Stephen Frangos was born on January 23, 1936, in Ohio. He grew up in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and lived most of his life in Rochester, New York. He graduated from Uniontown Senior High School in 1953. While he does not recall being taught about Korea in school, he remembers his father talking about it as well as seeing it in the news. After high school in 1957, he earned a chemical engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon University. He was also ROTC-trained in college, earning himself a commission as 2nd lieutenant. In 1958, he attended training in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, to become a signal core officer and headed to Korea. After training, he flew from San Francisco, California to Seoul, South Korea. He served in Chuncheon, but because of his duties, he ended up working in many of the large cities in South Korea. Since, he has worked with the Korean Veteran’s Tell America Program, teaching high school students about the Korean War.
Stephen Frangos talks about the first nuclear weapons to leave the United States after the atomic bombs from World War II. The weapons were delivered to South Korea in 1958. The weapons were eventually brought back to the U.S. in 1991.
What Did You Do in Korea?
Stephen Frangos, as a 2nd Lieutenant, was a platoon leader of a radio platoon. He describes the radio relay spots in Korea and what his platoon did to keep communications flowing, supporting the ROK army. He talks about the other types of radios they had. He remembers that his troops were all over, near the 38th parallel. He discusses having to fly often due to the remote locations of some of the radio relayers and adds that he survived three flight accidents.
What Did You Do While Not Working with Radios?
Stephen Frangos recalls spending a great deal of time in the fields. He mentions the poverty that was still common. He shares that he befriended a group of Irish priests, and together, they helped build orphanages. He recalls how the orphans would often go to the Army camp to have meals. He adds that many Americans also sent food and clothing over to help the orphanages.
Impressions of Korea and of Koreans
Stephen Frangos reflects on his impressions of Korea and of Koreans. He describes a Seoul that was devastated but adds he did see signs of revival. He remembers having tremendous optimism for Korea because of the hard working and industrious people. He comments that he knew they would be successful but states he did not realize just how successful they would turn out to be.