Shirley F. Gates McBride
Shirley F. Gates McBride was born on March 29, 1934, in Bedford, Pennsylvania. Growing up during World War II, she recalls the conservation of resources and fanfare when soldiers returned home. After the Korean War broke out, she recalls knowing that a war was going on but did not see the majority of citizens sacrificing like they did during World War II. In 1952, she joined the United States’ Women’s Army Corps (WAC) and received training as a surgical technician. She shares details about her first experiences with racism during basic training at Fort Lee, Virginia. As a medical professional, she was stationed at multiple military hospitals throughout the United States. During her service, she recalls dealing with a variety of patients and experiences. After a trip to Korea and working with Korean War veterans, she now has a different perspective of the work she did during the war.
To This Day, That is Unfair
Shirley F. Gates McBride describes the training all of the women received at basic training at Fort Lee, Virginia, and the shock of encountering racism for the first time. During a trip off of the base, she shares she experienced segregated facilities for the first time. She explains how she was aware of the racial issues in America but did not understand it until her friend provided further explanation. The experiences involving segregation are some of the things she can never truly get over.
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Cry Until You Can No Longer Cry
Shirley F. Gates McBride describes the first lesson she received at Valley Forge in Pennsylvania. Shortly after her arrival, she describes walking into a room and a sergeant separating her from the other soldiers. She explains that he instructed her to go cry in a room until she could not cry anymore. After following his orders, she shares how he explained to her that she would see a lot of death, and she acknowledges that this helped to train her to deal with death.
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We Saw A Lot
Shirley F. Gates McBride discusses different types of injuries she treated while serving at Valley Forge. She describes how doctors trying to restore circulation for soldiers suffering from frostbite would open the soldiers' abdomen and place their frostbitten hands inside. She remembers one particular patient, who was a pianist, suffering from frostbite and how they tried to save his fingers. While working with some soldiers, she recalls they were struggling mentally and had to be in a special unit. She shares that their youth made some of them unprepared to deal with some of the experiences. Not only did she work with soldiers coming home from Korea, but she shares some of her experiences dealing with Korean women in the maternity ward.
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I Was So Young, I Did Not Understand
Shirley Gates-McBride reflects on her experience as a nurse during the Korean War and connecting to other veterans. She admits that as a young nurse during the war, she did not really understand what the men in Korea were going through. After listening to veterans open up to each other, she shares now has a better understanding of what the men she treated experienced and why certain procedures had to be performed.
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We Were All Just Kids
Shirley Gates-McBride comments on the fact that all of the Korean War soldiers were kids during the war. She remembers tales that the soldiers would share of children following them around for treats. After traveling to Korea herself, she emphasizes that she finally understood the tales.
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[Beginning of Recorded Material]
S: My name is Shirley F., and my maiden name is Gates, McBride. M c B R I D E.
I: And your maiden name is G A T
S: T E S. That’s how I would have served.
I: Okay. And what is your birthday? I’m sorry to ask you this
S: That’s okay.
I: but I have to.
S: That’s fine. 3/29/34.
S: I’ll be 84 the end of the month.
I: Wow. You look like a 64.
S: You’re sweet. Thank you.
I: Where were you born?
S: I was born in Bedford, B E D F O R D, Pennsylvania.
I: B E?
S: D F O R D, Pennsylvania.
I: And tell me about your family when you were growing up, your parents and your siblings.
S: Um, my parents, my father was 50 years old when I was born. So, and my parents lived in Bedford, and they had a huge farm. I grew up
on a farm, no electricity, no running water, no bathroom. So we lived in a country, uh. They, my father was working for Bethlehem Steel because it was right after the Depression, and then he was, he worked there, and they had this huge farm and, uh, so I grew up helping in the farm. I had two younger brothers and a sister. I had an older brother
who was 18 years older than I am. He had already graduated from high school by the time I was probably about two, and he had already been in the Army, and he served during World War II and, in. Uh, I grew up having to work on the farm, uh. My mother run the household.
I: Ah hah.
S: She ran the farm, and my mother was the kind of a person if we needed food, she’d take her dog and her 22 rifle, and
she would go out, and we ate deer meat, groundhog, rabbit, squirrel, and then she had her chickens, and she had her rabbits which we, that was basically how I grew up. My mother ran the show.
I: Wow. She was tough.
S: She was tough, and believe me, I think that’s how I got my toughness.
S: And the
I: So, so what kind of animal did you have in your farm?
S: Oh, we had cows and chickens and horses and pigs, rabbits, goats, turkeys, and they would flog you if you got too close to them, uh. We didn’t have sheep and, my parents didn’t, but others did and, um, we grew up typical farmers. I had to ride, uh, once in a while when we needed something we had mules, and I or my brothers had to ride the mules because we didn’t have tractors.
We had, that’s how we did those things in those days. And I grew up, and then, I lived with a family that had no children next door to us. So I grew up in, learning different things. I, because I was born and my name is, I got my name after Shirley Temple. As a result, when I was about 4 or 5, they used to put me in a pink dress, pick me up on the stage, and let me sing her songs.
S: Now I didn’t have curly hair. But I didn’t realize till years later that that was what we did for politics in those days because the person I was living with happened to be the County Commissioner
S: And he worked for the County, and I grew up between two families. I was very, uh, evidently I must have been very good because when the radio came to Bedford County, I was the first person to speak on it.
S: So, those things, I grew up probably in a different world when the Bedford County Fair, I was part of whatever this man did, uh. When he did this, uh, he did some kind of a, an act with a clown, and I was the little clown, and I was to be running around the stage and disrupting him. So I grew up in a world, uh, where this family kind of spoiled me, and I grew up very well.
I: You were princess.
S: Yeah, and I was treated like a princess.
I don’t know why, but I was. My mom said I was very spoiled, and I was the best little girl baby until the men came out of the field, and then I used to cry and want attention.
S: My mom told me tales that made me think oh, oh.
I: Do you remember what kind of song did you sing there at the time?
S: Um, uh, The Good Ship Lollipop and a couple other ones. I can’t remember, there was one that she sang, but I don’t remember it. I
I: What, what is the first one that you mentioned?
S: Good Ship Lollipop.
I: Can you sing a little bit?
S: Well, [SINGS] That’s about all I remember.
S: because that’s a, that’s so many years ago.
I: Thank you.
S: But I did that and, um, I don’t, and that’s what I did, uh, when I grew up, and then I can’t, after the, well during World War II, uh, a lot of the hired hands,
they were drafted into the Army, and then my mother could not run the farm by herself. So then we moved off the farm, and I don’t know why, we went to, uh, to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, then we come back in the farm, and I have no idea why we were in there a couple years, and they sold the farm, and then I came to Lancaster Country.
I: Okay. Yeah, uh, to Lancaster.
S: Um hm.
I: What is, when, what high school did you graduate and when?
S: I graduated from Marietta High School.
I: Could you spell it?
S: M A R I E T T A. And that’s,
S: Uh huh.
I: High School. Where?
S: In Marietta, Pennsylvania.
I: Um hm.
I: What, what year?
I: Oh. Is it, uh, the girl only or altogether?
S: It was a, it was a whole, it was grade school from
kindergar, well, from kindergarten to 12thgrade.
I: Um hm.
S: It is, hasn’t been there for years.
I: Okay. And let me ask this question. Did any teacher or any class talk about Korea?
S: No. Because it just started like in ’50 and ’51. I mean, we didn’t talk about the war because we’re still talking about World War II.
I: No, I’m not talking about the Korean War.
I: History class.
Did they, did they talk about Korea at all, or did you learn anything about Korea?
S: Because it hadn’t, the war only started in ’50.
I: So I’m not talking about the war. Even before the history of Korea.
S: Um, no. I don’t think we knew anything about Korea. I don’t think because that was like far, far away in another world, you know.
I: Um hum.
S: No, no. I never knew anything, uh, China because of the Great Wall, uh, Genghis Khan. But I don’t think Korea ever, um, made
news or anything like that when I grew up. And I had a lot of history. I was a very good history student. I was very good, because we had Civil War, and then we had World, we had World War I and World War II, and I was very god at that when I, because I, I love history, I loved history. And I had a teacher that would challenge us. But Korea, I don’t remember ever hearing Korea, um, maybe, maybe when I graduated towards high school because I had some classmates
that, uh, graduated from high school, and they were already in the service. And then all of a sudden I was there.
I: Korean, when Korean War broke out in 1950, how did you become, know of it, knowing of it?
S: Probably about the news.
I: You remember the date?
S: No, I can’t because that’s so long ago. It, I was a kid. I don’t remember too much, but we would hear about Korea.
I: What did you hear?
S: Um, the death, people getting, our men getting killed. That was something, I think our parents were more in, interested in it, um. They, I think they would know somebody’s family that lost somebody in Korea.
S: And that was kind of something, and it, and even when I’m, I’m 17 or 18 years old, this, this didn’t matter to me when I grew up. It wasn’t something that I would think of anything, uh. A war was like so far
out of my life, you know, because here I am. I’m trying to graduate from high school. I wanted to go into nursing, and those kinds of things. Graduating from high school was a big deal in my, my era because there were so, uh, few of us. It was a big deal. And I don’t actually, I cannot remember hearing other than someone, so and so had a son die or something like that. That’s how we would know about Korea.
I: So when the, World War II ended which
was 1945, you were 11 years old. Tell me about World War II that you came to know, and when ended in 1945. How was, what was the mood in America? People talk about World War II ending, right?
I: So tell me about it, and then compare it to that Korean War.
S: Okay. Uh, World War II, uh, we knew because we had to collect, um, we collected oil, the, our oil, our tin cans, newspapers
and different things like that. We had paper drives and those things, and we talked about it.
I: Why, why did you collect this?
S: Well, the tine because we needed to make, uh, they needed to, uh, get things, like ammunition and stuff like that, and we did that. The newspapers I had no idea, and I knew we had to collect a weed that would make, help make parachutes, and then we did that, and then growing up we knew we had to,
and I remember having, um, we had rations of shoes and tires and meat and butter and what, I, because I have, I, I think, I, in my home I have some of those rations stamped, and we had to ration food, and it was interesting, oh, sugar. That was another big one we had to ration. And because, um, we grew up,
uh, we had to, my parents, I don’t understand how they got these, uh, ration stamps, but, whether they were mailed to them. But I know we had to have their, the booklets with the, all our names on it. Each one of us got a booklet of something. Now my father got one for tires because that’s, and I don’t know why or how that was used, but I remember we could only get certain meats. But I, when I lived on the farm, that was, we didn’t need that
I: Um hm.
S: Because we raised all that stuff.
But when we moved to the city, especially Johnstown, we had to do it then. Now my mom was very, very good at this. She was a very efficient woman, uh. You know, she never graduated from high school, but she was very, very talented. She, we always said she can make, uh, a meal out of almost nothing.
S: And she did, and we grew up eating things like people wouldn’t even think today. When you talk about eating groundhog, oh, I wouldn’t eat that.
But it was good food. It was good. And my mother did all those things, and because she did. Now, she didn’t work during World War II. She did not work because we were small and, um, she did, and she didn’t work till I guess I was pretty much in high school or junior high. But she could always do anything. I remember the blackouts, um. We had to have curtains. You had no lights on a certain hour, and they could put
black curtains up at the windows. That was so that you could have a little light on, uh, air ware, wardens were walking around, and he, I, I don’t, see, I don’t remember growing up with fear because my parents didn’t teach me fear, and I didn’t grow up fearing anything. But I, when you hear those sirens go off, you think, you look around
I: Um hm.
S: and you think of wow, you know, because, um, and my brother was in World War II. He was stationed
up in the Aleutian Islands, and he told, I can remember him telling this as a child. I remember it so distinctly. They were just out on a patrol. Now, they just had basic weapons. The Japanese came and landed right where he was at, and of course they couldn’t make noise or anything else. So they had to go back to their, whatever their base was, and then they brought a patrol out
S: And, so then the,
evidently there was a, an altercation in the Japanese flag. Now, that is one thing I do remember about World War II because my brother was involved with it. He was a Master Sergeant, um, very good at what he did, and he was stationed up there for a long time. Now, I grew up, the one thing I can remember as a child I had a friend, and I just thought her son, and I was just a kid, maybe 8 or 9 years old, not realizing
what this all about. I used to say when I grow up, I’m gonna marry him,
S: and I was just a child, my mom told me I always said that when I grow up I’m gonna marry him, and he used to say you better hurry up and grow up. Uh, he was a pilot, and, no, he was a tail gunner, I’m sorry. He was the tail gunner, and the pilot was his dear friend. But he got, he got killed on a air mission over Germany.
I: Oh, sorry.
S: And that was, that was, I think that was the first
time I could ever remember dealing with war and death.
I: I see.
S: Becauseit was
I: But, Shirley, so for the World War II, a whole nation was mobilized.
I: Somehow you contributed,
S: Even as a child.
I: And it was a victory, you know.
S: Yes, and that was a big parade. I remember when it was out, we got out in the street, and we were, they were shooting guns and everything else because everybody owned a gun, either a hand gun or a strut, and there was guns. There was a lot of noise,
and I remember, and my neighborhood, it was just destru, it was, we were just kids, and we were celebrating, not understanding what the true meaning of this was because we were just kids and, uh, I remember that in my town, in Marietta, because that’s where I lived when World War II ended. And then, of course, the soldiers coming home and, you know, have big parties and stuff like that.
I: So compared to that kind of atmosphere, how
was Korean War?
S: The Korea War, like I said, only started in ’50, and we, we didn’t know too much about it. It wasn’t talked about, not that I was aware of, uh. Like I said, I was 17, 18. My whole life was going, graduating high school, high school. That’s what our lives
I: You were, you were 11 when the, the World War II ended, but you knew all about this.
S: Uh, because my family
S: Yeah. But I now when the Korean War end, uh, they,
it, I don’t think it, I don’t think we got news. Remember, we only had radio. We only had radio and the newspaper. We didn’t have all this other stuff going on. We knew there was a war, uh, but
S: And, uh, and like I said, uh, like my, I had 1, 2, 3 classmates that joined the military out of high school, and none of them were sent to Korea
S: That I was aware of. And, um, so it wasn’t talked about that I can remember. But then, was it because I wasn’t, I wasn’t interested because all of a sudden it was my graduation
I: Um hm.
S: And that. But I remember my father worked in the, in the depot in Marietta. So he knew more about it, but my father didn’t talk about it, and I don’t know why.
I: Um hm. So after graduation of your
high school, what did you do? Did you just enlist?
S: No, I worked, and I worked for Hamilton Watch at that time.
I: Hamilton Watch?
I: Um hm.
I: That’s a famous one, right?
S: Um hm. That was the Hamilton Watch.
I: What did you do?
S: Well, I didn’t understand what I did, but I knew I had to have FBI clearance.
S: Yes. They asked me, they asked me questions that my mother had to ask, answer.
I: I mean, don’t you remember
what actually you did in that company?
S: Oh, it was, we made some kind of a fuse.
S: Uh huh, and that’s what, in fact, we did that all the way
I: In watch company.
S: Yeah, oh yeah. We had military contracts.
I: Uh huh.
S: And we were very precise because remember, we did watches, and we were very, it was a very precise job, you know. Watches were, you had to be very, you, your job was, you had to be very good at what you do. So we made a fuse of
some type, but I remember now it was for the Navy, if I’m sure, I can’t remember. But the Navy was something we did for the Navy. But I remember I had to have FBI clearance, and I was 18 years old.
I: Hm hm.
S: Because I didn’t know much about my, you know
S: But that was, and then one day, I was just a young girl, I walked, I was walking around and there was a sign, we want you. I thought, and I then went in, and I talked to the recruiter, and I thought okay. So I thought I wanted
to do something for me, and I joined the Army.
I: Army. When was it?
S: It’s the Women’s Army Corp..
S: 1952, September
S: September, and it’s called the Women’s Army Corp., It was the WACs. Women’s Army Corp..
I: Women’s Army Corp..
I: And do you know anything about Army Corp., Women’s Army Corp. history? When was the first time that they made it?
S: Uh, World War II as far as I know. Yeah.
I: Uh huh, uh huh.
I: And, what they, what did they promise you, like a salary and so on and so on?
S: No, you know, and I guess, because I was small town, I, I’m knew about lot, making money, and I knew I was gonna make about $81 a month.
I: How much did you make at the Hamilton Watch?
S: Don’t remember. It was probably about, maybe it was less than about a dollar an hour.
I: I’m sorry?
S: About a dollar an hour.
I: Hour? So you, you have made much more than what you going,
what you’re going to get from the Army, Army?
S: No that would already have been $40 a week. I was only gonna get $81 and free room and board.
I: So where did you get the basic military training?
S: Uh, Fort, um, Fort Lee, Virginia.
I: Fort what?
S: Fort Lee, Virginia.
I: Oh. Virginia.
S: Um hm.
I: And, uh, what kind?
S: Basic training.
I: Like what?
S: Okay. They take us out and drill, uh.
We marched, and they took us in bivouac and blowed the whistles and all the things like that. They took us out, and they put us to the gas chambers. That was interesting.
I: Um hm.
S: And they took us out on their firing range.
I: Did you fire?
S: Yep. I didn’t hit the bullseye, but I did hit the, I did hit the mark.
I: What kind of, uh, gun did you use? M1?
S: Pro, I don’t know. It was just a plane gun. I don’t remember because it’s the only time I ever shot a gun in my life.
I: How many?
S: I only had to, only once I had to do that.
I: Only once?
S: Uh huh.
S: Just remember. I’m not
I: How many womens were in the boot camp when you were there?
S: Oh, I think there was about, maybe about 40 in my barracks area and, um, we were for a lot of different areas, and I, the one thing that I do remember about that, it was the first time I ever knew about racism.
Never, I was never taught it, um, because my best friend in school was black, and my friends, and my mother and my best friend’s mother, they had an agreement. If we misbehave, they could, they could punish us. I mean, that’s the way I grew up, you know. The neighbors could punish you if you did something right on the spot. And I never knew what, uh, because that was what we did. We had, my brother’s friends were black.
My friend was, uh, black, and she’s still a dear friend to me to this day, and I never knew what, until I, when we served, there were black girls, white girls, and we, we didn’t think anything of it. I mean, we just, we blended. We did well, but I never knew until we got a pass to go into the town, and I wasn’t allowed to sit with her in the bus.
S: In the bus.
I: Where in city?
S: In, well, it was at Fort Lee, Ge, uh, Virginia.
S: Yeah, and, uh, uh, I wasn’t allowed to sit with her in the bus. I couldn’t eat lunch with her.
S: And it’s the first time that I ever experienced racism.
S: And I never forgot that. That was the one thing that, to this day, I do remember so well. And it was the first time I ever saw a water fountain, uh, black, white, restrooms.
S: Never saw,
I mean, I just
I: What did you think about it?
S: I knew
I: Were you upset?
S: Upset? I didn’t know what, I didn’t know what to do about it. And I, I said to her, I remember saying to these girls, there was about 5 or 6 of us went in together, and we said we’ll meet you for lunch. She says we can’t eat together, and I know the other white girls and I were what? She says when I get back, and they she explained it to us. This is what the South is about. And I said that’s at, I remember saying that is unfair.
And until this day, I still think it was unfair. I, it was
I: You are absolutely right.
S: I mean, because I never experienced it, we were never taught it because in my small town, the black and whites, well, they fought. Now don’t get me wrong. Kids fight. I don’t care. I mean, it’s not because you’re black or white, but you fight, and that’s, that I grew up with that. And, uh, I didn’t, I, I wasn’t, my mother never taught us that.
My mother would never allow it.
I: Um hum.
S: And I don’t know why because even though she was, uh, older, but I never, and because our friends and, that’s just the way we grew up, and I, I didn’t think of it, um. I, I’m, to this day, it is the one thing that I truly remember is that when I went in the military. That, I, I have never gotten over it, and yet I lived through all the racial
issues and all the things through the years. But then I didn’t understand it until she said we just, this is the way it is. Black and whites are separated in the South.
I: Yeah. Amy of your, um, your female soldiers from the boot camp went to Korea?
S: That I don’t know because we were all sent different areas for schooling.
S: I had to go down to, I wanted to be a, I always wanted to be a nurse.
S: And so I
was sent down to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to be trained for, I was Surgical Technician which was another name for a medic.
I: Um hm.
S: Surgical Med. And I was sent down to Fort Sam Houston. Some of them went to Denver. They went all over the world,
S: And I, I do not, I’ve never been able to, and the girls that I was in basic training with, I have never, even seen again that I’m aware of.
I: And from there, where did you go?
S: Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.
I: Um hm.
S: That’s a big military hospital.
I: Yeah. And?
S: And there I was trained to be an OR tech.
I: What is that?
S: Operation, uh, operating room.
S: And the one thing I’ll, I, this, that is when I got there, there was seven of us that came from Fort Sam to Valley Forge, and I remember we got to this room, and there is this Sergeant with all these stripes
and all the hash marks. Now, I knew he was World War II. Everyone line up, and he took long looked at me, he says soldier, I want you to stand over here. And I’m this 18-year-old kid, kind of frightened,
S: But I went over there. And then the other people, I don’t, they went to different area. He says you’re going to be a good medic. He says I’m, I know you can be a good medic, and then he made me go in a room,
and he says, and I want you to cry. I want you to cry till you can’t cry anymore.
S: And then you come out. And I was in there for a long time, I remember. He come in and he says are you crying yet? I said I can’t cry.
I: Um hm.
S: He says think of it. And all of a sudden, I don’t know what I thought about, can’t remember, but I started to cry
S: And cry, and I remember my uniform was, you know, it was crying, and he come out, he says now you’re gonna be a good medic, and he says you’re gonna
take care, and you’re gonna see death, and you’re gonna have to deal with it. And I did.
S: And I was trained to do that.
I: Um. What kind of patient did you deal? Uh, did, did anybody come, come from Korea? Wounded?
I: Tell me about it.
S: Uh, we got a soldier that had
I: At Valley Forge Hospital, right?
I: Yeah. Now, Valley Forge had good, because they had the hospitals from Philadelphia,
and they had the best doctors came there, and, uh, there was, uh, I remember the one surgery, he had a piece of shrapnel in his heart, and they were gonna take it out.
I: From Korean War?
S: Korean War.
S: Uh, we had some soldiers, and I think it was like frostbite because I remember they used to open up their abdomen and stick their hands in him and sew him up so that they could build something of their fingers
S: and it would give them, uh, the blood circulations and stuff like that, and I remember one guy. He was a pianist, and they were trying to repair his hand so he could play the piano again. Um, we saw, I saw a lot of anxiety, now, I didn’t know about certain things then because I’m 18, not doing a, you know, and I’m just turning, I’ll turn 19 in March. So I had no idea what all this meant.
But I knew I had to do certain things, and, uh, some of the soldiers came in, and they were just, uh, I think I remember one patient came in, and he couldn’t cope with life, and that would be something today, and we had to deal with them, and we had a, a unit that we’d put them in, and I didn’t work in that unit only about two days because that was a, that was too much for some of us girls. We were
too young. And we saw a lot, um. I saw soldiers that came in that part of their bodies were missing, um. The second time I went back to Valley Forge, we had a Korean amputee that had four limbs
I: Korean person?
S: Um hm, that, from Korea, yes.
I: From Korea?
S: From the Korean War, yeah. He came there.
I: But is not U.S. soldier. It’s a Korean person.
S: No, no, no. This is a U.S. soldier.
I: Okay, okay.
S: They’re U.S. soldiers.
I: Um hm.
S: Now, the only thing I did deal with with the Korean, I had to take, do, uh, I had to work maternity which is doing babies and delivering
S: And we had to deal with the Korean wife.
I: Korean wives of the U.S. soldiers. Yes.
S: Soldiers, yes. Yes.
I: Um hm.
S: And then that wasn’t always a nice thing.
S: because they thought, and I can remember they, they thought hey, I’m married a Korean soldier,
and I expect you to wait on me.
I: Um hm.
S: Uh, excuse me?
S: You have, you will have to do just what the other women do.
S: But I do remember some of them, and I never understood that. But that was part of the culture we grew up with.
S: But, uh, it was a, it was, um, and then I stayed there, and then I went to Camp Roberts, California.
S: Roberts, California,
I: Um hm.
S: It’s now, it was near San Lou, San Miguel, San Louis, this is California.
S: U, I did, mostly I spent more of my time there in the, in the Army. It was a big, big training base.
I: Um hm.
S: We had thousands of soldiers. I think we sent thousands of soldiers, uh, recruits, to Korea. That was the, that’s what we did. We trained them. Because I was in the hospital, I had to do, for the surgeries, prepare them. Of course, when they came through basic, we have to give them all their shots and stuff like that,
and we had to be on duty
I: What kind of shot?
S: Well, you got your smallpox and all the shots that years ago they, they gave you, um. We had, every, everybody came through you got two shots in this arm, two shots in this arm, right down the line. Yes, we did that. We used to always laugh. The biggest, bravest, they were the ones that collapsed.
S: But most of the kids we got
were from Louisiana, um, Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi, and they were young kids, and we used to say wait, how kind of dumb can some of those kids be?
I: Yeah, right.
S: I mean, that’s the, you know, it was just, that was just what I thought of them, you know. And, uh,
I: Even there are soldiers who cheated their age and, you know, the, they just figure the parents signature and, and sneak into the military.
S: Yeah. And we, but we trained them, and, um, there was like 87 of us in the WAC’s plus a few, uh, officers, nurses then would show you they’re officers, and basically there was just thousands of them on that base because that’s what we did. We trained them, and our, the basic was to train them to go to Korea. And when they use you through basic training, I would say about 80% went to Korea.
S: Out of that base.
S: That was a huge base. And like I said, when I went back here in December, I never realized when I looked at those hills, why they always said Camp Roberts, out, the, the mountains and the hills were a little bit like Korea.
I: Um hm.
S: And they would take them out there, and they would have, they had, they would take them out there and, bivouac and so forth like that, and people don’t understand even, and when you’re in basic training and especially.
if you’re a man or, you have live ammunition. So sometimes they would be shot. Sometimes there’d be accidents. And some of them would die. And when they come in the hospital, my job at that time, if someone comes in critical ill, that was my job, to take care of them. If they died, that was my responsibility, and at those times, I had to tell a family member or someone.
I: You? You’d have to tell?
S: Yes. And it, I got
so, it was just normal to do that, and, um, people say you can’t do that. Yes, you have to. I had to take care of them to the, should they die. Now, that was also other WACs with me. We had to do that.
I: Um hm.
S: That’s what we did. And, of course, then there was surgery. We had to do, uh, to get them prepared to go to Korea. They had to go through sometimes herniectomies, other surgeries so they were prepared to go,
- But I can remember at least one or two that I can remember that got shot out on bivouac area and came in, and we couldn’t save them. And they were just young kids, 18 years old like I was. Just 18, old kids. And that’s what we all were, and we always, um, the parade ground was huge. When you went out and when they had parades,
um, pass in review because we had a two-star general, and he, I, I liked him. He was one of the nice, because I had him for a patient. And when he come in, and of course I’m just a PFC, and I would salute him and think, he says I’m a patient. You outrank me. And I remember him, you out, I, PFC, outranked a two-star general. He says because you are
responsible, and you will tell me what to do. And I remember, and I all, he, I liked him. In fact, when I was out, I got to see his picture. I can’t remember his name, but his picture was there when I was at Camp Rob, and I remember him. I thought yeah, I remember him.
I: Um hm.
S: On, I had him at least, well I was there, at least three times as a patient because he had something happen in World War II, an injury, and we did whatever we did.
I: But you were so
very young, around 19, 20 there.
S: 18, 19.
I: Yeah. And when you see those, you know, the death
S: Um hm.
I: Of young people, was it shock to you? How did you deal with that pressure?
S: Because, when I as at Valley Forge, this man trained me very well.
S: And he
S: He made me cry, and the first person
S: I took care of was a man that died. And I
I: So that actually helped.
S: Yeah. And I took care of those, you know, in the, but they were from World War II
at Valley Forge. But that was fine. But he trained me very well. And I don’t cry a lot even today. I mean it was just, I was so well trained, and I guess I remember him.
I: So you were assisting, assistant in the operation room?
S: Um hm.
I: What kind of things did you did?
S: Oh, we did the, the sponge count, uh. We handed the instruments and so forth.
S: Did like, you did what you call a, I don’t know, a nurse, but we did that.
I: And you said that you were a PFC at the time.
S: [INAUDIBLE] yeah. And then I became Corporal a little bit later.
I: So when you were Corporal, how much were you paid?
S: I think about $121 a month.
I: Hundred twenty-one?
S: Um hm.
I: That’s pretty good.
S: For World, yeah.
S: Well, I guess.
I: I think you got more than what, you know, the soldiers in the front line.
S: Well, not as a Corporal. We all got the same.
S: And we, it was the same pay. We were treated the same. Women are treated as men.
I mean, we were not, when they said to you you were not a female sol, you were a soldier, and you were a Corpsman. You weren’t a Corpswoman. You were a Corpsman, and that terminology, we weren’t offended by it because we grew up with it.
S: And it was yes ma’am, and no ma’am and yes sir and no sir. We grew up with it, and so when you’re in the military, you’re automatically used to it.
I: You’re good. I love this conversation. [LAUGHS]
S: Well that’s just the way we were raised.
I: So, you were
sleep where? Where was, where was your residence?
S: When I
I: Where did you sleep?
S: In the barracks.
S: Oh yeah.
I: Together with other woman.
S: All of the women.
I: How many?
S: I, I can remember maybe about 20 of us in one bath
I: Twenty in, all in the one room?
S: No, no.
I: Was it?
S: No, we had, uh, when we were at Camp Roberts, we had like little cubicles. They were about this far off the ground, and they may have been about four feet tall.
S: And we each had our cubicles because we
I: How many were in the, what was it? Quonset?
S: No. It was, it was, they were
I: Built in?
S: regular barracks, regular wooden barracks.
S: Just like you see in, what you would see in a movie or anything, a wooden barracks.
S: And, but we were separated from the men. I mean, our barracks was so we, and we had two of them.
S: And, uh, we were there and, uh,
I: How many woman in the barrack?
S: Oh, I’d say about twenty [INAUDIBLE]
S: And, uh, because we were
medical, we didn’t have to stand reveille, retreat. We didn’t have to stand that.
S: Like the rest of the girls who, they were, whatever they did, they drove the trucks or they were secretaries or whatever they did. But because we were in the medical profession, we were a little, we were treated a little different because we rotate, we were
S: always, we were different shifts. Sometimes we worked 12 hours a day. But that was different.
I: Were you able to take shower every day?
S: Oh yeah.
I: Okay. How about
food? How was it?
S: We ate in the hospital mess hall. I did. All my, most all my med, all my, uh, military career. In there you got good food. [LAUGHS]
I: Okay. So when you say good food, what kind of food? I mean
I: was it real egg or real milk?
S: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
I: Not powder?
S: Now, we did, every now, had to eat K-rations just like the soldiers. But we did
I: What was your favorite menu out of K-ration?
S: I guess the Hershey, uh huh, bars. [LAUGHS]
I: Okay. Um, what about the weekend? What did you do?
S: Oh, well if I didn’t work on a weekend when I was in Camp Roberts, we’d go down, we’d go to Las Vegas.
S: We’d go down to Mexico, yeah.
I: You had a good time.
S: We got throwed out of Las Vegas.
I: Um. You had a boyfriend at the time?
S: We didn’t have boyfriends, uh. We went together as a bunch of, a group.
S: We, we’d pool our paychecks to get,
I: Uh huh.
S: money left, and the one guy I, I remember, uh.
When you’re in the military, they’ll always ask you what you did in civilian life.
I: Um hm.
S: He was a professional gambler.
S: So he took, we went to Las Vegas, and of course because he’s a professional gambler, he knew, and I remember the one armed bandits as they call them, uh. You pull the thing, and you come down. You, they had, um, fruit on them, and he’d watch for certain one, you pull it down, and I think we’d get like $50 if I can recall. But it was quarters.
And this guy said now when you go up, you watch the people. When this shows up, then you put your quarter in, and you maybe pull it once or twice you’ll win. So we were having a ball. We were winning. And he was winning, and I don’t, and they said, evidently he must have hit pretty big. Oh, when you’re hitting five, six hundred dollars, you’re, you’re going back and it’s pretty good money. So they told us that he would have to leave because he was affecting the, the money in Las Vegas,
so we all had to leave.
S: We just pulled, we just had one, two rooms. The girls had a room, and the boys had the room, the guys had the room. That’s what we did. And it was fun. We just did fun things, uh. We’d go to Mexico. We’d get two rooms, girls, boys, you know. That’s what we did. Went down there. It was fun.
I: It’s like collective meetings.
S: Um hm. Because some of the guys were married, and some of the girls were married.
S: And, and those that married, their, their husbands were in Korea.
S: Yes. See, we had the,
they married, and the guys would go to Korea.
I: Tell me about that couple. I mean, what, how was she? I mean, when her husband was in Korea, for
I: for, for the battle.
S: Okay. Uh, they wrote letters. We baked, if it was nice, we could go down to the Mess, to the m, and then, we could go down to the, the police, uh, military police, and we could use their mess hall
I: Um hm.
S: to cook cakes, and we used to bake cakes. We used to make a mayonnaise chocolate cake. I can remember that first time,
and, and then we would pack it with popcorn, and we’d put it in cans. Now, we didn’t have to pay to mail this stuff to Korea
S: because we, we’d use the government. And the guys used to get this chocolate cake. It was like a two-day old chocolate cake, and they looked for it. And we’d make cookies and stuff like that and send it. And
I: Send it to where?
S: To the, uh, so, these guys we knew in Korea.
S: We could do that, and uh, you know, we’d, some of us knew a lot of the, the, you know, we remembered the guys that we may have dated or
something, and they went to Korea. And, um, so, and then we, we also learned, I don’t know how many, but I knew one girl lost her husband in Korea. And that was devastating to all of us.
S: And because she was, she was a WAC, and of course the Chaplain had to come and tell her, and I remember her screaming. I remember her screaming and screaming and screaming.
S: It was a horrible scream, and we had to hold her. It was horrible
because she’s away from her family. She probably doesn’t know her, his family very well. It was horrible. And of course, she took leave, and I, I don’t remember, uh, her, her ever coming back to the base.
I: No. So even though you were not in Korea, that you were really hit by this war
S: Oh yeah.
I: And you experienced indirectly about the impact of the war.
S: Oh yeah. Knowing
I: Tell me, tell me more about those [INAUDIBLE]
S: Those what?
I: About the Korean War that you were experienced in the camp, in the Roberts.
S: Okay. Camp Roberts, well, we were training in them and, um, of course when we were WACS, we had our nice fill of whatever guys you wanted because there was a lot of them and, uh, so that was, we got to go, and when we saw the, the guys leave, and, uh, we had to say goodbye and some of us were very close to some.
Others we had no idea who, and it really depended if we had them. Now, like me, had them in the hospital. Uh, some of them, like I said, they died, uh, because of some accident or maybe a traffic accident or something. Um, but we, we got a lot of them and, and it was, we’d have to say goodbye and, uh, they would get, I think like they got a 30-day leave or something like that, and they knew they were going to Korea.
S: Now, we got the APP number,
but we never knew where they were at. We never knew because it wasn’t something that we were allowed, even though we were, we never got to know, were you here, were you here, or in there? But now, this is also a couple years into the war, almost before the war ended, and then I guess when the war ended then Camp Roberts started to cut down, and then I had to go to another base.
I: Where did you go?
S: Fort MacArthur, California.
I: Fort MacArthur.
S: MacArthur, yeah. It’s down near Los Angeles,
uh, San Pedro area.
I: Um hm. And what did you do there?
I: The hospital again?
S: In the hospital.
I: Um hm.
S: We took care of soldiers, and we had a big maternity ward because they had a Navy base, San Diego, California near us. So we got the wives of the sailors, and that’s what we did. That was a different kind of a base. Uh, we didn’t do, I didn’t do anything with like Korean War,
that, those that served in Korea. We were still doing military, and I don’t know if they were still sending them to Korea, but I don’t know, they were different. They had different jobs.
I: When did you move to, uh, uh, Fort MacArthur?
S: Um, let’s see.
S: Three, no, 1950, real late 1953, real late.
I: Uh huh.
S: Maybe, and then I went back to Valley Forge again.
I: So you told me that you once visited Korea.
S: Uh huh.
I: When was it?
I: And why?
S: 1986. I took a trip around the world. I was on my way to Nepal
I: Um hm.
S: to meet my son who is a missionary there, and meet his future
S: and his future wife. And so I had missionary friends and, uh, that’s what I did. So we went to Korea and, uh, we stayed with the
Santos and, uh, they, we were able to freely go, and the one of the places I did ask to be was, I wanted to go to the DMZ zonebecause my brother had served there during, right directly after the Korean war when they were not quite, they didn’t have, I guess he was in 1954, ‘50
S: Yeah. He was there stationed.
i: Your brother?
S: Uh huh.
I: What is your name?
S: His name was Russell Gates.
I: R .
S: Carl Gates.
S: Carl Gates. C A R Gates, and he was like 18 or 19. But he was there shortly after World War, uh, after the Korean War. Because he said
I: Carl Gates McBride.
S: No, just Carl Gates.
I: Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.
S: Okay? It’s my brother.
I: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,yeah.
S: Okay. Okay. And I remember him saying, you know, he used to say well sometimes we would just walk around with the rifles. The next time we’d have dogs, or we’d be high on alert, and they would, he said
a lot of times it was very frightening, and I thought okay, I’m gonna go visit where my brother went, not realizing the 38thParallelwas me cuz it didn’t, by that time this is, war’s long gone. And I went up there, and why
I: When was it?
S: 1986, uh,
I: Where were you, your brother was stationed?
S: In, up in the DMZ zone.
I: DMZ. Do you know the name?
S: No, I don’t know
I: Camp name or anything
I: like that?
S: It’s the one right outside the base. I don’t remember.
S: And he was stationed there, uh, for a year.
I: Um hm.
S: And he was right after, just right when the, the war was ending, uh, pretty much, not quite, I think they had a peace agreement at that
S: time, something like that. But he was there, and he said it was very frightening at the time because he never
I: Did he wrote; did he write letter to you?
S: He would write to my mom.
I: Um. And did you read it?
S: Yes, she’d have me read it.
I: Uh huh.
S: Oh yeah.
I: How was it, reading and listening?
S: Uh, I thought
wow. He, this, the war is over. And that’s what my mom said. But the war is over. Why is this? I said mom I don’t know. And, uh, so she, uh, I mean, he wrote lots of letters to her and, uh, so he, I always remember him saying you know, it’s sometimes it was so frightening. He said we never knew what was going to happen next, and that’s when we’re, we never knew what was going to happen next, uh.
But I never understood it. So I wanted to see this, where he was at. And so I went up there, and right before I went there, there was some incident going on with North Korea and South Korea, and, uh, there was an alert. Well, I went up there about a month later, and of course
I: 1986 you said. Yeah. Yeah.
S: It was something. I can’t re, it, it was It was like, it was like November, December
I: Uh huh, uh huh.
S: ’86. But just something. And I don’t remember what it was
anymore, and, uh, of course then we get on this bus and, um, I was, my friend and I and we had a, another young man who was a, who was, um, a husband of my friend’s, uh, daughter, and he was in Korea for a year. So we went up together, and I, we went up there, and when we got up there, they had some Chinese Nationalists, and of course this Sergeant wasn’t very cautious,
And because we weren’t like moms from home, he just turned us loose up there, and they, he’d stay with the, with the, the Chinese delegation cause he was very suspicious of them. And I could, you could feel that, uh, because of the way he, his tone of voice. And so he left us, and he took us up the observation tower, you know, where you look over, and it was very interesting. I had my binoculars I was looking through, and I said does that, I don’t know if I said does he have a gun or a weapon on me, I don’t remember.
And he says you make one gesture, and he will shoot you.
S: Oh, that really, that was really kind of scary. But they, he turned us loose, and of course my friend like, they were like moms from home, and the soldiers would come out and take us. They took us to, uh, the places where the flags, showed the flag that came down and where this Lieutenant was hacked to death. They took us there and showed us that, and they showed us this so-called tunnel. I kept thinking
how in the world did they build that tunnel to get like a tank through, and we didn’t know about it: And that’s a question I have never answered. And so we had a, we just walked all around up there, saw a lot of things, a lot of, and the guys would all come and talk to us, where you from, I’m from here. I’m from there, and that’s what we did. It was very interesting for my friend and I to do that because it, you know, and we, and she was in World War II years ago before me, and
so it was interesting for us, and we just walked around and they talked to us and there. But I do remember there’s something I’ve never forgotten. When I left there, I was coming out, and you were right here where you’d go to the entrance of this base that’s up there, This man was sitting in a trunk, a truck, and he was sleeping. I says to the Sergeant, I says you’re not allowed to sleep on duty. He says now I’m gonna tell you something, and what would you do? He’s stuck in that truck for 24 hours.
That’s, it’s 24 hours, around the clock, and he said he’s only allowed out of, to get out of that truck to go to the bathroom, smoke a cigarette and go for meals for 24 hours.
I: Why? Was it discipline?
S: No. That’s the way they’re, they keep, they keep, they have, you’re on duty 24 hours. That’s what they did over there.
S: Well, that’s, that, that’s the military in case they have to go over into the DMZ, so they had to go right out to the DMZ zone.
I: Oh, emergency scramble.
S: See, there, they were, see, that’s where the scramble was, and I said
to the Sergeant, he says, he says we can put that whole unit on DMZ in 90 seconds. Never forgot that. Ninety seconds. That’s a minute and a half. In other words, you, you’re full, the soldiers, full dress. They sleep, they eat, they walk around with this, their weapons, and they’re ready to go. And I never forgot that. Ninety seconds, and the people say well, you’re sure? I said
that’s what I remember.
I: Um hm.
S: Nine, and he says that guy’s out the door, and everybody’s gone, and they’re up there. So it’s right outside the gate into [INAUDIBLE]
S: And I remember that.
I: Where else did you go in Korea?
S: I went up
I: You went to Seoul?
S: Oh yeah. Because that’s where
I: What did you see?
S: Um, they took us all around. They took us to Dr. Cho’s Church. That’s a big Christian church there. I went up to Prayer Mountain, uh.
We went down to, um, Pusan.
I: How was it when you see all this developed country, but your brother, when he was there in 1952, it was completely flattened.
S: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean
I: What were you thinking?
S: I, um, when I went to Korea, I was, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew, I knew you were well advanced. Now, I knew that from pictures and knowing Barb and Jerry telling me about Seoul, Kor. So I was prepared. I wasn’t prepared for a devastated
country, uh. That was the year they were building that, they were gonna have the Olympics, and they
S: were building all those
S: Yeah. So they were building the highways and stuff like that, and it didn’t surprise me of the culture, uh. Like I said, I was, I had no, INAUDIBLE] he said now, when you stand in line and you’re outside and getting in line, you stand back because they go whomp. They go right in. And that’s the stuff like I remember that.
I: Yeah, right.
S: And, uh, so we did, um. I, uh, also
went down, and I remember the guy that we went down to. He, uh, he, he was, he was a Korean man. Of course, now you’re 86. You’re going back. So he lived through the war, and he remembered General MacArthur.
I: Um hm.
S: And I am surprised because he’s like a god to the people there. I mean, the statues and, when this man was talking about General MacArthur, he said I hate Truman.
S: Always hate Truman.
S: He’ll, I remember him when we’d say I hated Truman, and I still do.
And of course Truman’s already dead. But his man said about they, he’s talked about Mac, because MacArthur came and [INAUDIBLE]he said this was the beginning, and he remembers him. And evidently he was a kid, or a young boy, when this happened. But he remember, and when he was dead, our commander and I thought boy, there’s a man people really appreciated.
I: Um hm.
S: A, a, Truman didn’t, but the Korean people did. And I remembered that.
I: Hm. And you saw many, uh, patients from Korea when you were in the hospital, in the Roberts, Camp Robert, and also Valley Forge.
S: Oh, especially in Valley Forge.
I: Yeah. And when you saw the country that they fought for about 30 years ago, what were you thinking?
S: I, I don’t think I really thought too much about it because I’d seen so many pictures, uh, knowing that Jerry and Barbie come back from the Mission field and talked with. It was like I wasn’t surprised
at the culture.
S: I had, that, I mean, and, but now as I see pictures of, that we’re seeing now showing us especially the last come, those hills, and I thought wow. Where
S: I, I did, couldn’t picture where the hills were. And no. And I, I couldn’t think, um. But now I remember when the Olympic, and this, this, I was so proud whatever this man, and he was NBC which I don’t get,
he said, uh, it, the, because of the Korean, the Americans who served and fought for Korea, we can have this Olympic, and this was the area that they di, a lot of them died in. So I thought wow. That’s the hills they were talking about.
S: That’s what these guys are talking to me about.
S: I mean, I don’t know what I expected because, but they’d tell me, and I thought wow, and when I thought even when I was serving, they were just hills, you know.
We weren’t, but that’s the way it was.
I: Um. What was your unit actually?
S: I didn’t belong to any unit because I was, uh, whatever unit would happen to be there, I was part of it.
I: Um hm.
S: And then when I go to another base because I was medical.
I: Um hm.
S: I was a Corpsman, and we never actually had a unit unit. You were with the unit that happened to be where you were at.
I: So you are Korean War era veteran. You were in the United States when there was Korean War going around. But you had, uh, indirect impact and experience, and finally you were in Korea.
I: So what do you think about all this things?
S: Well, you know what is? I listen to these men talk. Now, you know, and, um, I listen to them talk, and especially if they open up to each other, and I listen to them, and I thought they talk about when they were in the freezing cold because when we were down to, um, and last, uh, Veteran’s Day, we were down in Washington, D.C. It was 42 degrees, and it was cold, cold,
and they said oh, it was just a little bit warmer here than it was in Korea. And I looked at, I says really? He said oh it was so cold. It was below zero. And I remember
I: Minus 42 maybe.
S: Yeah. And I said you’ve got to be kidding me. I said that’s cold.. I said, I said to him, I said we were so cold in Washington we didn’t even realize we were cold. He said that’s what happened in Korea. We were so cold we didn’t realize how cold we were,
and listening to these guys talk, I thought wow. Now I know why these, we had to build fingers. We had to, when you have amputated feet, we had to see, thou, that came back. That’s why we did, that’s why there’s because I couldn’t understand. They were, they weren’t, uh, battle wounds. But you had to amputate part of their feet or toes. They were gone, and the fingers, we had to, they rebuilt. I, I thought, well, you didn’t get shot,
but I didn’t, now I realize because I was so young I didn’t realize what was going on. Now I realized why those hands were put inside their abdomen, and to, and, uh, well, were we told why, but I didn’t realize it would be that cold, you know. Shouldn’t realize it. But listen to these men talk, uh, that were in the beginning of the war, the beginning. And that’s sad, and today, I think
do not, do not bow down to that man up there, Kim Jong-un. Don’t. Don’t give him an inch. I don’t want him to get an inch because you, we, our men fought too hard, and I know he’s looking, he wants to take over Seoul, Korea. that’s his goal. If anybody thinks otherwise, come off of it. He wants to take over. He wants Seoul, Korea because you got technology. You got everything
maybe he don’t have, and do not bow down to him. And I’m not happy, and I said don’t give him a, I, I don’t want him, anybody to give him an inch. I want to take him out. But that’s the way it is. But, I, when I saw Korea, other than pictures I saw, the stories I heard, I am amazed how fast that, I mean that country is absolutely fantastic, and, uh, and since my son, um,
since my grandson, he works with Koreans in the Silicon Valley.
S: And, uh, I got to know some Koreans, um. Uh, when I was in Nepal, I met Koreans, uh. They serve as missionaries. I met quite a few, uh, Korean gals and guys, and they were, uh, we just, they, it was a blessing to meet people like that, and now is Korea, I’m a, I’m really impressed, how many, uh, missionaries are sent
from Korea to the foreign field. You are a blessing. You are a blessing to the world, and my son had many a moon in Korea and, um, I just, I, I remember him say the Korean church has done a lot to bring, uh, Christianity and that, that’s something my son appreciates, and, and he never served in a war, but,
and I’ve met them in Korea. I met them in, well, like in Nepal because they were on my son’s team and, um, in fact I have a picture one gal gave me, uh, you know. They call you Annie. But I am impressed with the peop, but I’m impressed that you’re facing God. Today, that has impressed me that all these years, you were under a different culture,
a different thing, and look at today, how the churches have grown in Korea, and Dr. Cho’s Church where you can only go to church once, once a day, and there’s what, 10, 12 services? I don’t know. But I’m impressed, and Prayer Mountain, oh, that impressed me. You pray 24 hours a day. That was impressing to me.
I: Remember the Bible that I quote?
S: Uh huh.
I: Matthew, Chapter 25, verse 40.
S: What you do
I: Whatever you did
S: Do unto others, yeah. And, and right now I see that, and I was in, like I said, and then at my grandson’s wedding, there was some praying guys there, and we’d get to talk, and I told him I was in Korea. That was, they, they, uh, sort of, really, you were? and, you know. But I am, I’m impressed [INAUDIBLE] technology because they’re in Silicon Valley in California which is all quite with engineering and so forth.
But it was an interesting
I: Um hm.
S: and, um, but I’m impressed with how your people serve the Lord. And I’m, uh, there was one guy that he remembers meeting a North Korean captain, and the North Korean captain had, knew the Lord, and that, that’s going back to Korea because of the
missionaries. So I’m impressed with your people.
S: Other than I’m not gonna stand in line with them.
I: [LAUGHS] Are you proud of, uh, Korean War veteran?
S: Oh yeah. I’m very proud of it. I didn’t do much because I was too busy raising a family and doing all the things I do. Whatever I didn’t do, did. But to get involved with this group, I’ve only been involved with this since the beginning, and I’m impressed with these guys. And as you probably see, I’m ordering them around, they’re asking me for do things and that things.
And, uh, I’m their, I listen to their stories, and I thought oh that’s why this done. That why, that’s why that guy was like that. I’ll say, now I know why certain things. But as a kid, I’m an 18, 19-year-old kid. It doesn’t, it didn’t sink in. I mean, we were all kids. We were all kids. Every one of those men were kids in Korea. They were 18, 19, 20 year-old kids. And that’s
all we were, just like any other war.
S: We’re just kids. And you guys, your parents probably were very young, pro, they were probably kids, too, during the war.
S: And, that’s the things they remember. We were just kids. We were children. And I can remember the tales the soldiers used to come back and tell us about the children, how the children would follow them around,
S: And they would want, um, the candy and, uh, they would just, uh, and when they got treats from America, they wanted to share it with the kids. Now I understood that when I went there.
I thought now I listen to these guys. I thought how did you survive that? How? How? now I know.
I: You very good. I, I really enjoyed this even though you were not in the Korean theater but still your whole military service completely related to the Korean War.
S: Oh yeah.
I: And you are giving me a different observation about the other side of the war. So this
I: is beautiful.
S: Yeah. Thank you.
I: Thank, thank, thanks for coming, and I’m glad that you came.
S: Thank you. I’m glad I
I: See? See that? You, you thought that you don’t have much to tell, right?
S: No. I never
I: But as we, as we find it out, there are a lot of Korean War side in your career.
S: Yeah. I’m, not, I was, I felt very glad I went to the 38thParallel because now I tell people, and I said
I: And tell your brother.
S: Yeah. Well, he’s gone. He’s been gone.
I: Yeah, but still.
S: Yeah. But I remember one thing, and now I know, and, uh, when I look at my mother, she had a tea service set there, and now I know what that meant to her. He brought it back from Korea. [LAUGHS]
S: But you know, and I’m so, you know, and I look at these men, and I listen to their stories, and I think how did you survive? And we have one. His son just, his brother just came back, just part of his body. That’s sad.
S: Well, thank, I hope I gave you, I gave you an altogether different cause I didn’t
S: But it was, it was a, it was a rough one. We grew up.
I: Excellent, Shirley. I, this is very rare occasion where that I can hear from somebody from another perspective.
I: And this was very passionate. I liked the way that you talked to me, and, and it was great. Thank you so much for your service, and
S: This is
I: taking care of those soldiers who wounded from the Korean War.
S: Oh, yeah.
I: And, and you still working with them in the Chapter?
S: Oh yeah. I’m, I just do what I always do.
S: I’m, I’ve always done.
I: Thank you.
S: I like this, I like to order men around.
I: Yea. That’s good. That’s
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