Ismael “Mike” Corona aspired at a young age to join the military, so he attended a school outside of his school district to join the ROTC program before enlisting in the Marine Corps. Mike Corona was assigned to the 1st Marine MAG 33, VMFN 542 Squadron, and his Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was as a radio repairmen. His task was to fix F4U Corsair and F7F Tigercats’ radios/radars after the pilots had completed their maneuvers. Mike Corona’s unit boarded the CVE-88 USS Cape Esperance (baby flat top) which was a Casablanca class escort carrier that arrived during the Inchon Invasion in September of 1950. His squadron was the 1st squadron that operated out of Kimpo utilizing the runways for “wheels down” bombing raids. Having moved as close to the Chosin Resevoir before the Chinese invasion, they would reorganize in Japan as a strip alert just in case the enemy moved in that direction. His unit returned to Korea in February 1951, south of Pusan continuing to repair radar on planes before take off and Mike Corona has returned to Korea many times since his service relishing in the architectural structure changes Korea has made since his Inchon Landing experience.
Mike Corona honors the strength of both the US soldiers and the Koreans loading 1-ton jets onto the Landing Ship Tank (LST). South Korean soldiers harnessed wooden boards to their shoulders and connected chains to the jets. Together, four South Korean soldiers sang a song while they dragged the 1-ton jet onto the LST.
Korea: A Huge Empty Lot
When Mike Corona first arrived in Korea, he said it was just a huge empty lot without big buildings, sidewalks, and streets.
Now, Korea looks like Las Vegas, NV because of the beautiful streets, landscapes, and multi-story buildings. After going back for the third revisit, Mike Corona experienced the Korean government's reenactment of the Inchon Landing.
House Boys and Sleeping Conditions
Everywhere Mike Corona's unit went, no matter how long they stayed, they had to dig a hole to sleep. He still remembers the two house boys the soldiers named "Pat" and "Mike." These boys cleaned and helped the soldiers with basic daily needs. In return for payment, US soldiers provided the boys with food and clothing.