ship. Luckily, he was able to work with many high ranking officers while preparing the military supplies. Some officers also took Lacy Bethea to San Diego, California for drinks and finalizing preparations for the Incheon Landing.
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Lacy Bethea Jr: Lacy Bethea Jr.
Interviewer: Thank you. When were you born?
L: October 1, 1929.
I: And where were you born?
L: Wilmington, North Carolina.
I: I see. And–lets see. So, can you tell me a little bit about your family? Your parents?
L: Well, my daddy was a farmer. And there–
I was born in Wilmington, North Carolina. I grew up–grew up in Lota South Carolina–South Carolina, a small farming community. And I didn’t work on–I wasn’t living on the farm. I did work on the farm sometime, but not on a steady basis. I was a city slicker, as they called us.
And my mother was born in Cheraw, South Carolina and my daddy met her and they got married and I’m a result of that marriage. And I left that area in 1946, when I joined the Marine Corps. And I haven’t been
back to live there yet. And once you leave home, you can’t go back to the home you left. It’s changed. And then–then joined the Marine Corps in ’46 didn’t know what–this was 1946– and did not know what was going to happen. I was 17 years of age and wanted to be in some of the arms–
some type of armed forces. And I selected the Marine Corps. I haven’t been–I haven’t forgotten that. And then, of course, ’46, ’47,’48, and then ’49, four years I was about 20, I was a buck sergeant. And then, the 25thof June came along and I got married.
5–7 days after that, and had already planned it, but that’s the way it turned out– and I was on the way to–was transferred to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to Camp Pendleton, where we took training and did quite a bit of other things. We had to have some
weekend liberty and overnight liberty and so forth so, take some of the stress out of preparing for combat. And people don’t think there is stress in that, but it is. You are wondering what you’re–what’s going to happen. And you worry–you concerned yourself, or at least I concerned myself with that-I won’t say I worried, be–because that’s what we trained for.
And what you train for is what you can expect. If it ha–if death happens, it happens, there’s nothing you can do about it. So, I wo–wound up in Korea. Made the landing in Incheon and I was–I was supposed to go in on D plus 1. I went on the afternoon of D plus–I’m sorry, D plus 2.
I went in on the afternoon of D plus 1, about two hours after the initial land at–at 17:30. On the afternoon of the 15thof September.
I: D plus 1, D plus 2 that means day?
L: Yes. D1–D1–D-Day is
the day of D-day that’s the day of landing and I was supposed to go in on D–D plus 1 and I went on late afternoon D plus– or D-Day. And our–when the lieutenant called out with me he wondered what I was doing back. And I said, well, I had a chance to take a boat down to the beach and I did.
L : And I’m still here.
I: Yeah. H–before you went to Korea, when you first heard about the Korean War,
did you know about Korea at all?
L: No, when we first heard about it, I was home on weekend liberty and ma–my mother came in my bedroom on ma–Sunday morning and says son, get up, and come tell us what’s happening. And I put on a pair of pants and shoes and went out to the kitchen and mama hand me–handed me a cup of coffee
and just listen. A few minutes later, I heard a newscaster come on saying what had happened in Korea. And then that–that the North Korean People’s Army in–KPA– had attacked South Korea along the 38thparallel with majority of troops being headed toward Seoul and the lesser– a smaller group of–
in KPAs were ha–going down the East coast. And my mom ask, where is Korea? I don’t know I’ve never heard of it. Went out to a pantry and got out a 8 or 10 inch globe of the world and tried to find it. And we couldn’t find it. And we
kept radios open to the news and dre–had breakfast and went on to church and the Pastor didn’t know any more than we did. And I–we went home–I went home and had dinner and went out to see my fiancée and her father had been in World War I. First thing he ask, you think WA,
his son, will go? And I says I don’t know but I don’t think so, because he is the only son and if he is drafted he’d probably go to someplace other than– a non–non-combatant area, like Alaska or some other place, where he’s not in combat, since he’s the only son. And as it turned out, that’s what happened.
And so, we got married and I went back to Camp Pendleton, and–I’m sorry Camp Lejeune and me and three sergeants sar–started some training of our troops, what little we had to train, and we did quite a few things. And I was in–at that time,
I was in Baker Company 1stBattalion, 2ndMarines. And we worked Monday through Friday doing various–[unintelligible] articles of training. And getting ready for whatever might happen. And then, sometime later,
I got off at a long we–I got off on Friday, got a long weekend and went home and got married. Got married by a preacher. Went on a short honeymoon and came back and went on–went back on to the base on Sunday night. And on Monday morning, the duty NCO
walked into the squad bay and said Sergeant Bethea, the command–the skipper wants to see you. I said oh–oh well–well that’s not what– anyway, I went found out that all of the platoon sergeants were waiting to see the–the company commander or the skipper, and he says guess what men? We’re leaving next Sunday morning
at 0900 to go to Camp Pendleton. Ugh. So, that came as quite a surprise. And we knew it was coming, but didn’t know when. I had just gotten back from a short honeymoon so, I called my family I wanna–who lived 175 miles from the base, I called my parents asking them to go out and tell my wife to pack a suitcase
and bring some clothes to last all week, I’m coming–coming down. I borrowed a car I’m going to pick her up and get her a motel–or a hotel for us to stay in. So, that’s what happened. And then, the skipper let me off oh about 4 o’clock Monday afternoon and I drove home,
saw my parents. Went out and picked my wife up, talked to her parents and her brother. And came back, saw my parents again and drove up to Jacksonville, North Carolina and onto the base. Returned the guys car, after I got to the base, but we got to the motel and I got a hotel rather, and it was filling up fast.
And I was lucky to get a room that would last all week. And so, Monday morning after–Monday morning–Tuesday morning I went out and talked to the skipper and he said what happened? And I told him I had to pick my wife up and we’re stayed in a certain hotel and my room number. And he said well, you can get off every afternoon
and be back in by 7:30. And I need your room number so I can call you in case something else happens. So, nothing happened. We had–some of the training we had done–we had had inspections of our personal equipment, our clothing and combat gear.
And we had already received a sufficient amount of clothing and combat equipment to equal what we were required to have so, we didn’t have to do any hurry up work. So, we helped our supply sections as–start packing up boxes.
And loading it aboard trucks and putting it in–in areas so we keep it all separate. And then it was later loaded aboard trucks and put aboard box cars and shipped to Camp Pendleton. Then, when we left on we stayed–we managed to stay all night,
all day and work. And then, I got off about 1600, went in, changed into a service uniform and went in to motel and we went out to dinner. Met some of the people that my wife had met during the day, families. And they were coming down to see their sons off. And then we went to movies, went things out and a couple of families took us out to dinner.
And met some of the other guys that weren’t even in my outfit, but you know, we all were–all wore the same uniform so, it didn’t make any difference. And we got to meet quite a few people and their concern for their sons. So, on Thursday morning, my family and–my two sisters, my parents and two sisters, told me that they were–told me on Wednesday they we coming
up to see me o–see me Thursday morning. So, I told the skipper this and he say well, I’d like to meet your parents. And so, when–I didn’t have to come in early that morning so when they drove up and saw us at the hotel we went out to the base and I saw–and we got the kids–my sisters out of the car and you should’ve heard all the
cat calls and the whistlers and everything else, but they were just young teenagers. So, I went in and told the skipper that–skipper my family’s out here, my two sisters. Well, bring them in. So, I did. And introduced them around and he says sorry, Bethea, but would you excuse us a bit? So, I said yes sir so, I left the room. And I never knew what
the skipper, I think his name was Blair, Capitan Blair said to my parents and two sisters, but all they told me was he had told them what me and three other sergeants were doing with the Marines we had in the company. And that was it. I do not know how much detail
and so forth, but that’s all they said and I respected them for that and didn’t bug them on– ask them for anything that I may have–would liked to have known. And so, my wife was along we took them around the base and showed them this that and the other. Had lunch somewhere on the base and drove them back into the base– into Jacksonville. Which we called
J-ville. Jacksonville is too hard to say. Drove them into J-ville and shook hands and kissed the girls goodbye and that was it. And that was on a Thursday afternoon. They had to get back home in time. And Thur–Friday was fine. And then, Saturday morning,
’cause we’re leaving early Sunday morning. Saturday morning, I took my wife to the bus station and kissed her off and says this is it, I’ll write you when I can. So, that’s how we left. And then we got aboard the train the next day. We spent most of Saturday playing cards, cribbage, or crazy 8, or some of the other card–we didn’t play any poker–
some of the other card games that we were interested in playing. And entertaining ourselves. And then, trying not to answer the obvious question, what do you think is going to happen sergeant? You know, I said you know as much as I do. Well, then we boarded the train Sunday morning and it was a Perlman train, a locomotive–steam locomotive.
And we got aboard the train and we drove it–we had breakfast in the mess hall– and we’re sitting up there and we were at a table on our Perlman car and we were playing casino. And I looked out the window pulling into Florence, South Carolina, which was a main train stop for train for water, rations, food,
oil, and anything else they might need. And there’s my family outside. My father, and mother and two sisters. So, I got off the train. I saw the conductor and he says well, we’re going to be here about two hours because the engine has got to water, oil, and the–and we gotta take food for the Perlman diner and so on. So,
I went back aboard the train told them that–told my guys they could get off but be back at a certain time. And not to go too far don’t leave the train station. Where you can buy, you know, drinks and stuff to eat. And some of them had seen my family on Thursday and they all recognized them and whistled and flirted with my oldest sister, who was a blonde.
And she really didn’t know what to do. So then was the conduct blowed–blowed his–blew his whistle and they–my men knew–there was only 29 of us, because we were under strength. They heard the whistle and they came back and I told my corporal to–to follow them in
and count and make sure we had everybody. And waved goodbye to my family, which they did. We got aboard the train and that was it. And five, six days later, we were in Camp Pendleton. And we got there one afternoon and the bus stopped to a–
a por–portion of the camp that held the name, camp name, [unintelligible] from World War II. Tent camp two. But there was no camps, there was Quonset huts. So, we were firmly tied up in those and we got all squared away and got our bunks made and everything else and finally found where things were. And the next morning,
either that morning or the next morning, the second morning, duty NCO stick his head in the door and I knew what he–I knew he wanted me. And he says Sergeant Bethea, and I says what? And he says skip wants to see you right away and–or ASAP. So, I went down to
company office and I walked in and tried to knock on his door, on the skippers door and he said come in Sergeant Bethea. Do you know that you kept me waiting til–kept me awake until 2400 last night? And I said no sir, I was in my bunk. And he said no, that’s not what I mean. Ser–the first sergeant and I were looking for you.
And I said captain, what for? He says you’re the only man in the battalion that has a particular MOS–job title. And you’re the only one in the battalion that knows anything about the embarkation and ship loading. And I says, oh.
He said, now you are to report to Capitan Coffey, the battalion S4 at see-well anyway, see the first sergeant first and then he’ll take you to see Capitan Coffey. Not the first sergeant, sergeant measure. And I did that
And I–I walked in an sergeant major saw me he says theres Capitan Coffey right over there, I’ll be down there in just a moment. So he took me over to the Capitan Coffey’s office. I said good morning sir cap–sergeant Beth– and he said yes I know who you are. You kept me awake last night so that kept. So, I stayed awake with–
Same thing with my company commander. I kept him awake and he was looking for me and he says you got all sorts of talent in this–in your SRB and– SRB is service record book. And you gon’ be a great–you gon’ be a benefit to me and my section, S4 section and you going to be–after you get the ship loaded,
you are going to be my ammunition man and my battalion armor, which is repairing firearms. He said now you’re supposed to go–you’re supposed–you’re supposed to go up to regimental headquarters and see–he says, think of it, there’s
regimental headquarters right over there, they were sharing an office. And you are to see the sergeant major and he’s gonna take you to see Capitan Smith. I said oh him? I know him. And so, we got that done. And t–went up to see the regimental Sergeant Major and then he took me in to see Capital Smith. He says nice to see you again Sergeant. I understand you kept a lot of people
awake last–night before last. I said yes sir, that’s the story is going around. So then, he said well, we got a job d-yo–a job for you. He says come over here with me. And he took me over to ano–part of the building. Now this building was housing battalion headquarters, and regimental headquarters, first battalion headquarters,
and regimental headquarters and then we had two offices for the regiment commander and his adjutant. And executive [ralserin] for the battalion commander and his [XO]. So, he’s sitting there you’ll be working at these two tables and you will–here’s the
Loading diagrams from the USS–I said I recognize it, the USS Noble APA-218. Cause I been doing that before, back in 90–no back in 47, 48 and part of 49. And I said I recognize it.
And he said these are–this is the forms, this is the amount of equipment and vehicles that each of the companies have in battalion and what regimental agent this has and you’re going to be looting that on paper. I said yes sir. And he says well, right now, you gotta go get squared away.
Capital Coffey is got these–is gonna loan you his men so help you move. Change quarter, which he did. And report back to me at 1300, 1 o’clock that afternoon. I said yes sir. So, I went back, traced my steps all the way back and Corporal…I can’t think of his name–
anyway, Capital Coffey’s clerk borrowed the Capitan’s Jeep and took me over to my Quonset hut and helped me load on my stuff aboard his–the Capitan’s Jeep, took me over to a–where the battalion H and S was living. And I made my bunk and did it–put my gear away and locked everything up.
And I wrote some letters and went to noon chow and showed–showed up with Capitan–Capitan Smith’s office at 1300. And he says okay I’ll take you back over there again. I didn’t realize when you did this that one table stuck into the battalion and the regimental commander’s office
and the other table stuck into the general part of the building. So, I sat down and went through all of the papers and saw what I had to do and knew what I had to do. And I had to take all the loading diagrams to the –to the deck– to the
table top cut little templates for the vehicles and numbered them and labeled them and found out who owned what vehicle and I was doing some other things. This went on the rest of the afternoon. Came back from evening chow and about 6:30 I worked til 9 and
mostly getting all the papers and all the cubic feet all of the dimensions of the vehicles and how much equipment we had, what type it was, what company it belonged to and so forth. And went back to the barracks at night–at 2100 and took a shower, and hit the rack and started all over again the next day. Well, after about the second
or third day, I was working on–I was inserting the vehicle templates into the–in some of the holding spaces where they would be stored aboard the ship. All over the ship except in one or two portions of the ship. And I heard these
boots come walking down and I all of a sudden I heard the boots stop and I said I wonder where they went. Looked around and here was regimental commander colonel how do I want to say this? Colonel, I was going to say, Burwell Puller
But I knew better than to say that it was Colonel Puller. Chesty Puller, the Marine Corps legend. And I said good afternoon sir. And Colonel Puller had the habit of addressing everybody by saying good morning or good afternoon old man, how are ya? And that was it. Your answer better be just fine, sir. Because just as soon as I
Saw this man, I knew who he was, what he was and the comradery that existed between him and the men and I won’t go into anymore of that now, because later on something else happened and I will to. It–just his presence,
you the–grunt seeing this man you knew everything was gonna be okay. You wouldn’t have any problem and you knew you were gonna come out on the other side. After you tore the hedges off the gates of hell, you’d be out on the other side. And that was what he instilled in the men. And what he asked me for after we
got things settled down he said I want to know where all my Jeeps are. Now, these vehicles were these command officers their vehicles would be the first thing needed on the beach. And his had to be–and his company commanders had to be among the first. The regimental commander was loaded
in his top part of his ship but he didn’t necessarily make the initial landing in wave number one. He had to have time for the companies to get together and then after they had things under situation, then he would come ashore and take command. And then,
we got the ship loaded and I still did not have an embarkation officer and als–also one afternoon this lieutenant walked in and he says I’m lieutenant–I don’t remember maybe it’ll come to me–I’m lieutenant. I just finished embarkation school in Love Creek Virginia and I’m the embarkation officer.
What have you done? I said everything is ready to go lieutenant. And I briefed him on–showed him the loading diagrams everything else. And what had been done and how the ship was loaded. And how much was loaded. And then I had to–these diagrams that had to be put on…
Paper put on this I forget what you call it. It wasn’t ditto paper, it was mimeograph paper.
L: It had to be put on mimeograph forms, drawn in, typed up, and printed out and copies distributed to various sundry people who had to see it. And that had already been done.
And then, I call Colonel Puller in and showed him where all the Jeeps were loaded and after saying–good after–after saying good afterneen–or good afternoon old man, how are you? And so forth, it was the same thing every time he saw you. And then,
I told this lieutenant I said lieutenant, tomorrow morning I’m going to take my gear and I’m going down to label station in San Diego with H and S Company. He said no you aren’t either, you’re going to wait until tomorrow afternoon and I got us a ride down to San Diego and they’re probably on the vehicle. And
So, we did that. Got up next morning so we just sat there and played cribbage he and I we did a few other little things and there nothing to do, because it’d all been done. And everything was moving properly and smoothly down to San Diego Naval Station. And then, late that afternoon, after evening chow, this vehicle came up and
there was Capitan 1, 2, 3 lieutenants including my lieutenant and me. And I threw my gear in the trunk of the car and got in the back seat. And these lieutenant was talking and up and talking to his Capitan one of them was the Capitan’s XO and they finally
introduced–introduced me to this Capitan and that was Capitan–oh God he was coming down– [hand on head] Capitan–
I: So many names
L: Capitan Barrow. And and we’re traveling down, I was part of the conversation and he had heard that I had been a–caused a lot of people loss of sleep
and he had heard that. And he told me the same thing all the other officers told me. And on the way down he says, Bethea have you got khaki in your sea bag up top where you can get to it? I said yes sir. He says well, we’re going to stop at this hotel and you’re going to change into khaki and you might have to wear Boondockers in and we’re going to go in
we’re going to have a beer or two and your beers are on me. So we went in, we had a couple of beers and I shared the stories–some stories with them and, you know how servicemen talk. And so we finally went down to San Diego. One lieutenants helped me carry my gear up the gang plank. And I found where, in the [mothing] compartment I found an empty bunk to my satisfaction
and looked at the embarkation or the combat cargo officer and they come out–his assistant aboard ship. And I finally found him and I introduced myself and I got his tour de ship and found out who things were and I met Capitan, his name, but his staff sergeant’s name was staff sergeant
Claude A. Sams and the reason I recognize that, he had a big solitary diamond on his right finger. And I didn’t ask him about it, but anyway. We saw to it that the ship was loaded and the things I did not have to load because they were already preloaded were
ammunition, rations and water and petroleum products. That had all been loaded at previous ports. The only thing we were responsible for loading was the vehicles and the combat equipment. And we got the ship loaded. And one afternoon,
I heard a sound I didn’t want to hear because the tuggers came along side and I heard the skipper of the ship or the [boats major] to watch call off single up all lines on–on dock, or some command like that. He singled up all the morning lines on areas of the ship
There was one, two, three, four and five. And then, I heard the Capitan say cast off all lines and then the ships steam whistle went off. More serene than anything else and that meant that we were setting sail and we were no longer… [holding back tears]
We–we were no longer connected to the United… we were no longer con–[crying and sniffling]
I: What–what makes you choke up like this? Just thinking about that moment?
L: [wipes eyes] We were no longer connected to the–
United–[holding back tears] States of A–. We were no longer connected to the United States of America and we were going into combat. And that–
And every time I hear that type ships whistle–it still bothers me. Well, we set sail along with several other ships and I had friends in several different companies. And we all went down to the
mess deck and had evening meal. And someone was carrying on their own private steel coffee cups and we walked out and sat on–went out to the fan tail and told jokes and smoked cigarettes and some of us had cigars and watched the sun go down. Best we could, because we had the
look around either the port on the starboard side and we knew that we were underway. And then a lot of the emotions that were felt were no longer displayed or weren’t displayed or they were hidden. And the tenor of the
Marines and the sailors aboard ship changed. The worry was more favorable and the joking around, and playing cards, smoking cigarettes and telling lies and on and on and on as there’s mean–men are prone to do and then sometime later,
we had–we weren’t too far from Japan and, at that time, we didn’t know exactly where we were going in Japan. We found out that morning it was Kobe, Japan. And I think it was the XO who came on the ship he says, all you Marines aboard, look back on the
mast of number 3 or 4 hole space look up on top of the mass and you’ll see an albatross. He’s been there [holding back tears]. He’s been there all night. And for…
The–the ancient mariners felt that the albatross landing in attention that’s after your ship was a symbol of good luck. So, we all…[holding back tears]
L: took that in stride and we pulled into Kobe. That moring, Sunday moring and the staff sergeant and I were sitting in his office playing cribbage and after morning chow. And we heard all these people running up
and down the deck sound and I said, Sams is–what is going on? And he said I don’t know, lets go out and see. Well, what was going on was that we were right in to–in the middle of a full blown typhoon. And the USS Noble was attached by two–two steel–steel cables to a baller on the
pier at the bow end and the stern end of the ship and two tugs were trying to push us back in and that took all day. And we finally got, late in the afternoon-that Sunday afternoon we got–we were anchored and the typhoon was blowing over, but we doubled and quadrupled all the lines,
that was–all the ballers and then we slacked off the next couple of days. We had to completely unload the ship of all of the equipment and vehicles and starting putting them in–putting the stuff in warehouses. Then, we had to reload
the ship and fix it up for they come [but load]. How much stuff you gonna need and all this other stuff is going to be left in Kobe. So, the ship was lightly loaded and when we left San Diego it was tightly loaded. And some of the hatch boards on some of the–that you put on top of a hedge had to be [tamp] down by vehicles
because that’s how much stuff we had. And it was stuff. So the Noble, the USS Noble was running a little bit higher when we left a few days later. Then, we found out exactly where we were going and we had a briefing. D minus 1, which is one day before D-Day.
And where we were going to be landing what time of the day we were going to be landed. And what were each– all of our ammunition and each of the rations what we were going to need and that, but icing on the cake because we knew we were going to be in combat that night. And–or sometime. The one regiment,
I think it was the 5thMarines landed at Ulleungdo Island, or a peninsula or it might have been an island with a [caws web] built out to it. Or it was a communications group on a lighthouse. And then the 1stMarines, my outfit was going to be landed next afternoon at 1730, 5:30.
And it was still light and many of us watched a amphibious exercise take place. These small boats going into the water, the LVT’s and other little things. And knowing what was happening and what was going to happen when they got to Ulleungdo, which they did.
With– rather quickly because there were not many soldiers on from North Korean People’s Army only on it. So, we–that place Ulleungdo Island was taken with no casualties. And then that afternoon,
1stMarines regiment, first regiment was going to land at 1730 and we were going to make the landing at Incheon on Red Beach. We didn’t know what–we had some intelligence coming form what we could expect. The tide at that sea wall was 32 feet, the highest it’d been
in many a day and we had–the Navy had composed scaling ladders to reach the top of the sea wall and down into the boats so that the marines could go over. And then, several of them did. And the grenade landed
and this lieutenant threw himself on the grenade and he was killed. And then–that was 1stMarine’s exposure to combat since World War II. And I found out that–I had all my gear ready to go and I found out that there was some small boats going into Red Beach and I got–
I got my gear together and went down the cargo net and got on–got into Red Beach sometime that night. And, of course, I was not in the first, second or third wave I was either in the fourth or fifth and nothing was 1,000 yards or more in on the city–in the city of Incheon
and everything was going according to schedule and I was there. The next morning, when the liet came–the lieutenant came on, my lieutenant and he–he was a little chagrined and I beat him to the beach and I didn’t– it didn’t enter my mind that that was going to be a problem, but he kind of thought it was a problem. I didn’t. So, we got a ride
found a guy going up, recognized the insignia [unintelligible] first battalion. First Marines and he took us up to battalion headquarters. And we got off and we found the S4. And I went–Capitan Coffey told me I was going one way and the lieutenant was going another way, and for me to find battalion
supply, where it had all my [coordinates] equipment and all that ammunition, anything else that I was going to be in charge of. And there I went. And I finally found them and the supply section was–was already on the beach, everything was unloaded, rations, water, oil, gasoline,
ammunition, was all unloaded. But, I saw that all that ammunition for the battalion was loaded in one area and I said we can’t do that. And later on that morning, we got transportation and I made sure that the ammunition was broken down to three parts. Equal–basically
equal amounts in each truck. And that was the way we played–we played the war, until later in the–later in the week. And then, the–I happened to see dispatch a message that was sent out from the command ship.
And command was passed a four–ashore. That meant that General O.P. Smith, the division commander and his staff had command of the division–of the division on the beach. And we were no longer under the landing force task forth–
task force commander. The task force commander was a Navy Admiral and everything was under him. He was– responsible directly to General MacArthur. And when command was passed to shore, that meant that the landing force commander–
task force commander was no longer in charge. The landing force commander was and that, in this case, was General O.P. Smith and that meant that the Marines were on their own. All three regiments and the supporting unit. And its kind of a scary situation when you hear it for the first time, as to what is going to happen.
And– or what is happening. And if something happened badly, command could have passed back to the task force commander, the Admiral, but nothing bad happened and he just had to make sure that
there was enough personnel there and equipment and everything else ashore before he, the Admiral, relinquish command and give it to senior commander, in this case here, on Smith. So, that was it. And we get up and we slept that night. We stood watch and things like so.
And we came [unintelligible] we were in somewhere or something Marines land team across a beer factory. I saw and what in the saw he, you know what beer it was? I fo–I forget, it was Korean beer. .
But anyway, and then we ran across Kimpo Airfield and that was a small air field. And we ran across some other areas and we kept getting supplies. We’d issue supplies in the morning. The regiment people in division ordinates. Battalion would send ordinates gear, ammunition for it.
It would go to regiment. Regiment would issue it out and send it to battalion. And the same thing other parts of supply either rations or water, everything else came in on different trucks. And then, we set up and we moved, unloaded, feed the trucks and then the companies came up with their
platoon guides and we had the morning report. How many–how many men they had we issued rations. The C-rations or A-rations was food for one man for one day. Three meal. So we would issue rations sometime after [revelee] or after dawn and before 10, 11 o’clock
And they were issued a ration out to the troops so that he would have one—he would have a noon meal, the evening meal and breakfast and two meals for the next day. We were one day ahead so that they would run out of rations and water and ammunition. And we knew something about ammunition because–how much ammunition
was required in combat and it took so many rounds of carbine ammunition, rifle ammunition, motors and any other ammunition that we had. It was called a unit of fire and that we–
I: Mr. Bethea, but we might have the other–the next interviewee come any time now.
I: But, so I just wanted to let you know, in case you want to definitely say something before we have to close, or you want to maybe come back, just want to let you know.
L: I think I–I can sum–I think I can do it and so forth, because it–this is what I want to tell about. We kept this same routine up for day after day after day. Then, we came up, we got some special trucks, they were called [ducks]
DUKW’s which meant dual utility cargo waterbarn. So, we loaded up our trucks and we crossed the Han River. And as we crossed the Han River, we were about seven or eight days in–I don’t know how many days in combat we were, but we sat up at an area and here were Korean–
South Korean refugees. And this father, and the mother, and a daughter walked up and they came by the trucks that I was on and had their problems–was in charge of. And this girl, I do not how old she was, but she looked to be about 20 plus
and she had a gap in her left arm from the shoulder joint all the way down to the elbow. There was no blood–there was no veins or arteries broken or cut. No muscles or anything else that was cut. You could see it moving. I do not know how it cut. I yell for a foreman. And I finally got a corporal and he
came up. He did what he could to this girl and he couldn’t stitch it, because it was–it was too open. It was a good–it was a good three inches–three inches open.
L: And she wasn’t–didn’t seem to be in any pain if she was, she didn’t show it. And then, we found somebody that could talk who could speak a little
We got a message over that for her father, mother to take her to a doctor so he could–her injury could be sewn up and so forth. And, you know, that’s been 60 some odd years ago. She’s could be my age–86, 87, 88. I just wonder
really what happened to her and that was the main thing that I wanted to get across. And also whatever our trucks in the battalion I was in had C-rations aboard and somehow and the other, the tailgate flew open and there was two boxes of C-rations
and I looked at her father and I said, [showing how he motioned to the man]. And you know I turned around–I turned around again and it was gone. I don’t know where it went. And all I saw was two empty boxes and two sleeves that went around the box. Because it had to be–I found out later that it had to be
hidden for the–so that the South Korean civilians who were playing–who were acting as militia or police whatever wouldn’t bother them, but I never-=-but anyway. That was–I just wonder what happened to her because she was–I could tell that the father
and the mother and this young lady was doing this [nodding head up and down] after–not only to me. More to the corporal than to me because I couldn’t do any of that all I did was get him there for–and I just wonder–I wondered ever since that day what happened to her and–
I: Wow that’s so–
L: That was–
I: that’s so gracious of you.
I: You could have just passed them.
L: [holding back tears]
I: Are you, do you–Lacy? Okay okay. Can you help them get–
Female voice: Just call when you’re ready.
I: Can you get–get the sign in sheets?
L: Just anyway. She could be dead now, I don’t know. I wonder if she got married. I wonder if she had kids. All that has gone through my mind since. [crying].
Then. And after having been in Korea, and if she had kids they would be in their 30’s and 40’s and she’d be a grandmother and–and–you know, they’d have baby sons. And I just wonder what happened. I do not know her name. I cannot fully
remember what she looked like except she was very attractive and very appreciative to what was done. And I don’t know. I just don’t know what happened.
I: Well, I think even if she passed away the right next day, I feel like since you did that for her she was so
happy, so grateful to have been treated that way by this complete stranger form the other side of the world. I’m feel that way right now. I–I feel like I’m in her shoes. I was like picturing that scene. So, I think–I–I hope you feel just so happy about that too that you got the chance to help her.
L: Well, I just told this when I was in Korea. And then
It hit me hard. I told the people, the Koreans I was talking with I will not apologize for my emotions.
I: There’s no need to apologize for your emotions.
L: Because that’s the way I felt for what I did. [holding back tears]
I was responsible for something like that being done.
I: I just want to say–I just want to say thank you on behalf of maybe her you know, her in spirit. I feel like–I feel it.
L: Well, I know her well–you got to admit I know her parents is dead.
L: She could be. Or she could be a grandmother.
With grandkids by the dozen. And I had an emotional experience almost with every Korean I met, particularly girls.
I: Thank you.
L: And yeah why not? That was most fun I’ll ever have.
L: and then I extended my arm a couple of times
Escorted my–the staff out and a few things like that. And I didn’t mean. I meant to have fun. I meant to amuse. I meant to have emotions. On a Christian level. I didn’t want–
I didn’t have any desire or anything else. It was all innocent sort of relationships. Human relationships.
I: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
I: Thank you so much. Thank you for sharing. The story.
L: I’m feeling better.
I: Oh that’s so good. Thank you.
[End of Recorded Material]