Korean War Legacy Project

Ralph Blum


Ralph Blum grew up on a large dairy farm six miles outside Monroe, Wisconsin, that also had pigs and chickens. He said the Great Depression was hard, but they always had food because they lived on a farm and had a big garden. He went to a one-room country school until he was in the sixth grade and graduated from Monroe High School in 1948. He was in Korea for eleven months and was on the front line in which he fired a howitzer almost every day and estimated he fired eight to ten thousand rounds during that time. The maximum pay for him was one hundred and thirty dollars a month which included forty-five dollars for combat pay. He saved his money and bought a car when he made it home to Monroe. He said he would do it all over again because most of his memories are good ones. He revisited Korea in 2012 with his son and was impressed with the progress Korea had made. He recounts being thanked by Koreans everywhere he went. He said the last fifteen to twenty years the United States has treated veterans a lot better than when he got back from Korea.

Video Clips

Not a Forgotten War in Korea

Ralph Blum revisited Korea in 2012 with his son. His view of Korea changed because of the advances he saw. He visited the DMZ, Seoul, and he wore his Korean War cap and jacket. Everybody thanked him for his service including cab drivers and school children. His revisit answered his question about why he served in Korea. 

Tags: Seoul,Civilians,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Modern Korea,Pride,South Koreans

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A Tale of Two Seouls

Ralph Blum contrasts Seoul in March 1952 and May 2012 upon his revisit. He shares that Seoul was a mess and totally demolished in 1952. There were only a few bridges, and he recounts crossing the Imjin River on a pontoon bridge.  Seoul was totally different in 2012 with modern buildings and lots of traffic.

Tags: Imjingang (River),Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Modern Korea,Physical destruction,South Koreans

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Ralph Blum said he was usually a half mile to three miles behind the front lines. He said the North Koreans were good at mortars, and he said you do not hear those coming. He recalls being shelled about every third day. He said they would watch the sky because the North Koreans would zero in with sky bursts, and then they would know there would be incoming mortars. He said they would hide under the 105 Howitzer when they moved behind the infantry to avoid being shelled until foxholes could be built.

Tags: Communists,Fear,Front lines,North Koreans

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Makeshift Stove for Warmth

Ralph Blum said he built a bunker with a couple other Marines.  Their bunker had three feet of dirt on top.  Because it was cold they made a stove out of a fuse box, put sand in it, used fuses from shells, and used beer cans to make a chimney. They used a five galloon can with diesel fuel which kept them reasonably warm for when they were in there at night.

Tags: Cold winters,Front lines,Living conditions

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