Lloyd Pitman was born in 1930 in Lisle, NY. He enlisted in the Korean War at the age of 18. Before enlisting in the military, he was a handyman helping farmers, plumbers, and mowing lawns. His military service lasted from July 1948 to April 1952. During his service period, he went to Inchon, where he was stationed from September 1950 to May 1951. He served in Army Company D, 31st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Division as Sergeant before his discharge. He was a rifleman and participated in the First Counteroffensive, CCF Intervention, UN Offensive, and Spring Offensive. When he returned to the US, he trained soldiers who were going to Korea. He is active in veterans groups including a prestigious group called the Chosin Few.
Enlisting in the U S Army
Lloyd Pitman had three brothers serve in World War II. One of his brothers was killed in action so his parents did not want him to serve at the age of 17 when he wanted to enlist. Therefore he waited and enlisted in the Korean War at the age of 18.
Landing In Inchon
Lloyd Pitman describes his first night in Korea. He arrived in Inchon on September 19, 1950. He and his fellow soldiers engaged the enemy and took the airfield at Suwon. He describes the enemy counterattack that overran their headquarters killing many.
North Koreans leaving the war
Lloyd Pitman describes how his platoon walked right into a North Korean position after landing at Iwon, North Korea. Many soldiers ran away to avoid being captured. Some North Korean soldiers began waving the white peace flag and over a period of two days, the American soldiers took in 85 North Korean soldiers who wanted out of the war.
Christmas In Korea
Lloyd Pitman describes a Christmas day in Korea. The army gave him two beers and two cigars. He had spent three Christmases away from home and spent some time thinking about his family. The horrors of war returned as he soon found South Korean civilians executed by the North Koreans and Chinese as they retreated.
[Beginning of recorded material]
L: My name is Lloyd Pitman. You spell the name L l o y d
P i t m a n.
I: And how old are you, Lloyd?
I: And when were you born?
L: Well, I, I’m glad that I was asked to do this because I do have quite a good memory of what went on over there at that time until what my memory are
very good to anybody or not, I, I’m glad you asked me to come up here and talk to you about it
L: And I’ve always been happy to meet the Korean people here in the United States so I can tell them that I was there.
I: Okay. When you, uh, when did you enlist or were you drafted into the
L: I enlisted in the Army in July 1948.
I: Okay. Uh, did you enlist as opposed to being drafted?
L: I knew, I knew, I knew sooner or later that I was gonna have to go in the service. So I was 18 years old. I just went in. I figured get in there and get it over with so I could go on with my life.
I: Okay. So you went in at what age?
I: Eighteen. That’s pretty young to join the Army. Did your parents, uh,
I: agree with this?
L: Ah, if they, I tried to go in when I was 17, but my mother, my mother and father wouldn’t sign for me.
See, what happened in my family, I lost a brother over in France in World War II, and so my mother wasn’t too happy about me going in the service. For I was, I was the next to youngest boy in the family. I had three brothers in World War II.
I: And one of them was injured or died there?
L: He got killed over in France.
I: I see. And the other two came home.
L: Yes. One served in New Guinea and, uh, Philippines and Okinawa.
I: What, what was your specialty in the military?
L: I was an infantryman, rifleman.
I: So you were right there in the front.
I: Okay. And, uh, did you rotate your destinations when you were there?
L: What do you mean?
I: Did you like go from place to place, uh? Did you stay in one city or one front line?
Did you go around a lot?
L: I was all over the place. As infantry.
I: So you were all over the place.
L: Okay, let me tell you. Let me tell you about that.
The 19thof September 1950, at 1:00 in the morning, I landed in Inchon, Korea. Okay, the, the city was on fire, and there’d been a lot of shooting there. I spent my first night, we bivouacked to Inchon Ball Park. The next day, we walked all day long, and I don’t know exactly, well, there’s a place there,
there’s an Army Communications Center called Askong City. We went by there. Well, we slept that night on the mountainside. The next day we loaded on trucks because they told us we was going south. They set up a road block at Suwon. Okay, we rode on the trucks. We was ready any minute cause you didn’t know when you was going to get shot at. We got to Suwon Air Base just about dark.
Well, the enemy still had the air base. We ran them off from it, and we had a good firefight with them. Well that night, it’s at Suwon Air Base, we had tanks, trucks and everything. So we dug a foxhole. And they were playing games over in circles. It looked just like one of ours. He got down to the end of the runway, still in the air.
He turned on his landing lights. So the tanks and trucks turned on their landing lights, too. But what it was, it, it’s an enemy plane, and machine gun bullets is flying every way. Well, we shot back at him, but he got away. The next day, we attacked a hill south of Suwon Air Base.
Our company went up the mountain. G Company stayed in the valley, F Company went on a ride over in the wooded area. We went up that mountain; we didn’t see a thing. We dug in. Well, that night it got dark, the North Koreans was trying to figure out where we were. They come up the road singing Banzai. Well, everybody started shooting at them.
Well, next day nothing went on very much. There’s a temple ground down the hill, over the mountain. We went down to the temple ground and had a chance to wash your, wash and shave like that. Well that night we was on the hill again. It got dark, and I heard somebody holler. We had a guy down below us a little bit.
There was a column of tanks, enemy tanks on the road. He started shooting at them. They said don’t shoot at him. He was using tracer bullets. Well, first thing you know goam, goam, goam, those enemy tanks was a shelling our hill. There’s dirt, sod and rocks were flying in every direction. Well, then our tanks opened up down on the road. They sent about four of those tank, enemy tanks on fire. However, some of the tanks didn’t go through the line.
Our division headquarters was set up at Suwon Air Base. Some of those tanks went through that division headquarters, killed the men that was in the tent asleep. He killed one of our big wheels in our division headquarters, and then some, they got into hiding. But the next day some of our bazooka men went and found them and knocked them out.
Well, the next night, we figured we was in for an attack. It didn’t come. So the next day we all moved off. We walked all night. We was going to attack them which we, which we did. Well, that next morning they said the First Cavalry Division is here. Well, there’s some enemy tanks here, and you had to fight with them.
Then our platoon leader, a Lieutenant, he came up and said we’re gonna attack across that bridge, up a railroad track, and that’s what we did. Bullets is a flying everywhere. About then I was wishing I was back home. Well, we moved up on the line. The North Koreans is right out in front of us, and we were shooting back and forth.
Well then later that afternoon, we, we attacked again. I was a, I had a bazooka. It was old. It didn’t work. We went over a hill. There between these buildings sat two North Korean tanks. We had no rocket launcher le, ammunition left except what I had. The ammunition is old, it
was manufactured in 1940. It was just like throwing a baseball at one of those tanks. I shot all 10 rounds into tanks. I managed to hit one of them a couple times, but I set the, one round hit a shack which was hiding behind and he set the shack on fire and drove out on the road. Well they moved down and was gonna get behind us and murder us. But fortunately, some of, some of our tanks come up
the road and they got them. Well then we moved, we moved north. There’s a big hill there. Incidentally, today on that same mountain, there’s a monument because that hill is where the first Americans met the North Koreans in July 1950. We attacked that hill. Some of the guys went up there, went wild. They got just about to the top of the hill.
The North Koreans mowed a bunch of them down. I got up there. I had a friend that kept telling me you better stay down. He says nope, I wanna get a shot at em. He got up his knee to shoot, all of a sudden heard womp, womp, womp, looked on the back of his shirt blood is coming out, and he screamed medic. Well, I reached out to get him to
pull him in the hole, and every time I’d reach out, one time a bullet came right between my arm and my face. I got him in the hole, I yealled for the medic. Well the guy with me says we don’t need a medic. He’s dead. So we had a firefight on that hill. Well, it ended. A North Korean soldier come out to sten, to surrender. That night, we, we dug in.
We was gonna stay on the mountain. Well, we lost a lot of men. Even our battalion commander got a bullet through both knees. So they said we’re gonna pull back. Next day we had an air strike on that hill. Two other companies decided to take it which it did. But the North Koreans, most of them withdrew during the night. When they retook that hill that day, they only shot about five
North Koreans. Well, I was sitting in my tank. We figured we might get attacked from every direction. I was sitting in the tank. Our machine gunner got hit, so I took over the machine gun. There’s an enemy tank over in some bushes, over between some houses. One or tanks hit and set it on fire. It was burning.
But believe it or not, those North Koreans had loaded that big gun on that tank, and the heat from that tank set that round off in that chamber, and they came over hit the, hit the tent, treads right under the tank that I was sitting beside. Well, that ended. The firefight was over. So they took about, our platoon there’s a little village.
We went over to that little village to round up who was there. We got the Communist guy that was in charge of the village. There was a Korean woman screaming. He had the North Korean flag painted all over the door of the shack. They found him in the hole in the shack. They brought him out. That poor old woman,
I think he killed some of her family. She picked up a rock and threw it and hit him in the head. Well we had about 20 prisoners. We was taking them out. Walking down the road, two of these young Korean men says to me soldier, where are you taking us? Well, I said, we’re gonna take you down there, and we’re gonna interrogate you and then let you go. I said how
did you learn English so good? He said I went to an American school in Seoul. Well, we got these people down there and then seen something that they knew that we didn’t. We sat them in the paddy. When we started putting the guards around them, they all started crying because apparently that’s how the North Koreans get a bunch of people in a group like that and then mow them down. We told them there’s no harm gonna come to you. We just
wanna talk to you. We brought them up rations so they got something to eat. We interrogated them, and we let them go. Well, for the next two days, we combed all those hills seeing if there was any North Koreans around. Well, I had a machine gun set up. There’s three or four little villages down there. They was gonna send four or five men down there to see
if, who, who was there. They said if you get shot at, you shoot back. Well anyway, in front of me over on the hillside these two North Korean soldiers jumped out of a foxhole. One of our Korean soldiers we had with it, with us, dropped to his knee and he dropped the both of them. Well, right then and there, the, the fighting around Suwon Osan had
ceased. So we sat around for a few days. One day we was setting there, and, uh, what you call, uh, the Wall at Suwon, Korea. There’s North Korean soldiers come down behind that and started shooting at us. Well, we got them. So two days later, we all loaded in trucks. We went crossways
of Korea clear down to, to Taegu on the trucks. Then we got on a train, and we went to Pusan. Well, up there where the UN, UN cemetery is now, we set up a bivouac. We was there about a week. Then they issued us winter clothes. We set out in Pusan Harbor on a ship for two weeks.
It was about the first of November. The ship weighed anchor. We went north. We went up, way up the coast to a village called Iwon, way up in North Korea. We got off there. We spent the night on the beach. South Korean troops has already went through. There’s, there’s nobody left to shoot at.
So the next day we got on trucks. We rode all day. One of the cities I remember going to was Pujon. That, that, Fortunately, that was the apple orchard country. The Korean sold a whole bunch of apples on the truck to us. Well that night, we was up at a lake. I don’t, uh, I don’t know what the name of the lake was, but we dug in.
Next morning we started moving. We walked all day. Then that night we went up a high mountain. Most of the men was tired. A lot of them fell out. But for the grace of God, we walked right into the North Korean position. Well, when they heard us coming, they took off.
I was so tired, I found a dry wash, had some leaves in it. I laid down there, a couple of blankets over me and went to sleep. The next morning, the Sergeant and I, we started looking around. Not 150 feet were, from where we spent the night, the cooking pots were still on the, over the fire, and the rice is warm. So we had warm rice for breakfast.
Well, we stayed on that hill. We did as we were told. We went out, took many, many prisoners. Well then, uh, we went down a, we moved down to another place. The North Koreans tried to go through us down there. We shot at them. They got away. Well the very next day,
up at the top of the mountain, this North Korean come out waving a white flag. And he had one of these, uh, surrender passes that General MacArthur had dropped all over the place. He had one of those. Said come on in. Well, we gave him coffee and cigarettes. Well when they saw one got through, looked up there a little later on and there was about a dozen.
They came in. There in two days’ time, we took 85 North Koreans that wanted out of the war. Well, we moved back up in some more hills. I went a 10, a 10 manoutpost in any, enemy territory. Believe me, I was scared. There was only 10 of us, and we was three miles from
where the rest of our groups was. Each day if we needed water, down over the hill about a mile was a creek. We’d take 10 canteens down, fill them up. There’s some shacks down there. One day I told one guy you fill the canteens. I’ll hide behind this wallto watch those shacks, but if we see a rifle barrel come out the window I’m shooting.
Well, no fighting, no shooting came. So we went back. I know that, I know the Chinamen knew we was there with the North Koreans because being our squad leader, I told all of these guys stay in your foxhole in the morning. I would take my rifle and go out and look around. Not 150 feet from where we was staying, there was fresh footprints in the snow from going up and down this track.
Well, the only communication we had with the outside world then, they didn’t get a phone up to us because every patrol coming out, tried to come out at night, they got lost. Everyday these, either Navy or Marine or Ar, or Air Force planes, they knew we was there. They’d fly over us, fly it real low and look at us. And then when it went down over the side of the mountain down in the valley, you’d see that
pilot in the plane wave, and we’d wave back. We was out there three, three to five days, food ran out. I told two Koreans, one’s name was Li Chou Chu, and the other’s name is So Jung Nai.
I: Did you, these are South Korean
L: Yes. I said we’re going in find, see what, what has happened. We didn’t know what made their troops. They got drove out. We was all alone.
So, uh, we started in. We got shot at.
I: You started going back into the, go back?
L: Back to the company to see
L: why, they’re supposed to brought us out food and our mail.
I: Supplies. Your supplies are not coming.
L: Well, I went back. We got shot at. We went down over the hill to this village. There’s a North Korean soldier right after us.
All of a sudden I was tired. I laid down. Here one of them comes in, come down the street with a sub machine gun. I laid my rifle beside a, the, a rock there, and I dropped him. Well, he didn’t bother us no more. We went back, we got back to our, our outpost. They had found us and had brought us out food and mail. Well, we hadn’t had no food in three days.
So, two days later, believe me. I was scared every night. I know one night one of the guys in our, he was an American soldier, he built a heaping bonfire. Well, when it comes my turn to go on guard, I see that bonfire. I says do you know what the, they’re out there watching us. I says there’s 10 of us, and I said they didn’t walk right through us. I put the fire out.
Well, the next day a patrol come out and said you guys come in. We went in. I had froze my feet out there. I had an awful time walking. Well, we moved down, we moved up, keep going north. We got to this village. Well, fortunately I got to sleep in a house that night.
The next morning they had a firefight with the North Koreans. It ended. next day we started walking. We walked and we walked and we walked. Didn’t see nothing. That night we slept in a house. Next morning we shoved off again. Raining, cold. We got up there
to, uh, I guess it’s the PutianReservoir. It was snowy. It was deep.
I: What reservoir?
L: See, there’s Putian and then the Chosin where.
L: Well anyway, we got up there, spent the night. Well I said next day we, they,
we were froze up, shot up, half starved to death. They said we’re moving out of here. Where we going? Well, we’re going off the line for a few days. We walked up when, which I found out since, was the highest mountain in North Korea. All day long we walked up that mountain. We got to the top. It was easier going down the other side. Our artillery was set up down there.
I: At the bottom of the hill?
L: Yeah. They told the cooks get up, fix these men something to eat. Well, we had corned beef hash and black coffee. Well, I knew a guy in that artillery outfit. I went to Japan with him in 1948. I said, uh, you see any Chinese? Well, he said, today out there probably killed our artillery fire killed about 200 of them.
If you wanna go out there and look at them, you can. I says no thank you for I didn’t know that maybe some are alive. Then the trucks came and got us late in the night. We went over to this village. Pusan, North Korea. Incidentally, I meant it’s one of the Korean churches here in Syracuse. I met a Korean, if that had been his home when he was a boy, but when the Russians come into North Korea, his family went south.
Well, these booms went on about a week. We kept hearing all these rumors of Chinese. Refugees kept coming in telling us out there in those woods, the Chinese are there. Nobody’d believe them. Well, then the news came back that our men was getting beat.
The Marines in our battalion was getting beat at the Chosin Reservoir. Well, that night an outpost got fired on. We went up there, and next morning I took a patrol out. You couldn’t tell where anybody’d been because it snowed during the night. So we went back to that village of Pusan.
We got back there, had a hot chow. That night, they came through again. The last men went to Hysogenon the Chinese border of, at the Yalu River. They was all back, too. So they said we’re pulling out.
I: From Pusan.
L: From Pusan.
So the next, we left Pusan that night. It must have been 40 below zero. We went down the road. We found some, some buildings we slept in. The next day we got word that the Chinese had pretty well leveled that town where we was at. So we had, we headed south. Where we going? We didn’t know.
We found out there’s more, there’s as many behind us as there was in front of us. So we got down a little ways. It was cold. I had to take an outpost and go on a hill. I did. I darn near froze to death that night. My feet froze again. Well, the next day there
we, well no, the day before we had go, we heard gunfire, all kinds of it. We looked out there in front. It looked just like pine trees, a whole bunch of Chinese soldiers coming in. So fortunately we pulled back again. Well that night was the night I froze my feet. The next day
we got on trucks, the last of us did, and got out of there. Where it went to I don’t know. But one of the men in my platoon says to me, Pitman, you would have froze your face. I can feel up here. Down to here, I had a large blister. I wrapped my towel around my face. Where that blister went to I don’t know. Well, that night we got to the city of Pujon, North Korea.
We spent the night there. Those Korean people, God bless them, they had a warm house they asked us, told us we could come in and stay. If it hadn’t been, I think I’d have froze to death. Well, the next day we got on, we got on a train. We went, we got to Hamhung. In Hamhung, we set up a perimeter around the city.
The Chinese is coming in. So then after they got all the material to bring out of Hamhung, we went back to Hungnam. We set up a perimeter there. The Marines, the Marines came back from the Chosin. They went right to the ships and left, and the 3rdDivision and the 7ththat I was in, we were delaying action.
Well, at that perimeter, my platoon, we got a job. There’s a bridge across the Chonan River about a mile across, and it was loaded with TNT because when the last troops and supplies come across, the bridge was blowed up. The sad thing about being there was refugees that getting into the hundreds. We couldn’t let them cross the bridge cause we didn’t know what they, some looked like they was Chinese soldiers.
They tried to run across the ice. They said shoot, shoot in front of them, hit the ice, and that’ll scare them to go back. Well that day, if it wasn’t, if there wasn’t bridges blown, God knows how many South Koreans came across there. Or North Koreans. We got to the Port. Well, we was on that bridge outpost there for five days. We got back to the Port,
we went out to the ship in the harbor. I was amazed, it’s hundreds of seagulls flying around the ship out there in the harbor. Well, the ship I went on was the General Mitchell. Sitting off besides us was the USS Missouri, the battleship. They called that in off the
high sea to fire support and to give the troops a morale builder. Well, I remember on the beach at night. That thing was huge. You’d hear them big bullets going overhead. Sounded just like a, a boxcar rolling end over end. Swish, swish, swish. Well, the next day we was loaded on the
Mitchell. All these guys have got North Korean guns with them. The soldiers was buying them just left and right for souvenirs. Lordy behold, that was the only time in my life was ever a visionthere. I had a wad rolled North Korean money in my pocket. Well, the ship took off. Next day we got to Pusan.
The Red Cross girls was there with their coffee and donuts. On that ship, a, a, back there a minute. When we got on that ship, they told us stash your gear. A Navy lieutenant come by and said you men follow me. We went down the stairs in the ship. There was a large shower room and a great big heaping stack of clothes. Most of us
hadn’t had a bath since August before, and this is December. They give us all a cake of soap and a towel, 24 men at a time went in and took a shower. Then we came out and went through the pile of clothes and found underwear and socks and clothes that fit us. Well then we had a good, hot meal. The next day is when we, on that ship they had a store. I had
ice cream and candy bars for the first time in three or four months. Well, the next day like Pusan, we got off the ship, and we went to Pusan Railroad Station. Where everybody’s going nobody knew. Every, that morning, next morning
I: Go ahead.
L: Next morning we got to take Taegu, South Korea. Well, all these promoters was on the train selling apples, scarves, whiskey which we was told not to drink. Then we moved out, and we went to a city called [INAUDIBLE] Our, our division had been beat up so bad that we was there
for two, for about a week and a half getting reequipped, new equipment. Replacements came in. Well, there we had our Christmas dinner. And, uh, oh, we had a wonderful Christmas dinner. Christmas afternoon I went up on the mountain. It was my turn to go on guard. The Army gave us all
two cans of beer and two cigars for Christmas. The Colonel came through shaking hands with us. I went up on that hill Christmas Day. The only think I could think about was what is my mother and father and brothers and sisters at home thinking? That was, let’s see, ’48. ’49, ’50. That was my third Christmas away from home. So a few days later
we went down, we got on a train, headed north. We got to a city called Yeongju. We got off the train and dug in, and then it, during the night they said come down off the hill. We went north again right in the middle of the night to another city called Tanyang.
The North Koreans and the Chinese was there. Well, unfortunately as they said next morning we was out around the shack after we drove the enemy off. There in the creek bed laid boys and men, 15 or 20. South Koreans and North Koreans had lined up and shot
before they moved out. When we went on the hill outside of there, and well we got into another firefight with them. Then it, well, we were still going north. We moved again. The next town we got to, the North Koreans had taken off. What we was, what we was mostly fighting our, our company was
just groups of North Koreans, 15 or 20, they would stay behind, give you a firefight and try, and try to take off. Well, we got up on the hill. Next day we went on north, didn’t see nothing. Next day there was an awful firefight between the North Koreans and the
South Koreans, but they didn’t hit us. Well, they told us we gotta take that mountain. We did. Went up it, I don’t think just 12 or 14 of those Koreans up there. They shoot at you, and then they run away. But they, they, they can kill you. So we came down off there, spent another day or two, then we moved up again
to a place called PyeongChang Pass. We was at PyeongChang three or four days. Well all of a sudden one night, I was on the field falling, they said get your stuff together. Well we, we made an attack out there against the North Koreans and, uh, that next day, the next night, get your
gear packed and get out of there. Why? The whole 2ndNorth Korean corridor plus Chinese coming right at us. We was in a valley, and behind us on either side of the road, there’s cliffs about as high as, as that cross over there.
Well, we set there a few minutes. We heard some mumbling. Here comes some North Koreans. They was coming over there with dynamite. They was gonna try to blast that path shut so we couldn’t get out of there. But we caught them first. Well I, me and a friend of mine was down in the village. Three or four houses, nobody there. But
you could hear them. You could look out there and see them coming through the snow. We set the shack on fire so we could see them; they couldn’t see us and man, we really shot at them. Well, we pulled back, got down to another place, and they were out in front, but I don’t know why they didn’t attack. But out, our Air Force and Marine and Navy Air Force worked them over
day in and day out. Well, then we moved out of there, walking of course. We went over to another place. Well, I heard of Chechon. We was north of Chechon, dug in and, uh,
they, they was right out there in front, but they didn’t get within rifle range of us. Our mortars and artillery done their job. Well then we pulled back to Chechon, had a few days’ rest and some hot chow. They had a PX truck there. We, candy bars and like that we bought.
Then we moved again. We had another attack. Well, this time we was heading to the 38thParallel. Well, a village called [INAUDIBLE] We went up there, didn’t see nobody, but we dug in.
Well, I don’t know why the enemy kept withdrawing, but that night down in the valley you could see lights and trucks. They took off. Well, we stayed there. Then they said okay, we’re going off the line. We went off the line and by that time it was May. They come
and announced that rotation has started. Going home. Well, I’ve been away for almost 30 months, two years in Japan and, uh, so far up that, that time it was about seven or eight months in Korea. Well,
they says to me one day, Company Commander says how would you like to go home? I said who wouldn’t? So about four or five days later, we moved up again, and I thought Oh God, we’re gonna get into it again with them.
Here a, here a Sergeant come over, he called me name. He said you ready to go home? Yeah. He says okay, at a certain place this morning you get on a truck. So I got on the truck, I went over to the Rotation Center, we got back down the road to another Rotation Center. We started to, they said that night chow,
Well, the guy bumped, bumped in chow line in front of me. He turned around and says I hope you don’t mind. I looked at him again. He was a boy I went to school with.
I: Oh wow.
L: So we went down through Korea. We went back to Taegu down to Pusan, and then came home.
I: What year was that?
I: In May?
I: And you were on your way home
I: And what happened
when you got home? Was there a lot of, uh, welcoming, big parties? Did you get
L: Well, let me tell you this. When we went out to go overseas to Japan in ’48, they was, they wasn’t 12 people at the dock to see us go. Well, we had a bad opinion. Some of the replacements coming in would say oh, you guys were very popular in the
United States now. Well, when the ship docked in Oakland, California, they was just hundreds of people. A lot of these men had families in California. They was there to meet their, to meet mother and father and what getting off the ship. I never saw so much crying in my life.
Well, we left the ship. We went to Camp Stoneman. There two days. I come home on the train across the United States. I wanted to see this wonderful country I went to war for. I had an aunt. She always wrote to me. In Illinois,
I stopped here for five days. Then I got on the Syracuse, New York here.
I: When did you, what’d you do in Illinois?
L: I stayed there with my aunt.
I: Um hm.
L: Visited cousins, like that, cousins and stuff I never knew I had. Well then I come on home. I got to Syracuse here. The American Legion marathon where I lived,
my Dad, my Dad didn’t drive a car, They had brought my Mom and Dad up here to Syracuse to meet me. I got on home. I had a brother nine years old, a sister that was about seven. The rest of the kids in my family was there to see me. Well, a kid, a kid from downtown
came up here on his bicycle. He said hey, how many of them SOBs did you shoot over there? I said I’ll leave it this way. I’ll say, I said, I shot at a lot of them but didn’t tell him otherwise. I went on to stay. Our President give us another year in the Army. I went on to stay the fourth year,
Then I decided it, it’s time to try something new, so I got out and I went to work for Smith, [INAUDIBLE] company. I worked there for 42 years and retired. I do belong to the Korean War Veterans unit in Syracuse. I belong to the American Legion in Marathon. I belong to the VFW in Marathon. Last week I went to Charleston, West Virginia. We have an
association called the Chosin Few of guys that was up there in North Korea. We had a reunion.
L: Chosin Few. And I had a wonderful time at that reunion.
I : How many men were there?
L: There’s forty. Forty men plus families.
I: All over, from all over United States?
L: All over United States.
I: And they had a reception for you or just meeting and greeting and?
L: Well, we met there, and they had a, a pavilion set up for us. We went up the pavilion, course I can’t drink beer. But we had, uh, sandwiches, all kinds of food, soft drink. We all sat in that pavilion and visited all day. That night, you had a band come in and play songs. The next, the next day
I spent the whole day in the pavilion. I was there two, two day, two nights and three days. So the next day my wife had to get home. She can drive and I can’t. So she drove me home. Next year the reunion is in Branson, Missouri and we’ll go to that.
I: What was your opinion of, uh, the South Korean Army soldiers?
L: Well, at first they hadn’t been, they hadn’t been
properly trained and, uh, like that. But the ones that survived the first year was good soldiers. However, the sad thing was, was these South Koreans we had in our unit. They was just, they just got picked off the streets of Pusan, sent to Japan, gave a rifle, two changes of clothes, and there’s
a buddy system. We was supposed to show them what to do. Those men were no means were soldiers. But they stayed with us.
I: It was nothing like your basic training. You sounded like you had an immense amount of basic training and, uh, knew what you were doing when you were
L: Yeah, because, see I was the occupation of Japan two years before the Korean War started.
I: You were a very experienced soldier.
L: I was very experienced, but these Koreans wasn’t. But, uh, by the next spring
the ones that was still with us, they were a darn good soldiers. Most, most of them could speak English. Course, first things they should learn was how to cuss and swear, but
I: What, what other foreign troops did you meet? Did you meet any Turkish or English or Canadians?
L: I met, uh, Belgium and France.
I: What’d you think of those soldiers as our allies?
I: They helped you out?
L: One night
we was at Jecheon, North, Jecheon, South Korea. On the road, the Air Force had killed a, a bunch of North Korean soldiers. Well, in, incidentally, they had option of ordering supplies. When those French soldiers came back and saw that, they started hacking up them cows
so we had something to eat. Well in Washington in 1995 when we dedicated the Memorial, I met a bunch of those French and Belgium soldiers. I shook hands with some of the French ones. I said was any of you guys the guys that hacked up those dead cows on the road to Jecheon? they laughed. We did meet in Washington ’95,
I met soldiers, a lot of soldiers there from Korea. There was a lot of soldiers there from Belgium, France, Thailand, Philippines, New Zealand, Australia. I didn’t get to see, eh, that one Turk asking me if he brought that knife along. He, he hacked ears off with.
I: What do you think of the Korean War Memorial in Washington?
L: I, I think it’s wonderful. that, that
I: What was your first impression when you saw it?
L: That told it just like it was, rain, and everybody wearing ponchos, on all night patrol. That’s just the way it was in Korea.
I: Walking and walking and walking and patrolling
L: Walking and patrolling in the rain most of the time.
I: Do you have any animosity against the North Koreans for what occurred or the Chinese?
L: Okay, I have animosity against the North Koreans. There’s a friend of mine. He got took prisoner July 14, 1950. That was my birthday. He’s the 24thDivision. His unit got overrun. They put them
on what you call a death march. He said there was North Korean soldiers. One of them happened to walk by and he didn’t like your looks, he’d either bayonet you or shoot you. And when I was down to, to, uh, Charleston, that reunion, I found out from a man there that okay, there’ve been a mun, a bunch of American nuns in a, a Catholic school in Seoul.
They tried to claim, uh, what they call it, diplomatic immunity. But the North Koreans took them, they marched them north, too.
I: The nuns.
L: That’s where the guy told me down in West Virginia. But the North Koreans, the North Korean soldiers at that time, they were a bad bunch.
I: They would just kill people just for the heck of it.
I: As, as prisoners of war.
L: Yeah. Well, there, the Fall of 1950, the First Cavalry Division which is on the opposite of Korea where we was. They came up on the place, and I don’t know how many American GIs have been murdered there.
There’s two or three that are still alive that got out and come home. But the North Koreans, they just murdered them. And then this guy told me that you was walking, if you fell out, couldn’t walk no more, they’d shoot you on the spot or bayonet you. And then he said that, uh, they, uh,
they, he said if they didn’t like your looks, they, they could only, get away with it and they’d shoot you.
I: Do you have any, uh, nightmares or dreams?
L: At times, yes.
I: Do they reoccur a lot or just
L: Every once in a while.
I: Every once in a while you reminisce what you experienced.
I: Um, what would you say to some
young kids today into the camera about your experience in the, if there was another war started today, what would you tell them?
L: Well, here’s the thing. I would tell them that, uh, okay, we got in a war. We have a wonderful country. Let’s do what we can to save our country.
And also the other thing is that I’ve told friends and my family there’s that ragtag Army of ill-equipped American GIs that went to Korea in 1950, we kicked the blocks from, from under the Iron Curtain. So that’s, that’s my opinion.
I: Have you been back to Korea?
L: No. But my wife wants to go back this year.
I: Oh, that’s nice. What, what are you gonna do?
L: Well, I hope to go back with a group and, of course, Seoul and all the cities have all changed. Wonju, Korea when I went through there is a, it was a shanty town all shot up. Today, that’s a modern high rise city
with better, better than a million people.
I: So this year you’re gonna go.
L: I hope so, yes.
I: How you gonna get there? You gonna, uh, go with a group of Korean veterans?
L: Yes, if we go.
I: You and your wife.
L: Me and my wife. She wants to go.
I: And anybody else, any other veterans going with you?
L: Well, I don’t, not from around here. I don’t know of any of them. Several of the men from our Korean War Veterans Association in Syracuse went back.
I: What, what can you say? You know, we hear about the, the Civil War
heroes, the World War II heroes, the World War I heroes, the War of 1812. What, what can you say about the legacy of the Korean War veteran? What can you say about what they did or, or, uh, what, what legacy would you like to leave for the Korean War veteran? What would you say about those people, those soldiers?
L: Those ot, those other wars?
I: No, just the soldiers in the Korean War. What would you say about those soldiers?
L: Well, I te, I tell you this. I, I’d say we, we went to Korea with old worn out equipment. We done the best we could. So I, I would say that we done with what we had, and we, and we, and we done our job. But there’s another statement got made. It was in the paper here a long
time ago. When I first came home, went to work in a factory, a lot of World War II and World War I veterans. They’d say you weren’t in a war. You was in a police action. But here’s the thing that I, one comment I made I’ll make again. As far as I’m concerned, a man that got killed in Korea was just as dead as one that got killed in World War I or World War II, and he
died for the same reason of fighting for his country. For, if, If the Russians hadn’t been stopped in Koreayou bet your boots you would have had Japan now as well as probably before, Taiwan and the Philippine Islands. It was [INAUDIBLE] in Korea, we let the Soviet Union know that hands off the Far East.
I: We’ve, uh, heard the comment the Forgotten War.
L: Yeah. It is.
I: Versus the police action. This is your, uh, idea, like, uh,
L: Well, here’s the thing. It never came to life until here a few years back. Each and every year down here in the Syracuse, Syracuse at the War Memorial I’ve had many students come to talk to me from Syracuse U.
They said there’s nothing in our history books about the Korean War, and we feel that talking to a veteran we could get a better term page by talking to a veteran. It’s still a subject very few people know nothing about.
I: So you want to keep this legacy alive.
L: I would say so, yes.
I: And I see you have a bunch of medals, uh.
I: What are all those medals, Mr. Pitman?
L: Well, the first one down here is four battle stars. That’s four battles I was in in Korea. The next one is a ribbon issued by Belgium. The Belgium Regi, Regiment in Korea. The next one is a Belgium War ribbon. Over here Army, uh, Occupation Japan.
National Defense, United Nations ribbon, Army service, New York State Auspicious Service Cross, Army Reserve medal. The next one is 50thanniversary of the Korean War. The next one is Disabled Korean War veteran. The next a good conduct medal. This ribbon was gave to us for the government of South Korea last year,
Navy’s, me and, we was up there serving close to the Marines, the Navy citation and the Navy, uh, Commendation ribbon, the Con Veterans Review badge.
I: Quite a few. That’s quite a few medals. You had a lot of experience.
L: A lot of men got more than I have.
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