Korean War Legacy Project

Tony and Tom Bazouska


Tony and Tom Bazouska were born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1931 and were raised in the suburbs, finding companionship while excelling in high school varsity sports. They joined the Army in 1951, completed basic at Camp Breckenridge, and earned their wings from jump school at Fort Benning. They were both assigned to L Company of the 187th Airborne Division (aka Rakkasan) as rifleman and were sent to Korea. They share their compelling stories of how saving lives on the battlefield as medics impacted them for many years and detail their experiences upon returning home. They elaborate on their bouts with PTSD and comment on how they were treated by old friends upon their return from the war. They are proud of their service and are grateful for the great respect the Korean people have for them.

Video Clips

Fear of Losing a Brother (Graphic)

Tony and Tom Bazouska share a battle story where they were both serving as medics in the same company. They recount being on opposite sides of a hill, unable to see each other on that particular day. They recall that Tom's side was being shelled heavily, blowing three men, including Tom, over the hill to their assumed death. They remember Tony being ordered over to help as the medic (Tom) was believed dead. They recall the scene where they found each other amid the chaos.

Tags: Fear,Front lines,Physical destruction,Pride,Weapons

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Medical Success Story (Graphic)

Tony and Tom Bazouska detail saving the life of a fellow soldier. They recount the graphic state of the soldier who had been severely wounded and was bleeding profusely. They recall performing a tracheotomy on him and supplying multiple limbs with blood. They share that they both feel the initial shelling incident that brought them back together on the battlefield was the reason the soldier survived as it took two of them to tend to his wounds. They recount that they were contacted by the soldier years later and feel it was a proud moment during their service.

Tags: Fear,Front lines,Physical destruction,Pride

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Rakkasan Meaning

Tony and Tom Bazouska recount their trip to Washington, D.C., in 1995 for the dedication of the Korean War memorial. They recall seeing many veterans with the name Rakkasan on their shirts at the dedication and elaborate on its meaning. They share that the 187th Airborne Division was nicknamed Rakkasan by the Japanese after WWII, but the name was specific to a unit that they fought under during the Korean War. They share that Rakkasan translates to "man fall with umbrella (or) parachute" and that it was originally given to the first American troops who landed on Japanese soil. They emphasize that Korean War veterans are known as the Golden Rakkasan since they are the older Rakkasans.

Tags: Home front,Pride

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Medic Identification and Weapons

Tony and Tom Bazouska explain that medics carried little to no identification while serving out on the front lines. They share that killing a medic would demoralize the unit, so all they carried in terms of ID was their Geneva Convention Cards. They add that when they became medics they were both given a M2 automatic carbine and a .45 pistol as they needed the ability to react quickly if in danger and to return to work.

Tags: Depression,Front lines,Weapons

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Returning Home

Tony and Tom Bazouska recall their experience returning home. They share that upon arrival they stopped in at a hangout where they would often meet their buddies prior to the war. They explain that many of their buddies simply asked where they had been and share that few people knew about the war or would inquire as to why they would even go there to serve. They admit that the guys back home treated them differently when they came back from Korea and that nothing felt the same. They elaborate on the kind relationship with the Korean people, however, and describe being treated with great respect.

Tags: Daegu,Civilians,Home front,Modern Korea,Pride,Prior knowledge of Korea,South Koreans

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PTSD: Hidden Alcoholics

Tony and Tom Bazouska describe dealing with PTSD for the first five years after returning from war. They share that at the time it was not identified, and they remember trying to deal with its symptoms while working and managing new families. They recall having dreams and screaming fits and share that they turned to alcohol to ease their minds.

Tags: Depression,Fear,Home front,Living conditions

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Panic Jumping from a Airplane

Tony and Tom Bazouska describe what it was like jumping from an airplane as part of the airborne division. They recall the panic and fear involved but elaborate on they high they received from the experience. They detail the procedure, the sights they saw from above, and the dangers involved.

Tags: Basic training,Front lines,Pride

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