Korean War Legacy Project

Vincent Ariola

Bio

Vincent Ariola found himself drafted at age twenty-one into the Korean War in 1951.  He left Chicago on a train for Fort Knox, where he learned all things related to the operation of tanks.  His reflections of military service during the Korean War include his description of tanks moving toward North Korea, but not bringing South Korean soldiers along for fear of them being mistaken for enemy combatants.  He explains his lifestyle while serving as a tanker and personal military encounters during the Battle of Old Baldy in 1952.  He ultimately states that he hopes never to go back to Korea because of his wish to forget his painful memories of war.

Clips

The Tank on the Front-lines

Vincent Ariola remembers that South Korean soldiers were present in camps with American soldiers, but not brought north with tanks to prevent them from getting killed by American soldiers who could confuse them with the enemy. He describes fighting against forces atop Hill 266, at the Battle of Old Baldy. He remembers seeing a young American soldier in a foxhole before closing the tank hatch when firing broke out, and then seeing the same soldier dead after the firing stopped. His recollection includes his description of the hot atmosphere inside the tank.

Tags: 1952 Battle of Old Baldy, 6/26-8/4,Civilians,Fear,Food,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Monsoon,North Koreans,South Koreans,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpXIwkelfb8&start=405&end=704

Revisiting Life in a Tank

Vincent Ariola describes his reasons for not wanting to go back to visit South Korea. He explains that although he spent many hours in his tank, he did not sleep in it, but tanker operators slept in tents. He describes his experiences with having guard duty very often and being very tired from not being relieved. He further explains that artillery came very close to his tank and to his astonishment, he was never hit.

Tags: Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Modern Korea,Physical destruction,Pride,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpXIwkelfb8&start=1332&end=1570

The Loneliness of Warfare

Vincent Ariola recalls that due to the isolated nature of serving in a tank, during the Korean War he did not learn names of fellow servicemen other than for functional purposes of doing his job. He remembers that his primary feeling during the war was the feeling of being alone. He describes why he did not take time to tell his family about his Korean War experiences. He tells of his son never opening up to his own warfare experiences in Somalia in the same way, and reflects on the American losses during the Korean War.

Tags: 1952 Battle of Old Baldy, 6/26-8/4,1953 Battle of Pork Chop Hill, 3/23-7/16,Chinese,Cold winters,Fear,Front lines,Home front,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpXIwkelfb8&start=1617&end=1904

A New Beginning

Vincent Ariola reflects on his difficulty forgetting things he encountered during his time serving in the Korean War. He calls the experience of being drafted a new beginning and describes why he believes it is. He description paints a picture of what life is like for a young man who is drafted and has never been away from home.

Tags: Food,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Monsoon,Pride

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpXIwkelfb8&start=1954&end=2181

Video Transcript

ARIOLA, VINCENT

0:46:12

Transcribed by SARAH IBRAHIM on 06/11/2018

 

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

 

0:00:00

 

Vincent Ariola:           My name is Vincent Ariola.  I was born September 13, 1930. I was born in Chicago, Illinois.

 

Interviewer:               What is the ethnic origin of this last name, Ariola?

 

V:        It’s Italian.

 

I:          Italian?

 

V:        Yes. My folks were from Italy in the 1920’s, I believe. And they settled in the United States in Chicago.

 

I:          Mmm.

 

0:00:30

 

So, tell me about your family background. Parents and siblings.

 

V:        Well, I have–I had five–four brothers. It’s a family of five children, four boys and a girl.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

V:        And we’re raised all in Chicago. We all went to grade school and high school.  My father was a carpenter.

 

I:          Mm.

 

0:01:00

 

V:        By trade. And my mother was a–a seamstress back in Italy. They both had a very nice education. They both could read and write.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

V:        Of course, I was born in 1930 so, that gives you the time of the year of the depression in 1929.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

V:        and it was very difficult for my Dad to get work. But he was a great man and

 

0:01:30

 

we survived. And we had a good education.  And I had two brothers in World War II. I I had one was in the Army and he was wounded on Okinawa. My other oldest brother was in the Navy. And okay. My other brother had, a sort of a little handicap so he was not able to go into the service. And I was 11 years old, at the time

 

0:02:00

 

so, I was not old enough to go in that war, otherwise I would have been in World War II. But, at the age of 21, I got the greetings of the United States Government to be drafted in the Army in 1951. October 1951.  That was during the Korean conflict. You notice I said conflict and not a war.

 

0:02:30

 

I’ll never forget that Truman, when he was asked, when he was president, when people asked him about the Korean War he says “It is not a war, it’s a police action”.  So, when I was drafted I was drafted and sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky. Which was the home of the 3rdArmored Division, which was the tank division.

 

0:03:00

 

I was given four or five weeks of infantry training, but the balance was tanks. Trained in the M-4 Sherman Medium Tank, which was a tank used during World War II. And I was trained for about four months, five months, and I took a leadership course to stay a little longer, if at all possible.

 

0:03:30

 

Because we knew that our division would probably go to Korea. And what irked me more than anything else was is that when I was on–they give you 30 days and then you report to a certain place and then you’re transferred overseas, but I –I felt in my heart that the people of the United States didn’t recognize the military, in those days. Not knowing what Korea was and where it was and what we’re doing.

 

0:04:00

 

So, that irked me more than anything else and–but anyway, a long story short, I was sent to San Francisco, California and put on a ship that I wouldn’t put a dog on, which was a liberty ship. It’s a ship that we couldn’t go any lower than what we hit the middle, down there. And we slept on hammocks.  And we. . .

 

0:04:30

 

threw up just about everything not being–away from home and being on the ship. Anyway, the small ship going across the Pacific we stopped in Hawaii. And the sailors getting off laughing, joking what have you, and us poor soldiers just watching the Arizona in the water in Hawaii and, anyway.

 

0:05:00

 

Get back on that ship.  They let us off for an hour or so and get back on the ship and another five, six more days to go to Japan.  Unload every bit– every stitch of clothes you have with a duffle bag and just give you your basic needs that you need.  And put back on the ship. Stopped at Incheon, Korea.

 

I:          When did you leave for Korea?

 

05:30:00

 

V:        19–

 

I:          From the United States.

 

V:        1952.  I think it was maybe April, I believe something like that.

 

I:          And then when did you– so you arrive in Incheon in same month, right?

 

V:        Yeah.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

V:        Well, we stopped in Japan for a day or so and then get back on the ship and got into ship and landed in Incheon.

 

I:          Were you afraid at the time? When you were on– on the way to Korea?

 

V:        I thought about it,

 

0:06:00

 

but the point is that I– you try not to think about it. They tell you what to do and you did it, more or less.  And being a tanker, you know, I– you just do what they tell you. So anyway, we get to our location and I was assigned to a–this tank. And, to this day, I don’t remember the–

 

0:06:30

 

my fellow members on a tank or–I was assigned to a–a the officer that– in charge he was the lead tank. He was the lieutenant in our tank.  Anyway, be honest with you, I didn’t think I was going to come back. I got in through Korea and it was just a flat open land. No b–no– no buildings no nothing. And all they had was South Koreans that did some of our laundry a little bit.

 

0:07:00

 

And finally one day, I didn’t see any South Koreans anymore. We just left them. In other words, we were going into North Korea so, they didn’t want to take any South Koreans with us because we couldn’t know what the difference.  So, what I’m saying, if we saw any Koreans from the–in the end there, we would shoot em.  You know what I’m saying? We couldn’t tell the difference.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

V:        And, how many days we were going with our tank battalion.

 

07:30:00

 

We were assigned to the 45thInfantry Division. And I don’t know how many days we traveled on this road.  And all there was, was rice paddies on both sides of the road.  And just–

 

I:          Were you inside of the tank?

 

V:        Oh yes.

 

I:          Okay

 

V:        We were actually tankers.

 

I:          Mm-hmm..

 

V:        Tankers.

 

I:          Yep.

 

V:        There was the mach–the driver.  To the right of him was the 30 caliber machine gun. And then we had a 50 caliber machine gun on top of the tank.

 

0:08:00

 

for anti-aircraft, or what have you.  And inside it was three of us.  Two besides the officer.

 

I:          What was your specific mission in that–inside of tank?

 

V:        I can do both jobs. I had to be the loader, the firer, the radio man, anything that I needed. I can– I can drive the tank I can handle all– any weapons in the tank and all that. In case someone got hurt. I was available.

 

0:08:30

 

Koreans or Chinese, the Russians, I– I understand were supplying the North Koreans with the Russian built tanks. [shows photo of man in front of tank]  And a thing I want to point out also is that when we got to where we were going, we got to hill 266, which is called Old Baldy. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that or not.  Left early in the morning and finally some time before dusk

 

0:09:00

 

Before night time, we stopped and our tanks were in a formation type of thing. One maybe 20 yards.  And around our tanks we had the infantry. Without infantry the tankers were not–they were liable for getting blown up and everything. And to this day this one infantry soldier, I see he was in a fox hole–

 

0:09:30

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

V:        And that’s all I can remember of his. And what happened was that when it got dark, firing commenced. And we kept firing our 75mm cannon that’s on the tank there. And all of a sudden, return fire came way up there by the mountains and to the left and to the right and when that was happening we had to move

 

0:10:00

 

because if we stayed in one spot at any length of time, that second artillery thing would hit us. So, for–and it–it got so that the officer says “okay, close hatches” because so we bundled down.  And talking about sweating, I mean, it’s like water pouring down on us. It was about over 100 degrees, at the time.  And firing the 75mm with the shells back and forth it would just saturate us

 

0:10:30

 

like someone threw a bucket of water on us.  Anyway, after this happened for several hours, it seemed that–to be a quiet–it seemed the quiet came over us. No more action was going on. Everything was– we opened up our hatches and I looked up and I saw this one young infantry man, he was dead. And a lot of other infantry around us were dead. And to this day, like I say,

 

0:11:00

 

it–it antagonizes me. And so then we drove and drove and drove back to where we all consol our tanks–consolidated. And, and so then we stopped at a one place and they said to– time to get something to eat, but Ariola you stay with the tank. You watch the tank.  In the mean time, it started to rain.  Pouring rain.

 

0:11:30

 

Monsoon. And so here I am by myself, hungry. I open up a can of rations and rain pouring down eat my rations. And that’s all I remember then. And then finally we got to where–place that where we can re-rest and so that’s about what happened that one particular time. So, is there any questions you want to ask me? Or is. . .

 

0:12:00

 

I:          Yeah.  How is it being inside of the tank in the–in terms of weather, in terms of noise, in terms of heat. In. . .

 

V:        This is what I can’t understand. . .

 

I:          Where d–

 

V:        Yeah.  It is–it’s crowded. Maybe because I was short at the time maybe that’s why I was picked to be in a tanker. But anyway, there’s not too much room left to–to manipulate around. Secondly, they, the noise factor.  You know, you see pictures today of

 

0:12:30

 

What? All these ear plugs you have and all that. In 1951, us tankers didn’t have all the things they have today. And the noise is terrible and I–I hear now I have ear hearing aides now, after a few years I was able to get em through the Army. But– but the noise is terrible and there’s not much room at all.

 

0:13:00

 

Now, they have bigger tanks.  This M-4 Sherman Tank, it was a tank used during World War II and it was–is one of the fastest tanks we had and today–I used to–in those days used to jump up and down the tank to get in and out. Today.  We–I went to, in California, it was the–whats? General–oh I can’t think of his name–

 

0:13:30

 

he was in charge of the third army division–General Patton.

 

I:          Patton.

 

V:        Right, General Patton.  P-A-double

 

I:          TT–

 

V:        T-O-N.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

V:        Sherman. He was the great General during–

 

I:          Yeah.

 

V:        In World War II that fought the Germans–

 

I:          Yeah.

 

V:        in the dessert. And anyway we’re–we’re just driving along and we see a big sign there that says General Patton’s Museum. So, my wife and I we pulled over and stopped and went in there and it brought back all the memories of–

 

0:14:00

 

In fact, they had–in one–in a corner they had a– one of my tanks still there.  And it was real exciting. Brought back all the memories. You see, people talk about being in infantry, being this and being that. Have you ever talked to another tanker in your interview? Have you ever mentioned in a–

 

I:          Yes.

 

V:        You have mentioned tankers in the in World War–in Korean conflict?

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

V:        I never met one yet. It would be interesting to see what–

 

0:14:30

 

the stories they have. I was glad I was not in the infantry because I couldn’t dig a hole and everything.  If I–I felt I was going to come back and if I was going to get it, I was going to get it. I mean, it’s very easy, a Bazooka and I’m going.  but being a tanker, you don’t think about that. You’re kept too busy. In other words, if the tank doesn’t run, I’m dead. We had 45’s we carried. But you can’t carry an M1 riffle in there.

 

0:15:00

 

And five of us is like one. We all worked together. And I enjoyed being a tanker. People talk about infantry, and I know the Maries they talk about this and they talk about that, but I enjoyed being a tanker. A–and–see the thing that I–when I was drafted, I didn’t know what was going to happen. What was being the tanker, being involved. Who was I fighting for?

 

0:15:30

 

W–what was I fighting for? All I heard was Korea. North Korea. South Korea. North Korea, I understand, I read back about what happened in 19-something. Japan took over Korea and what happened when Japan lost the war, the United States was given South of the 38thparallel gave it to the South Korea.

 

0:16:00

 

And North of the 38thparallel was given to North Korea by the Russians. And in 1950 is when North Korea invaded South Korea.  And so, what I gathered the whole thing was is that the South Korea wanted a –a way of freedom like the United States. Land of the free, home of the brave. North Korea wanted to be militarized. They wanted their–their own form of government.

 

0:16:30

 

And the only thing that I appreciate in my heart is that the Korean Veterans what they did in Korea was to give South Korea that freedom part to do away from the military type of government.  Also, that– and the thing that I didn’t like about the whole Korean conflict is that I don’t think us Korean Veterans

 

0:17:00

 

and to this day were not given the honor due to the Korean Veterans.  Back in–what? 10 or 12 years ago?  The Korean Delegate gave a–a luncheon for some Korean veterans, which was, I felt was very nice, a–a to show the appreciation is what us Korean Veterans did

 

0:17:30

 

for the Korean people.  And yet, I am not– I love America–I’ll die for America. I kissed the ground when I came home from Korea. The kissed the ground if we–to see what type of government we have and the freedom we have and to appreciate the United States of America. And I don’t–still to this day I don’t feel that we were given a–a–

 

0:18:00

 

62 years ago I was in the Korea.  And I don’t feel that personally given a respect that what–I don’t mean we– give us the world, the moon and the sun, but just show us thank you Korean Veterans for what you did. Because people in those days didn’t understand what we were going through. We lost over 35,000 soldiers in the Korean conflict.  I–for three years.

 

0:18:30

 

And I-I admire President Eisenhower when he took office in 1953 and his first goal was to bring us soldiers back and to end this conflict. There was no winners then, it was just a peace treaty. And—and to this day is what–I want to point out one thing. When I was firing this tank, I thought that we were fighting the North Koreans. We were not.

 

0:19:00

 

We were fighting the Chinese. Fighting the Chinese.  I mean, you know it–because when–when we–I–my [character] went into Ch–when he was given by Truman to go in there’s the–we ended the–we–we pushed the North Koreans all the way back to the Chinese border and he wanted to go further into China, but Truman says no you come back here and–and that’s–

 

0:19:30

 

that’s when this war really began because everyone is supplying this and that. You see what I’m getting at? In other words, it was not a war like World War II.  Everybody knew there was a war going on. We had no television. We had hardly anything. So, people here didn’t know what was going on out there. What the South Koreans were going through and–our soldiers going through.  And–and–and how many people we lost. So

 

0:20:00

 

I was proud to serve in the Korean conflict, I really was.  And I was proud.  In fact, I belong to a support group here. Its mentally health support group. And Dave and Jimmy and–and its a couple from World War II and us we have discussions and all that. And its helped us and the PTSD.  In other words what I’m saying is, that we think about it.  You say, well, how come you think about it now?

 

0:20:30

 

But when we got out, we didn’t have all these VA satellite places you can go here to talk to. In other words, it’s a VA where people you can go and talk to o-o-only just now. So 62 years later we have a VA Hospital, we have all this.  If you have a problem, you can meet with people and talk about this there and that. When you get out o-o-of service that–all you do is you leave the service and you go get a job and you work.

 

0:21:00

 

I supported a family. I have a son who served in Somalia. I have a daughter a-a- that is in the medical field. And so, I come from a family that served the country hel–very well and we appreciate the United States of America. I just hope that we don’t have something happen in North Korea again and South Korea. That’s something I wish will never happen.

 

0:21:30

 

And I’m very happy to see pictures of South Korea how nice.  They have big buildings there and everything. Now, you might ask me do I want to go back? Do I want to go back? To be honest with you, I really don’t want to go back. I mean, I have nothing against the Korean people. I’m so happy that they’re friendly. I know its–I just–I’ll never forget my memories there. I think the South Korean people are fantastic and I’m so

 

0:22:00

 

happy what they’ve done. They’ve progressed in the world.  And I drive a Korean car.  I’m very pleased.  And so I have–just that I just–don’t wish to go back.

 

I:          Why?

 

V:        It–it’ll bring back memories for me.  And I–I think about it that’s the thing now. I still think about Korea. What, which was a–a desolate country, in other words, it didn’t have anything with all the wars and I imagine what they went through to rebuild and everything.

 

0:22:30

 

And…but I–I just don’t care to go back.

 

I:          Too much for you to go back.

 

V:        Yeah, it’s too much to go back.

 

I:          Right.  Mm-hmm.

 

V:        I want to remember–what I went through and I want to try to forget it and I think the Korean people are–are a nice group of people.  And I–I just so very happy that they’re on their two feet now.  And I just pray to God that nothing breaks out again out there and. . .

 

0:23:00

 

I:          Had your tank been hit by?

 

V:        No, no.

 

I:          Never?

 

V:        No, never been hit.

 

I:          Oh.

 

V:        We’ve had some dirt and all that stuff flying on top of it. And– but that artillery did come pretty darn close and I know that. And I–I’m just lucky. You know? I just feel that I was lucky, but when I saw all of those dead soldiers around me at–I knew the–that artillery just come right at you.

 

0:23:30

 

And I–I was just lucky that I didn’t get hit and. . .

 

I:          How was enemy tank?

 

V:        They were at least a–a half a mile away I would say.  You know? A 500 feet, 1,000 feet away you know, away. And we fired that 75mm and the–the tank just goes back like that. And I’m sure we did damage. I know we did damage because we–we did a lot of

 

0:24:00

 

firing back and forth. And we had tanks in our line also and I’m sure we have. And we cou–and we did see them. . .

 

I:          Where did you sleep?

 

V:        [thinking]

 

I:          You always move around right?

 

V:        Yeah. It, its. . .

 

I:          But you did– you didn’t sleep inside of the tank?

 

V:        Well, well, we didn’t sleep in the tank.

 

I:          You didn’t?

 

V:        No. No.

 

I:          Right, so where did you go to sleep?

 

V:        Well, we had our little tents. We would get a tent and move around on a tank. Ah-ah-ah-put a–put a– pitch a tent.

 

0:24:30

 

And all our tankers would go and stay in the little– all our tankers would stay in this little tent.

 

I:          Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

 

V:        And then the next morning. Because secondly, the, I don’t know how the infantry did it, but the bugs were terrible. We used to have a–screens like to cover our–our tent. And one time I heard some kind of a noise and boy I just slept all the way through it.  I want to point out one thing too, every time it was guard duty, my  name must have came up all the time.

 

0:25:00

 

Here we go. Here we go. I had guard duty all the time. And…

 

I:          Why is that?

 

V:        I don’t understand–I was just doing that. I–I just–they just called me for hey and a guard duty.  And one time, I had–my– I had a–a–we didn’t have an M1, we had a [thinking] it’s the smaller rifle.  One night, as I’m parading by–around my tank. Here a guy approaches me and I says–

 

I:          Who?

 

V:        A–somebody approached me–

 

0:25:30

 

I:          Uh-huh.

 

V:        And I said, “Advance and be recognized”. Here it was an officer. I’m ready to shoot him. And so he recognized who he was and I let him through. And another time, I was on guard duty and–and he–the guy in charge says “Ariola, you’ll put two hours in there and someone will rev–relieve you”. Two hours went by and never saw anybody.

I:          Hm.

 

V:        So, Mr. Ariola here was four hours on guard duty.

 

0:26:00

 

I couldn’t leave. I didn’t now who the guy was to relieve me, but the guy never came and I was– thinking about being tired, I sure was tired.  And the–in closing, like I say, I have no qualms of being a tanker. I think it’s a tough outfit. I was assigned to the Third Armor Division, which was General Patton’s ar–Third Armor Division.  And, like I say, if you heard of General Patton.

 

0:26:30

 

And at–at–at the General Patton’s Museum, which, they talked about that General Patton’s Third Armor Division trained over 100,000 tankers in California in the–Desert–Desert Springs over there by Palm Springs. He had an area just for the tankers where he trained all these tankers.

 

I:          What was the most difficult thing for you to remember?

 

V:        Being alone.  Even though I was with

 

0:27:00

 

the tankers. With very few people. You don’t make friends I–like I said– even being with tankers I never knew their names.  Never how–how we got along. I never–to this day, I don’t remember their names. I don’t remember one man’s name.

 

I:          You didn’t know the name?

 

V:        I know the names then, but after 62 years, I don’t remember.  But today, I know the tank. When I saw this tank,

 

0:27:30

 

everything–it all come back to me. And, like I say, I felt I was alone.  Even though we had the tanks we had the soldiers, but when you’re there by yourself, you’re on your own.  There’s no friends and all that.  There’s–i-i-its buddies more or less that do a job. And that’s what we did. We did a job.  But I felt, like I say, when I got there I thought I wasn’t going to come back, to be honest with you.

 

0:28:00

 

And, you know, up to about five years ago, I never mentioned this to my family. They didn’t’ know.

 

I:          Why not?

 

V:        Because I figured, wha–what–why would they want to know? What? Feel sorry for me? Or know what I went through? I never– in fact, I might say I didn’t have the time to tell them–but. I was too busy raising a family. Working to put them through school. Working to make a living.

 

0:28:30

 

And I did after 62 years, but after about 5 years, when I was free more or less, I was able to talk to them.  Even to the last I–I was able to bring my son to one of our support groups and he never mentioned about what he went through in Somalia when he went.  Black Hawk Down, you’ve heard of that? In 1992. And he talked–which he never opened up to me, as a son. As a father, son to–and never mentioned what he went through being in Somalia.

 

0:29:00

 

So, what I’m saying is Veterans don’t like to talk about it unless. . . I know you’ve probably never been in service. I don’t know. Right? Have you ever been in the service?

 

I:          I was in the Air Force.

 

V:        You was in the Air Force? Were you a combat veteran? And it’s hard to explain when you talk to combat veterans and their stories. They don’t talk about it unless you’re in the support group, like I am now.

 

0:29:30

 

Because who-who-who was I going to talk to? I couldn’t talk to my family, who had never been in any combat situation. But listening to Jimmy, listening to Dave, and–and Bob, who was World War II. A gentleman who jumped on June 5th, was the day before D-Day. Listening to their side of the stories, what they went through. So, us veterans don’t say “hey come on I want to tell you the story about my life”.

 

0:30:00

 

We don’t like to do that. I mean, it’s not our nature to–to do that.

 

I:          So, you saw many dead bodies.

 

V:        Yes. Yes.

 

I:          Chinese? North Koreans? Americans?

 

V:        Mostly Americans.

 

I:          Mostly Americans?

 

V:        Because the fire coming in on us.  The fire, the fire coming. We turned fire from the artillery or what else? Their tanks. Whatever they had firing to us.

 

I:          So, the infantry soldiers around the tank mostly got. . . targeted.

 

V:        F-f-f–yes. From the artillery.

 

0:30:30

 

Of course, there is many that– infantry was ahead of us, so I really couldn’t’ see what they had–but. I’m sure they encountered a lot of their own. I don’t know why we–or you heard of Pork Chop Hill and you heard about–you haven’t heard [cha wan]. That’s where they– Old Baldy was another hill.  Whatever value they had, I–I don’t understand, but that’s where the Chinese were coming from.

 

0:31:00

 

And, which I can’t understand why they say that how come they were involved? I guess the only reason they were involved because we thought that we were going to invade them, and I think that was probably the reason. But. . . and I look back as that– we lost so many soldiers, 35,000 of them.

 

0:31:30

 

And in the cold weather. And in the hot weather.  I’m sure Korea was a–a–a–a–a land where extreme weather, hot and cold. I–I–I–I wasn’t there in–like when it got below zero.  I was there when it was hot. And I was–maybe they couldn’t– why’d they pick Korea? You know what I’m saying?  Is why’d they pick

 

0:32:00

 

on this country? But they did, because of the North Koreans.

 

I:          When did you leave Korea?

 

V:        In–what? November of ’72 something like that. November.

 

I:          ’52?

 

V:        ’52.

 

I:          November of ’52?

 

V:        ’52 yeah.

 

I:          So, what did you bring out of the Korean War with you when you returned home?

 

V:        What did I bring?

 

I:          Yeah. In your mind. In your spirit or–

 

0:32:30

 

V:        I brought–what I– I relived my whole time there. That’s what I relive. All of my time being in Korea I–I–I relived that. The day I went on that ship. The day I went to Japan. And the day back on it and Incheon.  You know? I relived all that. To this day, I remember everything.  62 years ago. And you say why do you remember that? Because it’s hard for me to forget it.

 

0:33:00

 

I wake up at night when I go to the washroom and it takes me a good half an hour, an hour to fall asleep because I relive part of that.  See, when you’re working, when you have a job and you have a family, you don’t think of those things.  You–you–you hit that sack and you fall asleep.  But now that I don’t work, I–I–and the–your children are married. It’s just your wife and I and the we–we do things and all that, but I–I still, when I get up and I have to go to the bathroom, and I relive that.

 

0:33:30

 

Not all the time, but it does come back to me.

 

I:          Do you–

 

V:        I image it lived–everybody else. I mean probably they do the same thing. I don’t know, but this is what I feel that I can’t forget Korea. I can’t forget it.

 

I:          Mm. How do you put the fact that you were there. You cannot forget about it. Into a perspective in your life.

 

V:        It–it–it’s such an experience

 

0:34:00

 

I never had an experience like that in my life. I was never away from–I was–I went to grade school I went to high school I went to work.  And I would never–we never took trips my wife–my–my–my mother and father and all that. Maybe I was maybe 10, 11 years old maybe we went somewhere. But we never went away from Illinois or out of the country.  And it’s an experience for someone to leave United States of America and go to a strange country.

 

0:34:30

 

It is really–that’s the–it’s a new–new beginning.  I know if you–you’re away from Korea I know what is the first time you–when you leave your home town and come to a strange new country. How do you feel? It’s the food is different and all of that and I–you know, I didn’t stop at a restaurant in Korea and say, “Hey here–here’s the K rations here’s the C rations” that’s what I lived out of.  I didn’t have a cook. Like in some places they have a

 

0:35:00

 

mess hall. You go there and get your meal. Get eggs and all that.  I never got that. All I had–when I told you– when I–when it was raining cats and dogs over there and I was hungry I opened a can of whatever I was eating and the rain pouring down. And I’m eating that because I was hungry. And I didn’t say “hey! I don’t want to stand guard duty”. This was my job.  I did my job what I was told and I’m proud that I did my job.  But, like I say, it’s a new ex–

 

0:35:30

 

it’s a very–its–a–a–a very experience.  And if you’ve never been away from home, it’s an experience.   You have to get your food. You have to go to–you want–you’re hungry you gotta get in line and you want to because you want to eat. You have to go to the bathroom, you can’t say I’mma–you go to the bathroom with 10, 20, 30 other guys. You know what I’m saying? You’re living a whole new experience in life.  And I–and–and to me. And I have a grandson who’s 19.

 

0:36:00

 

He had to register for draft.  That’s what I did when I was 18.  I registered for the draft and our draft–our place to draft was around the whole block. You sign your name and all that.  Bam! When I was 21 years old I got that we want you.  You know what I’m saying? And I’m saying it’s an experience. I hope that–well, he had to do the same thing now, my grandson, he’s 19, he signed. He’s going to school and all that. But God forbid, I hope he’s not drafted.

 

0:36:30

 

If he has to, he has to, to serve his country. We all have to. And–because I don’t think we get enough volunteers. We have to have a– a defense. We have to have a good– a ready army. We cannot be a–like in World War II– be off guard and something like in Pearl Harbor happen again.  We have to be prepared. I’m saying be prepared.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

0:37:00

 

Do you suffer from nightmare? Do you see those dead bodies in your night?

 

V:        I do.  One in particular. The one I was telling you about, that he was digging. He looked up at me and I looked up at him.  And that’s the only thing I see. I see–I still see his face I see his picture of him. But I don’t–I know that he was gone. But why I remember that in particularly, because I just got him. He looked at me and I looked at him.  That’s how I remember it.

 

0:37:30

 

I:          And then he died.

 

V:        He died.  Yeah. When I opened up the hatch, I didn’t see him anymore.

 

I:          Did you know him?

 

V:        No, I didn’t know him.  We didn’t talk. I mean, normally, you say hi, this and that, no. He didn’t say a word. I didn’t say a word. Because what could we say? You know? He was about maybe from here to–I’d say 20 feet away from me.  He looked at–he was in his fox hole.

 

I:          Do you still see his eye?

 

38:00

 

V:        [nodding] I see his face itself. The whole face. That’s–its–his–his eyes opened and looking at–I looked at– as if we were to say hi and all that, but we never said a word.

 

 

I:          Does that bother you?

 

V:        Yeah. It does. It does. It–what I dream about, his family. I dream–

 

0:38:30

 

what is his family? You know, when I had my two brothers in service and I think of my mother and father, especially my mother.  She couldn’t speak well English and all that, but I can–I feel in my heart I know what she was going through.  My father, its different, because he served in World War I, more or less. But then when my son was in Somalia, I feel the same way.

 

0:39:00

 

In other words, I knew what my wife was going through and me, as being a veteran, I just kept to myself because I know what he’s going through and–and I don’t want to worry my wife any because it had to be, it had to be, more or less.  But that’s what a parent goes through. Having to–having a soldier– or a daughter in the service. Is not a very nice thing to have.  But you have to go through it.

 

I:          It was such a tragic war. You lost so many bodies.

 

0:39:30

 

but it’s never been really recognized well, as you made a point.

 

V:        That’s right.

 

I:          And it’s been regarded as a forgotten war. Why is that?

 

V:        Because it wasn’t televised more. It wasn’t brought out. We had no television then.  We didn’t have newspapers that–or reporters that were out there capturing all the things that were happening.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

V:        Now, in Iraq, Afghanistan, every time you turn around, 10 soldiers were dead. 15 soldiers were dead.

 

I:          But compared to the World War II, which occurred before the Korean War.

 

0:40:00

 

V:        Yeah.

 

I:          And it was well known to.

 

V:        Yes.

 

I:          And it was well remembered.

 

V:        Yes.

 

I:          And well recognized.

 

V:        Right.

 

I:          Why not Korean War?

 

V:        I don’t know why.  That’s why I can–I can’t understand that. I think the people in higher up, whether it’s Senators, the government, or whatever it is, didn’t recognize. Our president didn’t recognize what it is to have someone over there and know what’s going on.  He didn’t recognize it, Truman, it’s been in the history books.  We read it. He-he-when he answered that question–in fact,

 

0:40:30

 

that question was on Jeopardy.  What did the President Truman say? It’s not a war, it’s a war, it’s a forgotten war. Well hell.  No–it’s a police action.  I told my wife, its police action.  That’s what I’m trying to bring out.  If it was a full scale war, like Vietnam, you take Vietnam now, right? Now you talk to people who have been in — let me finish now.  I go–I went to this PTSD class okay?

 

I:          Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

 

V:        I had the instructor talking about everything. He’s mentioning all the wars right?

 

0:41:00

 

World War I, World War II, what have you. And then he says Vietnam. He never even mentioned the Korean War.  And I was about ready to raise my hand, but I figured, Vince, be quiet. Be quiet. How do you think I feel when 35,000 soldiers died and didn’t recognize the Korean War? I was in–more my PTSD. But I was going to say that and I didn’t know how many Korean Vets were in this room and talking about it. But I was about ready to and my wife said “no, sit down”. You know? I was gonna say,

 

0:41:30

 

“excuse me, sir. You didn’t mention the Korean War.” Wouldn’t you have gotten up? I e mean if you– I took–put my life on stake, and you didn’t mention the Korean War?

 

I:          What do you think is the legacy of the Korean War and Korean War Veterans?

 

V:        I think the–the Korean War Veterans are very nice hospitable people.  I went through a doctor at one of the hospitals and I came out after I seen my regular doctor

 

0:42:00

 

and there was a Korean Vet in a wheelchair more or less. So, when I came out, cause I had my hat on, and he had his hat on, Korean War, he put his hand out right like this. And I put my hand out right–right because we recognize each Korean Vet.  As a Veteran, that’s my legacy, is that we respect each other. I didn’t ask him what he did, what branch or what kind of service he was– infantry, this and that.  But we shook hands because we’re comrades.  We’re friends. We–I know what he went through

 

0:42:30

 

and he probably doesn’t know what I went through. But we wear that hat with pride that we are Korean Veterans.  Combat Veterans.  I’m not saying that everyone does a part on–you know–n– no everyone doesn’t have to be a combat Veteran in Korea, but each one has a–has a part of being there, ya know?

 

I:          Absolutely.

 

V:        Helping out

 

I:          Yes.

 

V:        And–whether you’re a cook, whether you’re a medic and all that.  Everyone had a job to do and that I respect. And I praise

 

0:43:00

 

all of them that served in Korea, no matter what branch or what you did. Whether you’re Marine, Army, Navy or whatever it is.  I-I appreciate what service they’ve done.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

V:        Being serving in Korea.

 

I:          Do you have grandchildren or great-grandchildren in the age of high school or the college?

 

V:        I have this boy, like I say, he just finished high school. He’s 19. And he’s going to a university in August. And if he’s able to go into service, I don’t know.

 

0:43:30

 

but time will tell. I have a granddaughter is–is–is going into second year of high school. And I have a–another little grandson who’s only 9 and he’s in his third grade of grade school.  And I have a-another grandson who is going to be 15 or 14 and he’s graduating from grade school.

 

I:          I invite them to the Washington D.C. so that they can keep your legacy.

 

V:        I see.  Well, I’ll talk to my wife.

 

I:          Any other message you wanna leave to this interview?

 

0:44:00

 

V:        Well, in–in closing, I’m very pleased that–that I’m happy that the Koreans have freedom now. And–and what I did was a small part of giving them back their freedom that they so well deserve against this North Korean–

 

I:          Uh-huh.

 

V:        Conflict.

 

0:44:30

 

And I’m happy that I was able to do something–play a part that they have this freedom now, which started back in 1950. And I hope it doesn’t–it lasts forever. That nothing I hope happens again, the conflict in Korea. And I–I’m very pleased with the South Korean people and what they’ve done and the progress they’ve made in rebuilding their–their–their country.

 

0:45:00

 

I:          Thank you so much again for your fight and your suffering. But because of that we are here. And, as you mentioned, in order for us to keep your legacy and–and make this war remembered in the minds of the people,

 

V:        That’s–

 

I:          We need to activate your grandchildren.

 

V:        Okay. Alright then.

 

I:          Ask them to contact me.

 

V:        Okay.

 

I:          They going to learn how they going to do interview the local Korean War Veterans so they can send me like this.

 

0:45:30

 

And then they going to work on the American History text book, which has very short coverage of the Korean War.

 

V:        What you’re saying is exactly what I was trying to convey to you.  E–e–exactly.  Is to keep that North Korea–the South Korean legacy going.

 

I:          Yep.

 

V:        And–and you recognize what we’ve done for you people and that’s–that was that’s the whole thing that I–I wanted to bring out. Thank you and I appreciate it and I see someone that really appreciates

 

0:46:00

 

and what we’ve done. What–what we tried to do for you Korean– and recognize that and there–that’s that’s what–that’s all I wanted was recognition that–thank you for d–for what you’re doing.

 

[End of Recorded Material]

ARIOLA, VINCENT

0:46:12

Transcribed by SARAH IBRAHIM on 06/11/2018

 

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

 

0:00:00

 

Vincent Ariola:           My name is Vincent Ariola.  I was born September 13, 1930. I was born in Chicago, Illinois.

 

Interviewer:               What is the ethnic origin of this last name, Ariola?

 

V:        It’s Italian.

 

I:          Italian?

 

V:        Yes. My folks were from Italy in the 1920’s, I believe. And they settled in the United States in Chicago.

 

I:          Mmm.

 

0:00:30

 

So, tell me about your family background. Parents and siblings.

 

V:        Well, I have–I had five–four brothers. It’s a family of five children, four boys and a girl.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

V:        And we’re raised all in Chicago. We all went to grade school and high school.  My father was a carpenter.

 

I:          Mm.

 

0:01:00

 

V:        By trade. And my mother was a–a seamstress back in Italy. They both had a very nice education. They both could read and write.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

V:        Of course, I was born in 1930 so, that gives you the time of the year of the depression in 1929.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

V:        and it was very difficult for my Dad to get work. But he was a great man and

 

0:01:30

 

we survived. And we had a good education.  And I had two brothers in World War II. I I had one was in the Army and he was wounded on Okinawa. My other oldest brother was in the Navy. And okay. My other brother had, a sort of a little handicap so he was not able to go into the service. And I was 11 years old, at the time

 

0:02:00

 

so, I was not old enough to go in that war, otherwise I would have been in World War II. But, at the age of 21, I got the greetings of the United States Government to be drafted in the Army in 1951. October 1951.  That was during the Korean conflict. You notice I said conflict and not a war.

 

0:02:30

 

I’ll never forget that Truman, when he was asked, when he was president, when people asked him about the Korean War he says “It is not a war, it’s a police action”.  So, when I was drafted I was drafted and sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky. Which was the home of the 3rdArmor Division, which was the tank division.

 

0:03:00

 

I was given four or five weeks of infantry training, but the balance was tanks. Trained in the M-4 Sherman Medium Tank, which was a tank used during World War II. And I was trained for about four months, five months, and I took a leadership course to stay a little longer, if at all possible.

 

0:03:30

 

Because we knew that our division would probably go to Korea. And what irked me more than anything else was is that when I was on–they give you 30 days and then you report to a certain place and then you’re transferred overseas, but I –I felt in my heart that the people of the United States didn’t recognize the military, in those days. Not knowing what Korea was and where it was and what we’re doing.

 

0:04:00

 

So, that irked me more than anything else and–but anyway, a long story short, I was sent to San Francisco, California and put on a ship that I wouldn’t put a dog on, which was a liberty ship. It’s a ship that we couldn’t go any lower than what we hit the middle, down there. And we slept on hammocks.  And we. . .

 

0:04:30

 

threw up just about everything not being–away from home and being on the ship. Anyway, the small ship going across the Pacific we stopped in Hawaii. And the sailors getting off laughing, joking what have you, and us poor soldiers just watching the Arizona in the water in Hawaii and, anyway.

 

0:05:00

 

Get back on that ship.  They let us off for an hour or so and get back on the ship and another five, six more days to go to Japan.  Unload every bit– every stitch of clothes you have with a duffle bag and just give you your basic needs that you need.  And put back on the ship. Stopped at Incheon, Korea.

 

I:          When did you leave for Korea?

 

05:30:00

 

V:        19–

 

I:          From the United States.

 

V:        1952.  I think it was maybe April, I believe something like that.

 

I:          And then when did you– so you arrive in Incheon in same month, right?

 

V:        Yeah.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

V:        Well, we stopped in Japan for a day or so and then get back on the ship and got into ship and landed in Incheon.

 

I:          Were you afraid at the time? When you were on– on the way to Korea?

 

V:        I thought about it,

 

0:06:00

 

but the point is that I– you try not to think about it. They tell you what to do and you did it, more or less.  And being a tanker, you know, I– you just do what they tell you. So anyway, we get to our location and I was assigned to a–this tank. And, to this day, I don’t remember the–

 

0:06:30

 

my fellow members on a tank or–I was assigned to a–a the officer that– in charge he was the lead tank. He was the lieutenant in our tank.  Anyway, be honest with you, I didn’t think I was going to come back. I got in through Korea and it was just a flat open land. No b–no– no buildings no nothing. And all they had was South Koreans that did some of our laundry a little bit.

 

0:07:00

 

And finally one day, I didn’t see any South Koreans anymore. We just left them. In other words, we were going into North Korea so, they didn’t want to take any South Koreans with us because we couldn’t know what the difference.  So, what I’m saying, if we saw any Koreans from the–in the end there, we would shoot em.  You know what I’m saying? We couldn’t tell the difference.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

V:        And, how many days we were going with our tank battalion.

 

07:30:00

 

We were assigned to the 45thInfantry Division. And I don’t know how many days we traveled on this road.  And all there was, was rice paddies on both sides of the road.  And just–

 

I:          Were you inside of the tank?

 

V:        Oh yes.

 

I:          Okay

 

V:        We were actually tankers.

 

I:          Mm-hmm..

 

V:        Tankers.

 

I:          Yep.

 

V:        There was the mach–the driver.  To the right of him was the 30 caliber machine gun. And then we had a 50 caliber machine gun on top of the tank.

 

0:08:00

 

for anti-aircraft, or what have you.  And inside it was three of us.  Two besides the officer.

 

I:          What was your specific mission in that–inside of tank?

 

V:        I can do both jobs. I had to be the loader, the firer, the radio man, anything that I needed. I can– I can drive the tank I can handle all– any weapons in the tank and all that. In case someone got hurt. I was available.

 

0:08:30

 

Koreans or Chinese, the Russians, I– I understand were supplying the North Koreans with the Russian built tanks. [shows photo of man in front of tank]  And a thing I want to point out also is that when we got to where we were going, we got to hill 266, which is called Old Baldy. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that or not.  Left early in the morning and finally some time before dusk

 

0:09:00

 

Before night time, we stopped and our tanks were in a formation type of thing. One maybe 20 yards.  And around our tanks we had the infantry. Without infantry the tankers were not–they were liable for getting blown up and everything. And to this day this one infantry soldier, I see he was in a fox hole–

 

0:09:30

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

V:        And that’s all I can remember of his. And what happened was that when it got dark, firing commenced. And we kept firing our 75mm cannon that’s on the tank there. And all of a sudden, return fire came way up there by the mountains and to the left and to the right and when that was happening we had to move

 

0:10:00

 

because if we stayed in one spot at any length of time, that second artillery thing would hit us. So, for–and it–it got so that the officer says “okay, close hatches” because so we bundled down.  And talking about sweating, I mean, it’s like water pouring down on us. It was about over 100 degrees, at the time.  And firing the 75mm with the shells back and forth it would just saturate us

 

0:10:30

 

like someone threw a bucket of water on us.  Anyway, after this happened for several hours, it seemed that–to be a quiet–it seemed the quiet came over us. No more action was going on. Everything was– we opened up our hatches and I looked up and I saw this one young infantry man, he was dead. And a lot of other infantry around us were dead. And to this day, like I say,

 

0:11:00

 

it–it antagonizes me. And so then we drove and drove and drove back to where we all consol our tanks–consolidated. And, and so then we stopped at a one place and they said to– time to get something to eat, but Ariola you stay with the tank. You watch the tank.  In the mean time, it started to rain.  Pouring rain.

 

0:11:30

 

Monsoon. And so here I am by myself, hungry. I open up a can of rations and rain pouring down eat my rations. And that’s all I remember then. And then finally we got to where–place that where we can re-rest and so that’s about what happened that one particular time. So, is there any questions you want to ask me? Or is. . .

 

0:12:00

 

I:          Yeah.  How is it being inside of the tank in the–in terms of weather, in terms of noise, in terms of heat. In. . .

 

V:        This is what I can’t understand. . .

 

I:          Where d–

 

V:        Yeah.  It is–it’s crowded. Maybe because I was short at the time maybe that’s why I was picked to be in a tanker. But anyway, there’s not too much room left to–to manipulate around. Secondly, they, the noise factor.  You know, you see pictures today of

 

0:12:30

 

What? All these ear plugs you have and all that. In 1951, us tankers didn’t have all the things they have today. And the noise is terrible and I–I hear now I have ear hearing aides now, after a few years I was able to get em through the Army. But– but the noise is terrible and there’s not much room at all.

 

0:13:00

 

Now, they have bigger tanks.  This M-4 Sherman Tank, it was a tank used during World War II and it was–is one of the fastest tanks we had and today–I used to–in those days used to jump up and down the tank to get in and out. Today.  We–I went to, in California, it was the–whats? General–oh I can’t think of his name–

 

0:13:30

 

he was in charge of the third army division–General Patton.

 

I:          Patton.

 

V:        Right, General Patton.  P-A-double

 

I:          TT–

 

V:        T-O-N.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

V:        Sherman. He was the great General during–

 

I:          Yeah.

 

V:        In World War II that fought the Germans–

 

I:          Yeah.

 

V:        in the dessert. And anyway we’re–we’re just driving along and we see a big sign there that says General Patton’s Museum. So, my wife and I we pulled over and stopped and went in there and it brought back all the memories of–

 

0:14:00

 

In fact, they had–in one–in a corner they had a– one of my tanks still there.  And it was real exciting. Brought back all the memories. You see, people talk about being in infantry, being this and being that. Have you ever talked to another tanker in your interview? Have you ever mentioned in a–

 

I:          Yes.

 

V:        You have mentioned tankers in the in World War–in Korean conflict?

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

V:        I never met one yet. It would be interesting to see what–

 

0:14:30

 

the stories they have. I was glad I was not in the infantry because I couldn’t dig a hole and everything.  If I–I felt I was going to come back and if I was going to get it, I was going to get it. I mean, it’s very easy, a Bazooka and I’m going.  but being a tanker, you don’t think about that. You’re kept too busy. In other words, if the tank doesn’t run, I’m dead. We had 45’s we carried. But you can’t carry an M1 riffle in there.

 

0:15:00

 

And five of us is like one. We all worked together. And I enjoyed being a tanker. People talk about infantry, and I know the Maries they talk about this and they talk about that, but I enjoyed being a tanker. A–and–see the thing that I–when I was drafted, I didn’t know what was going to happen. What was being the tanker, being involved. Who was I fighting for?

 

0:15:30

 

W–what was I fighting for? All I heard was Korea. North Korea. South Korea. North Korea, I understand, I read back about what happened in 19-something. Japan took over Korea and what happened when Japan lost the war, the United States was given South of the 38thparallel gave it to the South Korea.

 

0:16:00

 

And North of the 38thparallel was given to North Korea by the Russians. And in 1950 is when North Korea invaded South Korea.  And so, what I gathered the whole thing was is that the South Korea wanted a –a way of freedom like the United States. Land of the free, home of the brave. North Korea wanted to be militarized. They wanted their–their own form of government.

 

0:16:30

 

And the only thing that I appreciate in my heart is that the Korean Veterans what they did in Korea was to give South Korea that freedom part to do away from the military type of government.  Also, that– and the thing that I didn’t like about the whole Korean conflict is that I don’t think us Korean Veterans

 

0:17:00

 

and to this day were not given the honor due to the Korean Veterans.  Back in–what? 10 or 12 years ago?  The Korean Delegate gave a–a luncheon for some Korean veterans, which was, I felt was very nice, a–a to show the appreciation is what us Korean Veterans did

 

0:17:30

 

for the Korean people.  And yet, I am not– I love America–I’ll die for America. I kissed the ground when I came home from Korea. The kissed the ground if we–to see what type of government we have and the freedom we have and to appreciate the United States of America. And I don’t–still to this day I don’t feel that we were given a–a–

 

0:18:00

 

62 years ago I was in the Korea.  And I don’t feel that personally given a respect that what–I don’t mean we– give us the world, the moon and the sun, but just show us thank you Korean Veterans for what you did. Because people in those days didn’t understand what we were going through. We lost over 35,000 soldiers in the Korean conflict.  I–for three years.

 

0:18:30

 

And I-I admire President Eisenhower when he took office in 1953 and his first goal was to bring us soldiers back and to end this conflict. There was no winners then, it was just a peace treaty. And—and to this day is what–I want to point out one thing. When I was firing this tank, I thought that we were fighting the North Koreans. We were not.

 

0:19:00

 

We were fighting the Chinese. Fighting the Chinese.  I mean, you know it–because when–when we–I–my [character] went into Ch–when he was given by Truman to go in there’s the–we ended the–we–we pushed the North Koreans all the way back to the Chinese border and he wanted to go further into China, but Truman says no you come back here and–and that’s–

 

0:19:30

 

that’s when this war really began because everyone is supplying this and that. You see what I’m getting at? In other words, it was not a war like World War II.  Everybody knew there was a war going on. We had no television. We had hardly anything. So, people here didn’t know what was going on out there. What the South Koreans were going through and–our soldiers going through.  And–and–and how many people we lost. So

 

0:20:00

 

I was proud to serve in the Korean conflict, I really was.  And I was proud.  In fact, I belong to a support group here. Its mentally health support group. And Dave and Jimmy and–and its a couple from World War II and us we have discussions and all that. And its helped us and the PTSD.  In other words what I’m saying is, that we think about it.  You say, well, how come you think about it now?

 

0:20:30

 

But when we got out, we didn’t have all these VA satellite places you can go here to talk to. In other words, it’s a VA where people you can go and talk to o-o-only just now. So 62 years later we have a VA Hospital, we have all this.  If you have a problem, you can meet with people and talk about this there and that. When you get out o-o-of service that–all you do is you leave the service and you go get a job and you work.

 

0:21:00

 

I supported a family. I have a son who served in Somalia. I have a daughter a-a- that is in the medical field. And so, I come from a family that served the country hel–very well and we appreciate the United States of America. I just hope that we don’t have something happen in North Korea again and South Korea. That’s something I wish will never happen.

 

0:21:30

 

And I’m very happy to see pictures of South Korea how nice.  They have big buildings there and everything. Now, you might ask me do I want to go back? Do I want to go back? To be honest with you, I really don’t want to go back. I mean, I have nothing against the Korean people. I’m so happy that they’re friendly. I know its–I just–I’ll never forget my memories there. I think the South Korean people are fantastic and I’m so

 

0:22:00

 

happy what they’ve done. They’ve progressed in the world.  And I drive a Korean car.  I’m very pleased.  And so I have–just that I just–don’t wish to go back.

 

I:          Why?

 

V:        It–it’ll bring back memories for me.  And I–I think about it that’s the thing now. I still think about Korea. What, which was a–a desolate country, in other words, it didn’t have anything with all the wars and I imagine what they went through to rebuild and everything.

 

0:22:30

 

And…but I–I just don’t care to go back.

 

I:          Too much for you to go back.

 

V:        Yeah, it’s too much to go back.

 

I:          Right.  Mm-hmm.

 

V:        I want to remember–what I went through and I want to try to forget it and I think the Korean people are–are a nice group of people.  And I–I just so very happy that they’re on their two feet now.  And I just pray to God that nothing breaks out again out there and. . .

 

0:23:00

 

I:          Had your tank been hit by?

 

V:        No, no.

 

I:          Never?

 

V:        No, never been hit.

 

I:          Oh.

 

V:        We’ve had some dirt and all that stuff flying on top of it. And– but that artillery did come pretty darn close and I know that. And I–I’m just lucky. You know? I just feel that I was lucky, but when I saw all of those dead soldiers around me at–I knew the–that artillery just come right at you.

 

0:23:30

 

And I–I was just lucky that I didn’t get hit and. . .

 

I:          How was enemy tank?

 

V:        They were at least a–a half a mile away I would say.  You know? A 500 feet, 1,000 feet away you know, away. And we fired that 75mm and the–the tank just goes back like that. And I’m sure we did damage. I know we did damage because we–we did a lot of

 

0:24:00

 

firing back and forth. And we had tanks in our line also and I’m sure we have. And we cou–and we did see them. . .

 

I:          Where did you sleep?

 

V:        [thinking]

 

I:          You always move around right?

 

V:        Yeah. It, its. . .

 

I:          But you did– you didn’t sleep inside of the tank?

 

V:        Well, well, we didn’t sleep in the tank.

 

I:          You didn’t?

 

V:        No. No.

 

I:          Right, so where did you go to sleep?

 

V:        Well, we had our little tents. We would get a tent and move around on a tank. Ah-ah-ah-put a–put a– pitch a tent.

 

0:24:30

 

And all our tankers would go and stay in the little– all our tankers would stay in this little tent.

 

I:          Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

 

V:        And then the next morning. Because secondly, the, I don’t know how the infantry did it, but the bugs were terrible. We used to have a–screens like to cover our–our tent. And one time I heard some kind of a noise and boy I just slept all the way through it.  I want to point out one thing too, every time it was guard duty, my  name must have came up all the time.

 

0:25:00

 

Here we go. Here we go. I had guard duty all the time. And…

 

I:          Why is that?

 

V:        I don’t understand–I was just doing that. I–I just–they just called me for hey and a guard duty.  And one time, I had–my– I had a–a–we didn’t have an M1, we had a [thinking] it’s the smaller rifle.  One night, as I’m parading by–around my tank. Here a guy approaches me and I says–

 

I:          Who?

 

V:        A–somebody approached me–

 

0:25:30

 

I:          Uh-huh.

 

V:        And I said, “Advance and be recognized”. Here it was an officer. I’m ready to shoot him. And so he recognized who he was and I let him through. And another time, I was on guard duty and–and he–the guy in charge says “Ariola, you’ll put two hours in there and someone will rev–relieve you”. Two hours went by and never saw anybody.

I:          Hm.

 

V:        So, Mr. Ariola here was four hours on guard duty.

 

0:26:00

 

I couldn’t leave. I didn’t now who the guy was to relieve me, but the guy never came and I was– thinking about being tired, I sure was tired.  And the–in closing, like I say, I have no qualms of being a tanker. I think it’s a tough outfit. I was assigned to the Third Armor Division, which was General Patton’s ar–Third Armor Division.  And, like I say, if you heard of General Patton.

 

0:26:30

 

And at–at–at the General Patton’s Museum, which, they talked about that General Patton’s Third Armor Division trained over 100,000 tankers in California in the–Desert–Desert Springs over there by Palm Springs. He had an area just for the tankers where he trained all these tankers.

 

I:          What was the most difficult thing for you to remember?

 

V:        Being alone.  Even though I was with

 

0:27:00

 

the tankers. With very few people. You don’t make friends I–like I said– even being with tankers I never knew their names.  Never how–how we got along. I never–to this day, I don’t remember their names. I don’t remember one man’s name.

 

I:          You didn’t know the name?

 

V:        I know the names then, but after 62 years, I don’t remember.  But today, I know the tank. When I saw this tank,

 

0:27:30

 

everything–it all come back to me. And, like I say, I felt I was alone.  Even though we had the tanks we had the soldiers, but when you’re there by yourself, you’re on your own.  There’s no friends and all that.  There’s–i-i-its buddies more or less that do a job. And that’s what we did. We did a job.  But I felt, like I say, when I got there I thought I wasn’t going to come back, to be honest with you.

 

0:28:00

 

And, you know, up to about five years ago, I never mentioned this to my family. They didn’t’ know.

 

I:          Why not?

 

V:        Because I figured, wha–what–why would they want to know? What? Feel sorry for me? Or know what I went through? I never– in fact, I might say I didn’t have the time to tell them–but. I was too busy raising a family. Working to put them through school. Working to make a living.

 

0:28:30

 

And I did after 62 years, but after about 5 years, when I was free more or less, I was able to talk to them.  Even to the last I–I was able to bring my son to one of our support groups and he never mentioned about what he went through in Somalia when he went.  Black Hawk Down, you’ve heard of that? In 1992. And he talked–which he never opened up to me, as a son. As a father, son to–and never mentioned what he went through being in Somalia.

 

0:29:00

 

So, what I’m saying is Veterans don’t like to talk about it unless. . . I know you’ve probably never been in service. I don’t know. Right? Have you ever been in the service?

 

I:          I was in the Air Force.

 

V:        You was in the Air Force? Were you a combat veteran? And it’s hard to explain when you talk to combat veterans and their stories. They don’t talk about it unless you’re in the support group, like I am now.

 

0:29:30

 

Because who-who-who was I going to talk to? I couldn’t talk to my family, who had never been in any combat situation. But listening to Jimmy, listening to Dave, and–and Bob, who was World War II. A gentleman who jumped on June 5th, was the day before D-Day. Listening to their side of the stories, what they went through. So, us veterans don’t say “hey come on I want to tell you the story about my life”.

 

0:30:00

 

We don’t like to do that. I mean, it’s not our nature to–to do that.

 

I:          So, you saw many dead bodies.

 

V:        Yes. Yes.

 

I:          Chinese? North Koreans? Americans?

 

V:        Mostly Americans.

 

I:          Mostly Americans?

 

V:        Because the fire coming in on us.  The fire, the fire coming. We turned fire from the artillery or what else? Their tanks. Whatever they had firing to us.

 

I:          So, the infantry soldiers around the tank mostly got. . . targeted.

 

V:        F-f-f–yes. From the artillery.

 

0:30:30

 

Of course, there is many that– infantry was ahead of us, so I really couldn’t’ see what they had–but. I’m sure they encountered a lot of their own. I don’t know why we–or you heard of Pork Chop Hill and you heard about–you haven’t heard [cha wan]. That’s where they– Old Baldy was another hill.  Whatever value they had, I–I don’t understand, but that’s where the Chinese were coming from.

 

0:31:00

 

And, which I can’t understand why they say that how come they were involved? I guess the only reason they were involved because we thought that we were going to invade them, and I think that was probably the reason. But. . . and I look back as that– we lost so many soldiers, 35,000 of them.

 

0:31:30

 

And in the cold weather. And in the hot weather.  I’m sure Korea was a–a–a–a–a land where extreme weather, hot and cold. I–I–I–I wasn’t there in–like when it got below zero.  I was there when it was hot. And I was–maybe they couldn’t– why’d they pick Korea? You know what I’m saying?  Is why’d they pick

 

0:32:00

 

on this country? But they did, because of the North Koreans.

 

I:          When did you leave Korea?

 

V:        In–what? November of ’72 something like that. November.

 

I:          ’52?

 

V:        ’52.

 

I:          November of ’52?

 

V:        ’52 yeah.

 

I:          So, what did you bring out of the Korean War with you when you returned home?

 

V:        What did I bring?

 

I:          Yeah. In your mind. In your spirit or–

 

0:32:30

 

V:        I brought–what I– I relived my whole time there. That’s what I relive. All of my time being in Korea I–I–I relived that. The day I went on that ship. The day I went to Japan. And the day back on it and Incheon.  You know? I relived all that. To this day, I remember everything.  62 years ago. And you say why do you remember that? Because it’s hard for me to forget it.

 

0:33:00

 

I wake up at night when I go to the washroom and it takes me a good half an hour, an hour to fall asleep because I relive part of that.  See, when you’re working, when you have a job and you have a family, you don’t think of those things.  You–you–you hit that sack and you fall asleep.  But now that I don’t work, I–I–and the–your children are married. It’s just your wife and I and the we–we do things and all that, but I–I still, when I get up and I have to go to the bathroom, and I relive that.

 

0:33:30

 

Not all the time, but it does come back to me.

 

I:          Do you–

 

V:        I image it lived–everybody else. I mean probably they do the same thing. I don’t know, but this is what I feel that I can’t forget Korea. I can’t forget it.

 

I:          Mm. How do you put the fact that you were there. You cannot forget about it. Into a perspective in your life.

 

V:        It–it–it’s such an experience

 

0:34:00

 

I never had an experience like that in my life. I was never away from–I was–I went to grade school I went to high school I went to work.  And I would never–we never took trips my wife–my–my–my mother and father and all that. Maybe I was maybe 10, 11 years old maybe we went somewhere. But we never went away from Illinois or out of the country.  And it’s an experience for someone to leave United States of America and go to a strange country.

 

0:34:30

 

It is really–that’s the–it’s a new–new beginning.  I know if you–you’re away from Korea I know what is the first time you–when you leave your home town and come to a strange new country. How do you feel? It’s the food is different and all of that and I–you know, I didn’t stop at a restaurant in Korea and say, “Hey here–here’s the K rations here’s the C rations” that’s what I lived out of.  I didn’t have a cook. Like in some places they have a

 

0:35:00

 

mess hall. You go there and get your meal. Get eggs and all that.  I never got that. All I had–when I told you– when I–when it was raining cats and dogs over there and I was hungry I opened a can of whatever I was eating and the rain pouring down. And I’m eating that because I was hungry. And I didn’t say “hey! I don’t want to stand guard duty”. This was my job.  I did my job what I was told and I’m proud that I did my job.  But, like I say, it’s a new ex–

 

0:35:30

 

it’s a very–its–a–a–a very experience.  And if you’ve never been away from home, it’s an experience.   You have to get your food. You have to go to–you want–you’re hungry you gotta get in line and you want to because you want to eat. You have to go to the bathroom, you can’t say I’mma–you go to the bathroom with 10, 20, 30 other guys. You know what I’m saying? You’re living a whole new experience in life.  And I–and–and to me. And I have a grandson who’s 19.

 

0:36:00

 

He had to register for draft.  That’s what I did when I was 18.  I registered for the draft and our draft–our place to draft was around the whole block. You sign your name and all that.  Bam! When I was 21 years old I got that we want you.  You know what I’m saying? And I’m saying it’s an experience. I hope that–well, he had to do the same thing now, my grandson, he’s 19, he signed. He’s going to school and all that. But God forbid, I hope he’s not drafted.

 

0:36:30

 

If he has to, he has to, to serve his country. We all have to. And–because I don’t think we get enough volunteers. We have to have a– a defense. We have to have a good– a ready army. We cannot be a–like in World War II– be off guard and something like in Pearl Harbor happen again.  We have to be prepared. I’m saying be prepared.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

0:37:00

 

Do you suffer from nightmare? Do you see those dead bodies in your night?

 

V:        I do.  One in particular. The one I was telling you about, that he was digging. He looked up at me and I looked up at him.  And that’s the only thing I see. I see–I still see his face I see his picture of him. But I don’t–I know that he was gone. But why I remember that in particularly, because I just got him. He looked at me and I looked at him.  That’s how I remember it.

 

0:37:30

 

I:          And then he died.

 

V:        He died.  Yeah. When I opened up the hatch, I didn’t see him anymore.

 

I:          Did you know him?

 

V:        No, I didn’t know him.  We didn’t talk. I mean, normally, you say hi, this and that, no. He didn’t say a word. I didn’t say a word. Because what could we say? You know? He was about maybe from here to–I’d say 20 feet away from me.  He looked at–he was in his fox hole.

 

I:          Do you still see his eye?

 

38:00

 

V:        [nodding] I see his face itself. The whole face. That’s–its–his–his eyes opened and looking at–I looked at– as if we were to say hi and all that, but we never said a word.

 

 

I:          Does that bother you?

 

V:        Yeah. It does. It does. It–what I dream about, his family. I dream–

 

0:38:30

 

what is his family? You know, when I had my two brothers in service and I think of my mother and father, especially my mother.  She couldn’t speak well English and all that, but I can–I feel in my heart I know what she was going through.  My father, its different, because he served in World War I, more or less. But then when my son was in Somalia, I feel the same way.

 

0:39:00

 

In other words, I knew what my wife was going through and me, as being a veteran, I just kept to myself because I know what he’s going through and–and I don’t want to worry my wife any because it had to be, it had to be, more or less.  But that’s what a parent goes through. Having to–having a soldier– or a daughter in the service. Is not a very nice thing to have.  But you have to go through it.

 

I:          It was such a tragic war. You lost so many bodies.

 

0:39:30

 

but it’s never been really recognized well, as you made a point.

 

V:        That’s right.

 

I:          And it’s been regarded as a forgotten war. Why is that?

 

V:        Because it wasn’t televised more. It wasn’t brought out. We had no television then.  We didn’t have newspapers that–or reporters that were out there capturing all the things that were happening.

 

I:          Yeah.

 

V:        Now, in Iraq, Afghanistan, every time you turn around, 10 soldiers were dead. 15 soldiers were dead.

 

I:          But compared to the World War II, which occurred before the Korean War.

 

0:40:00

 

V:        Yeah.

 

I:          And it was well known to.

 

V:        Yes.

 

I:          And it was well remembered.

 

V:        Yes.

 

I:          And well recognized.

 

V:        Right.

 

I:          Why not Korean War?

 

V:        I don’t know why.  That’s why I can–I can’t understand that. I think the people in higher up, whether it’s Senators, the government, or whatever it is, didn’t recognize. Our president didn’t recognize what it is to have someone over there and know what’s going on.  He didn’t recognize it, Truman, it’s been in the history books.  We read it. He-he-when he answered that question–in fact,

 

0:40:30

 

that question was on Jeopardy.  What did the President Truman say? It’s not a war, it’s a war, it’s a forgotten war. Well hell.  No–it’s a police action.  I told my wife, its police action.  That’s what I’m trying to bring out.  If it was a full scale war, like Vietnam, you take Vietnam now, right? Now you talk to people who have been in — let me finish now.  I go–I went to this PTSD class okay?

 

I:          Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

 

V:        I had the instructor talking about everything. He’s mentioning all the wars right?

 

0:41:00

 

World War I, World War II, what have you. And then he says Vietnam. He never even mentioned the Korean War.  And I was about ready to raise my hand, but I figured, Vince, be quiet. Be quiet. How do you think I feel when 35,000 soldiers died and didn’t recognize the Korean War? I was in–more my PTSD. But I was going to say that and I didn’t know how many Korean Vets were in this room and talking about it. But I was about ready to and my wife said “no, sit down”. You know? I was gonna say,

 

0:41:30

 

“excuse me, sir. You didn’t mention the Korean War.” Wouldn’t you have gotten up? I e mean if you– I took–put my life on stake, and you didn’t mention the Korean War?

 

I:          What do you think is the legacy of the Korean War and Korean War Veterans?

 

V:        I think the–the Korean War Veterans are very nice hospitable people.  I went through a doctor at one of the hospitals and I came out after I seen my regular doctor

 

0:42:00

 

and there was a Korean Vet in a wheelchair more or less. So, when I came out, cause I had my hat on, and he had his hat on, Korean War, he put his hand out right like this. And I put my hand out right–right because we recognize each Korean Vet.  As a Veteran, that’s my legacy, is that we respect each other. I didn’t ask him what he did, what branch or what kind of service he was– infantry, this and that.  But we shook hands because we’re comrades.  We’re friends. We–I know what he went through

 

0:42:30

 

and he probably doesn’t know what I went through. But we wear that hat with pride that we are Korean Veterans.  Combat Veterans.  I’m not saying that everyone does a part on–you know–n– no everyone doesn’t have to be a combat Veteran in Korea, but each one has a–has a part of being there, ya know?

 

I:          Absolutely.

 

V:        Helping out

 

I:          Yes.

 

V:        And–whether you’re a cook, whether you’re a medic and all that.  Everyone had a job to do and that I respect. And I praise

 

0:43:00

 

all of them that served in Korea, no matter what branch or what you did. Whether you’re Marine, Army, Navy or whatever it is.  I-I appreciate what service they’ve done.

 

I:          Mm-hmm.

 

V:        Being serving in Korea.

 

I:          Do you have grandchildren or great-grandchildren in the age of high school or the college?

 

V:        I have this boy, like I say, he just finished high school. He’s 19. And he’s going to a university in August. And if he’s able to go into service, I don’t know.

 

0:43:30

 

but time will tell. I have a granddaughter is–is–is going into second year of high school. And I have a–another little grandson who’s only 9 and he’s in his third grade of grade school.  And I have a-another grandson who is going to be 15 or 14 and he’s graduating from grade school.

 

I:          I invite them to the Washington D.C. so that they can keep your legacy.

 

V:        I see.  Well, I’ll talk to my wife.

 

I:          Any other message you wanna leave to this interview?

 

0:44:00

 

V:        Well, in–in closing, I’m very pleased that–that I’m happy that the Koreans have freedom now. And–and what I did was a small part of giving them back their freedom that they so well deserve against this North Korean–

 

I:          Uh-huh.

 

V:        Conflict.

 

0:44:30

 

And I’m happy that I was able to do something–play a part that they have this freedom now, which started back in 1950. And I hope it doesn’t–it lasts forever. That nothing I hope happens again, the conflict in Korea. And I–I’m very pleased with the South Korean people and what they’ve done and the progress they’ve made in rebuilding their–their–their country.

 

0:45:00

 

I:          Thank you so much again for your fight and your suffering. But because of that we are here. And, as you mentioned, in order for us to keep your legacy and–and make this war remembered in the minds of the people,

 

V:        That’s–

 

I:          We need to activate your grandchildren.

 

V:        Okay. Alright then.

 

I:          Ask them to contact me.

 

V:        Okay.

 

I:          They going to learn how they going to do interview the local Korean War Veterans so they can send me like this.

 

0:45:30

 

And then they going to work on the American History text book, which has very short coverage of the Korean War.

 

V:        What you’re saying is exactly what I was trying to convey to you.  E–e–exactly.  Is to keep that North Korea–the South Korean legacy going.

I:          Yep.

V:        And–and you recognize what we’ve done for you people and that’s–that was that’s the whole thing that I–I wanted to bring out. Thank you and I appreciate it and I see someone that really appreciates

0:46:00

and what we’ve done. What–what we tried to do for you Korean– and recognize that and there–that’s that’s what–that’s all I wanted was recognition that–thank you for d–for what you’re doing.

[End of Recorded Material]