Korean War Legacy Project

Nick Cortese


When Nick Cortese heard about the bombing at Pearl Harbor, he felt the need to serve his country even at a young age. When he turned 17, he enlisted in the Army.  He served a tour overseas, but was called back to the reserves when the Korean War broke out.  As a member of the 24th Infantry Division his unit worked on laying mines, a very dangerous responsibility. He recalls two instances when he lost members of his unit- a comrade and his commander. Nick Cortese describes how he was horrified because he never knew what would happen next. His unit, with the help of the 187th Airborne Division was apart of a construction team to widen roads and to capture the enemy during the Seoul Recapture. Nick Cortese is very proud of his service and thankful that he was able to serve his country.

Video Clips

Losing Men Who Were Doing Their Job (GRAPHIC)

Nick Cortese recalls the terrible moments of clearing and laying the mines. He remembers one of his peers who died after making a fatal mistake- he describes in graphic details what happened. He states this that is one of the dangers of that particular job.

Tags: Depression,Fear,Front lines,Physical destruction

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Bouncing Betty Mine

Nick Cortese describes what happened when the 19th Infantry was moving north and came across a "Bouncing Betty Mine." . As the Chinese were dropping artillery his company commander jumped to get out of the way and set off the mine that detonated, killing the commander. It was later that Nick Cortese found out that this occurred in the Iron Triangle area.

Tags: Pyungyang,Chinese,Front lines,Physical destruction,Weapons

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Not Knowing What Could Happen Next

Nick Cortese explains that he was horrified watching his friends dying. He often worried that he might be the next one. He explains that he was very religious, and he always carried his Bible and rosary. He again mentions how his company commander died unexpectedly.

Tags: Fear,Front lines

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