Peter Elliott served in Korea after joining the Royal Australian Air Force. He arrived in Korea near the end of the war in 1953, but has tremendous insight into the war, the impact, and the legacy. During the war he focused on air mechanics, supporting the war front by repairing the frames of the planes. He is able to give some feedback about what the living conditions during the war were like based on what he was told and what he saw. He shares a comparison between the Korea he saw in the 1950’s and modern Korea, saying that it should not be a surprise that the industrious and intelligent people of Korea were able to accomplish so much. Peter Elliott argues that everyone must do what they can to support the cost of freedom.
Not a Surprise
When Peter Elliott is asked to compare the Korea of today against the Korea he saw in the 1950's, he gives a remarkable contrast. He says that the war made it very difficult for the people and he remembers seeing young children who had lost limbs using beer cans to walk because they had no legs. However, he adds that if you were to meet the Korean people it should not be a surprise that they have made so much progress.
Life as an Aircraftman
Peter Elliott shares his experiences working in airplane mechanics during the war as a leading Aircraftman. He explains what his responsibilities were as his specialty was repairing and maintaining the frames of airplanes. While they did not get paid much, he recalls how he was able to save money and buy a car when he returned to Australia.
Peter Elliott sheds light on the living conditions around the Battle of the Hook. He recalls how the men lived in dugout habitats with weather conditions that were either very hot or very cold depending on the season. He remembers that there was a lot of activity occurring before the major battle.
[Beginning of recorded material]
P: Peter John Elliott, E L L I O T T.
I: And what is your birthday?
P: My birthday is on the 30th of the 7th, 33.
P: Yeah, not 18, 19.
I: Nineteen what?
I: Thirty-three. So you are young.
P: I am young.
I: And you born on July 30.
P: That’s right.
I: Right. Where were you born?
P: In Adelaide, South Australia.
I: Where? Could you spell it?
P: A D E L A I D E
I: D E
I: Adelia, yeah.
P: A D E L A I D E
I: Oh. D E, okay. And tell me about your family
when you were growing up, your siblings. How many siblings and your parents.
P: Okay. My parents, uh, my father, uh, was a, uh, part of a, a family of six, three boys and three girls. They grew up in the farming areas. My great grandfather actually was a migrant from England in 1855.
I: Eighteen fifty-five.
P: He was a veterinarian.
I: Um hm.
P: and a blacksmith. And he bought the first land in the Riverton area in South Australia which is right up North, uh. And he served, as the farmers came in and started growing cereal crops,
I: Uh huh
P: he provided veterinary services
I: Um hm
P: uh, for them and, uh, and blacksmith services.
So that was the beginning. And he was, um, a man that had, uh, a lot of experience in, uh, dealing with people. He was a lay preacher, uh, in a Christian church
P: And, uh, his, uh, whole family grew up in a, uh, very, uh, stable, uh, family environment, uh. Each of the boys were farmers, um. My, uh, father
and my uncle served in World War I, one in the Air Force and the other in, in the Army.
P: So, uh, my father, because of, uh, uh, physical disabilities created out of his military service, uh, was limited in the amount of work that he, had to do light work, and that meant, uh, during the Depression years, it was very difficult to find work
P: particularly light work. However, uh,
my mother died when I was 16 month old
P: and, uh, my eldest brother, uh, he died a year later. And, uh, my other brother, I had no sisters, my other brother and I, uh, lived with, uh, my father’s sister in [Gower] which was at the mouth of the river Murray in South Australia. So we grew up there, and we had, um, uh, a number of years with her.
And then my father married again, uh, and, uh, when, uh, we were living up in the country areas, um, I used to, um, be a normal farm boy, milk the cows , uh, and do all of that sort of thing, uh, go to school where there were 27, uh, students in the school which is country school, walk through the bush each day and, uh, walk home, bring the cows home and milk them. So that was, uh, a little background.
Then when my father married again, we went down to the city, and, um, my father, um, asked me how I was getting on at school because we were used to walking three miles to school in the, in the bush. But, uh, uh, down in the city, I only had to, uh, walk a mile to the school.
P: And he asked me how I was getting on. I said I’m fine. But all of the, all of the children, uh, go to school, they ride bicycles. He said oh, you want a bicycle? And I said yes, that would be good.
He said oh, we’ll get you a job, uh. And so he, uh, got me a job selling papers, and I sold them for three years, and in that time, uh , I was able to buy a housing block, uh, five miles from the center of the city and buy my bicycle and other things. So I had a good grounding, um. And, uh, when, um, when the War in Korea started, I was working
at the News Mail in Adelaide and, uh, a lot of my mates said, uh, you know, we should be in this. So we went and enlisted. And
I: So before you going to the detail of this military, uh, stuff, I would like to ask you this. Good idea. Um, did you learn anything about Korea from the school?
P: No. I learned nothing. Uh, we were under, South Australia
was very pro-British, and about all that we learned about was British history. We learned nothing about other countries.
I: Nothing about other countries?
I: No Japan, no Asia, no China?
P: Uh, well, uh, we didn’t, uh, really learn too much about Japan. We, we knew, of course, that, uh, Japan was, uh, our enemy
P: um, during World War II, uh. But that was about all. Uh, I mean,
I did make some their studies found that, uh, Japan had, uh, uh, invaded Korea, uh, a little bit about Manchuria and that area, but not a lot. I, I was not a student, uh, uh, at that stage, and, uh, I had very little knowledge of Korea.
P: But I did have some idea of the, uh, Communist, uh, desire to take over.
I: How? What did you know about the Communists: I knew that the Communists, uh, uh, pardon me, under Joseph Stalin, uh, at the end of the War, used all of their parts to capture as many countries in Europe as they could, uh. They, uh, infiltrated, uh, down into China and, uh, also into North Korea and, uh, they were a threat to, uh, the stability of the, uh, Asian area
as they had been in Europe.
I: Very good. Very good. So basically, you didn’t know nothing about Korea.
P: No. I had really no knowledge at all, uh, other, other than the fact that, uhm, Korea was a country, um, close to China and, uh, it had been, uh, dominated by Japanese
I: Um hm
P: uh, many years before. And that’s about all that I knew.
I: Um hm.
Have you been, I mean, when did you go to Korea?
P: In, uh, 1953.
I: Fifty-three. What month?
P: Uh, May.
I: May. So it was right before the Armistice.
P: Yes, that’s right.
I: Um hm.
P: Right before the, uh, uh, the major battle in, uh, Taluk.
P: which, uh, I guess, um, had some, uh, bearing on bringing me war to oppose.
I: And when did you leave Korea?
P: Uh, latter part, in the latter part of, uh, ’53.
I: Um. So
P: I was stationed in Iwakuni in Japan, oh, Japanese Naval Air Base
I: Um hm.
P: That’s where we had out maintenance squadron,
P: and 77th squadron plus the United Nations, uh, uh, Force, uh, Royal Navy, American aircraft and so forth.
But, uh, there was no point in, uh, remaining over there as far as, uh, uh, my services went.
I: Uh huh.
P: Uh, my role was to go back to Iwakuni.
I: So tell me, you never been in the Korean soil.
P: I had never been
I: Into the Korean land.
P: Well, only when I was there. I’m in Pusan and Taegu and
I: Oh, you were there?
P: Oh yeah. And, uh,
um, Seoul and, uh, uh, those, uh, country areas round about.
I: Um hm.
P: I’ve seen, uh, how the, uh, native people lived. I was very impressed with, uh, the way that, uh, out in the country that they would, uh, create a dugout, uh, mud bricks and, uh, straw flashing on their roofs, uh, making it very, uh, good as far as the cold, uh, in the winter and
P: And one of the things I was amazed by
I was out, uh, in a patrol in the country area, uh, not far from Kimpo
I: Um hm.
P: And, uh, I saw this, uh, man carrying along with, uh, two blocks of ice, one either side of his, uh,
P: Yeah, A-frame. And, uh, I, uh, asked my interpreter where did he get the ice from? There’s nothing here. He said in the wintertime when the river’s froze over, they cut the ice out, uh. They have a huge
hole in the ground, and they go down and they pack the ice down with a river, uh, with, uh, rice, uh, padding and, uh,
P: Us, and they go layer after layer. And when somebody in the summer wants ice, uh, the man goes down, uh, the ladder, uh, gets the box of ice, brings some up, uh. So that is marvelous. That is very ingenious, uh, to do that because my people in South Australia, we lived up in the country air
is very hot in the summer and, uh, cold and wet in the winter. And we build our houses, uh, similarly, uh, wide verandas, uh, high ceilings, uh, straw over the ceilings to, uh, control the temperature flow. So I was very impressed, uh, with the, uh , uh m, the average, uh, South Korean.
I: But. So your main base was, uh, Iwakuni, right?
P: And Kimpo.
I: In Japan. In Japan.
P: Oh, Iwakuni.
I: But you went to Korea, too.
P: Oh yes. We, we
I: So you were not Navy or, were you Navy?
P: Air Force.
I: Air Force.
I: Okay. And so, have you been back to Korea after that?
I: You never been back to Korea?
I: Do you know what’s going on in Korea?
P: Ah, yes I, I do because, uh, the church I belong to is very active in South Korea. Uh, it has been since the late 50’s,
I: Um hm.
P: And, uh, so I have seen a lot of, uh, footage, film footage, of what has happened there. And I follow some of the progress on the, uh, uh, on their economy and how they have developed it. It’s, they’re really a remarkable, uh, feat.
I: Could you provide more detail because remember. This interview will be checked by young students in, in the school. So give them what you know about
the contemporary Korean society compared to the Korea that you saw in 1953.
P: Well, yes, of course. Uh, modern society didn’t come about by chance. It became because, uh, I found the Korean people very, uh, industrious and, uh, very, uh, intelligent when it came to, uh, developing their economy. But when I went to Korea, uh, it was a
third world country and, uh, the people really didn’t have much, and the War made it very difficult for them because, uh, of so much hardship. And one of the things that I didn’t like was, uh, around Seoul, uh, I saw a lot of children that had, uh, missing limbs, uh, uh, one or two of them there, I was amazed with, uh, they were using, uh, beer cans, uh, to walk cause
they had no legs. And I thought well that
I: No leg at all.
P: No legs at all.
I: And they were able to use this
I: beer can
P: They’re thinking, they say they want to walk around. So they had beer cans, and they walked with their arms.
P: and dragged their leg, uh, dragged their, their, um, posterior along the ground. So I, I was not impressed with the way that, um, uh,
I: Children has been treated.
P: Uh, people had conducted themselves during that time.
P: Yes, a lot of
I: Like what?
I: Be honest. It’s okay.
P: Okay. The Americans had a habit of blowing things up.
I: Uh huh.
P: And a lot of the damage around, uh, Seoul, the city and that, was, uh, through, uh, American artillery. Uh, and, uh, I went to one place. There were no buildings at all uh, around. Just, uh, right in the center of this open space,
uh, an old rebel
I: Um hm.
P: was a Catholic church. And it did, it had its’ original, uh, stained glass windows, and there were no marks or evidence, uh, of any damage to their walls. And I thought isn’t that remarkable.
I: Um hm.
P: Uh, so, um, yes. My experiences in South Korea, apart from, uh, uh, responsibilities in the Air Force,
P: was to, uh, gain as much as I could about how the people lived and, uh, and what t hey did and, uh. So I saw, uh, a country here where people used their ingenuity to keep themselves alive, to grow food and, and to, to live in a very basic way. And then when we come back to today and we see this very prosperous and very thriving economy, uh, it is quite remarkable.
I: Do you know how large the Korean economy is now? What rank in the world?
P: I, my understanding last time I checked, it was the sixth largest in the world.
I: Oh, that’s a little bit off.
P: Some people were saying it’s the 10th.
I: Yeah. It’s the, by the GDP, it’s the 11th largest economy in the world. But it’s, uh, 7th largest trading partner to the United States, and, but think about it. The Korea you saw in
1950 and now, Korea is 11th largest economy in the world, ahead of Australia. Can you believe that?
P: Well, it, it is surprising, uh. But when you met, uh, the Korean people
P: uh, it, it really wasn’t surprising. They were very, uh, um, intelligent and had a great desire to
to create something out of their country.
I: So you’re not surprised.
P: Um, I’m surprised it happened so quickly.
I: That’s right.
P: But I’m not surprised. I have many South Korean friends today and, uh,
I: Here in Gold Coast?
P: Uh, yes, here on the Gold Coast. And, uh, I see, uh, I see their enterprise and so I’m not surprised
P: But, uh, it happened too, really very quickly.
I: Do you know that the Australia teaching about the Korean War in the History classes in high school and middle school. Do you know about that? Whether we teach or not here?
P: No. When I went to school, the only thing that you were taught was British history.
I: I see. Now, you don’t know whether we teach you or not.
P: I don’t.
I: Okay. But why is it Forgotten
in the people’s mind even though there is such a clear, successful outcome came out of the War that you fought for. Why is it known as Forgotten?
I: Why we don’t teach?
P: The War was forgotten because it was right after World War II
P: And, uh, the people had become very tired of, uh, of war
I: Uh huh
P: and, uh, of, uh, seeing military personnel everywhere.
When the Korean War started, we found, uh, the cities, particularly cities like Melbourne and Sydney, uh, crowded out with, uh, men in uniform. And, uh, people, they just finished five, six years of that
P: and they weren’t very interested. And so when you were posted to Korea, uh, they weren’t interested.
I: And obviously it’s one of the small country in Asia, and nobody knew
at the time, right?
P: That’s right.
I: Yeah. Um, do you wanna go back and see what’s been done in Korea?
P: Well, I have been offered, uh, that
P: uh, before, uh. And I have, I have not seriously considered it.
I: Why not?
P: Well, uh,
I: Do you have a bad memory?
P: No, no. I don’t have a bad memory. Um, I’ve just, uh, thought about it. I have been involved in other things
I: Uh huh
P: uh, up until recently, uh, missions from my church throughout the world and, and, uh, have been involved, uh, with, uh, helping, uh, individuals and countries
I: I see
P: uh, develop. And, uh, so now I’m here on the Gold Coast, uh. I just
serve as a Chaplain in the hospitals
P: uh, to, uh, add to the things that I need to do to keep myself busy.
I: Got it.
P: So, uh, I haven’t seriously considered it, um. I’m not saying I wouldn’t, uh, go. But, uh, up to this stage, there’d been so m any other things that have been priority.
I: And you said t hat you joined t he Air Force because they Australian Air Force was
one of the most first U.N. air forces that actually participated in the Korean War because they were in Japan at the time, right?
P: That’s right.
I: Yeah. So let’s talk about
P: We, we, we went to the, to Japan in, as an occupation force.
P: Uh, so, uh, it was a natural flow on that, uh, uh, the services of the Australian, uh, Air Force and Army, uh, could, uh, participate in the War so quickly.
P: And, of course, uh, uh, some of those
early pilots and that, uh , uh, were, uh, flying, uh, World War II aircraft, uh. and the same B51 and then later, of course, the
P: we, well they, yes. Uh, they brought in, uh, the [INAUDIBLE], uh, eight which was a very, uh, um, um, let’s say old aircraft in the sense of being an interceptor. So the squadron finished up doing ground support.
P: And we had people like, uh, John, uh, who flew there are
P: We had a great respect for the pilots. But our job was to keep them flying.
I: So tell me about, when did you join the Air Force in Australia?
P: I joined the Air Force, uh, in, uh, in 19,uh, 51, early ’51.
I: Um, where did you get the basic
P: Laberton Air Base. I had
I: Could you, could you spell it?
P: Uh, yes. L A B E R T O N.
I: L A B
P: E R
I: E I
P: E R, R
P: R T O N.
I: T O N.
I: Laberton. Where is it?
P: That’s in Victoria.
I: And how long was it ?
I: The basic military training, how was it?
P: Uh, there was three months basic
military training, and then we, uh, we did other, uh, uh, training course, uh. Of course, uh, in New South Wales, uh, and also in
P: technical training
P: uh, and, uh, servicing, uh, port, in, uh, uh, Point Cook.
I: Um, Point Cook.
so then, when did you go to Japan?
P: Well, I was, uh, invited to volunteer to serve, uh, in 77 Squadron
P: when I was placed at Point Cook.
I: Um hm
P: And that was, that was early in 1952.
I: So when did you go to Japan?
P: Nineteen fifty-two.
I: And you stayed in Iwakuni
P: It’s the old Japanese Naval Air Base.
I: Right. Naval Air Base, and you stayed there, and then, when did you go to Korea?
P: When I was transferred to Korea in May.
I: Of nineteen fifty-three.
P: Why? Because, uh, they needed replacements, um, uh. You did a, did a, uh, tour of duty y and as it was required
to maintain aircraft, uh. It was, in the Air Force, it was a rotary
I: I see.
I: So rotations.
I: What did you hear from those returning soldiers from Korea about the Korean War when you were in Japan? Anything you remember of the War that they fought before you go, went there?
P: Well, I had friends in, uh, uh, 3rd Battalion,
uh, Jimmy Brians and others, uh. They served, uh, at various places, uh. They spoke about some of their, uh, war experiences, um. I mean, it was interesting, uh. But, uh, we were not exposed that way. I mean, the closes I ever got to the Conflict was, uh, when we, uh, went up to 2nd Battalion, uh, which is near the Hook, um.
And, um, that was in, um, uh, June ’53, just before the conclusion
I: Um hm.
P: of hostilities. But, uh, I, you need to, uh, you need to speak to people that involvement in the Army if you want to
I: Yeah. I have heard about it, so, and I know about the, uh, the battle. But tell me where did you go to first in Korea? Where did you landed from Japan?
P: Oh, to Kimpo.
P: Oh, yes. Kimpo, just, uh, North of Seoul.
I: And what was your unit at the time in Korea?
P: Seventy seven squadron.
I: Still 77 squadron.
I: And what was your specialty?
P: Mine was Air Frame.
I: Air Frame?
I: What does that do?
P: It, it, well. We were a little versatile because we could work on engines or air frames and, uh, armament.
But, uh, my main responsibility was to ensure that the air frames of the aircraft, uh, were in top condition , repairs and maintenance. Any major maintenance was done in Japan. But we did minor maintenance and, uh, kept them flying.
I: So you basically maintaining the basic shape of the airplane.
P: Yes. Well, that’s right, um.
I: What was your rank at the time?
P: I was a, uh, leading aircraftsman which isn’t very high. But that’s all I needed.
I: How much were you paid by the Australian government?
P: How were we paid?
P: Uh, very poorly.
I: Very poorly, but can you, can you tell me how many shillings, 27 shillings?
I: Thirty shillings?
P: Um, you’re, you’re really testing my memory now.
I: Yeah, yeah. You are young.
P: Yeah. Um, look, um. I couldn’t be exactly sure.
I’d have to go and look at my paybook which I’ve kept.
P: But, um, it was
P: Approximately it was probably about 10 pounds a pay
I: Ten pounds.
I: With one pound, what were you able to buy in Australia at the time?
I: With one pound.
P: A lot of things. A lot of things.
P: The average, when I started working, I got 19 and 6 a week, uh,
as an apprentice, uh. But, uh, the average, uh, tradesman’s wage was five pound.
I: Um hm.
P: Okay? We, we had the opportunity that, where we, we were attached to the 67th Technical Reconnaissance Wing of the United States Air Force. And so we had some advantages there that we didn’t really have, have to spend any money in Korea, uh. The Americans supplied us with out food, etc.
I: Yeah. So what did you do with that money then?
Did you gamble?
P: I, no, no. I saved it.
I: You saved it.
P: I saved it. And when I came back to Australia, I bought a new car with my savings.
I: There you go.
I: That’s why I’m asking you. We need to [INAUDIBLE] So how did you involve in the Battle of Hook? You are the Air Force.
P: Yes, that’s right.
I: You were in the 77 Squadron.
P: Yeah, yeah. But, uh, we got missioned to go up and, uh, meet some of the
I: You volunteered to go to Battle of Hook?
P: Well, I wasn’t involved in the battle. But we went up to the frontline. It was just behind the front line, just to meet our friends and, and, uh, have the opportunity to see what they were experiencing.
I: How was it ? Tell me the details to the young children, I mean students, about the well-known Battle of Hook.
I: What did you see there?
P: There were two Australian, uh, regiments
uh, the 2nd and 3rd [INAUDIBLE]
I: Um hm.
P: And, uh, the conditions were, uh, like most soldiers, they, uh, they dig into the ground for protection and also, uh, for a habitat.
I: Um hm.
P: And, uh, the, um, conditions, weather conditions in the summer, of course, are very, very hot
I: Um hm.
P: and in the winter very, very cold. So, uh, there was nothing, un,
glamorous about, uh, uh, the countryside. It was, um, uh, very, uh, harsh and, uh, and, uh, for the soldiers to, uh, maintain their, um, sanity, uh, they would have jokes and every, they come to the rear area, the, they had, uh, little, uh, um, dugouts set up where they could, uh, play cards and, and, uh, have
uh, some relaxation.
I: Um hm.
P: But, uh,
I: In about an hour.
P: Yeah, kind of an hour and, uh,
P: Uh, I mean we just had R and R in Tokyo. But, uh, but, for those, uh, men in the Army, uh, the conditions were very, very harsh compared to ours. We had a tent to sleep in, uh. But we did have, uh, duties with the 5th Column, uh, infiltrating our
I: Uh huh
area. And, in fact, I, you want to know about Korea, not about me anyhow. So
P: Um, we, uh, we did, we never knew when we had a red alert whether the soldiers on the outside of our perimeter fence were going to be for us or against us. It just depended on how many people were coming to a take.
I: Was it sever battle? How severe was it?
P: Well, that’s, uh, you’d have to ask someone
uh, we, we, it was one of the major battles. I mean, it, it was large numbers of Communist, uh, or Chinese, uh, troops, uh, that came down, and they were going to have a major, uh, assault. Um, so there was a lot of, uh, uh, activity going on prior to the major assault.
P: And, and, and you have to talk to the military men about that.
I: Yes. I’m asking you to see if you had, uh ,
any experience or observation about it, we will know about the Battle of Hook, and at this point, I will suggest students to look up more about the Battle of Hook, how Australian soldiers, you know, fought there. Um, what was the most difficult thing? If I ask you to pinpoint one thing out of your whole service in Korea, not in Japan, what was the most difficult thing that bothers you or hard to
stand, what would you say?
P: Um, a typical thing that bothered me, uh, was probably just, uh, seeing, uh, the amount of, um, injuries and, uh, and death created by the War, uh. The medical evacuations from Korea were done by the
Australian Air Force and, uh, and I have seen many, uh, young men, uh, as an example, uh, young 17, because Britain had 17 year olds going over there, uh, so there’s young 17 year-old, uh, with not a hair on his body, completely, uh, burned, the whole part of his body burned. He was caught in a, a, a, serving in a tank and, uh, uh, of course, it was hit and, uh
uh, uh, he suffered, uh, severely by far. But the number of people that, uh, lost their lives, the, the amount of injury that was created on the, uh, civilian population, uh, the, um, the hardship that they, they endured and particularly the children. They were the hard things, um. I mean, as far as, when, when you’re young, you don’t worry too much about what happens to yourself.
uh, because you’re invincible.
I: You know, 30, 399 Australian soldiers were being killed during the War
P: Um hm.
I: and more than 1,000 Australian soldiers being wounded and missing in action still. And two million North and South Korean civilians were being killed and wounded. And this is the Republic of Korea that used to be, and we don’t teach about this in History.
So that’s why we are doing this. And we’re not just conducting interviews. But we want to make sure that we make curricular resources, lesson plan, primary and secondary resources on the War and its’ legacy which is modern Korea simultaneous economic development and democratization, and we want to make sure that we can teach about these things.
P: Well, it’s very important that, uh, what
you’re doing because without, uh, without having the public, um, informed, uh, they can, uh, have a lot of things happen to them. But an informed public and, and of course, uh, we see the, what’s happened in China, uh. They were virtually ignorant and, uh, uh, Communism wanted to keep them that way. Now they’re in a difficult position because the people have been educated
P: And, uh, the same with
I: They are coming to, to Gold Coast, and they know what’s going on.
P: And South Korea, uh, they’ve educated their people and, uh, the country is thriving, and to keep it that way, they need to make sure that they, that the children are educated. We have a problem in our country. We’re not, uh, the, the children are not educated very much on History. And those who fail to, uh, study History are bound to repeat the mistakes.
I: Exactly. What was the most rewarding moment during your service in Korea?
P: My most rewarding moment.
P: Um, my most rewarding moment was, uh, when a cannon shell went through the back of the building, uh, that I was passing just 2’ away from me, uh. It didn’t hit me, but it hit a young American, uh, serviceman and blew him apart . Another 2’ and it
would have been me. So that was the most rewarding.
I: Oh. It’s a sacrifice, that American young man.
P: Well, I didn’t want him to be sacrificed. But I’m sure glad it wasn’t me.
I: That’s for sure, right? Yeah. You are still in one piece.
I: Very good. What did you do at the day that Armistice was signed, July 27, 1953? Remember?
P: Yeah, we, we, uh, we gave, uh, a lot of shouting
and, uh, and, uh, expressions of joy.
I: Uh huh.
P: uh, that, uh, the Conflict had been brought to an end, uh. And, uh, we, uh, we celebrated with a little bit of beer.
I : Yeah.
I: With much beer.
P: Much beer, that’s right.
I: Were you able to write letters back to your family?
P: Um, I, I did write to, I was engaged, uh, to a girl.
I: Oh, you were engaged?
P: Yes. So I would write her letters.
I: Oh. Must been so hard for you and your fiancé.
P: Well, yes. Harder for her because my mind was full of things I had to do. But, uh, it would have been hard for her.
I: Well, how long did you, did you, uh, make friends with her before you, you engaged?
P: Well, I met her when I was 18
P: Uh, and, uh, well actually, I met her,
before that, I was, uh, 17.
P: uh, and
I: There you go.
P: and I, I got to, got involved with her. Her father was a farmer and, uh, a wheat farmer, and that’s the background of my people, uh. So, uh, there was a relationship there and, uh, I got on very well with his daughter and
I: Did you marry her?
P: No, I didn’t marry her
P: actually. Uh, she wanted to get married soon as I got back from overseas, and I said I’m not ready yet,
and she was very disappointed, and she threw the ring at me and said
I: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.
P: Yes. Uh, unfortunately, uh, that’s what happened. But, uh,
I: She couldn’t be in your car, the brand new car, right? Um,
P: She was frustrated, I think, from the fact that she
I: Been waiting, waiting, yeah, yeah.
P: And then I didn’t want to get married when I
I: You wanted to prepare more, right?
P: That’s right.
I: Yeah. Yeah.
Looking back all those years, you didn’t know about this country at all. Now you know, you were there, and you saw so many tragic moments there, so many people shedding blood. They lost their lives, so many of them. Now you know the modern Korea. Looking back all those years. How do you put this,
that in a link? How, what is, what, how do you get this something out of those experiences?
P: Well, I think a country develops
P: when they have good leadership. And, uh, any leadership which deprives individuals of their right to act for themselves, uh, has a very limited time in which they can operate.
And we can see right back through History any, uh, whether they’d be, uh, Communist or, uh, Nationalists or Socialists or Nazi Party in, uh, or the Japanese, um,
P: Imperialism, any of those things which deprive individuals of their right to, uh, uh, exercise their agency, uh, have a very limited time, uh, because eventually
truth will go the same way. The people will get educated, and they’ll realize, uh, that, uh, they can enjoy a much better life. But they must have good government.
I: Um hm.
P: And so I think the role of people is to be informed and, uh, and make sure that they have good government.
I: What would you say to the world or future generation about the war that you fought for?
P: Uh, what would I say? Uh, it had to be, uh, the, uh, aggression, uh, and tyranny, uh, of, uh, the North Korean backed by the Chinese had to be stopped, uh. If it had not have been, uh, then, uh, it would have been a whole, be a whole different situation today. So it, it, it was
something that had to be done, and I believe that, uh, the countries that participated, uh, did t he right thing in supporting South Korea, uh, in repealing, uh, those invaders because look at North Korea today. There has been no progress.
I: Um hm.
P: not individual.
I: That’s, uh, very good comment. What would you say to the Korean people
that you like for the 70th anniversary? This is actually ridiculous, isn’t it? Cease fire on 1953, and we are still technically at war. Never been replaced by the Peace Treaty.
I: I, I, I don’t think any precedents there in the history of 20th century, you know? What do, what would you say to the Korean people about this War?
P: Well, it’s unfortunate that, uh,
countries like America, uh, Australia and others have had to maintain military forces to keep South Korea, uh, supported, uh, with them, their military and supporting their military there to keep these people out of their country. Um, uh, I would say you have to do everything you can to support the, uh, cause of freedom because the cost
uh, there’s always a cost for freedom, not only the lives of people but there’s a monetary cost and, uh, it, it’s a, it’s a very, very big cost. So, um, I would say to the people today keep doing what you’re doing, and keep, uh, keep the, uh, channels of freedom opened and, uh, be prepared to pay the price to do that.
I: Thank you, Peter. I, this is my great honor and, and pleasure to, to
have a chance to talk to you and listen from you. I think this will be a great lesson for our young generations, and thank you for your service for the Korean people. We were able to achieve this because you fought for us to give a chance to rebuild it. So thank you so much.
P: Thank you. I mean, I, mine was, uh, uh, miniscule, uh, compared to some, uh, of the, uh, Air Force and sacrifices made.
But, uh, I’m, I’m grateful that I had the opportunity because it was to me a great lesson, uh, in humanity, uh, to see what, uh, can be done when people direct their minds and, and get the right sort of leadership.
I: I hope to see have a chan, I hope to, I hope that you have a chance to go back to Korea to see what’s been done and going around and visiting around all those big churches in Korea, too.
P: Thank you very much.
I: Thank you.
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