Korean War Legacy Project

Monte Curry

Bio

Monte Curry was drafted after graduating high school from Pierre in 1951 and attended basic training at Fort Riley, Kansas.  He returned home for a brief period and got married before shipping out from California to Korea in December of 1952.  After a rough journey by boat, he recalls the destruction of Inchon on the day of his arrival and was happy to leave the area with the 25th Division, 35th Regiment unit he was assigned to near Panmunjom.  After 3 months on the front line, his company commander asked Monte Curry if he wanted to work in communications.  Monte Curry developed a protection device around the communication cables and wiring that would break from mortars that would internally destroy the wiring.  His efforts did not go unnoticed as he was commissioned as a Sergeant First Class and his unit was given a movie projector to watch John Wayne films while on the front line. Monte Curry’s tent quarters were located in the vicinity where the armistice was signed in 1953.

Video Clips

Cruelty of the Turks

Monte Curry felt sorry for the Chinese (Chinks) who were being picked off so easily by the Turks and other UN soldiers that were shooting them. With three waves of Chinese soldiers, the first round, only 1 out of 10 carried a gun, so the second wave picked up the weapons on the ground. The 3rd wave had more weapons and fought using guerrilla tactics hiding behind bushes. Monte Curry described how the Turks carried leather satchels to bring back the ears they had cut off of the enemy.

Tags: Panmunjeom,Chinese,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Physical destruction,Pride,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-7ko3jTwIM&start=585&end=795

Awarded for his Idea & Peeing in Whiskey Bottles

Monte Curry had developed a way to protect the communication cable and wiring that was internally damaged from the mortars on the front line, so when the word got back to a general, he decided to reward Monte Curry for his efforts. They brought a white truck (said it looked like a Red Cross truck) and unloaded reels of movies, a projector, and a generator to the front lines so the soldiers could watch John Wayne westerns. Monte Curry was considered a hero since it was such a special treat for the men and some soldiers would walk miles just to get the opportunity to watch the movies. They were told not to drink the whiskey on the front line since they found out people were peeing in the bottles and selling it making people sick. He said they thought it was people who may have gone down to the DMZ and picked up these bottles from the local stores.

Tags: Panmunjeom,Food,Front lines,Home front,Living conditions,Pride

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-7ko3jTwIM&start=1245&end=1408

Kitty Movie Experience

Kitty Curry, Monte Curry's wife, was not told a lot about what her husband was experiencing during the Korean War. Before a movie began, instead of previews of other movies, a black and white news reel would review what was life like for the US soldiers in Korea. This included fighting and bombs dropping on the enemy. Kitty Curry's reaction about the news worried her, but her friends and faith kept her going.

Tags: Panmunjeom,Civilians,Fear,Front lines,Home front,Impressions of Korea,Letters,Living conditions,Prior knowledge of Korea,Women

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-7ko3jTwIM&start=2379&end=2460

Video Transcript

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

M:       My name is Monte Curry.  I live in Pierre, South Dakota.

I:          Could you spell your name?

M:       M O N T E  C U R R Y.

I:          Um.  What is your birthday?

M:       Third of March, 1932.

I:          ’32.  You are young.

M:       Oh yeah.

I:          Where were you born?

M:       I was born in a little town about, oh what is it, sixty miles?

I:          Um hm.  Name?

0:00:30

M:       Midland.

I:          Midland.

M:       Mid, M I D L A N D.

I:          South Dakota.

M:       Yep.

I:          So you living all time here.

M:       In Pierre.

I:          Um hm.  And tell me about your family when you were growing up?

M:       Well, I have one sister, and we lived north of Midland about 25 miles.

I:          Um hm.

M:       In different places when I was young.

0:01:00

I:          And what about your siblings, your parents?

M:       My parents were Monte Sr.,

I:          Um hm.

M:       and Esther Curry.

I:          What doing they?

M:       Pardon?

I:          What were they doing?

M:       My dad was a mail carrier

I:          Um hm.

M:       and my mother was a housekeeper.

I:          I see.  How about your siblings?  How many siblings did you have?

0:01:30

M:       Just one sister.

I:          Just one?

M:       Um hm.

I:          Um.  And tell me about the school you went through.

M:       Okay.  I went to a local school my first and second grade.  In the third grade, we moved to Hayes, South Dakota which is just 25 miles from here.

I:          Um hm.

M:       And then we moved to Pierre.

I:          What high school did you graduate?

M:       In Pierre, South Dakota.

0:02:00

I:          Pierre High School?

M:       Yep.

I:          When?

M:       In, well let’s see.  Huh?

Female Voice:  1951.

M:       Yeah.

I:          And you are here with your wife here.

M:       Yeah.  Sixty –four years.

I:          Wow.  Long marriage.

M:       Yep.

I:          And did you know her at the time when you graduate high school?

M:       Well, we went to high school together.

I:          Together.

M:       Yeah.  And we, we went together since we were what, Sophomores?

0:02:30

Female Voice: Juniors.

M:       Okay.

I:          Wow.  So I’m going to invite her later, okay,

M:       Okay, that’s a good idea.

I:          to the interview.  Yeah.  And when did you join the military?

M:       I was drafted in ’51 honey?

Female Voice: Well, no.  You, ’50, you left in, in ’52.  So I suppose you got drafted in

0:03:00

notice in July ’52.

I:          Um.  And where did you go to basic training?

M:       In Fort Riley, Kansas.

I:          Fort

M:       Riley.

I:          R.

M:       R I L E Y, is that right, honey?

I:          Um hm.

Female Voice: Yes.

I:          Kansas?

M:       Yeah.

I:          What kind of basic training was it?

M:       It was just a military, Army

I:          Infantry

M:       Yeah.

I:          Um hm.  And from there, where did you go?

0:03:30

M:       Korea.

I:          Right away?

M:       Well, no.  I, I went home and got married, and then I went to Korea.

I:          You were married at the time?

M:       Yep.

I:          You knew that you were headed to Korea?

M:       Yeah.  No, I didn’t know that for sure.  But we were pretty sure.

I:          Even though you were pretty sure that you were headed to Korea for the war, you married?

M:       Yeah.

I:          Wow.

M:       Dumb, huh?

[LAUGHS]

0:04:00

Female Voice: Young.

I:          Dumb and young, how about that?

M:       Yeah.

I:          [LAUGHS]   But you loved each other so

M:       Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  That’s very sweet.  When did you marry?

M:       We married in, let’s see.  ’52?

Female Voice: in ’52, yeah.

I:          Um hm.

Female Voice: July 12th.

M:       July 12th.

I:          And

0:04:30

did your wife agree to that?  She knew that you were headed to Korea.

M:       Well, we thought so, yep.

I:          But she

M:       Well, we weren’t sure

I:          Um hm.

M:       because you don’t get your orders until, you know,

I:          Right.

M:       Then we went to, they sent us to California

I:          Uh huh.

M:       and we had some more basic training there at an Army camp

I:          Um hm.

M:       What was that, Salman?

Female Voice:  Um hm.

M:       Canp Salman.

I:          Um hm.

M:       And

0:05:00

we left a couple days after Christmas in ’52.

I:          Wow.  Must be hard for your wife.

M:       Oh, terrible.

I:          Um.

M:       I had some family out there, so we stayed, we stayed with them for a while.

I:          Where did you arrive in Korea?

M:       A month later.

I:          Where?

M:       In Seoul.

I:          Seoul?

M:       Um hm.

I:          Did you fly?

M:       No.

We took a slow boat to Hell.

I:          [LAUGHS]

0:05:30

M:       We ran, I don’t know why they ran into that storm, but they ran into a terrible storm,

I:          Um hm.

M:       and we all got sicker than dogs.  That ship would go [points down then up a few times]

I:          [LAUGHS]  You’re from South Dakota, so you never been in a ship like that.

M:       Well, I was in a lot of boats, and I didn’t get sick from the [makes waves with hands].  I got sick from other guys getting sick.

0:06:00

I:          Oh, I see.

M:       Yeah.

I:          Where did you arrive in, in Korea?  Inchon?

M:       Yeah.

I:          Uh huh.

M:       Inchon.

I:          Do you remember the Inchon that you saw for the first time?

M:       Yep.

I:          Tell me about it.

M:       Well, it looked like they had a crash there ever, because there was a lot of buildings that were, you know, leveled off.  It was not a very good sight . We was kind of glad to get out of there.

 

 

0:06:30

I:          Um.  You wanted to get out of there, right?

M:       Yeah.

I:          Yeah, to be honest.  So though after you arrived in Inchon, where did you go?

M:       Well, we went to, we went to a camp north of there

I:          Um hm.

M:       about, oh 80, 90 miles

0:07:00

to the, close to the front line but not, we didn’t, we didn’t move on the front line.  We moved behind the front line and, of course, we did a bunch of practicing and, and

I:          What was your unit?

M:       The 25thDivision

I:          25th.

M:       Yeah.  30, 35thRegiment

I:          Um hm.

0:07:30

M:       and Cacti, well, a smaller unit.

I:          Um hm.  The company or the platoon or squad, do you remember?

M:       Um.  Let’s see. Do you happen to know where Papasan is?

I:          Yeah.  But let me ask this question.

0:08:00

So what was your specialty?

M:       Well, I was just a regular, I just carried a BAR

I:          Uh huh.

M:       and a, which was an automatic rifle. And you carried all this ammunition around your neck.

I:          Um hm.

M:       And that’s what my first job was because I was a strong, you know,

I:          Yeah.

M:       Strong and young, but I got hurt.

I:          When:

M:       Oh there shortly after

0:08:30

I got there.  I was going up this hill, and it was kind of icy, and so I couldn’t walk up it.  So there was a place for a, where a little stream had come down and washed a little wash out

I:          Um hm.

M:       so I put my foot in there and went on up the hill, and I got just about to the top, and my foot slipped out of that.  I mean my other foot slipped, and around I went and banged my knee.  I really, I really screwed my knee up.

I:          Um.

M:       So I spent a couple weeks in the hospital.

0:09:00

I:          MASH?

M:       Yep.

I:          Was it MASH?

M:       Um hm.

I:          Um.  Do you remember the place where you were, the name?  Chorwon?

M:       Uh.

I:          Panmunjom or Pork Chop Hill?

M:       No.  It was Panmunjom.

I:          You were in Panmunjom from the beginning?

M:       Um hm.

I:          Okay.  And tell me about the situation there at, when you were there.  How was it?

0:09:30

Were there any everyday battle or

M:       No. We were kind of fortunate.  We, we were up on top of this hill, big old hill

I:          Um hm.

M:       and the Turks were off to our right, kind of down in a valley

I:          Um.

M:       and they, they were attacked one night which really upset me, but fine.

I:          Why?

M:       Well, I felt sorry for the enemy.

0:10:00

I:          What do you mean sorry for the enemy?

M:       Well, gosh.  They came over the hill like shoulder to shoulder,

I:          Uh huh.

M:       And about one out of ten had a rifle, and

I:          Only one out of ten?

M:       Yeah.

I:          They didn’t have a weapons?

M:       No.

I:          The Chinese then.

M:       Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

M:       That’s what we called them.  We called them Chinks.

I:          Um hm.

M:       I don’t know what that meant, but.  But anyway, I, we were up on top, and I was watching

0:10:30

it all with glasses, and so a lot of things that I saw probably weren’t true or they are true. But they sent these guys over the hill, and they, the only reason they did that is to find out where the machine guns were.

I:          Uh huh.

M:       Our machine guns, yeah.

I:          Yeah.

M:       For the Turks.  Turks actually.  They were fighters.  Oh they, they loved to fight.  But anyway,

0:11:00

they were just mowing them down like, you know.  They were just in a straight line, so they were easy to take care of.

I:          Um hm.

M:       And then here came another group over the hill.

I:          Um hm.

M:       And of course they picked up the rifles that had fallen, and they were well armed, a little more armed.  And then the third C’s

0:11:30

that came over the hill, now they were, they didn’t come in a straight line.  They kind of hid behind bushes and

I:          Um hm.

M:       Now this is what I saw through glasses, you know, so I didn’t get the whole scope of everything, but pretty good.

I:          But you feel sorry because

M:       Well, because those poor guys were just

I:          Being killed like flies.

M:       Yeah.  And they were just higher than a kite.  I mean, they were all drugged.  You could hear them hollering and screaming

0:12:00

and we could hear them coming for two miles away or maybe further, I don’t know.

I:          Um.

M:       But

I:          And you saw the [SOUNDS LIKE OLDOS]

M:       Yeah.

I:          Um.

M:       I saw, you know, I, I just kind of, and the Turks, you know, they’re kind of, they liked to cut ears off of their enemy.

I:          Did you see them?

M:       No, afterwards.

I:          Um.

0:12:30

M:       Because after everything was over, the Turks pulled back a little.  Well, they didn’t have to pull back.  They just, and they all carried a big, kind of a leather bag with their ears in it.

I:          Oh my goodness.

M:       They showed us their ears, and they were proud of those ears, you know.

I:          Wow.

M:       And, you know, I, I’m kind of a softie anyway, and that really bothered me.

I:          Hm.

0:13:00

M:       In fact, it’s hard to bring it up.

I:          Right.  They didn’t have to do that.

M:       No.  But I don’t know how many were killed.

I:          Um.

M:       They never did tell us.  We didn’t lose very many people because we were up on this hill

I:          Um hm.

M:       And they never did come up there.  They just came where the Turks were.

I:          So that was around Panmunjom area?

M:       Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

M:       And we could see Papasan

0:13:30

from our, from our position.  That was a hospital, wasn’t it?

I:          I don’t know.

M:       For the North Koreans?

I:          I don’t know.

M:       That’s what we heard.

I:          Um.  They have a North Korean papas an?

M:       Yeah.  There was a hospital that they dug into the mountainside.

I:          Um.

M:       In fact, the, our front line was here, and theirs was here

I:          Um hm.

M:       Probably

0:14:00

a mile between them.

I:          Just mile?

M:       Yeah.

I:          Um hm.

M:       And they were dug in over on the hillside.  But we had airplanes that dropped napalm on them, and, and the ground was just balled over there, just burned everything up. And you could hear them screaming when they came with that stuff.

I:          Hm.

M:       But they were in the ground.

I:          Um.

0:14:30

M:       In fact, they had tanks and stuff down in there.

I:          So you remember all this?

M:       Yeah.

I:          Does that bother you?

M:       Yep.

I:          Do you have PTSD?

M:       Um um.

I:          You don’t?

M:       Um um.

I:          You don’t have nightmare?

M:       No.,

I:          You don’t have flashback?

M:       No.

I:          No.  Good that you don’t have those.

M:       Uh uh, I don’t.

I:          Um.  But you still remember?

M:       I still remember.

I:          Um.  Tell me about the typical day of your duties

0:15:00

there in Panmunjom.

M:       Oh, okay.

I:          Tell me, when did you wake up, and what did you eat? Where did you go?  What did you do?  All these things.

M:       Well, we had a, a mess, a mess tent they called it, and we lived in tents and in bunkers.

I:          Um.

M:       And when, when there was danger, you know, of attack, we went into the bunkers and slept.  But I was lucky about two

0:15:30

or three months after we got on the front line, our communication Sergeant and all of his help had, had gone home because their, their duty was over.  And so my company commander was really a nice guy, and so he asked me if I wanted to join the communications.

I:          Mm.

M:       And I said I’d be glad to, get rid of that dang BAR.

0:16:00

So I moved into the communications.

I:          And what kind of job did you have?

M:       Well, we took care of all the incoming calls from the Division [INAUDIBLE], and we sent patrols out every night so that, kind of down this big hill and down into the, we never went way over to the other side when we went down there, and of course, they sent patrols this way, too.

0:16:30

I:          Mm.

M:       So we, we, you know, we went down there and checked out, and they, they never did  really fight when they were down there, but they did run across each other once in a while.

I:          Mm.

M:       In fact, one night I sent out a patrol, and they had, they had these great big rolls of wire, you know, communication wire

I:          Yeah.

M:       and it just unraveled as they walked.

0:17:00

And I sent guys out and, of course, I had them hooked up with a phone and everything on their, you know, on their person, and about, oh, an hour or less than, after they left, I heard, I heard North Koreans talking on my, on my phone.

I:          In your phone?  How?

M:       I don’t know.  And I asked a guy when he came back, I says well, did you ever, did you ever, you know, get rid of your phone?

0:17:30

No.  But I think what they did is they, they listened to the wire that was being

I:          Tapped.

M:       Yeah.  They got

I:          They tapped.

M:       They tapped into it.  And I don’t know what they said because we, we didn’t have, we had, we had katusas, you know what they were?

I:          Yeah, yeah.

M:       I had a real nice guy.

I:          Tell me about him.

0:18:00

M:       His name was Kim.  That’s all I can remember.

I:          Um.

M:       I think it was Kim Song Pu or something like that.

I:          Um.

M:       Yeah.  But he was a young man.  He was, he was my age, and he was very helpful to me because, you know, he taught me a lot of Korean slang and.  He lived in

0:18:30

Seoul someplace.

I:          Um.  What did he do?

M:       What did he do?

I:          For you, yeah.

M:       Well, he would help me pull wire and, I tell you what I did.  I, I spent so much of my time looking for breaks because if they send a mortar in, and the mortar would go off close to these wires, it wouldn’t blow them apart. It was just blow the wire inside apart.

I:          Um.

0:19:00

So there was just plastic everyplace, you know.  It was a black plastic, and of course our trenches were just full of that crap.

I:          Um.

M:       Then you had to pick it up, bend it a little, and if it bent, you know it was broke.  So in our supply place where we had, where they stored wire and stuff

I:          Um.

M:       Concertina wire

I:          Um.

M:       they had steel pulls, and they were the round ones with, like this.  They

0:19:30

were kind of a U shape, but I’d just take those and put them over those wires, when a mortar came in it wouldn’t hurt them.  And so I did that for my whole career division, phones of course.  I wanted to, went back to the rear, and some way there was a General that found out about it, and so he came to the front line there, and

0:20:00

he looked me up and I showed him what I was doing, and he said you know, that’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.

I:          Hm.

M:       And of course I, I got a hand saw, a metal saw, and I made down the trench, across the trench, up again and back over, and he said you’ll hear from me.  So about a month, well, it wasn’t a month, about three weeks later,

0:20:30

here came a big truck, and they were, of course they were all white, you know.  They were like Red Cross, and it was full of stuff, and so he unloaded it, and he said this is for you guys, and it was a movie projector and about 50 films.

I:          Wow.

M:       So we had a movie every night, and a generator.

I:          Wow.

M:       That generator was really handy.

0:21:00

I:          Wow.  Do you remember his name, General?

M:       No, I don’t.  I’m sorry to say.  I was trying to think of it, but

I:          What kind of movie do you remember that you watched?

M:       Oh, all the John Wayne and, you know, those type movies.

I:          Western?

M:       Huh?

I:          Western movie?

M:       Yeah, um hm.

I:          Um.  Wow. So you were blessed.

M:       Oh I guess.  I was the most popular guy in the world.

I:          Because of you.

0:21:30

M:       Well, I was running the camera or the projector.

I:          Um.

M:       Course I knew something about it, and I, We had guys coming for, heck, miles a way to come and see the movies every night.

I:          Really?

M:       Yeah.  On the front line.

I:          They really liked it, right?

M:       Um hm.

I:          Tell me about the typical day that you were gathering to watch the movie.  How was it? I mean, describe the scene, that you feel like you’re watching now.

0:22:00

M:       We, we, of course, we always waited till night to turn it on because we didn’t want to attract the enemy.

I:          Right.

M:       We was always in a tent so that light didn’t get out.

I:          Oh, so it was inside the tent?

M:       Yeah.

I:          Uh huh.

M:       We had a, kind of a meeting place or a place where we ate.  It was a big, big tent.

I:          Um hm.  And were they drinking beers?

0:22:30

M:       No.  We didn’t have much alcohol, you know.  They told us not to drink the alcohol there because they filled whiskey bottles with urine and sell it for whiskey and make our guys just sicker than dogs.

I:          Really?  Who did that?

M:       Huh?

I:          Who did

M:       I don’t know who did it.

I:          Is that real?

M:       Yeah.

I:          Oh my goodness.  That’s terrible.

M:       Well, you

0:23:00

could go, you could go into, not Seoul, but you could go down to the, you know, where the DMZ was

I:          Uh huh.

M:       That, and there was, there was places of business, and our gals that did our washing came from there.  We’d have to carry our stuff down to the line, but, because they couldn’t come into the war zone.

I:          Did you know anything about Korea before you left for Korea?

0:23:30

M:       Oh no.  Not, not a thing.

I:          Not a thing.  What were you thinking when you were there, and the country that you didn’t know and you’re fighting for it.  What were you thinking?

M:       Well, I had mixed emotions.

I:          Tell me.

M:       Well, I, I knew I had a job to do so I did it. When I, when they told me to do something, I did it.

I:          Um hm.

M:       And I’ll tell you what.  I was, I, I went up the ladder awful fast.

0:24:00

I, I came out a, a, a Staff Sergeant.

I:          Um hm.

M:       Sergeant First Class, I’m sorry.

I:          Um hm.

M:       So in 20, I was over there 22 months, something like that?

I:          When did you leave Korea?

M:       I left in about a month after the war was over.

I:          Um hm.

M:       We were, we

0:24:30

up on top of this hill, and it was a hill where the, where they signed the, the, you know where they quit the war

I:          Um.

M:       where all the big generals and stuff came in

I:          Yep.

M:       and it was like a basketball court.  It was a long lane and then a big circle, and they had tents in that circle because I was

0:25:00

right, we were right in where this thing made it circle here like this is

I:          Um.

M:       on our side.  And of course, those doggone Chinese are giving that and our guns were, we had big sticks, you know, that stopped our guns from going in there because they didn’t want them shooting those generals and stuff that were in that tent.

I:          Um.  So you were there at the Panmunjom when they signed the Peace,

M:       Yeah.

I:          I mean the Armistice?

0:25:30

M:       Uh huh.

I:          You were there?

M:       Yeah.

I:          You were watching them?

M:       No, I, we didn’t, they wouldn’t let us in there.

I:          Um hm.

M:       But we were right there.

I:          Wow.

M:       In fact, we guarded the, the place where the lane leaked in to there from our line, you know.

I:          Uh huh.

M:       But we couldn’t go in there.

I:          Describe the whole thing that you saw at the time that was Peace, I mean not the Peace Treaty

0:26:00

but Armistice was signed.  Tell me. Describe in detail everything that you can remember.

M:       Oh gosh.

I:          Anything you remember about that.

M:       I remember there was a lot of white jeeps, and I think, now I don’t know how the people from the other side got in there, but they had to come around this because it was really staked off.

I:          Um.

M:       Definitely.

0:26:30

A nice big fence, you know, went all the way around that thing.  Kind of a

I:          So a lot of white jeeps, right?

M:       Yeah.

I:          And what else?  Tell me about that.

M:       Well, a lot of trucks, too, you know, big white trucks.

I:          Um hm.

M:       I imagine they carried tables and, I don’t know what they had in those trucks but

I:          Um hm.

M:       Of course, they had the tarps all around.

I:          What else?

0:27:00

M:       There was no armored vehicles going in there.

I:          Um.

M:       They had a few armored vehicles on the outside, I guess in case something happened, you know.  I think I, I think I saw a couple tanks, and I don’t know where they came from, but they came from behind us.  That’s all I remember really.

I:          Did you see North Korean General?  Chinese General?  Enemies?

M:       Yeah.  The,

0:27:30

they went in there somehow.  I don’t know how.

I:          Um.  And were you there when they finished the signature?

M:       Yeah.

I:          How was it?

M:       Well, it was just kind of abandoned, and then, of course, we had to move back then.

I:          Right.

M:       And they had to move back.

I:          Did they announce it?

M:       Oh yeah.

I:          What was your reaction?

M:       Well, we were glad

0:28:00

to, it was over. But then there was really not much difference after it was over than before.

I:          Why?

M:       Well, we never were attacked, you know what I’m saying? Only once in a while they’d shoot a bunch of rockets over, and you know what was bad is when we’d see these rockets come in our company, and they would start shooting them off.  Boy, they really shot back.

0:28:30

I:          Um.

M:       But of course, they didn’t hurt anybody because they were underground.  But they still.  Those airplanes did more damage than anything.

I:          Um.  Have you been in Seoul city?

M:       Uh, yeah.  I spent a week of R and R in Seoul.

I:          In Seoul?

M:       Um hm.

I:          How was it?  What did you see?

0:29:00

How was the city?

M:       Oh, nice.  We enjoyed it.  We had a nice hotel room, and my friend and I, we were the only two married guys in that whole bunch, and so we kind of stuck together.

I:          Um.  You were not in Japan but in Seoul, Korea?

M:       Yeah.

I:          But the city was, how was it?  Was it just destroyed?

M:       Pretty much.

I:          Tell me about it.

0:29:30

Give me details because school children will hear from you.

M:       Sure.

I:          So give the, say it in detail about the Seoul that you saw.

M:       Well, you could tell that people were trying to move back in there, you know

I:          Um hm.

M:       Because there would be a few places where they’d have a wall up or, but it was chaotic, especially in the, in the outer part of town.

0:30:00

Describe it. How chaotic?  Why?  Why chaotic? People or, what was going on?

M:       Well, it just, I don’t know if they’d been bombed or something it looked like.  Or all shot up, you know,

I:          Um hm.

M:       Yet there was a structured building or a, you know, it had holes in it and windows all broke out.  But we just drove

0:30:30

through it in trucks, you know.  We, they loaded us in trucks and took us up to the front line.

I:          What were you thinking when you looking at those miserable situation there?

M:       Well, we, we knew why we were there then.

I:          Um.  Why?

M:       Well, because the, the enemy had destroyed all that stuff.

I:          Um.

M:       We assumed that anyway.

I:          Um.

0:31:00

M:       But I don’t know who did it.  Do you know?

I:          North Korean attacked.

M:       I don’t know if North Korea was involved in that or

I:          What do you mean, in the destruction of the cities?

M:       Yeah.  Um hm.

I:          So what do you think?  Who did it?

M:       We didn’t know.  We couldn’t find out, either.

I:          Um hm.  Enemy did it, right?

0:31:30

M:       Huh?

I:          Enemy.  Enemy did it.

M:       Yeah.

I:          Right?

M:       Yep.

I:          Huh.

M:       Did they take over Seoul?

I:          No.  No.  We are now Republic of Korea. The capital city is Seoul, so we, Seoul is our capital.

M:       Yeah.  We assumed that, yeah.

I:          Yeah.  Have you been back to Korea after that?

M:       No I have not.

0:32:00

I:          Um.

M:       Sorry to say.

I:          Do you know Korean government has a program called Revisit Korea program?

M:       Uh uh, I didn’t know that.

I:          Yeah.  Korean government is inviting back Korean veterans to Korea.

M:       I’ll be darned.

I:          And they have a one-week program, and they cover hotel, meals for a week, and they cover half of airfare.

M:       Yeah.

I:          If you want to go back.

M:       Huh. I didn’t know that.

0:32:30

 

 

I:          You didn’t know that, right?

M:       Uh uh.

I:          You let me know if you want to go back, okay? I gave you my business card

M:       Yeah, I see that.

I:          Yeah.  And if you want to call me, there is a, my cellular phone number there. Do you know about Korea now?  How

M:       Yeah.  I’ve, I’ve gotten a couple books.

I:          Tell me about it please.

M:       Well, it just, it don’t really tell you much, you know, that you don’t already know.  But

0:33:00

the Veterans Administration here has books about Korea.

I:          Um hm.

M:       And pictures and stuff.  But of course, I can’t even see them now.

I:          Oh.  You cannot?

M:       Um um.  I’ve got one of those fancy readers, you know, that’s like a tv.

I:          Um.

M:       But when you put the pictures under there, they don’t turn out.

I:          Um.   Korea is now

0:33:30

one of the largest economy in the world, 11thlargest economy in the world.

M:       Is that right?

I:          Yeah.  We make cars. We make tvs.  Your wife knows about it, and that’s the country that you saw 1950 was completely destroyed, but now it’s 11thlargest economy in the world.

M:       Yeah.

I:          Can you believe it?

0:34:00

M:       I, I believe it.

I:          Yeah.  It’s very well developed and advanced country.

M:       Did the U.S. help with any of that?

I:          Yes.  U. S. has been helping us.

M:       Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

M:       Well that’s good.

I:          That’s your legacy of the Korean War.  You fought for a country was very poor and miserable.  Now we are one of the strongest nation in the world.

M:       Your people are all working, huh?

I:          Yeah.  Working very hard.

M:       Yeah.

0:34:30

I:          Are you proud?

M:       Huh?

I:          Are you proud of your service?

M:       I am.

I:          Yes.

M:       Very proud.

I:          You should, and you have absolute reason to be proud of your service because Korea is, Korea came out of your fight, and that’s the medal you received, right, in January?

M:       Yeah.

K:        My name is Kitty Curry

I:          Um hm.

K:        and I’m Monte’s wife

I:          Uh huh.  And you

0:35:00

were married before he left for Korea.

M:       Yeah. Spa

K:        We had already planned to be married in August. I was going to college out in Spearfish, South Dakota.  And so when summer school was over, we planned to get married.  Well, then he got drafted, and so we already had things in the process, and so we, my grandmother

0:35:30

changed the date on the announcements.  We used the same announcement.  We didn’t have time to get anything changed, and we were married on the 12thof July, and he left on the 28thof July.

I:          How was it to you?

K:        Well, it was difficult, but I was working.  I, I’m, my dad had a store, and I was working there.  And there were, had wives

0:36:00

who were husbands were also at Fort Riley in Kansas.  I’d work till 9:00 on Friday night, and then I’d drive to Miller, and then we’d pick up a couple of wives, and we’d drive to Fort Riley, man, or to Manhattan and get there about noon, and the men would get off of camp for leave at

1:00, and we had till about 4:00 on Sunday,

0:36:30

and then they had to report back

I:          Um.

K:        and then I would get in the car and drive home

I:          Um.

K:        and go to work on Monday.

I:          So you made busy yourself with him whenever he’s available.

K:        Yeah.

I:          Tell me about the day that he left for the Korea? How was it to you?

K:        Well, I went with him to California because we had family there, and, and he didn’t know how long he’d be in the camp before they’d send him off.

0:37:00

So I never knew when he left, he’d come see me there for about two weeks he had, and I never knew when he left

I:          Oh.

K:        when he would, if that would be the last time or not.

I:          Yeah.

K:        So I don’t remember

M:       You see we realized we don’t, we didn’t have cell phones then.

I:          [LAUGHS] Right.

K:        And then I, I don’t remember.  He must have called me from the base and said we’re on our way.

I:          Um.

K:        That’s all I remember.

0:37:30

I:          So after you knew that he left, how did you feel?

K:        Well, when you’re that young as we were, I was 19 and he was 20, and you, you’ re full of hope and trust and dumb and a lot of things.  So I knew he was coming back.  That was my

I:          You knew

K:        That was my hope, yeah.

I:          You’re never afraid?

K:        No.  No.

0:38:00

I:          That’s a good faith.

K:        Well, we have a, both of us have a strong Christian faith.

I:          Um hm.

K:        And that was a lot of help, and then when he was over there after he got situated, he’d write to me.  Every week I got a letter.  I got a whole box full of those letters, and

I:          Do you still keep that?

K:        Yeah.

I:          Do you?

K:        Yeah.

I:          Oh.

0:38:30

K:        And then he came home in May, I think it was in, or April.  It must have been in April, wasn’t it?
M:       Just before Easter.

K:        Yeah.  And

I:          Where did you meet him?

K:        Well, out here at Pierre Airport.  I went all by myself out there to meet him.

I:          Tell me the, the moment that you saw him back.

K:        Well, of

0:39:00

course we were, I was awfully excited, you know.  That was a pretty big day.

M:       We had a daughter

K:        And we had a daughter that was

M:       Seven months old.

K:        Yeah.

M:       Seven.

K:        And the Red Cross is supposed to tell you, or tell him when there was a child born or something special in your, he did not know until she was six weeks old, that he had a daughter

I:          Um.

K:        And so I left my daughter with my parents

0:39:30

who lived here also when I went to the airport.

I:          Wow.

K:        So.

I:          Um.

K:        So it’s pretty big time.

I:          Did you know anything about Korea when he was there?

K:        No.  Well

M:       I’d tell her what I could.

K:        We, we didn’t

I:          Not because, not the one that he told you through the letter

K:        No.

I:          But did you know anything about Korea?

K:        No.  No.

I:          You didn’t know.

K:        We’d go to, at that time if you went to a movie

I:          Um hm.

K:        they had news on the, at the movie.

0:40:00

I:          Tell me about it.  What is, what do

K:        So we would see black and white, and we would see, we never, we’d see soldiers.

I:          Yeah.

K:        We didn’t know any of them, of course.  And there were some, you could see some pictures of fighting or bombs dropping on, you know, on the enemy.

I:          Um hm.

K:        But that was about all.  It wasn’t very much.

0:40:30

I:          What were you thinking when you see that information movie about the Korean War?  You were thinking about your husband?

K:        Yeah.  You’d be worried.  But I, like I said, I had good friends, and you just have your faith, and when you, some people that come home, you know, there would be a few soldiers that came home and stuff.  So.

I:          How do they tell you about

0:41:00

the war?  Did you, did you meet any veteran from Korea?

K:        Well, there were a couple of Pierre guys that came back.  I didn’t know them real well before, so, and I think they were a little older than us.

I:          Um.

K:        But that was about all, and, and so Monte liked to play jokes on me,

0:41:30

so he had a camera. I don’t know how he did it.  But he said oh, I met somebody just like me, and he sent me pictures of this, like it was a double vision thing, and he’d tell me all about this other guy and what he was doing and, and it was him.

I:          [LAUGHS]

K:        But the, the actual pictures that he sent were

0:42:00

weren’t, it, like a latrine or a, a, where they ate or their tent or their, at the end of the bed they had their, what did you call them, the boxes?

M:       Yeah.

K:        where he had all his belongings such as they were, and I talked to him once when he was in Korea, one

I:          How?

K:        time.

I:          How?

K:        He called me in the middle, when he was on R and R.

I:          Ah.

K:        He called me, it was in the middle of

0:42:30

the night, of course.

I:          Wow.

K:        And that was a really big deal.  That was really big. Not like now.  They go with their telephones and their cell phones and Skype and whatever.

I:          And tell me about it.  What did, what did you talk to him?

K:        I have no idea.  But it was my first Christmas alone when he was gone, and

0:43:00

like I said, I had friends, but, you know, those are just things you put up with.

I:          Great pleasure to have both of you, and you were the wife that left alone while he was in Korea.

K:        Yeah.

M:       Yeah.

I:          You went through all this, and you’ve been married for how many, 60 years?

K:        Sixty-four years.

I:          Oh my goodness.  Yeah.  And your love demonstrated that endurance, right?

K:        Yeah.

I:          Yes.

K:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  So

0:43:30

I want to thank you both of you, and it’s great pleasure to, to meet you and to hear from you, and I want to thank you again.

K:        You bet.

M:       You’re welcome.

I:          Thank you, sir.

[End of Recorded Material]