Richard H. Fastenau
Richard H. Fastenau was drafted into the Army in 1951 and became part of Baker Company of the 40th Infantry Division stationed in the Iron Triangle. He quickly finds himself with National Guard members from California that had been formed into the 40th Infantry Division. He spent many of his first months at an outpost near the front lines where it was their job to notify servicemen on the main line of resistance that “the bad guys were coming”. After nearly five months, he was transferred to the 8th Army Headquarters in Seoul where he served as a security guard/MP for the location. He describes how several underage soldiers in his unit found themselves in the military, why he rarely discusses the worst parts of the war, and an occasion when American clothing and toys were distributed to Korean civilians by the military and the American Red Cross.
I Did My Duty, Spent My Time, and I Feel Good about It
Richard H. Fastenau shares that he really does not think about the impact his service during the Korean War had on his life after his return. He claims he did his duty, and no one can argue that he did not. He notes that he rarely talks about his experience to others beyond those who have served in Korea.
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Just Trying to Get Anything They Can
Richard H. Fastenau describes the arrival of Helen Moore Van Fleet, wife of General James Van Fleet, with supplies from the American Red Cross for the Korean people. He recalls the supplies being sorted for distribution near the main gate but that chaos broke out as crowds pushed down the gates and fencing in a rush to get supplies. He speculates that many of the goods taken ended up on the black market.
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Arriving to the Iron Triangle
Richard H. Fastenau served in the 40th Infantry Division in Korea from 1952 to 1953. He recollects arriving in Kumsong Valley to join a National Guard unit from California which had been federalized to create the 40th Infantry Division. He notes among them were many underaged soldiers who had lied about their ages to join the unit. He vividly remembers the first night at the outpost as a tough night for him.
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Life on the Front Lines with the 40th Infantry
Richard Fastenau shares photos and artifacts which detail where he served with the 40th Infantry Division near the front lines. He notes they frequently moved from on line to regimental reserve to back on line but in a different location. He explains how their bunkers were little more than a hole in the ground when he served on the front lines but that the bunkers were later improved.
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Change in Duty Assignment: Front Lines to Seoul
Richard Fastenau shares he was transferred from the front lines to the city of Seoul to join the 558th Military Police Unit of the 8th Army as a security guard. He explains this unit protected thirty different locations, including the United States Embassy, 8th Army Posts, VIP Posts, and the Chosen Hotel. He details the differences between being on the front line and in Seoul. He shares photos and other artifacts to help convey his story along the way.
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Remembering the Good Times and Bad Times
Richard Fastenau recalls that although there were good times on the front lines with the 40th Infantry that most of his good memories occurred while serving in Seoul as part of the 558th Military Police Unit. He notes that he has forced himself to forget many of the worst memories of being on the front line as things were never easy there. He shares memories of an attack while serving at the outpost near the front lines as well as an account dealing with a member of the Air Force on guard duty while he was stationed in Seoul.
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[Beginning of recorded material]
I: [Abrupt start] do you know about this, uh, project, Korean War Veterans Digital Memorial project. How do you feel about participating in this project, and why are you interested in, in doing this?
R: Well, I just feel someplace along the line it’s gonna help some way. Somebody wants to know information, and that’s the way to get, you ask questions, get answers, take the answers, [INAUDIBLE]
I: Where did you hear about this program?
R: Uh, I saw an ad in the paper many years ago, about Korean War veterans, and I said, uh, hm. I guess it’s about time I did that because I had been, when I got out of the service, fiddled around for a couple years and got married and had children, etc., so I didn’t have time for, you know, organizations and so forth so
until I got older, probably late 50s and 60s before I started thinking about that. And I got involved in the American Legion, uh, the VFW Korean War Veterans, Knights of Columbus. That’s when, you know, I started getting involved in it.
I: Could you introduce your name, age, birth place, school that you went, your, uh, families and where, what chapter are you belong to?
R: Okay. I belong to Chapter 105, uh, Syracuse, NY
I: What is
R: Central NY, Central NY. Uh, age is 82, uh. I was brought up and,
uh, raised in Long Island, NY and, uh, had, a mother and father. Mother died when I was young and had a, one brother and, uh, two sisters, okay. You threw a whole bunch of questions at me, and I’m not sure I’m answering all the questions.
I: What school went to?
R: School, it was the local school, Westbury High School.
I: Long Island?
R: In Westbury, Long Island. And, uh, I went to, applied for Syracuse University, uh. They wouldn’t take me, but they sent me down to Utica. Utica College used to be out of Syracuse, I don’t know if they still are or not.
I: No, it doesn’t belong to any longer but used to.
R: Yeah. Uh, as a matter of fact,
I got back from my second year, and because I was in the top third of my class, I was not, uh, exempt. So they drafted me, unfortunately or fortunately, whatever.
I: How old were you?
R: How old? 20, 21, okay? But, uh, let’s see. From there, I just get, got drafted, and everything changed after that.
But I looked at it from a point of view of yeah, let’s go and get it over with. Why go ahead and continue college, okay, and then go over there which I figured I’d have to. So it wasn’t that I was a coward, okay? I was all for it. I said gung ho, right? A change of everything, you know? So okay, I’ll give it a shot and see what happens.
And, uh, from there I was, once I was drafted, they took me to Camp Kilmer in New Jersey, stayed there for I think about a week. After that, I was shipped to Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky. That’s the home of the 101stAirborne at the time.
R: Yeah. Sixteen weeks of basic training, and then they try to talk you into joining
the Airborne, okay. You know.
R: And I said no because my uncle, who was in World War II, said best advice I can give you is never volunteer for anything. That’s exactly what I did, okay. Uh, it, uh, I was tempted because I’ve always had that feeling
that let’s see what happens, you know? But, uh, I was better off. Went over there, I was nobody, nothing and, I don’t know, you let me go on about where I went
I: Sure, sure, yes.
R: Okay. Because I can talk for hours.
R: But, uh, from there, after basic training, sixteen weeks of Infantry training, I went to, uh,
we shipped out to the west coast, uh, Fort Horton, Seattle, Washington. Uh, and that’s, these pictures come in handy because they were, there’s a picture in there of four of us
I: Wanna show?
R: Uh, yeah. If you want to know about Japan,
the invasion of Japan, that’s the way it was laid out.
I: By the United States.
R: By the United States, that’s the way [INAUDIBLE]
R: Take it out. That was my Division right there, 40thInfantry Division.
I: So when did you first arrive in Korea, and when did you left Korea?
R: I arrived, uh, April of ’52, uh.
R: I arrived in Korea.
I: Korea where? Can you give me the name of the province or city?
R: Company Kumhwa, Kumsaw Valley with Baker Company 40thInfantry Division, okay. And that’s what I was gonna show you here
R: The Iron Triangle.
I: Um hm. Oh that’s the part that you arrived. In Pusan?
R: You know how I got there? They said you’re assigned to Baker Company. Okay, I go to Baker Company. they’re stationed, they’re up front on line, okay. So I go to Baker Company, oh, they take me to Baker Company and drop me off and say okay, here’s your replacement. Okay, fine. they put me in a jeep
and took me across that valley that I showed you, and I think jeep was going as fast as it could go. Evidently we’re the line anyway, they took me across the valley, and the first thing I know I’m in an outpost position. In other words, we had to notify the people down on the main line of resistance that the bad guys were coming, okay? And
well, the rest of the story basically is the guy, the first guy they met because they telephoned ahead that you got your replacement coming.
R: He introduced himself, hi, you know, I’m so and so, your replacement, yeah, okay, fine. Okay, this is Joe blow over here, and this is my brother over here. That’s my uncle is just down the road there, alright? Basically I said
what the hell have I got involved in here, you know? Then I said oops, he said National Guard outfit that has been federalized, made into the 40thInfantry Division, okay? And that’s where you had young guys that were, let’s see, 15, 16 years old joined the National Guard back in California cause it was the California National Guard outfit
that, uh, 15 and 16 lied about their age because each meeting they went to, they got a couple bucks. So it’s spending money.
R: Now we’re upset that they’re over there and the parents are yelling and screaming because their kids are too young. But actually, it worked out all right because the guys did know what they were doing. But, you know, the first couple days, the first day actually, is, they took me up to the
57thRecoilless Rifle area in the outpost position and told this fellow to show me around in different positions that you could shoot the gun from the, your rifles or the 57, etc.. And he was Turkish, okay? No problem with English language. But he had earrings.
R: Yeah, both of his
I: At that time?
R: At the time.
R: But that was part of their dress because I did ask him eventually about it, you know.
I: So every Turkish soldier
R: I don’t know. But it was accepted as far as he was concerned, okay. But I’m saying what am I getting involved in here, you know. Brothers, uncles, cousins, now Turks, you know. And that first night that you’re
there, everything is, there’s no noise. But you can hear mice and rats and animals walking around and, uh, the guy sleeping down here, you know, in the trench, and I’m standing up like this glory eyed. Unbelievable. You hear a noise, hey, I hear something. I hear something. Throw a grenade. [LAUGHS] Okay. Boom, throw a grenade, you know. Boom, throw another grenade, you know.
It’s, uh, it’s a tough night. You’re almost a veteran the next day because you lived through the night, you know.
I: Um hm.
R: But then he switches, he gets up and you go to sleep. I didn’t sleep, you know. But it was interesting.
I: When did you left Korea? When did you leave Korea?
R: Uh, August, August of, uh, ’53.
R: About a month after the truce was signed.
I: Um. Could you describe about the scene and memories of Armistice was signed, when Armistice was signed.
R: I’m sorry, what?
I: Could you describe sort of, uh, what is it, uh, sort of sit, I mean how people feel about the Armistice was signed?
R: Well, that
I: Could you describe the scene of people’s reaction to the Armistice signed.
Finally, the war ended.
R: Right. Uh, basically.
I: Where were you at the time?
R: Okay. That’s another story because now after about five months, I was transferred back to the city of Seoul, and I became in 8thArmy Headquarters Security Guard or MP. I was back there then. So it was different there, but there’s other stories here.
I: Go ahead.
R: And this one is, I don’t know how we do this, but that’s where all the battles were, okay. Up here. And ours was, the ones we had at various times because we were up on line, and we’d go back to Regimental Reserve, you know, and go back up on lie to a different position. We weren’t always in an outpost position.
We were sometimes right on the main line of resistance, okay. But, uh,
I: So that’s the area that you mostly stayed during your service in Korea, right?
R: Uh, I missed you again.
I: So that’s the area that you mostly stayed during your service in Korea?
R: Yeah, right about there.
R: Okay. Uh, here it is.
You can’t see it. That was part of, one of the houses I lived in.
R: Okay, a bunker. After I left up there, they made bunkers a heck of a lot better than we had. This is just a hole in the ground actually.
I: Can you closer some of those?
R: It’s difficult to see. [SHOWING PICTURES]
I: We want to scan this one.
WOMAN’S VOICE: I think that’ll be better scanned.
I: Okay, yeah, yeah. We going to do that, but just for [INAUDIBLE]
But it’s okay, yeah, go ahead.
R: Okay. Uh, the things I got here I’m gonna leave with you.
I: Um hm.
R: Okay. So that you can get all these.
R: Uh, again, that’s a picture of me walking across the valley with a dead guy, okay? And then that’s the outer angle, this way or that way.
I: Um hm.
R: That’s the San Dong Mines. Are you familiar with those?
I: No I don’t.
R: Because I’m not either.
R: I’m still trying to find out what, who we were guarding. That’s what they were digging gold up or something. But, uh, yeah. And that’s bed, a picture of Bed Check Charley.
R: You’ve heard of him I guess.
I: Um hm, um hm.
R: But, uh, that’s another one, a map showing
you where, it says right there 40thDivision is right there, and that’s where the main line of resistance is right there. [Abrupt start ] I just found this, believe it or not.
R: Two months ago. I didn’t know I had it. [ Abrupt start] City of Seoul MP, okay, uh.
Things changed because I had the best breakfast I’ve ever had in my life
R: cause we walked in, and I guess we got back here by truck, would you say, probably about 4:30, and went the Supply Sergeant up, he didn’t like that, but that’s okay. He said okay. Take the mattress and pick a bed. Okay.
and this is technically Taegu. They, they were very short-time moving up to Seoul. But, uh, we took a shower, kept yelling oh, God.
G: Uh, went to the mess hall because the troops were getting up to go on duty at 6:00 I think it was. And the, uh, Mess Sergeant says well, what do you want? Oh, I saw these
little boxes of Rice Krispies. Alls I had to say well, can I have a couple of those? Yeah, what else you want? What else you got? Bacon, eggs, sausage, eggs, you know, anything you wanted. We just sat there, we was three of us came down together. We just pigged out, and then we went back and we were off for the rest of the day and following day, you know?
It was like paradise, you know?
I: Best day in your life.
R: Because, yes. Because up on the line we had, uh, one hot meal, okay. All the others were C-rations.
I: Um hm.
R: And when the hot meal get up there from the choggi bearers on the back [INAUDIBLE] three separate compartments, okay. One was milk, powdered milk, one was the chicken that they promised us a week ago,
and the other is mashed potatoes. By the time it gets up there, the milk is in the chicken, the milk is in the thing. Then you bite into it, and you’d shudder ah.
R: Boom throw it away and I had franks and beans, you know. But anyway, it, uh, it was a little different, you know. But that first, first meal you have,
Then I went through a couple weeks of training. They tell you what you’re gonna do. The 558 military police which I was with, [INAUDIBLE]security guard. We had something like 30 different posts that we guarded, all of 8thArmy operations, etc., American Embassy, uh, VIP posts,
and, Chosin Hotel
I: Chosin Hotel.
R: Yes. I thought I just had a picture. Yeah. Right there.
I: That’s the old Chosin Hotel, original one, right?
I: Um hm.
R: My first experience there was on a Sunday afternoon
in the summer, I was on the main gate there, and it was hotter than hell. And what comes down the road? A honey bucket.
R: Oh, please you know. Unbelievable. That’s what I remember of the Chosin Hotel. But
I: So during your service, what was, what were the most difficult at the same time happiest and rewarding memories during your duties?
R: The happiest or the worst. The worst ones basically up on line I’ve forgotten. I forced myself
to forget them. Uh, I know a lot of times guys talk about the sad, sadder things, but I still don’t really. I don’t want to talk about it. This reminds me of bad. You’ve gotta be, even up there there were good times, okay?
R: Joking around buddies, you know, that your familiar with, maybe a little card playing or something like that. But, uh, I don’t know. You just, you play the game
so to speak, uh. It’s it’s not an easy thing being up there because you never know when something’s gonna come over on you or that night, the troops or the bad guys are coming to get you so on and so forth. You hear all this action going around. I think one time was, I’m on this side of the MLR,
and bad guys are over there, and at 4:30 in the morning mortars and artillery start going in over there. So you know something’s gonna happen, okay? Sure as heck, the troops had walked across, the Americans, had worked their way across the valley and taking artillery stops, that’s when they go up the hill. They get the hell beat out of them, you know.
Uh, Intelligence had told them there’s nobody on that hill so don’t worry about it. Yeah, sure. It was like sitting in a movie theater because we were not allowed to do anything, just stay out of there cause we were on the phone, hey, what’s going on her? Is that coming here or whatever, you know. [INAUDIBLE] But, uh, you never know when the guy over here is gonna get bumped just like that, okay? So I find it
better if I stay away from that stuff, okay. I got enough good memories
R: which are basically with the MPs, okay, naturally. Although I did, I was on duty at the time a, uh, I forget what I was, the driver on a patrol or [INAUDIBLE]something. We got a call from one of the posts saying Mamasan
came down. Mamasan said GIs going up and shooting the gun off so on and so forth. So since we were the closest, we took the jeep, went up the road, and we find out where it is, where the noise is and Mamasan’s out in front waving like this and, uh, figuring the guy has to be drunk, okay.
I took my belt [INAUDIBLE] tools, my, this arm off, my helmet off, etc. walked in and made believe I was drunk, got the, because they have the big gates in front. You walk in, and then he has the porch that he was sitting on, you know sitting there with his rifle calmly. And I don’t know why I was so brave, but I walked up and says hey buddy, you got a [INAUDIBLE] in training, you know. I got
the rifle away from him, asked him what his problem was. He’s walking guard duty for the Air Force
R: He jumped the fence, found some booze, and he was drunk.
R: Course that would be my responsibility to turn him in. But he’s Air Force, I’m Army, and I said no way am I touching him and let the other national policeman and the, that’s what it was.
I was a Corporal of the guard that night, left a driver with him, took the rifle, went back, drove him back to, drove him back to headquarters which was right across the street from, uh, went o 5thAir Force headquarters right across the street from 8thArmy, asked for the Sergeant of the guard, Sergeant of the guard, I got a problem. You got one of these guys up here that’s drunk and walking guard duty. Oh my God, you know.
He liked to, uh, call me a liar or something and I said well, you need to follow me, okay. Went up, and he took care of it. I didn’t want to get involved in it because the guy could, put a good [INAUDIBLE] or whatever happened to him. But, uh, usually when you jumped the fence when you’re walking guard duty, you got a responsibility, and you get court martialed, etc., etc., and we don’t wanna do that.
I: Um hm.
R: So, it worked out. [Abrupt start] or it looks like a, Now, this is something I picked up after I got back here.
I: So that’s from American newspaper?
R: That’s from the American, also.
R: Then you’re familiar with that one.
R: Once had a big fire a couple years go.
I: Yes, that’s right. Did you have chance, uh, to work with Korean soldier, katusa, or any other foreign troops?
R: Yes. We had Koreans in, uh, integrated into the 40thInfantry Division, you know, to various squads and that.
I: Um hm.
R: As a squad leader,
I had one, okay. It was difficult. It was difficult because of the language barrier, and I also had a fellow from New Jersey that, I don’t know what his physical problem was, but [STAMMERS] he couldn’t always talk, he stuttered, etc., and I kept saying boy, when we go back up there and I’m squad leader
this time, okay, because when they came off line back to the Division reserve, okay, that’s when they said you’re now a squad leader. Okay. So we’d practice a bit, so on and so forth, okay. And I’m thinking to myself boy, if we go back up there and I got this Korean and he’s getting better, but, you know, there’s still
I: But you said he’s from, he was from New Jersey.
R: No, no. The Korean and a fella from New Jersey.
I: Okay, okay.
R: Okay. One was from, I guess you’d call it to ROC Army, okay. I don’t know where he came from, but he was in our squad.
I: Um hm.
R: And there were a number of them in different companies. But, uh, it did make it a problem because of with this guy from Jersey and the Korean, will they understand me, okay. Do this, do that, hurry, quick, you know.
I: Um hm.
R: Whatever, uh. So it sort of bothers you. So, when I got transferred back to 8thArmy, that had nothing to do, I had to [INAUDIBLE] anyway, uh. And as I was leaving the company to get a truck, I ran into the Colonel, Colonel Tillman who was a nephew of President Truman, and he was our Regimental Commander,
and I said hey, I don’t wanna go. Where am I going, you know? I know these guys, you know. I lived with them. He looks at it and he said man, that’s what they told me. I can’t help you, son. Good luck. Because it was over his head, okay. But, uh, you know, I, okay. We go on another adventure, that’s what I would say, you know.
But it was a better and easier life plus the food was a hell of a lot better. Loved it.
I: So you did Iron, uh, Triangle region. Uh, whom did you fought against? Uh, was Chinese or North Korean soldiers?
R: Uh, we didn’t pick out which ones. I think it was Chinese mostly, you know. But, uh, yeah, it would have been Chinese because they were with the North Koreans were back in shape enough up to do anything, you know.
I: Exactly, yeah.
R: In fact, the guy that was, he continued with, he’s with the, uh, Korean War Veterans here also. He was with the 40thDivision, but he didn’t transfer about oh, about a year after I did. But he was there on line when the truce was signed, okay?
And a lot of the guys from our lines were down the bottom of the hill, and they came, the Chinese from that side came down to the bottom of the hill and shook hands, etc., you know, even though they were told don’t do that, course you never know what, you know, what can happen, you know.
I: Any other pictures that you wanna show us and explain?
R: Well, this, a whole bunch of them really.
I: Just few.
R: That I showed you.
R: That was. What do they call it, the Federal Building?
I: Um hm.
R: Over there.
R: Yeah. City Hall.
I: That’s very interesting. That’s the old, old
R: I don’t know where these are.
We’d call it the thousand steps.
I: Thousand steps. That’s it.
R: I drove a jeep up there one time
I: Um hm.
R: because we were curious, what the, what’s up there, you know? But, uh, that’s the PX. I don’t know where these are, but I took pictures.
So when were you officially discharged from the, the Army?
R: Three years of active duty, and six years of inactive duty. So I was, discharged October, uh, October 8, 1959.
I: And what did you do since then?
R: What did I do?
R: Well, I was discharged. I had three years of active duty
R: and six years of inactive duty. I didn’t have anything to do
I: I see.
R: unless another war came up, then they’d say [NOISE] bang.
I: Um hm.
R: We want you back. Other than that, I didn’t have to do anything. No Reserves or anything.
I: So what did you after you were discharged from the military? What, what kind of job or what did you do after the military service?
R: Oh, I went back where I was working, uh. When I was in high school and college, I was working in the Post Office.
R: On a part-time basis, okay? I was home during the summer because I came home from college for weekends, etc. or just call and say hey, do you need me to come in. So when I came back from military service, first thing I did is go back to the Post Office, get myself established, had a couple, and, uh, that went on for a while. Then finally
they said all’s we can do is cut you down to two days a week, and I said well, I better start thinking about something, okay, get a job and etc., and I delayed going back to college which was dumb. Uh, I put it off for, well, it was almost a year I put it off. In fact, it was a year, uh. Then I got involved with a girl.
Next thing you know well, we wanted to get married. No, we don’t wanna get married. Let me go back to college and get a, and then that goes on, and the next thing you know I just, I went to school in between, wanted to get married and she wants to come up and live with me so on and so forth, she got a job, etc.. It got too much, and after a while we couldn’t stand each other, okay. So it was over, and I gave up college at the time. So
R: What are you gonna do. That’s a picture of the [Abrupt end] at the Embassy. Okay. That third window there which you can’t see that
I: Um hm. Um hm.
R: Okay. I got a better picture someplace. That third window there was right where I stood when Eisenhower came in December of ’52. H
He told his driver, drove up here with two or three cars behind him and the CIA guy jumps out of the car and says and you guys grab the suitcases. One star, two star generals bearing suitcase, you know, President of the United States, you know. But there we are on perimeter all the way around this thing, all the way around the compound, the base of it
and even took some of the divisions from up front, took them that were in reserve, took them and brought them back to surround almost the city of Seoul to make sure.
I: What was your rea, I mean what was the reaction of your family when you return and, you know
R: When I returned home?
I: what, what people, what people say about you, you return?
R: Hey Dick, where the hell you been?
I: [LAUGHS] Same reactions?
R: Yeah. I mean, not my family. But I mean friends and so on and so forth. Then they’d say oh, that’s right. You went in the Army, didn’t you?
R: Um hm, yeah. I went in the Army, okay. But, uh, they saw if you got, as far as my family was concerned, they were happy cause they were happy to see my back, you know.
Then I gotta go see all the relatives and, you know, brothers and sisters. My brother was in the Navy at the time. He went in the Navy for four years, uh a year before I was drafted. He joined the Navy because he didn’t want to be drafted. But I’ll tell you, if you followed any of these stories or read the books with pictures of guys that join the Navy and get torpedoed out there in the middle of
I’ll take the Army any time.
R: You know.
R: At least you can hold on to the ground. You can’t hold on to water.
R: But that was my idea.
I: What was the impact of your service for the Korean War upon your life back in U.S,?
I: What was your, what was the impact of your service in the Korean War upon your life back in the USA? How do you think your time
in the military influenced your life?
R: I don’t think I really thought of it. I mean, it was an idea. I served my, did my duty,
I: Um hm.
R: Okay? So nobody could ever say hey, you didn’t do your part. Yeah, I did my part. But I guess I was a little different than some guys. They didn’t talk about it that much because 10 years later, somebody would talk to you
and so on and so forth, oh, you were in the service? Yeah. And say yes, but don’t continue with honor. Like I was in the Na, in the Army, and I was in combat and this, that and the other thing, you know. Well, I got involved. Unless you’re talking to the guy that belongs to the Korean War Veterans. Then you can talk if you wanted. But you still, I still don’t talk that much about it. So as far as
any influence on my life, no, I did my duty to spend my time and, uh, I feel good about it. We got, uh, Major General over in, uh, the, uh, 8thArmy headquarters, General Van Fleet
I: Van Fleet, yes.
R: Okay? That’s his wife.
R: In the city of Seoul, and I think, I’m not 100% sure, but I believe it was, uh, Seoul University campus because the 8thArmy took that over
I: Um hm.
R: Right across the street from that was MacArthur’s headquarters. That was in (Kaka Hospita), I’m not sure.
I: Seoul National University, yeah.
R: I’m sorry.
I: Seoul National University
I: and hospital.
R: But, uh, that’s General Van Fleet, and that’s his wife who, she came over, uh, ’52, December.
I: Um hm
R: And brought all the stuff from the States from re, as a representative for the American Red Cross, okay.
R: Brought the toys, clothing, this, that and the other thing for men, women, kids, so on and so forth, okay? What they did
I: Did you take the picture?
R: I’m sorry?
I: Did you take that picture?
R: Did I? No. No.
I: Where did you get that picture?
R: Oh, verified by 8thArmy Headquarters.
R: Okay? Now, this is a picture of Seoul
University, the main gate.
R: But the Koreans were not allowed to come this way or that way on this main road, only military personnel, okay? But what happened here was they got roughly 8’ fence, wrought iron, all the way down and around the compound, okay? Then they had a gate that was I’d say
maybe a couple foot high, 10 foot, but the crowds, they invited them down and they put the clothes out, this clothes for kids, this toys for kids, there’s mamasan and there’s papasan, etc.. They laid all this stuff out, and they were going to let them in little by little. But the guy in the back said I’m not gonna get anything. So he pushes
I: Um hm.
R: He pushes.
Everybody else pushes. Down goes the main gate, and they went in, and they walked over people.
R: What we had to do was, we go the order stay back and get out of the way. Don’t touch anything.
I: Um hm.
R: The National Police then moved in. Rifle butts.
R: You just, they were animals.
R: But, you know, at first they said well, these are our enemies.
But then when you think about it, time of war, the situation, they’re just trying to get anything they can.
R: And I would say the majority of the stuff wound up on the black market, okay. Sadly to say, but, you know.
I: But there was black market there.
I: At the time. There was black market.
R: yeah. That’s also verified.
I: Um hm.
R: The 8thArmy took it. I got one more 8thArmy took. Okay?
I: Um hm.
R: That’s where, guess who was driving that jeep?
R: Yeah. And notice the car in back has four stars on it.
R: Van Fleet.
I: Van Fleet.
R: Yeah. Now another one that when I come across this picture which is 8thArmy honor guard, okay? Down here, that’s the third window that I was standing when Eisenhower came.
R: Okay? How down here, there was that big fence, 8, 8’ high fence.
But there were hedge growing inside, okay? Sunday afternoon, warm summer day, two of us are on the front gate, myself and another guy who was in the guard house out there, he was writing a letter home to his girlfriend, whatever.
R: So I was outside enjoying the nice weather. It was beautiful. And I’m standing sort of over here where the main entrance is here
and I hear something behind me. I look around. General Maxwell Taylor
R: sneaking out from the van waiting for him
I: Um hm.
R: between the wrought iron and the fe, and the, the bushes growing up there. It scared the hell out of me then. And he drifts through, and he says I’d rather play tennis than watch them, listen to their (damn fan). So I said yes sir, you know.
He said you didn’t have to do that. I said well, um, automatic, you know. But, you believed that.
I: Um hm.
R: Cause he can come down of that fence and be hidden from everybody. I, I just hear the scraping hitting the shirts, the pants or whatever. Something different. General Van Fleet, Omar Bradley, okay?
I: The legends.
R: Uh, Secretary of Defense, uh, Wilson, Eisenhower, Mark Clark, Bernell Attorney General and, uh, Arthur Bradford, Pacific Fleet Admiral.
I: When was it?
R: December 2 or 3, December ’52.
I: In the same area, the Seoul National University area?
R: That’s, that’s at his house back here.
R: Now, you’ll see that picture because many years ago I tried to find out who these guys were
R: I couldn’t find out, and I put something in the, uh, Gray Beards.
I: Um hm.
R: Please let me know if you can identify some of these people. (Ratfurter)I didn’t know, okay? Uh, Bernell I didn’t know, okay? Uh, Bernell I didn’t know. Chelose I thought I knew, but I was wrong.
But they published it in the paper later on
R: This is a number of years later, but that’s been in books before, but they don’t have that picture because that doesn’t have really a good picture without the old one is. My buddy took these, this one and this one. But, uh, it was interesting.
Mark Clark eventually, Omar Bradley, you know, they’d been in the Army for a long time. Then I got, this is, uh, Captain Gimmer and his troops and us, the MPs.
I: And having parties?
R: They always had a, tried to have
a club wherever you were to keep the troops in rather than have them go out someplace, okay? But, uh, it was a good outfit. Good outfit. Everybody that was in this, to my knowledge at my turn, had to have a combat infantry badge, CIB, okay, meaning you had, uh, time up front in the lines so that
people in the rear, if you’re gonna arrest them or something like that, well gee, who are you? Well hey, buddy I served my time.
I: Um hm.
R: Where was yours? Oh. Well I’m rear echelon, you know? Okay. I don’t want to hear it, you know. Fun. Okay, the other
I: We can
R: What a time I had here is
I: Just one more explanation, but I have other questions to finish.
Okay, this, these were all on leave, demonstrations against signing the truce.
R: Yeah. That as another time that my boys was still up front there getting shot at, and they want to demonstrate against the truce?
I: The Korean people demonstrated?
R: Yes. Tool kits, here’s the veterans.
I: Oh boy.
I: You sure they was,
R: I’m sure they
I: Oh, demonstration against the truth,
I: Truce. Okay.
R: Because that, that I got aggravated over that.
I: Um hm.
R: But they’re all, you, you had to sit. You can’t jump to conclusions. You have to sit back and
realize well, what’s going on? Politics, that’s what it was, okay?
I: Um hm.
R: Okay. I gotta go one more
I: Uh huh.
R: Because that’s the veterans when Syngman Rhee, martial law was declared.
I: Um hm.
R: And that’s the same Capital building as in[INAUDIBLE]
I: Right, yes.
R: Okay? And then the only other ones
I have was troops coming back, Operation, uh, little switch, big switch.
I: Um hm.
R: Okay? [Abrupt start] Okay.
I: Very much. Thank you very much, and, um, sharing all the stories and valuable memories of your,
I: your service in the Korean War,
I: And I want to present this Ambassador for Peace medal from Republic of Korea.
R: Oh, okay. Yeah, my buddy, you know, you know my buddy I guess,
R: Victor, Victor Spaulding.
R: He got one of these.
I: Yes. I want to put it on your
R: It’s beautiful. I’m getting hung.
R: Show, I get this stuff out of the way.
I: Thank you again for your
R: Thank you.
I: sacrifice, for your service, and what a wonderful interview.
R: Thank you.
[End of Recorded Material]