Korean War Legacy Project

Vern Rubey


Vern Rubey was born in New Ulm, Minnesota, on December 23, 1928. He worked for a local utility company after high school before enlisting in the Minnesota Army National Guard in April of 1947. His unit was sent to Fort Drucker, Alabama, following the breakout of the Korean War where he spent four months as a drill sergeant training new soldiers. He was selected to deploy to Korea and arrived at Inchon in August, 1951. He served as the First Sergeant for the Service Battery, 30th Field Artillery, 2nd Infantry Division (105mm) traveling throughout the country in support of the Infantry. He details his role while in Korea and shares memories of the scenery he saw along the way. He comments on the harsh weather conditions he endured and recalls the delay in his rotation home due to inclement weather. He describes his revisit to Korea years later, commenting on the progress made since he was last there, and speaks highly of the Korean people and their friendliness towards United States veterans.

Video Clips

Supporting Infantry behind the Front Lines

Vern Rubey comments on his branch change from infantry to artillery which he was pleased with and recalls landing at Incheon. He describes the role of the service battery that he was assigned to as a First Sergeant in the Army. He shares memories of the scenery he saw while traveling throughout Korea supporting differing artillery units.

Tags: Incheon,Civilians,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,Poverty,Pride

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Revisiting Korea

Vern Rubey comments on his return to Korea and speaks highly of the Korean people, praising their friendliness and support. He details his trip in particular and recalls the progress Korea had made since his departure back in the 1950's. He offers his opinion on Korean-US relations.

Tags: Civilians,Impressions of Korea,Modern Korea,Pride,South Koreans,Women

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Harsh Weather

Vern Rubey recalls the harsh weather he experienced during his time in Korea and likens the cold conditions to Minnesota weather. He shares how a monsoon delayed his rotation back home. He recalls his journey home aboard ship.

Tags: Incheon,Cold winters,Home front,Living conditions,Monsoon

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Video Transcript

Vern Rubey Transcription http://www.kwvdm.org/detail_oral.php?no=413

Vern Rubey. Was born in New Ulm Minnesota.

What was your birthday ?

The day is 23rd December 1928

And what did your parents do?

My dad worked at Eagle Roller Mill in New Ulm, Minnesota. Yeah. He’s a, he’s an

immigrant. He came over from Germany when he was 10 years old.

How many siblings do you have?

I had, uh, two sisters and one brother. Both my sister and my brother passed away

already. I had one sister in Meeting very near here from New Ulm. from New Ulm, Minnesota.

What was growing up in New Ulm like in the 1930’s?

Well, it was a depression. I remember that, the Great Depression. I went to school at the

Cathedral of New Ulm Minnesota. Grade school and high school and

right after high school I

enlisted in the Minnesota Army National Guard. And I was discharged from the Minnesota Army

National Guard 23rd December 1988: 42 years, I have the service.

I have a military family. I think they have about 180 days continuous military service

between all my relatives brothers, sons, Brothers,sisters brother, son in law. So I think I’m proud

of the fact that we have a military family, yeah.

Where did your siblings serve?

My brother in law served in World War II for 36 months he was overseas. And my, 2 of


sons were in the National Guard for 25 and 28 years. I had a daughter, granddaughter,

and I had 2 granddaughters that were in the Guard for a number of years: 7 years and 12 years,

and uh, let’s see, who’s left? My grandson is still in the service. He had three deployments in

recent years, One in Italy. one in Iraq, one in Kuwait and now he’s in the Guard after 17 years,

he’s going on his 18th year in all.

Of course, I was in all my life in the Guard. I worked full time for the National Guard at

New Ulm after I got back from Korea so I have 42 years of service myself.

Wow. Why did you choose to enlist?

I enlisted in the New Ulm ArmoryNational

Guard Armory of New Ulm, Minnesota 17th

April 1947, that I don’t forget! So I stayed in Ulm, I worked there in the armory at New Ulm all

my life until I met, met a 60th birthday, and that’s then

you get out, yeah. The Korean war came

along, Minnesota National Guard deployed. Of course I was in the guard. So,we got deployed to

Fort Rucker Alabama for additional training and from there we picked as individuals to go to


So after 4 months at Fort Rucker I got called to go to Korea while

I was home on

furlough I got called up. “Come back as soon as possible, you’re going to Korea.” So that’s how

I got to go to Korea I didn’t.

I’m a volunteer. I didn’t volunteer for Korea but I did volunteer for the

National Guard so that was my mission that was there while I was there. yep.

What were you doing right before you enlisted in the National Guard?

Well, that was right after high school, actually, but I did work for the public utilities in New

Ulm, Minnesota as a lineman for a couple of years before I left.

So when your National Guard unit was called up, what kind of went through your mind at the


Well, I had a girlfriend for 4 years, about 5 years while she was in high school and I was

in high school. So we decided to get married before I left. We got notified about a few days

before Christmas in 1950. About a few weeks later we left for Fort Rucker, Alabama, yep. So,

after that of course I got called out to Korea in August, 1951. And we got married about 10 days

before I left, I forgot to mention that. We were married. So, she lived in Clinton Iowa, my wife at

that time with her sister.

When I got home, I went back to work for just a short time for the public utilities and got

employed by the department of military affairs for the state of Minnesota for the rest of my life.

Right in New Ulm. My active duty for National Guard time was 42 year. So I’m US army retired. I

enjoyed my work, very much. Met a lot of good people, young people.

What is it about the military work that you enjoyed?

Well, the technician, the program just got started right after the war. We did most

everything, we did all the personnel work, the finance, the supply work, everything involved with

the military. So that’s how I got to meet a lot of people, know all of em, know their background.

When you went to Korea, where did you land at?

Inchon, it’s right outside of Seoul in South Korea. Of course, then I went to the reception

station. I left by the way I was infantry branch, but I never did that work. When I went to

Rucker, they called me to up be a drill sergeant and I trained new recruits coming in that and

were drafted and had to fill our ranks so when i got called to Korea I got drafted to be a platoon

sergeant infantry. Well, I thought this might be the end of me. But the funniest thing happenedthe

best thing happened for me I mean it was. All of a sudden I got to the reception station and I

found out I was going to the artillery. So that change of branch so

that probably was a good

thing for me. I was in Service battery 135th field artillery second inseed usion for all the time. I

was their first sergeant.

Can you tell me are there any stories or experiences from that time that you remember?

Well no, not really but artillery is almost back and forth quite a bit so we go from one end

of peninsula to the other end supporting the infantry infantry and we always stop from 28


behind the front lines we could hear em but that’s about it. I enjoyed that type of work. I was a

first sergeant for service battery that’s a unit in the artillery. That was my full time job now, yeah.

So I heard a lot of noise but then again I was not on the front lines, though, but close enough,


Can you kind of paint a picture for me what did you see what did you hear?

Well I saw most of Korea, South Korea, North Korea, and like you said I heard a lot of

shooting going on, so was close enough for that, but I wasn’t directly involved with the infantry,

we just supported the infantry.

Can you kind of describe for me, like, what does artillery support do and what does that look


Well, we were 105 military outfit, 105. And uh, we’d support maybe one division one day

and maybe a month or weeks or a month later we’d move over the other end of the island,

support another battalion. So I don’t remember all the battalions that we stopped for but, we saw

most of Korea but of course it was pretty well destroyed most of the area’s we were in. Felt sorry

for the civilians living there.

I did go back to Korea with the USEF program with my wife in 1995 I believe it was. And

the people are very friendly, the Korean people. In fact one little girl maybe third or fourth grade

come up to me, I still remember her looking up to me, says to me, “Thank you for saving

Korea”. “Ah, That’s alright, little girl.”

Yeah, But when we were back, all the peopleI

think most of the Koreans they take

English courses in school now. A lot of them talk English so we could converse real good.

Enjoyed that, yeah, they’re very very friendly and supportive. Not just the young people, the old

people, also. It was quite an experience, I suppose I can say.

Getting to see the transition and what Korea has become, how does that feel to have been part

of that?

Oh I was very surprised. In all we came there, uh, In Inchon they picked us up by bus,

took us to Seoul Korea to stay there for a week. Tours they toured us via different tours and

This was all on South Korea government. furnished the tour guide and everything the motel,

nice motel. We got to see a lot Seoul got to see a lot of smaller towns too. But, of course, the

Korea I saw back in ‘51 is no longer there. Seoul had the high rise buildings, everything modern.

Highways are good streets now. They had no highways or streets when I was there so I was

surprised to see all that had happened in almost 60 years, you know, but I think it was a good

thing that it did happen at the time to keep Korea democratic, you know. It’s good that I


read that lately they’re gettin’ to be a very religious people, too, in certain religions.

What do you think of US Korea relations?

Very good. I think it’s as good as it can turn out. You know they used to call it a

police action years ago, not a war. All those 34,936 were killed in Korea. Well, they finally I think

only about three or four years ago, Congress decided and made it that passed a bill to call it a

korean War instead of a Korean Police action. Like I said that many many young people and

older people I supposed got killed. Well, of course war is not good for anybody but it happened,

you know, it happens all the time. Great grandson now has had 3 tours of active duty with the

National Guard also. And now he’s got 17 years on. So he hopes to retire after he’s got 20

sometime. It’s a good program for the young people. Got good medical insurance and some

other benefits that they have earned. My son, my oldest son was a major when he got out. He

worked at the post office all his life.

So what was the date that you rotated home from Korea?

Date? About 30 August 1952. Well then, uh, I just switched over then from National

Guard military duty to National Guard dutythat’s

where I worked then.

And where were you when war, when the armistice was signed?

I was home, of course. That was 19June

of 1953, so i had been home a year so I

suppose I was at home working. Yeah.

Around here what was the response like when the war ended?

Well, I don’t really know what the response was. I know, I remember one thing. I came

home, I was working over New Ulm by my dad and mom’s house and a neighbor come over

and a very nice neighbor, all of that. Well, he says, “Vern where have you been for the last

year?” He didn’t know I was gone so, I don’t know, maybe many people didn’t follow the Korean

War, I don’t know.

After being discharged from active duty what did you go on to do?

I was a technician with the Minnesota Army National Guard that was my full time job

then right in New Ulm my home town. Worked right here in the army there in New Ulm, my

home town, took care of personnel work finance logistics everything involved with the listing and

also in the National Guard then I was assigned as first sergeant at that unit. It’s the rank I had

already in Korea, but I got that back home again in New Ulm.

So how did your wartime experiences affect your life?

Well, I often think about it, of course over the years. Over a year in a foreign country.

Weather’s just like here in Minnesota. in fact you got 30 degrees below zero at one time when I

was over there but we had no buildings,of course, so the experience you have is you live in the

hills for a year, summer winter fall. It’s not the easiest part but it’s got to be done, I suppose.

One thing, though, when I left Korea, the monsoons come. Our unit was parked right

behind a small stream and it rained and rained and rained and uh we couldn’t get out we were

against the hill and we couldn’t get out though it got being like the Mississippi River. So got my

notice to go home, rotate. So they couldn’t get me out: couldn’t drive through, it’s too deep. So I

finally walked out across the hills and I got to a bridge and that’s how I left Korea

We get on the ship in Inchon again. I believe we stopped in Korea also again before we

went home. And I think we were parked there oh, 3 or 4 days. There was a big storm across

the ocean so they didn’t let us out. I don’t remember the names of the ships I know coming

home came over on the way home it took 18 days on the ocean. I know there was many other

GIs over there I think there was 5000 on that ship, all military people going home

Is there any piece of wisdom or like a message you would like to communicate to younger


Well, you know there always seems to be a war someplace: a line of wars. And it can’t

he helped you know there’s nothing we can do about it, so I would support the young people if

at all interested, get into some kind of military branch: Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard. It’s a

good program for em good

experience all the way and even if you don’t stay in the military it’s

good for your future work whatever you do. Most likely be your employers will maybe look at

your degree of military experience as a good program. So I think it’s good for the young people.