Thomas DiGiovanna was born in Brooklyn, New York, on February 11, 1931. He graduated in 1949 from Samuel J Tilden High School and recalls never learning about Korea prior to his service in the war. In July 1952, only a month after marrying his first wife, he landed in Pusan, South Korea. He recalls being taken immediately to his headquarters company along the eastern coast in North Korea, above the 38th parallel. Although he really wanted to be a cook, he attended a twelve-week boot camp at Fort Dix, New Jersey, where he learned Morse code. He served in the 157th Artillery Battalion Headquarters Company, supporting howitzer cannons where he served until the ceasefire was called. His wife, Andrea DiGiovanna, joined him at the interview.
Message to the Korean People
Thomas DiGiovanna recalls feeling pride after a visit from a Korean representative who gave him a medal and expressed her immense gratitude. The Korean representative tells him that if it were not for Korean War Veterans like himself, that she would not have even been born. He really enjoyed the visit and was full of pride.
Memories of the Ceasefire
Thomas DiGiovanna recalls his experience when the ceasefire was called, which was one of the most dangerous periods of time he experienced. Instead of carrying their leftover ammunition with them back to base, soldiers were lightening their payloads by shooting off rounds of bullets into the air. Many of these bullets hit objects, and he was almost hit by shrapnel.
Why Study Korea?
Thomas' wife, Andrea DiGiovanna, shared the stories he told her over the years. The two were married on October 10, 1993, and she recalls the stories he told her about the sea sickness he experienced on his way over to Korea. She also recalls stories about his father passing, as well as him finally returning from war and taking his first wife on their belated honeymoon. She also explains why it is so important to learn about Korea.
My First Time Learning about Korea was in Korea
Thomas DiGiovanna attended Samuel J Tilden High School and recalls never learning about Korea prior to landing in Pusan, South Korea, in 1952. Immediately after landing, he remembers a really horrible smell and trying to hold his breath as he was exiting the ship. He learned soon after that, at the time, South Koreans used human waste for fertilizer.