Korean War Legacy Project

Vernon Walden


Vernon Walden was born in South Carolina and enlisted in 1946 as a sixteen-year-old high school student with his mom’s help.  He was trained as in infantryman, Airborne Paratrooper, and Special Forces. He played football in the military for two years before the war broke out. He was one of the first troops in Korea, arriving on July 5, 1950. He recalls the harsh living conditions, including the extremely cold winters. He remembers how he fought the North Koreans by pushing them all the way back until they were only seven miles from China.  After getting hurt and spending one month in the hospital, Vernon Walden went back to the US, got married, and then reenlisted within two months.  After three trips to Vietnam, Walden completed his 25 years of military service in the US Army.

Video Clips

Life as one of the first soldiers in the Korean War

Vernon Waldon was exposed to the elements of weather, lack of food, and limited supply of ammunition. He explains what it was like to be one of the first soldiers in Korea, including hills, muddy roads, and rough terrain were all around the soldiers. He remembers a night of shooting a plane from North Korea.

Tags: Imjingang (River),Food,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,Physical destruction

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Fighting Through the Winter of 1950

Vernon Walden was only seven miles from China's border when General MacArthur wanted to invade, but he was told to pull his troops back. Vernon Waldon explains that when his regiment began to retreat in 40 below zero weather, gas began to run out along with food and ammunition. He describes how snow blindness was a condition that troops had to deal with while traveling on foot with snow up their knees.

Tags: 1951 January 4 Withdrawal, 12/31-1/7,Chinese,Cold winters,Food,Front lines,Living conditions,Physical destruction

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Football in the Military

Vernon Walden remembers playing football in the military for two years, having to stop the year broke out. He explains that while he was small, he knew a lot about the game and that was definitely an advantage. When he had to make the choice between becoming a paratrooper and playing football, he chose airborne school because he didn’t think he would make the team that year.

Tags: Living conditions,Pride

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