Korean War Legacy Project

Russel Kingston


Russel Kingston was born in Lyon County, Kentucky in 1931 to a farming family. He enlisted in the Army in May 1950 and was assigned to the First Cavalry, K Company. He vividly describes many of the interactions and experiences there, including working with the North Korean boys who would carry his equipment. He remembers hiding out in trenches while trying to evade the Chinese. However, it was difficult to continue pushing through the starvation and freezing conditions and he spent the night in the home of a North Korean family where he was soon captured by the Chinese. He explains what it was like to be a Prisoner of War in the camp, memories that haunted him long after his release. Russel Kingston received many medals, including two Purple Hearts, 10 Combat Battle Stars, POW medal, Combat Infantry Medal, UN Service Medal, South Korean Service Medal.

Video Clips

"They were friendly because they were starving"

Russel Kingston describes that during his time as a soldier in North Korea, young boys would help him carry his weapons and ammunition. At the end of the day, he would give the child food and candy and send him back home. The next day, he'd find another North Korean boy to help. He says they were so young they did not understand that he was the enemy.

Tags: Food,North Koreans,Poverty

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Evading Capture from the Chinese

Russel Kingston describes how they hid in a perimeter that had been dug for a day and night; however, the Chinese dug trenches by hand to get to them. They retreated, and then swam the Yalu river all the way across. He then explains how he evaded the Chinese that night.

Tags: Chinese,Fear,Front lines

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Captured by the Chinese

Russel Kingston describes how he and his group could not stay outside freezing and starving any longer, so they took shelter in the house of a North Korean family. The next morning the family left, and shortly thereafter the Chinese kicked down the door and held them at gunpoint. He believes that the family informed the Chinese that they were there.

Tags: Chinese,Cold winters,Fear,Food,Weapons

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Conditions in the POW camp

Russel Kingston describes the conditions he faced, including the limited food and freezing conditions. He remembers their captors would tell them lies about the status of the war, trying to get them to convert to Communism. In the spring, the captors would take their shoes to prevent them from escaping.

Tags: Chinese,Cold winters,Food,Living conditions,POW

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