Growing up during the Great Depression was no easy task in what Marvin Denton refers to as a Jewish “Ghetto” and the Roman Catholic neighborhood. He received a draft notice to go into the Army towards the end of World War II, but he wouldn’t have to wait too long before the Korean War began in 1950. After finishing 16 weeks of basics at Camp Polk, Louisiana, Marvin Denton was assigned to the 45th Regiment, 279th Division, 3rd Infantry Battalion, and boarded a ship that sailed for 28 days through the Panama Canal. He arrived in Hokkaido, Japan in the Spring of 1951 where he would commit to further training as an observer on the Russian coast before arriving in Pusan at the end of that same year. His unit would replace the 1st Cavalry Division in the Chorwon Valley where he would assist in setting up parkas, clothing, and additional military supplies for the incoming units. Marvin Denton vividly recalled the challenges the Korean people faced as a result of war and the need to lean on the soldiers for affection along with support.
We Didn't Know We Were Poor
Marvin Denton described how much candy, movies, and cigarettes cost, along with getting no time off from school no matter how much snow, how hot, or how much rain fell. He described the manager patting him on the head and telling him "Marvin you've done a good job so we are paying you $1.25 this week," and that's how they paid you. He remembered there was a cashier who earned $15 a week and he thought if he ever made that much, he'd be a millionaire. He was moved to a cashier but never made over $12.50 a week and it all went towards helping the family. Marvin Denton commented, "We didn't know we were poor; there was always food on the table."
Losing Buddies Was The Hardest Experience
Marvin Denton described times when he lost members of his unit. One solider was walking between two companies and he was killed by a mine. Gun shots fired in the middle of the night when soldiers had discovered someone was killed. Another soldier survived a shell that hit his helmet, missing death by inches, and a different soldier, who had lied to his parents, telling them everything was okay, was bombed after an ambush. Marvin Denton were extremely thankful he lived through the experience and he feels we live in the greatest country in the world despite all of our problems.
Seoul: A Sad Sight
Marvin Denton recalled the hardships many Korean people faced during the Korean War. Men and women yoked with long poles carrying heavy buckets filled with sewage (honey pots).
Groups of children ransacked the soldiers for anything they had (pencils, papers, etc.). Marvin Denton felt so sorry for the civilians in South Korea.