Samuel Stoltzfus was born in Morgantown, Pennsylvania in 1930. He left the family’s farm in 1951 when he was drafted into the United States Army. Throughout his service, he drove trucks, a job he would eventually turn into a career during his civilian life. During his service in Korea, he faced several close calls, including times when he came under enemy fire. Samuel Stoltzfus is extremely proud of his service, especially because he feels that the South Koreans have made a lot of progress.
Close Calls in Korea
Samuel Stoltzfus arrived in Pusan to board a train for the front lines north of Seoul. As a truck driver and radio operator, he hauled his radio across locations that included Old Baldy and Porkchop. He drove officers and radios through enemy fire. Once, during a speedy dash through enemy-observed territory, a hand grenade tumbled from the glove compartment onto the floor of his Jeep.
Scary Moment During Service
Samuel Stoltzfus drove officers all around the front lines. Once, while parked at the bottom of a mountain waiting for Colonel Rouse and Lieutenant Ruble, he heard the shouts of a South Korean pinned under a tire he had been changing. As Samuel Stoltzfus went to help, North Koreans began firing white phosphorous shells at him. He retreated and hid under his Jeep. Another time, he was late for Christmas dinner because he drove a colonel up to a bunker that had sustained a direct hit. Because he was with an officer, they returned to find the cooks had saved the best food for them.
Proud of his Service and South Korea
Samuel Stoltzfus attributes the success of modern Korea to the intelligent, friendly, and hardworking Korean people. He is proud of his service because of how far Korea has come, but he points out the horrific battles that helped make it happen. Once, while standing guard at headquarters, a truck driven by a Turkish soldier returned from the reservoir. In the back, litters of wounded were stacked upon piles of dead soldiers. Despite the deaths he experienced, Samuel Stoltzfus feels he was fortunate during his service.
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S: My name is Samuel H. Stoltzfus. S T O L T Z F U S.
I: Is that German name?
I: So you are German descendant.
S: Yep. Nicholas Stoltzfus came here in 1760.
S: Yeah. Yeah.
I: So how many generations been here?
S: I have no idea.
S: The house is still in Berk’s County and, uh, they have an auction there every year to raise
money for, to, uh, preserve it, and they used to have a trailer there for the groundskeeper. Now they built a barn and upstairs to keep equipment or you can have a picnic in there or downstairs an apartment for the groundskeeper.
I: So what is your birthday?
I: You born in, around
S: In the Depression.
I: The Great Depression. And where were you born?
S: Morgantown, Pennsylvania.
I: Morgantown, Pennsylvania. Tell me about your family and your siblings.
S: Well, I had, uh, I had a brother that was 14 years older than me, and then two girls in between and, uh, my youngest sister, she was only four years older than me, and she died on Christmas Day of 1998. Had cancer.
I: Um. What about your
parents? What did they do?
S: Well, we had a small thirty-acre farm and, uh, I was the youngest, and I didn’t know how to farm. We, uh, we raised asparagus and lima beans and things that went to market and, and, uh, things like that. I didn’t, I didn’t care for that kind of work, so when I was 18 I, I also worked at home and
for a neighbor. He farmed 100 acres of tomatoes and, uh, so, uh, and then 30 acres of pumpkins and, uh, I drove a ’37 Chevy hauling tomatoes, and then that summer they bought me a new Ford cab over with a 16-foot bed on it. So we hauled tomatoes to New Jersey, to Swedesboro., down into Maryland and Delaware to the small canneries down there and, then. So that’s what I did the summer of ’48.
And then that Fall I got a job a New Holland Machine Company as a welder and then, so, uh,
I: So because you, your family had the farm so that you didn’t have a shortage of food at all.
S: No, no. Even the, the, when we dug potatoes, the ladies from Morgantown would come over with their children and walk over the field, pick up the small ones and the cuts and stuff and, and, uh, they were welcome to do that, and
some of the neighbors that didn’t have work, we would give them food because we had a lot of it, yeah.
I: That’s very good of you
I: Your family. And
S: Well, we didn’t want to see them go hungry, you know, so
I: Exactly. So what school did you go through?
S: Eh, Conestoga School in, at, near Morgantown, and I only had an eighth grade education because I had to stay home and work on the farm. Everybody was off in the military.
There just was no help.
S: So I only had eighth grade education.
I: And when were you drafted, or did you enlist?
S: No. I, uh, I was 15 when World War II was, was
S: Was over, and then I was 20 and single when the Korean War started. So that made me eligible for the draft.
I: Um hm. So when were you drafted?
S: Uh, I got my, I’m a little bit like Jim.
I got married on April the 7th, 1951 , and I thought I’d have another month for a whole month of honeymoon, you know, but then Friday night before the wedding, I got my draft notice for 10 days.
I: [LAUGHS] That’s awful.
S: So that shortened our honeymoon. We still got to go to Niagara Falls and stuff like that.
S: And, uh, so then, uh, then I come back, and then I was down
Fort, Fort Meade, Maryland, and my wife and, and, and friends of ours, they brought my wife down there to see me off down there. And, uh, so, uh, I was amazed at the man, uh, the Sergeant that read our names off when we shipped to Fort Benning, GA, uh, when we shipped to, uh, Fort Hood, Texas. Boy, he read them 400 names on and didn’t miss a one. All different kind of names.
S: He was a, I just don’t know how he did it.
I: So you were drafted in April of 1951
I: To Army, right?
S: April the 10th.
I: And then where did you go for basic?
S: Fort Hood, Texas.
I: Fort Hood. And
S: Only had six weeks of basic. Then they picked five of us out of Headquarters Company and sent us to Fort Benning, GA to Light and Heavy Weapons Leadership School,
And there I got a license to drive every vehicle the Army had, and, and then I went back to Fort Benning, GA and they said don’t unpack. You’re going back there again for Radar School. So, but that was the old fashioned radar.
I: Um hm.
S: And, uh, so then when we got over to Korea, that, that didn’t work with the hills. So then I, automatically they put me in the radio section. Then I drove a,
a truck for the radio section, and we’d haul logs to build bunkers and and ammo and troops and things like that. And then, um, I’d go to the radio section, and they, uh, I had about six months to go over there yet, then they said they needed a driver of the Battalion matter if I would like to do that, uh. I said I’ll try it.
I: Where are you talking about now? Is it in the United States or in Korea?
S: No, no. In Korea.
I: So when did you leave for Korea, from where?
S: Uh, June of 1952. I left from Seattle.
I: Um hm.
S: To Japan, uh. I didn’t know storms could get so bad.[LAUGHS] That ship was over 1,000 feet long, and we went up over one way, down another, and the waves are higher than the ship and, and, and I was pulling guard duty up front and, and, uh,
So, uh, then it got that bad they closed the hatches. Then I went up on the next level in behind a big pipe that came out of the kitchen. It was nice and warm there. So another guy was up there, Stapper was his name. So his guard came, his relief came before mine. I had to go back around the outside of the ship to get in, and everybody was coming in wet and, and he said Stoltzfus and I, we, we’re not wet. And so about three minutes later, I come in. I was soaking wet.
I had to go on by over the wave come in over and almost washed me overboard. And, uh, I, uh, I got down there spitting seawater. And then I went up in the head of the ship. All the washbowls were clogged, and on the commodes one guy had his head in it. One guy was sitting on it. [LAUGHS] But I never minded the seasickness because I, I, that didn’t bother me, not even when I go fishing.
That’s the one thing you just don’t wanna say we’re air sickness or sea, because I, I don’t get it.
I: So from Japan, when did you arrive in Korea, where?
S: Well, then they held me in Japan three weeks because I had an MOS they didn’t know what to do with. It was a new MOS, and then I
I: What was your MOS, Radar, oh, okay. Yeah, yeah.
S: I don’t remember what the MOS was, but so they held me in Japan for three weeks and, but that was alright. I got my
teeth all redone there and stuff and I finally went to Japan. We headed towards, uh, uh, down there, Pusan, the prison camp. That’s where we headed to.
I: When did you arrive?
S: Oh, that was about, well I left here in the States in June of
S: ’52. And then
S: Then I got over there
I: about August?
S: That, probably a month after I left the States
S: Uh, because I was, uh, a week going over and five days or something like that, then three weeks in Japan. Then we headed for Pusan Prison Camp. But as we were going there, the 2ndInfantry Division went back on line. So then I never got to the prison camp. And then, uh, then we rode the train up through the tunnels and, an old train that, and
back in the corner was a commode, and it was open. It went, everything went right down on the tracks. [LAUGHS] So we finally got up to Seoul and, uh, then we, distributed us out to where we’re supposed to go, and
I: Um hm. And so what was your unit?
S: 38thField Artillery.
S: Which is part of the 2ndInfantry Division.
I: Artillery Battalion and, what was your MOS?
S: I don’t remember.
I: What? [LAUGHS] You did the radio. Radar and radio, right?
I: Yeah. So where did you go from Pusan? What was the
S: We went up to, well, we were way up north of Seoul, uh
so, uh, every time we got a new Second Lieutenant from the States, why, the Colonel and I, we would, uh, spend about four days on the front lines for him to, uh, to make sure that he knows what he is doing and, uh. So then I would take the Jeep wherever we were going. When we couldn’t take the Jeep, I put that big 619 radio with the World War II type, on my back.
They weighed about 60, 60 pounds.
S: Carried that up over the mountains. But I was young then. I could do it.
I: Where was it?
S: Well, in a Baldy, Old Baldy area
I: Old Baldy?
S: And Pork Chop. And later on we, they were off the line, and when we went back on line, we went over on the west coast where it was more flat.
I: Um hm.
S: So, uh
I: Tell me about your battle experience. What was it like? I mean, describe in detail where that you could have lost your life.
S: Well, I, I only had a couple close ones. They were, the Colonel wanted to go up to his outpost, and so we come down off this mountain and across a bridge. Them you had about a 1,500, 1,000 to 1,500 feet
under any observation, and we started up through there, and boy, here comes artillery shells. But they went in the, uh, rice paddy right beside us. They didn’t go off. They went down in the mud. It didn’t set them off. And I hit the trou. The Colonel, he grabbed a hold of the top of the windshield. We didn’t have no tops on. He grabbed that so he wouldn’t fall out, and, uh, then he said, uh, you can wait here for a while, or you can go back now
because they wanted me over farther with the 619 radio. So I thought well, nobody will think I’m dumb enough to go right back out after they shelled us. So I backed through it, and I wasn’t more than start her and here comes artillery, but they didn’t hit the road. They all went tin the rice paddy, and I had a hand grenade and a [INAUDIBLE] they were bouncing at the glove compartment open and the hand grenade went down in there and I had to get the hand grenade and make sure it wasn’t going to go off.
But I made it safely over there, and they weren’t doing it yet and me, I was too fast for them. And then, uh, one other time I was, uh, at a, at a bottom of a mountain and, that had, Colonel Rouse and Lieutenant Rubel, because they, they had gone up on the mountain, and then I was far to the bottom, and I heard the
South Korean yelling for help me. It was changing a tire. It came down on him. He was pinned. So I went up there to help him, and I wasn’t more than started artillery shells and white flosser shells came, came. Boy that, that white flossers, you didn’t want that on you. And I ran as hard as I could and back to the Jeep, got under the Jeep.
S: Yeah. There was a couple, couple of times it was a little scary, you know. But all in all, I was very
fortunate. I was in the Headquarters Company and, uh, it was, um, had on, un, Christmas Day of ’52, we had a, a bunker that was hit, direct hit. So we went up there to help bail them out, and then we were, got back late for Christmas dinner because that was a big, special dinner. But because he was a Colonel, they save us some of the best food. [LAUGHS]
So we, uh,
I: Were there any Korean working with you?
I: Tell me about it.
S: Uh, well, we had them men that I have pictures there of them pilling sand bags and things like that. And then I have a picture in there, too, of some of the Korean civilians, uh, digging in the garbage pit to get something to eat and then I,
some years ago I wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper and, uh, it was right after that Korean girl won the tournament in Lancaster in the golf game.
I: Um hm.
S: And then I wrote, uh, I took great interest as a veteran, I was, took great interest in that, and I said I remember that the year before that, the South Korean boys won, won, uh, the World Series at Williamsport and, uh,
then I put I don’t think there are any North Korean boys are playing baseball, and then I wrote, uh, it wasn’t around here. The only blacktop road was 30 miles from Inchon into, into Seoul and then, uh, then the first time the Olympics were held there, I was watching on tv and I thought that can’t be the same place. High ride buildings and 6-lane highways and. When I was there a lady could walk down this dirt
street with a pot on her head and a big pack of food on her back and open sewer along, between there and their huts. It was just, I couldn’t believe it was the same place. It just didn’t seem like it could be. the one time I was gonna go back with a group of Korean veterans
S: Oh, about 20 years ago.
S: And the, then we were,
we sold our big house and bought a rancher and that. So we were in the process of moving at that time, and I couldn’t go because all we had to do was find our way to the West Coast, and the Korean Airlines took us from there over, and then everything else was paid, and they were gonna go up right in the area where I’d been,
S: But I never, never got there, and I guess I never will.
I: So you never
S: The thing we have in Germany, I wanted to go back over to, World War II I had a cousin
killed at The Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. But, uh, two of my sons were over on business, and they went to see the grave there.
I: Um. So you never been back to Korea?
I: Uh huh. But you know what’s happening in Korea, right?
S: Oh yeah. I keep, I keep after, watched the Seoul Olympics and, and uh. Now with Trump, we’ll see how it works out.
S: Well, Trump will, he won’t give in, you know. He
because he, he says I have an option, you know. But the, the only way the South, uh, North Koreans will have a good life is that he get rid of that whole regime up there. Then the North Koreans could live like the South Koreans do.
I: Yeah. Um, So what do you think about this transformation from the country that you saw in 1952, and now it’s 11thlargest
S: Well I
I: Largest economy in the world.
S: When the Olympics were there the first time, I couldn’t, I couldn’t believe. Then that letter I wrote to the editor, I put in there about, matter of fact three cars shipped all over the world, and one of the world’s largest ship builders and, and how hard working the Koreans are and everything.
I: So are you proud of your service?
S: Oh yeah. I got an education. I learned what that part of the country was
from and, uh, it, uh, I, I, I had it very good. I, uh, I [INAUDIBLE] The Colonel up on the outpost. I have one picture, I think I have it in there, that, uh, windshield of the Jeep is down with a canvas over it and our, uh, numbers on the Jeep are all painted out because we were way in front of the front lines at that point and, uh, and I had
a helmet along with burlap on it so it wouldn’t shine and, uh, he was dressed like that, too and I had to put the windshield down and cover it so it wouldn’t glare. But we got out there and back, uh. As you went out through there, there was a bridge in the stream, and the North Koreans used to come through that, crawl back down through that north to that stream where nobody would see them
and, blow up the bridge, and our engineers had to go out and put up the bridge.
S: Yeah, yeah.
I: So what do you think about your whole service as a Korean War veteran?
S: Well, I’m glad I served and could help those people, you know, and the way they turned out. How hard working people they are, like I wrote in that article, and, it, uh,
Such friendly people and that, and they know how to work, and they’re very intelligent, and I just wish the North Koreans would have it that good.
I: Um hm. So what was your rank at the time?
S: And the Jeep driver. That’s as high as I could go.
I: Um. How much were you paid? How much were you paid?
S: Well, when I went in I got $54 a month.
When I got out I was making $78.
I: Were there any, um, battle special?
S: Well, uh, we were, the battles in July and September on Old Baldy. We lost a lot of men in, on Old Baldy in July and then again in September. In September, they, uh, half the men were
battled off the hill eating, and that’s when they hit, and they drove all our men off it. That was on the 17thof September, and the 18ththey had to take it back again. And then when they went out to that hollow there, there was what they called the Donor Shop. It was a forward aid station.
S: They called it the Donor Shop. And, uh, they’d bring them back in Jeeps to there, and the
ambulance would take them from there on back. And one time I was back at Headquarters, and I was pulling guard duty at, uh, gate, and a truck come in there, and the guy was from, from Turkey and, uh, he wanted to go to the forward, that little hospital there, and I couldn’t understand him. Then he took me back to the truck and opened the truck in the back, and here he had the bodies in the bottom, and across the top he had the litters for the wounded. Oh,
I said I know where you want to go.
I: Um hm.
S: They were coming in off of, off the reservoir there.
S: But I was very fortunate. As far as duty concern, I had Headquarters Company. I took Headquarters, I was at Headquarters Company at Fort Hood. Only had six weeks of basic. Then I went to two different schools at Fort Benning, GA and, um, so we
I was very fortunate all the way through.
I: What was the most difficult thing for you to serve there in Korea?
I: Except the fact that you were separated from your wife.
S: Yeah. Well, my wife wrote to me every day, and I wrote to her every day. My mother and my father, they wrote to me every week, and I wrote to them every week and, uh, my
mother saved all them letters that I have, and then when she passed away I got them, and I still have them.
I: Do you still?
I: Oh., So that’s why I’m suggesting that we need to appoint a person who can scan all those things and send it to me.
S: Yeah. I think I have them in that one drawer there in my desk.
I: Um hm.
S: Maybe I didn’t keep them, but I, I had them for a long time, let’s put it that way.
S: It was a box there with a lot of old things in.
Some of my drawings and stuff from elementary school to his and things.
I: Right, um.
S: My children said we’re supposed to keep them. They want them someday.
I: So despite such successful outcome of your service, we don’t teach much about the Korean War. Why, why do you think that, that is the case?
S: Well, once a year
we live at, Jim and I live at Gardenside Village, and about a dozen of us go up to the high school, and we talk to them about it, you know, and, and tell them a little about it and everything and try to get it stirred up. It’s just like that, what, what has ruined our children I would say is they took the Bible out of school. You can’t speak about religion in school, and those things
as, and so the children that their parents don’t go to church, they never known anything about it, you know. It’s sad, and then they don’t know what it was. And if the parents don’t have strict discipline, that’s the way they turn out.
I: Um. So after you returned, what did you do?
S: Well, my job was waiting on me
at, uh, I drove a dump truck before I went in and, then at the quarry there, and then when I got out, I [INAUDIBLE]Martin said he didn’t have another dump truck, but he owned a block plant and cement plant there. He said he would have an opening in hauling, driving a cement truck. So I did that for a year. But I didn’t like that.
In the wintertime, they were, somebody was, was putting, doing a flooring in a basement of a new home, you know, and then you’d stand out there then it got so cold you climbed back in the truck to get warm, and you weren’t warm and they were beating on the, on the chute. They wanted more cement, and, so I did that for a year. Then I was offered a job driving a tank truck.
I: Tank truck?
S: Yeah. Hauling, uh, syrup to the feed mills, and, uh,
So, uh, I did that for about 10 years, and there wasn’t enough money, making enough money to raise a family, and then, uh, they, uh, then I stopped at New Holland Machine Company, they said when do you want to start? They said you can start right away. So I went back and as a, as a, I went back as a welder, but that welding smoke in the old type welders didn’t agree with me. I broke out in boils.
So, uh, they said they needed a part-time truck driver and then, uh, so I said I’ll take it, and in the summer time when they weren’t busy in the truck, I would work at the shop. So, uh, then after a while it was full time truck driving, and they had a magazine that came out every month, and then in there was an article about me. I was a 30-year part-time
S: It turned into full-time, but it said 40, 30 years a
I: That’s funny.
S: part-time truck driver.
I: That’s funny. Um,
S: And I hauled farm machinery all the way to Ni, Eastern United States, up into Maine, down to Georgia, Michigan, Tennessee and, so I retired when I was 60 years old, and then I had a, a, CDL license.
You, uh, there was always part-time work. So then I would, I had a lot of part-time work. And then I, I worked for a company that made ebryos, eggs, to go make flu shots.
I: Um hm.
S: And, uh, I hauled them from New Holland up to, uh, Mt. Pocono, and then that’s where they made the flu shots up there.
I: Would you guys be interested in going back to Korea
if Korean government funds you?
S: I’m probably not too old. I would like to.
I: Yeah. Okay.
S: So, that’s about all I have.
I: Any other episode that you want to share with us?
S: No, not more than I, I put another 30 years in at, uh, New Holland, and in June I’ll be out of there 28 years and, I, but, uh, I drove part- time for
a lot of different men, for, uh, this and that and then, uh, I was gonna go to, I was 80 years old, and then two weeks before I was 80 I had a heart attack.
S: That ended that. I was gonna go till I was 80.
I: Oh. Sorry to hear that. Um, unless you have an, another, um, message to share with us.
S: No, that’s
I: I wanna, I wanna say thank you on behalf of Korean nation that you fought for us
I: giving us
chance to rebuild our nation, and we are in the top of the world. So I wanna thank you for that.
S: Yeah. Okay.
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