Thomas F. Miller
Thomas Miller was drafted into the Army in 1964 even though he was an only child and a farmer, which were potential draft exclusions. He went to boot camp in Georgia and soon after he was sent to Korea with 6th Battalion 80th Artillery 7th Division as a Korean Defense Veteran. As a supply specialist, Thomas Miller would resupply troops with clothes, oil, and food rations. After he returned to the United States, he was very proud of his time spent helping the civilians.
Prior Knowledge About Korea
Thomas Miller was not taught anything about Korea during high school since the teachers never made it to that section of the textbook. Later in life, he knew more about the Korean War because he was interested in history.
The Job of a Korean Defense Veteran and the Draft
Thomas Miller was a Korean Defense Veteran since he served in Korea after the Korean War from 1965 through 1966. He was drafted even though he was an only child, farmed for his family, and he had only one good eye.
Basic Training and Korea During the 1960s
Thomas Miller went to basic training in Georgia and then he was shipped to Inchon Harbor to start his tour of duty. After landing, he noticed poor living conditions of the civilians which looked like America in the early 1800s.
Living and Working Conditions in Korea During the 1960s
Thomas Miller was a supply specialist who helped provide clothes, oil, and food rations to the troops. He stayed in quonset huts, had cold showers, and ate a hot meal most of his time in Korea.
[Beginning of Recorded Material]
T: My name is Thomas F. Miller. Thomas, T H O M A S, middle initial F M I L L E R.
I: Easy name.
T: Yes, very easy.
I: Yeah What is your birthday?
T: Uh, April 22, 1943.
I: So you are very young.
T: Well, I was not, I was there. I’m what they call a Korean Defender.
I: Korea Defense veteran.
T: Yeah, yes, correct.
I: Where were you born?
T: I was born in, uh, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
I: Could you spell it?
T: B E T H L E H E M.
I: B T H L E
T: M B
T: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, yes.
I: And tell me about your family background, parents and siblings when you were growing up.
T: Uh, my father was, uh, one of seven children, uh.
T: Yes, uh. He was a
I: And where are you located?
T: My father was. I’m not.
I: Oh, your father, I’m sorry, sorry.
T: My father, yeah. My father was
one of seven. My grandfather had a, uh, uh, they had a farm and, uh, my father worked on a farm all his life. I grew up on the farm. I have no siblings, uh.
I: Only child.
T: Yes, only child.
I: What kind of farm was it? I mean, I’m very interested in knowing more about this farming.
T: We had, we had, uh, ah, in the early years when I was very, very young we had, uh, an chickens, cows, pigs.
I: How many cows?
T: Oh, at that time he probably had about 20.
I: Oh.small farm.
At, well at that time, average farm for
T: for the, in the area. Uh, we had, uh, he used to have pigs and sell pigs and slaughter those and chickens, sell the eggs, slaughter the eggs and sell chickens and so forth and, uh, and of course sold milk
I: Plant your meat.
T: Yes. And, uh, so as I grew up, that, uh, farming changed, and it became more of a thing that you hadda be one or the other, so he, my dad stuck with dairy. So when I was, uh, went to high I told my dad that I was going
to, uh, take the ag, agriculture which is that time they had a Future Farmers Association, and you took all associated things with farming, and
I: Uh hm.
T: my dad says no you’re not.
I: Oh, why not?
T: He says you’re, you are not taking farmers. He said you want to be a farmer, I’ll teach you how to be a farmer. You earn, learn something else in high school. You either take, uh, college prep or you take business course he said. So I took college prep which, uh, I didn’t go to college, but. uh, I came out, out of high school. I worked on the farm for a while.
I: What high school?
T: Penn Argyl, capital P E N
I: Um hm.
T: Capital A R G Y L.
I: A R G Y
I: Pen Argyl.
T: Pen Argyl, but
I: Pen Argyl.
T: Yeah. Some people pronounce it Pen Argyl
T: which they, uh, they think of the argyle socks if you’re familiar with those from, uh, years back.
I: I’ll pronounce as you like. Pen Argyl.
T: Yes, Pen Argyl, correct.
I: High School.
T: It’s high school, yeah.
I: When was it
I: that you graduate d?
I: That’s the year that I was born.
T: Ooo, okay.
T: [LAUGHS] Let me ask this
T: Then I know how old you are. [LAUGHS]
I: [LAUGHS] I’m a little bit younger than you.
T: A little bit, yeah.
I: That did. Let me ask this question. Did you learn anything about Korea from the school?
T: Nothing at that time.
I: 1961 is, uh, 10 year, almost decade after the breakout of the Korean War, and you didn’t even learn
anything about it?
T: No, no. What, what, what happened in the school at that time, teachers weren’t, uh, I would say, as sca, as, uh, what’s the word, uh, um, word I want I’m not sure now what, uh, regimented as what they taught. In other words, they didn’t take a book and say we’re gonna cover this much
I: Uh huh.
T: through the year. They did what they could. They got through as much as they could, and what happened, I never even heard, I never even had, heard anything in
high school about the second World War.
I: You didn’t?
T: No. I knew about the second World War just from my parents talking, but we did not, was never taught.
I: Well, I mean it’s ridiculous, isn’t it?
T: Yes, very ridic, yeah.
I: So if you don’t
T: As I got, go ahead. I’m sorry.
I: If you looked, if you, if they don’t teach about World War II which was the biggest victory
I: what do they teach?
T: It was in the book, but they never, they only went by the book, and they never got through the book.
T: In other words, we had a history book that thick, but when we finished the school, there was that much left in the back of it.
I: And World War II was not covered.
T: World War II was in there.
T: Korean War was in there I’m sure.
I: Oh. There.
T: I’m sure it was in there.
I: Uh huh.
T: But we never studied it.
I: Do you remember what did you learn?
T: Well, we talk, know, we started back, way back
I: Um hm.
T: We went through, and the United States, we went through, you know, the, before the Revolutionary War. We went through the War of 1812, the Civil War,
World War I. We did all of those. But we never got to the second World War. Unless you happened to have a history teacher who was in the second World War. You, and I did not have him for history. Many talked about that
I: Yeah. See,
T: as well as some Korean veterans.
I: That’s the whole point that I want to make because now teachers, both teachers and student, they do not look up to the
I: They make their own lesson plan, and they look for sources from the internet, from other sources
I: and they teach about things that they want to teach, right?
I: That’s why we’re making this.
T: Exactly. I understand that.
I: My foundation is working with almost 20 teachers, World History teachers and regular History teachers, Social Studies teachers, working with the NCSS, National Counsel
for Social Studies, and we are making lesson plan chapters and Korean War memory bank using this materials
I: and provide it to the teachers so that they can talk about the country that you served.
T: Right, right.
I: Um. That’s why we are doing this. This is absolutely perfect film that you are making. This is excellent, excellent.
I: So you, you learned nothing about Korea?
T: Basically nothing, no. Maybe, maybe a little bit talked about in World History, different countries but no.
I: Anything you
T: No, and I, and I liked history more than my wife. In fact, I talk about history, my wife just says how do you know that? I said well, I remember it from history or it’s, it’s, it’s historic, and I remember that, um, where she’s a English teacher and she likes things like that so.
I: Wow. So,
and even personally, you didn’t know much about Korea?
T: Not a whole lot. I knew that there were, uh, neighbors who had gone to war
I: Um hm
T: um, but other than that, no. Uh.
I: Did you know where Korea was?
T: Oh yeah. I knew where it was.
T: Yeah, yeah. I knew where it was, oh yeah.
I: Asia, right?
T: Asia, yeah, yeah.
I: Between Japan and China.
T: Yeah, yeah, you got it, yep, yep. That’s it, yeah. No, not, not a whole lot really to be honest, yeah.
I: Yeah. That is
T: Knew about the 38thParallel, didn’t really, heard about it, didn’t really know what the 38thParallel was. I had no idea what they meant when they said
they stopped at the 38th, North, South Korea, South, really not a whole lot.
T: Not as much as, um, somethings I think that we should know about, uh.
I: And now you are the Korean, Korea Defense veteran
I: Could you define Korea Defense veteran?
T: Korea Defense veterans are veterans who served in, on the land in Korea after
the Korean War, anytime that you served there. I served there from, I got there in, uh, let me think, the end of June of 1965, and I came home July of 1966. I was stationed, well
I: Exactly. That’s the perfect definition. But by the definition of federal government of the United States, the War, official War,
start from June 25 of 1950 and goes up to
I: January 35, 1955.
I: They extend it period so that they can more, have a more benefit for the GI.
I: So anybody who served after January 31stof 1955 fits to the Korea Defense veteran.
T: Correct. And that was
T: which you probably know was started by the Korean War veterans because
they knew they were getting older and naturally in x number of years there wouldn’t be any left. So they wanted to be, they wanted the Korean War to keep the memory of it, the memory of those who served, and that’s the idea and, uh, of course I was asked to join, and I, uh, I joined right away when I found out about it because I
I: When did you join?
T: Well, right after they were formed, uh, the, well, I think was in the, before they, before they, uh, chapter had, even had their charter.
I: No, no, no. I mean when did you join the military?
T: Oh. Military? I was drafted.
T: Drafted, yeah.
T: Um, drafted. October 1964.
I: So what did you do between graduation of high school until you were drafted?
T: Worked on a farm.
T: Everybody said you will never be drafted.
You’re an only child working with your father on the farm.
I: Oh, yeah.
T: You only have one good eye. You can’t, you’ll never go into the service with a bad eye.
I: What happened to you then?
T: I got drafted.
T: They just took me.
I: You don’t know why.
I: Supposed to be excluded in the draft.
T: The, the, the thing was, the main thing was they said the farm that we had, the number of animals that we had was not big enough, that it
T: take two people to run it, that one person could do it which
T: was [INAUDIBLE]And my dad, well, we had, my dad got a lawyer
and wrote a letter to the draft board even when I got, when I got classified that I could be drafted.
I: Um hm.
T: And, uh, they sent a letter back. Well, they didn’t really send much of a letter back. They just sent, sent a card back with my reclass, reclassification which was the same as it was before.
T: So, uh,
I: You should have added more cow to the farm.
T: Well I did. He did. He did, but it wasn’t, it wasn’t enough
T: at the time, yeah.
I: It didn’t work.
T: We were up to, we were up to about 40 cattle at the ,
I: So you were destined to be in Korea.
And I, you know, I, I accepted that. I accepted that I’m being drafted. I’m not gonna, I’ll do it, I’ll make the best out of it, and I did, and I enjoyed it as many people say I hated it. But I enjoyed it. I really did, even, even
T: my time in Korea I, I
I: So where did you go to get the basic military training?
T: Uh, Fort Gordon, Georgia.
T: Fort Gordon, Georgia.
I: Fort Gordon?
How long was it, the basic?
T: Eight weeks.
I: Eight weeks?
I: What kind of drill?
T: Just basic, basic training.
T: Marching, everything.
T: Oh yeah, shooting.
T: Everything. Everything you needed. Hand to hand combat.
I: And then after that?
T: I went to, uh, Columbus, Ohio for a defense construction supply center which I had never heard of, but there’s one out there.
I: What did you do there?
T: I was a clerk, office.
I: So actually you began to serve, right?
T: Oh yeah. That was,
T: that was my first duty station.
I: Um hm. And then what happened?
T: From there, from there I got orders to go to Korea.
I: When was it, and from where?
T: Uh, I went, um, it was, well, I left the end of, end of May
T: May of ‘6
I: Uh huh.
T: I, I got the orders about three weeks prior to that because it
wasn’t, they’re usually, they can normally give a month, you can have a month’s leave before you go overseas, but I didn’t have enough time, so as soon as I got my orders, I, they sent, you know, I left.
I: And? Where did you arrive in Korea?
I: Inchon? By ship?
I: How was it?
T: Not, it was okay.
I: Was it?
T: Yeah, it was
I: You didn’t throw up?
T: No I did not.
T: No. Someone told me keep your belly full,
and you won’t throw up.
I: And tell me about the Inchon that you saw for the first time in your life. You didn’t know where that country was. Tell me about, be honest.
T: I was, um, totally surprised. The, um, of course we got there, there’s no, there was no, there’s no, uh, actual dock large enough to take the ship in. So we sat, we anchored out, and then they took us in on, I the, I’m not sure, it, LST,
what are those, they’re landing crafts they took us in. I wish I was
I: There was no dock?
T: No, no, no. They just took us in on those, uh, if you’ve seen them, I saw them in pictures of World War II where they landed. When they landed, they’d load a bunch of troops on, and then it comes in, and they go up on shore, and the front end opens up, and then everybody gets off, uh, we go in on one of those which is. From there, I got on a t rain, uh, train which was, uh, which, as you, well the train goes through normally the, not the best part of the town normally, and I was totally, uh,
totally surprised that, uh, how would I say it, it was like the, like going back in history that I read about in the, uh, maybe the 1800’s in, in the United States, uh. No paved roads, uh, no facilities to speak of, um, just very, very poor area all the way through, all the way
up to, uh, I’m not sure where I got off the train. I’m guessing probably in Seoul. That would be my guess,
I: Um hm.
T: I’m not sure.
I: Um hm.
T: And then from there, we went by, uh, well, the first thing was, uh, a truck, and then they dropped some off, and then we went further, and I, I think the last, I just went in a small truck, and I would up at, um, Powani.
T: Powani I think is the name of the little town.
T: Yeah, near, uh, Yongiko?
T: Yeah. They’re little, little villages up in
I: Up in where?
T: Yeah. Up, uh, I’m not sure how far we were from Panmunjom.
I: Um. You know, one of the reason that we are doing this is to show before and after picture of the Korea to our young generation, and that’s how we can tell them this is the legacy of the Korean War.
You are not in the war. You were not in the war, but you were in ’60, even decade after the war
T: Uh, yeah.
I: and still Korea looked like a 18 century,
I: 19 century
I: of the United States.
T: Yeah. Oh yeah.
I: So give me those details, and that’s what would really help.
T: The little, the little village I got into was, like I say, it was very small, and it was a little, uh, I was, I was assigned to a, um, artillery battalion, uh, and there was, uh, of course they had, uh,
one, 155 Howitzers and that sort of thing, and I, I want, I ended up orig, I originally worked in the, uh, the orderly room Headquarters and then, then they moved me to supply. I got supply. There was a, a problem with people rotating and, you know, they, one guy goes back, and somebody’s supposed to fill his place. But the guy that was supposed to fill the place and the one didn’t come right away. So I got that job, and then they moved me to another place, and then finally I, I stayed in supply, battalion supply which I was in, in charge of all the, uh,
oh, yeah, small, mostly small parts for the guns that were needed for, if the, in, in, in, if they actually had a war, had all the important parts
I: Um hm.
T: in a trailer, I had to take care of plus all the other day to day things. We had Koreans worked in our office, um. Back, as far as the town or the villages were concerned, there was just, it was, it was just unbelievable. Everything was dirt, uh, thatched, thatched roofs
I: Yeah. Thatch.
T: Um, no facilities. I mean, no facilities, uh. Of course, the, the Kimchi, the honey pots
I: Honey pot. Tell, tell them what is honey pot.
T: Honey pots is, um,
I: Human waste.
T: Human waste in, uh, in buckets, large buckets carried on a yoke on their, and carried out to the rice paddies and, uh,
I: To do what?
T: Fertilize the rice.
I: Yeah, that was our fertilizer.
T: It was the fertilizer, yes. And that’s,
we were told don’t eat anything in the village because of the fertilizer, uh. We got shots for it, but, uh, um, and, well, like the, uh, stores, little stores with, uh, meat hanging in the windows which looked like, it wasn’t, it didn’t look to be refrigerated and, uh, it was just the way it was and, uh
I: There was, there was no refrigerator.
T: No, no. Uh, um, no facilities. The only facilities I saw were in, uh, in Seoul occasionally.
Occasionally I would
T: We, we were allowed, uh, speaking of facilities, we were allowed to go, uh, saw the, went to the chaplain, why you could get a, uh, religious, um, oh, I forget the actual name of it now. But anyhow, you could take a, a three-day weekend. They would let you go to Seoul.
I: Um hm.
T: Take you to Seoul by bus, and then you’d put you up in, I think it was like, like a YMCA, that type of building. You went there, and then, of course they had religious things
for you to do, but then you were free to, to tour the area, not like a, that was the only place I saw paved roads
T: was in Seoul.
I: In Seoul.
T: Yeah, Seoul
I: Even in Seoul in 1965.
T: There was, they were, they were paved there, yeah. They were paved. And, it was, it was fairly comparable to some places in the United States but not, not really. Uh, a lot of beautiful, older buildings and things of that sort, uh, uh. But, u h, as far as
where we were, the only, the only vehicles we actually saw other than the military vehicles were what we, the little buses which they, everybody called Kimchi buses because when you got on, it was, it was all locals that traveled on it, so when you got on, all you could smell was Kimchi because everybody ate Kimchi.
T: So we’d call them Kimchi buses and, uh, and, and the mamasans we were, it was, it was kind of a
I: Mamasan means
T: Mamasan meaning
T: a woman.
T: A mama with a baby
would get on
I: Um hm, um hm.
T: and get on the bus, and maybe the baby’d cry, and she would breast feed her on the bus,
I: Um hm.
T: and we would, and that was something that you didn’t see anywhere in the United States. You didn’t even see it in your own family, and it was just, that’s the way it was, and it was a total surprise, a whole, a total enlightening basically of how, how people live in other parts of the world, and I, I was just totally, you know being born on a farm, we didn’t have everything. We had more than most did.
We had indoor plumbing, and we had, uh, um, central heating system which many of the farmers didn’t have when I was a young boy. But to go there and see nothing like that unless you went to Seoul and, uh, but
I: Again, Mr. Miller is talking about the Korea even, that came after the war
I: and still very primitive.
T: Yes, very primitive, yes.
I: By the way, what was your unit?
T: Sixth Battalion,
T: Eightieth Artillery.
I: Eightieth Artillery. What is it belongs to 2ndDivision?
T: No. We were in 2ndDivision territory, but we were 7thDivision. We were the forward unit.
T: Uh, I’m not sure what Regiment.
T: Let me think.
I: And your specialty was?
T: Supply, yeah.
I: Any other scene that you want to describe?
T: We did go up, we went, uh, they took a group to Panmunjom for training for, uh, POW training
I: That’s where that likely that, uh, Mr. President likely to meet with Kim Jong-un.
T: Yes. That, that’s what I thought maybe, yeah. Uh, yeah. That’s where we went. We were up there. They did training up there and, and treated us like we were, Army was our own people, but treated us
like prisoners of war, uh, well, what might be expected
I: Um hm.
T: when you were taken as a prisoner. We did that training up there. Uh, that’s the only time we were, I was ever up that, up, actually DMZ
I: Um hm.
T: or near the DMZ. We did some field things in that, south of there. Different times they’d call alerts when something happened, if there was something going on. If they, the North Koreans were moving, going, movement next to the DMZ a lot of times they’d put us on alert,
and then we’d have to go out in the field for a week, uh. But, uh, I didn’t spend a lot of time out there because I was in Headquarters Supply, so I would take supplies out. Sometimes we’d stay out with them if it was a, a full, a full thing why we, we would all go out. But sometimes we just shuttled back and forth with fuel and, and, and ra, rations and things like that.
I: Um hm.
I: What was your rank at the time?
T: When I left, I was a, a Specialist 4thClass.
I: I’m sorry?
T: Spec. 4.
Spec 4 which is equal to Corporal.
T: Yeah, Corporal.
I: And how much were you paid at the time?
T: Uh, not much.
I: Tell me.
T: I’m not sure, less than $100 a month.
I: No, you kidding.
T: No. It was less than $100.
I: Korean War veterans paid like $75 – $80.
T: Not much more than that.
T: No, not my pay wasn’t, no.
I: Less than $100?
T: When, when I, I’m sure, yeah. Less than $100, yeah.
I: You were fed, and you had a place to sleep. Where did you sleep?
T: You had, we had, uh, Quonset huts.
I: A little bit better than, you know, people who slept
T: In the War.
I: in the foxholes.
T: Right, exactly, yeah.
I: Quonset hut.
T: Quon, they’re called, they’re, they’re, they’re rounded
I: How was food?
T: With, uh, no central, with a, a kerosene stove in the middle.
I: Kerosene stove.
T: Yeah. Uh, no shower there. You hadda walk from where I was maybe you walked back maybe
50 feet, no, yeah, 50, 60 fee. That’s where the bathrooms and the showers and everything were. So.
I: They had a hot shower there?
T: They had hot water at times.
I: At times.
T: Yeah. Yeah.
T: You, you knew, you had to hit at the right time. You could, but you, more, more, more than likely you were getting a warm or a cold shower because there wasn’t, they didn’t have the, it wasn’t, it wasn’t like it is today, and it wasn’t, uh, it wasn’t like the folks, uh, down at, uh,
Seoul. They had nice buildings down there and nice, but it was, uh, no, we had, we didn’t cost you any, anything to live there.
I: So what did you do with the money?
T: Food. There was, you know, they had an NCO club, you know.
I: Uh huh.
T: You could buy, you, you, they didn’t give you free alcohol or, and then we had a, they had a snack bar
I: No happy hour.
T: No, no, and we had a snack bar. So you, you could order from the snack bar. If you got tired of eating in the mess hall, you ordered from the snack bar.
So that’s where your money went basically.
I: Did you like Korean food?
T: I didn’t, we weren’t, didn’t have any Korean food there.
I: I’m sorry.
T: It was all our
I: No, no need to be sorry.
T: Yeah. We had, we did, I didn’t
I: I am sorry that
T: I did try Kimchi once.
I: You did?
I: And, you didn’t like it.
T: Uh, it was okay.
I: Was it?
T: Yeah, it was,
T: It was okay.
T: It reminded me of our, of our Pennsylvania Dutch sauerkraut in one way, but Pennsylvania Dutch sauerkraut does not burn your mouth. [LAUGHS]
I: Yeah right. [LAUGHS
T: Uh, other than, uh, well, like I say, your, your clothing, if, if you had a pair of boots that wore out, they brought them in. That was part of our job, that you brought your old boots in, and we ordered you a new pair. If you needed, anything you needed in clothing line, you, you turned in with, what they, it was what they called direct, direct exchange. So you, bring
I: You had to prove that you need another.
T: Bring one in, bring one in, and we’ll order you one, yeah.
I: What about food? What kind of food did you eat?
T: It was norm, it was Army food. It was good.
I: For the children,
I: Tell them what, what specifically?
T: Basically, uh, anything
I: Did you have a real eggs or powder eggs?
T: No, no. We had powdered eggs. No, I’m sorry, no, we had real eggs. We had reconstructed milk. That was the one we had.
I: Reconstructed milk?
T: Eighth arm, it was called. It was, it was in a, in a regular container. It was, uh, it looked like milk, and I don’t like milk, but I did have to drink it a few times when that was the only thing to drink. But it was, it was made by the 8thArmy dairy, and it was called reconstructed milk.
I had, it was what, I guess they brought powdered milk in, and then whatever they did with it. But it was actually called reconstructed milk. But as far as everything else, it was basically, we had a nice, like holidays we always had, always
I: Hot meal.
T: turkey, turkey for Thanksgiving and nice meals for, and, uh, special meals for special holidays, uh. We
I: How about Spam? Did you have a Spam there, at the time?
T: No. We had no Spam.
T: I never, I, I never ate Spam until I, I heard about it in the Army and got it after I got out of the Army to see what it was.
So, I know a lot of people talked about Spam. We did eat, we ate rations sometimes, but that was a rarity, and we, we, that was just, they had rations they wondered, they did what they called rotate rations, war rations, so they, they had to use up the ones that were dated from back in the second World War to keep them fresh they called it.
I: Have you been back to Korea since then?
T: No, I have not.
I: Do you know what’s going on in Korea?
T: Oh yeah. I,
I: Tell me about it.
T: I hear, I hear that the, uh, my
I: This is about after, after picture.
T: This is
I hear from the veterans who have gone back on the, that, the program that’s offered, and they tell about all the super highways and all the big buildings and there, of course they were there during the War, so it was worse than when I was there, but tell about all the nice roads and all the nice cars and, of course, you make a lot of nice cars there, too. Um, it’s just a total, I’d love to see it, but I probably won’t anytime as much as I’d like to, but, uh, it’s a
I: Do you know the Korean economy rank in the world?
T: No I do not.
I: Ranked number 11.
I: Eleventh largest economy in the world.
T: Wow. That’s ama
I: Can you believe that?
T: No, not after what I’ve, not, not, what I saw when I was there compared to what we had in this country, yeah. Yeah.
I: Human waste fertilizer, honey pot
I: Kimchi everywhere
T: Oh yes.
I: Nothing really paved,
T: No, not where I was.
I: Not much around, and now it’s 11thlargest economy in the world.
T: I’d love to go back there. They did a, a, number of years ago, someone did something on, on Korea, and they went to Camp Casey. Now Camp Casey apparently is still there.
T: Camp Casey was up the road from where we were.
I: Uijeongbu area, yeah.
T: Yeah. And, uh, my guess is where I was probably was demolished over the years because it was all, it was Quonset huts and metal buildings and, uh, no, nothing was paved, and
uh, but, I should say nothing. The, the street coming in off the main gate was paved in front of the Headquarters, but other than that, everything else was dirt. We had a stream that ran through the compound, um, which flooded during the monsoons. That’s something I didn’t, I didn’t miss, don’t miss, and people say when, when it’s raining hard, I said you don’t know what a hard rain is.
T: I said it’s a, I said you go to bed at night and it’s pounding, and you wake up it’s pounding, and when you get up
the morning it’s pounding, and it’s pounding when you go to bed the next night, and I don’t know how, how many days it went on, but, and I felt so bad because the people, they didn’t have any shelter
T: and a lot, lot of, lot of young, lot of young children, uh, were lost and things that, uh, yeah.
I: By 2030, Korea will be ranked number 7 in the world in its economy.
T: Wow. That’s amazing. No, I, gen, I don’t follow that, so I don’t really don’t know. No, I never, yeah, good.
I: And that’s why I am so puzzled that US World History textbook doesn’t cover much about the Korean War.
T: Well, maybe they do now.
I: Still no.
I: And that’s why we are trying to make
T: Yeah that
I: a lesson plan, chapters,
T: Should be.
I: Yeah. And we
T: Should be.
I: just finished the special documentary film with, uh, Korean War veteran, ex-POW, and he
went to Korea last year with his great-grandchildren who just graduated from high school and take them around DMZ and Panmunjom
I: and Seoul and see, let them see
T: and they didn’t know what it was? Probably not. No, that’s sad. It is.
T: Very sad.
T: Um, when, when I tell younger, some younger people that I was in Korea, they know about the Korean War, but they, they don’t, a lot don’t even realize how many, uh,
of our forces are still in Korea. I, and right now, I don’t know how many for
T: Is that what it is? I don’t know. It was, I think it was more than that when I was there for
I: Oh yeah, more than that, yes.
T: Yeah, but, uh, and we were treated, I, where the area where I was, we were, I have no problem with, with the Korean people. They treated us fine, uh. Some people complained.
T: I hear people say about that they weren’t treated fairly, uh. But, uh, I thought we were.
The people that worked for us were, I, I had a man in there and, Mr. Lee and, uh, he was just, he was super. He was just a great guy to work with, uh. Uh, he was, he always called me Mueller and, uh
T: Yeah. That was the way he, that was his pronunciation, and I left it at that. that was okay, and everybody knew who he was talking about, and, you know, one of the guys came in one day and was giving him a hard time about his English.
T: And he looked at me he said how many
languages you speak, GI?
T: which I thought was the greatest thing that anybody could ever say because hey, there he was.
T: He could understand every, he’d answer the phone. He could talk to people just like the rest of us did in the office, and he was, I, I don’t know how old he was. That was something we, uh, we always talked about. Uh, he’s, young Koreans and old Koreans. We never saw anyone as in between.
T: It just seemed like the, the, the old papasan sitting out smoking his pipe,
uh, seemed like, uh, he, he’s been that way half of his life or something. But they didn’t live to be very old at that time either.
I: Because the young men mostly are in the military.
T: Okay. Yeah.
I: But anyway, to him, you were Mueller.
T: Mueller, yeah.
T: Yeah. That was his pronunciation, and I didn’t, you know. So every once in a while somebody would, he’d ask, somebody would ask something about Mueller, and they’d say his name’s Miller, and he says it’s Mueller. He answers to me, no problem.
I: No problem.
T: No problem.
I: Let’s talk about the role of Korea Defense veteran, KDV. What do you think is the legacy or the contribution that you made for Korea, what it is?
T: I, I think that just us being there was part of it being and knowing it. I think we, that we’d support Korean people more so than those who weren’t there, uh, because we know
what, who the Korean people are and what type of people they are. I, I just, I always felt that way about it.
I: Uh huh.
T: I, um, more so than some other countries.
I: Um hm.
T: I, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve a high opinion of the Korean people because they work. They had nothing, but they were workers. They were out doing something all the time. They weren’t, so I, what we would see. They weren’t, well some were. You always
had some like anywhere else.
I: Um hm.
T: You always have some of the people that
I: Were you able to work with other Korean military personnel?
T: Occasionally, not very often.
T: We, we saw them. We did, they done certain things. We did get to see them and, and we interacted with them but not, not often, no.
I: There were no real cooperation between U.S. military and the section where you were and the counterpart in Korea?
T: I think there was, yes. But not
T: not that we would see.
I: Um hm.
T: We knew, we heard of them, we knew they were there and that, you know.
I: That’s where that I think Korea Defense veteran, even the, the presence of military, U.S. military in Korea even after the War actually has contributed. That is
T: Oh, I think
I: That is where that has a lot of knowledge and technology transfers been made.
T: Oh I, I believe that, yes, yeah.
I: Supply, the way that you take care of supply, that’s a very scientific inventory, right?
I: And systems and
I: and documentations.
T: Um hm. Oh yeah.
I: We didn’t know anything about those.
T: Right, yeah.
I: And I bet the Korean military learned from you guys
T: Oh, I’m sure. I’m sure they did because there was, there was not, not much interaction where I was, but I know at Headquarters there was interaction, a lot of interaction there to my, you know, but, uh, other than, what, you know, what was it, Katusa?
I: Katusa, yeah.
T: That’s it, okay.
I: Yeah, yeah. Tell me about it.
T: I knew of the Katusa. We didn’t know a lot about. We knew that they were trained very, very strict training,
and they had very strict rules, more so than we did from what we heard, yeah.
I: Um hm.
T: But, uh,
I: So, I once, uh, interviewed, um, medical Korean Defense veteran. He,
I: he was a doctor, and he went to Korea
T: Um hm.
I: and he, you know, used to deal with the machines, medical machines
I: in the hospital, and then they transferred to the Korean hospital, military, and then he look around and
inspect the machines and repair the machines, and that’s how he transferred the knowledge
I: of his medical technology and the machines and all others into the hands of the Korean people at the time.
T: Oh, okay.
I: So the military in 1960’s and 70’s were most advanced social groups in Korea.
T: Okay. Makes sense, yes.
I: Makes sense, isn’t it?
T: Yes it does, yes.
I: That I s the contribution made by the Korea Defense veteran.
It’s not just about the military security or the protection from North Korea, but there has been tremendous transfer of the knowledge and technology into every sector of the Korean society.
T: Um hm.
I: When you do baseball
T: Oh yeah.
I: people learn about baseball.
I: You know?
T: Oh yeah.
I: Everything. So I think this is very important but never been really officially recognized.
T: Right, right.
I: And that’s why I’m doing this and especially
with the Korea Defense veteran. I love it.
T: Right, right, no. I, because I, uh, when, when Paul called me about this interview, I said you realize, Paul, I’m not a Korean veteran. I’m just a defender. He said I know that, he said. He said where you were, he said, you, the interview will go alright for you he said. So.
I: Do you know how many Korea Defense veteran in the United States now?
T: Um, no.
I: You said that you were there for a year, right? About a year, right?
T: Yeah, I was there a year, yeah.
I: Yeah. But now I think they are rotating by six month.
T: Oh, okay.
I: Yeah. So if you calculate that from 1955 to now
I: Rough calculation is three million.
T: Oh, it has to be because just the, you know, I look at how many was where I was and then, uh,
I: So do you have; how many children do you have?
I: But normally, you’d have about three, two, right?
T: Probably two, yeah.
I: And then they will have their own children.
I: So you will have a household of about 20.
T: Oh yeah. Yeah.
T: OH yeah. I have a, I have two godchildren. They’re like,
I: So you
T: they’re like, like children to us anyhow, so they’re
I: So if you multiply 10 of three million retired Korea Defense veteran,
T: Oh yeah.
I: we’re talking about thirty million.
I: It’s a big community.
T: Oh Yes,
I: And never been organized.
I: I want to.
T: Right. Good.
That’s great. Yes. No. We, uh, I, yes I wanted to come home, you know, like everybody else. But I wasn’t, after it was all, after it was finished, it was, it was, I look back on it. I wouldn’t trade that time for anything, and I, and I’m, and I say that with all sincerity, really. I. I mean, that, that was, uh, an eye opener and, uh, made me appreciate everything a little bit more.
I: Yeah. That is the impact right?
T: Yes, exactly.
I: But now that Korea is one of the most advanced country
T: Oh, yeah,
I: in the world.
T: Yeah, because when they, you know, they, I, you know, I remember as a boy when, after the second World War, you know, there were second World War veterans. If it said made in Japan on it, they didn’t buy it, and there are still some who, they will not buy a car that they know has anything to do with Japan
which is, which is, is sad, but,
I: Um hm.
T: and now with the Korean, with the, the Hyundai’s and the Hyundai’s, I think they’re great. I don’t have one, but they’re great cars. Ever, anybody that has one, I think is happy with it and so
I: So that will be your next car, okay? [LAUGHS]
T: I don’t know if there will be a next anymore. I bought a lot of cars in my life time.
I: When you left in 1966, right?
I: Did you think that Korea would become like this today?
T: Not where it is right now, no, no. I did not. I didn’t, I figured they were gonna, things were gonna happen there, like, they had to modernize. Things had to change, but I didn’t expect, I mean, and, and, when you look back, yes, 50 years is a long time, uh. So a lot of things can happen in 50 years. I mean, look at the United States, uh. And I often think of my grandfather who was born in 18, 1881. He passed away in 1961, uh. The things that he saw
in his lifetime that changed just in the United States from the, from the horse and buggy to the car to the jets to the, he didn’t quite make it
T: He, he didn’t, he didn’t quite make it to see the, uh, the first, uh, orbit of the earth or anything like that. But, other things that he saw are just unbelievable, the radio, the television, uh. So, and that’s the type of thing that they didn’t have over there. You know, when you, when you, you know, when you come from a,
a society like we had in the United States in the ‘50’s and the ‘60’s and the ‘70’s, and then go back there and see what’s there, it’s like, it’s a different world. Am I in the same world, and it really, it, it opens your eyes up to what other people are and, and, and to think about there are still places in this, in this world that are still like that, that, for whatever reason nobody’s ever said hey, let’s, let’s do something about it other than nothing.
I: So are you proud of your service?
T: Oh definitely, yeah. Um, probably if I had, uh, a little bit different situation at the time when I was getting out, I might have stayed in. I, I liked it. I liked it.
I: And what do you think about what’s going on in Korea right now with North Korea?
T: Something needs to be done. That’s what I feel that something he,
he needs to be stopped or, or reckoned with in some way
I: Um hm.
T: um. I don’t, I don’t know where his mind is, a man, it’s a little country that, from what I understand, is still not, economically they’re poor. It’s a poor country
T: and yet he’s taking money and building missiles, and he’s, this little country, and he thinks he’s gonna take on the world? I, I’m just totally amazed. I just think
I think how, how big is his brain?
T: Yeah. I mean yeah, he may be able to send a missile. He mail, mail, he may be able to wipe somebody out and some city or something, but what’s gonna happen after that to him is, I don’t want to be part of it as far as I just, I hope, I hope something works out. I really do.
I: So you think that President Trump can make difference with him?
T: I think he’ll try. President Trump
gets a lot of bad publicity I think, um. I, as a boy I remember my parents talking about Harry Truman.
I: Um hm.
T: And I said to Betty, I said, my wife, I said there’s only one, I, the difference I see between Harry Truman and Donald Trump is Donald Trump’s a millionaire. Harold, Harry Truman was a pauper.
T: Uh, Harry, Harry was another one. I mean, he, he, he never, he never weighed his words, you know,
and, and he was very controversial after, after he dropped the bomb.
T: Oh, that was the worst thing he could have done, and it’s, you know. But history tells you that was the best thing could have happened. It’s an awful thing when you think about killing that many people and being the best thing that could have happened. But
I: It’s a great honor to meet you, Tom,
T: And an honor to meet you, too.
I: and, and you made an excellent points that I needed.
Seed, the, even the Korea in 1960’s were really like a 19thcenturies of U.S.
T: Yes, they were.
I: and now it’s, uh, 11thlargest economy. You are the direct witness of it, and you have a lot to tell through this video to many, many students you never imagined that they will get it.
T: Thank you for the opportunity. I appreciate it.
I: Thank you for coming this, and thank you on behalf of Korean nation for your service.
T: Thank you.
I: Thank you.
T: You’re welcome.
[End of Recorded Material]