Korean War Legacy Project

Virbel Trotter

Bio

Virbel Trotter was born in Winnsboro, TX on May 7, 1930.  After graduating from high school he worked at a bottling plant and served as a deliveryman.  In 1951 he received a draft notice, and reported to basic training where he learned how to be an infantryman.  After training, he learned he would be sent to Korea.  Already married at the time, Mr. Trotter and his wife were not thrilled about his departure.  After landing in Incheon in 1952, Mr. Trotter worked on the the support side of the war, mainly making sure that supplies got to the front-line.  Although he did not directly see combat, he remembers a number of instances in which he came under mortar fire while delivering goods and supplies to the front-line.

Video Clips

Fear of the Frontline

Virbel Trotter responses to a question about whether or not he was nervous heading to Korea. He explains that it was an unknown to him. The people who trained him at served in Korea at the early part of the war and shared stories about how rough it was.

Tags: Incheon,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7Ao9BetZuU&start=315&end=362

Job During the War

Virbel Trotter explains what his job was during the war. He explains that they were a support group that had to ensure the front lines had the supplies that they needed. He remembers it being somewhat dangerous because of mortar fire.

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

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7Ao9BetZuU&start=620&end=685

"Get Through and Get Out"

Virbel Trotter was attacked by mortal 2-3 times during the war. He describes how you would need to get into a ditch to try to get away from it. He remembers thinking wanting to “get through and get out.”

Tags: Fear,Front lines,Living conditions

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7Ao9BetZuU&start=902&end=988

Video Transcript

00:00
I’m Virbel Trotter could you spell
00:02
it v i r b e l t r o t t e r what is your
00:09
birthday may seven nineteen thirty where
00:14
we want winnsboro texas wi n wiin in s
00:21
do our old Texas tell me about your
00:27
family when you’re growing up your
00:29
parents and your I had I was least I had
00:32
one brother who was eight years younger
00:34
than I and my mother and dad and we
00:41
lived out on the farm or inland rule
00:44
near winnsboro texas and my dad was a
00:48
farmer when I was a small boy and he
00:52
later got into other types of work and
00:59
in the end he was working for Dr Pepper
01:03
bottling company I thought not up to
01:06
pepper I until he retired and he was 72
01:11
before he retired so some talent been a
01:18
lot of years in there yes tell me about
01:20
the school you went through well I was
01:23
on I’m just a high school graduate I did
01:25
not go to college when did you graduate
01:28
and what high school gilmer high school
01:31
Gilmer Texas could you spell it G ilm er
01:35
uh huh Texas when did you graduate 1947
01:41
and then what did you do after the
01:45
graduation well worked for a buck work
01:49
too barks bottling company there in
01:51
Gilmer and worked in the plant start
01:56
with and then I started on a route a
01:59
delivery route to the growth to the
02:02
stores and whatnot delivering drinks hmm
02:07
when did you join
02:10
when they go in the service yeah i was
02:12
drafted in in october 1951 drafted yes
02:21
so was it millet what what army or this
02:26
army ah yes I happening I have been
02:29
interviewing three Navy person here yes
02:33
Tyler so I thought that there is only
02:35
Navy here oh no no we have our me too
02:38
okay so quite a few of us at our army
02:42
where did you go to get the basic
02:44
military training Fort Ord California
02:48
moderate o LD ford f RT 0 rd year rd in
02:54
California what kind of how long was it
02:58
and what kind of training ok I had 16
03:01
weeks of infantry basic training uh-huh
03:04
I had eight weeks of leadership school
03:08
and then I was a Kadri in the infantry
03:14
basic training for about eight weeks and
03:18
then I got my overseas orders to go to
03:21
Korea did you know anything about Korea
03:24
before no I didn’t know anything about
03:27
Korea and then no it was a strange
03:30
country to me no I had never been to
03:34
Korea and didn’t know much much about it
03:37
so you didn’t learn from high school
03:40
know anything about it no tell me about
03:44
the day that you risked you came to know
03:46
that you’re going to go to Korea and
03:48
it’s a war well I knew there was a war
03:52
the war started in nineteen fifty right
03:54
so it had been going on two years when I
03:59
went in or almost two years and but when
04:07
I got over there it was pretty well
04:09
stabilized the MLR my own line
04:13
resistance was in north korea north of
04:18
the river right and that’s where i was i
04:21
went in in
04:23
hold on when did you leave for korea
04:27
from where i left from from capstone man
04:31
california outside of san francisco and
04:34
went by shield to japan stayed one night
04:39
in japan well when did you leave that
04:42
was in early june of 52 and you stayed
04:51
one night in japan yo just long enough
04:54
to get a new m1 rifle clean it get the
04:58
cosmoline off of it go to the firing
05:01
range 0 it in and get new fatigues and
05:05
mess kit and what stuff like that new
05:10
supplies were you nervous at the time
05:12
heading toward the war in korea yes tell
05:17
me about it well it was an unknown to me
05:21
and i had heard a lot of the the people
05:25
that trained me sergeants and whatnot
05:29
they were in charge of our training in
05:30
our lieutenants had been had served in
05:34
Korea in the early part of the war and
05:37
they had a lot of stories what kind tell
05:41
me be honest just tell me this bad
05:43
stories what kind well how rough it was
05:48
what kind of conditions they were in
05:50
then of course they were at that time on
05:54
the move as you know it went north and
05:58
south and north ah during that time
06:03
prior to my getting over there and when
06:07
I joined I was a sand to the company on
06:10
the third day of July of 1952 what
06:17
division 31st infantry regiment of the
06:20
7th division 31st infantry division no
06:25
entry regimens regiment on 7th Infantry
06:30
Division uh-huh
06:33
and so it’s all about the bad stories
06:36
how how destructive and how dangerous
06:41
and so on right yes yes and because I
06:47
was very apprehensive I didn’t know
06:50
exactly what to expect but I expected it
06:53
be a lot worse than what it was you know
06:57
not that it was good at any time but I
07:00
expected it really worse I asked this
07:03
same question were you nervous were you
07:06
afraid and many of the Korean War
07:09
veterans saying I was sixteen seventeen
07:11
eighteen dumb dumb enough not to worry
07:15
or anything about it they that’s what
07:17
they used to say but your witness is
07:20
different well I was 22 I was 22 when I
07:25
went to Korea I was 21 when I was
07:29
drafted so you know I had a little more
07:33
experience than what some of the 16 or
07:36
17 or 18 year olds did that’s correct I
07:39
will you married at the time yes Oh tell
07:43
me about it so when you left for Korea
07:45
you’re already married no children no
07:49
children no children at that time what
07:51
was your wife’s reaction well she wasn’t
07:56
any happier about it than I was but it
08:00
was something that was I had to do you
08:03
know when you get the letter from the
08:05
government says you’re being drafted you
08:07
don’t have a choice if you pass a
08:09
physical exam and I did no choice no
08:14
choice no choice Oh or was just
08:20
specialty okay I was in the motor pool
08:24
of the service company of the 31st
08:29
regiment and we were not actually on the
08:32
front lines we were about 45 miles
08:37
behind the front
08:38
even with the artillery so we were a
08:43
support group the service company was a
08:46
support group for all of the land
08:48
companies so you went to Japan spend the
08:54
night get all this saw weapons and other
08:58
equivalents and where did you arrive and
09:00
when in Korea in John arrived it in John
09:04
in June of 52 latter part of june june
09:13
fifth nineteen fifty two tell me about
09:18
that after after you arrived newington
09:21
what happened to you where did you go
09:23
and what did you do k and tell me about
09:25
the scene that you saw in Korea around
09:28
that time how was it tell me where where
09:32
did you go and what did you do and what
09:34
was the scenes okay we landed it in John
09:38
that’s where we went in they put his own
09:41
trucks cares to chin John Korea and that
09:47
was a repo depo place there in june john
09:50
distribution place with troops and from
09:54
there i was there what three four days
09:57
and then from there we went by truck
10:00
north to the kumoi valley and that’s
10:06
where i went into the 31st regiment
10:11
service company assigned to the service
10:13
company there and that was on the third
10:16
day of july 1952 and our job was to keep
10:24
supplies to the front lines ammunition
10:31
food clothing troops and whatever that
10:39
was hard job
10:41
we were a support group was it dangerous
10:46
well yes and no family the course Korea
10:54
where we were was nothing but hills and
10:56
valleys that’s it you either going up or
11:00
down or across to the next hill and if
11:06
you were behind the hill from the enemy
11:09
the only thing you had to worry about
11:11
was mortar now they could drop mortar
11:15
right in on top of you but artillery our
11:19
small arms couldn’t reach if you were on
11:21
the opposite side of the hill from the
11:23
enemy we went up on frontline and what
11:31
amazed me was the way that the war went
11:37
I expected a lot of daytime fighting it
11:43
was as quiet in the daytime as it is
11:47
right here nothing going on when at dusk
11:56
dust Clark that’s when the shooting fire
12:00
started and they went all night long and
12:04
that amazed me
12:10
why I just wasn’t expecting that how
12:16
intensive it was it do you see can you
12:19
remember those sins and tell me about
12:21
those yes when we would go up on the
12:27
front lines to carry supplies that the
12:33
GIS would just be out on top of their
12:35
bunkers they were in bunkers and they’d
12:38
be out on top washing their clothes or
12:41
doing something cleaning their rifles
12:43
you know just sitting around in the
12:47
daytime now and that’s when we carried
12:51
supplies up was in the daytime the only
12:55
time we’d go phone online at night and
12:58
it was if they were transferring one
13:02
group of troops in and relieving another
13:05
group and we did that ever so often as
13:08
they would rotate off and go back into
13:10
reserve we would move them several
13:15
trucks over and that we didn’t go up on
13:21
frontline at night now that whole area
13:26
was blackout you couldn’t drive with
13:30
lights on and use the black outlines and
13:34
that’s also dangerous yes well the F get
13:38
used to it it’s you have to know the
13:42
roads pretty well but it’s so hilly so
13:45
that even though you know it’s dangerous
13:48
well that’s true but if you travel those
13:51
roads regularly daily you get accustomed
13:55
to so you drove yourself to I drove a
13:59
truck yes I did yeah so you are kind of
14:05
lucky because you were four or five
14:07
miles behind the enemy line even from
14:10
the hour but the artillery and you
14:15
didn’t encounter every day combat right
14:17
that’s correct yeah yeah how did you
14:20
feel about that well I was pleased hey
14:23
when they
14:24
all my name out when to replace we were
14:29
a replacement and when they called all
14:32
these names out were going assigned to
14:34
different land companies and they got
14:38
down to four of us went into service
14:41
company out of to 300 so I felt very
14:48
fortunate that I restoring yes because
14:52
that’s where I was at the time right in
14:54
service coming but anyway the only time
15:05
that I was actually engaged in are being
15:08
fired home was with with mortar now I
15:15
was fired on with mortar two or three
15:18
times and of course when it starts
15:22
coming in you just get out of the truck
15:26
getting a ditch or something try to get
15:31
away from it because usually you’re
15:33
loaded with well a lot of mo most of the
15:37
time it was a mo going up how often
15:41
these you encounter such attacks oh the
15:45
tulare you mean more motor that
15:48
artillery mortar not all that often it
15:53
had to be some forward observer
15:55
somewhere that could see me that’s the
16:00
only way they could do it right and then
16:02
they direct the more during what were
16:06
you thinking when you were in the such
16:08
what is it kind of stress sense you know
16:12
ending oven in a country you never knew
16:15
before and already thinking to yourself
16:18
I was wanting to get through and get out
16:22
you wanted to get out of here soon as
16:25
possible and sure and and of course when
16:30
the war was over on july 27 1953 that
16:33
when i left the company
16:37
at the time I was over there it took 36
16:41
points to rotate and line companies had
16:47
four points per month and the artillery
16:52
and and service company had three points
16:56
per month so it took 12 months to get 36
17:00
points if you only got three a month
17:04
anyway I rotated with 44 points so they
17:10
didn’t have replacements to replace us
17:13
at the time that near the end of the war
17:17
but when it when they had to cease fire
17:20
that’s when I left and went back to
17:24
Incheon to get on a ship to come back to
17:26
the states that what must be the
17:32
happiest moment for you right it was and
17:35
it was a good feeling how did you feel
17:37
about this is fire when he was first
17:40
announced what were you thinking praise
17:44
the Lord you bet I was glad it was over
17:49
because there was a lot of guys kill
17:52
there on both sides did you see that oh
17:55
yes oh yes that was one part of my job
18:01
Worcester to carry the whole bodies see
18:04
they put it in a in a bag a black bag
18:08
and we had to take him put him in the
18:12
truck hauling back down to what to call
18:15
grr o graves registration and they
18:18
processed the bodies out oh yes we had
18:24
some battles over there one particular
18:27
one was in that latter part of 1952
18:34
November of 52 and our troops were
18:41
supposed to take ill 1062 and they were
18:47
down in a valley
18:50
dug in in a railroad dump that went
18:54
through there and the bunkers that’s
18:57
where the bunkers were the Chinese and
18:59
the North Koreans were up on the hill
19:02
and the United States Army wanted to
19:06
take that hill but look at now I have
19:11
not been back to korea since i left
19:13
there but I’ve seen pictures and talked
19:16
to several that have been there and
19:18
South Korea is a very prosperous nation
19:23
very and I don’t think North Korea is
19:30
South Korea is 13 largest economy in the
19:34
wall you know it can be ranked between
19:36
10 to 13 and it’s the size of Indiana
19:41
and you know that completely destroyed
19:43
in 1953 by the end of the war yeah now
19:47
we have prospering country yeah an
19:52
economy and we are very strong in
19:54
democracy too I did not have I did not
20:01
think that South Korea would prosper as
20:05
much as it has I really did why not I
20:11
just well to me it was a poor country a
20:17
lot of rice farmers there wasn’t that
20:22
much industry there that I knew about
20:27
but it has changed drastically since
20:32
then and I’m just very proudly the
20:38
Korean people for what they have done
20:40
and the other methods you want to live
20:43
to this interview but I just appreciate
20:46
the opportunity to share my experiences
20:52
and my feelings and I think what you’re
20:56
doing is great