Merle Peterson enlisted in the US Army after he graduated from high school in 1948. Upon his arrival, he was sent to fight at the Pusan Perimeter. As he fought the North Koreans through Pusan, Osan, and Seoul, he took part in several tank battles where he used the new and improved 3.5 rocket launcher. After returning home in 1951, he was not given a big reception like soldiers from WWII. He finds the Korean people are most grateful and appreciative of his services. He has revisited Korea twice where both times he received a very warm reception and was honored by the President of South Korea.
Fighting at the Pusan Perimeter
Merle Peterson's unit landed at Busan in August 1950. He describes fighting the North Koreans for two to three weeks until his unit broke out on September 16th to march one hundred and three miles in twenty-three hours. He recalls an evening when he saw some men in a village with a Russian burp gun and later kicking the door to their shack down and taking the gun and ammunition.
Battles from City to City Across Korea
Merle Peterson describes the difference between the 2.6 rocket launchers and the new 3.5 models. He explains that the rockets from the 2.6 launcher merely bounced off the tanks but the 3.5s were able to pierce the tanks, enabling them to take out eight of the eleven tanks that had attacked them. He goes on to describe meeting with the 7th division in Osan and from there moving through Seoul, Pyongyang, and onto the Yalu River until the Chinese joined the North Koreans and they were forced to retreat.
The Chinese Invasion Changed the War
Merle Peterson describes fighting the Chinese at the Yalu River. He explains that though his unit had been told they would be home for Christmas, when the Chinese invaded, their plans to return home were ended. He describes having to retreat alongside many of the Korean people. He recalls having to fight in summer military clothes during the winter in the freezing weather and delousing after not showering for thirty days, which was the norm.
Coming Home from the Korean War
Merle Peterson did not receive a big reception when he came home from the Korean War. He explains that at the time of his return, Americans were consumed with the new household staple, the television, and were not interested in hearing stories of Korea. He explains that even at the VFW and American Legion, he was not treated well since they didn't "win the war." He explains that the most respect and welcome he has received is from the Korean-American people and people of Korea who were incredibly appreciative and grateful for his services both times he revisited Korea.