McKinley Mosley, born August 31, 1932 in Tyler, Texas, enlisted in the army after he completed 10th grade at the age of sixteen. He served in the 76th Field Artillery Division and was a private serving in infantry and artillery. After basic training, he served in Japan and Korea, guarding the air bases in Busan and Kimpo, South Korea. He always protected the airbases along with the other twenty five African Americans in a segregated division. He served faithfully until he left Korea in 1952.
Life of a private during War
McKinley Mosley describes his life as a 16 year old leaving home, going through basic training, and then on to Korea for the war. He learns infantry at Ft. Riley, Kansas and artillery in El Paso, Texas. He then travels from Ft. Custer in Michigan on to California to Japan and ultimately to Korea.
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McKinley: McKinley Mosley
Interviewer: Can you spell it?
McKinley: McKinley (spelled out) Mosley Mosley (spelled out)
Interviewer: So you have all ley at the end?
McKinley: Yeah right
Interviewer: When were you born?
McKinley: August 31, 1932
Interviewer: And where were you born?
McKinley: Tyler, Texas
Interviewer: So right here?
Interviewer: Tell me about your family when you were growing up your parents and your siblings.
McKinley: Well my parents , my mother and dad every we owned a farm and we farmed for a living and my dad and mother had 14 kids.
Interviewer: Big family
Interviewer: And were you the eldest or youngest, or in the middle?
McKinley: In the middle.
Interviewer: In the middle?
Interviewer: How many boys and how many girls?
McKinley: 7 boys. 7 girls
Interviewer: Oh evenly divided.
Interviewer: So it must have been crowded. Huh.?
McKinley: It was. Well we own a big farm.
Interviewer: Oh big farm.
McKinley: And a big house. So it wasn’t no problem had a lot of cows. Had a lot of chickens lot of hogs. Lot of goats.
Interviewer: So no shortage of food?
McKinley: No. No shortage of food.
Interviewer: Did you work at the farm?
Interviewer: What did you do?
McKinley: Plow mule we had mules and horses wasn’t no tractors then just mules and horses.
Interview: That’s it? That’s what you all did?
McKinley: And uh. We would uh. What you call uh. Lay back. You know you work after so many months then you lay back you know. And then with the cotton ready. Then you pick the cotton. On the farm
Interviewer: What do you mean you work in your own father’s farm? And
Interviewer: For how long you work and then you get away from it?
McKinley: Uhh. You work. From like about 6 months out of a year. Then you harvest your crops.
McKinley: You know, you pick potatoes. You pick peas, Watermelon, Pick cotton. Stuff like that, you know.
Interviewer: So you had a good time?
McKinley: Oh yeah. Yeah
Interviewer: You know 30 to 1932 Is just 3 years after the great depression. And to see the people didn’t have enough food to eat.
McKinley: Right I know. Well we had a lot of food
Interviewer: A lot of food?
McKinley: It was hard though, no play we worked hard.
Interviewer: When… Did you graduate high school?
Interviewer: Well. What school did you go?
McKinley: Up to 10th grade
Interviewer: 10th grade.
Interviewer: And then?
McKinley: And then I went into service
Interviewer: So tell me when you joined the service.
McKinley: I joined the service in 1948
Interviewer: 19. 1940?
Interviewer: What month. Do you remember?
McKinley: Uhh.It was something like about August
Interviewer: So you enlisted, right?
Interviewer: What what military?
Interviewer: And where did you get the basic military training?
McKinley: Fort Ryder, Kansas
Interviewer: What Is It?
McKinley: Fort Ryder, Kansas
Interviewer: Could you spell it?
McKinley: F. (stuttering) How are you doing. Fort Ryder, Kansas. State of Kansas
Interviewer: And what was your specialty? And what was your unit?
McKinley: And out to El Paso.
Interviewer: You went to El Paso?
McKinley: Yeah. El Paso, Texas
McKinley: And uh. I had my trainer with infantry in Kansas. infantry, Kansas. And when I went to El Paso my trainer was artillery. Big guns.
Interviewer: So, you still received the training In El Paso for artillery. Right?
Interviewer: And then what happened to you?
McKinley: I was shipped out.
McKinley: To Uhh. To uhh Michigan
McKinley: Yeah Fort Custer, Michigan. I left Michigan. I went to California. I left California I went to Japan.
Interviewer: When did you leave for Japan from California?
McKinley: It was 19. I left Japan. Going to Korea
Interviewer: Wait. When?
McKinley: I left Japan and went to Korea In 1950
Interviewer: What month?
McKinley: Uhh. I don’t know exactly what month. It was 1950
Interviewer: Where did you go?
McKinley: I left Japan and went Korea
Interviewer: Korea where?
McKinley: Pusan (Busan)
Interviewer: So you…
Interviewer: 50 or 51
McKinley: 50 and 51
Interviewer: You arrived In Busan 1950 or 51
Interviewer: So you arrived In Busan In 1951. Right?
Interviewer: Not in 1950?
McKinley: No. 1951
Interviewer: And then what happened to you?
McKinley: We uhh (clearing throat) I got stationed there. In Pusan. At the airport. Cause I was in artillery. We had to cart the air base there. In Pusan. Then In Pusan for about 6 months. We moved up to. Up to Incheon. And uhh. From Inchon we moved up 10 miles from Korea. I meant up from Seoul.
McKinley: The airbase at Seoul?
Interviewer: Oh Kempul
Interviewer: So you always protected air bases?
McKinley: Right. Right. I was artillery.
Interviewer: And what was your unit?
McKinley: My unit?
McKinley: My unit was uhh. Battery 76 Field Artillery
McKinley: 76. Field Artillery
Interviewer: Of what what division?
McKinley: Artillery. A. Battery A. Field Artillery
Interviewer: Yeah but did that belong to any division?
McKinley: No just artillery
Interviewer: So um.What was your job in the artillery?
McKinley: I was a gunner
McKinley: Machine gunner?
Interviewer: Machine gunner?
Interviewer: So you didn’t shoot the artillery but you were a machine gunner?
Interviewer: Did you often fire the machine gun?
McKinley: Sometime, not all the time.
Interviewer: When? When did you fire the machine gun?
McKinley: Uh maybe whenever a plane come over you know when it come get to close.
Interviewer: So there was anti- aircraft?
McKinley: Yeah, an anti- aircraft.
Interviewer: Machine gun?
McKinley: Right. 50 caliber 40.
Interviewer: Were there many North Korean aircrafts?
McKinley: North Korea, a few.
Interviewer: North Korean aircrafts?
McKinley: A few.
Interviewer: Just fighter, no?
McKinley: Yeah they had a called a Lag 9.
Interviewer: And so did they attack you often or what?
McKinley: Not too often.
Interviewer: Not too often?
McKinley: Because we had a fighter planes we had to P51 Mustang and It had to be a Navy CosaIl and It had to be a we called the Marine a bearcat, big Marine we kind of called It a big bear cat and It had a they was mostly before they get In too close you know. They take them before they get into close you know they keep them coming away. They keep them coming away like they
nearly get to close come in tact they have base.
Interviewer: What was your rank?
McKinley: Yeah It was a battery they had battery a, b, a, b, c and d battery and It was about let me see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 bout 5 battery yeah you had the gunner uh.
Interviewer: But I’m, I’m asking you how many black soldiers in your outfit?
McKinley: How many?
McKinley: Oh uh mmmm about 25.
Interviewer: Were you upset about the segregation?
McKinley: No you weren’t upset about It was It was the way of life they hold you back a little bit you know. Uhhh, It was the way of life, uhh you be In It so long you get used to It you know you didn’t pay no attention.
Mckinley: No, you know everybody got along good, wasn’t nobody mistreated nothing like that there, no.
Interviewer: No mistreatment?
McKinley: No mistreatment.
Interviewer: Just black among black white among white.?
McKinley: Yeah, right.
Interviewer: That’s It?
McKinley: Yeah right but uuh later uhh later it was segregated, you know we all come in as one Truman did that, President Truman.
Interviewer: Were there any dangerous moment during your service In Korea?
McKinley: Any what?
Interviewer: Dangerous moment, that you remember?
McKinley: No I almost got killed by a black tagger one night. (Laughter)
Interviewer: How was life there when you were working in the um 76 Field
Artillery, how was It where did you sleep what did you eat how much were you paid?
McKinley: I slept on the ground.
Interviewer: You sleep on the ground?
McKinley: We slept on the ground until; we moved up to Seoul and when we got around Seoul uhh we slept in a bed we called it a cot small cots you know about that high (hand motion) off the ground, yeah.
Interviewer: And what did you eat?
Mosely: We ate good we ate good every day.
Interviewer: Hot meal?
Interviewer: Oh what kind?
McKinley: Oh potatoes beans meat you know steak pork chop.
Interviewer: Steak you ate steak too?
Interviewer: Huh how often?
McKinley: About twice a week three times a week it fed it good no one went hungry.
Interviewer: How much were you paid?
McKinley: Uhh that time I was running about a hundred and ten dollars a month.
Interviewer: That’s quite a lot.
Interviewer: A hundred ten.
McKinley: About one hundred ten a month.
Interviewer: What did you do with the money?
McKinley: I sent it home to my momma and daddy.
Interviewer: All of it.?
McKinley: All but 15 dollars.
Interviewer: And the rest of the money what did you do with It?
McKinley: I kept it for myself.
Interviewer: You keep it?
Interviewer: During the war?
Interviewer: Okay were there any Korean people working with you?
Interviewer: No house boy?
McKinley: One house boy.
Interviewer: One house boy?
Interviewer: How old was he?
McKinley: About 8 or 9 he got real fat. (Laughter)
Interviewer: Oh really. (Laughter)
McKinley: Yeah nice little kid.
Interviewer: You feed him?
Interviewer: What did you give?
McKinley: Food same food we eat.
Interviewer: Do you remember his name?
Interviewer: What did he do for you?
McKinley: He would uhh do the odds and ends work around you know he work in the mess hall like peel potatoes, stuff like that wash dishes.
Interviewer: So did you pay him or what?
McKinley: Yeah we give him the money,
Interviewer: How, how much?
McKinley: Oh we give him something like 50 cents to a dollar you know I mean in yen.
Interviewer: Did you like him?
McKinley: Yeah, nice kid.
Interviewer: Nice kid. (Laughter)
Interviewer: (laughter) Have you been back to Japan for r&r?
Interviewer: No, you never been, no.
Interviewer: When did you leave Korea?
McKinley: I left Korea In 1952.
Interviewer: What month do you remember?
McKinley: No, it was in the summer.
Interviewer: Uh huh,
McKinley: Wasn’t no Ice on the ground, we left uh Ken Japan on an ASP and we stayed in japan about, we stayed In Japan about three weeks. They have to sew they clothes out they had to sew the clothes out they wanted me to fly back but I was scared to fly.
McKinley: So I came back on the ship that was a bad mistake.
Interviewer: (laughter) Why.
McKinley: Took too long.
Interviewer: And to rough?
McKinley: Lot of water but yeah, the ocean rough, yeah.
Interviewer: So you made a mistake?
McKinley: Yeah I made a mistake, I think about now sometimes you know I say I was crazy. (Laughter)
Interviewer: (laughter) So what did you do after you returned from Korea?
McKinley: I came home and got discharged.
McKinley: Then I went to work.
Interviewer: What kind of work?
McKinley: I work for the city.
Interviewer: What city? Tyler?
McKinley: Uhh City of Fort Worth Texas I went Fort Worth.
Interviewer: Ummm what was the most difficult thing of the service In Korea?
McKinley: Uhhh I never had no problems.
Interviewer: You didn’t have no difficulties?
McKinley: No never had no problems.
Interviewer: Were you wounded?
McKinley: Yeah my bladder and my back.
McKinley: I was thrown off my tank.
Interviewer: You’re what?
McKinley: It’s called a hash tank.
Interviewer: Not enemy tank, rIght?
McKinley: No the tank I was a gunner you know right gunner and I was thrown off It ruptured my bladder and my back I gotta one dislocated disc In my back.
Interviewer: Have you been back to Korea?
Interviewer: Do you know what happened to Korea?
McKinley: I’d like to go back .
Interviewer: You like to go back why?
McKinley: To see how It looks.
Interviewer: Do you know what happened how now It looks now in Korea?
McKinley: They say I look good.
Interviewer: Are you proud of your service?
Interviewer: Oh what makes you proud of your service?
McKinley: Trying to help someone else yep trying to help someone else you know I was poor there was people poor you know people poorer than me
Interviewer: Is there a message you want to leave to this Interview.?
Interviewer: McKinley I want to thank you for your fight.
Interviewer: So that Korea is now what it is okay?
McKinley: Yeah, right.
Interviewer: Thank you sir.
McKinley: Thank you sir.
Interviewer: Shakes hand.
McKinley : Shakes hand.
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