Paul E. Newman
Paul E. Newman served in the United States Army during World War II. Upon his return, he obtained a civil service job in the US Army Post Office in Yokohama, Japan, and was stationed there during the Korean War. He details the importance of that particular post office during that time as it served as the main hub for the sorting and shipping of letters between soldiers and families back home. He recounts the creation of a special unit within the Army & Air Force Exchange Service during his time there and the impact it had on soldiers and their families. He is proud to have played a role in keeping families in contact with their beloved soldiers.
Post Office Soldiers Sent to Korea
Paul E. Newman shares that upon his return from Europe following World War II, he served as a civil service officer in the US Army Post Office in Yokohama, Japan, during the Korean War. He explains that when the war broke out, his post was directly impacted as roughly half of the military personnel there was sent to Korea. He offers a specific account of an officer from his post sent to Korea to establish a post office there for correspondence purposes during the war.
Main Hub of Communication
Paul E. Newman describes his main job working in the US Army Post Office during the Korean War. He explains his role as a money order clerk. He also details the importance of the particular post office he worked in as it served as the main hub for letters shipped to and from soldiers serving in the war.
Sending Gifts Home To Loved Ones
Paul E. Newman shares his most significant experience regarding his duties during the Korean War. He explains the creation of the Army & Air Force Mail Order System and the process soldiers used to send gifts home to loved ones. He expresses his pride in having played a role in this process while in Japan during the Korean War.
[Beginning of Recorded Material]
Paul E. Newman. I use the E to distinguish from the one that made the name famous.
P: My birthday was the 3rdday of January, the year of 1926. Today’s my 89thbirthday.
I: Where were you born?
P: I was born in the country, near Grantsville, Maryland.
P: Yeah, that’s the western part of Maryland.
I: I know. And what school did you go?
I: What school did you go?
P: School? Oh, my high school was Somerset High School.
P: Somerset, Pennsylvania.
I: Oh. When did you graduate?
I: And, what did you do after the high school graduation?
P: Well, the first, the summer after graduating, we had just recently moved into a
town that all the local jobs–
P: –for teenagers and so forth, they just was not available. But it was a coal mining,
coal mine there and I would go out couple of hours a day on the slate dump and
pick coal out of the slate.
P: In Fairchance, Pennsylvania.
P: Yeah. Near the city, the town of Uniontown.
I: Uh huh.
P: And, we would, the fellow that had the truck, we’d get a truck load and I’d get
half, we’d split the, uh–
P: –sell the coal and split the difference. By September, I then was employed as a
helper on a, a fellow that had a big grinder on a truck that went around to the different farms to grind their grain into feed. And it was, in that, that capacity I was working when I was drafted into the Army in 1944.
I: So, you, when did you enlist?
P: I was drafted in 12 May 1944.
I: And so, where did you go to the base in [unintelligible] training?
P: Fort McClellan, Alabama.
I: Alabama. And what was your specialty?
P: Heavy weapon, infantry heavy weapons. And, uh, from there I was assigned to an
81mm mortar squad.
I: A 81mm–
I: –mortar. And when did you leave for Korea?
P: I did not go to Korea. I went to, went to Europe.
P: We sa-, we left, we sailed to Boston in December of 1944 and landed at
Marseilles France on the 15thof December 1944.
I: Wow. So, you were in the World War II.
I: So, tell me about your, did you engage in the combat or what happened to you?
P: Right, we landed, I said, we landed in Martin on December 15th, and by the 22nd,
we were on a train. I spent Christmas Eve 1944 on a French railroad car called
I: Mmm hmmm.
P: –on the way to the forward front. We were in defensive positions along the Rhine
River by the, before the end of December.
I: Uh huh.
P: Our first engagement was actually with an armed, down there, was on 3 January
1945, my 19thbirthday.
I: What, what did you do?
P: I was a, what’s called a munitions carrier, to ammunitions handler, for the 81mm
I: Where was it?
P: A place called Wingen, France
I: Winnin, France?
P: Wingen. W-I-N-G-E-N.
I: Um hmmm.
I: So, you were carrying the ammunition? I mean-
P: I car- you know–
I: -the mortar.
P: Carry it, p-pa-pass to the gunners.
I: And then when did you leave Europe?
P: Europe, I was, we were there at, on V Day and I did not leave until June of 1946,
I: Mmm hmm.
P: –after serving occupation duty.
I: So how did you like your duties–
I: -in Europe?
P: The best way that I can explain it is when I told my dad after I got home, he says
what was it like, being in the infantry? I said, at the time to me it was just another day’s job. It was what I was going to do, and it was just another day’s work. [laughs]
I: Did you like your service there?
P: Uhhhhh, noooo, but I didn’t dislike it, but it really wasn’t too bad. It was,
P: –because it was, everybody else there just what they would do, and, uh.
I: How did French people treat you? American soldiers?
P: Well, they did well. We had very little, at first, we had very little relations with
civilians and even in Germany, during, only during occupation did we begin to have, intermingle with the German people. By that time, the occupation duty, I had been–
P: –brought into the (Ordly) home as a, just as a clerk and eventually a unit mail
clerk, pick up the mail and, uh.
I: Um hmmm.
P: Which was much more interesting than training with a, on a, with a gun. [laughs]
I: So, after you came back from Europe, what did you?
P: Oh, I first got a, got a job as a civil service in the–
P: –Social Security Administration in Baltimore Maryland. From there, I applied
and was accepted for a position with the Department of War, it was, at that time, it was War Department and would later become the Department of the Army, for a base post office in Yokohama, Japan as a mail handler.
I: When did you leave for Kor-, to Japan?
P: Oh, I spent the next 42 years in Japan. [laughs]
P: Off and on, with, with home leave, and so forth.
I: So, you were working as a civilian officer in the post office of the U.S. Army in
I: Okay. From when to when?
P: From April of 1947 until June of 1949, ’59.
I: So, when you were in Japan, you heard about the breakout of the Korean War?
P: At the, when the Korean War broke out, we, it was directly impacted because the,
the major work force for the base post office was active duty military, it was Army. The civilians were limited to positions of clerk, window clerk and so forth. And I would say quite a few of, if not half of the military personnel were detailed to–
P: –Korea, sent there TDY. And, to give you an example of the, eventually what the
impact, the, one of the NCOs had, was working there, as I was at the time in the, what called the finance section, where we provided window service to the public, and the NCOIC there was a master sergeant who had been a commissioned officer in World War II and–
P: –when they put him back to enlistment status, but when the Korean War broke
out, he was recalled as a captain and he took a, established a, what’s known as a first base post office and took them to Korea. And I, I’m almost sure that he left Korea as Major. But man other military went there originally on a 90 day TDY but they were either totally reassigned or–
P: –transferred elsewhere.
I: What was your main job in Yokohama as a civilian officer on the U.S. Army post
P: At the time that the Korean War broke out, I was basically a, what the all a money
order clerk. I would write and issue money, money orders, postal money orders. And then–
I: For who, for whom?
P: For the military–
P: –people, APO people, military and civilians who had APO privileges.
I: Uh huh. What is APO?
P: Army Post Office.
I: Okay. So, you were writing and taking care of, uh–
I: –money orders.
P: Right. We were, we were basically an extension of the United States Postal
Service but we were appointed as military postal clerks–
P: –and worked for the Army, not the Post Office.
I: Right, so–
I: –many soldiers from Korea wrote letter back to their family and to their people.
Did that mail go through your office?
P: Most of it, yes. Most of the, the base post office in Yokohama’s main function
was to receive email from the United States either by air through the airport or by ship through the port in Yokohama. And collect the mail in Japan and reship it to the States.
P: And to Korea, a lot of the, the, at the time of the Korean War started, the
communications from Korea that came to Yokohama to Korea and back to Yokohama, at, later on it went, some of it went direct to Korea. But most of the mail that was to, to and from Korea at that time, flew through our office.
I: That’s the office that actually received the letter from the Koreans Peninsula and
then send it back to the–
I: –State and other way around.
I: Wow, you played a very important role, right?
I: So, letters at the time for the soldiers and their family was the most important
P: Right. The, by the Fall of 1950, we had, well, when the Chinese started to fall
back, during the–
P: –Pusan parameter deal, a lot of mail was being held in Yokohama because, to, it,
it, it could not be delivered in Korea, it had to be held there. And then as things, after the Inchon invasion, we was able to ship it to Korea and deliver it. Then, when, the Chinese, um, came across the Yalu River, we had to stop,
P: –the Christmas, this was before Christmas. In Christmas, 1950 we were holding a
lot of mail from Korea until we was able to ship it. And for me, at that time, I, I remember we had, I think two train loads of mail being sidetracked in Yokohama, to and, and was released the last week before Christmas, was released Sasebo for shipment to Korea
I: That’s a very interesting story. I,–
I: –I expected to hear from you something different from regular Korean War
I: –and whenever I do interview they all was talking about the letter they wrote and
I was wondering how is it been working, and Yokohama was the hub.
P: We, we were the major distribution, receipt and distribution center for postal for
Japan and Korea. And, sometimes, Okinawa. We were the head, the–
P: –headquarters of Tokyo, which is JHQ at the time. And their postal mission
covered the entire Pacific. And we, we covered Japan and Korea originally and so, and by, as I mentioned before, the, the Master Sergeant that was recalled as a Captain, he was, organized the first base post office and took it to Inchon. And, he, he, then we, they started to get some mail and right–
P: –along, they could get mail directly flowing in to Inchon, er into Korea but, but
originally it all flew, flew through us.
I: When was it that they were able to send it to, send letters, mail to the Inchon
directly? When was it?
P: Probably in ’51 some time, I, I, the exact dates, I was not up high enough in the, in
the order to know all the planning of this, at the, at–
P: –I did move from a clerk, from a money order clerk, because of the, everybody,
we went to Korea, we started having more civilians from among the civilian population, the, the military wives that we, were in Yokohama, were hired as extra clerks in the post office and I moved into a position of, where I not only was available to window service, I handled claims, inquiries, and–
P: –processed, helped to process the local mail that was, for local distribution in
Yokohama. And, but this, this gave me, I could observe the overall operation, but I was not responsible for it and the exact dates I don’t know. But, but I do, do know that the we shipped a lot, had communication back and forth. Yeah.
I: That was the only pleasure–
I: –and relief of receiving the letters from and to–
I: –Korea and the States. So, I’m so fortunate to have you for this interview. Any
other stories that you want to tell about involve with your duties on the Korean
P: Well, the, I think the most significant was in September, about September-
P: –1950, things were beginning to jell a little bit, so a bit on the Korean front and
the officer’s wives’ club at Tokyo and Yokohama decided they wanted to do something for the troops in Korea.
P: And we knew that the, they, they knew that the Korean soldiers would probably
like to buy Christmas gifts or so forth.
P: And with the Army Air Force Exchange Service,
P: –except, set up what they called a, a special unit where the, they made
mimeograph, reproduced and mimeographed catalogs and lists and sent it to Korea and, for the soldiers to order stuff they, they could order something and send a money order to the PX. The wives would go in and buy the items, have it packed and mail it. And we had, it wound up that we–
P: –had a, it wound up that we had a separate unit, a branch unit, established in the
Ex, the Post Exchange that handled only this mail that was being, the package was being gifts being bought by the officer’s, the wives, probably not restricted to officer’s wives, either, but they were the leaders, and mailed. And the, from that is, the upshot, this was done in Tokyo and Yokohama.
P: As things settled down, Tokyo decided, no they couldn’t, they knew it wasn’t
one, one place only. So, the single unit was located in Yokohama. And, the, this was the birthday, actually the beginning of what is known as the Army Air Force Mail Order System. It’s still in effect–
I: Army Air Force–
P: –the Army Air Force Exchange, the Mail Order System is still alive today
P: They’re still using it, publishing regular catalogs, just like Sears and Roebuck did.
I: Army Air Force–
P: Army Air Force Exchange Service.
I: –Exchange Service?
I: Exchange, Mail Order System?
P: Yeah, well I guess you out to call it.
I: So, Army Air Force Mail Order System?
I: Okay. So, soldiers look at the list of items and they order it and then this wives’
I: –in the Toyoko and Yokohama being to send those–
I: –to the soldier
P: And I, I wound up being in the unit that was accepting these packages and some
of the requests would come in from Korea, the soldier would say, here’s $50, if you give a $50 money order, the wife is, the girls, the wife is the recipient was such an age, blonde, size, box of the size, whatever you think she’d like. [laughs]
I: So, soldiers pay for that, right?
P: Oh, yeah, they, yeah, they–
I: They paid and this wives’ club taking care of that and the gift for whom? The
soldiers or the family?
P: No, the gift would be for the family.
I: What was the most popular items for soldiers to order for their families? Do you
P: Gee, I’m not sure.
P: I can’t exactly, no.
P: What, the, actually, many times, that we would, in the post office, what was,
people, even the one–
P: — soldiers in Japan, were buying, china, Japanese chinaware, Noritake China and
things of that nature. Or the other souvenir like items.
I: Thank you very much for doing this interview with me.
[End of Recorded Material]