Korean War Legacy Project

Robert W. Hammelsmith


Robert W. Hammelsmith was born on January 8th, 1927, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in March of 1945 and volunteered to go to Korea two days before the start of the Korean War. He arrived in Korea in August of 1950 and was assigned to the Reconnaissance Platoon of the 89th Tank Battalion. During his service in Korea, he received wounds from machine gun fire while on a scouting patrol and was evacuated to Japan. After recovering from surgery, he returned to the Korea to continue his service. On June 1, 1951, he was captured by the Chinese after the driver of the truck he was in took a wrong turn. He remained a prisoner of war, first in “The Mining Camp” and then in Camp 5, until the end of the war in August of 1953.  When he returned, he got married and worked for Daily Saw for thirty-eight years.

Video Clips

First Impressions

Robert Hammelsmith describes his first impressions of Korea after landing at Busan. He recalls being assigned to the Recon Platoon of the 89th Tank Battalion and being relocated to Masan. He explains that his first duties were performing communications relay on a hill near Masan, Korea.

Tags: 1950 Pusan Perimeter, 8/4-9/18,Busan,Masan,Front lines,Impressions of Korea

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Robert Hammelsmith describes being wounded by machine gun fire while on a scouting patrol near the Manchurian border in November of 1950. He explains that he was carried out on a stretcher and then transported on the second of two ambulances, the first of which was attacked by the Chinese. He goes on to describe his evacuation to a hospital in Japan where the bullet in his shoulder was removed.

Tags: Panmunjeom,Seoul,Chinese,Communists,Fear,Front lines

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Prisoner of War

Robert Hammelsmith describes being taken prisoner by the Chinese. He recalls being taken to a mud hut and given rice that had not been cleaned of worms and gravel. He goes on to describe being relocated to Camp 5 and sleeping head to toe in a hut of eight men.

Tags: Chinese,Food,Living conditions,POW

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Journey to Freedom

Robert Hammelsmith recounts his release from Camp 5 in August of 1953 and his journey to Freedom City. He describes being transported by train to Panmunjeom and then on to Freedom City where he was fed what was supposed to be a nice meal but included mashed potatoes with sugar. He recalls several officers being present to receive the POW soldiers upon their release.

Tags: Panmunjeom,Food,POW

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