Korean War Legacy Project

Robert Arend

Bio

Robert Arend was attending college when he was activated as part of the National Guard to go to Korea in 1951. His responsibilities included overseeing the prisoners at Geojedo, one of the prisoner of war camps. He recalls the camp conditions, including the Red Cross inspections, but remembers how dangerous they could be sometimes.  He gives examples of how the prisoners would turn on one another, citing tensions between the communists and non-communists in the camps. While it was difficult to see the many deaths in the camps, Robert Arend also remembers how hard it was to see the children living in such impoverished conditions. He revisited Korea after the war and was astonished at the progress that was made.

Clips

POW camp life

Robert Arend explains how they housed 70,000 prisoners among different compounds, including one for females. For safety reasons, they tried to separate prisoner based on their political beliefs, i.e. noncommunist or communists. He adds that for the most part, the prisoners were well behaved, but recalls several uprisings and incidences of violence that occurred.

Tags: Geojedo,Communists,Living conditions,POW

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcJzlmp7m-g&start=836&end=1107

Camp Conditions

Robert Arend remembers the conditions in which the prisoners lived. He describes the prisoners as being well fed and cared for. The Red Cross would periodically conduct inspections to ensure decent conditions, including sports equipment to play with.

Tags: Geojedo,Food,Living conditions,POW

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcJzlmp7m-g&start=1295&end=1352

Account of Prison Uprising

While Robert Arend arrived in the camp shortly after the uprising, he tells the story as it was told to him from others who were at the camp at that time. He says it was the General's blunder by walking into the camp, and the prisoners overpowered him. After several days, they sent in some troops and a tank to get him out. The General was not killed, but there were several prisoners and possibly a few American soldiers were killed.

Tags: Geojedo,Communists,Fear,North Koreans,POW

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcJzlmp7m-g&start=1383&end=1459

Prisoners Were Happy to Be There

Robert Arend remembers that many prisoners were happy to be there, especially the non-communist ones, happy not to have to return to the Communist North. Those that were "hard core" would do anything to go back. It was Robert Arend's job to keep records of every prisoner including their political affiliation and where they were sent. He states that this was a very "intense time" with a lot of threats.

Tags: Geojedo,Communists,Fear,North Koreans,POW

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcJzlmp7m-g&start=1477&end=1624

Poor Children in Orphanages

Robert Arend saw a lot Korean children, mostly orphans, looking destitute. He visited children in an orphanage, and shows pictures of him playing with them. He emotionally recalls spending time with these children as it was full of mixed emotions.

Tags: Living conditions,Orphanage,Poverty

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcJzlmp7m-g&start=2212&end=2302

"So much of the war was terrible"

When asked what was the most difficult part of his time in Korea, Robert Arend said that "so much of the war was terrible." He explains that the deaths were difficult and so was seeing the children in such poor conditions. He also remembers the attacks from guerrillas, but his biggest fear was that the prisoners would break out.

Tags: Fear,Orphanage,Poverty

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcJzlmp7m-g&start=2428&end=2559

Return to Korea

Robert Arend returned to Korea in 2010. He was surprised and totally amazed at the progress. He visited the prison, which has been partially restored. He says that although he believes war is senseless, this war gave the South Korean people some hope and allowed them to find the ambition to build up their country.

Tags: Geojedo,Impressions of Korea,Pride,South Koreans

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcJzlmp7m-g&start=2713&end=2893

Video Transcript

0:00

 

Robert Arend: Hello my name is Robert Arend and I was born in Toledo, Ohio on June 4th 1932.

 

Interviewer: So, did your school go through there? (?)

 

RA: I went through schooling in Ohio, in fact I was in the University of Toledo at the time the

Korean War broke [out]. I graduated High School in 1950.

 

I: Do you remember how you came to know of the break out of the Korean War?

 

0:30

 

RA: I’m trying to remember. It was either radio or newspaper, I’m not sure just which. But at the time I had no idea where Korea was.

 

I: And you didn’t know nothing about Korea?

 

RA: I knew nothing about Korea at the time.

 

I: And you said that you were in the University of Toledo.

 

RA: I say I graduated high school in June of ‘50, then I became a student at the University of Toledo

 

1:00

 

that fall, which would be I guess September of 1950.

 

I: So what did you study?

 

RA: I was studying business law. Shortly after I became a member- a student at the University, I joined the Ohio State National Guard. A friend of mine was in, he convinced me to join and shortly thereafter, which would’ve been the…

 

1:30

 

it was 1951. In the fall of 1951, the Ohio National Guard was activated to regular service.

 

I: So what kind of training did you receive?

 

RA: At that time I was just [in] basic training of the National Guard at that time.

 

2:00

 

And when we were activated, we went to Louisiana for training and I became involved in office work at that time.

 

I: Office work? What type?

 

RA: I was doing… the intelligence section, then I went to

 

2:30

 

school for personnel work and I learned the army personnel. That’s when I was shipped to Korea as a personnel specialist. I was at Camp Hulk in Louisiana and I received my orders to go to Korea. I went to Camp Stoneman in [the] San Francisco area and [I] left from there

 

3:00

 

by boat to Korea.

 

I: Any anecdotes you want to share about the ship? You were in the Pacific Ocean?

 

RA: I was on a ship in the Pacific Ocean and I think from the time we left San Francisco until we hit Yokohama it stormed the entire trip. I was sick, very sick, so sick. I was so sick I wanted to die

 

3:30

 

and I was afraid that I was going to. And we arrived in Yokohama and we were taken off the ship and went to, I don’t know what camp it was, there close by. And we drew all our combat gear, our uniforms and arms etc. And spent a night in Yokohama in the barracks and then back on the same ship in the morning

 

4:00

 

and went around and came into Incheon.

 

I: Do you remember when you left for Korea?

 

RA: It was early December. It was 1952.

 

I: So tell me about

 

4:30

 

the first scene in Incheon when you landed, and how was it, how was Korea? The people? Houses? And scenes?

 

RA: Well when we landed in Incheon, we got off the boat, into the small landing craft and took us to the beach. I’m sure

 

5:00

 

I remember, and I’m almost a hundred percent sure we had to climb a sea wall to get in.

 

I: A what?

 

RA: A sea wall to get onto the beach further. And then we, this was all in the late afternoon. And we went up the beach into the town to some extent. I don’t recall a whole lot of it.

5:30

 

But I do remember that we went into the railroad yard and we spent the night in the railroad yard. And I recall I was on guard duty basically, and it was pitch black and I recall sitting on the ground with my back to a railroad wheel. And I don’t think I moved the entire night. It was so black

 

6:00

 

and I could hear artillery going overhead, and I could hear small arm fire going around different areas.

 

I: Oh really, in the railroad yard near Tiuncha? So there was still battle going on?

 

RA: There was still battle going on there; and I knew I was just petrified.

 

6:30

 

I was so frightened all night.

 

I: So that was the nightmare, the first night?

 

RA: Uh huh.

 

I: So what were you thinking? Did you want to go back, did you regret… Did you enlist or you drafted right?

 

RA: Well I was in the National Guard.

 

I: Right, so it’s more like a drafted right?

 

RA: Pretty much and I wasn’t all that happy to be there, not a pleasant place.

 

7:00

 

All I know is that I was… I was frightened… I was scared.

 

I: So the next morning, what happened to you?

 

RA: The next morning they put us on a train, and we went south to Daegu, and I spent some time in Daegu. And… recalling all that’s

 

7:30

 

a little difficult. So I spent some time in Daegu and then from there, I went to Pusan.

 

I: So Daegu was just a short stop?

 

RA: It was just a few days. And I was basically infantry at that time.

 

I: by the way, did you write

 

8:00

 

a letter about your first night to your family?

 

RA: I’m sure I did… I’m sure I did. Later though, not that night. But the only thing I recall vividly about that night was the complete fear. Like it was so black I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face, and I held my

 

8:30

 

rifle with a round in the chamber.

 

I: So what happened in Pusan?

 

RA: Busan I was sent to a distribution camp in repo depo we call then replace depo and from there I was I think I spent 2 or 3 days there I’m not entirely sure and I was assigned to

 

9:00

 

go to Koje-do

I: when was it 1953?

RA: This was ‘52

I: still 1952 you said that you went to Korea in December 1952?

RA: Right

I: should be 1951 that you left?

RA: December of 1951

 

9:30

 

is when we were activated and I spent 10 months in Louisiana in 1952. Then I was given a 30 day leave and I had to be in San Francisco to Camp Stoneman in December of 1952. So yea it was still December 1952 when I arrived Korea.

10:00

 

I: And when you were assigned to Koje-do

RA: it was still ‘52 December
I: So did you know anything about Koje-do at the time that you were assigned?

RA: No I didn’t. I really didn’t. I had heard a few stories about Koje-do being the United Nations command prisoner of war camp. Some of the Stories I heard

 

10:30

 

weren’t all that pleasant but I didn’t know a great deal about it I had no idea what all it encompassed. I had no idea how many prisoners were there or anything about it until I arrived there.

I: So tell me about your life in Koje-do your mission your service and the things that happened there and things

 

11:00

 

that you still remember and things you want to erase from your memory.

RA: Some things to erase indeed. When I arrived in Koje-do I was assigned the job of primary job of personnel specialized for officer’s records.

I: Officer’s records meaning what?

RA: Meaning all the records, the military records,

 

11:30

 

I took care of their personnel files.

I: Of the prisoners?

RA: No the Americans.

I: Oh, ok. And?

RA: And I, with that job also we all had a secondary job, and my secondary job to start with was a member of a machine gun squad. We would periodically go out to the hills and

 

12:00

 

set up our machine guns in different areas we were ready in case of guerrilla attacks or whatever case may be. And shortly after that I was assigned to become a rifle squad leader, and again I’d take the rifle and with my rifle squad and we’d go through the hills just

 

12:30

 

looking and exploring. Then when… well this was when the war was still going on and I had some contact, periodically I’d be called to go with a few of the people in charge of the different prison camps, the compounds and we’d go inspect the compounds. We’d go in the compound

 

13:00

 

and check the prisoner barracks, the huts the prisoners lived in. We’d inspect those and check them for counter band to see what they were doing and this was shortly after… I wasn’t there when they had the big uprising when the prisoners captured the general and a few guys. I was there just shortly after so

 

13:30

 

it was a little tense to be going in the compounds but we’d go in and check things out.

I: Give me some details so that the audience might have a pretty good idea of what camp was looked like, how people behave, how dangerous, why, what they eat, how their clothing all their things.

RA: The compounds, they were the entire, the entire valley was

 

14:00

 

full of what we call compound it be separate areas we’d have um…. two or three thousand prisoners in each compound that be separated by a very small distance, would be another compound.

I: How many compounds?

RA: I don’t recall how many compounds there were. Totally we had almost 70,000 prisoners. And along with that seventy thousand, that included

 

14:30

 

one compound that was women. We had roughly 3,000 women prisoners also. They were captured at the capture by our troops at the front lines and some were actually combat, combatants, and some were support people.

I: Wow, so there was a combatant?

RA: Oh yeah

I: female?

RA: Yes…They tried

 

15:00

 

I was in on quite a bit of the segregation where we would try to separate the prisoners based on their political belief, there were communists and there were non-communists and we tried out best to separate the non-communist into separate compounds because periodically the prisoners in the hardcore compounds, they would find somebody

 

15:30

 

among their midst that was non-communist and usually quite often what they would do, they would take that person, they’d go outside in the open area and they’d form up in more or less lines, several lines and they’d start singing and swaying and while this was going, while they

 

16:00

 

were singing and carrying on in the middle of the, of their group that have one or two non-communist and they would proceed to kill them.

I: How? They didn’t have a gun. Right?

RA: They would kill them by hand, they would have knives, they would have anything they could use. We used to capture, used to take a lot of knives,

 

16:30

they’d use tent poles for spears, but what they would do, they would, well, they would throw the body over the fence to us. And when it started to get really wild, when we knew they were on the verge of trying to break out and we did use gas to calm them down, to quell the riot.

17:00

I have, I have pictures of the gas we used and it would pretty well calm it down for the time being. There were a few times when they did manage to break some of the compounds, one or two they would break, actually break through the fence and our troops were there to stop them.

17:30

I: When this communist killed non-communist prisoners, what do you, what did you do? Did you punish them, did you find it out, or did you interrogate them?

RA: No, most of the time they would know, when they did this there’d be a thousand or two thousand in this group that were carrying on and I say the major thing was to stop the, to try to stop it by using the

18:00

gas we used.

RA: There wasn’t a whole lot of retribution we could do to them, and the major thing was to try to get those out of there that were professed to be non-communists. They were pretty decent and well behaved,

 

18:30

 

I’ve talked to a lot of men, those we could talk to, and surprisingly, I ran across quite a few of the prisoners that had some knowledge of English and they would speak to us. The funniest thing, I ever saw, one day in the kitchen, I was joking with this one prisoner, he had a, I guess you’d call them a dragonfly, a big insect, and it was a pretty big size, he had a string tied to it

 

19:00

 

and he had a big army pot with rice cooking on the stove, and we he would take this dragon fly and swinging it around, dipping it in soup. We stood there and laughed at that, it was funny. The best thing I collected one day, which I donated to the museum came from this one prisoner

 

19:30

 

who had taken this rubber rain poncho, and he melded the rubber off, and he a piece about 18 inches long and 12 inches wide roughly, and he had this cloth interior, something like a canvas, and he painted, from memory, and what he used for paint I had no idea

 

20:00

 

but he painted a beautiful picture of Georgy Malenkov, who at that time was the Russian Premier. And it was a beautiful picture, and I kept that and it was one of things I donated last year to the museum.

 

I: So it was not Stalin, it was Malenkov.

 

RA: Malenkov, he was the Premier for a short time in Russia.

 

20:30

 

I: How dangerous was it to go though and inspect a camp?

 

RA: Of course there was some danger to it, we’d go in without weapons Q: Without weapons, why? A: Because they could overpower us and weapons, but standing close by just by the outside, we had these

 

21:00

 

South Koreans trained by the US army. They were the primary guards on the prison compounds. They’d be real close by. If there was a few that was to dangerous to go in, of course we wouldn’t go in.

 

21:30

 

Most of them were pretty good, we could have gone in. It actually wasn’t that bad, I don’t think. They had nice barracks to live in. They slept on these wooden pallets with rice mats which I assume that they were clean, had showers, a good kitchen, and they had sports equipment to play with when they desired:

 

22:00

 

balls, basketballs. They would gather and play games or just sit around. The Red Cross would inspect periodically. The international Red Cross would come through and make an inspection and they would see to it that the prisoners had decent clothes

 

22:30

 

and sports equipment to play.
I: What do you mean by shower, hot shower?

RA: To some extents, yeah.

I: How often?

RA: I don’t recall how often they did, but they had a building where they would shower. The would be given clean clothes and they took care of their own laundry, water, and cooking.

 

23:00

 

They did well.

I: You said they were not there at the time there was a big uprising and the death of American general. But can you tell me about those things if you know those?

RA: I don’t know a whole lot, I talked to some fellas that had been there at the time. It was blunder on the general’s part to go in. They went in to talk to this one communist

23:30

 

leader. I can’t remember his name. They talked to him and brought him out I think. And of course they being in there, the prisoners overpowered and kept them. There were there, I don’t remember this but two days, three days, I don’t recall how long it was. But some troops and tanks had to get them out.

I: So he was

 

24:00

 

RA: He was actually a prisoner. Yes

 

I: so out of their life, so he was not killed?

 

RA: No he was not killed, there were a few prisoners killed, I don’t recall seems like there was at least 1 or 2  American soldiers killed, I’m not sure I don’t recall but, the general himself was brought out alive and from then on there were no more major

 

24:30

 

officers there.

 

I: what is POW camp of Koje-do to you?

 

RA: prisoners I think were there, well of course they were captured in the battlefield but, so many of them were happy to be there the ones that were non-communist. They were very friendly with us and anxious not to go back to North Korea

 

25:00

 

those that were hardcore wanted to go back, would do anything in their power to get back if they possibly could. When the hostilities seized, when the war ended I was on a team then that, did the paperwork for the transfer, did all the shipping records,

 

25:30

 

made records of all of them that were there and sought to that they were shipped by the records we had, by the names we had we also kept.

 

I: shipped to where

 

RA: they were shipped up to, what was it “?”(25:54) area and

 

26:00

 

we kept records of all those that transferred, we kept a record, a card file I had a card file for every prisoner his name rank, where he went and then we had the shipping records and saw that each one was called that was on the record

 

26:30

 

and it was quite an intense time, so many of them wanted to cause trouble on the return which, I couldn’t understand because they were being shipped back to where they wanted to go, they wanted last time to take a shot at the Americans.

 

I: because they will serve them as a kind of medal or the evidence of their loyalty to the North Korean authority.

 

RA: Yes

 

RA: I don’t know how many threats

 

27:00

 

I received. We will get you! I know some of… some of the fellas there at the camp, I was one of them, our names were turned into… radio… into Pk in China and classified as war criminals because

 

27:30

 

we were at the camp because we were involved in the transfer of the communists back into North Korea and separated the non-communists and they were sent to other areas.

 

I: The non-communists sent to where?

 

RA: They were sent to other areas some were left in South Korea and I know some were sent to Vietnam and that area.

 

I: A card filed

 

28:00

 

for every prisoner?

 

RA: Right, I had those made.

 

I: What’s in there, in the card?

 

RA: In the card? It’s just a regular file card just a, three by five file card we had made. We had their name and their service number, serial number, and where they were transferred to. Whether it be North Korea or wherever. In that I had an office

 

28:30

 

where I had, where we made the shipping roster for these cards. Four or five of the KATUSA worked in there with me they did all the writing and the Korean script it was all done in mimeograph forms and it was then printed. The shipping rosters were then printed on these graph forms.

 

I: What else was in the card? Did you

 

29:00

 

divide the group or characterized the group as communist or non-communist? Did you have that column?

 

RA: We did, we did, that column was just basic in the card. We did keep them separate.

 

I: No in the card, did you write that this prisoner was communist or non-communist and so on?

 

RA: We separated by Communist and Non-communist. On the Non-Communist card there was a

 

29:30

 

NKO I think it was. It’s hard to remember. Haha.

 

I: So communist and non-communist was the biggest criteria dividing up and categorizing different groups.

 

RA: Exactly, we had a list of all their names and then we separated and put them on shipping rosters and then from there the KATUSAs would put them in in English. And then

 

30:00

 

the KATUSA would write right alongside their name in Korean and the same on these cards we kept we wrote it in English and right beside it everything was done in Korean.

I: Priority of the mission of this management?

RA: Well, of course the main priority of this mission was to keep these fellas as prisoners, but there was a lot of main priorities.  Well one of the main priority again like I said was to

 

30:30

 

separate those that were and were not communist. We wanted desperately to keep those that were not communist away from the non-communist or from the communist and keep them from going back to the communist country where they would be I’m sure dispatched. So many of them of course those who professed were non-communist

 

31:00

 

they desperately did not want to go back. They’d have been not joined the army from their own free will to start so. And a lot of them had families back there which they were concerned with but still they did not want to go back and be part of that regime.

I: Were they able to write letters?

RA: They were able to write letters, yes.

I: So there is address system

 

31:30

 

there, too?

RA: There was. They were well taken care of. Irregardless of what North Korea might have said or does say, the prisoners we had irregardless of their political opinion they were all well treated. They were very well treated. Albeit the fact they were prisoners with limited ability to do anything other than

 

32:00

 

in their own little compound but still they were well treated.

I: So they were actually happy rather than being in the front line and being killed?

RA: I think they were happy, as a rule. Again as I say there’s always those hardcore that anyway they could they would just cause damage to any American they can get a hold of.

 

I: Who cooked the food for the prisoners?

 

RA: They cooked their own food.

 

32:30

 

I: So you provided the materials?

 

RA: We provided the materials, they did the cooking.

 

I: How was your life there in Koje-do?

 

RA: It was good we had decent quarters. Food was pretty decent, although we were somewhat confined of course to the island. But we were all given an option each to leave for a few days in what we called the R and R and I went to Japan for a few days.

 

33:00

RA: All in all it was good, there were many many frightening times but at the same time that was to be expected, we were in a combat zone. We had little what they call Quonset huts, that’s where we slept in.

I: And the bed you had?

 

RA: I had a regular folding

 

33:30

 

army cot to canvas cot.  Hard as a rock.

 

I: Who cooked up food for you guys?

 

RA: We had our own kitchen, our own cooks.

 

I: American or Korean?

 

RA: All-American.

 

I: All-American?

 

RA: Yes.

 

I: What was your favorite menu?

 

RA: It’s hard to say what my favorite was, my least favorite was the fact that the meats all came frozen so there was just a limited amount of what they could ship to us frozen,

 

34:00

 

so we had a lot of turkey, we had a lot of liver and ground meats. All in all the food was decent.

 

I: Yeah, I mean it’s the war, right?

 

RA: Yeah, all things considered.

 

I: How much would you pay them, what was your rank there.

 

RA: Pay, I don’t recall what my pay scale

 

34:30

 

was, I was a corporal.

 

I: Uh-huh. 520 something?

 

RA: It’s hard to recall. Seems like I got around, course part of my pay was sent home. I was married.

 

I: Oh you were married?

 

RA: I had gotten married just a couple months prior to being inducted into the army,

 

35:00

 

so part of my pay was held back and sent to my wife. I think I got something around seventy dollars a month if I recall, I could be way off base but I’m not a hundred percent sure.

 

I: How was Korean society and Korean people’s life in Koje-do Island? Were there Korean people working for the camp?

 

RA: There were Koreans working for the camp, yes there were,

 

35:30

 

and we had some Korean young fellas who worked in the kitchen, they helped with the cleanup. We had some young fellas that were, we called house boys basically, but they would pretty much try to keep our huts clean. We had very little contact with

 

36:00

 

civilian Koreans. There was one town, small village, I went into a couple times and talked with a few people there. There was another, by this small town there was an orphanage and there were lots and lots of little Korean children

36:30

 

and we went there a couple times and took them oranges and some candies and whatever we could to kinda make their lives a little nicer. I’ve seen in my trips from Inchon to Pusan, I saw a lot of Korean children that appeared to be orphans or not I’m not sure,

 

37:00

 

but they looked to me like they were pretty well destitute, begging for candy or whatever and we’d give them candy or whatever we could. I saw no children other than at this orphanage, and it really tore our hearts apart, all these little guys that obviously had

 

37:30

 

no families. This one here is a picture of me with a couple of kids we went one day, and we took a Red Cross lady went with us and she had these little party favors, paper hats, and noise makers, and they got a kick out of that; we gave them candy and oranges. It was fun. We were just so happy to make their day

 

38:00

 

pleasant for them. It was really neat. This is a couple of kids with their hats and noise makers.

 

I: Did you give them noise makers?

 

RA: Yes. It was sad and it was fun, both to go to this orphanage. It was so sad to see these little guys with the life they had.

 

I: When did you leave Korea?

 

RA: I left Korea in November of 1953.

 

38:30

 

I: From Koje-do?

 

RA: Yea I went from Koje-do to Busan, and I was on a ship out of Busan to Seattle Washington, yea.

 

I: Directly? Not through by way of Japan?

 

RA: No, straight through. Straight from Busan to Seattle Washington,

 

39:00

 

fourteen day trip.

I: Do you remember the day the armistice was signed so that the war is over?

RA:I do remember exactly the day. 100%. It was July 27th was it?

I: Yeah.

RA:But we were quite pleased. We had had a month or so earlier right? It was in May or June I recall when that there was rumors of a truce that turned out to be

39:30

totally false and we all thought, “Oh, the war is over. This is great. We can get these guys back home or we can go home.” But it turned out to be false. And when the actual armistice was signed there, July 27th, we were a little apprehensive. then “Is this real or not?” And fortunately it turned out to be

40:00

a real happening. We were happy. We were pleased. There was still problems some of the prisoners still were acting up and causing problems and they did until the day they were shipped out. That was just there way of getting back at us, I guess.

I: What was the most difficult

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thing for your service during the war?

RA:What was most difficult? One was the deaths. Several times I saw prisoners after they’ve been killed by their own people. One other thing, another thing that bothered me the most was the little kids from the orphanage.

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The fact that these guys would  – My thoughts was what type of opportunities do they have. Their country has been torn apart by war. What’s going to become of them? There were times when we were under threat of attack. There were guerrillas in the hills

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and I’m sure they were they came from the mainland. There was one part of Koje-do that was fairly close to mainland Korea.

I: Yeah.

RA:I think they came across there then down through the hills.

I: So they actually attacked you guys?

RA:There were a couple of times when we had guerrilla activity. Of course our biggest fear always was, are these guys gonna break out of the compounds and if they do they sure got us out numbered.

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I: How many were all UN forces there?

RA: I don’t recall, I mean we had…

I: Kind of racial.

RA: I would say it was probably, well we had roughly 70,000 prisoners and I would say at the most we had probably maybe 5,000, I would guess no more than 5000

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Americans and KATUSAs. It was fairly well at numbered had it come to that point.

I: Have you been back to Korea?

RA: I went back to Korea.

I: When

RA: It was in 2010 four years ago. We went back the first part of June, actually we went back on the fourth of June, which was my birthday, and

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I was never so surprised in all my life to see what I saw. I couldn’t believe that the country had progressed so far, well of course it was roughly 60 years but still I like to say that when I left Korea it was basically rice thatched roofs and ox carts.

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When I went back it was all high rise in Hyundai.

I: What were you thinking when you returned back to your home, did you see any future for Korea, did you see if that these people and this country will get of this demolitions, destructions, and poverty, and misery.

RA: I really didn’t think it would, now I assumed they would progress to some extent

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but I had no idea we progressively the stated said now, in fact as I mentioned before we had this Korean couple, middle-aged couple, that did laundry for us and he had sit and talked to him quite often, and he said you know when this war ends I want to build a hotel here on Koje-do. He said I want a hotel where people can come and see what happened here

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and I thought yeah that’d be nice however I hope he did, I hope his dream came true. Koje-do when I left there it was one basically small village that was dirt streets, nothing modern, I never saw

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a motorized vehicle, it was all oxcarts and I thought Korea, Koje-do, when I went back I was thinking it’s going to be pretty much the same. I couldn’t believe Koje-do. When my wife died when we got to Pusan, in fact we took the KTX train

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which was an amazing trip. {We went} On that high-speed train to Pusan and we took the ferry boat from Pusan to Koje-do, and when we pulled into the harbor of Koje-do, I was totally amazed with what I saw. It was totally built, and I just couldn’t believe it. And we went to…

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they had reconstructed the prison camp, to some extent and it was just outstanding what they had done, what they did to preserve the memory of the prison. We were just totally amazed. We just thoroughly enjoyed our trip back, it was just such a thrill to see how far, how well Korea had progressed.

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I was so happy, I was maybe just a little tiny part of it. these little kids that I have in the picture, where I gave them oranges and apples and candy… those kids are all in their sixties now… I wonder what happened to them. I think the war, unfortunately is a hate war. To me a war is the most senseless thing ever

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devised basically. But the war in South Korea gave these people hope, once we, the American troops went, actually troops from around the world went to Korea and pushed the communists back. I think it gave the people of Korea a sense of obligation,

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and a sense to fulfill what had taken place up to that point. They had the determination then to turn their country around and make it modern.

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RA: “They had no drive, they had no… I don’t think they had a spirit to go ahead. I think the war turned them around completely. As I recall, the homes, most of the buildings were all straw-thatched, rough,

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mud streets. And what they did in a short 50 years, it’s just totally amazing. I’m so happy that they had the determination to put themselves in the position they are now, basically, leading the world,

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in so many ways. We went over there, most of us, basically not knowing what Korea was, where Korea was, anything about it. But to come back and then to see what’s happened as a result of the intervention of the United States and the countries from around the world that went… the intervention of those countries to the small country

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of South Korea, what it has meant to that country, what has grown from our experiences. I think every one of us are just so pleased with what’s happened. I know I am. I didn’t want to go at first, back to Korea. I was afraid to go.

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I thought, if I go back, it’s going to open up things that I’ve closed off.  But I’m so glad I went.

I: Thank you very much again.

RA: Thank you.

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