Korean War Legacy Project

Virgil W. Mikkelsen

Bio

Virgil Mikkelsen arrived in Korea the day the Armistice was signed. He recalls his interesting arrival. He discusses his time at a POW camp as a guard and how it felt that he was on an island of sand before he became a beloved mail carrier to men serving in Korea. He addresses the Dear John letter he received while serving and how, in the midst of war and rebuilding, the letter was the worst part of his war experience.

Video Clips

Arriving Late to the Party

Virgil Mikkelsen describes his first day in Korea. He talks about how he and the men he was with thought they were arriving to be sent to the frontlines. Virgil Mikkelsen recalls learning from the radio that an Armistice had been signed that day ending the conflict.

Tags: 1953 Armistice 7/27,Busan,Impressions of Korea

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxyuhczv_VE&start=488&end=559

A Island for a Prison

Virgil Mikkelsen recalls his time on a POW Island after the Armistice. He describes the island as desolate and made only of sand only to find out that the island is a top tourist destination today in Korea. He remembered a fence for prisoner camp.

Tags: Geojedo,Chinese,Impressions of Korea,Modern Korea

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxyuhczv_VE&start=680&end=830

Delivering your own Dear John Letter

Virgil Mikkelsen describes his time as a mail carrier in 1953 and how letters were a ray of hope for deployed troops. He recalls the worst part of his experience in Korea, receiving a Dear John letter from his wife of five years. He talks about the emotional blow of reading that letter and how it made him a stronger man.

Tags: Home front,Letters

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxyuhczv_VE&start=1225&end=1335

Video Transcript

 

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

V:        My name is Virgil Mikkelsen.  V I R G I L  M I K K E L S E N.

I:          KK, not CH.

V:        No, KK.

I:          Does this last name have ethnic origin?

V:        Yes.

I:          What is it?

V:        Denmark.

I:          Denmark.

V:        My grandparents and my dad came from Denmark.

I:          I see.

V:        Dad, my dad was about six years old when he came over.

I:          Um hm.

0:00:30

Mikkelsen.  Good to know it.  What is your birthday?

V:        April 30, 1928.

I:          Where were you born?

V:        I was born in, I was born on a farm east of Agar, A G A R.  Agar, South Dakota.  That’s 40 miles, about 40 miles north of Pierre.

I:          Pierre.  And tell me about your family when you were growing up,

0:01:00

your parents and your siblings.

V:        Well, I grew up, I guess you might say I was born in ’28, so I grew up, and I went through the, the bad years of the drought here, the Depression.

I:          Depression.

V:        Yes.  And I can remember, we had bad dust storms, and I can remember my mother putting wet towels around the windows to keep the dust from blowing in.

0:01:30

I:          Uh huh.

V:        And I can remember when they milked the cow, we had to put something over the bucket when it came in to keep that yet, yeah. But my, I grew up in that small town, and we lived in town, I lived in town all my life.  It was just a little town of about 150.  But, and I went to school the,

0:02:00

all 12 years there, and

I:          When did you graduate high school?

V:        1947.

I:          What is the name of high school?

V:        Agar High School.

I:          Um.  And did you know anything about Korea at the time when you were in school?

V:        No sir.

I:          Nothing?

V:        No.

I:          No knowledge about Korea?

V:        No.

I:          How about China or Japan?

V:        Well, I knew about them, but I didn’t, I heard of them, but I,

0:02:30

but, you know, China, yeah.  But I, I didn’t, you know.

I:          Um hm.

V:        No.

I:          Um hm.

V:        No, I didn’t know anything about it.

I:          After graduation, where, what did you do?

V:        After graduation, I had, I had my own service station in Oneida, that’s close to Agar.

I:          Um hm.

V:        Oneida, South Dakota, for about two years, and

I:          What did you do?

V:        I had my own

0:03:00

service station, gas

I:          What is that?

V:        Gas

I:          Gas station?

V:        Yes.  We serviced cars and all that

I:          Oh, so you

V:        In those days it was a service station.  Now it’s just a quick stop.

I:          So you were mechanic.

V:        Not a mechanic, no.  But people brought their cars in to get the oil changed

I:          Oh.

V:        Grease job, tires fixed, minor things, you know. But not, not, I’m not a mechanic. But anyway I couldn’t, it was tough in the

0:03:30

Well, to make a long story short, I was, I had a pretty good business, but up there in that country it’s a lot, Oneida is one of the wheat countries of the United States, see. Well anyway,

I:          You owned your, that service station?

V:        Yes.

I:          Whoa, you’re, so you’re rich?

V:        No.  The guy that owned it, I worked for him for about six months,

0:04:00

and then I took, but he was a good guy.  Ha. But as I started to say, the farmers wanted me to carry them till Fall, and I just couldn’t see borrowing the money to carry it, so I, I got out of it, and then I moved to Pierre to work on the Oahe Dam.  I worked on the Oahe Dam.

I:          What is that, dam?

V:        It’s a dam, the Oahe Dam.  It’s the second or third, you know, you’ve heard of it.

I:          Yeah.

V:        The large, it’s a,

0:04:30

I think it’s the largest earth filled dam in the United States.  The third largest.

I:          Oh.

V:        If you haven’t been up there, you should go up there.

I:          Yeah.

V:        Anyway, and that’s the way that worked out, and, oh, by the way.  I got married when I had that service station.  In 1949 I got married.

I:          Um.

V:        And then we came to Pierre, and lo and behold I got drafted

0:05:00

in November of 1952.

I:          And to Army.

V:        Yep.  In the Ar, into the Army, yep.

I:          You already knew that the Korean War broke out at the time, right?

V:        Oh yeah.

I:          Or you

V:        But I didn’t pay much attention to it till I got the notice I was drafted.

I:          Um hm.

V:        Because I was married, see.  I was, I was, I was 24 years old when they drafted me, and I’d been married five years.

0:05:30

I:          So where did you get the basic training?

V:        Fort Knox, Kentucky.

I:          For Knox, Kentucky.

V:        Sixteen weeks.

I:          And from there where did you go?

V:        From there I went to Breckenridge, Kentucky for eight weeks of Leadership school.

I:          Ah ha.  And then?

V:        And then came home on leave and then got shipped out for Korea, flew out of here.

0:06:00

I:          From?

V:        From Pierre to Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City to Seattle.

I:          Seattle.

V:        We left out of Seattle.

I:          When did you leave?

V:        Ha. I don’t know.

I:          ’53, right?  1953.

V:        Yeah.  I went in, I went in the service in’52.

I:          Right.

V:        November of ’52.

I:          Right.

V:        And in ’53, oh.

0:06:30

I can’t remember that date.  It was a

I:          How about month?

V:        Yeah, it was, let’s see.

I:          March?

V:        No it was in July, first part of July I’d say.

I:          Uh.

V:        It was either the last of June or first of July in ’53.

I:          And what did you know about the Korean War by the time?  Did you know that it’s going to be ended soon or what?

V:        No I didn’t know it.

0:07:00

I:          You didn’t have any idea.

V:        No.

I:          Uh huh.

V:        No.  We went to, we left Seattle nine days to Camp Drake at Tokyo.

I:          Um hm.

V:        And we hung around there a couple, three days, and then they shipped us out for

Sasebo, and we got to Sasebo, we went to Hiroshima and all that.

0:07:30

We got to Sasebo, and they, they

I:          Did you see the Hiroshima?

V:        Yes.

I:          How was it?

V:        It still wasn’t, pretty sad.  We just went through on a troop train.  I looked out the window.  It wasn’t, it wasn’t good.  No.

I:          Did you know that the U.S. bombed

V:        Yes.

I:          with a nuclear

V:        Yes, I did.  Yeah.

I:          Um.

V:        Yeah.  It was

I:          What did you feel about it when you saw those?

V:        Sad, yeah, yeah.  I don’t, it was still

0:08:00

kind of a, it was a mess, yet.  But I guess a lot better than it was.  But

I:          Yeah.

V:        Then in Sasebo, they give us our combat packs, our ammo and rifles, steel helmets and the whole works.

I:          Um hm.

V:        And we were shipped out, they called it Pusan Ferry, to Pusan.

I:          Do you remember when you arrived there?  On the day of Armistice was signed?

0:08:30

V:        And we were in a repo company waiting for our orders, we assumed, to go up front because we were all ready.  And July 27th, 1953 this kid had a transistor radio, and it came over there the truce was signed.

I:          So you arrived in Pusan on the day that the Armistice was signed.

V:        Yes.

I:          How did you know about it?

V:        I didn’t.  Only that kid had it on the radio.  A little radio.  Came over there.

0:09:00

Yeah.

I:          And what did they say?  Remember?

V:        No.  No.  I don’t know.  They just, see, we hadn’t got our orders yet.  But we probably assumed that they give us our rifles and all we were headed for front lines, and, so that come out.  And so then they shipped us to Ko, to Cheju-do, I don’t know how you spell that.

I:          Yeah.  That’s Cheju-do, yeah.

0:09:30

V:        We, we guarded prisoners in Cheju-do

I:          I see.

V:        For a while there, down there on Cheju-do Island, okay?

I:          But let me ask this question.  You said that you didn’t know anything about Korea before.

V:        No.

I:          And you were headed to Korea, right?

V:        Yeah.  Right.

I:          The war.

V:        Yes.

I:          So you were kind of impatient, right?

V:        Oh, yeah.

I:          Were you afraid?

V:        Sure.

I:          Yeah.  Why, you know.  And, so you about to go to the

0:10:00

front line to fight enemies,

V:        Yeah.

I:          And you heard that Armistice was signed.

V:        Um hm.

I:          What were you thinking to yourself?

V:        I just, I guess I was just, felt real unfortunate. I mean I, I because even though I had 16 weeks of basic training in Leadership school, See, we were so, ha, oh, get back, went to

0:10:30

Leadership school for eight, eight weeks, and we were supposed to come out of there non-com.

I:          Um hm.

V:        I never got anything.  I was still, I was still a PFC when I got over there.  They didn’t give us any stripes.

I:          Why?

V:        I don’t know.

I:          Uh.

V:        I was supposed to get at least a Private or a

I:          Did you screw there?

V:        Huh?

I:          Did you screw up there, fail?

V:        No, no, no.

I:          You did good?

V:        Yeah.

I:          But still they didn’t give?

V:        No, we didn’t get any stripes when we got out of there.

0:11:00

I:          Okay.

V:        But that was in, that’s what we thought, we were gonna, you know.  Oh, but anyway, so we guarded

I:          So you felt very lucky.

V:        Yes.  Very lucky.

I:          That you don’t have to fight in the front line.

V:        Absolutely.  You bet. Wouldn’t you? [LAUGHS]

I:          Absolutely.

V:        No.  So we guarded prisoners in Cheju-do.

I:          Tell me about the Cheju-do you saw.  How was it?  What did you see there?  How was it, the island?

0:11:30

V:        I thought it was desolate.

I:          Huh.

V:        We were in, we slept in nine men tents there, and I can’t remember it being very pretty.  All I remember just out in the middle of nowhere we were, where.  I, To me, it was just, I, a sand island.  That’s the way I remember.

I:          Um.

0:12:00

V:        And we, we shipped those, no.  I, I got a, I don’t, I can’t remember seeing a tree there.

I:          Um.

V:        I don’t know.

I:          Now that’s the best resort area in Korea.

V:        Is it really?

I:          Yeah.  Beaches all around the island and

V:        It’s not very big, is it, that island?

I:          Yeah, it’s pretty big, you know?  It’s pretty big.

V:        See I, I I didn’t get,

0:12:30

I didn’t, we were, we were just guarding those prisoners there and shipped them out. But to me it, it wasn’t pretty, and it was just, you know, maybe it was.  [LAUGHS]

I:          Where was in the prison, where was the prison tent? Was it north or south, east, west? Do you, did you have any sense of orientation?

V:        As a, from where we were, it seemed to be like

0:13:00

it was a little north. That’s what I recall.

I:          Um hm.  And tell me about the prison camp.  Who were there, and what was the

V:        I, I’m sorry.  I can’t tell you much about it.  We, I, I wasn’t one of the guys that done that, but I was, I was in, I was in the motor pool, and I, I really didn’t have

0:13:30

to guard those guys or anything.  But I can remember a fence where they were there, and they were guarding them, and they shipped them out to, if I got this right I think, to Fermosa.

I:          Fermosa, really.  Um.

V:        Yeah.  It wouldn’t, and that

I:          So maybe it’s a Chinese there.

V:        Maybe it was Chinese.

I:          Um hm.

V:        That could be it.  I don’t know.

I:          Um hm.

V:        I don’t know.  We were only there probably, in Cheju-do probably

0:14:00

see, that was like in July, oh, probably five months or so.  Then they shipped us to Koji

I:          Koji-do, yes.

V:        Koji-do.

I:          Um hm.

V:        And we spent the winter there, and we had, we had huts there.  We didn’t have to sleep in tents.

I:          Um hn.

V:        They had this [INAUDIBLE]  But yeah.

0:14:30

We were down in Koji, and about all we did there was kill time.  We were, you know, playing.  We had routines, but we didn’t do anything, only just wait.  They, then they shipped us out of there to Yangju Valley, 38thParallel.

I:          Wow.

V:        Up by the 38thParallel.  That’s where I spent the rest of my time

0:15:00

was up there.

I:          When did you leave Korea?

V:        I got home August, no, October, I got back to Camp Drake, Camp Carson, Colorado on about October, probably around the 20th

0:15:30

of October

I:          Um hm.

V:        In 1954.

I:          ’54, 4.

V:        We came from San Francisco.  We left from, we left from Inchon

I:          Um hm.

V:        And went around, and that was 14 days, nine going over. We came into Frisco, and from Frisco on a train, they shipped us to, it was Fort Carson, oh no, Camp Carson at that time, and that’s where I got my discharge.  Yeah.  And

0:16:00

I:          Anything you remember about prison camp in Cheju-do or Koji-do?

V:        No.

I:          Anything you remember particularly?

V:        No.  Like I said, I saw those prisoners, but I wasn’t, I was, if I

I:          Right.

V:        get lucky enough, I didn’t have to guard them. All I remember is that they shipped them off on LSTs Formosa.  That’s what I was told.

I:          Um hm.

V:        And like I said, I was in

0:16:30

the motor pool, and I, I drove the officers around, went to the officers headqu or mess or whatever you want to call it, at night.  But other than that, then, But then when I got up at the 3rd

I:          Yangju.

V:        38thparallel, Yangju Valley.  I got the job of battalion mail clerk.

0:17:00

So I was battalion mail clerk for the, for the 24thDivision 19 Infantry Regiment Battalion Headquarters.

I:          What regiment?

V:        9, 24thDivision 19thInfantry Regiment. I was in the Headquarters company.

I:          Um hm.

V:        I was battalion mail clerk.  The guy that had that job had his time in, and he shipped out, and I, again I, I landed a good job.  So that’s what I done the rest of my time there

I:          Hm.

V:        was mail clerk.

0:17:30

And up there, up there we went through maneuvers and practice, you know, move, moved.  I, there was, that’s, that’s what it amounted to. We could still see them walking guard over there.

I:          Um hm.

V:        Yeah.

I:          I men, tell me about your job as a mail clerk. How many letters that you processed, how you processed.  Any episode there?

V:        I, like I said,

0:18:00

my name is Virgil, of course, but all those guys in all those companies knew me by Mike, Mikkelsen, Mike.  Hey Mike, I got a letter today?  See, I used to, I used to go down to the Head, the APO

I:          Uh huh.

V:        And pick up the mail.  Then I’d bring it back.

I:          Did you drive yourself?

V:        No, I had a driver

I:          Ah.

V:        [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Pretty good.

V:        Yeah, I had a

0:18:30

45, but I couldn’t hit a broadside of a barn with it, but I had one.

I:          A pistol too, right?

V:        Yeah.  Had a carbine, but, anyway.  Let’s see. I, I’d go down and pick up the mail. It was pretty well sorted by company, A, B, C or whatever.

I:          Um hm.

V:        It was pretty well sorted in bags.  Somebody else must have done that.  But like, So I had to bag the mail

0:19:00

for all those companies.  And I’d go around, and each company had their own clerk, and I’d drive, we’d drive around, and I’d leave the mail to them, and that’s when they, they’d all holler out Mike, you got a letter for me?  I remember the Colonel, Colonel Hoppenstein I think’s the way he pronounced it.  He’d always say Mike, have I got a letter today?  No, sit.  I’ll write you one, though.  But he, he, tease him.  They’d tease me all the time.

0:19:30

But anyway, and I also had, they gave me the job of being in charge of the day route there, but I didn’t [INAUDIBLE] much, but anyway.

I:          So what was like to receive letters there in, in the front line?

V:        Yeah.  Well, like, like you say, we weren’t in the front lines fighting.  We were up there, but no.

I:          You were not fighting there?

V:        No, no.

I:          No.

V:        We never, no, no

I:          So what was it, I mean, how big, is that,

0:20:00

was it to receive the letter from home for the soldiers?

V:        Oh.

I:          Do they really

V:        Oh yeah.  They’re all

I:          Was it big deal?

V:        Beg your pardon?

I:          Was it big deal to receive those?

V:        Oh yeah.  They were happy when they got a letter, yeah.  You bet.

I:          Describe it please.  Give me some episode.

V:        Well.

I:          The, the, the, the scene that the other soldiers were receiving.

V:        I, oh yeah.  When they get a letter from home, you know, they’d rip that open so fast, you know, and, you know, you can see a

0:20:30

smile on their face and, and they’re happy.  The letters meant a lot to those guys, and to me, too, as far as that goes.  But I didn’t tell you the rest of the story. When I was in Cheju-do, backing up, I got a Dear John.  I got, Dear John, you hear of those?

I:          No.

V:        Huh?

I:          No.

V:        That’s when a GI gets a letter from his spouse, Dear John

I:          Um hm.

0:21:00

V:        I’m all through.  That’s what I got.  Yeah. I got a Dear John from my wife. We’d been married, we would have been married five years when I, but anyway, so that was pretty sad.  But

I:          What did she write to you?

V:        Ha, she wrote to me and said, she said she was pregnant.  Well, I, but it ended up she wasn’t.

I:          Um hm.

V:        But anyway, yeah.

0:21:30

That, so I put in quite a, about, a, closer, I think I got that, I think I got that letter when I was, I hadn’t been there only about a month

I:          Um hm.

V:        I must have been in Koji when I got that letter. But, you know, I’ll never forget. The  chaplain up there, he, he was really, he was good.  That chaplain told me the day I left Korea to ship home

0:22:00

he says Mike, you’ve been an inspiration to me.  I wonder, always wondered what he meant by that.  I guess because I stood up through that, you know.  I don’t know.  I’ll never forget that.  Ha. Anyway, yeah.  That’s.  Let’s see. So

I:          What was your rank?

V:        Corporal.

I:          How much were you paid?

V:        [LAUGHS] I don’t know.

I:          Hundred?

V:        Huh?

I:          Hundred dollars, two hundred dollars?

0:22:30

V:        You know, that’s a good question.

I:          What did you do with the money?  Did you send money back home your wife?

V:        Well she, she got a, she got an allotment.  I had nothing to do with that.  It went to her.

I:          Yeah, directly.

V:        That’s what, yes.

I:          Yeah.

V:        And you know, that’s a good question.  I, I think I got enough money just to buy cigarettes and cosmetics and that with it.

0:23:00

I, I never, I never had a lot of money, no.

I:          Um hm.

V:        I don’t know.

I:          What was the most difficult thing during your service in Korea?

V:        The most difficult thing for me?  Getting a Dear John letter.

I:          Ah.

V:        That, that really hurt me.

I:          Why?

V:        Huh?

I:          Why?

V:        Well,

0:23:30

wouldn’t it hurt you?

I:          Um?

V:        if your wife wanted to leave you, huh?  It did.  It hurt.  But the other, other than that, you know,

I:          Did your wife leave you?

V:        Oh yeah.  That’s why I got a Dear John letter.

I:          Oh.

V:        Yeah.  That’s what that, they call that a Dear John.

I:          Not any letter, but when they say that I have to leave you, that’s what

0:24:00

we called Dear John letter?

V:        Yeah.

I:          Oh my God.

V:        Yep.

I:          Oh.  Must be very sad.

V:        Yeah, it was.  That, it was sad.

I:          Um.

V:        Because, well actually we’d been married about, oh let’s see.

I:          You married

V:        about four, about four years when that, when I got that.

I:          Yeah.

V:        The, yeah, yeah.  That, that was one of the hardest things, you know.  Other than that,

0:24:30

you know, we didn’t, ha, you know, it wasn’t, it was, I was, I can’t complain because I was one of the fortunate guys.  I wasn’t up there fighting them front lines because I saw where those guys had been in the foxholes

I:          Um hm.

V:        So I felt, I mean, but it was a day in, day out thing, you know, just had a job to do.

0:25:00

But never anything to do, uh, what I mean, entertainment

I:          Yeah.

V:        no, no.  I did have a little entertainment, though.

I:          What?

V:        There was one of the kids in the outfit over there that went on Japan on R and R.

I:          Um hm.

V:        He bought a guitar.  He brought it back, and

0:25:30

he was from Kentucky. He couldn’t read, he couldn’t, he couldn’t write, couldn’t read hardly.  But anyway, he bought that guitar and brought it home, and he was trying to learn to play it, and he got mad at it and stuck his fists through the back of it.  And I knew about three or four chords on a guitar. I couldn’t play, but I knew it by three.  So I got it from him, I went to the medics and I got them tongue blades,

0:26:00

put it all across the back and adhesive tape and taped the back of it up, and I tried my best to try to tune it, and they had a talent show.  That’s why I got it fixed about.  And they had a talent show over there for something to do.  Anyway, I, I played that thing, and, and I sang the Soldier’s Last Letter, and I won a three-day pass to the coast in Korea with that.

0:26:30

I:          Soldier’s Last what?

V:        Soldier’s Last Letter.  It was a song popular back then.

I:          Soldier’s Last

V:        Last Letter, yeah.

I:          Last Letter.

V:        Yeah.  He wrote this to his mother.

I:          What is about it?

V:        It’s a song about a, a, I’m writing this down in a trench, mom, dear mom don’t scold if it isn’t so neat you know as you did when I was a kid and came with mud on my feet.

I:          Um.

V:        It goes on like that.

I:          So you got the award.

V:        Yeah, I got a three-day pass.

0:27:00

I:          So

V:        to the beach.

I:          So where did you go?
V:        I went to the beach. You know, I never could figure out just exactly where thy, where I went to.  It was on a, it was, it was east and south.

I:          Chuncheon?

V:        What was that?

I:          Chuncheon.

V:        Could be.  That could be it.

I:          You, you saying that you got that three, three breaks from Yongu, right?  Where, you, you were in Yongu.

V:        Yongu, yeah.

I:          And then you got three days

0:27:30

V:        Yeah, from there.

I:          Yeah.  Must be around Chuncheon, yeah.

V:        I never did know what the

I:          Um hm.

V:        I got a three-day pass there anyway.  It, it, that was, wasn’t that close to the beach?

I:          Oh.  Kangnung? Yeah, there is a beach there.

V:        Yeah.

I:          It must be then Kangnung or something, yeah. Sokch’o?  Sokch’o, Kangnung, Hwach’on?

V:        Chuncheon.

I:          Sokch’o.  Must be.

0:28:00

V:        That sounds, that sounds familiar.  I, I, forgot all those.

I:          So what did you do there?

V:        Oh, I, just, you know, they had a little combo air plan and, and then there’s a bar there, and there was entertainment.  It was just a resort-type thing.  I didn’t do much of anything, you know.  I just relaxed and get a chance to clean up good because there wasn’t any, much way to clean up over there, the showers and that with, yeah, you know.

0:28:30

I:          But you were in the Headquarters, so you had the hot shower there, right?

V:        Yeah, we had, yeah, we had showers.  Um hm.

I:          How was food?

V:        Food was good.  I can’t complain about it.  That’s another thing.  I was a battalion mail clerk, and I never had to stand reveille.

I:          Stand what?

V:        Reveille in the morning.  They call reveille.  That means you gotta get up.

I:          Um hm.

V:        See?  It’s time to get up.  Two, you’re, anyway

0:29:00

I never had to stand reveille because I had to go battalion mail clerk, mail and get the mail. So I got out of that.  So when I got back the, the cooks out there, again, they said come on, Mike.  So they’d give me breakfast late.  I was lucky there, too.

I:          So you were like a privileged, huh?

V:        Um hm.  I got treated pretty good because, just because I was mail clerk.

I:          [LAUGHS]  So you were very popular.

V:        Yes.

I:          Everybody wants you.

V:        Yes.

0:29:30

Mike.  They didn’t even know my name.  All they knew was Mike.  But that’s okay. Yeah, that’s.

I:          So after you return, what did, what did you do?

V:        I, I came back home, July, can’t, and then, well, we went through the divorce thing.  But anyway, my dad knew a, a, acquaintance

0:30:00

in the state capitol, and, and he had an opening, and I went up, and I got a job in the Health Dept., the South Dakota Health Dept.. I started in as a clerk.  That was in days when you could work your way up. I started in there as a clerk. I worked in that job 33 ½ years.

I:          Wow.

V:        But I ended up being Personnel Officer of the Health Dept..  But I started d

0:30:30

as Chief Clerk about $250 a month.  Yeah.

I:          So did you get married again?

V:        Yes.  Yes. Um hm.

I:          Um.

V:        Got, married Carol in, in 1955.

I:          Good for you.

V:        Yeah.  And we have six kids.  And a good life.

I:          Yeah.  Very god.

V:        Yes.  Best thing, I guess the best thing that ever happened to me, but I didn’t know it at the time, you know?

I:          Have you been back to Korea?

0:31:00

V:        No.

I:          No?

V:        No.

I:          Do you know what happened to Korean economy and democracy now?

V:        I hear they’re doing good.

I:          Tell me about it.  What do you know about the current Korea?

V:        Well, I, I don’t know how to answer that, only that I, Korea, South Korea, okay.  They, they, you know, Monte, that guy who was just in here, Monte

I:          Um hm. Monte Curry.

0:30:30

V:        Curry.

I:          Yeah, yeah.

V:        I, I know him.

I:          Yeah?

V:        You see that medal he had on him?  I got one of those, too.

I:          In January, right?

V:        Yeah.  You see a lot of those Kias

I:          Yeah.

V:        Made in Korea.  You know, I can remember going through Korea and them little kids standing out there, their tummies is sticking way out, no

0:32:00

clothes, and I remember seeing that a lot.

I:          What else do you remember about Korea?

V:        I remember seeing a, I remember seeing a funeral posess, where this, is it true that they bury their people standing up, or sitting up?  Is that true in Korea?

I:          What?  Standing up?

0:32:30

V:        No, sitting up.

I:          Sitting up?  No.

V:        Well I don’t know where I ever got that idea.  But it some, but I saw a funeral, a funeral thing where they, that going by, and, yeah.  It was, no, I

I:          The Korea you remember in 1953 and ’54 is very poor and miserable, right?

V:        Very poor and miserable, yeah.  Very poor and miserable.  Yep.  There was very, yeah.

0:33:00

I:          Do you know now the Korea is 11thlargest economy in the world?

V:        No, is that right?

I:          Yeah.  U.S. is the top, right?

V:        Uh, I,

I:          And Germany and so on, but we are the 11th, 11thlargest economy in the world.  Any other story you want to leave to this interview?

V:        No, I, I guess not.  I

0:33:30

I, like I say, I spent 13 months over there, and I was fortunate and I didn’t have to fight.  We were up there where they were fighting, but I was treated pretty well.  I guess it’s because of the job I had

I:          Hm.

V:        But, no, I can’t.

[End of Recorded Material]