Korean War Legacy Project

Laurence E. Johns

Bio

Laurence “Bud” Johns was born in Maryland in 1932 and joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1952. After boot camp in Cape May, he was assigned to Norfolk, Virginia. There, he onducted boarding party work, inspecting incoming foreign vessels for whiskey. He mentions the SPARs, the women who were part of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Video Clips

Army Physical

Laurence "Bud" Johns describes receiving a letter to get a physical. He recalls how embarrassed he was to be naked with three hundred other men at his Army physical. He shares how he decided he was not going to the Army.

Tags: Basic training

Share this Clip +


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM4_OZAyXbQ&start=100&end=156

SPARs

Laurence "Bud" Johns discusses joining the U.S. Coast Guard. He discusses how small the U.S. Coast Guard was at the time. He mentions the women who served in the Coast Guard, the SPARs. He shares that though he did not see many, they existed.

Tags: Basic training,Women

Share this Clip +


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zM4_OZAyXbQ&start=344&end=389

Video Transcript

0:00

well most people know me as bud but my

0:03

right name is Laurence L-a-u-r-e-n-c-e

0:06

middle initial e and the last name is

0:09

Johns J-o-h-n-s i was born in Morganville

0:14

Maryland which is here close to

0:16

Hagerstown in Washington County and I

0:20

went to school in Leitersburg and then

0:23

to hagerstown schools for middle and

0:27

junior high and finally high

0:29

school at hagerstown high school

0:30

graduated in nineteen fifty just when

0:35

the war started (what is your birthday) 7-

0:40

11-32 (very good so you just graduated

0:48

from the high school and the Korean war broke out)

0:50

that’s right (how did you know and what

0:54

did you think about it at the time) well

0:56

I guess we were all starting to get

0:59

aware of it in high school we kept

1:02

hearing about it hearing about it but I

1:04

I was a farm boy so I you know

1:07

wasn’t exposed to much to all the city

1:09

stuff but anyway when time to graduate

1:12

it wasn’t long until I had to register

1:16

for the draft I was 18 and when I

1:19

registered for the draft then I realized

1:21

that this thing was going to be real to

1:24

me I was going to have to make some kind

1:26

of move somewhere (it’s going to be real

1:29

and really real) yes so I played the odds

1:34

for a while and said maybe they won’t

1:37

get to me well anyway then I got my

1:40

notice to go get my physical for the

1:42

draft I got wet and took my physical in

1:45

Baltimore took me down in a bus it was

1:48

probably one of the most humiliating

1:49

things I’ve ever been through in my life

1:51

why I never been undressed in front of

1:55

anybody except my mother and there was

1:57

three hundred guys all parading around

1:58

naked in this building in Baltimore

2:00

anyway I got through the physical and

2:05

and I decided to come home I was already

2:08

married I come home and I told my wife I

2:11

said (you married

2:12

in the age of) i got married when i was

2:15

20 20 my wife was 18 and I come home and

2:22

I told her I said I’m not going in the

2:23

army she said why I said I’m just

2:26

telling you what I saw today was enough

2:29

I don’t want no parts of the army i’m

2:31

going somewhere else she said where you

2:32

going i said I don’t know but I ain’t

2:34

goin’ in the army so anyway as luck

2:38

would have it that next week in the

2:40

newspaper (what year are we

2:42

talking about) that would have been

2:44

nineteen fifty early 52 (I mean what did

2:53

you think about the break out of the

2:55

Korean War what did you think about it did

2:58

you know korea before) no didn’t know

3:00

who it was or where it was I just do it

3:03

our country we had just finished

3:05

I just went through World War two and

3:07

grew up in high school with all the

3:10

world war two stuff and it was finally

3:11

over and here we are talking about going

3:14

to war again this time it was going to

3:16

involve me and that was different before it

3:19

was always some of my relatives or

3:22

somebody else you know it didn’t bother

3:23

me but now it’s going to involve me so

3:26

anyway after I come home with my

3:29

physical I said I’m not going in the

3:30

army she said what are you going to do I don’t know but anyways as

3:32

luck would have it that week in the

3:34

local newspaper was an ad that the United

3:37

States Coast Guard would have a

3:38

recruiting officer in our local post

3:40

office the next week so I don’t know

3:44

what they do i don’t know

3:46

anything about them but I know one thing

3:47

they don’t fiddle in the dirt and I’m tired of

3:51

fooling in the dirt I’ve been farming

3:52

all my life I’m I’m going down talk to

3:55

him so i went down i talked to the guy

3:57

and course like all recruiting officers

4:00

everything’s possible with them you know

4:03

everything it’s a it’s a beautiful thing

4:05

no problem we fix everything yeah well

4:08

anyway I decided I’d join I come home

4:13

told my wife I said I think I’m gonna

4:15

enlist so I enlisted in the Coast Guard

4:17

well I went back and the guy says (that was 50)

4:20

52 (52 you join)

4:24

well but he wouldn’t take me that’s a long

4:27

another story he wouldn’t take me says

4:30

you’re overweight now i just finished

4:33

four years of high school football and

4:35

been a farm boy all my life now i was

4:37

about as good of physical shape as you

4:39

could find and i said well what do you

4:42

mean about he says you’re you’re

4:43

overweight you got to lose some weight

4:44

he says here’s what you do you go home

4:47

and you drink a glass of warm lemon

4:51

juice every morning when you get up and he

4:53

says you do that for 30 days and you

4:55

come back and we’ll check you again (can

4:59

you reveal how much you weighed at the time) oh yeah

5:02

186 (that wasn’t that bad) oh no I was

5:05

i was in excellent shape (but why do

5:08

they refuse to take you) the Coast Guard

5:11

is really particular they have

5:13

pretty strict standards I don’t know I

5:16

don’t know who set them but they’re

5:17

really they’re very particular

5:19

I mean you just can’t just walk in

5:21

there (wow) yes wow it was right so anyway

5:26

I went back after my 30 days the guy

5:30

says guess what I said what he says you

5:33

lost nine pounds I’ll take you he says

5:38

you really want to go I said I don’t

5:39

want to go in the army he said well then

5:41

come on sign the papers here so

5:43

anyway then they shipped me off and

5:46

the Coast Guard is a real small outfit here

5:48

I don’t know if you know about it or not

5:49

but when i joined the whole whole

5:52

service only had about 25,000 men in it and

5:54

a few women they were called nobody

5:57

hardly anybody knows what the women

5:59

were called they’re called SPARS s-p-a-r-s

6:03

that’s the women Coast Guard (what does

6:07

It stand for SPARS) I don’t know but spar

6:12

is a piece of a sailing vessel the

6:17

wood part of the mast goes off to the

6:20

side that’s called a spar and that’s

6:24

what i don’t know if that’s how they

6:25

got their name or not but anyway we

6:28

didn’t see very many of them there weren’t

6:29

very many so anyway I joined

6:33

the Coast Guard and they sent me to boot

6:35

camp

6:36

on my own no bus no

6:38

nothing give me a bus ticket (where) Cape

6:42

May New Jersey Cold Spring Harbor Cape

6:46

May New Jersey’s where I went to boot

6:48

camp (this was it still 1952 or 53) this was

6:51

December 1952 and it was cold in

6:56

Cold Spring Harbor I’ll tell you anyway

7:00

(what do they taught teach you) I went

7:04

through boot camp now boot camp was

7:07

divided into two things physical

7:10

getting you ready physically and

7:12

mentally and for the military etiquette

7:17

and all that stuff know about military

7:18

teach you to march and all that kind

7:20

of stuff so i went through boot camp and I

7:24

passed my physical my the first day

7:27

there they have to take a physical that

7:29

decides what you have to do the rest of

7:32

the days you’re in boot camp you have to

7:34

go extra exercise in the afternoon if

7:37

you don’t pass well I passed my physical

7:40

first time through and he said you did

7:43

good he said I’m gonna give you a job I

7:45

said what kind of job he says I’m gonna

7:47

make you the company mailman so all the

7:50

way through boot camp while I guess the

7:52

guys was out there marching and jumping

7:54

up and down doing all jumping jacks and

7:56

all that I’m in sorting the mail getting

7:58

the mail ready to give them in

8:00

the evening when

8:01

they come in after they’ve been

8:02

exercising (how lucky you were) yes I would lucky so then

8:07

I went of course I got through boot camp

8:08

graduated from boot camp and they sent me to

8:11

norfolk virginia and there I was on

8:16

temporary duty i didn’t know it at the

8:17

time but i was on temporary duty in a

8:20

boarding party now at that time well

8:23

still they still do it any foreign

8:26

vessel that comes into the United States

8:28

waters has to be boarded by the United

8:33

States Coast Guard and inspected at that

8:36

time they were inspecting them for whiskey

8:38

not drugs this is in the 50s now that

8:42

was before drugs became a problem so

8:44

they take us out in a small boat with

8:47

one officer and five guys five en-

8:49

listed men

8:50

the officer is the only one that had a sidearm

8:52

and we had a couple walkie-talkies

8:55

load us up have to climb up the side of

8:57

a ship and get aboard a ship and then

9:00

Inspect the ship they gave you a mirror a

9:02

whistle a flashlight and a piece of

9:05

chalk and a screwdriver and you went

9:10

they start you in the birthing

9:11

compartments of the ship where the crew

9:13

slept because that’s where they hide

9:15

everything and you’d have to pry the

9:18

sides of the walls the partitions off we

9:20

call bulkheads on board the ship pry the

9:24

sides off and when it get in there with

9:27

a flashlight and where you couldn’t see

9:28

hold a mirror up and then take the

9:30

flashlight and reflect light down so

9:33

you can see what was behind there and

9:35

lo and behold we’d often find bottles of

9:38

whiskey in there so anyway that was my

9:42

first assignment as a boarding party

9:45

then I got sent to radar school in

9:49

groton connecticut now the Coast Guard

9:51

has their own schools petty officers are

9:54

called petty officer training schools

9:55

and usually they’re one of their schools

9:59

is the one you’re going to but it will

10:01

cover probably three other categories I

10:04

went to radar school but I was also

10:06

taught radio and sonar there got through

10:11

that grad