Korean War Legacy Project

Norman Renouf

Bio

Bernard Norman Renouf was born April 25th, 1929 in Maine.  At the time of the Korean War, Norman Renouf was unemployed and decided to enlist in the army. After doing basic training in Ft. Devins, MA he was sent to Korea.  In Korea he served as a machine gunner.  While serving in Korea he was captured by the Chinese and spent 1951 to the end of the war in a POW camp.  He sees his military service as helping to spread prosperity and democracy to South Korea.  He discusses the fear he felt in battle as well as some of the difficult events that took place during his time in captivity.  After the war, Norman Renouf married and today enjoys playing music and chess.

Video Clips

Impressions of Korea

Norman Renouf describes his first impressions of being in Korea. He highlights a sense of fear, but also describes seeing rice paddies for the first time.

Tags: Busan,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,North Koreans

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsRJE4daxjU&start=630&end=750

First Battle

Norman Renouf describes the fear of his first battle. At one point it was so exhausted that he actually fell asleep and what woke him up was the shooting from fifty caliber weapons.

Tags: Fear,Front lines,North Koreans,Physical destruction

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsRJE4daxjU&start=851&end=1023

Prisoner of War

In this clip, Norman Renouf describes the circumstances that led to him becoming a Prisoner of War in April of 1951. He spent several days in a cave without food before surrendering.

Tags: Chinese,Fear,Front lines,North Koreans,POW

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsRJE4daxjU&start=1245&end=1561

School in the Prisoner Camp

Norman Renouf describes the classes that he was forced to take in the prisoner camp. The Chinese used the classes to encourage the soldiers to reject capitalism in favor of communist ideologies. Some of the Chinese interpreters spoke good English because they had lived in New York City.

Tags: Chinese,Communists,Living conditions,POW

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsRJE4daxjU&start=2340&end=2420

Video Transcript

00:00
well why correct name is Bernard Norman
00:04
ran off but my friends and family call
00:07
me Norman my second name I went to st.
00:14
Louis high school in Biddeford Maine I
00:18
did not graduate and then when you Oh
00:26
1929 better fed main benefit of my
00:32
birthday April 25 1929 yes hold on your
00:43
family background your parents and your
00:46
doings well my father died when he was
00:51
45 heart attack I am my mother lived to
00:56
be 95 and I had three brothers and three
01:02
sisters I’m the only one left I know I
01:10
was next today next to the youngest oh
01:12
so by the youngest my sister died not
01:18
long ago I love the only survivor so you
01:24
didn’t graduate high school I did
01:26
graduate but not from st. Louis because
01:29
when I after I got married I went to
01:33
night school adult high school in
01:36
Hartford I did graduate from there so I
01:42
was going to school at night now so when
01:44
was it when did you graduate high school
01:46
when was that oh my goodness well
01:50
somewhere around nineteen sixty
01:56
that’s what I oh that’s what I mean high
01:59
school 1968 a night adult high school
02:03
because as I in the st. Louis I dropped
02:07
out as a freshman and when I went to
02:09
night school I had to do that over again
02:11
that they’re coming back from Korean War
02:17
it was strange I tried to get a job at
02:22
pratt & whitney because they were making
02:24
good money there you know and I had no
02:26
education so they told me to go get my
02:30
diploma and then come back while I
02:32
wanted to do to get in the training
02:34
program and you had to be no older than
02:38
26 I think so I went to high school but
02:42
it took me five years to do the four
02:44
years cuz you know I’m a working man so
02:47
by the time I went there then they told
02:49
me I was too old so waste of time really
02:56
yeah was a waste of time because I I
03:00
everything I accomplished I could have
03:02
done without going to that night school
03:04
even I applied later on at a at command
03:09
aircraft and they were training people
03:11
to be tinsmith and they gave an
03:14
examination and I was good in geometry
03:16
so I know that it was so easy I know I
03:20
got a hundred they still didn’t take me
03:22
because of my age I was even older than
03:25
so they took the cream of the crop no I
03:29
didn’t think I was fair either so what
03:32
were you doing when I was unemployed yes
03:38
I was a boat well I was 19 but I ball I
03:43
was about ready to turn 20 because I
03:45
turned 20 a week after i was in the army
03:49
so I was employed because they kept
03:52
quitting my jobs why wow I didn’t like
03:57
the job I also didn’t like to work and I
04:03
ok plus I was hanging around with
04:07
the wrong crowd again people who didn’t
04:09
like to work and they were always
04:11
quitting too so so finally I oh I I had
04:16
some jobs that I thought were good but I
04:18
got laid off you know so what was it I
04:22
in a machine shop about big machine shop
04:25
saw hello I was there as a packer I mean
04:30
they laid me off they didn’t need me
04:32
anymore well I really don’t know if it
04:40
was during the Depression how long the
04:41
depression last that I don’t know i know
04:43
i was born in the depression 1929 so I
04:48
really don’t know that after that I was
04:50
getting hired in jobs like first
04:53
national supermarket or the A&P; store
04:55
but when they hired me they didn’t tell
04:57
me it was seasonal it was for the
05:00
Christmas rush as soon as that was over
05:04
they laid me off I also worked as a
05:07
presser in her in on laundry but again
05:13
that would have been okay but I got
05:15
fired because it wasn’t my thing I was
05:18
too slow pressing close to so fortunate
05:28
when did you join the army and why did
05:31
you join I joined because I needed a job
05:33
and I joined in 1949 April because I
05:42
turned 20 a week later so and my
05:45
birthday is in April so there you go and
05:49
funny thing to expend I spent a birthday
05:53
behind enemy lines before headin
05:55
captured imagine that so where did you
06:00
go through
06:01
Oh facing military training for Dix New
06:05
Jersey how long I was a well I forget
06:12
know it seems like it was three months
06:18
of homework I don’t remember for sure
06:20
what was your specialty infantry I
06:26
started out as riflemen and it was my
06:28
training but I wound up being a machine
06:31
gunner in Korea but first I was this the
06:36
assistant machine gunner and then when
06:38
they transferred him then they gave me
06:40
the gun so I was the machine gun well I
06:50
did learn something about the machine
06:52
gun as in basic training but I had never
06:55
fired one but I there was a class on how
06:59
to disassemble and reassemble that the
07:02
gun but that was the extent of the
07:04
machine gun training I had well you know
07:12
I wound up at Fort Devens Massachusetts
07:14
for further infantry training even had
07:23
what do you call it what the Marines do
07:27
I can’t think of the word but it’s
07:33
landing from Barger yeah like the
07:38
Marines do you come off a boat and get
07:40
and barges and so yeah so I had that
07:45
kind of training too so it was logical
07:48
that they pushed me into the machine gun
07:51
things as I had a lot of infantry
07:53
training I didn’t even know it existed
08:00
then why not nothing well no I should
08:07
have learned a little bit and ends in
08:09
the grade school but like I said I was
08:12
not a good student and I didn’t like
08:14
geography
08:15
so I didn’t pay much attention to it all
08:19
right so after that what happened to you
08:22
oh well after about nine months on the
08:25
line where we’re all over the place I
08:30
never knew where I was the only time I
08:32
knew where I your service you before you
08:36
left Korea before i left it cook for
08:39
career I was at Fort Devens
08:41
Massachusetts from there I went to Korea
08:49
well I all i knows i arrived there in
08:53
September in nineteen fifty I was among
08:56
the first replacements I didn’t go there
08:58
with an outfit i went there along with
09:02
other people that i didn’t know i don’t
09:07
know i went there by airplane no I had
09:15
to take a troop train to California from
09:18
there took a plane to Hawaii from Hawaii
09:22
where at the Johnson island from there
09:25
we went to Japan the next day I was on
09:29
our Japanese boat to go to career what
09:32
was your division I was in the fifth
09:37
regimental combat team and we were
09:40
attached most of the time we were
09:44
attached to the 24th division but when I
09:47
first got there which was mace on many
09:51
saw in perimeter of Pusan Perimeter
09:52
there mason was was the the city i was
09:56
at but not that i saw any of it all i
09:59
saw was the the farm territory you know
10:02
but anyway that’s where I wound up and
10:06
that was the 25th division then my the
10:11
fifth RCT was basically from Hawaii with
10:16
a Hawaiian outfit but that’s where i
10:20
went as a replacement so then after the
10:24
25th we got attached to the 24th
10:27
division from
10:28
at the time tell me about your in
10:32
fashion first impression about Priya
10:35
when you write into some how was it well
10:42
while I thought it was very strange
10:45
country because I had never seen rice
10:47
paddies or anything like that so but my
10:53
all I know is I was frightened can you
10:59
describe the scene 04 son when you
11:02
arrived at the port and the people
11:04
buildings I didn’t see any of that it
11:10
seems everything I saw was countryside I
11:16
never saw any city except soul when we
11:21
drove through it all I saw his
11:24
countryside farms and whatnot and I
11:28
never knew where I was some people
11:32
remember the hills they fought on and
11:34
all that they could be talking about a
11:37
hill I was on I don’t know oh yeah
11:41
certainly was i was put into a defensive
11:48
position and i was told ya parks always
11:53
already dug in so i was was in a
11:56
defensive position and they had some
11:58
firefights there but not while i was
12:01
there i mean in that that position but
12:05
you know still there was some company
12:10
speaking people on our side and
12:12
everything and if they heard anything
12:15
they shout in Japanese because they had
12:18
heard that the Koreans were afraid of
12:20
the Japanese and I can understand why or
12:23
anyway nothing had that was I didn’t get
12:26
in any fighting there but I was never
12:28
knew if there was going to be some but
12:31
the first firefight I ever got in I
12:35
never forgot it because we were kool
12:39
while I was out
12:41
a colored outfit at the time we were
12:44
still segregated so it was a colored
12:47
outfit had been driven off from from
12:50
this mountain and then at last report
12:52
that there was no enemy there anymore
12:56
they had left and my outlet with my
13:00
company anyway was supposed to go up
13:01
there and dig in so sometimes I on black
13:08
people no I didn’t see many because we
13:16
were segregated and they kept Lee the
13:19
black people in their own outfit and so
13:22
forth so the only time while I saw two
13:26
or three Negroes when they had come down
13:30
from that hill and later on the only one
13:34
I ever I saw as I wound up getting a
13:37
black lieutenant in charge of of my
13:40
platoon which went fine his name was
13:43
Jackson it was a very good officer oh
13:50
now i don’t know where i was i I was no
13:55
Pusan I was only there about two weeks
13:58
and then we started moving up you know
14:02
my son was the first place I went to
14:06
while we after that was always north but
14:09
i never knew where I was so tell me
14:12
about the first LM member in a funny
14:17
well we went up and of course you know
14:21
how it is the you go up in zigzag way
14:24
following trails because going
14:26
straightest too hard but this was at
14:30
night and I me and a few others did not
14:35
feel like going that group and we
14:37
decided to go straight ahead so that
14:40
must have been ova maybe eight of us
14:42
that got there before everybody else and
14:44
as we just everything was quiet so we
14:48
sat down and started eating C rations
14:52
and whatnot finally the rest of the
14:54
company showed up and then the I hear
15:00
the lieutenant’s say to the sergeants
15:04
all right i want to show you where I
15:07
want you people to dig in so they were
15:10
gone right four or five minutes and all
15:13
hell broke loose and that’s where my
15:15
platoon sergeant got killed when a
15:17
grenade and then I hear sound like
15:21
hundreds of feet coming up the hill from
15:24
the other side but they were there all
15:26
the time and we didn’t know that yeah
15:29
not coming in so we didn’t know you know
15:31
so they can when they started coming up
15:33
and all that noise from the explosions
15:36
and so we started running back down the
15:39
hill until till we see what’s what’s
15:42
going on so I guess we went down about
15:45
halfway or and then I weed and then I
15:51
hear a sergeants voice that I recognize
15:54
all right men let’s let’s get back up
15:57
there and take this hill oh I was I
16:01
don’t know if it was eight or ten of us
16:05
anyway we we started that’s when I was
16:08
really scared but all I could think I
16:10
was the movies John Wayne and no saying
16:13
and only that but they did he really
16:16
yeah because you know I think well I
16:18
gotta act like that you know so I
16:21
started started going up the first thing
16:24
you know they start shooting at us and
16:26
everything we went but and I didn’t hear
16:29
any more from that sergeant raining we
16:31
went back down in him halfway and then
16:34
why was so tired by that time and I
16:37
think everybody else with me was tired
16:39
actually fell asleep in the middle of
16:44
battle I mean it was quiet then I mean
16:46
he goes quiet I so tired I fell asleep
16:48
what woke me up was our troops down
16:52
below we’re spraying the hill with 50
16:54
caliber machine guns well say hey let’s
16:58
get out of here so we left we went down
17:01
and they were all down there everybody
17:03
had left except us you
17:06
not my point on just about eight or ten
17:09
of us that word that had been waiting
17:13
for orders we were yeah we’re waiting
17:15
for orders so but no and we never heard
17:17
any more so yeah we come down in where
17:21
you work guys where you been last if we
17:24
were on the hill while you’re shooting
17:26
at us so I learned something that time I
17:30
would never the first one to get up the
17:32
top of the hill and never the last one
17:35
to get off either my first firefight
17:40
well I was scared but I was still acting
17:44
like I thought I was supposed to you
17:46
know you were thinking you said that
17:50
John Wayne’s and all this well yeah I
17:53
think of all that’s the way that’s the
17:55
way well not not at the time I was just
18:01
thinking of what my job was supposed to
18:04
be and whether i was just scared or not
18:06
that I I had to do it you know like they
18:09
did in the movies not at the time no I
18:21
was worried about saving my life oh you
18:24
know not really that I didn’t care about
18:27
getting killed I didn’t want to get
18:29
wounded yeah that sila I would never one
18:37
to put up with a lot of pain so I didn’t
18:40
want to get wounded as if they drop i
18:42
drew a shell on me fine i’m gone i won’t
18:46
know nothing do you think that why am I
18:52
here uh well I guess they did cross my
18:57
mind but the main thing is we all knew
19:01
we were there to stop communism that was
19:03
it so tell me about after that how you
19:10
said that you were killed over here yeah
19:12
yeah yeah how did you
19:16
capture by the low currents or the
19:18
Chinese and well odd one I got captured
19:21
by a Chinese where again I don’t know I
19:27
it’s a it had to be above the 38th
19:31
parallel by quite a bit I know was the
19:35
last big push that the Chinese made it
19:39
was a big push are you know they drove
19:41
us they pushed us back very far and then
19:45
then we went back as far as we could and
19:50
but then nobody is my rank knew what was
19:55
going on we didn’t know it was a Chinese
19:58
big push we we didn’t know that
20:03
everybody was going to retreat back to
20:06
the 38th parallel what have you well
20:13
that had to happen in 51 that cat
20:16
episode let’s see I got captured him I
20:24
did spend one Christmas with the troops
20:28
so that had to be 51 so I got captured
20:34
in the spring of 51 and which was that
20:38
one springer 51 it had to be April
20:42
because I wound up getting my birthday
20:44
hiding in a cave and we hid in that case
20:49
for three or four days and the reason
20:52
for that is we didn’t know what what’s
20:55
going on because usually when we have
20:58
lost ground our troops would take it
21:01
back the next day so with the well will
21:03
hide here and when they come back we’ll
21:07
come out but he never came back yeah
21:13
well we they say we spent three at least
21:18
three days and nights with no food and
21:20
no water and we were trying to decide
21:25
whether to try to make it back but we
21:28
knew it was far
21:30
because the sounds of the guns were so
21:32
far away so one night we decided to go
21:36
ahead or an unlucky number about 13 and
21:45
some of my company got out but I like it
21:50
what happened to me is this was at
21:53
nighttime and we were walking single
21:57
file following the captain and I was to
22:03
be towards the last of the line along
22:05
with the 13 and following and about 10
22:09
yards apart because they were dropping
22:11
mortars on us you know so one guy lost
22:15
sight of the man in front of him and he
22:18
went right instead of straight and other
22:22
buddy behind him went with him and I was
22:24
one of those so I don’t know if I’ve
22:28
kept we kept going I probably would have
22:31
been fighting my way out with the rest
22:32
of the company because we had been put
22:35
there to delay the enemy while everybody
22:38
else ran and I we didn’t know that
22:41
either but I wouldn’t have stayed I
22:43
don’t think so yeah so went on the last
22:50
night we decided to try to make it and I
22:53
don’t think we walked any more than two
22:55
miles and we were too weak we realized
22:58
that we would never make it when went
23:00
back to the cave then we put it up to a
23:04
vote whether we should go out and
23:07
surrender and that’s what they came out
23:10
the boat oh yeah let’s surrender we had
23:12
no choice so we destroyed our weapons so
23:15
nobody would be able to use them but I
23:18
kept two grenades because I wasn’t sure
23:22
if there was going to be Chinese or
23:24
Korean and they were going to be North
23:26
Koreans my plan was to try to walk in a
23:31
group of pull the pins why because I
23:34
figured they would have tortured me to
23:36
death anyway and I would have preferred
23:37
to go out the quick way and bring a
23:40
bunch with me
23:42
you know I mean why do you think that
23:45
there is a difference between Chinese
23:48
and North Koreans in terms of well I was
23:51
I was in the war long enough to hear you
23:56
know what was going on that the North
23:58
Koreans were treating pure though he was
24:00
very badly and the Chinese better so if
24:04
a while I’ll take my chances with the
24:05
Chinese so it turned out it was it was a
24:10
good decision because they were Chinese
24:12
soon so but unfortunately can you
24:17
describe me see how he captured by when
24:22
we were walking single file looking for
24:27
it looking for the Chinese actually and
24:29
it didn’t take long to find them but we
24:32
found him instead of him finding us you
24:35
know so the first thing I saw while
24:38
there was an American plane going by and
24:41
mate the Chinese started hollering in
24:43
Chinese you know pengie or whatever they
24:45
say whatever I think that’s the word in
24:48
Chinese and they got down and one
24:50
officer fired his pistol in here’s a
24:53
warning but they already knew we were we
24:56
were there though so everybody laid down
24:59
and we did the same thing but then I
25:02
knew they were Chinese just just by the
25:05
way they spoke so I hid my two grenades
25:07
in the bush but to this day i fret that
25:17
some children may have picked him up but
25:22
I wasn’t thinking about that anyway one
25:36
Chinaman come out and he goes like this
25:41
means okay number one you’ll be okay but
25:47
I didn’t know what it meant the British
25:50
know what that means thumbs up you know
25:53
but it was not an expression that we
25:55
knew
25:55
so I text to myself don’t tell me
25:57
they’re gonna hang up by the thumbs I
26:00
didn’t know nobody meant you’ll be okay
26:04
you did the right thing you know no and
26:07
so the first thing they did was feed us
26:11
feature a little bowl of rice and told
26:15
us to eat slowly as if we eat fast as
26:19
hungry as we were but they had they had
26:22
some interpreters yeah they’ve done they
26:25
didn’t speak very good English but then
26:27
we understood yeah because they said if
26:33
we do it will not up in our stomach and
26:37
especially rice I guess it I don’t know
26:40
if any way still ate too fast but there
26:45
is oh yeah so that was okay I mean no
26:50
and then from then on we were marching
26:53
marching north and well during that
27:03
period I was eating one meal a day and
27:09
it wasn’t always good i mean it was
27:12
either a rice and and a tablespoon of
27:15
soy beans and sometimes we can get that
27:20
sometimes we got something that was look
27:23
like sand but i don’t know what it was
27:26
and when you it’s dry you put it in your
27:29
mouth then it feels like peanut butter
27:31
when it starts melting but I I never
27:33
didn’t know what that was I got treated
27:41
well the only only got a kick in the in
27:45
the in the ass one time and I was my
27:49
stone stupidity because the guard did
27:53
not understand English and they had all
27:57
of us in this 10th and it was so hot and
28:01
that
28:02
and we wanted to get some air so like a
28:05
jerk a vote and try to talk the garden
28:08
to let not sin some air and he we didn’t
28:11
want to hear any of it back in you know
28:14
and he took his rifle are okay I turn
28:17
around and as I was back going back in i
28:20
got a boot and I can you know but that’s
28:22
the only time I got hit we’re tight no
28:27
there was no reason to tie us because
28:30
there’s no way we could escape I mean
28:34
you know where the wrong color to begin
28:37
with it if it was not like in the world
28:41
war two here in Germany I mean people
28:44
who same color and everything well and
28:46
then you had help from the underground
28:49
and all end up we didn’t have that so we
28:52
knew what it was known no sense even
28:55
even in the prison camp there was no
28:58
fences no need of it how was Chinese
29:02
soldiers spirit and there are logistics
29:05
can you tell me anything about Chinese
29:07
soldiers at the time that you were
29:09
marching toward North they seem to be in
29:15
good spirit but then again everything
29:18
everyone that we were dealing with were
29:20
people who who who were delivering food
29:25
and ammunition and stuff like that
29:28
transport transport right so they were
29:33
not going to be mean like like the other
29:37
guys on the line you know so we hadn’t
29:41
made that way but that traveling on foot
29:45
the north was always like back and forth
29:49
because one output coming down would
29:53
would have us and then it open going up
29:56
would have us and so forth so and then
30:01
people getting started getting sick from
30:03
very berry and I wound up being one of
30:07
the stretcher bearers that carry
30:09
somebody
30:14
so 13 of you still survived it and by by
30:19
by that time that we were going north we
30:23
joined other POWs you know the first
30:28
thing you know there was about 100 of us
30:30
are not more you know going going north
30:33
people from different outfits are
30:35
different when you got captured at a
30:37
different time and whatnot these were
30:43
all Americans well when we get to the
30:49
prison camp we found some some days were
30:53
different like half the camp was English
30:55
and half the camp was American and by
31:01
the way I’d going to trip up there after
31:04
a while when we got further far enough
31:06
up north we did yet on a train you know
31:09
boxcars and travel at night so that that
31:15
saves us the something you know except
31:18
that when they stop in a tunnel and
31:20
during the day had the fumes from the
31:24
from the engine filling up the day the
31:28
tunnel we thought we were going to die
31:31
we finally came out on our own and went
31:34
outside regardless of what they had to
31:37
say we couldn’t stay there and they led
31:40
us and that day they gave everybody a
31:45
can of food we don’t know what was in
31:47
there because they took a can of food
31:50
you know a regular can and but they took
31:55
the label off so we didn’t know what it
31:57
was so it I don’t know if I I figure it
32:01
must have been dog food or cat food
32:02
because they took the label off so we
32:05
wouldn’t know what it was but it tasted
32:07
good to us we were hungry the food don’t
32:11
know I couldn’t tell because I never ate
32:15
dog food or cat food before so I don’t
32:17
know
32:19
think they’re so gung-ho can move for
32:24
the dogs and no body was then but I
32:27
still don’t know what it was oh so where
32:33
did you go where what camp did you go
32:35
well was it jumped on I don’t know the
32:39
name of the town what did you cross the
32:41
river no no no we stayed on this I we
32:45
was about 15 miles from the Yellow River
32:47
and as far as i know it was camp number
32:50
three that’s where every time i wrote
32:54
her a letter that was my address camp
32:56
number three and yet when i went to a
32:59
poww reunion about five years ago
33:03
everybody said it was tab number 10 what
33:07
how can it be when I was writing number
33:09
three all the time and I was getting
33:11
returned mail that way so I don’t care
33:13
was it the delta area of the Yalu River
33:17
I had wasn’t I have no idea I just know
33:21
you never research baccalaureate know it
33:25
we were in the middle of North Korea
33:27
about 15 miles from the Yellow River and
33:31
if you know where the English prisoners
33:34
were then you would know where I was
33:38
because all the English were in our camp
33:41
and the camp was divided in half British
33:45
and American probably probably lies now
33:52
you remember when you enter that camp oh
33:56
it was it had to be either the last part
34:05
of May or June because I got captured in
34:10
April
34:15
I remember what we was eating yeah on a
34:22
good day which then come very often we
34:25
did get race but motion white rice or
34:30
maybe we call a yellow rice here if the
34:33
boys and polish twice okay bye oh yeah I
34:39
know we got two meals a day in the camp
34:42
yep two meals a day oh I was it three I
34:48
see now we got three meals a day and two
34:53
in the winter and and the reason why it
35:00
was two meals in the winter is because
35:02
they figured we’d be going to bed early
35:04
and so we didn’t need three meals we
35:10
didn’t get a lot for breakfast you know
35:12
we got something that looked like milk I
35:15
don’t know what it what it was but maybe
35:18
soya milk I don’t know that and what
35:21
they call the Chinese called them SWAT
35:24
sticks but it’s supposed to be sweet
35:27
sticks they look like crawlers like
35:29
donuts yeah Texas ooh yeah it’s it’s
35:38
like it’s like skim milk except but
35:40
didn’t have that yeah I include that and
35:46
so in noon time we usually had sargam
35:49
which I I never knew what sargam was
35:53
until them and Chinese said they called
35:57
it Indian rice but it was a purple color
36:00
and some of the guys said that while
36:05
some of the guys down south I had
36:08
experienced at them you know that’s
36:10
something they fed to their hugs and
36:16
what were you thinking
36:18
in the temple oh just thinking about
36:22
getting released but and trying to stay
36:27
healthy 2 and plus there was a lot of
36:31
people that died and I didn’t want to be
36:34
one of them the ones that died because
36:37
they couldn’t eat the food that was
36:39
given to them but I you I hate
36:41
everything they gave me Oh somebody it’s
36:46
right suicide right that’s possible but
36:50
I don’t know upper case then I don’t
36:54
know of any case like that piece I’ve
36:56
people died of starvation because they
36:59
couldn’t eat what the food that was
37:01
given to him they just couldn’t get it
37:04
home well they didn’t like it but also
37:07
didn’t agree with them I mean they just
37:09
couldn’t get it down I mean you know
37:12
they just get so done to get Barry Barry
37:15
and someone when you saw somebody laying
37:18
there with flies on their teeth you know
37:20
they only had a day or two left you know
37:24
where did you I slept out on the floor
37:29
we had we had done what they did and he
37:32
took over a village and made that a
37:34
prison camp so with regular Korean
37:37
dwellings so they heat the floors where
37:42
they’re from their little kitchen in
37:44
whatever they do the cooking well the
37:46
fire goes under the floor and it heats
37:50
it and it stays hot all night so that
37:54
was the heat we had we had he even well
38:00
yeah but we had we had wood details
38:03
spent the summer while we spent
38:06
everything except the winter going out
38:08
collecting wood for the winter and
38:10
everybody had to carry so many pounds
38:13
but Percy’s them you know and so good
38:18
when you came in with your wood they’d
38:19
weigh it so that’s what would we use to
38:23
heat the floors in the winter also for
38:25
the cooking we had our own cooks while
38:29
they became crooks those who volunteer
38:32
to be cooks that’s all they did it’s
38:36
quite different from the story that i
38:38
got from other poww that they didn’t
38:40
even have any hit during the winter I
38:43
think it might be having a different
38:45
camp well that’s like a way wasn’t a
38:49
camp I was in we had heat three meals
38:54
that it was Chinese it was Chinese and
38:58
one and also we had to go to school
39:02
every day bringing washing trying to
39:07
make communist out of us and telling us
39:11
how good communist is and how bad
39:13
capitalism is and so forth so every day
39:17
classes which if Chinese interpreters
39:22
were giving us the classes and some of
39:24
the interpreters had lived in New York
39:26
City and he could talk English very well
39:29
you know and then they kept saying that
39:32
we were there because of because of the
39:36
rich people you know later the I mean
39:40
the millionaires think about that we
39:42
were there because the millionaires were
39:43
making money selling arms and so forth
39:47
well I thought it was a lot of hogwash
39:49
you know I mean I knew that the
39:51
millionaires were making money but
39:54
that’s not why we were there and Hayden
39:58
we didn’t start the war they’re not
40:00
Koreans did I had a lot of freedom I had
40:08
a lot of freedom inside the camp I mean
40:13
aside from certain hours that you had to
40:15
go to school or things i have a wood
40:18
detail or or detailed to go to go to the
40:23
typical pick up food you know but for
40:27
the company i was i getting into
40:30
anything
40:32
I forgot the question a typical day yes
40:39
I could write all yes I was able to
40:45
write I don’t know how many letters went
40:48
out I mean the letter didn’t go out
40:52
without the Chinese reading at first and
40:55
if they didn’t like what they were
40:56
reading he threw the letter O you know
40:58
so one way to get a letter out was right
41:02
a little propaganda that favored the
41:04
Chinese that then you knew it would go
41:06
out and you hope your family would read
41:08
between the lines yeah yeah matter of
41:15
fact when I got home some of the letters
41:18
i wrote my mother had saved so i
41:22
received by a son i didn’t receive them
41:25
all but once in a while they received
41:26
one those letters I don’t know if I
41:32
still have them now I’m not sure because
41:37
after a while I got tired of saving them
41:41
you know I may have thrown them away ten
41:45
years ago I don’t know don’t know for
41:47
sure still left I had some newspaper
41:51
articles and whatnot you know in before
41:55
we started our interview you solved of
41:58
my website the foundation’s website ever
42:01
that interviews and artifacts are
42:03
collected from criminal bearers yeah if
42:06
you share any documents or any artifacts
42:10
related to your brilliant service during
42:13
the war if you share that it can be in
42:17
the website so that many people can see
42:19
those would you be willing to dig out
42:21
your closet to see if you still have our
42:23
letters and other documents newspapers
42:26
anything well I’ll take a look I think I
42:29
may still have some newspaper stuff so
42:33
it’s a quite different stories are
42:35
according to Maya another interview with
42:39
poww they were in the pelt on camp and
42:44
they got only one meal a day there is no
42:49
heat Errol and inside of that rule 14
42:52
people are sleeping like by their side
42:55
so that they could have a hit during
42:57
from the bodies during the winner and
43:00
many people seuss try to Sidon and they
43:04
actually died of it I wonder well yeah I
43:08
wonder if they got there in the early
43:11
part or something because I may have got
43:15
there when things started to get better
43:17
you know the only thing I can think of
43:20
because the only people that died were
43:24
those that died of malnutrition it was
43:28
quite a bit of that but I eat stuff that
43:33
I never eat before or since like seaweed
43:36
but I know seaweeds good for you but we
43:40
needed the iodine that’s how I ate it
43:42
but I like that or not and dried
43:45
honeysuckle and abate that my life and I
43:47
didn’t even know what honeysuckle was
43:49
till I ate it did this for you I never
43:53
that tortured anybody being tortured
43:56
that I didn’t see it but I heard of some
44:01
that get tortured and they were what
44:05
they call dissidents and when they were
44:10
separated from us I know they were
44:13
tortured but I didn’t see it and July of
44:22
a 1953 no I just remember I’m lucky to
44:31
remember the month well I remember but I
44:38
can’t tell you the date of the day
44:41
remember your thoughts Oh overjoyed over
44:47
good well but there
44:52
what did I do well I don’t know i think
44:56
all they did was smile and go in the
44:59
tent and you know the nurse the nursing
45:03
temp can and and all the nurses were
45:06
black and and I thought even they were
45:09
good looking I mean I never thought I
45:14
shouldn’t say things like that still I
45:19
never had seen what i consider beautiful
45:24
looking women black women but that day I
45:27
thought they were negroes black woman
45:33
their nurses here in the town where I
45:36
got released oh yeah my man John malaria
45:40
for you transported by trolls yes North
45:47
Korean are while our Chinese trucks so
45:51
the Chinese treat you when you were
45:53
released well I treated us as well as
45:56
they could you know they do remember
46:00
well I this is when we first started
46:03
getting American cigarettes both two
46:08
weeks before we will release we were
46:10
getting American cigarettes yeah and all
46:14
the cigarettes would smoke and before
46:16
that no because they would not allow a
46:18
Red Cross to come in or give us the
46:22
stuff so yeah we had that plus we had a
46:27
lot to eat on the way back but like all
46:30
those sweet sticks they call SWAT sticks
46:32
because they couldn’t say sweet i guess
46:37
well you know some of those Chinese
46:39
interpreters your don’t lost it and
46:41
don’t broke it you know what I mean that
46:44
but the pub we understood how do the
46:46
Americans feed you when you will return
46:49
I tweet us I heroes and the same day you
46:58
got on a helicopter to Japan
47:02
and then Japan there was a hospital ship
47:05
there waiting for us so that’s when I
47:08
discovered I had a TB scar I thought I
47:12
don’t know why but it healed itself even
47:17
before even before I was returned to our
47:20
own wine it had healed itself but I I
47:24
know that I caught it from somebody that
47:27
lived in the same room we did because he
47:30
had a very bad case he spent a lot of
47:33
time in the hospital I was worried about
47:37
my health allowed niggas it’s uh they
47:42
medical facilities were pretty pretty
47:46
bad I think that what they call the
47:49
doctor there’s nothing but a first aid
47:51
man you know no the only thing he could
47:55
treat with with worms so what happened
48:02
after the shop in the hospital share
48:06
your back to the States yeah on the
48:10
hospital ship oh yeah all the way back
48:14
all the way there very good well yeah
48:19
they were hey I want to get us back in
48:21
in in pretty good shape by the time we
48:24
got home so from we went from there we
48:30
went to Texas for day or two and a plane
48:34
all the way to Westover Air Base that’s
48:39
where my family was waiting for me and
48:45
then you got the day that the moment
48:48
that you reunited with your eyelid soul
48:52
I was overjoyed I’m
48:58
except for smiling and hugging and all
49:01
this I don’t know what else I can say
49:04
and my family I had all moved from Maine
49:09
to Connecticut while I was a prisoner of
49:13
war because there was not much work in
49:16
Maine so they were over here so there
49:18
they lived in Elmwood so i will living
49:25
with them until I got married had
49:28
married a woman that used to work with
49:32
my kid sister and me they used to talk
49:37
about me so I was already snagged before
49:41
I even got off the plane I’m still
49:45
married done no I have not no not really
50:03
well it’s not that so much I just don’t
50:07
want to spend my time going going over
50:10
there I’d rather spend my time doing
50:14
what I like to do I like to play music
50:18
and entertain in nursing homes and I
50:22
like to play chess those are my I do
50:27
that and I guess I have so many medical
50:31
problems that I guess that’s become a
50:33
hobby to take care of myself I play the
50:37
piano or the keyboard well I knew a
50:42
little bit about playing the piano I had
50:44
taken a few lessons from my aunt and
50:46
then did a lot of self teaching then
50:50
when they went to curl to Korea while in
50:54
the prison camp they had a we had one
50:57
accordions for the whole camp and the
51:01
accordion got past our own and in the
51:05
American side I’m the only one that
51:08
could learn to play the accordion
51:10
because of what
51:11
new on the piano and we had a guy yet so
51:15
I entertain the troops on them when it
51:18
was my turn with the chorion I used to
51:19
entertain the troops I played all the
51:22
old songs that I did that I knew by
51:24
heart and only I play pegar my heart and
51:28
sentimental journey and things like that
51:30
you know I didn’t sing then side now I
51:33
say I didn’t sing at all in the camp all
51:39
I did was play but now I say okay your
51:48
mug Louie Armstrong myself yeah why’d
51:51
you smiling friend you’re smiling the
51:55
whole world smiles with you oh yes but
52:03
gonna take a Sentimental Journey gonna
52:08
make my daddy I’m popular in the nursing
52:17
home yes no I mean in the county I was
52:20
to a point well no they didn’t take away
52:28
it says some of the some of the
52:32
prisoners thought that I was a turncoat
52:35
turncoat in other words a traitor and I
52:40
wasn’t but some of them thought that and
52:42
I can see why but they were wrong we
52:49
were told from the beginning to have an
52:51
open mind you know so okay I decided to
52:55
have an open mind but that doesn’t mean
52:58
that I believed everything they were
53:00
telling us it means that i was listening
53:03
and making a judgment so oh but the real
53:08
thing that was bad as they made a her TV
53:16
a tape of an American band playing music
53:24
and it was shown in China and on TV and
53:31
everything and I was in that band I
53:35
played I was playing the drums but
53:38
nobody said anything about a message
53:42
going with it saying that everybody in
53:47
the van was called the Americans bad and
53:52
all that stuff nobody said that or that
53:56
they were going to say that but this is
53:58
what was printed and also the names of
54:02
the ones who played in the band I never
54:06
said anything like that I never signed
54:08
anything either but when when the
54:11
magazine or the newspaper came over you
54:14
see we used to get the Shanghai news
54:15
which was printed in English when that
54:18
came in the camp they were reading this
54:20
and my name was there you know so right
54:24
away everybody thought that I that’s
54:29
Shanghai news so where I would be people
54:34
got the wrong idea but i was still
54:37
popular but in some circles no you know
54:41
what i mean those who knew me no
54:44
differently the ones who lived in my
54:47
room they knew uh probably I I didn’t
54:55
count but maybe 12 we didn’t have to
54:59
sleep sideways no I don’t stop playing
55:04
because this was still good you know and
55:07
also there was a very good piano player
55:11
I mean he could play jazz he could play
55:14
classical and all this but he refused to
55:17
play the accordion unless I put it on
55:20
lay down on the table who did the
55:22
pumping and then he played the accordion
55:24
with to just the keyboard but he was
55:27
progressive and now I’m associating with
55:31
this guy what did you think
55:34
by playing the accordions to you all I
55:41
thought I was entertaining them and
55:43
making them happy you know and there was
55:48
two guitars for every for every 200 men
55:53
so I learned how to play to get tired
55:55
too but just chords yeah yeah I could
56:04
play to get her every hey boy training
56:07
us pretty good as I’m saying we were
56:09
treated better than any prisoners in
56:11
history yeah but they like I did they
56:15
had an agenda if they treated us bad
56:17
there’s no way we would come back home
56:20
as communist two guitars for every 200
56:24
men oh yeah every day I think about some
56:45
of the friends ahead I think about I
56:47
severe play about 20 games of chess at
56:50
days I think about some of that oh yeah
56:54
well I had to make my own set but are
56:56
they are they played yeah the the army
57:04
boots that we had have a piece of steel
57:07
in the arch so when the boots were no
57:10
good anymore we saved that piece of
57:13
steel and sharpened it on songs and
57:16
that’s what we use for curve so you pick
57:18
up branches that are right size and
57:20
everything in carbon to make them
57:22
reasonable work of chess pieces no work
57:25
of art violin no they didn’t I guess
57:33
they didn’t know we had him I know
57:35
didn’t and you made his chest up there
57:39
plated yeah and I thought a lot of
57:42
people how to play it too what is your
57:44
feeling about your us being end up in
57:47
the prison and you know fighting in the
57:50
country that you never knew before well
57:53
I I didn’t mind I didn’t have anything
57:58
against fighting over there the more
58:01
than it was I the only high minded was
58:03
my safety you know I was worried about
58:06
myself but I didn’t mind the idea that
58:10
we were fighting there to stop communism
58:14
did you pray oh hey yeah I prayed all
58:19
right yeah Catholic yeah i pray all
58:24
right all the time and it saved my life
58:28
oh yeah pray for my safety oh oh I don’t
58:34
know it seemed like I don’t know I never
58:40
counted I mean as far as i know i might
58:42
have been praying most of the day you
58:44
know but i’m not on my knees or anything
58:46
I mean I could have been marching and
58:48
pray and believe me yes uh well no not
58:56
so much about release but I had
58:59
confidence that my prayers were being
59:01
heard but whether they would be granted
59:05
or not I didn’t know that well yeah I
59:14
mean naturally the rosary I sure you
59:18
know what it I consists of you know our
59:21
Father and Hail Mary and so forth but
59:26
others were just simply my own words you
59:29
know father right that I be safe today
59:38
and tomorrow and that I have a safe
59:43
return home ask this in the name of
59:47
Jesus Christ
59:52
something similar have you follow up
59:58
with the developments that are hurt
60:01
after the war in Korea do you know
60:04
anything only what I read in the paper a
60:08
prosperous democracy prosperous ever
60:13
yeah very strong democracy everybody
60:17
seems to be happy compare that to North
60:20
Korea everything down poor people what
60:25
is the legacy of Korean Laura Ingraham
60:27
embarrass the legacy well I don’t know
60:35
why I think we were appreciated more
60:39
than those pores soldiers that went went
60:44
in that damn you know the ones and then
60:48
they came back on some of them look they
60:50
were looked at like they were monsters
60:52
you know I still feel that we came back
60:57
people looked at us as heroes but
61:02
probably didn’t get the respect that we
61:05
should have you know compared to Second
61:08
World War veterans but we didn’t get
61:11
insulted anyway or anything like those
61:15
poor guys and Fiat ma’am I mean those
61:17
who didn’t want to go they went to
61:20
Canada they’ve considered criminals and
61:23
now the ones that went and came back
61:25
that considered baby killers and whatnot
61:27
and also I feel bad for them
61:36
bring the tamil Korean War into a
61:39
prospective how do you how do you see
61:48
why i think it was even it was just an
61:54
experience it might have been a good
61:57
experience i don’t know i could have
61:59
done without it but i don’t know what to
62:03
say about that at the time that I when I
62:07
first came back I thought that I would
62:11
do it again if you know if called upon
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but after few years well not a few maybe
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maybe after 20 years of reflecting as I
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don’t know if I could do that again I
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don’t really have a message except they
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called upon to defend their country and
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they should do so and honorable but
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other than that I do I don’t have much
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to say your name in Korean to as it
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pronounced here no more Reynold how
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about that the middle thank you very
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much again no you’re welcome