Korean War Legacy Project

Steven G. Olmstead

Bio

Steven G. Olmstead was born in Albany, New York, and enlisted in the US Marine Corps in August of 1948. He attended recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, and infantry training at Camp Pendleton, California, prior to joining a reserve unit on its way to Korea and serving with the 1st Marine Regiment where he participated in Wonsan Landing and the Chosin Reservoir as well as Operation Ripper and Operation Killer. He recalls various battles and fellow soldiers who left an impression on him during his time in Korea. He comments on the softer side of war pertaining to living conditions, food, and writing letters home and shares related stories in the mix. He recounts being selected to attend officers school and details his return home and career following the Korean War as well as his thoughts on the legacy of the Korean War. He retired at the rank of Lieutenant General after a distinguished forty-two-year military career and is proud of his service.

Video Clips

"High Diddle Diddle, Right up the Middle"

Steven Olmstead describes his unit's movement through "Hellfire Alley" on its way to Hagaru. He talks about being engaged by enemy Chinese soldiers and the esprit de corps among the marines in his company. He recalls the actions of Rocco Zullo, the first sergeant in his marine unit, during the movement to Hagaru. He describes Sergeant Zullo's heroic actions which were thought to have led to his death and shares surprising news about the first sergeant.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Chinese,Cold winters,Communists,Front lines,Living conditions,Pride,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4Q5sMAxScw&start=822&end=1123

The Importance of Hagaru

Steven Olmstead describes the importance of three positions that were held during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, including the hill at Hagaru. He emphasizes that the 1st Marine Division would have been annihilated had control of the positions he describes not been maintained. He recounts the retreat of US forces.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Chinese,Communists,Front lines

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4Q5sMAxScw&start=1124&end=1245

"We Were a Team"

Steven Olmstead describes his state of mind on the battlefield. He talks about being too busy to think about food or home while engaged with the enemy. He comments on the winter living conditions and offers his reasoning as to why he and his comrades were able to survive in such a harsh environment. He recounts his unit's withdrawal from the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, the significance of the "Star of Kotori", and the sufferings of the Chinese Army.

Tags: 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir, 11/27-12/13,Heungnam,Chinese,Cold winters,Communists,Food,Front lines,Home front,Living conditions,North Koreans,Pride,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4Q5sMAxScw&start=1625&end=2104

Writing Letters Home

Steven Olmstead talks about writing letters home. He mentions that there were not opportunities to write when on the front lines and that while he received letters from family and friends, he did not write back very often. He recalls a fellow marine asking his permission to write to his sister and shares that the marine and his sister were eventually married.

Tags: Busan,Heungnam,Masan,Food,Home front,Letters,Living conditions,Women

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4Q5sMAxScw&start=2599&end=2760

Returning Home

Steven Olmstead recounts his trip home to see his family. He describes two encounters with people on his way to Albany, New York. He expresses his amazement when one individual did not know where Korea was located and details a kind gesture offered by another.

Tags: Home front,Pride,Prior knowledge of Korea

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4Q5sMAxScw&start=3095&end=3208

The Legacy of the Korean War

Steven Olmstead describes why he thinks the Korean War was important and its legacy. He compares his opinion if he were to have been asked in 1950, his first time there, versus his opinion about its importance in 1965 when he returned. He comments on the remarkable progress Korea had made in such a short time and how seeing it firsthand made him feel.

Tags: Busan,Pohang,Seoul,Home front,Impressions of Korea,Pride

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4Q5sMAxScw&start=4334&end=4446

Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

I:          General Steven Olmstead, thank you very much for your valuable time.  I would like to ask you where were you born, when you born, and what school you went through please.

S:         I was born on the 10th of November

I:          Um hm.

S:         1929

I:          Um hm.

S:         in Albany, NY.  Uh, my early schooling was in the Albany Public  School system. I then went to Champlain College in Plattsburgh, NY,

0:00:30

uh, for a year.  And then in August of 1948, I joined the United States Marine Corp.  I joined on a program of one year enlistment active duty and eight years Reserve duty.  After my one year, I went back to, uh,

I:          Could, could you make a choice of it for, like, uh, two year active service and four year Reserves.  Did you make that?

0:01:00

S:         Yes.  Those were, those were other options available at that time.  Uh, I don’t, I don’t know what the success of the one year program was.  There wasn’t very many people in it, the one year active duty program at that time.

I:          That’s very interesting to Koreans that we not going to have such choice.  You gotta do one year for service, and then you gotta do seven years Reserve and that’s it, not individual choice, you know.  Why do you think there is [AVAILABILILTY]?

0:01:30

S:         Well, it was just after the War and, uh, there wasn’t that big demand for recruits in, uh, you know, in 1947 and ’48.

I:          Um hm.

S:         And so, uh, they had a number of options.  You could have enlisted for four years I suppose ant then had a much smaller Reserve commitment.

I:          I see.  That’s very interesting.  Um.  Uh, could you tell me about  your family, your fat her and mother and brothers and sisters?

0:02:00

S:         Yes.  My, uh, I, it’s fair to say that, uh, we came from a, a typical, uh, middle class, uh, family, uh.  My father was a veteran of World War I\

I:          Oh.

S:         He was a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy, and he served on the  USS Oklahoma.

I:          Um.

S:         My mother was a, in addition to being a mother and a housewife, was a social worker for the State of New York.  And, uh, so she stayed very busy.

0:02:30

Unfortunately, my father passed away in 19, uh, 45.  So she was a single parent for quite a while.

I:          Oh.  You from Albany.

S:         Um hm.

I:          Tell me about the Upstate.  I’m from Syracuse.
S:         I love Upstate New York, and I

I:          Be honest.

S:         Other than the long winter, yes.  I remind people that we used to be a very big dairy producing state

0:03:00

I:          Yeah.

S:         And, uh, and the lakes, the mountains, the Adirondack mountain, it’s beautiful.  Very dear to my heart.

I:          Yes.  Yes.  So what were you doing when the Korean War broke out in 1950, June 25?

S:         Uh, on June 25, I just finished my second year at Champlain College.  I had gone home to Albany and I was out on a date, uh,

0:03:30

with, a double date with a good friend of mine, uh, Congressman Solomon.  Later on, he became a U.S. Congressman, and I said t here’s a war going on some place called Korea

I:          Um.

S:         and I l got a feeling that I’m gonna get called up.  So I better go down and check in.  And, uh, he said I’ll go with you.  And I said no you can’t.  You gotta go to boot camp first, and he did.  He went to boot camp.

0:04:00

But he never got, uh, to Korea.

I:          What do you mean?  You didn’t  go to boot camp?
S:         Oh, I went to boot camp back in ’48.  I told Jerry.  I told Jerry, uh, go to boot camp.  One year active duty.

I:          Active duty of what?

S:         Of the United States Marines.

I:          Oh.

S:         I went through Paris Island in August of 19, August and September of 1948.

I:          Oh.  Was that after the graduate, I mean, the high school?

S:         Yeah.  There’s one, one year of college

I:          Um hm

0:04:30

S:         Then I went down to Par, uh, joined the Marines, went to Paris Island. After Paris Island, they sent me out to Camp Pendleton for Infantry training. And from there, I went to guard duty up in, uh, uh, the State of Washington.  And then  my one year was up.

I:          When did you graduate high school?

S:         1947.

I:          Uh huh.  And then you went to Plattsburgh.

S:         Plattsburgh for one year.

I:          One year.

0:05:00

And then you joined

S:         Active duty for one year

I:          Um hm

S:         back to Plattsburgh for the second year, and by that time it was June of 1950.

I:          Uh huh.  Wow.  So why did you, did you enlist?  You enlist, right?
S:         Yes.

I:          Why did you do that?  You were in the college, you were at the college

S:         Yeah.

I:          And

S:         Well, I

I:          What did, what did you study, and why did you do[INAUDIBLE] enlist?

S:         Well, I think mostly in college, I was

0:05:30

taking a, a General Studies course cause I, I was up there, I played basketball on the college team and, uh, I, why did I enlist in the Marines?

I:          Um hm.

S:         I just had a feeling that I wanted to do something different and see the world and, uh, I was working, uh, doing, on a summer job in the streets, under the streets of Albany on a repair job.  One rainy day we couldn’t work so I went into the Post Office,

0:06:00

some great big tall Marine says I’m gonna make a leader out of you. So I signed up.

I:          That’s it?

S:         That’s it.

I:          Oh boy.  What did you study in Plattsburgh?

S:         Oh, I, mostly, uh, Psychology courses.

I:          So please tell, please tell me about your boot camp experience.  What did you do?  How was it?

0:06:30

S:         I liked it.  I liked it, discipline and, uh, I said, I thought to myself I can be just as tough as the next guy.

I:          Um.

S:         And I, I liked it.

I:          What, what was your specialty?

S:         Well, in boot camp you’re a recruit.  You’re nothing.

I:          Yeah.  But after you become an active.

S:         Uh, I became an O300, Infantry.

I:          So when you first heard about the Korean War broke out,

0:07:00

what did it tell you?  Were you afraid?  Were you afraid that you going to be there and being killed?

S:         No, I did, uh, I didn’t have that concern at all, uh.  And I’ll tell you later why it was justified. At that time, uh, when the War broke out, there was a Reserve unit in Albany, NY, and I went over to see the Captain, and I don’t remember who he was,

0:07:30

and I told him that I have an obligation.  I felt that I would probably be called up some time later.  I’d like to go now with you because that Reserve unit had been already called up.

I:          Wow.
S:         And he said how long have you been out, and I said about 10 months.  He says you’re ready to go.  So the Reserve unit, within about a week, went down, got on the train in Albany and went to Camp Pendleton, California.

0:08:00

At Camp Pendleton they, uh, separated us by people with prior Marine Corp. active duty service and people who had no active duty service and had to go to boot camp like that.  And I was in the first group.  So we just, we had about three weeks of Infantry refresher training and, uh, then we got on the ship out on the, out of San Diego,

0:08:30

sailed to Japan.

I:          Um, when did you leave for Japan?

S:         I’m  not sure, uh

I:          Month?

S:         It would probably be, uh, the end of September.

I:          1950.

S:         1950, yes.

I:          Uh, did you know anything about Korea?

S:         No, not really. I,

0:09:00

I did know where it was.  But, I mean, I,

I:          How do you know?

S:         But I didn’t know anything about the traditions.  I didn’t know, I guess I should have known about the Japanese occupation and things like that.  But at that time, I didn’t.

I:          Hm.  What people talk about the Korean War at the time when it was just first heard to everybody?  Do you remember any?

S:         I think the. the main thing, uh, that I’d, and it was in the press and things like that is we have to stop

0:09:30

Communism and, uh, we just can’t let them.  That was at the, the period when, uh, Communism was trying to extend all over the World.  And, uh, the public statements and the public opinion that I recall is we got to stop

I:          Um.
S:         Communism.

I:          Um hm.  Okay.  So what did you do in Japan for how long?

S:         We weren’t there, we were there maybe 10 days

0:10:00

at the most, uh, make sure that we had the right equipment that we deserve, some physical training, uh.  We were only there very brief time.

I:          Um hm.  How was, uh, see the, on the ship to the Japan?
S:         How was it?

I:          Yeah.

S:         Well, we got on a troop ship, and as we had, uh, bunks that were six

0:10:30

high.  It seemed to me that one of the guys above you was always seasick, too.  Very uncomfortable.

I:          Very uncomfortable.

S:         Yeah.  But, uh, it, it, you know, you put up with it.  He’s doing it, he’s doing it, I can do it.

I:          Yeah.  So tell me about when you left Japan to where in Korea, and when was it?

S:         It would have been the last week of

0:11:00

October, maybe even the, the first couple days of, uh, November, 1950.

I:          Um hm.

S:         Uh, we landed in Wonson,

I:          Um hm.

S:         and, uh, we were assigned to the First Marine Regiment

I:          Um hm.

S:         uh, most of us were, which was, uh, Colonel Puller.

I:          Um hm.

S:         Chesty Puller was the Regimental Commander, uh.  We were there until probably, uh, it’s after

0:11:30

the 10th of November, maybe the 12th or 13th, and everybody started moving North.  And we got the word, uh, from our Company Commander, Captain Sitter, that we were gonna be going up to Hamhung.

I:          Uh.

S:         Uh, and there was a train, had flat cars.  It wasn’t the kind that you sit in chairs or anything.  It was just flat cars.  And we, we piled on that,

0:12:00

and I noticed, uh, that we had a lot of 55 gallon drums of fuel, uh, on the flat cars, too.  And I was thinking boy, if somebody starts shooting into us, it’ll be a mess.  Uh, I know that somebody did crank off a couple of rounds at us and, uh, we jumped off the train and returned the fire.  Nothing happened, uh.  Got back on the train.  I think the Captain kind of hurt his knee, you know, when he jumped

0:12:30

off the train cause he limped quite a bit after that.  Then we got up to Hamhung, and we got separated from our battalion.  Most of the battalion moved on all the way North, and they went up, uh, into the Taeback Mountains, uh, where the reservoir was to a town of, uh, Hagaru.

I:          You or them?

S:         No, the, the rest of the battalion

I:          Huh.

S:         except for our Company.  Our Company stayed at the 10th Corp. Headquarters to

0:13:00

be security for about three days.

I:          Um hm.

S:         So we were three days separated from our parent battalion

I:          Um hm

S:         Then we got the word there’s trucks available.  You guys are going, uh, up, you’re joining up with your parent battalion.  So we, uh, got aboard the trucks and, uh, there was one or two rifle fires at us as we went about 30 or 40 miles due, uh,

0:13:30

where you get up into the mountains.  And, uh, we got there, and we went, the first town was Kotori, on the other side of, uh, just North of the Funchilin Pass.  And we got to Kotori, it was snowing.  And, uh, we were told to

I:          That’s the middle of November.

S:         Oh, that would have been, yeah, the 20th or

I:          Um hm

S:         And, uh, we were told to find a place to sleep.  And that was

0:14:00

I:          What do you mean, what do you mean find a place for sleep?  Where?

S:         On the ground.  Yeah.

I:          Did you have a sleeping bag?

S:         Yes, we had sleeping bags, uh.  But we didn’t, t here wasn’t

I:          That does not make any difference?

S:         Oh sure.  They saved our lives in sleeping bags.

I:          But in that tremendous coldness there.

S:         It was very cold, yeah, yeah.  Very cold.

I:          Find a place for sleep.  And then?

S:         Oh, some, you know, some guys would sleep under a truck.  Some guys would

0:14:30

sleep in the truck.  And, anyway, we were just organized in a group that one night.  The next morning, uh, the people of Hagaru and up around the Reservoir desperately needed reinforcements, particularly more tanks.  And so they formed Task Force Drysdale.  Task Force Drysdale was commanded by a British Royal Marine Commando, Douglas Drysdale

0:15:00

I:          Um hm.

S:         And the principle unit was his 41 Commando, you know, his company.  And George Company, uh, Third Battalion First Marines and an Army company and then Headquarters units.  And we started out, uh, very orderly, uh, get, you know, take the high ground to protect it, but it was taking too long.  It was too slow, uh.

I:          Why?

S:         Cause of the enemy fire.  It was, we just weren’t moving fast enough North.

0:15:30

And so then, uh, the Commanding General, uh, instructed Colonel Drysdale I gotta have those tanks move out.  And the, the phraseology that I heard, uh, is we’re going up hey diddle diddle right up the middle.  And, uh, so we boarded trucks, and there was kind of like an old Western movie going to what was later called Hellfire Alley.  It, it was about nine or ten miles long, uh, because the Chinese were on both sides of the road, and they were just standing there, you know,

0:16:00

shooting right into us.

I:          How close was it to, to the enemies?

S:         Well, many times they were about the end of the table.
I:          Really?
S:         Yeah.

I:          That close?

S:         They would be side of the road they can, and so we would jump out and engage them and drive them away and go one and do it all over again.  We did that, it seemed an awful long, it was for hours. And, uh,

I:          What was on your mind when you go through that alley?

S:         What was on my mind?

I:          Yeah.

S:         To do what the Corporal told me to do.  You do what the squad leader told me.

0:16:30

I:          Oh my goodness.

S:         And, uh, I, I think I personally got a great epiphany, uh, at that time.  I felt and I saw, uh, if I were hit, killed or badly wounded

I:          Yeah

S:         my fellow Marines, the guys on my right and my left, would get me off the hill and take care of my body.  And that, that meant a lot.  And I knew that those guys on my right

0:17:00

and my left, uh, they’d take care of me.  They had my back.  And so that fight up Hellfire Alley lasted three or four hours.  It lasted a long time.  And it was dark by the time we got there.  Our first Sargent, uh, was magnificent, Rocco Sulu.  Well, we were more scared of Rocco than we were of the Chinese for one thing, and Rocco told us to do something, boy, we did it.  And uh, but, he, uh,

0:17:30

he was right in the thick of it, firing, uh.  At first he was firing a 345 rocket launchers.  Then he was, got up on top of a truck and he was manning it with a 50 caliber machine gun.  So, just sweeping the sides of the hill so the Chinese would stay off us.  And it was dark.  Unfortunately, Rocco got hit in the stomach and, uh,

I:          Do you remember the date?

S:         I, I can’t tell you.  Uh,

I:          So end of March, end, end of, uh, November.

S:         Yeah.  It was the last week of November.

I:          Yeah.

S:         And, uh, yeah.

0:18:00

I:          So?

I:          So, uh, Rocco got hit in the, in the stomach and, uh, corpsman took him off the truck says first Sargent’s dead.  They took his body, and we kept it on the truck till we got up to Hagaru, and they put it over in the morgue.  The morgue was just an old tent that they had to put him in.

I:          Yeah.

S:         And, uh, a Navy corpsman was checking, called Toe Tag Checking, uh, dead Marines.

0:18:30

And Rocco sneezed, and he said he’s alive.  He sneezed.  That’s what, that was a wonderful thing to hear that the first Sargent was not dead.

I:          How was the Hagaru situation when you, when you, when you were there?

S:         Hagaru, of course it was the division center, a division command post.  It was, uh, a large hill, East Hill, right there that dominated it,

0:19:00

and this was at the base of the Changcheon Reservoir

I:          Um hm.

S:         uh, and so that hill had to be secured. And so, uh, we went up it and, uh, George Company and some others, some engineers and we went up and took that hill and kept the hill until we finally evacuated, uh.  There was really three places, and I, I can say this historically now,

0:19:30

that if we had not controlled them, physically controlled them, that First Marine Division, in all likelihood, would have been annihilated, and I couldn’t be talking to you today.  Eddie Silly, uh, Funchilin Pass down at the South of, uh, where the reservoir, the power station,

I:          Yeah.

S:         there was a power station at the Funchilin Pass, if we didn’t have Funchilin, if we didn’t have East Hill, and if we didn’t have Takdong, uh, Pass

0:20:00

to get the people out of Udangni, this conversation would not be going on.

I:          Uh huh.

S:         So, uh, we had to control those three places, and we did.  And then when the final evacuation order came, of course, we would just peel back, uh, to come down.  We got the 5th and 7th Marines that, they came down from Udangni, uh.  The Army who was beat, bloodily,

0:20:30

they were really battered on the East side and they all got together down around Hagaru, and then the group would start moving down from Hagaru to Kotori through Funchilin and then down [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Did you hear any presence, Chinese presence, at the time that you arrived in Wonsan?  Did anybody brief you guys about the Chinese soldiers?

0:21:00

S:         Well, the direct answer is did Steve Olmstead, no, I remember.  I was a Private.  I was the lowest ranked man there.

I:          Okay.  You know, they have

S:         Yeah.  But I didn’t, I guess we, we would call it rumors.  I, no.  I had heard no rumors about it, uh.  But the, now I know historically there were plenty, there was evidence

I:          Yeah.

S:         Prisoners were taken.  But it, it, me?  I didn’t, I just went where my Corporal told me to go.

0:21:30

I:          Um.  What was your mission for Won, Wonsan Landing originally?
S:         Replacements.  See we, we didn’t go in it.  We were a group of people that had come from Camp Pendleton to, uh, Otsu, Camp Otsu in Japan and then a, a board ship and came to, uh,

I:          Was it to occupy the Northern part of the Korean Peninsula or just to, you, you didn’t know.

S:         No, I didn’t.

0:22:00

In 1950?
I:          Um.

S:         In 1950?

I:          Um.

S:         I didn’t know.  Again, in retrospect, uh, 19 or 20 years old, I, I did what, what my Sargent and my Corporal told me to do.

I:          Yeah.  So in Hagaru, what did you do?

S:         Most of the time at Hagaru, we were up on. in the top of East  Hill.  And, uh, the Chinese attacked us, uh, a number of nights.  We would be in listening posts

0:22:30

and, uh, one night that they really got into us up there, uh,  uh, they, they got between two units, two of the platoon units, and they got behind us, t hey didn’t know what to do once they got through us.  And, uh, there was maybe a dozen or 20 of them, and they all got killed, you know.  We killed al of t hem.  But, uh, the next platoon over from me about where I was, about 20 or 30’ away,

0:23:00

one of our Sergeants was there, and he cornered me and Private Smith and he says get me some more hand grenades.  So we slid off and went back by company, uh, to get hand grenades.  And he was throwing hand grenades, you know, and he’d go wombatoouh, and he’d throw the grenade down in, into the little area where the Chinese were coming up at us.  Wombatoouh.  And he did that and I said what are you saying?  Why, are you shouting?

0:23:30

Why are you doing that?  He says it’s a bad phrase in Chinese, and it makes them awful mad.

I:          Oh, yeah.

S:         And I want them mad when I kill them.

I:          Oh.

S:         So Wombatoouh.  And, uh, that was the worst night we had.  The, the rest of the time, uh, we were able to keep them out of being within us by fire.  We had very good, uh, fire from the, they [INAUDIBLE] mortars, uh,

0:24:00

in the 60 mortars.  But we owned our own 60’s.  They were very helpful.  And there were some attack units down in the flats that were sending fire up through the, the valley where the Chinese had come through to get to us.  So after that second night, uh, we were, we were pretty strong up there.  And then, of course, when the evacuation started, we were ordered off the hill.  We went down, uh, into Hagaru,

0:24:30

[the fall and the end of  Communism] moved out.

I:          Hm.  Were there any shortage of, uh, logistical items like ammunition or food?
S:         I don’t recall being concerned, and again, I’m talking as a Private.

I:          Yeah.

S:         I don’t recall being concerned about running out of ammunition.  If had my clips of M1 ammunition and some hand grenades, I was

0:25:00

in Fat City.  I was, I was good.

I:          Um.

S:         Uh, now in the big picture, I’m sure they had a lot of logistical problems.  But Private Olmstead didn’t, uh.  Corporal Pendas made sure that I had hand grenades and, and bullets, uh.  Food, we didn’t, food, uh, we didn’t have it for one thing.  You’d get C rations once in a while.

I:          Yeah.

S:         So

I:          What do you mean once in a while?

S:         Oh, maybe every, every other day or something like that.  Somebody would be handing you a couple of cans of C rations.

0:25:30

But, uh, you, most times you, you couldn’t find anyplace to heat it.

I:          Right.

S:         If you’re up  on, up on East Hill, we didn’t heat it, I’ll tell you that.  Uh

I:          Uh huh.

S:         So we ate crackers and candy.  And when we got down in, into where Hagaru was, there’d be little bonfires and you could heat the rations down there.  It was fun being with the Brits.  They were, the British guys were very friendly, and I gave one of them,

0:26:00

I had a coco bar, and I gave him, uh, he made a cup of cocoa that he and I split and he says the Queen doesn’t even [INAUDIBLE] cocoa open.  That was good.  So, uh, yeah.  And, of course there’s a problem, uh, in the extreme cold in combat like that and hygiene.  There’s no way that you’re gonna wash.

I:          Right.

S:         And there’s no way that you really want to, uh, defecate, uh.

0:26:30

You could go and urinate but, uh, when you’re on the  top of a hill, as I said, when you’re up on top of a hill, uh, it’s pretty tough.

I:          What did you miss most at the time in Hagaru, East Hill?  What did you miss most?

S:         Like what?

I:          Like, uh,

0:27:00

well done steak or Mommy or, what did you  miss most?

S:         We were too busy.  I, really.  We were too busy, too concentrated on is that a flare I just saw on that hill over there mean there’s some coming at us?  I love my mother dearly, but I, I wasn’t worried about Mommy, uh, when, when I was up on East Hill, uh.  And I wasn’t thinking about food a lot, either.

0:27:30

I:                      What was the state of mind at the time that you were just being fired upon and being surrounded by Chinese?  Were you afraid?

S:         Oh yeah.  You know, concerned is probably a better, yeah, yeah.  Was very concerned.  And the frame of mind was that I didn’t  want to do anything that, uh, would embarrass or hurt my fellow Marines.

0:28:00

And I think most guys felt that way.  We are a team, and we’re gonna fight here together.  And, uh, that was the, that was the frame of mind we had. Even when we came out, we came out as, what was left of us, came out as a, as a team.  Well after, you were talking about sleeping in the snow, one of the strangest commands

0:28:30

I ever heard in my life, it was down near Kotori about a week later when we were doing [INAUDIBLE] there.  We were up in another mountain there, protecting I think.  And some [men sailor] says okay men.  Dig in.  What we’re gonna dig in?  It was sol, it was frozen solid.  Alright men, dig in. And then we just brushed the snow aside and we, we fought from there.

I:          And sleep up there.

S:         Pardon me?
I:          And sleep over there.

S:         Oh, well, yeah.

0:29:00

Did, sleeping was, sleeping was done in, uh, snatches, you know, five or ten minutes and then, if you and I are, and it was always whenever we could, two of us together.

I:          Right.

S:         And so if I tell you okay, you got the now, you nap for about 10, 15 minutes and then [INAUDIBLE]

I:          So virtually there was no real, real sleep but just nap and, uh, constantly woke up and

0:29:30

S:         I don’t recall any lengthy sleep until we got aboard ship down at Hungnam.
I:          I wonder how you guys survived that kind of living condition.

S:         Cause we were, I’ll tell you how we survived it.  One:  we were young, 18 or 19, uh, years old.  We had excellent leadership, uh.  When my Corporal or the Sargent or the First Sargent or the Captain, they were, they were veterans

0:30:00

with the exception of, of the Corporal. The others are all vets of World War II.  And they were veterans.  And I knew that when they, when they said something, do something, uh, it made sense.

I:          So, um, tell me about you were in the East Hill,

0:30:30

 

and what happened to you so that why did you went down to Kotori?

S:         Well, that’s when they started to withdraw.  And by that time, we had gotten all the units from the east side

I:          Uh huh

S:         come down and, uh, the units, uh, from up at Udangni had come down, and they were starting to move, uh, South [INAUDIBLE]

I:          So you were actually withdrawing from there.

S:         We were, that was the, the end of the withdrawal.

I:          Uh huh.

S:         Our last position

0:31:00

in Hagaru was on the, the rough airfield that they constructed there.  And we were down at the end of the airstrip, uh, down there for a, the last night we were there.  And the Chinese, uh, were trying to come down off a hill, and I remember one, uh, some of them got caught in a gulley in front of us, and when they tried to retreat, they were getting shot at by their own people up in there.  They did not get to us.  They didn’t,

0:31:30

they didn’t get within 20 or 30 yards of us.  That’s the closest they got that time.

I:          Um.

S:         But, uh, I remember that.  The Chinese suffered [INAUDIBLE]  I can remember a prisoner, uh, and he didn’t have any boots.  There was just a block of ice down at the, bottom of his leg.

I:          What do you mean no boots at all, no shoes, nothing?

S:         He, that guy didn’t.  Well, if he did, it was covered with ice.  I looked at his foot, and it

0:32:00

was just a , a big block of ice.  And, uh, so, uh, the  Chinese, uh, suffered tremendous casualties.  And they did, uh, the, 120 or whatever thousand that was coming after us, uh, they were ineffective, um, after the [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Were you, did you participate in the, the building the bridge?

S:         No, no.  I, I know of it.

0:32:30

I:          Could you see that?

S:         I walked across it, sure.

I:          Um.

S:         And, uh, it’s, uh, that’s spooky.  I mean, you walk across that bridge, and you can look down on the side and it goes [NOISE], straight down where the power, uh, uh, pipes were.  And, uh, but by the time we got over that, uh, uh, we pretty much had a feeling that we’re gonna make it.  And, uh, got on, got on another flat car train.

0:33:00

I don’t think the North Koreans had any trains other than flat cars.

I:          Yeah.  So I see the badge of the Star of Kotori in your collar here.

S:         Oh yes, yeah.

I:          And I heard this story from General Cherry.  And could you tell me about this and what were you doing when all the people were praying there, and why did you and what for, and what happened?

S:         Okay.  The main

0:33:30

thing that, the importance of it is when, our success and survival depended a great deal upon the teamwork that we had with out air, our aviation.

I:          Um hm.

S:         And they did a marvelous job.  When they could, when weather was not blowing or it was actually snowing, uh, in a snowstorm we couldn’t use them.  And as we were coming out, uh, there was a, another snowstorm, heavy snowstorm,

0:34:00

and for a fairly extended period, over a day, we had no air to support us.  And that  night, God, it just got clear as could be.  The clouds disappeared, and this one star showed up.  Everybody took it as a symbol.

I:          I mean was virtually one star or one star was really shinier

S:         Yeah, one star was dominant, yeah.

I:          Yeah.

S:         Yeah.  And, uh,

0:34:30

I:          You really saw that.

S:         Yeah, yeah I did, yeah.

I:          And I heard from General Cherry that they were all praying together?

S:         Well, I’m sure that, uh, yeah, we

I:          Was it kind of collective prayer or

S:         No,  no.  It was in, individuals were, were all, my God, we need to get this, uh, the skies to clear up and oh look, there’s a star, and it, it’s clearing up.  And it did.  And we got out.

I:          Did you pray?

S:         I’m sure I did, yeah.

I:          Remember what?

0:35:00

S:         No, I don’t remember.  Uh, tragic

I:          Were there any very dangerous moments that you might lose your life during that, uh, um, uh, Hagaru, East Hill, Kotori?

S:         Yeah, yeah.

I:          Tell me about that.

S:         Well, on the first night up on the hill when the Chinese broke through between the two platoons,

0:35:30

I mean, there were literally bodies, uh, running over you, as close as you and I are right now.  And they were shooting, and we were shooting and, uh, that was pretty close.  Um, uh, later on after the Reservoir Campaign, uh, I got shot at a number of times.  But that could have been life threatening then.

I:          Uh huh.

S:         But, uh, at the Reservoir Campaign, there was so much incoming and so  much stuff going on, you don’t sort it out and say oh, that one’s coming for me as you know.

0:36:00

I:          How many Chinese?

S:         I’m told that there were 120,000 in, in the Reservoir area.  And there was 15, 16,000 of us counting the Army and the, the Royal Marines.

I:          Did the Navy supported you?
S:         Oh.  Well the Navy, uh, the Navy corpsmen are the greatest people in the world.  And the, and we had Chaplains, uh, Navy Chaplains going with us,

0:36:30

and Navy planes.

I:          How about Navy ship, uh, the shot from there?

S:         Not, they couldn’t reach the Reservoir.

I:          Okay.

S:         That was out of range.  And, um, but again, the Navy, uh, down at Hungnam, the Navy protected Hungnam until we got out, um.

I:          I heard that there was some friendly fires, too, that actually end up killing, say like the number of the, the soldiers.

0:37:00

S:         Well, there’s no such thing as friendly fire.

I:          Oh.

S:         If it kills you, it’s not very friendly.

I:          Right.

S:         Uh, yeah.  There, there’s accidents all the time, uh.  I’m sure that, I, at the Reservoir, I know of no, that’s not to say there couldn’t have been.  But I know of no friendly fire

I:          Okay.

S:         uh, casualties.  Later on, yeah.

I:          Um.

0:37:30

So after, uh, from Kotori, uh, after the sky cleared, weather be, you know, favorable, what happened?

S:         Well, it was about four or five miles to, uh, the bridge.  And, uh, people, uh, just kept moving and, in a very orderly way.  The 1st Battalion of our Regiment secured Funchilin Pass, and they did it in a snowstorm.

0:38:00

It took a, a snowstorm which was good.  They secured Funchilin Pass which protected the bridge.

I:          Um hm.
S:         It was to get out.

I:          Were there any Korean civilian, North Koreans?

S:         Well, yes, an awful lot.

I:          Tell, tell me about that.

S:         Well, it was mostly, uh, those that were able to get down to Hungnam, and there was about 100,000 of them down there, and, uh, it’s my understanding that initially there was no plan to do anything with then.

0:38:30

And, uh, some people in their division said let’s put them on the ships, and they, they did, and they went down to Koje-do.

I:          Yeah.

S:         And, uh, a little over 100,000, uh, civilians were evacuated.  One of the ship’s Captains that had mostly civilians on it, uh, he proudly says that he took, uh, 1,800, uh,  North Korean,

0:39:00

uh, civilians down there and didn’t lose a one.  He gained two.  Two babies were born.

I:          Uh, I mean, now you retired as a, a Lieutenant General, and now you can talk about or looking back all those years,

0:39:30

and reinterpret what happened, how it happened and, and you might have some opinions about this battle at Chungcheon.  Can you give that kind of, uh, birds eye view about what happened to you?

S:         What happened to me?

I:          Yeah.  And to, it happened to all this, uh,

S:         From my perspective

I:          Yes.

S:         I’d be happy to do that, uh.  I, I think what the, strategy of being there, I’ll

0:40:00

leave that to history and people like yourself to figure out why we were even there, uh, why we were.  But, uh, from my perspective,

I:          Um hm.

S:         and I think I said this a couple minutes ago, uh, I drew a lot of inner strength from the adversity of the cold, the snow and the ice.  The ice was terrible.  If you were trying to walk, you’d slip and fall and all.  And the adversity of that climate

0:40:30

and the strength that I garnered from, uh, the NCO’s that I would, I was with, Corporal Pendas was my squad leader.  [Peep Site Pendas].  He’s a legend in the Marine Corp., and he was a great guy, and he knew what he was talking about.  And, uh,

I:          What’s his name again?

S:         Pendas.

I:          Uh huh.

S:         P E N D A S from Albany, NY.

I:          Ah.

S:         And, uh,

0:41:00

unfortunately, uh, he, he’s not with us anymore, um.  And Rocco [Rusullo], the First Sargent.  He is what, if you conjure up in your mind  a tough First Sargent in the Boxer Rebellion or World War I at Bella Wood or Iwo Jima, it would be First Sargent Rocco Rusullo.  He was, I mean, he had that Company wired together.

0:41:30

And we drew strength, uh, from people like him.

I:          So out of that adversity, you got more  inner strength and have more power so that you could survive in other, and other cases, right?

S:         Yes.

I:          Um.

S:         I, I would.

I:          What about as a General?  What do you think about that operation?

S:         The operation?

I:          Changcheon Battle.  Why you were there?  Did you have to be there?

0:42:00

What do you think about that?   What was the, I mean, you, U.S. wanted to occupy North, North, Northern part of the Korean Peninsula, right?  That’s why you were there.

S:         One:  remember we, we got involved because we wanted to stop the spread of Communism, and that was a very costly thing to do.  We did do that.  But then again, I’ll leave it to, uh, your own historical, uh, ex,

0:42:30

explorations, uh.  Why MacArthur wanted to cross the 38th, and he, uh, it’s my understanding the he said never get involved in a big land warfare in Asia.  Well, uh, he authorized going up North.  And there, there literally was a race to the Yalu to see who’d be the  first to Yalu.

I:          Yeah.

S:         And thank God the Republic of Korean Marines were the first ones there.  But, uh,

0:43:00

  1. What, why he was doing that?  Who gave him that advice?  It’s generations before me.

I:          Um hm.  Let me ask you about this soft side of your service.  Did you write back to your family or did you have a girlfriend or friends?

S:         Yeah.  Well I, it took until, uh,

0:43:30

probably the week before Christmas

I:          Um hm.

S:         when we were down in Mason.  After we came out of Hungnam, went down to Pusan

I:          Yeah.

S:         and went up to Mason, to regroup, and that, that pe, those people that regroup with the survivors of the batt le,

I:          Um hm.

S:         plus the new reinforcements that came in from the Stat es, we were down there, uh,

0:44:00

end of January, four or five weeks.

I:          Um hm.

S:         And at that time, uh, we got mail, we all wrote mail home, yeah.  And, uh, we got good food

I:          Did you find some letter for you, too?

S:         Oh yeah.

I:          Who?  Who wrote you?

S:         Oh, my mother, uh, couple of lady friends I, young girlfriends and, and

I:          Did you write back to them?

S:         Sure,

0:44:30

I:          How often did you do that?

S:         Once every two months.  Not very often.  I’m not very good.

I:          I have interviewed so  many Korean War veterans who wrote every day, some.

S:         I, I, I

I:          several a week.

S:         No.

I:          No?

S:         I didn’t.  One of the, uh, oddities in, like you said the soft side, one of my best friends, he was a Corporal, and he was in the Weapons Company, and I guess I was sharing a letter from home because he was from Albany, too

I:          Oh.

0:45:00

S:         And I’m sharing a letter and he says can I write to your sister?  I said sure, I don’t care.  And he did.  And they got married.

I:          Oh boy.

S:         Yeah.  He, when he came home and he got out and, uh, he married her.

I:          Are they alive now?

S:         Just.  Uh, she’s in a nursing home.

I:          Oh.

0:45:30

Wow.  That’s a story.

S:         Well unfortunately they, they separated after a long time.  But

I:          Yeah, yeah.

S:         Uh.

I:          But still

S:         Yeah.

I:          Were you at the wedding?

S:         I think, yeah.  I think I was the Best Man, yeah.  Yeah, I was there.  I came home for that.  and for that time, I had, I had left Korea, of course, and I was stationed in, uh, Quantico, Virginia.  Oh, that’s when they made me a Lieutenant.

0:46:00

I:          Um, do you remember how much were you paid while you were there in Korea, monthly?

S:         No, I, $75 seems to ring a bell, but I’m not sure.

I:          What did you do with that money?

S:         I let it ride on the books.  I didn’t need money.

I:          You didn’t need any money, right?

S:         No.

I:          Yeah.

S:         No.

I:          So after about

0:46:30

S:         For about a, for about a four or five month period.

I:          What did you do after regrouped in Pusan?

S:         Uh, out of Mason, then we moved up, and it was called Operation, uh, River  and Operation Killer.

I:          Um hm.

S:         Up around Wonju.

I:          Wonju, yeah

S:         in the town of [Poingsong]

I:          Uh huh, uh huh

S:         and we, we had a real, real battle at [Poingsong]

I:          Um hm

S:         and, uh,

0:47:00

so we were up in that area, and on the 1st of April, the new First Sargent says Olmstead, report back to Battalion.  They want to see you in the Sargent Major’s office.  I got back there and he says we’re sending you home.
I:          Why?

S:         To make you a Second Lieutenant.  To make you a Second Lieutenant.

I:          They want to make, in the middle of,

0:47:30

in the middle of the battle

S:         Well,

I:          and the War

S:         Yeah.

I:          and you been there only six months.

S:         Yeah.  So on April 1st, they told me I was coming home.

I:          Was six months kind of a regular

S:         I don’t think, I don’t think there was a, a schedule at, at that, at first.  Later on there was.  But uh, you know, how many months did you have t o put  in?  There were people that went home quicker than that for other reasons.

0:48:00

Uh, but there was a small group of us, very small group, that they selected to go to Officer Candidate School, right.

I:          I mean, isn’t that weird in the middle of war that

S:         No.

I:          they need a soldier, but they

S:         They needed

I:          got you out of the War and, and for the Officer’s Training.

S:         Because they needed the Officers more.

I:          But they may take for how long?

S:         Uh, Officer’s Training in those days was about three months.

0:48:30

I:          So what, where did you go?

S:         Quantico.  Quantico, Virginia.

I:          Uh huh.  And why were you selected?

S:         I must have, must have fit what they needed and what they were looking for.
I:          What is that?

S:         I don’t know.  You’ll have to ask, uh, the senior officers who picked me.

I:          You’re too shy.  Tell me.  What, what part of you

0:49:00

made, qualified for yourself to be, become a Officer in Marines?

S:         Well, I, uh, really, I did, I did sit before a group of Officers in Korea, and they asked me some questions and like that.  But I think it’s like any promotion, uh.  They’re looking for potential, uh.   They, they see potential in you, and, so that’s why we’re gonna do this.

I:          Um hm.

S:         You don’t you don’t promote people just for something they’ve done.

I:          Right

0:49:30

S:         You promote him for what he’s gonna do for you and for the Corp.

I:          So it was good to get out of there, right?

S:         Yeah, it, well I went back to see Charlie, my friend that, let him marry my sister.  And I said to the First Sargent can I go over in Weapons Company and say goodbye to

I:          Yeah.

S:         And I went over there, and we weren’t getting shot at or anything.  We were dug out in the sides of hills and I said Charlie, I’m going home.

0:50:00

And I thought he was gonna cry.

I:          Um.

S:         And he says why?  And I told him and he says I guess this is it.  And he reached in his pack, and he had a can of beer, and he pops the can of beer and he says you take the first sip.  And he carried that thing for a long time and, uh, so I shared it with him, said goodbye, said goodbye to my buddies, came home.

I:          So how long was the Officer’s

0:50:30

Training?

S:         Well, the, it was a screening, and they called it a screening process.

I:          Uh huh.

S:         And I, I can’t be precise, uh, on the numbers cause I just don’t remember.  But down at the Division of, in the Combat Div, part of the Division of 17,000 people, they  probably sent about 20 back to Camp Otsu, Japan.  At the same time, they were sending them from other Marine units in the Pacific.  I remember there was some people that came up

0:51:00

from the Philippines and things like that.  So we had a, a class, maybe 40 or 50 people, in Otsu, Japan.  And for about  three weeks, uh, they cleaned us up.  They tried to clean us up. you know.

I:          What do you mean by that?

S:         Well, make sure we had clean clothes and

I:          Oh

S:         make sure that we’re medically fit and, uh, they  gave us, uh, some lectures on the, the further screening process.

0:51:30

So some people were eliminated in Otsu.  Some people, and then got on a plane and flew back to the States with, uh, 10 days, uh, leave prior to reporting to Quantico.  And so I went to New York City to Grand Central Station, take the train up, up to Albany, and some man walked by and I had my duffel bag,

0:52:00

you know, he says hey soldier.  That kind of upset me.  He says hey soldier.

I:          You were first, Second Lieutenant then.

S:         No, I was, I was a Cop, they made me Corporal,

I:          Um hm.
S:         I was a Corporal, and he says where you goin?  I said I’m going home.  And he says where you been, and I said Korea.  And he said where’s that, down South?

I:          See.

S:         Yeah.  So I got on the train, and there were

0:52:30

two middle aged ladies sitting behind me on the train.  You’ve probably taken that train up, up the river

I:          Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

S:         I knew they were talking about me, you know.  I could tell they were whispering.  And one of them reached over, and she tapped me on the shoulder and she says young man, she said, young man, do you know what day, uh, tomorrow is?  And I says no ma’am, I don’t.  And she said are you going home on military leave to see your mother?

0:53:00

And I, yes, yes I am.  She said tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  Would you please give this to your mother, and she  handed me a box of candy.  That’s some, now that’s one of the nicest things that has ever happened to me.   Somebody  must  have given, you know, someone gave her a box of candy, and she gave it to me to give to my mother.

I:          Wow.  That, that

S:         That’s a nice story.

I:          Nice story.

0:53:30

I can put that part into my movie.

S:         I’ll see if I can find the right person to play my mother in the movie.

I:          And your friend, Charlie.  He, you know, he can make the brother-in-law, you know?  That’s another story that I can

S:         Charlie

I:          squeeze into my movie.

S:         Charlie’s a cowboy.  I mean, at our age, it’s hard to be a cowboy.  But he is.  And, uh, I stay in touch with him.

0:54:00

I:          Did you went back to Korea then?
S:         No.  I went to, uh, screening course again.  There’s a longer screening course.

I:          Um hm.

S:         And that was for people all, all over the Marine Corp.  So that might have been couple hundred.  I mean, recall at that time the Reserve had been called up.

I:          Um hm.

S:         So we had a lot of  Master Sergeants and Tech Sergeants and Staff Sergeants f rom World War II.  And they were all being screened to be Lieutenants.

0:54:30

So those of us  that come from Korea, we were kids.  Really, we were very young kids compared to them.

I:          Um hm.

S:         They screened us for about another, almost all the month of June.  It was, it was the month of June.  They screened us for the month of June.  And, uh, on the 28th of June, they took us out to a great big building over here at Quantico, started reading a roster off.  And they said when your name is read, go next door to the following building.

0:55:00

Obviously that was the cut off.  And we were sitting there and seen the people going and say gee, that’s a great guy.  And finally, it was about  120 of us were left, and some Major came out and says Gentlemen, the Commanding General.  And so we all stood up.  The General says congratulations.  You’ve all bee selected for Second Lieutenant.

I:          When was that?  June of

S:         28th of June, 1951.

0:55:30

I:          June 28th, 19

S:         ’51.

I:          So now you’re Officer.

S:         Yeah.

I:          Um.  And then just briefly what happened to you?  Where did you go, and when did you retire as what?

S:         Oh, well I, I was in Infantry organizations throughout my whole career.

I:          Um hm.
S:         Um, I’ve had a Headquarters Company.

0:56:00

I had a Recon Company, uh.  I had independent duty in Manchester, New Hampshire where I was in Reserve I & I duty, uh.  I was aboard ship, uh, seagoing Marine, uh.  I did that, uh.  I was honored to command the 9th Marine Regiment, uh, on Okinawa, I had three tours to Okinawa. So I had a lot of time out there.

0:56:30

After that, I was in, uh, Italy with the 6th Fleet.  Uh, I was the Fleet Marine Officer for the 6th Fleet.

I:          Um.

S:         Then when I made General, they sent me to Quantico to run the Development Center which is a fascinating job, the  future of the Marine Corp.  Then I had Camp Pendleton, California, [INAUDIBLE] Camp Pendleton, California.  Third Marine Division at Okinawa, uh.  Came back to Headquarters and head the Division of Reserve, Commanded the Marine Reserve.

0:57:00

My last active duty as a Marine, uh, [differential] was Paris Island, commanded Paris Island.  And, uh, I retired at Paris Island in s 1986.

I:          That’s in North Carolina?

S:         South Carolina.
I:          South Carolina.

S:         And

I:          How big is it?  I’ve been hearing about this.  I need to be there.

S:         You gotta go to Paris Island.  That’s where we made Marines.

I:          I wanna be there.

S:         Yeah.  You, yeah.  Paris Island

0:57:30

and San Diego Recruit Depot, too.  Those are two places we make Marines.  So, and when I retired there, I came home and, uh, 19 days later I got a telephone call from Headquarters Marine Corp. that don’t put your uniforms away.  And, uh, they wanted to talk to me about running the Dept. Defense Task Force on drug abuse.  So I did that, and they, they brought me back.  I did that for  three more years.

0:58:00

I:          So when did you officially retire?
S:         I think the retirement date is September 1, 1989.  It might be August 31.  I’m not sure.

I:          What is Marine to you?

S:         Discipline, organization,

0:58:30

comrades, duty.  All of those.  Uh, yeah.  And uh, I’ve been, as you know, I’ve been associated with the  Marines as active duty for 42 years, 20 some years, 24 years now, working other than that, uh, with the Marines.  I just love to be around them, right.

0:59:00

They’re my kind of people.

I:          Um.  Place we are doing interview is, um, Museum of Marine Corp..  Please tell me about it, what is your role, and I’ve heard about your plans, something big.  So please tell those about it.

S:         Located in Quantico, Virginia, it’s the Museum of the Marine Corp..  It’s about eight years old now, uh. It is still in, in the

0:59:30

growth, it’ll probably forever be in the growth mode.  We have a. a highly professional and, uh, respected, um, Museum arch, archivist.  We [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Yeah.

S:         [INAUDIBLE] and the museum starts out by even having the old footprints of Paris Island where  you step on that, the making of Marines, and it goes through the training of Marines.  Uh, it talks about the various,

1:00:00

uh, forces in our, uh, Marine Air Ground Task Force.  Then it goes , good bit of detail, uh, of he  various battles we were in, uh, to include the Battle of, uh, Chosin Reservoir.  Chosin, by the way, I recognize is a Japanese, uh, word.  Uh, but the, the maps that we had, uh, were Japanese maps.

I:          You told me that it was, uh, gas company.
S:         I believe that I saw

1:00:30

gas symbols, commercial gas symbols on, one one of the  maps we were looking at. And, uh, so that’s where Chosin comes from primarily.  But here we call it Biblically, uh, the Chosin Few are people who have survived, uh,

I:          Chosin Few.

S:         Yeah, the Chosin Few.  So the survivors of that battle and, uh, there virtually U.S. Marines, and we were the largest organization up there, and we were about 15,000 Marines there.

1:01:00

and about 4,000 U.S. Army, about 300 – 400, uh, Royal Marines and a couple thousand, uh, Korean, uh, Marines, uh, up there, too.  So for that group there, our titles to where that little badge that we’re talking about, the Star of Kotori, they are the Chosin Few.

I:          Uh huh.

S:         Now, if I, we flip the Chosin Few fought at, uh,

1:01:30

well it’s not the Chosin Reservoir

I:          Um hm.

S:         the Changcheon Reservoir we [knew of that].  Now, about six or seven years ago when the museum here opened up and their memorial trail which they have right adjacent to it, it’s a lovely spot that goes through the woods, very attractive in the  summer,

1:02:00

uh, they wanted to know if people were, would sponsor various battles. And almost instantly, uh, there was a commercial response, and they got a Battle of John [Lajon] who was, uh, Commanding General at Bella Wood.  And so that came in there, and right across the street is one of the most famous Marine Corp., you know, statues of all, the Iwo Jima one.

1:02:30

Historically, uh, when you look back at epic battles that the Marines have been in, you talk about Bella Wood in World War I.  You talk about Iwo Jima in World War II, and you talk about, uh, Changcheon or Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War.  I’m sure that years to come there will be other ones.  But right now, those are the three they talk about.  Bottom line, there., there is statues here representing World War I, representing Iwo Jima, uh.

1:03:00

There is a nice memorial up in Washington, the Korean memorial up there.  But  there is no recognition of the Battle of Changcheon Reservoir which is really where the beginning of the stoppage of the Chinese, uh, horde began, uh.  If we hadn’t held that like, like we did and beat them up pretty bad, uh, things

1:03:30

could have been a lot worse.  So we decided that, uh, we should have some kind of memorial down here.  The Marine Corp. as an institution is very supportive of us.  Uh, they, uh, have designated a turning point, a rally point for us, and they allowed us to say, to keep, uh, long as we pay them for it eventually, which brings up how, how big a statue do we want,

1:04:00

and how we can afford to pay for it.  Initially, uh, I spoke to the Committee, and the  Monument Committee is out of Dallas, TX, hopefully  the good old Dallas money will be there, and I said well, let’s make sure that the individuals who fought have an opportunity to make a contribution.  I mean, I want to say next year or whenever it’s up, to my great grandchildren now hey, that’s a, that’s what your

1:04:30

granddaddy fought.  So we did that and, uh, they got a modest amount of money out of that.  Now they are probably at what is called Phase 2 where they have to get support from industry and government agencies to do that, and that’s not unusual to do that.  It will be a large  monument. It’ll be eight-sided so that their, uh, story can be told about the battles, uh,

1:05:00

and this, for example, that the 17 Medal of Honor winners in one battle, that was Finn, uh.  And this, uh, the participation of the  countries that were up there and then also describes, uh, the casualties that we had.  And then brief, brief, uh, statements about the various battles, The Toktong Pass, the ones that saved our skin.  If we hadn’t had Toktong, East Hill  and, uh, Funchilin, uh,

1:05:30

we wouldn’t be even talking about  this.

I:          What, what is, uh, the total budget for this monument?

S:         That has not, uh, been determined.  Uh, a similar one, uh, built down here is $500,000.

I:          When, when do you expect to complete it?

S:         That’s, like I said, Steve Olmstead would like to see it done in the next two years.

I:          Next two years.

S:         Yeah.  Uh,

I:          So it’s just a matter of donation, raise, fund raise?

S:         Yes.

1:06:00

Uh, the, the artwork, uh, is, proposed artwork has already been conceived and approved by the Committee, uh.  I have folders that, you know,

I:          Where are, where are you in the terms of fund raise, 50% or

S:         No.  No.

I:          Not even 50%?

S:         Twenty.  And, and we’re gonna, we’re gonna need help.  And, you know, the, the big problem is that, uh,

1:06:30

when we talk about the base unit of people, 84 to 89 or 90, uh, and some of them, unfortunately, uh, are pretty tightly in their retirement or their, uh, Social Security check.  Uh, and I don’t think there’s many of us left in business.

I:          Um, going back to the

1:07:00

battle and your service, do you have any figure in addition to the Sargent’s that you mentioned, Generals or Colleagues that you remember for something during the battle and your service?

S:         Oh,

I:          Who are those?

S:         We don’t have, we don’t have time for the people that I, I remembered, admired and count as my, you know,

1:07:30

idols or leaders, uh.  I mean, I’m serious.  I’m talking about hundreds of people.  But the people that, the people that turned me from a 19, I think I, I think I just turned 20 at the Reservoir, to a 20 year-old kid, uh, were Corporal Pendas, First Sargent Sullo, Captain Siller and Pappy Deloch, he was a Staff Sargent, uh, those, uh,

1:08:00

those guys, I don’t want to mention any more because somebody’s gonna say what about me.  That’s, at that time, I said these guys are pretty damn good. I want to be part of it.

I:          How about Chesty Puller?  What was his rank at the time?

S:         Well, he was a Colonel.  He, he was a Colonel.

I:          Uh huh.

S:         And, uh, he was famous, uh, be, well before the Reservoir. And uh,

I:          For what, Inchon?

S:         No.  He, uh, mostly, he started out, uh, down in the Banana Wars, in, uh, Central America.

1:08:30

I:          Oh.

S:         And he did very well there.  In World War II, he had a battalion

I:          Um hm.
S:         and he did very well in World War II, highly decorated.  And so we were very pleased to find out that he was going to be our Regimental Commander.  Yeah.  I can remember the Colonel standing on the side of the road, not too far from Funchilin,

1:09:00

And he had his hands jammed in his parka and he says we got ‘em now, lads.  We got ‘em now.  He was a tough guy.

I:          Uh.  Um, my Foundation, Korean War Veteran Digital Memorial Foundation, which is, uh, established the website and data base of interviews and artifacts,  Your interviews will be uploaded there,

1:09:30

created the KWVOYC, Youth Corp.  It’s a organization of descendants of the Korean War veterans, uh, grandchildren, great grandchildren, in their age of high school and college or they’re just graduate of colleges.  We going to have an annual convention in, in Washington, DC from July 25 to 28.  Do you have grandchildren in that age

1:10:00

bar, brackets?

S:         My youngest grand child is 24, youngest.  I, I have some that are in their 40’s.

I:          And is he student?
S:         He’s in, uh, yes, he is, University of North Carolina at Bloomington.

I:          Oh.
S:         Now I have a, another grandson who was over at Law School in Washington [INAUDIBLE] in, uh, Winchester, Virginia.

1:10:30

I:          Wow.

S:         And then I have, I just talked to another one, uh, my namesake.  He’s, uh, in Dental School down in, uh, North Carolina.

I:          Do you talk to them about your service and Korean War?

S:         The lawyer is fascinated by it.  He pops, and he’s always asking me question.  Pops, what about this, what about that?  Yeah.

1:11:00

I:          How bout two other?
S:         Yeah.  The, they, they, they’re not shy.  They, they wanna know about the War.  And of course,

I:          Most of the Korean War veterans that I did interview told me that they didn’t talk about the Korean War to their family.  Why is that?  Why Korean War was unpopular and regarded as forgotten?

S:         I, I don’t know why they would do that.  I don’t know why they would

1:11:30

say that.  Uh, there’s never been any reluctance on my part to talk about it, uh.  As a matter of fact, my children, their, their, they  know many of the people that you and I  have been talking about.  Peep Side Pendas, uh, was like an uncle to them, to them.  So there’s never been any reluctance, uh, in my family, and I think my grandchildren are very inquisitive.

1:12:00

I:          This year’s going to be second convention of this descendants, KWVYC.   My Foundation cover everything except half of the transportation.  What do you think about the Korean War?  What is the legacy of the Korean War?  Why was it important for America?  Why was it important for, um, for you, and what is the legacy?  Why, what, what is the importance of it,

1:12:30

looking back all  those years?  Considering the Alliance and so on.

S:         In answering that question in, uh, 1951, I would say stop Communism.  And we did.  You know, I later became quite a student about the spread of Communism around the world, and that was the first, alright, that’s enough.  That was the first time the free world ever really did that.

1:13:00

But [INAUDIBLE] say that in 1950.  In 19, oh I’m gonna say, uh, ’65 when I’d go to Seoul or down to Pusan or Po Yang, I said this is remarkable that, uh, the, not rebirth but, uh,

1:13:30

development of this war torn country that I saw in 1950 and ’51, uh, makes me feel pretty good.  Yeah, the, what a wonderful dynamic and friendly’s a good word, friendly, and a wonderful dynamic and friendly, uh, uh, country it is now.  And as I told you when we were driving down here, I have many Christmas

1:14:00

card friends that I, I still write, uh, stay in touch with.  I love it.

I:          This is my gift to you.  This is my book about how Korea was able to rapidly, uh, develop and simultaneously develop our economy and democracy political, uh, system there.  And we were able to do this

1:14:30

because you secured the foundation of the Korea.  Your sacrifice and your fight for us.  So I want to thank you, and

S:         Thank you for the book.  I look forward to reading it, to reinforce my thoughts I’ve had all along.

I:          Anything you want to add to this interview or any message to our young generation or anything?

S:         I think what you’re doing, uh, with  your conference is very good because

1:15:00

much like that man that stopped me in Grand Central Station 60 years ago, that in Grand Central Station or whatever it’s called now, there are people up there that Korea, isn’t that where, uh, I got  the television from or something like that?  They don’t know anymore about  that.  So I think it’s important, uh, that  that generation knows how the Republic of Korea

1:15:30

went from almost devastation to the 5th strongest economic power in the, in the world.  I think that’s very important for people to know that.

I:          Yeah.

S:         And one of the reasons it did and, uh, as you say it’s in here, there was a lot of bloodshed, uh, including American blood, to allow that to happen.

I:          Um hm.  Going to end this interview [INAUDIBLE] the Star of the Kotori.  Thank you very   much again.

[End of Recorded Material]