Vincent A. Bentz
Vincent A. Bentz was born on the 12th day of October 1930 in Pennsylvania. He dropped out of school at the age of 16 to go to work in the garment industry. In 1948 he enlisted in the United States Army and received his basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina with the 82nd Airborne. He shares his experiences in Korea, including his responsibilities. He remembers the living conditions including what they ate. However, he mostly remembers the battles that still haunt him today. Vincent Bentz served in Korea until May of 1951, during which he participated in numerous engagements and skirmishes, as well as in 5 major battles, earning him the Silver Star. He still wears his uniform to honor his fellow soldiers that did not return home.
Vincent Bentz explains the company that he was in and his responsibilities. He speaks about seeing the results of a mass execution near Taejon (Daejeon). He also describes the attack tactics used by the enemy
Learning to Kill
Vincent Bentz describes being in combat near the Kum (Geumgang) River and doing what he "had to do". He explains how the rows of weapons were set up and how the rows just kept coming. He shares what he was thinking during that time, including how it is hard to shoot someone during that time and how it still bothers him.
Scavenging for Fresh Food
Vincent Bentz describes how soldiers got food to eat other than the issued C-Rations. He remembers catching chickens and cooking them. He explains how he lost weight because they were not eating regularly.
KIll or Be Killed
Vincent Bentz talks about the resistance they experienced. He remembers being attacked by young children and having to defend himself. He also shares how he honors his buddies who never returned
[Beginning of Recorded Material]
V: My name is Vincent A. Bentz.
I: Could you spell it?
V: My last name?
V: B E N T Z.
I: What is your birthday?
I: And where were you born?
V: In Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
I: Oh. And tell me about your family when you were growing up.
V: Well, huh, I went, uh, went to school in West Lebanon and, uh,
then I went to, uh, a, a, a school called, called Harding Junior High.
I: Could you spell it?
V: H A R D I N G.
I: Harding Junior.
V: Harding Junior High.
I: Um hm. When did you graduate?
V: And then, I did not graduate. I went to senior high school then for 10thgrade, but then I had, I had got out of the school.
I: When was it?
V: I’d say 1946.
I: And what did you do?
V: Well, then I went, uh, into, uh, into, uh, full fashion knitting, learn, learning, a, the
V: A knitting machine to make, uh, uh, nylon stockings and stuff.
I: Um hm.
V: And I was a mechanic, set up, set up the machinery to, to do hosiery work.
V: In Lebanon.
I: And let me ask you this question. Did you know anything about Korea at the time?
V: At that time, I did not.
I: You didn’t know where it was?
V: No. No.
I: You didn’t learn anything from school about Korea?
I: Nobody told you?
V: No. I don’t.
I: Now you are Korean War veteran.
I: What do you think about that?
V: Yeah. Well, uh, it’s something, that I, When I saw how, how them, them
people struggle, pitiful, very pitiful. Yeah, uh, I, like I said, it was really touching, uh.
I: So after, when did you join the military then?
I: Were you drafted?
V: No. I went to be enlisted. Two friends of mine.
I: Um hm.
I: It was Army, right?
V: Yeah. I went in the 82ndAirborne first, in the paratroopers.
I: Um hm.
V: That’s where I took all my training which, I think, was a benefit down the road. Uh, well, physically. Physically.
I: Um hm.
V: Uh, uh. My two buddies that, uh,
I: What happened?
V: My best buddy, he’s dead, and my other buddy, he’s dead, too. Uh, he was a POW for three years.
I: Korean War?
I: What’s his name?
V: Howard Brandt, and he was in the same outfit as me.
V: He was in the 24th, he was in the 19th, I was in the 34th, but
we were, we used to relieve each other, you know.
I: How did it happen? Do you know?
I: How, how was he captured?
V: Well, uh, he, he got, uh, he was shot. He got shot. It was in a skirmish.
I: Where was it?
V: Well, I would say it was up around, uh, I’m trying to place it. I think it was up close to Seoul. I just can’t remember the name of the town no more.
I: When was it?
V: That was in 1950.
I: ’50? What month?
I: Yeah. What month?
V: Uh, I’m trying to think of, it could have been maybe, uh, September?
I: Um hm.
V: It could have been, yeah. Uh, I can’t quite remember the dates right. It’s too long, too long ago.
I: So he was shot. And then?
V: Yeah. He was shot and then captured there. Like a, yeah. And then, uh,
I: Did you see that?
V: No. I, I didn’t see that. But I knew about it through our buddies, you know talking to each other, you know. We knew which squad, you know, was where.
I: Um hm.
V: You know. And, uh, and the other guy, uh, my other buddy, I didn’t meet him until, till we got rotated back to the States and we met in the clearing station, uh.
He was in the 25thDivision. He was in the Bofon, 27thRegiment. But, uh, uh, we met at the clearing station, uh. There the, uh, uh, uh, when they took us there, uh, they took us, we had to take all our, because we were all full of fleas and, uh, scabies and everything else.
V: Because you couldn’t take a bath right, you know, only if you get to a stream or something.
V: You know. But anyway,
uh, uh, we went through, like they had tents set up, two tents, and we’d go through, uh, through the tent and got, uh, some kind of bath they took that killed all the stuff on us, and then went into another tent where it was clean and clear water, and then cleaned up there. And then at the other end of that, they had clean clothes for us. And then from there,
they rotated us to different groups and, and then from there we went back and got on the, on the ships and, uh,
I: But before you get into that details, you told me that you didn’t know anything about Korea.
I: Now you are the Korean War veteran.
I: Have you been back to Korea?
I: No. Do you know what’s going on in Korea?
V: Yeah. I could not believe when I see the pictures of Korea now.
I: Tell me about it.
V: How great.
I: What did you see?
V: Well, when I was
I: What do you know?
V: When I was there, it was more like flat. Everything was all blown up, you know. There were, very seldom you’d see a building. It just wasn’t because of, well that’s, well we lived in, uh, but, you know, we’d pull up and you’d have shower had, we had, uh, they were raincoats but they were made like a shower hat, but you’d buddy up with a buddy, and that’s how much you slept under.
You know, when you get a chance. Like when you go back, you get a chance to sleep, you know. So long, you’re one buddy watches guard for you. That, that’s how we did it.
I: And now?
V: And, uh, now, but I saw pictures of guys going over. I couldn’t believe it’s the same place. Yeah. Great.
I: What did you see?
V: Beautiful buildings. Everything is so nice and, and they, they treat the, the soldiers nice. They really do. Yep.
I: So the Korea you saw in 1950 completely flat.
V: Oh my, yeah, yeah.
I: Do you know Seoul, metropolitan city, is bigger than New York city.
V: Is that right?
I: And Korea is now 11thlargest economy in the world. In the world. Can you believe that?
V: Uh, I know they’re doing good, real good.
I: Vincent, you saw Korea 1950.
I: And that Korea is now 11thlargest economy in the world.
I: That is your legacy.
I: That is your
I: Honorable service.
I: And we don’t teach about it in the United States.
I: Korean War in the History textbook, only one paragraph.
V: Well that’ll, that should come up later on, don’t you think? It should.
I: That’s why we are doing this.
V: Yeah. Yeah, see, even when we, another thing, you know, when we, when we come back to the States, you know, it isn’t like it is now. Like you were nobody when we come back. And that’s a fact.
V: They didn’t acknowledge you like, they kind of looked down on you, you know.
V: I have no idea. No idea why.
I: How was
V: Now it’s altogether different.
I: How were you treated when you returned from Korea?
V: Well, like you were just a, I don’t how to explain that really. That, they didn’t, uh, like there, like it, it was nothing, like you did nothing, you know. It, it wasn’t a good feeling.
I: Um hm.
V: You know. Eh, and then I got stationed back at Inyuton Gap. There I got, uh. I was an
NCO there and, uh, training troops before I got my discharge.
I: Um hm. So when you enlist in Army 1948, where did you get the basic military training?
V: At Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
I: What kind? And tell me about those.
V: Well I was in the, uh, in the paratroopers, uh. We took, uh, 100% paratrooper training, you know, running and pushups and, uh, which I said
I think benefitted all three of us guys, myself and my two buddies.
V: Uh, because, uh, I think it helped all of us and especially Broad for him to survive in a POW camp because, uh,
I: And what, what was his name again?
V: Howard. Howard Brandt.
V: Brandt. B R A N D T.
I: Uh. And that’s your old buddy?
I remember, we were really close.
V: Him and I grew up together, uh.
I: So it must been very hard for you.
V: Terrible hard. Yeah.
I: And what was your specialty?
V: Well, I was a, I was a garner on a, on a 75 recoilless rifle, and I was in a mortar company
I: Um hm. And what, tell me, what was your unit?
V: Well, I, I went over, I was in Headquarters Company, but I went over, and when we landed in Pusan, they put us on, on, uh, I would say like cattle cars and, but, just, uh, took us up to a town called Taejon, and then when we hit Taejon, uh, we got off there and, uh, that’s where I run into those, uh, uh, sent me to, uh, I, it was like, uh, schoolyards
you know, and then they made, uh, the South Korean, uh people, dig their own ditches, and then they tied them and set them in the ditch, and them they shot all of them.
I: Wow. You saw that?
V: I didn’t see it happen. We were there right, they had to be, it had to be, uh, just like horrors.
V: It had to be just hard before that because we went up into the KomRiver. That’s right a little bit farther north of that.
V: And there’s where we dug in, and then, uh, here there was a bridge right there come across, and it was so funny. People and, uh, women, they had, they wear long dresses, down, and little did we know, but they had walkie talkies, used to strap on their
legs underneath, and they were come through there. See, they, we let them come through.
I: Um hm.
V: And then they’d get in back of us, and then they can radio and tell there, the North Korean troops, you know, where our, our hot positions were. And, uh, when they come across the river, I’m telling you, like, it was like flies. They just come across
like bonsai attacks. And we were caught off all the time, you know, you, from. Uh, I ended up, uh, in the, in the 34th, 34thRegiment, uh, in, uh, uh, Third Battalion L Company. I was stuck with them
I: Thirty-fourth Regiment and what battalion?
V: L Company. L.
I: And what battalion?
V: Third Battalion.
I: Um hm.
And what, what is it? Is it
V: That’s in the 24thInfantry Division. See, there were three battalions. The first, second and third battalion.
I: And when did you arrive in Pusan?
V: Well, I got over there July the 5th, uh, 1950.
I: So you were there in very early phase of the war.
V: I was in the first, yeah.
I: So tell me about the Pusan that you saw. How was it?
I: Pusan. How was it when you first saw it?
V: Pu, Pusan was, uh, like people running everywhere. It was just, you know. You, you knew there was something wrong. But we didn’t know what because they told us that it’s just a skirmish, that all we had to do was go up to Taejon, and it’s just gonna be a couple days and, and it’ll be over.
I: Were you in the Naktong Perimeter?
V: A what?
I: Naktong River.
V: I uh, uh, Nak,I, I was, I know the Naktong River, yeah.
V: Yeah. I knew that, and I was up, uh, up as far as, uh, I was 14 miles from the Manchurian border.
V: And our first move north when we went across. And then we got pushed back.
I: But let’s talk about Pusan. Um, so it was miserable.
V: Well, it was a lot of, a lot of congested people, you know, the, people running everywhere, you know. You knew there was something wrong. You knew it.
I: What did you feel about it, when you saw them?
V: Well, like I said, we, we figured there were just to do like a, a police action job, uh, uh, you know, and that, then they, they put us on these cattle cars and sent us over to, up to Taejon.
V: And then from there we went up into, uh, the Kum River.
I: But didn’t you face, uh, North Koreans there in Taejon and Kum River?
V: Not at, not till later.
I: So tell me about those
details, the engagement that you had against this North Koreans and attacks that you received from them.
V: Well, when they, when we were dug in at the Kum River, they come across in, like in, in droves, and the first one or two rows which had rifles, machine guns and stuff like that. But the other ones would have maybe clubs or something and, you know, a few of the, they, they’d pick them off. The ones in the back would pick up
their rif, just keep coming. They’d just overrun you. Just over, over run you to head, uh, well, uh, into hand to hand combat.
I: Did you, so you saw North Korean soldiers?
V: Oh, absolutely.
I: What were you thinking?
V: Ha, well, there ain’t much to think about then. It’s hard. What is hard to do is learn to shoot somebody. It’s hard to do.
I: Did you?
V: It’s hard to do.
I: So did you do it?
V: Oh yeah.
I: You had to do it.
V: I had to do it.
V: And you had to do it, yeah. Yeah, and much
I: You saw many people just killed out there.
V: Oh my, oh my, yeah.
I: Do you have, uh, PTSD?
V: uh uh. I cannot, it takes me three, four days sometimes. It don’t get better. It gets worse.
I: Getting worse?
V: Yeah, it does. It seems like I get older.
V: It affects me more. It gives me more time to think, think.
I: What is it? Tell me about the symptoms. What, how does that happen?
V: Well, I, I think of all the, the things that happened, you know, that, you know, your skirmishes and stuff, you know. What, what you had to do and, I know, Well I could even when we left, uh, when they pushed us out of Taejon, uh, I don’t know if you, you probably read that book about, uh, General Dean.
V: Well, General Dean, I was from me to you away from him.
He was like another soldier. You’d never know. You would never know he was a General. And, uh, he, he, but we were in Taejon, like I said, we were already, everybody was mixed up, didn’t know what was going on no more. And then he, he, he just said you, you, you, and you, you go there with so and so and, and head south to a town called Taegu. But everything when we left there, everything was blocked off,
and you, you, what we did, we laid in ditches, you know, until we would get out. Nighttime we’d work ourself up along the side of the mountains and go along the mountain till we get down to Taegu and from there down into Pusan. And then the Pusan Perimeter. That’s for, uh, then we started north again after, after that, you know. So
I: So you were in the Taejon, Kum River and from there, where did you go?
V: Well, then I, then I got back into my regular outfit in, uh, in, uh, Headquarters. See, I was like in a guard company then, that guarded the Headquarters, and what we did then but we were going north, stragglers that would come through, that, that was our job. We’d have to go get them, if any tanks and T34 tank is come through, we’d have to, uh, try to get them. I was a gunner on, like I said, on a 75 recoilless rifle
and tried to shoot up under the treads in those. That’s the only way you could knock them out because our tanks that we had were, were too light. They shot through them like they were Matchboxes. Uh, they did, there was just no protection at all.
I: So from there, where did you go, to Seoul?
V: Well, then we up through to, I’ve been up through Seoul, all through the 38thParallel. I was all the way up.
I cannot think of the name of the town up in North Korea, but, but we were, uh, we were real, pretty close to the Chosin Reservoir.
V: Pretty close.
I: But tell me about Seoul that you saw in September, right, while you were in Seoul around September?
V: I would say I was there two times. I was there going north and coming back, and it was in the wintertime and we were coming back.
I: But when you
saw the Seoul for the first time, how was it?
V: It was blown up pretty good, yeah. Yeah, that was, there was hardly any buildings, very, very few.
I: Were there any resistance from North Koreans?
V: Well, uh, you know. Like when you’re, when you’re pulling back, you have resistance all the time because they’re always attacking you, you know. Uh,
I: But can you believe that Seoul become 11th, one of the 10 largest
metropolitan city in the world right now. The Seoul that you saw
I: Yeah. Now it’s, uh, one of the 10 biggest
V: Yeah, you said.
I: cities in the world.
V: Uh, but I saw, see pictures of it. I, I just can’t believe it when I see that.
V: And I try to think and I look, you know, from there, where I was, you know, because, and a lot of it was just dirt roads, too. There was no, uh, no McAdam or nothing like that.
I: Um hm.
I: Were you able to eat and sleep while you were going up?
V: Well, we lived, uh, I’m glad you brought that up. We lived on C-ration and K-rations.
I: Um hm.
V: All the time. Now, if we go through and we take a position or something, guys always, you had, I met a Pilipino guy we lost. He was, he was exceptionally good. He was real good, uh. He, uh the, he’d, he’d say hey, uh.
There was chickens had a place back here but we come through it. So a couple guys would go back and catch some chickens, and we’d put them in a pot and, and cook them, and that was probably, we’d have that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And, uh, the other thing, uh, that sticks in my mind now, well always. When we’d take a hill, we always
knew when they come on line, the North Koreans or the Chinese, because they had pouches on the side, and in there they had rice bowls wrapped in straw maybe about, about that big, you know. And if they had, we, we knew if they had like eight or ten bowls, they’d just come on line. We, the guys used to go crazy over those. Those were good. Yeah. We liked those. Yeah.
And I had, uh, in the wintertime when we’re coming back from North Korea getting pushed back, uh, I had got a, a Chinese forward observer. We had no clothes because I ended up with frozen feet and uh, uh, I got a, a, it was a North, a, a Chinese forward observer. We had took that, uh, position there,
and I got his, uh, them quilted jackets, and I put that under my fatigue jacket to keep warm because we had no, like I said, we had no clothes. They told us we’re, we’re, we don’t need them. Uh, they sent stuff over. Maybe you got gloves, uh. He might have got a cap. Another time I’d have got a, a jacket. Another guy might have got shoe packs. They, they called shoe packs and, what they sent over. But, uh,
that’s how we did it. And we used to take paper and stuff paper down in our shoes, in our boots, you know, to help to try to keep warm, you know. But they, they help, but still ended up with frozen feet and, uh, like I said, I only weighed like 130 pounds then, you know, from, oh, you don’t eat. You don’t eat regular.
I: How could sustain yourself at the time?
V: Yeah, that’s why, that’s what I’m telling you
about the 82ndAirborne. I still say that that, I’m gonna turn that off. That’s what saved us.
I: I see.
V: Because of the training that we had there, very physical. you were in 100% tip top shape,
V: You know. And uh, while I was, when I went, uh, went out of there and went over,
I was in the first Cav when I first went over to Japan.
I: Um hm.
V: And, uh, there we had good physical training, too. And then when, like I said, when this Korean War started, they come around to us and they said you, you, you, and you, you’re going in the 24thInfantry. And then they’d send us down to Kyushu in Japan, and there’s where they put us on those boats and took us over to Pusan.
V: You know, that’s
you know, I got over there first. So.
I: Um, so through Seoul, where did you go? Did you go up to Pyungyang, the capitol city of North Korea or where did you go from Seoul?
V: I went, I went through Pyongyang, oh yeah.
I: So tell me about Pyongyang. What did you see?
V: Well, that was, that was flat.
V: Flat. That was flat, yeah. We used to, uh, uh, well we, we used to call in the, the Jets. Our jets were too fast.
They couldn’t get down in the, in the hollows, you know, the strike force. But we used to call in the Navy Corsairs.
V: And they could get down in, and they used the strike force, and they, they did a good, they did a good job for us. They helped us out a lot, got us out of a lot of, uh, lots of
I: When did you get into Pyongyang? When?
V: Uh, I just honestly can’t tell you the date. I can’t tell you. It was
when we were going north.
I: You’re right.
V: You know.
I: And were there any resistance in
V: All the way up
V: Oh yeah.
I: Any special episode that you remember?
V: Well, they were all, all like, you know, you’d be in a skirmish here and then one over here maybe a day or two later, you know. The only thing, you know, how you, because you’d be, used to jump each other, you know, to, you know, relieve each other.
I: It’s really nerve breaking that you, you know, that you don’t know when and from where that
V: Oh no.
I: Will attack.
V: No. No, they were very good at camouflage. They were very good at that.
I: So you always
V: And you know, I’ll tell you another thing I really, really hurt, hurt me. You’d see kids, I’m telling you, 12, 13, 14 years old.
I: What did you see?
V: It’s hard to shoot them.
I: You, did you have to?
V: It was hard to.
I: Did you have to?
V: They have rifles that shooting at you. What are you gonna do?
I: Oh. You mean the teenagers are
I: shooting at you?
V: Absolutely. Absolutely.
I: So you’d have to kill them.
I: And that bothers you?
V: All the time.
I: Do you see them in your flash upon or
V: I always do. Sometimes I get, but nighttime it’s, sometimes I can’t sleep at night. I just get up. I just get up and try to get my mind thinking something else.
I: Vincent, I’m so sorry about that, that you had to suffer.
V: But it was bad.
V: But they’re free. The only thing is my, like I said, I, I wear my uniform, on, on Memorial Day to honor my, my buddies
that didn’t come back with me, uh. That’s why I wear my uniform.
I: But Vincent, your suffering has never been wasted. The Korean people rebuilt
V: I know they do.
I: their nation, and that is your legacy.
V: I know they do. My,
I: Yeah. That is your legacy.
V: My nephew, he’s, boy’s, his boy, his girl is married to a Korean boy, and he, he knows, too.
I: And you have your son? Grandson in the Army? Grandson?
V: Yeah, yeah, yeah. He’s in the, he’s in Ballistic Missiles.
I: Oh. In Korea?
V: Not now. He come back. He’s in, uh, Oklahoma now.
I: Was he in Korea?
I: What was his, uh, unit?
V: He was, I don’t know about unit. He was in, uh,
I: Is he 2ndDivision, right?
V: Uh, I, he’s in the, in the, uh, Ballistic Missiles.
I forget what it, what it is. But, uh,
I: What’s his name?
V: Matt, Matthew, Matthew Bentz.
I: Matthew Bentz. And he was in Korea as a
V: Yeah, he was there. Now he’s gone back over again, too.
V: Uh, he was in Kuwait, uh. He’s, uh, now he’s down in Texas. But he’s back from Texas now. He went there training troops and, uh, he’s going back to Oklahoma which he is now.
I: So on the way up to North Korea, and, did you go up to Yalu River?
V: Uh, I, uh, pretty close to that, to the Yalu River, yeah. Uh, I forget how far. They, they’d say already how far it was, and I, uh. But I know they all talked about the Chosin Reservoir. We were real close to that.
I: But Chosin Reservoir is in the East side of it.
V: Well, that’s where we attacked, to, torda.
I: Yeah, but you were in the West side because you were in Pyongyang, right?
V: Yeah, yeah. And see there’s where, uh, there’s where they broke through. They broke through the third ROK Division.
I: Um hm.
V: And they come down around. That’s how they cut us off. That’s why everything really was, uh, really was bad.
V: You know, for us to get back.
I: So did you see Chinese coming in?
V: Oh, I, yeah. Yeah. I saw a lot
I: Tell me about the day that you saw Chinese intervention for the first time, and when was it?
V: Oh, I’d say it was in North Korea.
I: When was it?
V: It was cold. It had to be in December. It had to be in December, uh. There was a lot of snow, a lot of snow.
I: But was very cold, right?
V: Oh, 40 below zero, Yep. That’s what they told us. It was 40 below. Uh.
I: And didn’t MacArthur tell you that
V: MacArthur, I tell you something. I want to tell you something.
I: tell you that you going to have a Christmas back home?
V: If Truman, if he would have let MacArthur go, I think that we could have ended that war in North Korea. I think so. But he pulled him and fired him, and that’s when everything went haywire. Yeah. Yeah.
I: You think so?
V: I think so. Yeah.
I: So how was it, the kind of, uh, situation when you were had to withdraw
from North Korea back to South Korea? How was it?
V: What, what do you mean?
V: Well, you would be, you’d pull back and feel like the same way you go forward, you know. You, cause you gotta have protection, you know, and, and some guys, see my, the 34thRegiment ended up, was no more. It ended up becoming the 5thRCT because
it, it was just completely, just about completely wiped out. So.
I: So what happened to you after you coming back from North Korea? Where were you in South Korea?
V: Well, in, [INAUDIBLE] like I said to you. They pushed us way back, and then we went back up again to, uh, up to Seoul and, uh, there was a town right above Seoul between there and the
V: Um, I think Uijeongbu, yeah? Uijeongbu, uh, uh, I’m trying to think where, uh,
V: Uh, Uijeongbu was one, uh, uh. Wadewong. Where was Wadewong?
V: Waywong. I’m, one of them places is where I got shrapnel in my leg.
I: Oh, you were wounded.
V: Yeah. Yeah. Um, it was, I, I tell you what. I can’t get the name in my head right.
I: Um. How
V: But it’s just
I: When was it?
V: Well, we were cut off and, uh, we had, uh, met a bunch of, uh, uh, Russian rifles and, uh, Chinese rifles, 20, 27 caliber, 31 calibers, and
all kinds of stuff in the, in the, trail, in trailers, you know, on, uh, in the, what they called a six by, the trucks.
I: Um hm.
V: And they were, we were pinned down. So I, uh, they asked for volunteers, you know, to, to hook them up because they didn’t want them to get those weapons. So, uh, uh, Turnbull, a guy, a friend of mine, he said the[INAUDIBLE] Let’s you and I go. He said, I’ll go with you.
I said okay. I said we’ll, we’ll go and, I took a ¾ ton truck, and then we went down. But then they shot at us all the way down till we got in the back and hoped to ease up, and that’s where I took a piece of shrapnel in my leg and, uh. Then we got back up, and the one guy said, he said Bentz, he said, you have, your boot’s all bloody, and I looked, and here was a piece of shrapnel sticking out of my leg. You
can hardly see it anymore. But there’s a hole
I: Hold on. Hold
V: in that bone.
I: Hold on.
V: There’s a hole right in that bone right there.
V: There, right
I: And were you treated?
V: And I went to the Clearing Station then
I: Um hm. MASH unit?
V: And then they, no, no. No it’s called Clearing Station. See, they don’t, they don’t take you to the, to the MASH unit unless you were really shot up bad.
I: I see.
V: Uh, they, most of the time you ended up in a Clearing Station.
I: I see.
V: And, uh, there they, they pulled it out and [INAUDIBLE]the, uh, I don’t know what all they do. Did something, brought me right back to my Company then, you know. And the funny part about it is the Clearing Station that I was at got blown up.
V: And, uh, what, what happened. I’ll tell you, the, a lot of the stuff that happened, my records were burned up in St. Louis.
That’s another bad thing.
V: And, uh, but anyway, I ended up, a doctor looked at me, and when he looked at my feet, he said to me, when I was at the VA Hospital. He said to me, he said what did they do about your feet? I said nothing. I said they don’t do, oh no, he said. Uh uh. He said, uh, he made a phone call, and he said you, you’re, you’re willing to go see somebody? I said I will, and he sent me down
to some guy down on the first floor of the VA. From then on, I took off and they really took care of me from that point on, they really did.
I: Um hm. So when did you leave Korea?
V: I left there in May, May of 19, uh,
V: ’51. I was in the first rotation, the first rotation back, uh,
I: And when you left Korea,
what was on your mind, that you were just glad to be out of there?
V: Well, oh yeah.
I: What was on your mind?
V: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, I was glad to go back to the States because it’s been over three years that I was there, you know.
I: And did you think that, had you ever imagined that Korea would become like this today?
V: Never. I didn’t. But I’d see pictures of how nice that is there now.
I: Yeah. That gives you some relief and reward, right?
V: Yeah. I often, we often talked about, you know, going over there, but, uh, it, I actually I don’t have the money to do it really.
I: Um, the Korean government pay everything but half of the airfare. So if you want to go, you let me know. They pay everything,
hotel, meals, for seven days, and they pay half of your airfare.
I: So you can go. I mean. I think you should go
I: and look at what happened there.
V: Yeah. We had a little dog. I’d tell my wife Roberta, I said if we had a little dog that used to be with us, this may sound funny to you, but that dog, I’m telling you, could smell,
V: when there was trouble.
For some, it was just like a dog, a dog, uh, uh, a regular run of the dog, you know.
I: Tell me how
V: But he was, he was so good, and he knew. He’d run around and carry on like crazy.
V: You know, if he knew there was something that wasn’t supposed to be there,
I: Uh huh.
V: Then he, he was always right.
V: It don’t matter where he went, he liked everyone.
I: No, no. Where was it?
V: It was in North Korea, South Korea. It was ev, no matter where we went.
I: So you took
V: He was with us always, yeah.
He took us, he was like a, he reminded me like a, these dogs they have, you know, for sniffing dope.
V: That’s how he reminded us.
I: What was his name?
V: I don’t remember what we called him, but, uh, I just don’t. But he was a good dog, and every, everybody, he liked, he, he liked all the GI’s. He, for some reason, that dog, uh, never saw a dog like that, yeah.
V: And he was just like a little runt, you know. He didn’t, uh,
I: Part of your family.
Yeah. That’s about it. Yeah.
I: Any other battle episode that you remember that you want to share with us?
V: Well, I was in five major battles. I’ve, the stars, you know, to
I: So five major which is Pusan. What else?
V: Oh boy.
V: Yeah, and then going north.
V: And then up and, up to the Reservoir, up that way
I: Recovery of Seoul?
It was five of them. I have, uh, five battle stars from that and then they, uh, but they’d get coal at the silver store. Is that what it was?
I: You’ve got silver star?
V: That’s what they called it. They said I had a silver star.
I: Uh huh. Did you get it?
I: Do you get it?
V: Yeah, I have the silver star.
V: Yeah. Yeah.
I: You got to really go back to Korea. They will treat you like an emperor.
V: Yeah. Yeah.
I: I want to invite your wife back to your, um, please sit close to him. And, let me adjust the camera. Could you introduce yourself, your name?
P My name is Phyllis Bentz, wife of Vincent.
I: And when did you marry him?
P: In 1957.
I: ’57. And did he ever tell you about Korean War story?
P: Um, not so much, uh. He and his friend, we called him Broad, that was his nickname, when he would come to visit, they would talk about it.
And I would hear it. But when Broad passed away, things got worse for Vince, and then we talked more about it.
I: Uh huh.
P: And when he joined the Korean War Veterans Association, there I hear more stories, and my nephew made a album of his experiences, and there I saw more than he ever talked about. He was
pretty quiet about it because I think it brings him a lot of pain.
I: When you married to him, did you know that he had the PTSD?
P: No. He, he didn’t exhibit it at that point.
I: Oh. When did he exhibit that?
I: Like what?
P: Um, I would say like after his friend passed away.
I: Which is 19
P: He, let’s see. He’s been gone for about
I’m not sure.
V: Ten years?
P: Maybe ten years.
I: How is it to watch your beloved husband suffering from those flash?
P: It’s hard, but, it’s hard. How do, how do you take your memories away? Your memories are always in your brain.
I: Um hm.
P: And it’s hard to shut them off. But I
think he’s doing remarkably well for what he had to do and for what he suffered.
I: Yeah. There are many different kinds of symptoms of PTSD, people screaming,
I: People throwing things and somebody’s hitting, you know,
I: And drinking.
P: Um hm.
I: And this is really hard thing, no?
P: We went through the drinking stage.
P: Maybe that was a lot of it that he wasn’t talking about it. He was drinking
his memories, and that was a hard time because that went on for a great many years, and I didn’t know why.
I: Hm. Um, so what do you think about his legacy as a Korean War veteran?
P: I think this is, um, a beautiful story because we met quite a few South Korean people
I: Phyllis, could you take off your glasses
P: Yes, I can
I: because it’s reflects there.
P: Um, we met quite a few South Korean
people in Washington, D.C. when we down there for different, um, programs/
I: Um hm.
P: And, um, they shared with us how grateful they were for what he did, and others that went there to serve, and how well their country is doing now, and I think it’s beautiful, and when my grandson was there to share how he went to Seoul and showed us some pictures,
and what I see in his album, it’s a, it’s beautiful that they could build that country into what it is. I’m happy for the people that they could do that.
I: Right. Your grandson is seeing the city.
I: That resurrected actually from
P: Yes because he’s seen the pictures in the album.
V: He even brought me a piece of wire from, uh,
V: Yeah. He said, he said to me, he said
Poppy, he said, do you, uh, remember Hill 302? I said yes I do.
I: Tell me about it. Hill 302.
V: Well Hill 302,
V: but that was a, a lot of, a lot of, a lot of firing there.
I: Tell me the details please.
I: When was it, and how it happened, and where were you, and what did you do?
V: Well, that was when we were going to, coming up from, from Pusan, coming up through, uh. 302 was down.
I: Where was it, the hill?
V: Right, I think it was right below
I: Okay. So it’s close to 38thParallel.
V: Oh yeah.
I: What happened?
V: Well, that, that was 302 first broom where hill 302 was, and, and, uh, the, their, they were dug in really heavy. That was, took a lot of, a lot of casualties. Lots. Uh. That’s about it. I mean, it’s just a lot of shooting. Heh.
I: So looking
back all those years, what do you think about this war, and why we don’t teach about this war? Why is it known as Forgotten War?
V: I, that’s what I’d like to know.
I: While, while Vincent is so much suffering from it.
I: Why is it forgotten?
P: It’s surely not right, and there’s many more suffering probably worse than him.
I: Hope that you will get out of that suffering.
I: Even little.
I: Thank you.
[End of Recorded Material]