Korean War Legacy Project

Vartkess Tarbassian

Bio

Vartkess Tarbassian  was born in Boston, MA, and had been working as a sheet metal worker until he was drafted for the Korea War in November 1952.  He arrived at Pusan in January 1954, and was stationed in the Cheonan Area (also known as the Iron Triangle) as a part of the 2nd infantry, 23rd infantry regiment.  As a private, he monitored the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) as a radio operator.  During this time in Korea, he earned the following medals: Good Conduct, UN, Korean Campaign, Korean Defense, National Defense, and Korean War medals.  Vartkess Tarbassian’s service in Korea ended in October of 1954, and he was discharged the next month.  After his return and discharge, he attended radio repair school to become an electronic technician.

Clips

Headed to Korea

Vartkess Tarbassian spent time training for war at boot camp. After that, he was given a 10-day leave to spend time with family. On the train to the coast, he was treated like royalty by the the train's workers.

Tags: Basic training,Civilians,Home front,Living conditions,Pride

Share this Clip +


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoPaoPd-xN0&start=444&end=553

The Last Leg of Travel to Korea and Training in Japan

Vartkess Tarbassian rode on the USS General Collins for 14 days to get to Japan. When he arrived in Japan in 1953 he was trained there for a few weeks, but when he was supposed to be shipped out to Korea, he was chosen to receive more training in Japan. His MOS was a radio operator.

Tags: Basic training,Home front,Pride,Weapons

Share this Clip +


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoPaoPd-xN0&start=647&end=838

First Impressions of Korea near Busan (Pusan Perimeter)

Vartkess Tarbassian was surprised when he saw the devastation in the Pusan Perimeter (Busan). There were shell holes from the mortars all across the land. Korean civilians were staving and missing shelter.

Tags: Busan,Civilians,Food,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Physical destruction,Poverty,South Koreans,Weapons

Share this Clip +


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoPaoPd-xN0&start=840&end=935

Welcome to Your Duty Station

After arriving in Korea in 1953, Vartkess Tarbassian was stationed in the Iron Triangle. He had to live in a foxhole to protect the area from the North Koreans. After surviving the cold and terrain, Vartkess Tarbassian was sent home in November 1954.

Tags: Cheonan,Panmunjeom,Seoul,Cold winters,Front lines,Living conditions

Share this Clip +


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoPaoPd-xN0&start=991&end=1240

Returning Home

Vartkess Tarbassian struggled with nightmares once he returned home from Korea. His mother would have to wake him when he was screaming in his sleep. After about a year, the nightmares began to go away.

Tags: Civilians,Fear,Home front,Living conditions,Prior knowledge of Korea

Share this Clip +


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoPaoPd-xN0&start=1754&end=1784

Video Transcript

00:00
my name is warka starvation I’m a native
00:03
of Boston Massachusetts born in 1932 i
00:07
presently live in framingham
00:09
massachusetts and I’ve been a Framingham
00:12
resident for approximately 50 years now
00:16
and school that you went did you go to
00:20
school here I did go to school in yes
00:23
I’m native-born I went to school in
00:26
Boston area completed high school in
00:28
Boston and subsequently completed a
00:31
degree program at Northeastern
00:33
University more website it when was it
00:37
1975 oh well when did you join the
00:43
military I was drafted by the military
00:47
in November 1952 so what were you doing
00:56
when you were drafted I had recently
00:59
graduated from high school and I was
01:02
working as a sheet metal op worker in
01:04
boston massachusetts and how did you
01:13
feel when you were drafted did you know
01:17
that you were about to go to Korea I
01:19
didn’t even know where Korea was I had
01:21
to look it up on the map and I was not
01:25
anxious to be drafted but I felt it was
01:28
my obligation it was something I wanted
01:31
to pay back to the country the United
01:33
States for all the privileges and rights
01:36
that I enjoy then and I still enjoy
01:38
today hmm you said you your ethnically
01:41
from our menu my parents are from
01:45
Armenia could you tell me about the
01:48
history of your family when they came to
01:50
the United States and certainly both my
01:53
parents were driven out of the country
01:55
of Armenia by the Turks it was a
01:58
cultural disagreement it’s a religious
02:01
disagreement somewhat we happen to be
02:04
Christian the Turks are Muslims and they
02:08
never the tool will meet not in that
02:10
area of the Middle East unfortunately
02:13
when my parents immigrated to the United
02:17
States and Canada my mother was from
02:19
Canada when was that approximately 19 25
02:24
or so my father settled in the Greater
02:28
Boston area my mother was raised as a
02:32
teenager in Canada and they met through
02:37
a matchmaking really yes Wow there was a
02:44
matchmaking kind of institution at the
02:46
time oh yes well they were all
02:48
immigrants and that’s the way they did
02:50
things evidently in the old country and
03:00
how was your throat growing up in
03:05
Armenian family any distinctive cultural
03:09
aspect that you very very very
03:10
disciplined there my father made certain
03:14
that I as a male member of the family
03:17
and particularly the oldest child was to
03:23
carry on the cultural obligations of an
03:26
immigrant which were make sure you your
03:29
child goes to college make sure you have
03:31
a business of your own and lastly make
03:34
sure you have a home of your own mm or
03:38
there are many Armenians around your
03:40
neighbors the Armenians are congregated
03:43
in one general area which is Watertown
03:45
Massachusetts where the Chechen has had
03:49
their recent an episode unfortunately
03:51
right but it’s just one of them not all
03:56
of the communities so we shouldn’t blame
03:58
the cannoli read on I don’t get that
04:01
would be unfair yeah that would be
04:04
unfair so you were drafted but you are
04:07
honored to serve your country I
04:09
certainly was mm-hmm so tell me about
04:12
your military basic training after
04:17
spending approximately 10 days of
04:19
induction in the Fort Devens area
04:23
Massachusetts I was transferred
04:27
into Fort Indiantown Gap Pennsylvania
04:32
for basic training basic training at
04:35
that time ran 16 weeks eight weeks was
04:39
very basic which was introducing you to
04:42
close on a drill rifle practice military
04:46
courtesy that kind of thing then
04:49
subsequently the last eight weeks of the
04:51
cycle I spent in learning advanced
04:55
infantry techniques and larger weapons
04:58
what kind could you tell me details well
05:01
beyond the rifle I certainly was taught
05:03
how to use rocket launchers mortars
05:06
recoilless rifle rifle grenades that
05:11
sort of thing how was it was it were you
05:16
scared or I was very uncomfortable to
05:20
say the least one particular incident in
05:23
the basic training scared the heck out
05:25
of me I must be honest and that was when
05:27
they have a tank drive over your foxhole
05:31
and you you better stay in that foxhole
05:34
because you’re not going to be happy
05:36
otherwise right okay how many brothers
05:41
and sisters is you have I have one
05:43
brother in two sisters one is deceased
05:45
my any older brother no I’m the oldest
05:49
oh yeah always so what was the sort of
05:52
reaction from your family that you are
05:55
supposed to go to Korea my father
05:58
particularly was very unhappy when I got
06:00
drafted that was one of a few times in
06:03
my life that I saw my father get choked
06:06
up and cry he did not want me to go into
06:09
the service at all he as matter of fact
06:12
what me from our home to the draft board
06:16
where we I was met by a bus which
06:20
subsequently took me to the yummy base
06:23
but he did not take it well my mother
06:26
was a very stoic woman she was very
06:31
strong she did not let on to me as far
06:35
as any sobbing was concerned or
06:38
any hand-wringing was concerned she she
06:42
bit her upper lip my jaw my siblings
06:47
they thought it was something that
06:49
everybody going through everybody had to
06:52
be drafted and at that time millions
06:54
were drafted so it was commonplace to
06:58
see somebody leave home for the military
07:01
have you known anything about Korea
07:04
before you left for Korea no no I had to
07:07
look it up on the map I really had to
07:09
seek out where career was I had an idea
07:11
was in the Orient but I didn’t know
07:14
exactly where in the Orient was located
07:16
hmm so after you finished the military
07:26
the basic military training where did
07:28
you go and when did you leave for korea
07:31
from where I had my basic and then I was
07:35
what was called frozen in place they may
07:40
use quotation marks around the word
07:41
frozen I was kept at indiantown gap for
07:45
a period of 16 more weeks enacted as a
07:49
Kadri meant for incoming recruits and
07:54
when the recruit cycle was completed it
07:58
was determined I believe was determined
08:00
that 40 natanggap would be closed as an
08:04
army training facility so they had to
08:06
send me somewhere and what they did was
08:08
they sent me to what was called fee com
08:12
Far East command and my orders were cut
08:16
for the Far East command I was given a
08:20
ten day furlough and spend by 10 days in
08:24
Boston with my parents and friends and
08:26
then took a train from Boston to New
08:29
York change trains from there to Chicago
08:32
and change trains again from Chicago to
08:35
Seattle and that was a long trip and it
08:38
was a delightful trip because I was
08:40
treated very courteously by the the
08:42
train trains staff the conductors and
08:47
the porters there are all very nice
08:50
people who treated me like a gentleman
08:52
I went first class matter of fact they
08:54
gave me a first-class compartment which
08:57
was very unusual I expected to go from
08:59
coast to coast on a troop train it did
09:01
not many war how many soldiers were in
09:03
the same train three dead toe that’s all
09:06
oh that’s why you’ve been treated I was
09:08
treated royally royally first-class
09:11
meals first-class accommodations do you
09:14
remember how your father reacted when
09:17
you went to Boston for the last time
09:19
before you left for Korea and your
09:22
family anything that you remember well
09:25
other than that the episode of walking
09:27
to the draft board and watching him get
09:30
choked up that there was something else
09:34
he has scored me the draft board was on
09:36
the second floor of a building and well
09:39
that that was when you were drafted but
09:42
I’m talking about when you had a you
09:44
know the orders to go to Korea yeah oh
09:47
yeah all right that he was not a very
09:50
happy man that’s what certain he had
09:53
said that he had come to the United
09:55
States to raise a family not to see a
09:57
family get splintered he was very
10:00
unhappy is right yeah well that’s what
10:03
happened and uh did you have a
10:07
girlfriend at the time I met a girl at
10:09
that time in the last 10 days on my
10:12
furlough and we kept corresponding for
10:16
quite a while for quite a while so that
10:19
means that you wrote back to her yes I
10:21
did they still keep that letters do i do
10:26
you still keep that letters no no did
10:29
she keep the letter we broke up so she
10:33
returned the letters and what happened
10:36
to their letters kill you I trube away
10:38
before my current wife’s awesome ok so
10:44
let us talk about so you took the ship
10:48
from Seattle right yes and how long did
10:51
it take and when did your right where
10:53
and tell me about those the ship was the
10:56
USS general Collins it took us 14 days
11:01
to cross to Yokohama Japan when you
11:05
when did you left for Yokohama from
11:08
Seattle it was during the summer the
11:12
late summer of nineteen fifty-three I
11:15
believe oh really yes so the war was
11:19
over or what the war was over but it was
11:22
still considered a combat zone and I was
11:25
heading for a combat zone mm-hmm fully
11:28
armed fully loaded all the time i was
11:31
there anything that particularly you
11:39
remember in japan while you stay Julius
11:42
II Japan something unusual happened to
11:44
me now the ship docked initially at
11:47
Yokohama and I was hoping that maybe I
11:52
get a sign some place in Yokohama
11:53
instead of Korea it didn’t happen that
11:55
way but they did was the disembarked a
11:58
number of Air Force servicemen and the
12:03
army stayed on board the ship moved out
12:07
the following evening from Yokohama to
12:10
Sasebo Japan right outside very close to
12:14
Nagasaki and I was hoping now again that
12:20
I get a chance to stay in Japan rather
12:25
than go to Korea what happened was my
12:28
name got called you a name mine I was
12:31
asked to get off the boat I was told to
12:33
get off the boat and I was put on a
12:37
train the train took me to eat edema
12:40
which is where the Japanese naval
12:43
academy was a nanita Jima I was trying
12:47
to be a radio operator and my military
12:50
occupational specialty my MOS was
12:53
changed from infantryman to radio
12:57
operator I went to 14 weeks of school
13:00
there in japan in japan Eddie Dojima
13:03
completed the course successfully and
13:06
thereafter it was immediately shipped
13:09
back to Sasebo put on a ferry in landed
13:11
in Pusan do you remember when you arrive
13:14
in Busan December 1953
13:22
what kind of skills do they taught you
13:25
did they teach you as a radio operator
13:29
yeah or well they taught me they
13:31
introduced me to all sorts of radios
13:34
portable radios which you strapped to
13:36
your back hand held radios and also
13:39
radios in a truck was it difficult to
13:44
learn oh well it was very rapid learning
13:46
if you did not learn you were you were
13:50
kicked out of the school you were
13:51
immediately shipped to Korea as an
13:53
infantryman it was a good student I
13:55
became a very good student all right so
14:00
what was the first impression when you
14:02
arrived in Korea whoa howdy oh my
14:05
goodness when they took us off the ship
14:08
in Japan in Pusan and put us in a squad
14:14
tent for the evening I was very very
14:18
shocked by what I saw in Korea having
14:22
left Japan we’ll all the niceties and
14:25
comforts suddenly being thrust into a
14:28
combat zone where there were no niceties
14:31
no comforts was like a light switch on
14:36
the wall going from light to dark
14:37
instantly instantly the surrounding land
14:42
was all mired by constant fighting it
14:47
was obvious it was fighting all around
14:49
that general area and you could see that
14:52
the devastation was surrounding Pusan
14:56
Busan yes the perimeter of Busan was
14:59
very badly pockmarked with shell holes
15:03
and wormholes and it was not a happy
15:06
place to be people looked like they were
15:09
hungry that korean people i’m speaking
15:11
about they looked like they needed
15:13
shelter they needed clothing obviously
15:17
the basic elements of life we’re not
15:22
visible I don’t know how the people
15:24
survived three years of fighting and
15:28
then recovered so quickly today’s Korea
15:33
me just I am amazed like what I’ve heard
15:37
about Korea so from Busan where did you
15:39
go from Pusan I was trucked directly to
15:42
young down pole and it was a holding
15:47
area what was known as a rep el depa
15:49
replacement Depot and I was placed in
15:52
the repo depot for a day when the
15:55
assignments were made for the number of
15:58
troops that were in in the area I was
16:02
told and I was going to go to the 2nd
16:06
Infantry Division and once again I was
16:10
picked up by a vehicle and trucks out to
16:14
chauhan and i stayed in sha1 for the
16:18
rest of my time until when november 1954
16:31
so please tell me about the typical day
16:34
of your service at char one how was the
16:36
situation what was going on what was
16:39
going on right after the armistice and
16:41
so on being shipped from young dong
16:45
potahto one was an experience because I
16:48
saw even further devastation this was
16:50
where more active fighting had gone on
16:52
more recently rather than back at Busan
16:54
and the people that I saw looked even
17:00
worse than what I had seen in the busan
17:04
area unfortunately they were catching
17:06
the brunt of the most recent fighting
17:09
but I was put in the Jeep and taken up
17:12
to Joe one and there was a short drive
17:15
Korea is not that wide at that point the
17:17
peninsula so took maybe an hour or two
17:21
to get from seoul to Chihuahua and i got
17:26
there late in the evening but my hosts
17:30
were waiting for us for me and my buddy
17:33
pepe china who I may talk to you about a
17:35
little bit later perhaps and the company
17:39
commander was there he greeted us and
17:42
the First Sergeant John Graham was there
17:45
the first sergeant was a bear of a man
17:47
not a very happy man in the you didn’t
17:51
you didn’t enjoy being around him
17:52
because he was tough as nails a very
17:55
hardened combat veteran tough tough man
18:00
they did not have room at the end so to
18:03
speak for Pepe and I Paul and I and the
18:08
first sergeant said well I’ve got your
18:10
your lodging is ready you climb that
18:13
hill up there and there’s a machine gun
18:15
waiting for you you get up there and you
18:17
wait until I tell you to come down then
18:20
we did we spent the first evening there
18:22
we spent the second evening there and
18:24
finally the third LNG shelter no shelter
18:26
just a hole on the ground with a 50
18:28
pound a hole in the ground facing north
18:30
with a machine gun and there was so
18:33
january or what january 54 we were full
18:39
alert still so must be deadly cold there
18:42
was
18:43
cold January is very close I I couldn’t
18:48
sleep I could not sleep Pepe slept I
18:50
don’t know how but I couldn’t have a
18:53
sleeping bag no I had the clothes on our
18:56
back you kidding me no you slept in
19:00
January of 19 for three nights reach 50
19:04
for three nights I did not sleep I did
19:06
not sleep during the day we were
19:08
relieved we came down had our Chow and
19:11
then we were sent back up again must be
19:13
so cold it was cold it was very very
19:17
cold I was not comfortable that’s
19:22
putting it mildly why didn’t they
19:25
provide you sleeping bags they I have no
19:28
idea I have no idea we were when we
19:32
arrived at company headquarters we were
19:35
given our instructions go up the hill
19:37
and we were also issued a rifle and a
19:41
full load of ammunition and that’s all
19:44
we were given a canteen with water we
19:47
had some water up week meant and finally
19:51
after the third day there was room at
19:53
the end so to speak and we were assigned
19:55
to the radio squad which was a 8 man
19:58
tent heated by an oil can toil burning
20:01
stove two of them one on each end and I
20:05
had a cot and I was issued a sleeping
20:07
bag during the time there was a light
20:12
sleeping bag by my dad during that time
20:14
I slept very frequently with my clothes
20:18
on inside the sleeping bag we were told
20:21
never to zip up our sleeping bags
20:23
because in the event of an emergency we
20:25
had to get out fast so I would sleep
20:28
with my gloves on and my boots on inside
20:33
the sleeping bag am a cap on my head my
20:36
rifles always had to side with my dog
20:39
well how was what was the situation
20:42
there are you were confronting North
20:45
Korean and Chinese army days no no I was
20:47
with headquarters company at that time
20:49
okay and headquarters company was where
20:52
there was a concentration of radio
20:54
operators a concentration of trot
20:56
cooks and what have you so I was
21:00
assigned to be a radio operator in a
21:03
three quarter ton truck and we would
21:06
have she rotating shifts now so that I
21:08
would probably go out and work eight
21:10
hours in the truck which had a heater a
21:13
tip I might add was it comfortable in
21:15
that respect and uh then somebody would
21:18
come and relieve me and we just keep
21:20
going day after day into that truck
21:23
eight hour shifts now there were a
21:25
number of us radio whoppers there was
21:27
perhaps nine or eight of nine radio
21:31
operators so 220 ships would go into
21:34
that radio truck that was my duty for a
21:41
period of months and it was quite boring
21:46
to say the least there was no action
21:48
going on at that time other than
21:50
gorillas oh they worry about that now
21:52
the girl is just to sneak into our tent
21:55
area often and we would have centuries
22:00
walking around the area armed to the
22:04
teeth I had pulled duty one evening as a
22:07
matter of fact as a century walking
22:09
around a company perimeter one incident
22:13
that I recall which was rather comical
22:16
at the time but it serves to anger me a
22:18
little too happened when as I was
22:21
walking the there was a drunken army
22:26
major walking by me and in the darkness
22:30
of the morning he stopped and asked me
22:34
if I saluted him I thought that was
22:38
ridiculous but I here I said yes I did
22:41
ok and ok he smiled and he went on his
22:45
way that was a classical moment of
22:48
sentry duty that I n do it other times
22:51
when that girl is used to come in they
22:54
would sneak preferably into a offices
22:57
area because the officers had better
23:00
living conditions and the enlisted men
23:02
did they had better everything yeah so
23:05
the girl is would sneak in there and
23:07
look for weapons and money while the
23:10
office
23:10
were asleep not off now Law Offices
23:15
slept well so more than once I had them
23:19
had an occasion where gunfire would go
23:22
off in the company area as an officer or
23:25
a century would chase a gorilla away and
23:29
thief away so it was not unusual see the
23:33
girls coming in to arm themselves and
23:35
the thieves coming to get the money of
23:37
food or whatever clothing they could
23:39
steal so there are two types of
23:41
unauthorized people entering at camp
23:44
area at that time was there a moment
23:47
there was really you’re facing a real
23:51
danger yes that was inside the DMZ later
23:54
later what does it tell me about that ok
23:59
during the summer of 54 the army decided
24:02
that the second division should come
24:03
home teen United States I still had time
24:06
to serve in Korea I had only spent about
24:08
six months at that time so the I’m he
24:12
said you’re not going home with the
24:14
division you’re going to stay here and
24:16
serve out your time and you’re going to
24:18
the 3rd Infantry Division the 15th
24:21
regiment I & I platoon I an hour meaning
24:24
intelligence and reconnaissance I did
24:27
arrive at the sienten and I was greeted
24:33
by a commanding officer or lieutenant
24:36
and the first sergeant they are also
24:39
they welcomed me in and they said to me
24:42
that they would like me to be a DMZ
24:47
observer I had no idea what they were
24:49
talking about so I said fine I mean I
24:54
was what was considered a short-timer by
24:56
then in other words I was going to go
24:57
home very soon so nothing could happen
25:00
to me after all this oh my god being
25:04
young you feel indestructible for once
25:06
in a while but I was told to go up on
25:14
what was known as white horse with a
25:17
rock army fought like heck and won many
25:21
a battle i might add against the Chinese
25:22
economy
25:23
I was also sent up to Arrowhead and
25:27
lastly I was sent up to alligator jaws
25:32
those are the three hills that I went up
25:35
as a DMZ observer one of those times
25:40
that I went up as a DMZ observer in the
25:43
evening there was a tremendous blast in
25:48
the area now mind you I was a single
25:51
observer one man to it out post eight
25:54
hours looking directly at the North
25:59
Koreans who are looking at me that’s
26:01
very mission it is it is and my job was
26:04
to gather information so i as i said i
26:09
was had this tremendous blast go off it
26:12
felt that under my feet what the North
26:15
Koreans were doing they were tunneling
26:17
these are the tunnels that you hear
26:19
about they had already begun their
26:22
tunneling in the summer at the time yes
26:24
yes oh yes I believe they were tunneling
26:28
and they were crossing the DMZ below
26:33
ground at that time so that was a scary
26:36
moment a comical moment happened also
26:39
you might want to hear about that i was
26:44
told that i would have to train a rock
26:46
soldier now this rock soldier was rather
26:50
than young younger than me and i was
26:52
only 22 at the time he was very young
26:55
guy say he was maybe 19 or 18 and he was
27:00
a reluctant soldier he did not want to
27:02
go face these people facing us and when
27:05
I say facing us doctor I me as close as
27:08
you and I ok well there is as a barbed
27:11
wire strung between us roll a bad boy he
27:16
was very reluctant but fortunately for
27:18
him we went up in the dark that evening
27:20
to the bunker we stayed in the bunker
27:23
overnight the Sun came up the following
27:25
morning and i said to the soldier
27:29
through motion because we couldn’t speak
27:30
each other’s language I said come on out
27:32
come on out and he understood he came
27:34
out of the bunker
27:36
this is when the China the North Koreans
27:40
spotted him and as they spotted him they
27:44
did not like what they saw they came
27:47
tumbling out of their bunker running
27:49
towards the mid the deadline we call it
27:52
the middle strand of barbed wire rolled
27:54
why konstantina why started between us
27:57
evidently calling him names in Korean
28:00
they were saying things to him at crane
28:02
he ran he ran right back up the hill to
28:05
the into the bunker he was so frightened
28:08
this was his first day in the DMZ so I
28:11
can understand that but also being
28:13
confronted by people who had aggressive
28:18
thoughts scared the heck out of him so
28:22
that I thought it was funny but he
28:25
didn’t think it was funny what it wasn’t
28:28
threatening you they were threatening me
28:30
they did not like him because you are a
28:33
I guess because he was an Asian or South
28:35
Korean ah he was the enemy how close
28:40
between you and the enemy at the time
28:42
very close they would watch right down
28:44
to the wire like a hundred yard yeah oh
28:47
yeah that every were able to watch North
28:52
Koreans move oh yes I could see very
28:54
clearly walking back and forth do they
28:56
do they were inspecting the wire the
28:58
barbed wire they were walking in joking
29:02
sometimes in broad daylight the very
29:05
bold people the North Korean soldiers
29:07
are very bold they don’t know fear too
29:10
much now you feel like a day dreaming
29:13
about it right well I had many your
29:15
nightmare when I came home oh you suffer
29:18
from PTSD no not anymore I don’t think
29:20
but I haven’t had that one of those
29:22
dreams in years thank God initially I
29:25
did when I came home I would have
29:28
nightmares my mother would wake me up
29:30
and she you know shake me and wake me up
29:34
and it took about a year or more for me
29:37
to get rid of those nightmares but they
29:40
dissolved gradually dissolved
29:46
how much were paid $72 a month it varies
29:52
a lot because some of them say 100 732
29:56
and you are saying 75 I was a private
29:59
okay private what did you do with the
30:02
money a portion of it was always removed
30:08
from my pay in a manner of war bonds so
30:12
twenty-five dollars a month was taken
30:14
out every month while I was in the
30:16
service I had agreed to that the balance
30:20
of it I kept as military script they
30:22
call it in my wallet whenever somebody
30:27
was given a 10-day pass they came to me
30:30
for a loan because I had all kinds of
30:32
money I couldn’t spend it I never left
30:34
the line I never went to Seoul I only
30:38
had one Scotia I retire and that was
30:41
three days well it in the type in the
30:45
troll want this is far back as I got oh
30:48
so I was on lying all the time all the
30:51
time I mean they’re supposed to be a
30:53
sort of a break right there was breaks
30:56
they call it the scosche used know if
30:58
you said I think it’s the time if you
31:00
had spent six months there they gave you
31:03
three days back as the Scotia R
31:06
rotation you know if you spent a year
31:10
there I think it was now you got the big
31:12
rotation you would sent to Japan for 10
31:15
days so i only spent 10 months in Korea
31:19
so I didn’t qualify obviously they’re
31:24
looking at all those years what do you
31:26
think is the contribution that made by
31:29
the criminal veterans about what Korea
31:32
is now what is the legacy of Korean War
31:35
and Korean War veterans a legacy is a I
31:40
think the farthest gratitude by South
31:42
Korean people in their government I am
31:45
amazed by how welcomed we are how
31:49
grateful that Korean people have been to
31:52
not only United States but to urine
31:54
forces that fought there we have done a
31:58
much
32:00
to help the Korean people but they’ve
32:02
helped themselves quite a bit too I
32:04
might add my legacy is my wish would be
32:09
that the Korean nation continue to
32:13
prosper as it has so far have you been
32:15
back to Korea no I haven’t I have not
32:19
been to Korea I’m not a good traveler
32:20
unfortunately there was one other
32:26
incident that I wanted to share with you
32:28
and that was about the foreign troops
32:31
the other UN troops if you’d like to
32:33
hear that yeah yeah okay the American
32:36
General at the time with this is why
32:38
those of the 2nd Infantry Division the
32:41
American general heads observed that the
32:45
Turkish and Greek troops would not fight
32:50
the way he wanted them to fight the
32:52
North Koreans in the Chinese what they
32:56
were doing what the Greeks and Turks
32:59
were doing is rather than shoot their
33:01
rifles at the aggressors they would use
33:05
the rifle as a spear they were always
33:08
bayonet him they wanted a bayonet rather
33:11
than shoot the enemy what was it that so
33:14
close to each other the enemy is in
33:16
recent works TRD the tracks were always
33:21
invite supposedly invited the the
33:24
communists to come up the hill get close
33:27
enough to me so I can bayonet you they
33:30
were to hold their fire deliberately
33:32
hold their fire this is true for the
33:34
Greeks to the American general was very
33:38
unhappy so he sent orders down to
33:40
through channels to get some volunteers
33:43
American volunteers to go to the Greeks
33:46
and to the Turks and show them how to
33:48
shoot the rifle instead of using it as a
33:50
spear you mean they didn’t know how to
33:53
show they certainly did they did but
33:56
they it’s a cultural thing remember they
33:59
have now they have always used coal
34:02
steel as a weapon in the Middle East
34:05
swords knives so they prefer that these
34:11
these are professional killers these
34:13
cigarettes
34:13
Turks and Greeks their professions
34:15
they’re not drafted necessarily these
34:17
guys volunteered so anyway ten of us
34:21
were asked to volunteer I happen to be
34:24
our median the Armenians don’t coexist
34:27
well with the Turks as you mentioned the
34:30
business there’s a there’s a cultural
34:32
difference right I wanted to go to see
34:35
how the Turks behaved especially if they
34:38
were an Armenian amidst I was obviously
34:41
you didn’t tell them that you’re from
34:42
Armenia right Lake they came through the
34:45
ranks the sergeant and the captain came
34:49
through our annex asking for ten
34:50
volunteers five two of us would be
34:53
shipped to the greek compound and five
34:56
would be shipped to the Turkish compound
34:59
to show these troops how to shoot the m1
35:03
rifle American rifle I step forward I
35:08
wanted to go and see how the tricks
35:12
behaved and I as they came down taking
35:16
names they got to me and the captain
35:19
said ok sergeant send this man to the
35:22
Turkish compound and the side just says
35:26
sir you can’t do that he said why not
35:28
sergeant he said because he’s Armenian
35:31
oh whoa well send him to the Greeks so I
35:35
got shipped off to the Greeks a
35:37
lieutenant and I took a ride soon
35:41
thereafter to the greek compound which
35:44
happened to be in a dried-out a mucky
35:49
rice paddy and we were told that we
35:55
would be greeted by a Greek officer he
36:00
did show up and we got out of a jeep and
36:04
the Greek officer said I will assemble
36:06
our troops now and we’d like to
36:08
demonstration to take place in our
36:10
packing area or assembly area so
36:13
lieutenant I stood there while they
36:15
formed all around us in a big circle
36:18
lieutenant said ok soldier and I would
36:20
like you to show them the various for
36:23
firing positions of the m1 rifle and
36:26
I assumed the position of standing
36:30
firing position they stopped said there
36:32
are there any questions nobody had any
36:35
questions now take the seating position
36:38
I get down in the mud and sat down and
36:41
went through the firing motions are
36:44
there any questions there were no
36:46
questions now he said I want you to get
36:49
into the kneeling position I got down
36:51
into the mud and once again any
36:54
questions there were no questions we
36:56
looked around and everybody seemed
36:58
lollygagging they looked like they board
37:00
the Greek soldiers were bored so he said
37:03
I sold your last position it is the
37:06
prone position get down on your belly in
37:08
the mud and let’s go through his motion
37:10
in the meantime the lieutenant the Greek
37:14
lieutenant was embarrassed by the
37:16
behavior of his troops but he didn’t say
37:18
anything so I get down into the prone
37:22
position I went through the motions of
37:24
how to fire the m1 from the prone
37:26
position and lieutenant said are there
37:29
any questions once again there were no
37:32
questions so he said all right so did
37:35
you get up so I got out of the mud
37:37
covered now with mud cold and miserable
37:40
uncomfortable what happened was the
37:43
Greek officer said to his troops in
37:46
Greek I guess because this led to
37:49
something he said I would like you to
37:53
show us how the American soldier uses
37:56
his bayonet so the lieutenant said
38:01
alright soldier fix pay in it so i got
38:04
my bayonet and put it on my rifle he
38:06
said alright so did you go through the
38:08
positions of how to use up the bayonet
38:11
so i did a butt stroke and a slash in
38:14
the lunge positions and i got all kinds
38:17
of applause now suddenly the Greek
38:19
soldiers were all smiling and they got a
38:23
kick out of what was going on this was
38:25
more to their liking this was more to
38:28
their behavior so that that was an
38:31
episode when we completed them
38:33
demonstration shortly thereafter I was
38:36
one of the boys now all the Greek
38:39
soldiers were gathered around
38:40
and you know they’re saying things to me
38:42
broken English or what have you but it
38:44
went over well the Greek officer was
38:47
pleased finally write the behavior of
38:49
his troops and he said let us now have a
38:53
bite to eat so they fed the lieutenant
38:55
and I and we left soon thereafter never
38:59
again where we invited any of I have
39:02
some volunteers in any of the ten of us
39:03
were never invited back again except for
39:07
our to the lieutenant I well got a
39:09
standing invitation anytime you guys
39:11
want to come back go on back that was
39:14
quite a quite an experience on how far
39:18
our troops behave with one another and
39:20
how foreign troops mean UN troops in
39:23
this case would behave in battle
39:27
remember these are hardened veterans
39:29
that’s very interesting story I I ever
39:32
heard wouldíve how people treat you
39:41
when you return to the United States do
39:45
you remember the Korean people are the
39:46
American American people when you return
39:48
when I came back from you know I’m Korea
39:51
to the United States when I came back to
39:54
Boston I was a nonentity I did not exist
40:03
as far as the american public was
40:05
concerned korea was not a popular war
40:07
I’ve said this before about the Korea it
40:10
was right on the heels of World War two
40:12
the American public did not want any
40:14
more Wars after World War Two and
40:16
suddenly there was Korea happening so I
40:19
was not well received I didn’t get an
40:22
attaboy from anybody no veterans
40:24
approached me the public niven
40:25
approached me only my parents and my
40:28
immediate family so I’d your father
40:31
reacting to your return well he did
40:36
something very unusual for him my father
40:38
was a teetotaler he did not drink
40:39
alcohol when I came home he was seated
40:44
in the living room and I was told that
40:47
he was waiting for me my my my my mother
40:50
and I went to see him and he
40:54
reach down beside his chair and he had a
40:55
six-pack wait and then he handed it to
40:58
me I was amazed I was shocked that he
41:01
was doing this he didn’t have any beer
41:04
but he gave me a six-pack because now he
41:08
had a son who was coming home and this
41:10
is it was his way of inviting me back
41:12
and giving me some kind of reward for my
41:15
service quite an experience for me so
41:17
you said you did work to get the degree
41:21
in 1975 could you tell me I was a
41:26
full-time employee for Honeywell
41:28
computer company at the time I was
41:31
working in their purchasing department
41:33
as a buyer I wanted to move up in the
41:38
ranks and the only way to move up in the
41:41
ranks was to earn a degree and honey
41:45
well as a company would pay your full
41:46
tuition and you’re cutting the cost of
41:50
your books as long as you got passing
41:53
grade a B or better it took me 10 years
41:58
nights to earn my degree from zero
42:02
semester hours I went three times what
42:06
university north eastham they have a
42:09
co-op program there but they also have a
42:13
very sound evening program and it was
42:19
quite a while it took as I say it took
42:20
me 10 years night so sometimes going to
42:23
three different campuses in three
42:24
different cities because that’s where
42:25
the courses were so I did a lot of
42:28
traveling to get that degree and finally
42:32
got it and that was a big a moment for
42:34
my father and mother than anything else
42:37
I was not the first to get a degree in
42:41
the family by bringing my younger
42:42
brother got his degree three years prior
42:44
to me but it was a big deal for our
42:47
family because finally the oldest son
42:49
was making his mark this year is 60th
42:55
anniversary of Korean us alliance and
42:58
also armistice 60 years even after we
43:03
signed a ceasefire
43:07
what do you think about this 60 year
43:10
long armistice I wish things would
43:13
settle down there once and for all but I
43:15
don’t see that happening unfortunately
43:16
doctor we have some people who are
43:19
rather and I’m being kind unsettled
43:22
running north korea I don’t know what
43:25
the motivation is but their behavior
43:29
certainly requires close observation any
43:35
comments that you want to leave for
43:38
younger generations about your service
43:40
and about Korean War and Korean War
43:43
legacy about my service I’d like to say
43:47
that today’s American youth should
43:51
recognize that they have all kinds of
43:55
freedom which were not free those
43:59
freedoms had to be earned by somebody
44:01
veterans and that’s something I’d like
44:04
them to recognize and if necessary be
44:08
prepared to defend themselves personally
44:10
if and when the moment arises this is
44:14
true also for the Koreans the South
44:17
Koreans the youth I understand sometimes
44:20
the college kids in Korea behave
44:24
erratically and if that is true then I’d
44:28
like to see them recognize what their
44:30
ancestors went through prior to their
44:32
births but guess Thomas Ian Rochester
44:37
barson yep and this is your middle
44:50
Thanks thank you doctor