Ted Bacha joined the military at the young age of sixteen. He was stationed in Japan when the war in Korea broke out. When he first heard about the war, he said that he wasn’t sure what to think because he had never experienced something like that in his life. Using the photos he received from a young Korea boy, Ted Bacha describes the tremendous amount of loss he witnessed. These experiences in Korea led to the development of PTSD, with nightmares that still haunt him three to four times per week. However, Ted Bacha has never regretted his service and his proud of what the Korean people have accomplished– he was able to witness this firsthand when he returned to Korea in 2010. Ted Bacha’s emotional story is a reminder of both the hardships and achievements of the Korean War.
First Thoughts about Korea
Ted Bacha remembers being so young that he wasn't sure what to do or think when he was sent to Korea. The only thing he focused on was keeping his men alive. He said that he must have done a pretty good job because most of his men came back.
Remembering through Photos
Ted Bacha remembers that many people were killed. He uses photos to explain what they did on the front lines and all of the lives that were lost. While he was there, a little boy gave him some film as a gift for helping him during that time- Ted Bacha's father developed the pictures and said that he couldn't show them for years. Ted Bacha even had a shop where he would display his Korean War memorabilia.
The Impact of PTSD
Ted Bacha explains that he is extremely impacted by his PTSD. He takes medicine to help him fall asleep, but when he forgets to take the medication, memories start to come back again. Even though the nightmares impact him three to four nights per week, Ted Bacha does not regret his service because he was glad to help the people over there.
Return to Korea
Ted Bacha returned to Korea in 2010. He comments that he didn't see any rice paddies like he had seen in the war. He was extremely impressed by the buildings, especially his hotel. Ted Bacha is very proud of his service and the Korea people for what they accomplished.
Remembering the Battles
Ted Bacha remembers what it was like in Daegu, Daejion, Pyongyang, Pusan, and other battles. He explains that his friends got captured, and General Dean was captured as well. He states that they were firing their weapons almost daily.
[Beginning of Recorded Material]
Ted Bacha: My name is Ted S. Bacha. Ted [Sanasar] Bacha.
Interviewer: That’s how you pronounce it?
T: Yes. And I was born in 1932 in Holbrook, Arizona.
T: Holbrook. H-O-L-B-R-O-O-K.
I: And what–what day, month that you were born? [laughing]
T: [laughing] 6-20-1932.
I: 1932. And tell me little bit about your family background. Your fa– your parents and your siblings.
T: My parents, evidently the Bacha name comes from very far back. They came from Spain to Mexico and from Mexico to New Mexico.
T: and they were some of the first
people to come to the United States from Spain.
I: Are you talking about your father?
T: My fa–
T: My great, great fa–
I: Oh okay. Your ascendants.
T: And then we have a land grant in New Mexico.
T: But my family came back to Arizona and they were working for the Santa Fe
railroad. Then, from there, after World War II started, we all went to California, to Los Angeles. To–we came back to Arizona, from Los Angeles, after World War II.
T: My father worked for California ship building and after that,
I was 14 years old when we came back to Arizona. And then, at 15, I tried to get into the Army.
I: Oh. At that early age?
T: I don’t know. All my buddies were going in the Army and they were already old enough to go. They’re 17 and 18 years old. And I was gonna go with them. Trying to get in myself.
I didn’t get in the first time, but then the second time, at 16, which was three months later–
T: I got in at 16.
I: But you–
T: And then–
I: Didn’t you need your parents signature?
T: I still needed my parents signature, sure.
I: So you got it.
T: Yeah mom didn’t want to sign. My dad said I don’t know. Finally, I–I told him that I would help–help them, you know?
By sending my–my pay home to my parents. At the time, and we were having hard times, but anyway. They finally signed for me on May the 1st–excuse me–yes, May the 1st1950–no, 1948.
I: You made what?
T: May the 1stthat’s where I went in the service when they–
when they signed for me.
I: Okay, so where did you get the basic military training?
T: In Fort Ord, California.
T: And then from there, in 1948 finished the basic training and they sent me to Seattle, Washington.
T: and I was going to Alaska, but everything was frozen and we couldn’t go to Alaska. There was some Hawaiian boys that took training with me–
T: there in Fort Ord and
half of them caught pneumonia in–in Seattle, Washington. And they were–they finally decided that they were going to go to Japan also. So, we ended up in Japan, all of us. And then, in 1950, the war in Korea started. The 4thof July, 1950–
T: we arrived in Pusan.
I: What were you doing in Japan until the Korean War broke out?
T: I was in–in the Ack-Ack outfit, they called it. Its artillery. Not field artillery, it’s on halftracks with quad 50’s.
T: Quad 50 caliber machine guns,
T: Four of em. And we had 40mm and halftrack, quad 50’s D battery of the 865
was the only battery of the battalion to Korea with the 24thInfantry Division. The 22ndRegiment of the 24thInfantry.
I: And what was your specialty in the Army? What you–were you infantry man or–
T: No, I was a–a– in the–like I say–in the artillery.
I: Artillery. . .
T: Yeah. And I was a section chief.
T: I had two halftracks. I was in charge of two halftracks. One 50 caliber quad 50 and one 40mm. I was a section chief. Staff Sargeant.
I: Mm. Before you left for Korea, did you know anything about Korea?
T: [laughs] No. Well, I tell you, when they said put
your foot lockers and all your bags in the middle of the room. In the middle of the barracks. I said okay. So, we stacked them up in the middle of the barracks. And that’s–I asked one of the officers, I say, “Where are we going? We going to the firing range again?” and he says “No, we’re going to Korea.” I said, “Korea? Where the heck is Korea?”
I didn’t even know. And he says, “Don’t worry, you will find out. So just get your ammunition, your riffle and your back pack and your pack–your full fuel pack and load onto those halftracks and we’re going to Sasebo. And from Sasebo we’re going to load on LST and we’re going to Korea.” I said, “Okay, whatever you say.” I said, “What are we going to do in Korea?”
“There’s a war going on in Korea.” I said oh boy. We didn’t even know anything about it, but here we go. We went to Korea on the 4thof July we–we ended up in Pusan.
I: On the Independence Day
T: Yeah. The 4thof July, believe it or not. We–we landed in Pusan. And from Pusan we went to Pohang. And we stayed in Pohang and we went to
Daegu, to Daejeon, and Osan and back to Pusan. And we were just going all over, because we were mobile, you know. We could run the halftracks. They were gas powered and everything and we could go anywhere we wanted to go, but we–we went where we were told to go [laughs] and we went to these places and pretty soon–
after the–the South Korean–the North Koreans came in all the way to Pusan. And we was at the Pusan perimeter. We stayed there at the Pusan perimeter until the 1stMarine Division and the 7thInfantry Division, I believe it was, they came down from–from Seoul was it?
Incheon? I can’t remember where exactly where they came from. But anyway, it was–they couldn’t get in because the–the–what do you call it? The water–the ocean would go back to far. The tide would go back. And finally when the tide was heavy enough, they came in.
T: And then they got off.
And came–came up towards Pusan and then we broke out of Pusan and we went all the way to Seoul.
I: What you were thinking when you first heard that you were going– you were on the way to Korea and get involved at war?
T: To tell you the truth, I was so young I didn’t think too much of it. I just said well, if that’s what we have to do, we’re going to do it one way or the other. I wasn’t–it kind of scared me, but it–
you know, I would–never been in–in such a predicament that–to tell you the truth, I didn’t know what to do. You know. I–I say well, the only thing I can do was take care of my men and try to keep them–keep them alive and t–try to do as much as I possibly can. And we did pretty good. Because I would say 90% of my group came back.
I: What did you see in Pohang? What did you see in Daegu? What did you see in Incheon? How was it and how was enemies were doing–
I: at the time?
T: Well, wait a minute. When we were in–in Daegu and Daejeon it–General Dean got captured. Remember?
T: General Dean the 24thInfantry.
I: Where were you?
T: That was in Daegu, I think it was. We scattered. We didn’t know what to do then. You know? Our Officers were young officers. They–they were kind of [laugh]
you know, trying to tell us what to do, and we did it, but its–at times, I didn’t think we were doing the right thing, but it wasn’t me to decide. It was them, the–the officers that had to decide where we were going to go, what we were going to do. So, we went to Daejeon, and Daegu to the–the–the–Koreans–the North Koreans were already there.
T: The Nor–
I: You saw them?
T: Yes! The North Koreans were already–that’s where they captured–
I: That’s right.
T: General Dean. And one–one of my buddies that was in the 24thinfantry also, he got captured there also. On the 15thof July. He got captured and he went all the way to–to North Korea.
T: With Tiger. You–they called him Tiger. . . what did they call him?
I: P.O.W. The prison camp?
T: Yes. The–
and he went up there.
I: How many–how often did you engage in the battle with North Korea? North Korean ene–soldiers around the time that you were all over those city before you come back to Pusan?
T: We were firing our weapons most–most every–every day, you know, at them. And mo–most of the time we–we were in–an air bases, you know, because we were Ack-ack. They call it Ack-ack to take care of the airplanes coming in.
T: You know. The–the jets that they had well, after a while, the–the–the U.S. Air Force shot them all down. They didn’t have any more. We didn’t have anything to shoot at.
T: So, they put us in with the infantry. As infantry support. And we supported the 24th. We supported the
2ndInfantry. We supported the 1stCav– and the 25th. here and there and everywhere, you know. But–
I: Were there any very dangerous situation that you were almost losing your life?
T: Well. . .
I: Around that time?
T: Sometimes I think about it when I’m lying in bed. Wondering what–you know–it comes back on me. And and–.
Like last night, my wife said, what was the matter with you last night? I know what was the matter, just thinking of you guys coming over, you know. And I start thinking about this and that that happened to me in Korea. Well, sure, you can say that we–mainly stayed away from the–from the enemy about 2,000 yards okay? Because those quad 50’s and 40mm
will shoot 2,000 yards without any problem. And they’re quad 50’s and they–they just mow everything down. It doesn’t matter what’s in its way. 2,000 rounds a minute that those things shoot out. And the 40mm are–is a lot slower, but they’re bigger–a–a–a–a bigger–a gun. And,
we had our–we had a few–a few of the boys here, you know, that got hurt. A few of the boys that got–got killed and a few of the boys that–but I was lucky. I don’t know–I was very lucky.
I: Were–ye–you were never wounded?
T: No. My hearing is bad because of the–the–
I: Machine gun.
T: The machine guns and the 40mm, but other than that. My feet. See what I’m wearing?
T: Frozen. You know the–
I: So you have a frost bite?
T: Frost bite on my–on my toes. So we were in–in North Korea and the–in North Korea where its–what was it? Twe–twe– 35 below zero and 64 below wind chill factor.
T: And it was cold. Very cold.
Some of our GIs over there froze to death, you know? And there were a lot of em that not only froze to death, but they got frost bite really bad. They had to amputate their feet, their legs and stuff like that–you know–that they had very bad. But I was lucky, because I was on this halftrack. And–but we still didn’t have no more than what those other boys had.
T: Just our field equipment. That’s all we had.
We didn’t have no winter clothes, at the time. Later on, we got winter clothes, but by that time we was–a lot of the boys had froze to death already. A whole battalion I think froze to death. The–I can’t remember whether it was the 24thor the 7th. I cant remember which one.
T: But the– other than that, then from there after–after the
the–. After we went out of the Pusan perimeter we went all the way to North Korea to Pyongyang. I got a picture there that I want you to see in a minute and you tell me if it’s Korean writing, which it isn’t its Chinese.
I: Um. . .
T: And that’s in [Pohang]. Pohang–no Pyongyang.
I: Pyongyang. Yes.
T: Pyongyang, the capitol.
I: What was the scene in Korea at the time? Many were killed?
I: Tell me about those.
T: Yes, many were killed. [brings out large poster that states: WHY IT SHOULD NOT BE FORGOTTEN]. All these people. We were coming in the halftracks. And we looked down and we saw these people [points to pictures on poster] because we were I–I don’t–right up in–in here I think you can see some GIs up there or. Here you go. Right there you can see the GIs. And we were parked up there. And we come down to find out if we could help.
And the only ones–there are little boys and–and women and children and–
I: They are all the dead bodies.
T: And a–all and all these are dead bodies. I had a film that a little Korean boy gave it to me. Because we were feeding him. We were giving him C-rations and we were feeding him. Okay? And the little boys says, I have nothing–he kind of mentioned to me like that, you know. But he present to–
he give me a–a–a little box and I didn’t know what it was, so I put it in my pocket. And I send it to my father, okay? I send it to my father as soon as I could. And that–and my father developed it. And he says, you know what you got here? You can’t show this for 10 years. And I said, well I don’t know what it was. The little boy gave it to me I thought maybe it was just his family pictures, you know?
And it was all these pictures. I gave them to–I used to have a –a curio shop with all of my–my things that you see here at the curio shop at the East entrance to Zion Park. Where I had Korean busses. Every week and we would have this tour guides when they got there, they would ask me, they would ask me,
can I–can I have–take some pictures? And I said yes. And I had one, Kim? What was his name, Mom?
Female Voice: I don’t remember.
T: Yong Kim.
F: Yong Kim, okay.
T: Yong Kim was his name. He says I’d like to take some of these pictures to Korea so they can see them. I–I’ve never seen them, he says. And I said okay, but I got something better than that, I says, I got the film. And okay
he says we’ll put it into the museum in the–in Korea. I went to K–Seoul and I looked for it in a museum there I couldn’t find them. So I don’t know what happened to them.
I: You gave the film?
T: [nodding] Mm-hmm. To the–
I: Not the picture?
T: The film, yes. Not the picture.
I: So, these are the picture that you took?
T: Yes. I didn’t take them. The little Korean boy gave them to me.
T: I didn’t know–I didn’t know what it was. He just give me a present, you know, because I was feeding them.
I gave him some C-rations that we had. And–
I: So that’s the film that you got from the Korean boy–
I: and you gave it to Korean people and that–you didn’t find in the museum.
T: Uh-uh. No.
I: What were you thinking when you see all this so many dead bodies?
T: Oh boy. What could you think? You know? Who did this? Why? You know?Why like that? There’s women and children and that–its no–. And after I find out that it’s a political thing.
A political thing. And then when we went–got to–to the Han River okay? The Han River Bridge? We had one halftrack. Okay? And on one end of the bridge and another other half track at other end of the bridge and they say we’re going to blow it up. And you say who’s gonna blow it up? They said the Korean–what do you call em?–soldiers are gonna blow it up–engineers–the Korean engineers are gonna–. So they get–get the heck out of there quick!
So with went back South. Farther South and they blew it up and–and who—-and there was people on the bridge.
I: When they were blowing up?
T: When they blew it up. North Koreans, I believe what it was, getting away from North Korea. You know, refugees coming across the bridge. What I heard.
I don’t know how many or what it was, but there was no soldiers. The soldiers were all gone out a– of there because the–the North Koreans were coming. So, we came all the way back to Pusan.
T: Yes. All the way back to Pusan that one time and–Pyongyang–Pyongyang.
I: Yeah. So, from–does this all horrible
memories attack you?
I: Haunt up on you?
T: Oh–oh yes. Definitely.
I: Do you have a PTSD?
T: Pardon? I–I–I am 100%–
T: disabled with PTSD and my hearing.
I: What do you do? Scream and move without consciousness?
T: Nah, it starts waking me up. Put your hands on my–then I wake up and I come in here and drink something out of
the refrigerator and then go back to bed. And maybe by that time I’ve settled down you know?
I: How do you deal with it? Do you go to doctor and do you take any medicine?
T: I bel–I belong to the AV, the–the– you could fall asleep you know, with the medicine that they give you, but once and a while I forget to take em. I feel so good, you know? And the– and I say, what for? Or I don’t say what for
I just don’t–don’t remember and then that’s when it–when things start coming back. You know? But it just–its there and. I–I figure well, there aint much I can do about it, but suffer it out.
I: How often this nightmare haunt you?
T: What? Three or four days a week, something like that.
I: Do you regret that you were in Korea?
No. I–I’m–after I think about it– I’m happy I–I could–[crying] I could help the Korean people and the people over there. Because they went through hell, I’ll tell you.
I: You sa–
T: I’ve never seen something like that before.
I: And even after.
T: You know, I was just a young boy. You know. Just a young boy. I am–right now–I am the underage military service commander of Utah. The underage. . .
I: Uh-huh. Uh-huh.
There’s a underage veteran group?
T: And I am the–I am the–the Utah commander.
I: How many members do you have?
T: What 2,000 or more?
I: That many?
T: A little more. There’s my card.
I: Why–what is your destiny? Why do you think that you were in Korea the country that you never knew?
How do you put that into a perspective?
T: By accident I guess. Or maybe it happened that–that I wanted to get–see I–I wouldn’t have been to Korea if I’d have used the right age. By the time I would’ve got in the war would’ve been over.
T: When I got out of the service, I was only 19 years old. I volunteered into it because well, it–there was nothing going on at the time. Japan had gave up.
I went to Japan and all we were doing is–is fortifying Japan you know? Trying help the people also and trying to–what do you call it?–settle Japan down. Trying to help the people there.
I: So, when did you leave Korea?
T: In 1951.
T: July. I spent one year in Korea. From July to July.
And I can’t prove it. That’s the worst part.
I: Mmm. I know. Any other dangerous moments that you experienced during that year? How was Pyongyang, by the way? When you went up there? The North Korean capital. How was it?
T: How was it?
I: What kind of battle did you engage?
T: Well, we went in there. We took it over. And it wasn’t much because the North Koreans they were–
T: they were gone. They were going. You know? We went all the way to the Yellow River. You know? In these halftracks we went all the way–almost all the way to the Yellow River because there were some there in Pyongyang that we stayed some of the–stayed-stayed there at the– at the Pyongyang airport and then from there we scattered out. Some went to tunnels and road crossing and stuff like that with these half tracks that we had. You know.
With these quad 50’s on them. And we didn’t have too much trouble there, til the Chinese jumped in. And the Chinese, after the Chinese jumped in well, we were, my outfit, the D battery of the 865 was the last–the last thing that go out of Pyongyang. Out of North Korea. We were doing that number, you know, trying to hold them back if–if they came out too close.
Which is–that– one–once or twice they did come a little too close but we held them back far enough until we come back to the line.
I: Did you see Chinese soldier your eyes?
T: Oh yes.
I: Tell me about it when you first saw them–
T: When I first–
I: What was you–
T: Well it–it was in December, January. You know? It was so darn cold they were freezing to death too. We were just–they were just as bad as we were. You know? And I saw a lot of dead ones
because they wa–like I say, we were–we stayed back about 2,000 yards. Because our–our–our the bullets. They didn’t have anything that’d shoot 2,000 yards like we had. And then finally, after–after the armistice and after we got back–back to Pusan again–or to Seoul, we stayed at Kimpo. It–
I: Kimpo. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
T: Kimpo Air Base.
I: Can you–
T: In fact, there’s a picture right there.
I: Can you describe the scene that you first saw the Chinese soldier in North Korea?
T: Well, like I tell you, I–I didn’t see very many because I was far away from them. And all I–all we–we kept all the time–kept far enough away where we didn’t have any–once in a while you’d see a
bullet or hear a bullet–a–a ricochet off of the halftrack, but not very often.
I: The military did treat you?
T: The military? I guess being where we were and what happened up there. Getting supplies to us. We were lucky that they could get supplies to us.
I: What kind?
T: A little bit and–. K-rations, C-rations and
Once in a while, like December or–they dropped us some chicken and turkey–
T: or stuff like that.
T: You know? For Thanksgiving and for Christmas. But after that, you–as young as I was, these older guys says aren’t you cold? Aren’t you freezing? Are–are–sure I’m cold, but I–I’m jumping around, you know, and doing–doing
my thing to try to keep warm. And they were a lot older than me. They were–hell, if you were 25, you were an old man already. All the rest of the guys were 19,18, 19 you know? And we called them grandpas or pop or something. [Laughing].
T: But as far as the soldiers are concerned, they were fantastic. My American soldiers-we’ll put it that way. You know.
We had no problem with the–with the Korean soldiers either. We–we met a few of them, not too many, because they were in one part of it and we was in the other part, you know, once and a while we’d get together in a mess or something. They’d have a–once in a while they’d have a–now what do you call it? A mess hall way out there in the boonies and we’d go up there and there’d be some Korean soldiers there too. Trying to get fed. The uniform that we had, which
the OD uniform.
T: We had that–
I: What–what is it?
T: OD They called that OD uniform. So, when here’s what we–what we had plus a–a fatigues.
I: Is this from–from the Korean War?
T: Yes. Yes. That’s my old uniform. [pointing at uniform hanging behind him]. The 8thArmy–
I: Did you write back to your family?
T: Sure I wrote back to my family.
I: How often?
T: As often as I could. Maybe oh once a month or once a–
every other month. Every other week or something like that. If we could get mail out, you know? Once and a while you could get mail out. It’s best if we were down a little further south than you were up north. But most of the time, y–you could get mail out. You’d just give it to the mail clerk and he knew how to get it done. But, you–you see these? These here? See these? [pointing at pins on his uniform jacket].
T: Right there.
T: Korea. All these.
I: Yeah, yeah.
T: All Korea. Except for this one here, that’s Japan.
T: I was in Japan and the rest of them is all–all Korean and National Defense and– the Korean presidential unit citation. This one. Syngman Rhee gave us that.
T: This one here.
I: When you received a–mail, letters from your family and when you were reading it, what was on your mind?
T: Well, my sisters and my brother were fine. My mom was fine. My dad was fine. Everybody seemed to be alright. They never said anything bad, you know. They didn’t think anybody was getting hurt or anything. And I didn’t say very much about it, except that it was cold.
And I didn’t tell them we were having a lot of fun either. But, it was–it was quite– quite a–a–. In fact, I was in Korea one Christmas, in December, in a fox hole, and this for some reason or other, this one boy got mail and he got a Sears Roebuck Catalogue.
T: Sears Roebuck.
T: Yes. And I would–he handed it to me and I was looking through it, you know, and I remember our couch that we had wasn’t a very nice couch and I had money, because I’d been getting paid, you know, times,
T: and I had money in my pocket and I didn’t know what to do with it. And out of the catalogue I sent for it.
I sent for it out of the catalogue. And it went home for Christmas or just before it–she was there! [points at wife off camera]
T: She was there. My wife was there as a little girl. See I met my wife she was–she was just a little girl when I met her.
I: Oh. So you are writing back to each other?
T: No. I wasn’t writing to her, I was writing to my mom.
I: Why didn’t you write to her?
T: Because when I left there, she was just a little girl playing jacks with my sisters.
I: Oh. Okay.
T: I didn’t know she–when I came back, they were all going to a prom in 1951? 52′ yeah, the early part of 52′.
T: But anyway, the letters that my mom wrote to me were never, you know, somebody hurt or something. If somebody died, she never told me anything about it, you know?
T: Which was the relatives, you know?
And– as far as my mom and dads concerned, I was sending money home all the time because what the heck was I going to do with it over there? You know. The–and then I was staff sergeant already so I’d get a little bit more than when I had-than when I first joined the Army.
I: Have you been back to Korea?
I : And tell me about what you saw there.
T: I didn’t see any rice paddies. No more rice paddies. Well, we were in rice paddies and out of rice paddies and all that. And–and nothing like that anymore.
T: And the buildings. Fantastic. I’ve never seen such–we stayed at the [Lotto]?
T: It was fantastic. It was just beautiful. I’ve never seen a motel that–that beautiful. Everything is marble. Piers.
Marble piers, marble floors, everything. You can go in there, the GIs can go in there and- I mean the ex-GIs can go in there and eat any time they wanted to. You know?
I: So were you proud of your service?
T: I was very proud. And I was very proud of the Korean people to [choking up]. What they’ve done with it. Very proud.
I: We were able to do it because you fought for us.
T: Well, thank you. We tried.
We done the best we could, I believe. What I saw, I do believe and–since I was there. There’s I–I wished I could go back to see it again. Well, what I remember seeing when I was in Korea and what I saw in 2010–I couldn’t believe.
But it’s there. And the Korean people have done there–wonderful, super job. Have done what they did. And I’m very proud that I was there to help.
I: [Old pictures of Ted during the war]. This is the picture that Ted took in Pyongyang. Is that?
I: Who are there?
T: Me and my friend. One of my
crew members. His name Elias–or Elias.
I: So, you are Spanish friend?
I: And this is Korean flag and stars and stripe. The Korean lady made it for you?
T: You see the name in the corner?
I: Oh okay that’s a–[speaking in Korean]–the church of Yang Wan in 1991, October 24 at Las Vegas.
I: Very nice.
T: And all those were sent to me by the Korean Government, the ones on the top.
I: Yeah. Certificate of Recognition. Ted Bacha.
I: Now I pronounce your name correct, right?
T: Mm-hmm. We’re going to have a–a reunion
in Las Vegas.
[End of Recorded Material]