Korean War Legacy Project

Leland Wallis

Bio

Leland Wallis was born in Illinois on February 24, 1930. He graduated high school in 1949, and after high school, he worked in various factories. He was drafted in 1951, and landed in Korea in 1952. He served as a Corporal in the 96th Field Artillery. Leland Wallis and his A Company supported the 25th, 40th, 44th, and a Turkish infantry division while serving in Korea. He spent two of his birthdays in Korea, but finally made it back home in 1953. Leland Wallis has been active with the Korean War Veteran’s Association since 1997, and he enjoys reminiscing with other veterans.

Video Clips

A soldier's life

This clip conveys the conditions that soldiers faced in the Korean War including cold weather, and dangerous situations with enemy snipers. Leland Wallis also describes his endearing interactions with South Koreans who helped out in the camps.

Tags: Cold winters,Food,Living conditions

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPXuKpuVss4&start=1333&end=1940

Learning about Korea

Leland Wallis graduated high school in 1949. When asked about what he knew about Korea, Leland recalls never learning anything in school about Korea or most of Asia. He does recall learning about Japan in relation to World War II.

Tags: Prior knowledge of Korea

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPXuKpuVss4&start=174&end=230

Reflecting on Korea

Leland Wallis discusses his feelings about Korea's progress since the war. Leland discusses how great the country of Korea has become since what he saw in the war. The only big city he saw was Seoul and part of Incheon. Leland Wallis discusses his pride in serving the country in Korea.

Tags: Incheon,Seoul,Pride

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPXuKpuVss4&start=238&end=302

Seeing Busan

Leland Wallis describes seeing Busan after being destroyed. He remembers seeing huts, shacks and the difficult life of the people.

Tags: Busan,Living conditions,Physical destruction

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPXuKpuVss4&start=738&end=800

Video Transcript

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

 

Leland Wallis:  My name is Leland L E L A N D Wallis W A L L I S

 

Interviewer:  What is your birthday?

 

L: February 24, 1930.

 

I: February 24, 1930.  So, you were born right one year after the Great Depression?

 

L: Yes, I was.

 

I: But you didn’t know because you were so young.

 

L: Yes

 

I: Where were you born?

 

L: In Freeport, Illinois,

 

0:00:30

 

Stephenson County.

 

I: Right here.

 

L: Right here.

 

I: And tell me about your family your parents and your siblings when you were growing up.

 

L: Well, my mother and father, they were . . . the maiden name was Elba [de Waal] and she married my father.  He is Alfred Wallis.  He came from England in 1917.   He was just a young, young fella when he came here from England and 

0:01:00

 

he was naturalized in 1945.

 

I: Really?

 

L: Yes.

 

I: So, until then he was a British citizen.

 

L: He was.  Yes.

 

I: Wow.  How about your siblings?

 

L: Ah, my daughters you mean?

 

I: No, your siblings.

 

L: Oh, my brothers and sisters.

 

I: Brothers and sisters.

 

L: Well, I had two half-brothers and one half-sister.  My mother was married previously.   Her first husband had fell off of a roof,

 

0:01:30  

 

killed himself, so she was a widow for a couple of years until she met my father, and they had my sister and I, she previously passed away.  In fact, all my brothers and sisters are all gone.  I’m the only one now of the family.

 

I: You’re the survivor

 

L: I’m the survivor.

 

I: Survivor of the family and the Korean War.

 

L: Yes.

 

I: Wow.  Tell me about the 

 

0:02:00

 

school that you went through.

 

L: I finished high school.  I went to grammar.

 

I: What high school?

 

L: Freeport High School.  Home of the pretzels  

 

I: Tell me about Freeport.  Why is it famous here?

 

L: I guess way back in 1926, Freeport had a very good football team.  They went on to nation champions.  They played some team from Philadelphia and beat them 49 to nothing.

 

0:02:30

 

I: Whoa!

 

L: Yes.

 

I: And what, what’s that to with the [unintelligible].  

 

L: Freeport?

 

I: No, no [unintelligible] you said.  

 

L: Well, I said they won back in there and it a nation championship.  They were both undefeated teams.

 

I: I see.

 

L: 1925 or 1926.

 

I: Um-hmm.  So, when did you graduate?

 

L: 1949.

 

0:03:00

 

I: And let me ask this question.  Did you learn from school anything about Korea?

 

L: Not a word.  We never heard anything about Korea back in then.  It was always the foreign like Germany, and France and that part of the country.

 

I: Any, anything about Asia.  Did you learn?

 

L: No.

 

I: Not even China?

 

L: No.

 

I: Not even Japan?

 

L: Well, a little bit of Japan.  Yes.

 

I: But you didn’t know anything about Korea.

 

0:03:30

 

L: Well we learned a little bit about the wars you know between Japan and United States that’s when in 1941 that’s when war broke out you know and I was just more or less a teenager back then. 

 

I: and have you imagined you could be in a country that you never knew before? 

 

L: No, I had no idea.

 

I: What do you think now 

 

0:04:00

 

that you were in Korea? You fought there for the Korean people.  What do you think about the whole thing?  You didn’t know anything about Korea?  You were there and you came back and Korea is now one of the 11th largest economies in the world.

 

L: That’s what I heard.

 

I: So, what do you think about the whole thing?

 

L: Well, I think it’s a very great establishment now, compared to what it was when I was over there.  I never saw that much of it. 

 

0:04:30

 

The only big city I saw was Seoul and part of Incheon when I came back from Korea.

 

I: Um-hmm.

 

L: So that was about the only two big cities I saw when I was over there.

 

I: So, what do you think about you being part of this whole thing?

 

L: Oh, very proud.  I’m proud to be an American and proud to be serving your country and back in them days and proud that I was one of the guys

 

0:05:00

 

 that helped defend the country. 

 

I: Have you been back to Korea?

 

L: No, I haven’t.

 

I: And do you know what’s going on there.  How the army is?

 

L: I talked to my leader of our Korean Chapter, and he’s been over there twice.  He went over there once his own and the second time him and his son went over there which was probably about two years ago.  He told me he just can’t imagine Seoul right now how big it is 

 

0:05:30

 

They were on, I forget what floor they were on, about the 74th floor over there in a hotel, so he said you just can’t imagine.

 

I: Yeah, that’s what I think what our children and youth need to know from your interview. 

 

L: Okay

 

I: Because these young people don’t have any idea about what happened.

 

L: That’s true.

 

I: And they don’t know about your service, you know.

 

L: Aha!

 

I: So, that’s why we’re doing this.

 

L: Okay.

 

0:06:00

 

I: So, after your graduation what did you do?

 

L: I worked the Borgess Battery.  Well, first of all before I worked at Borgess I was learning to be a meat cutter and that was not my line of work.

 

I: Borgess, could you spell it?  

 

L: It was B O R G E S S and it was a factory that would make nothing but batteries.

 

I: Oh.

 

L: And I worked there from 1949 to 1951 when I got drafted 

 

0:06:30

 

and I didn’t go back right away.  I spent some time working for my uncle which was doing moving furniture and that and finally I got to the point I needed something other activity so I went back to Borgess and I stayed there for a few months and I got the mumps.  I picked them up from my nieces and I said no way was I going to go back to Borgess because I 

 

0:07:00 figured I spent my time in there, so I went to Honeywell, Microswitch Honeywell.  

 

I: Hmmmm

 

L: And I spent 37 years there.  

 

I: Oh, so tell me about Freeport.   What are the things that are famous here?

 

L: Well, in Freeport had the Western Newell which made curtain rods.  Henney Motor Company.   When I was growing up my dad worked there ever since he was about 18 years old and 

 

0:07:30

 

they made hearse and ambulances and my dad always told us that if they put out four or five vehicles a day that was great.  Now look at the economy today, how many vehicles they push on the road test driving and all.

 

I: Um-hm.

 

L: And they had a toy factory which was Structo.  They made nothing but all kinds of amusing toys 

 

0:08:00 

 

for the kids.

 

I: Um-hm.

 

L: And they were in business from 19, early 30s to probably 1950, probably about 1959.

 

I: Um-hm.

 

L: And there was the arcade manufacturing, and they also made a lot of toys.  There was quite a few industries, but now they’re just down to a few factories now in Freeport.

 

0:08:30

 

I: So, Honeywell is famous here and what about debate between President Lincoln and Douglass?

 

L: Oh, that was back in the early days, I don’t recall that. I do hear a lot of that in history that was held down on Douglas and it’s right next to the Union Dairy which is famous for their ice cream.

 

I: Ice cream, yes.

 

L: And they got the debate going.  In almost every year there’s a fella from Freeport dressed up like Abe and there’s another fellow dress up just 

 

0:09:00

 

like Douglass.  They’re doing the debates every, every year.

 

I: When?

 

L: It’s usually sometime in May or June I think it is.  They have it. It’ll be coming up.

 

I: Coming up?

 

L: Yes.

 

I: Okay, um.  So, you were drafted, right?

 

L: Yes, I was.

 

I: Did you know you were going to be drafted?

 

L: Yes.

 

I: So, how did you know about the breakout of the Korean War at the time when you were working in Borgess?

 

L: When I was working at Borgess?

 

0:09:30

 

I: Yeah.

 

L: Well, there was a breakout probably in the early 1950s I, I didn’t get my notice until January of 1951 and I went in for a physical in Chicago, Illinois. And it was later in the year, August 14, 1951, when I got drafted, so then I had to go back into Chicago for another physical.

 

0:10:00

 I was sent to to Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, which now Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.  I took 16 weeks of basic training there and when I got out of there in Fall of 1951, I had a 14-15 day leave and I was sent to Korea in January of 1952.

 

0:10:30

 

I: Okay. Ummm. So you were in the army right?

 

L: Yes

 

I: Yes, what was your MOS at the time?

 

L: My MOS was artillery and I spent the biggest share of my time doing artillery work.  We had 16 weeks of basic training, 8 weeks of infantry and 8 weeks of artillery. Most of it was maintained on artillery, 

 

0:11:00 

 

where I spent most of my time when I got over in Korea.

 

I: Hmmm.  So, where were you shipped from to Korea?  When was it?  Do you remember the date?

 

L: I was shipped from Chicago, and we went to by train to Seattle, Washington and I spent at Ft. Lewis. I spent days there before my notice said that I was on my way to 

 

0:11:30

 

Japan.  We arrived at Tokyo.

 

I: When did you left, when did you leave Seattle? Ft. Lewis?

 

L: Seattle? January of 1952.  I don’t know the exact date but is was January I know.

 

I: Must be cold there.

 

L: Oh, it was cold.  It rained all the time.

 

I: Yeah.

 

L: And I spent all the time there.  

 

0:12:00

 

Well then we landed in Tokyo, Japan and then from Tokyo we took a ship to Korea to Busan and when we got to Busan we just couldn’t believe the town because that’s where was all destroyed.  I think it was. 

 

I: Yeah.  Tell me about it.  The Busan that you saw.  Detail. People, the buildings, the trade, housing, everything.

 

L: They were all knocked out from that bomb 

 

0:12:30

 

that they had back in during the 1945 when they bombed, well no this was in Japan wasn’t it.  When they bombed, but it was just destroyed from the North Koreans coming in there you know and the houses were all nothing but shacks and they were huts and that, so I can remember that and they were all run down and the people were just in rags and that 

 

0:13:00 

 

you know.  They, they just weren’t normal everyday people, you know, so . . .

 

I: What were you thinking when you saw those completely destroyed Busan.

 

L: I just couldn’t believe it.  I would just hurt my heart to see these people like that so, yes. 

 

I: So you came to know that what you have to deal with from now on.

 

L: Yes, yes.

 

I: So, what were you thinking that Korea 

 

0:13:30

 

that you never knew before and you came from one of the strongest nations in the world.

 

L: I thought was going to be a beautiful city and everything you know.  It was just something that we never could believe what it was like you know but then to see what they where the people talk about today how much it has improved, so . . . 

 

I: And from Busan, where did you go?

 

L: We went to . . .  I was shipped to the 

 

0:14:00 

 

199th Field Artillery and I spent four days there.  They are. . . 

 

I: Where?  Where was 199th?

 

L: I don’t know, I don’t know where it was at.  All I know. . . 

 

I: But there was not in Busan.

 

L: No, no, it was up in . . . 

 

I: North?

 

L: North.  It was probably across the 38th Parallel. 

 

I: I see.

 

L: And anyhow there our orders got this.  I don’t know how would you call it, they were to changed

 

0:14:30

 

 and we were supposed to go to the 96 Field Artillery instead of the 196th so then they send us back on a deuce and half all the way across country again and I arrived at Pokrei.  It was the name of the place I was.  We lived in tents.  It was P O K R E I, I think that’s how they pronounced it.  P O K R E I, Pokrei.

 

0:15:00

 

I: It’s in the west or east?

 

L: Yes, I would say it’s somewhere I would say probably. . . I don’t know my directions over there. Yeah.  I know it was a different direction from Busan, what they called I was trying to think of this town that we had to go over to support. 

 

I: Iron Triangle?

 

L: Well, we support the Iron Triangle.  

 

0:15:30

 

Old Baldy. 

 

I: Yeah, Old Baldy?

 

L: Yeah, we supported that, and I can’t remember the other town, the other place was.  I spent all but the 6, I mean all but 5 days at the same place Pokrei.  We might move back they were going to have a big push over there by the Old Baldy. 

 

I: So, it’s close to Old Baldy, right?

 

L: Yeah, we’re close to Old Baldy.

 

0:16:00

 

I: What was your unit, actually?

 

L: My unit?

 

I: What division?

 

L: My division was the 96th Field Artillery and I was in Company A, Section 5, or yes section 5 and I was a corporal.

 

I: And where does 96th Field Artillery belong to?

 

L: Where do they belong to? Ft. Sill, Oklahoma and it was a 

 

0:16:30

 

National Guard outfit.

 

I: Ft. Sill?

 

L: Ft. Sill, Fort and then S I L L, Oklahoma.

 

I: Yeah.

 

L: And it was a National Guard outfit, and we replaced a lot of these National Guard people. 

 

I: So, this artillery does not belong to any division?

 

L: Well, we supported the 40th. We supported the 25th.  We supported the 44th and we supported 

 

0:17:00

 

this Turkey outfit.  We had a Turkey outfit was stationed right next to us and they would go forward, and they were the infantry you know and we supported the infantry.

 

I: And so, what was your specific job in artillery?

 

L: Everything.  I was a cannoneer where they loaded the projectile on a tripod 

 

0:17:30 

 

and shoved it in the howitzer and they try in the chamber and then sometimes I’d be up there to do the scope where they would give the message back  to the up north where they they had the forward observer and he would relay in the message back and they would change the quad, we’d have to put it on the quadrant on the scope and then we let the our chief of section we notify him that 

 

0:18:00

 

we were ready and then he would give the time to fire the gun and he wanted, they’d all wanted the simultaneously the guns to go off all at the same time. 

 

I: So, you did everything?

 

L: I did everything. Whatever we were wanted to you know when we fall out each each section had 5 or 6 guys because we were in a section that was 12 guys.  We had 6 in this bunker

 

0:18:30

 

 and 6 in another bunker

 

I: So, your enemy with Chinese right, not North Koreans?

 

L: No.

 

I: Chinese?

 

L: Chinese.

 

I: Yeah?

 

L: Yeah.

 

I: And tell me about the typical day.  When did you wake up and then what did you do and how intense the battle was?  Tell me about those scenes or battle.

 

L: Well, we’d get up in the morning.  We’d go up for mess hall. We’d come back. 

 

0:19:00

 

I: What did you eat actually?

 

L: Sometimes we had scrambled and potatoes

 

I: Real eggs? Not powdered?

 

L: They were powdered.

 

I: Powdered Eggs?

 

L: Powdered Milk.  Everything was all powdered it seemed like.  We got used to it. Otherwise, you starved.  

 

I: I mean how was it?  Not too bad, right?

 

L: No, it wasn’t too bad

 

I: Yeah

 

L: Sometimes it was bad, and it depended on what they fixed you.  We had pretty good cooks.  

 

0:19:30

 

I: But at least you had a hot meal. 

 

L: We had a hot meal.

 

I: And regularly.

 

L: Yes

 

I: Yeah

 

L: Morning, noon, and night.  We received cigarettes at the same time, I think every other day we’d get a pack of cigarettes and sometimes go back to our bunker, and we’d have what they called incoming mail which was the enemy firing at us.

 

I: Incoming mail? [Laugh]

 

L: That’s what we called it– incoming mail.  

 

0:20:01

 

We were considered a four-point zone because the way they set it up was that if you were in the artillery and you didn’t have no enemy rounds coming at you, you were considered a three-point zone but after you were receiving enemy rounds for 5 consecutive days they you were considered a four-point zone, so we picked up four points quite often.

 

I: Higher Option?

 

L: Yeah.

 

I: How close 

 

0:20:30

between you and the enemy?

 

L: I was about a mile and a half away from the front line.  I volunteered one time to go up to OP that’s the observer is there to give us all this information about where our enemy is located at and we were firing upon that enemy.  I just volunteered to go up there with food for ‘em and we had to climb up these this long mountain till we got there you know.  It was kind of a scary 

 

0:21:00

 

thing because you never knew when any time enemy was going to fire at you– so . . . 

 

I: How was Chinese artillery? Were they good? Were they competitive?

 

L: I don’t know.  They couldn’t hit us because I think our area was down in the hole there so much you know. We had a few rounds come at us, but we was always in our bunker somewhere you know 

 

0:21:30 

 

and then we had some of these lieutenants that just came from West Point. They had us out there shining up our tube and when the sun would hit that tube, it would reflect back to the enemy and they knew right where we were.  [Laughing] Before that it was all camouflaged with a paint you know, but they had us taking to sanding it down so they could actually see that tube up there and firing at them you know.

 

I: So that West Point was stupid.

 

0:22:00

 

L: That was stupid. On our part, yes.  

 

I: To tell them as to where you are.

 

L: Yeah, yeah where we are.

 

I: And how they can kill you guys.

 

L: Oh, yeah.

 

I: Oh my goodness.  Tell me about any dangerous moment where you could have lost your life.

 

L: Well, I was . . .

 

I: Any episode?

 

L: I remember one time when I was just coming back from posting my guards. 

 

0:22:30

 

 I was a corporal, and I was taking my guards out to the sections where they were to be guarding their posts you know and some of this enemy came in with rounds then and it hit one guy and kind of wounded him.  They sent him to the medic, so it was about the serious point we’ve had you know that, that was just us on moving route and the enemy happened to pick us out 

 

0:23:00

 

one-by-one you know.

 

I: So, it’s like enemy forward.

 

L: Yeah.

 

I: Snipers?

 

L: Snipers here.

 

I: Hmm, and you were not wounded.

 

L: No, I was not wounded

 

I: You were lucky

 

L: I was lucky

 

I: Um-hm.  How many episodes like that happened?

 

L: Oh.

 

I: I mean infiltration of enemy snipers.

 

L: I think that was probably about one, one time then and one other time were was just coming back from a movie, we saw a movie down at our service battery and we came back late at night 

 

0:23:30

 

and they spotted some enemy going up the hillside and our snipers went after ‘em

 

I: I see.

 

L: So, they had some. Well, I think the Turks probably went after them because they were something them Turks.

 

I: Yeah.

 

L: Yeah. [Laughing]

 

I: Don’t mess them

 

L: No, don’t mess with them. We heard a lot of stories from them.  They’d set a fire and they’d sneak away from that fire, and they would have their bayonets handy 

 

0:24:00

 

and they’d go up there and nail one of the Koreans you know maybe two or three of ‘em.  Yeah.

 

I: You mean North Korea, now?

 

L: Yeah.

 

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

 

L: The most difficult thing?

 

I: That you hated. 

 

L: Coming back on that roadside.  That roadside was so narrow and nothing but holes down here you know where you could 

 

0:24:30

 

fall off the cliff and when you’re one of them deuce and a half if there’s a truck coming at you and one of them deuces coming at you, where would you go?   You know you’d have to to pull off of one side of the road to let that guy go by because we were afraid that there’d be an accident and over the hill we’d go you know. 

 

I: That narrow.

 

L: They were narrow.

 

I: Ah.

 

L: Yes. 

 

I: And they couldn’t build the road for you guys?

 

L: No, no.  

 

0:25:00

 

Then I guess it didn’t happen to me, but after I came back I wrote to a couple of fellows that was back there still back in and they had to pull out.  They went the forward for about 6 days, and I guess as they were going they had a I can’t what they call them. It was a tractor with lugs on it.

 

I: Um-hm.

 

L: And they would pull this howitzer and I guess

 

0:25:30

 

 it went over the cliff and they lost it.

 

I: Wow!

 

L: So, that was the most major thing I guess that for them guys I have you know.

 

I: What about weather there?

 

L: Weather was terrible.  Cold. 

 

I: How cold?

 

L: Oh. . . 

 

I: You know that teachers and the students will listen to you later because it’s going to be in the internet, so you have tell like you are lecturing 

 

0:26:00

 

the teachers and students so describing the detail.  How cold was it?

 

L: I would say 40 below zero wind chill was probably. I don’t know what the wind chill was but 40 below zero and when I first got over there we weren’t supplied with good clothing and then they finally gave us them Mickey Mouse boots.  They were all lined and. . .

 

I: What is Mickey Mouse boots?  I know but explain.

 

L: It was, 

 

0:26:30

 

boots that were lined with real thick material like a . . . 

 

I: Rubber.

 

L: Right, yes.

 

I: So you put that on top of your boots, right?

 

L: No, it was a liner. 

 

I: Liner.

 

L: It was a liner inside your boots.

 

I: Okay.

 

L: Would keep your feet warmer.

 

I: Um-hm

 

L: Because I guess that’s what happened back then when they had that Chosin. Why that was back in 1950 and 

 

0:27:00

 

I: Late 1950.

 

L: Late 1950.  We had a few of those guys. One of them I think will probably be here later on.  He was one of the survivors of the Chosin.

 

I: Yeah.  My foundation has more than 100 Chosin veterans interviewed.

 

L: Is that right?

 

I: So, you can go to internet and you can check it out.

 

L: Okay.  Cause we saw that movie Chosin.  We showed it three times at our local establishment here in Freeport.

 

0:27:30

 

I: Um-hm.  Weather was difficult thing.  What else?

 

L: Oh, well we had a few days of rain in that and then what little bit of snow we had didn’t amount to much because it just it seemed like it would go away in no time you know, so but the winters was cold.

 

I: You slept in tents, right?

 

L: For, let’s see from 1952 to maybe about

 

0:28:00

 

 I’d say maybe June and July of ‘52 and then from there on we built bunkers because that’s when the enemy started throwing shells at us so. . . 

 

I: Um hm.  How many people slept in the tent?

 

L: Ahh, see.  I would say at least 

 

0:28:30

 

eight of us.  It was probably 16, 16 in a . . .  I’m trying to think of the name of the word.

 

I: Were there any Korean busboy or Korean people with you?

 

L: Yeah.

 

I: Tell me about those.

 

L: Oh, yeah.

 

I: Describe the age and the sex and how they work.

 

L: They were all boys, some probably under eight years old . 

 

0:29:00

 

They come in there and they’d say ‘we wash your clothes. We take them down to the creek and we wash your clothes.’ So, I’d give them a load of my clothes, they were all dirty you know from the weather.  They’d always charge us and we’d pay them with the Korean currency because we’d get currency for Korea you know.

 

I: Really?

 

0:29:30

 

L: Oh, yeah!  We have to change our service money.   We’d get would be Korean money.

 

I: What you got was American script?

 

L: Yeah, American script.

 

I: And you’d have to exchange that.

 

L: And we’d exchange it.

 

I: Hmm.

 

L: And that’s what we paid these Korean boys. 

 

I: You did?

 

L: Yeah, but see they’d do the officers for nothing, but us guys we they sucked us in.

 

I: That’s not fair.

 

L: No.

 

I: What they knew enough. 

 

L: Yeah. They knew us.

 

I: So the officers

 

0:30:00

 

 let them?

 

L: Yeah

 

I: Work for you guys? 

 

L: Right

 

I: And then they charge you? 

 

L: They’d charge us.

 

I: Smart

 

L: Yeah

 

I: How were they?

 

L: Well, they were, they were pretty good.  Yeah.  They’d visit us almost every night.  They come set there.  We’d maybe have beer and have something else to eat you know and they’d come along and eat with us you know.  They like the American food better than the Chinese food I guess they said.  

 

0:30:30 

 

I: Korean food?

 

L: Korean food, yeah.

 

I: Yeah, I mean . . .

 

L: And then we had Papa San there.   I don’t know if he was the father of these kids but could have been I thought but that’s the only ones we ever saw with Papa San.

 

I: What did they do the Papa San?

 

L: Papa San would help do the cleaning up the officers’ quarters. We had a clean our own quarters you know. We had to maintain them, so . . . 

 

I: Did you like them?

 

L: Yeah, they were nice guys.

 

0:31:00

 

I: I mean they were so. . . 

 

L: Then they’d teach us a lot of Korean and we’d teach them English

 

I: Were they able to speak in English?

 

L: Oh, yes.

 

I: Really?

 

L: Oh, yes.  Very fluently. 

 

I: Huh?

 

L: Yeah.

 

I: They had never been educated?

 

L: No, they were never educated.  This one he was I think he was thinking about going to service and he would have been first lieutenant.

 

I: Hmm.

 

L: Because we called him John and and he was he was ready to go to the service so.

 

0:31:30 Yeah.  He was probably the oldest one.  He was probably about 18 but they were ranged from age 8 to 18, so. . . 

 

I: I mean there are so many orphans.

 

L: Oh, yeah.

 

I: They lost their parents. They don’t have anything to eat. They don’t have a house to sleep.  They were really, really miserable.

 

L: Yes.

 

I: Yeah and think about them now.

 

L: Oh.

 

I: Korea

 

L: Yeah.

 

I: Oh my goodness,  

 

00:32:00

 

it’s a sea change.

 

L: It is, yeah.

 

I: So, you saw Korea in 1950, all those busboys and completely destroyed Korea.

 

L: Yeah.

 

I: And the Korea right now.

 

L: Yeah.

 

I: It’s uncomfortable.

 

L: That’s what I heard.

 

I: Yeah.  There is your legacy.

 

L: Yes.

 

I: That is your legacy.

 

L: Yeah.

 

I: Let’s talk about the soft side of your service there.  How much were you paid and your rank.  You were corporal?

 

0:32:30

 

L: I was corporal. I probably got $108 a month. 

 

I: Hmm.

 

L: Which wasn’t very much [laughs], but we couldn’t go anywhere. 

 

I: Exactly, you didn’t have anything to spend much right?

 

L: No, no.

 

I: So

 

L: Once in a while I’d go to the PX to get something you know.

 

I: What did you buy?

 

L: Oh, I’d buy beer. 

 

I: Beer?

 

L: Yeah.

 

I: Okay and what did you do with the rest of the money?

 

L: I’d send it home.  I got a $25 war bond 

 

0:33:00

 

and a $50 war bond. 

 

I: Uh-hm.

 

L: And when I got home in 1953, I cashed all that in and I bought myself a 1953 or 1951 car. 

 

I: Okay.

 

L: I think I paid $1200 cash. 

 

I: $1200?

 

L: [Laugh] Yeah.

 

I: Out of that bond?

 

L: Yeah.

 

I: What was the car brand?

 

L: The what?

 

0:33:30

 

I: The car?

 

L: It was a 1951 Chevrolet.

 

I: Chevrolet?  Brand new? 

 

L: Well, it was two years old.

 

I: Two years old.

 

L: Yeah.

 

I: Wow!

 

L: Cause it was 1953 I bought it, it was two years old when I bought it which would have been ‘51.

 

I: Mmmm

 

L: Then I drove that for a year that ‘51 and then I bought a ‘54 Impala, brand-new.

 

I: Wow!

 

L: And I paid $2300 for that [Laughs]

 

0:34:00

 

I: Did you have any friends at the time when you were in Korea back here in the United States?

 

L: Oh, yes.

 

I: Girlfriends?

 

L: Girlfriends?

 

I: Yeah, you didn’t have any girlfriend?

 

L: No.

 

I: You were not married? 

 

L: No.

 

I: You didn’t have fiancée?

 

L: No.

 

I: So there were no. . .  

 

L: I was just a single kid.   Wasn’t even dry behind my ears yet.  

 

I: Oh, my goodness! So whom did you write letter back?

 

L: To my folks, my sister, yeah.

 

0:34:30

 

I: Do you have the letters still have you?

 

L: I doubt it.

 

I: Hmmm.  What did you write about?

 

L: Oh, just the conditions over there that they just couldn’t . .  . well there’s things that we couldn’t talk about you know.  I never told them about how serious the war was over there.  I just kind made them feel comfortable you know when they read the letter. So, it wasn’t nothing.   Only one thing I did find out after I came back from service my brother-in-law passed away

 

0:35:00 

 

 and I had no recollection of him passing away because the last I saw him was the day he took me down to the troop train to go to Chicago for my physical in 1951. That was the last time I saw him.  

 

I: So, that was your old sister’s. . . 

 

L: My older sister’s husband, yes.  

 

I: Any other story that you want to tell me during your service in Korea?  Anything that you still remember 

 

0:35:30

 

or anything that still bothers you or 

 

L: Well, no I don’t think so. I had some good friends there you know.  I did maintain talking and writing to a few of them when I came back.  Several of ‘em were in and around Chicago and I did meet one fellow after I came back.  A fellow that I worked with 

 

0:36:00

 

had bought a place up in Wisconsin and he was going up through Prairie du Chien and this fellow that I met overseas he was from Prairie du Chien so that morning or that evening when we got up there before we I started loading up his the the truck to bring back all of his merchandise because he bought a place here in Freeport and I was helping him move 

 

0:36:30

 

move all his furniture back here.  While we stopped in this tavern in Prairie du Chien and I consulted this bartender.  I says do you know a Tiny Welch, W E L C-H, Tiny.  He said well I’ll tell you what, he said he’ll be in here in about 5 minutes. I said really? So, we were sitting there drinking our beer and shortly after we finished it,  

 

0:37:00

 

he come walking down there by me and I approached him, and I says how about another round of beer here and he looked at me and he says do I know you? 

 

And I says well, I think so, I says you and I served in the same outfit over in Korea. And he said what outfit were you with? And I told him the 96 Field Artillery.  

 

He said well I was a cook over there.  

 

I said yeah, I know it. 

 

I: [Laughs] 

 

0:37:30

 

L: So, he wanted us to stop back on our way back after we loaded up this vehicle or all of his furniture.  We stopped back there.  We more or less closed that place that night.  We stayed there drinking, drinking and drinking and then that was the last I saw him.   I wrote to him several times after that but just lost our kind of friendship.  Well, he moved from there to La Crosse.

 

I: Tell me about how was it to meet 

 

0:38:00

 

this guy that you were in Korea back here after all this time?

 

L: All those years.  It was amazing!  Yeah, I just couldn’t believe it.  The same guy you know and he didn’t recognize me right away you know until I approached him for that drink when I asked him give us another round. 

 

I: Because to him there are so many soldiers to distribute the food.

 

L: Yeah, well everybody looked alike.  

 

I: But you remember him because he is the cook

 

0:38:30 

 

L: Right, he was a cook.  Yeah.

 

I: Wow! What a lucky encounter, I guess.

 

L: Yeah.

 

I: When did you leave Korea?

 

L: In 1953, April 1953.  I spent two birthdays over there.

 

I: Wow, you stayed there very long. 

 

L: 13 months

 

I: Was it 13 months?

 

L: Well, it was more than that because I, it would have been about 14 months, I guess.

 

0:39:00

 

I: Yeah.  And when you left Korea have you thought about the future of Korea to turn out like this?

 

L: No, had no idea

 

I: What were you thinking when you left Korea?  Was it all thank God that I’m still walking?

 

L: Thank God I’m safe, yeah and home. Yeah.

 

I: and you never imagined that Korea would become like this today.

 

L: No, have no idea, no.

 

0:39:30

 

I: When did you join the Korean War Veterans Association?

 

L: In 1997.

 

I: Until 1997, you didn’t really talk about Korea.

 

L: No.

 

I: Why? [Laugh]

 

L: I don’t know.

 

I: Why didn’t you didn’t talk about the country?

 

L: Well, I’ll tell you what.  I did have an approach back in 1989.  I was sitting in the 

 

0:40:00

 

front row my wife and I . . . at the time because she passed away at 2009.  Her and I was sitting there, and I says you know I think it’d be nice I said if we could get together with a reunion of the 96 Field Artillery and just like that the phone rang.  Here was a guy from Huron H U R O N  South Dakota and he was a Korean War veteran from the same 

 

0:40:30

 

outfit only he was in B Company where I was in A Company and he was getting members to come to a reunion and the first reunion was held in Huron, South Dakota in fact they had two of them.  Every two years they’d have a reunion and I’ve never been able to go to any of them because my wife has been on the sick list, so ever since then they’ve had it

 

0:41:00

 

 Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. They’ve had it at Wyoming. They’ve had it out in Washington D.C., every two years.  Lately, they’ve had these reunions and I think the next one coming up is in October but I think I got something else going in that time zone, so I won’t be able to attend that one.  I said one of these years I said I’m going to have to get together and see if I can remember some of these guys that I served with over there 

 

0:41:30

 

in that outfit because a lot of them are from around Chicago.

 

I: So, what do you think about whole thing?  The country you never knew? You fought there.  You never thought that Korea turn out like this. Prospering economy, strong democracy, strong ally to the United States 

 

L: Yes.

 

I: And we don’t teach out this in our history. 

 

L: No, you don’t.  

 

I: So, tell me about this. How can we fix this?  

 

L: How can we fix it?

 

0:42:00

 

I: How can we ask teachers and students to learn more about Korean War?

 

L: Oh.

 

I: And its legacy?

 

L: Well, I don’t know how to explain that.  Try to influence the young kids not to have wars

 

0:42:30

 

 and all that stuff that we’re a democracy where we all should be united in one, more or less.

 

I: Have you been back to Korea?

 

L: No.

 

I: Do you want to go?

 

L: No.

 

I: No?

 

L: No, I don’t know.

 

I: Korean government has a program. 

 

L: That’s what I heard.

 

I: Yeah.  They pay for everything except half of the airfares, so if you have about $700 you can go there and you can look around for a week.  

 

0:43:00

 

Everything will be paid by the Korean government.  

 

L: Okay.

 

I: Do you want to go?

 

L: Well, I don’t know.  Now, I’d have to give some thought

 

I: So, think about it and let me know right if you have my contact information for me.

 

L: Okay, very good.

 

I: and this I found that there are so many churches here. 

 

L: Oh, is there?  

 

I: Yeah, here in Freeport.

 

L: Oh, yes.  I go to the one right up the street.

 

I: Hmmmm.

 

L: Well, it’s up on Stephenson.  The Bethany.  It’s right across the street from the cemetery 

 

0:43:30

 

if you come down that way.

 

I: Hmmm.  I also wrote a book called Gospel? 

 

L: Okay.

 

I: And that’s a consolidation of four Gospels.

 

L: Okay.

 

I: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and you don’t have to go back and forth to compare it.

 

L: Okay.

 

I: It’s all in one.

 

L: Oh, okay.

 

I: So that’s the information. 

 

L: Okay, very good.

 

I: Ah, what do you think about the legacy of the Korean War and your service. What is it? 

 

L: What is the legacy?

 

0:44:00

 

I: Yep. Your legacy.

 

L: It was an honor to be a part of it.  Part of defending your country and keeping everything safe here in our country, so

 

I: That’s it?

 

L: That’s it.

 

I: Mmm.  Any message to Korean people?

 

L: Keep up the good work.  

 

[End of Recorded Material] 0:44:24