Peter Solstad was born on July 31, 1945, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He went to high school and college the University of Minnesota. Peter Solstad studied the Far East, specifically, China and Japan, and graduated with a Bachelors degree in History, and a minor in Military Science. He was drafted to Korea in 1968 and served as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Signal Corps, Second Battalion Hawk 71st Air Defense Artillery Eventually he served as a Captain. Peter Solstad was on the hill during the EC 121 Incident where 31 people were killed. He holds high regard for the people of Korea, and their tremendous work ethic and homogeneity. He met his beautiful wife in Korea where they married, despite the Army’s unwritten rule for their soldiers not to marry “foreigners” while in active service.
EC 121 Incident and DEFCON 2
Peter Solstad tells about meeting a beautiful Korean woman named Kim Chun Cha. He married her while in Korea. Peter Solstad speaks of the EC 121 incident where 31 people were killed. He also remembers the 20 minutes of fear, he felt, as he was monitoring radio calls which were calling in artillery. Thankfully, he had actually been hearing radio calls from Vietnam. After that incident, DEFCON 2 was called, and General Yarbough held a briefing, and ordered troops to move up on the line. Interestingly, he recalls, there was a massive number of Iraqi troops that moved up the line with the Americans, perhaps up to a million.
Kim Chun Cha 1964
Mr. Solstad's future wife, pictured in 1964.
A picture of 1Lt Solstad above Uijeongbu-si, Korea--Camp Red Cloud. Taken in 1969.
Captain Peter M Solstad
Captain Peter M Solstad, Officer of the Day, 2d Bn HAWK 71st ADA, 1971, Camp Red Cloud
[Beginning of Recorded Material]
P: Well, I’m Peter Michael Solstad. I was born on 31 July 1945 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
I: [Thirteen?] Again, please?
P: 31 July 1945.
I: In Minneapolis.
P: Yes, sir.
I: Tell me about your family — your parents and your siblings when you were growing up.
P: Well, it was a great blessing in my life to have my mother and father, and my two brothers. We grew up in St. Louis Park, Minnesota — from
P: 1945 to 1953 I lived there. Then I went to California — Santa Ana for one year, then we returned to Minnesota to a western suburb of St. Louis Park — Minneapolis — called [Mound], Minnesota. I went to high school, and from there the University of Minnesota.
I: Ah! Tell me about the high school you graduate — when did you graduate, and what was your high school?
P: It was Mound High School, and it was in 1963.
I: You [graduated].
P: I did.
I: Mm-hmm — and then you went to Minnesota University?
P: That autumn, I went to the University of Minnesota, and I graduated from there with a bachelor’s degree in [Literal] Arts — a major in history, a minor in military science, and the graduation took place on 8 June 1968.
I: Wow. Historian?
P: Just interested.
I: What was your major focus — interest in history?
P: The Far East.
I: Far East?
P: China and Japan.
I: China and Japan. Not Korea?
P: Korea was [shunted] off to the side.
I: So tell me about what you thought about in it — Asia history? China, Japan —
P: Well, I wouldn’t say I was fascinated in it. I started with China — at one time I could
P: repeat in a sort of high school sense all of the dynasties, and then all of the ruling families or shogunates in Japan. I did see and hear about Korea, but, you know, Korea came under Japanese hegemony around 1895, 1900, sometime around that time, and I was aware of that, so I’ve — I do a lot of reading. I average about 10,000 pages a year.
I: Do you see major difference
I: between China and Japan in terms of political system and culture?
P: Yes —
I: Can you imagine about shogunate and the dynasty in China?
P: Well, what we have today in China is just a new dynasty —
P: you know, and Japan — I don’t think Japan has changed much. I think General MacArthur did them a big favor. But, you know, when you get deeper into society, the Japanese are still Japanese —
P: and I don’t have any problem with that.
P: My interest in the Far East, though, is Korea.
I: How come? You didn’t study about it. You focused on China and Japan, now you are interested in Korea.
P: Well, when I was ordered to active duty, an unusual —
I: When was it?
P: Well, I was ordered to active duty on 28 August 1968,
P: and it was unusual because the orders that — ordered me to active
P: duty also included my ultimate assignment, which was Korea.
I: So — what do you mean — you were not enlisted into army [unintelligible]?
P: Well, I went to R.O.T.C. in the University of Minnesota, so I was commissioned on 8 June 1968 as a second lieutenant, and I was detail to the U.S. Army Signal Corps,
I: Signal Corps.
P: and that’s where I stayed.
I: And then you were called to duty on August 22nd.
I: August 28?
I: Mm-hmm. So — and you were assigned to Korea?
I: Did you get any education or instruction about Korea before you left Korea?
P: I got — before I left for Korea? I was handed the CIA area study book.
I: Yeah, what did you find?
P: I found that it could have been written by a central committee; it didn’t tell me too much about Korean people.
I: So were you excited, or — what was your feeling that you were going to a country —
P: Well, I was happy for two reasons. I always — when I was young, I used to read Terry and the Pirates, and we — and they always talked about “the inscrutable oriental,” and I was always [charmed] by them. Then we had a family of 11 girls move into Minnesota from China —
P: long before I was born, but
P: one of my neighbors was a Mrs. Grace Hum. She started a company called [Marvel Chau-Mein], and Marvel Chau-Mein was sold to [Chun] King for one million dollars in 1960. Well, Marvel was my neighbor, and when I was a little teeny boy — about six years old — one day I happened to go outside, and here was this woman standing in a traditional Chinese costume — made-up. She was young — I suppose about
P: twenty-three, -four years old, but I had never seen anything more beautiful in my life. I mean, it was — she was just a beauty, and I’m a little six-year-old boy, and I just sat there with my jaw on the ground. Then I found out her name was Grace Hum, and her sister was Marvel, and they’re the ones that started this big company, which eventually ended up as part of International Multifoods.
I: So you was facing a new standard
I: of beauty there.
P: Oh yes.
I: Asian beauty.
I: How do you differentiate between Western standard and Asian [unintelligible] —
P: More conservative, I would say, in Asia, even now. I mean, when you go to Tokyo and Seoul it’s probably not that way, or [unintelligible] but when you’re around the people — and the Koreans are still Koreans — a homogenous people, one language, they think alike, and once you get them going in one direction, it’s a force to be reckoned with, and I think the same is true in Japan and China.
I: So can you tell the difference —
I: by looking at —
I: Chinese, Japanese and Koreans?
I: By appearance?
P: Some of it is appearance, yes. Almost all of it, I mean — without being crass, Korean women have no hair on their legs or arms. And Korean men are, by and large, all good-looking. [LAUGHS] You, too.
I: Good! Thank you!
P: Chinese men, I mean — and Japanese men — you know,
P: in Korea, they say “nee-goot” for Americans, “chun-goot” for Chinese, “toe-gill” and. . . is that the “toe-gill”, or is —
I: “Toe-gill” is Germany.
P: Germany, and Japanese are “ill-bun”.
I: “Ill-bun”, yeah.
P: Well, only the Germans and Japanese are different. Everybody else is something-gill,
P: you know, so, but I [didn’t], I — and I lived in Japan for a few years, too.
I: When did you arrive in Korea, and how?
P: 12 February
P: 1969, on a northwest contract flight.
P: 1969, 12 February. I had stopped at Wake Island to refuel, landed at about 11 at night. It was cold, windy and raining. We flew through a terrible storm, which you can read more about in this book.
I: Yeah, we’ll talk about that later,
I: but did you fly?
P: Yes. Oh yeah, but by then everyone was flying.
I: See —
P: Two years
P: earlier, people were still going by boat.
I: What was your first impression of Korea? Where did you arrive, actually?
P: I arrived at
P: Kempo. Nothing like it is today. Old-fashioned airplanes underground, lot of piston stuff, quad-50 machine guns, all around the perimeter. And they were serious, and the Korean — the ROK Army manning those did not have a sense of humor.
P: They were serious men, and I learned that right away.
I: Did you know about the Korean War?
I: Tell me.
P: Mostly from TV movies. One [Stein]–
P: No, no, not that —
P: nonsense. I’m trying to remember — Men at War, I think, was [Alder] Ray and Robert Ryan, and they followed a squad of men into — they were up in North Korea at the time.
P: And — yeah, it intrigued me, but I didn’t really learn anything about it, but I didn’t like those no-good Commies after watching the movie. I didn’t — but, you know, I was still young when I saw that in high school. I didn’t really learn a lot about Korea until I got there, and then I became a sponge. I never mastered the language, though I do now have Pimsleur Language at home
P: for 900 bucks, so hopefully I can do that now.
P: My daughters speak Korean,
I: We’re going to — I’m going to ask you detail about your duties and service
I: in Korea, but before I get into the details — you said ’69, so it’s about 45 years.
I: Have you ever imagined that you going to be end up in Korea? Country that
I: [you] really not knew much about it, and — [you’re] in love with the Korean woman,
I: and the Korea that you have right now in your mind.
P: It takes a little pondering. I guess Korea to me means [Kim Chun-Jao], my wife’s maiden name.
P: Yeah, that was her maiden name.
P: I didn’t meet her — well, I got to Korea 12 February ’69,
P: and I set about learning my new job, and it wasn’t too long after that the EC-121 was shot down by North Korea. Then I learned something about mobilization, because the day that was shot down — and I can’t recall the date.
P: EC-121. It — three-tailed consolation.
P: 31 people were killed aboard. Anyway, I was up on something called
P: Operations Central 71, which was — where air defense wars are fought. My unit was the Second Battalion Hawk, 71st Air Defense Artillery.
P: 71st Air Defense Artillery, and it was headquartered at Camp Red Cloud. Well, the — I was on the hill when that airplane was shot down. I was monitoring our radio nets, and I heard people calling in artillery. What that ended up being —
P: made my heart skip a little bit — was people, it was radio skipped from Vietnam. We were listening to battle calls over FM radio all the way from Vietnam. After that was clarified in 15-20 minutes, we were called to get off the site, come down to the headquarters, because I Corps just declared DEFCON 2, and the general at the time was General Yarlborough. Think that’s Y-A-R
P: -L-B-O-R-O-U-G-H, Yarlborough.
P: I went down into the site, into the Tactical Operations Center at Camp Red Cloud, and —
I: Where was it?
P: Camp Red Cloud.
I: Where is it in Korean city name?
P: Yeah. I went down to my headquarters, and I was sent over to the Tactical Operations Center of the First U.S.
P: Corps, and General Yarlborough came in, and they had like 40 or 50 colonels in there, and I mean the ROK Army was there — the ROK Marines, or — everybody was there. He had just come from — I think it was a Sunday, because he’d just come from church — he’s in a suit.
I: Do you remember when was that shoot down, the day?
P: No, it’s in here [the book].
I: I cannot remember, okay, go.
P: Anyway, I was told to go over there, and
P: be the representative for Air Defense.
P: Now, the Corps Headquarters of Battalion, it’s almost kind of silly to be represented, but we were the only Air Defense Missile Unit, so — they demanded we have a rep there, and I was there — second lieutenant, didn’t know too much, but I knew this was serious. Anyway, General Yarlborough walked in — the room was buzzing, and when he walked in, somebody called attention, and it was dead silent — you could hear a pin hit — and he walked up
P: and sat down. He said, “Okay, what’s going on?” Then the G-1, G-2, -3, -4, and so on and so forth, rattled through their briefing, showed them a bunch of slides, had some maps, and then they [stopped]. It got quiet again, and then he stood up — and they had this large map on the wall — and he went over to the map, and he put his finger at one point, and he said, “Move Second Division here.” Then, he turned around,
P: walked out, and they called attention again. That was a few words that ended up being for the next week just incredible movement, I mean rapidly by flash message that was sent throughout — Korea, and the ROK Army —
I: [Unintelligible] to where? Where does — where did he wanted to have Second Division —
P: Yeah, I don’t know, but that’s probably in the archive someplace.
P: I think it was Second Division. They were at Camp Casey, so they’re gonna move up online further, but Camp Casey’s kind of online already, but what we — what the ROK Army did — and these are numbers, they may not be accurate — I remember someone saying that in the first week a half a million troops were moved up online, and then the next month — or maybe the next three weeks — almost two million more Home Guard or reserves, ROK Army were brought up.
P: I mean, I sat outside Camp Red Cloud, and I saw trucks going by — morning, noon, and night load of soldiers. Shortly after that I met Kim Chun-Ja. I was a Signal Corps officer for a second at 71st, but unlike most, I didn’t spend 13 months there; I spend almost 48 months — after, you know, I had a little [medivac], but — so, I mean, I really got to learn how [A-time] it worked.
I: Tell me about how you met — your destiny.
P: Oh, [LAUGHS]
P: yeah, that’s not embarrassing at all. There’s a civilian club — from Camp Red Cloud, there was a little compound south. . . west, it was called Camp Falling Water,
P: and on Camp Falling Water was the First Corps Engineering Headquarters. On that base was something called the Civilian Club, and it was chartered with I Corps approval — the commander’s approval — before I got there —
P: five, ten years before I got there. That club was supported by defense contractors, and civil servants, so it was a civilian club. It was really the best club — I saw [Patty Kindler] for the first time,
I: Patty Kin–
P: and they had to reach deep in their private pockets to get her there, let me tell you. Anyway, I went down there with a friend, a second lieutenant that came in the day the EC-121 was shot down.
P: A week or two weeks later, we just went down to the club and I said, “You gotta see this club! This place is great!”, so we went down there and we sat at a table. We’re sitting there, it was kinda quiet — I think it was like Friday night, and we were happy because the I Corps Alert was over then — they were winding things down. Anyway, the front of the club faced the main street in Ouizhanboo, and the back of the club was on the compound, and oddly
P: the entrance was at the back, so we had to take a PX taxi to get in there. We went it, sat down. We were there 20 minutes — young lieutenants throwing down the beers — and then I noticed the door open in the back — the entrance — and two girls walked in. It was dark back there, and then they came in a little bit further, and it was just — my eyes riveted on this. I mean, I saw this girl that looked like she was made out of porcelain or something, I mean, and she was conservatively dressed, and that
P: was Chun-Ja. She walked in, and every head in the place was following her. She had her girlfriend with her, and they were talking back together — taking measure of the place, I guess. She kind of frowned when she heard what her girlfriend said, and then it changed to a smile, and they proceeded inside and they sat down. I was with John, and I said, “I’m gonna go over and meet her. I gotta see this girl. That’s it,” and I got up and walked over — butterflies in my
P: stomach, I was kinda nervous — and I thought, “God, she probably won’t even talk to me,” but, you know, I introduced myself, and she said, “I’m Miss Kim.” That’s all she. . . and I was just elated she answered me. I looked back at my table, and said, “Would you girls — ladies care to join us? I’ve got my friend John here, and I see you have another lady.” They conferred again — I thought, “She’s gonna say, “Hell no. We don’t [LAUGHS]”” but she said “Yes! And
P: this is Miss Li.” Anyway, she offered her arm, and I was in seventh heaven, and that was the beginning.
I: So second fascination with a Asian woman.
P: Oh yeah, but this was more than that.
I: [Unintelligible] imagine the Chinese woman, so —
P: This was like getting hit by a hammer right between the eyes, and it has never changed. We got married about two, two-and-a-half years later. I mean, the Army doesn’t want — the Army at the time had an unwritten policy: you don’t marry these foreigners — right?
P: Oh yeah! Unwritten
P: policy, so you had to go through this [unintelligible]
I: Is it unconstitutional?
P: Oh yeah — what isn’t? [LAUGHS] Anyway, we had to go through the process —
I: [Follow-up] question: what was she doing there? What was —
P: She just came down to — maybe meet a man, I don’t know. She was with a girl — I’d never seen her before, and of course I’d only been there a dozen times.
I: Did she speak English?
P: Yeah, she [speaked] pretty good English,
P: she did.
I: Wow. [unintelligible]
P: Her girlfriend didn’t speak much English, but there’s more history to her background than that, but she was just kinda down there [unintelligible] and then I told her — at the end of the night, John and I got a PX taxi and we drove her home. She was about half — she lived in a small house, halfway between Camp Red Cloud and Camp Falling Water, and halfway up there, when you’re going towards Red Cloud, was a [One 28th] Aviation — they had
P: runways like this [V-shaped], and she lived across — in a back street [on] one of the runways in an all-brick, three-bedroom house that she had bought. So anyway, we dropped her off, and I just asked her, “Could I see you again?”, and she said, “Yes.” She said, in broken English, “Yes, I [have] good time tonight. Thank you, gentlemen.” And I said, “When can I see you again?” “Maybe next Saturday we go [unintelligible] Officer Club?”, and I said, “Yep.”
P: We did that until we left — until I finally left Korea in November, I mean in — well, the last time, I was there in November 1974.
I: When did you marry?
P: In — 1971, that’s how long it took. I mean, my marriage packet was an inch thick, and we went down the Embassy in Seoul, and they stamped it.
P: The guy said, “Raise your right hand.” I had to raise her right hand. She said a bunch of things that swore to things she couldn’t begin to understand. And they go boom, boom, boom, “You’re married now. Take this across the street to the office marked ‘The Mayor Special City of Seoul’ — they’ll do the same thing, and that’s it.”
I: So the Army changed the policy allowing soldiers to marry to foreign —
P: Well, I mean they didn’t — they never had a policy against it, but especially for officers it didn’t — they didn’t
P: want you fraternizing with local nationals.
I: How did you do it?
P: I just did it. I didn’t [give a damn] what the Army want–
I: Didn’t give a damn about it.
P: Yeah, that’s right.
I: What made so special to you, the Chun-Ja Kim?
P: Well, she was quiet. . . it’s usually a cover for a bright mind. She was — as a young man, she was physically one of the most
P: beautiful women I have ever to this day seen. Clean complexion, porcelain white teeth, demure, quiet, gentle — and very conservative.
I: Didn’t her family — kind of oppose this marriage?
P: Of course! [LAUGHS] The young [unintelligible] a goddamn foreigner? You bet! I mean, but they didn’t say it — I mean, they were very kind, and her family then only consisted of
P: a half-brother and her mother, because her dad died tragically in 1954, just months after the Korean War ended. She was [farmed] out to a couple that came to help her mother out. They knew her mother needed help, and, you know, girls weren’t worth much in those days as far as posterity, but young men were. I mean they were — they worked this age-old purpose of providing a retirement.
P: I finally met her mother in 1973, and we got along famously after that.
P: You know, I just assured her. I said, “I’m not as horrible as you might think.” [LAUGHS] And is that racism? No, none of it. That’s a culture; it’s an ancient culture.
P: I mean,
P: my brethren were swinging in trees in Europe when Korea had kingdoms.
I: Yeah. Korea is one of the most closest system.
P: Yeah, it is.
I: A [unintelligible] Asians there.
P: Well, I was lucky. I got to see them go from poverty to riches through their own effort.
I: You brought a book written — you wrote it, right?
I: Show it to the camera — to your chin — and what is [about it]?
P: This is the experience of young soldiers in Korea during that period of time. Part of it is sort of an exposé
P: to behavior many of them would never indulge in at home — behavior today that would not be tolerated for a minute in Korea, especially by Koreans. But, you know, we’re coming — in the early 1970s was a tough time for Korea. So — that’s what it’s about. It’s one man —
I: Are you talking about Chun-Ja[n Air]?
P: Well, yeah. . . I don’t know — yeah,
P: I do talk about her. . . in here. [Flips to a page showing a picture of his wife] That’s Chun-Ja.
I: Yeah. Beautiful.
P: Oh, she — yeah.
I: She passed away, when?
P: 30 January 2010,
P: about five years ago.
I: You said you left Korea — when?
P: I [had a] PCS from Korea — with Permanent
P: Change of Station — on 15 May 1972; I went down to Okinawa, but I went back to Korea in 1973 and 1974 several times. I would do that on what they call a Temporary Duty Basis, TDY Basis. I worked in Okinawa with the U.S. Army Strategic Communications Command — I was a company commander there, and I was also the [adjutant], and I would work with the First Signal Brigade in Korea in
P: that regard.
I: When did you. . . discharged from the military?
P: 25 July 1975 was my last active duty day, then I went into the reserves where I remain today. I mean, I’m in the Retired Reserves because I’m old [duffer].
I: Have you been back to Korea since ’75?
P: 1994, I was the Chief of the Resources Division and the Director of the Communications for Headquarters-Specific
P: Air Forces. I went to Osan Air Force Base — they had something called the Osan. . . Osan — Command and Control Facility, the OCCF, and the Hired and Tactical — H-TAC, Hired and Tactical — Operations Center. In the book I’m writing now, I talk about the. . . fellow soldiers that were with me, staff officers that knew me
P: in Red Cloud and Osan and throughout the country, actually, because we had units all over the peninsula. We saw Korean men and women doing what others might consider menial work — labor: hauling carts full of kindling, carrying kindling on their back. Dummies who hadn’t been in the country long thought that was amusing, but we saw something else, me and my fellows. We saw
P: people that were doing what had to be done, and they were taking care of their families — and this included the young and the old, men and women. Our conclusion was that these people. . . account for the success of Korea today. They did all the heavy lifting, but not complaining, and I never heard complaining — and that’s almost a religious thing with me. I never heard complaining from those people, and I was around them all the time.
P: That’s why I developed such a deep respect for them. It just made me love my wife even more — I mean, she was just like them. She was tenacious and always doing something. So — the reason — that’s why Korea is successful today. Again, you gotta — there’s a homogeneity in the population. A real drive, honesty, and — you know, when I got there in 1969 — what’s that, 15,
P: 16 years after the war? I knew that this country was going places, and by God — you know, I stayed in Okinawa and I saw it when I went back in 1994. I was not astounded, but I didn’t think it would come so fast, ’cause it was like going to another planet. I was at Osan, and I — we landed at Kempo in ’94 and went down to Osan. Coming back, I saw all these buildings — high-rises to my right, which would’ve been in the east.
P: I asked the driver, “What the hell is that?”, and he said, “It’s whole new city.” I said, “Well — I don’t see any people,” and he said, “Well, they’re not there yet, but they’re gonna be.” What they were doing is they were doing some modernization program — moving people out of Seoul into there. It’s all voluntary, but it also makes a lot of sense. I haven’t followed up on that, but I mean it was phenomenal. They were gonna move one million people into this. I thought,
P: “Well, that doesn’t surprise me. These people are — they’re gonna keep going.” I mean, look now: Samsung is probably gonna bury Apple.
I: As a historian, why do you think the Korean War has been regarded as forgotten in the United States?
P: Well, it’s the American academy — the public school system: public schools, K through 12, and the universities are kinda hostile to. . . history.
P: They wanna rewrite it. [LAUGHS]
I: But they talk about Vietnam War, World War Two, and other wars, but Korean War is just one paragraph.
P: Well, I think — when you say they talk about the other wars — Vietnam, and Korea — I mean —
I: World War Two.
P: Yeah. I’m not so sure what they’re talking about. I — as [Xenophone] said 3,000 years ago, “Beware of the professors.” I think the
P: Korean War has — just been shunted aside, but I don’t know why — I guess. I can tell you that.
I: Actually, the Korean War defined from June 25th of 1950 to January 31st of 1955, even though the armistice was signed on July 27th of 1953.
I: Federal government extend it so more soldiers can be benefitted out of their services. Since then,
I: 20,000, 30,000, sometimes 50,000 U.S. soldiers has been stationed in Korea.
I: They were critical for the safety and security of the South Korea,
I: but at the same time, when they come to Korea, they come [up] with — technologies and knowledges in different sections: medical, you know,
I: engineers, personnel
I: management, all this — things that new to Korea. In my opinion, that’s been very critical for the modern [unintelligible] and festive element of South Korea as it is. It’s not been really — talked a lot, and I know that JUSMA — the Joint U.S. Military —
I: Military Advisor,
I: [unintelligible] Korea.
I: and — I really want to re-illuminate
I: the role that they played, contribution they made to Korea, what it is, and are you aware of any other — approaches on that, or any literature about it?
P: Well, I think I can look into that for you. I mean, I know that when I got there [there] were 60,000 troops, and then the Second. . . one of the divisions left — either the Second or Seventh, I can never keep it straight. That brought it down to 40,000 —
P: Nunn-Warner Act in the mid- to late-’80s brought it down to its present 28,000. I remember, though, when I got to Korea, driving down the Kempo-to-Seoul highway, I remember Control Data had huge facilities over there; they were —
I: Control Data?
P: Control Data was a Minnesota company, kinda like IBM at the time, and I know IBM had facilities there, so I mean —
P: and a lot of young women especially were working there doing assembly and all that. Koreans are — you know, as I said again — and here I’m lecturing to a Korean — there they have one language, one culture. Their homogeneity is an advantage. These people, these youngsters that were working there, were fascinated by what they saw, and they
P: started learning about it, and they learned very quickly, because, you know, again, they’re all the same people. I remember that — it was like five or six stories, and it was a city block long, and maybe half a city wide, the huge facility. I was a country boy from Minnesota living in the cornfields west of Minneapolis. I had never imagined that sort of high-technology investment in Korea by Control Data at the time.
I: Yeah, you talk. . .
I: I’m more interest in how this U.S. forces in Korea contributed to the development of Korean soci–
P: Well, I can tell you one thing — through the military, anyway, in my limited experience, in. . . I think maybe nineteen, late 1970, we turned over a Hawk missile battalion to the Korean, Army, the ROK Army. It was at [Choonchon] — the missile battalion’s
P: designation was 7th Battalion, 5th Artillery, and it was a Hawk missile battalion. And we did that — when we did that, we had to take our old radio equipment, which was time division [multiplex] — you know, vacuum tubes and that. We had to make sure it was perfect, and I had people that were very good at making sure things were perfect, so when we turned them over to the Koreans they didn’t get junk, so
P: I mean I was there, and we turned an entire battalion over to the Koreans. On the heels of that, the army decided in the Hawk missile system to digitize and get rid of the old analog systems, so we got something called the Angry 103 Radio, and we started replacing all of our old frequency division multiplexing analog stuff, and we kept sending that to the Koreans, and then —
P: but the Koreans were very interested in the digital, because it was just better. A problem with the old vacuum tube technology — as Korea gets hot summers, winters are wonderful, but the tubes start popping, and you can lose communications. I conducted classes — I was given that responsibility by a brigade commander who was a one-star general, and he worked for the Deputy Commander of A-Time — he was a three-star,
P: and. . . I think it was — [Michaelis] was the Eighth Army Commander. I knew these men — I mean, I was very unusual, but I was fortunate to know him. I got a medal from that last guy. The Koreans were fast learners, but they already had books on these things. Going from analog to digital is like going from smoke signals to telephones,
P: and you know where the Koreans are today digitally,
P: so you’re right. That was in late 1970. Digital was new to me at the time, you know, and I just came out of the signal school at Fort Gordon, Georgia — they called [it] the U.S. Army Southeastern Signals School, which was supposed to be the cutting-edge of the world.
I: When did you move to Hawai’i?
P: I came here out of the Pentagon
P: on September of 1990. I was on the Air Staff; I joined the Air Staff, and then the Director of the Communications up there — I worked for, and know, to this day, many, many general officers in that business.
I: I wanna thank you for your time,
P: My pleasure.
I: and sharing your stories with me. This interview will be preserved in the Korean War Veterans’ Digital Memorial. I’m going to create a
I: section under that banner for U.S. forces in Korea.
I: They are the Korean Veterans of America, and I think that they need to be recognized,
P: I agree.
I: as much as Korean War Veterans, too. Thank you very much.
I: Thank you.
P: Thank you, Doctor.
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