Korean War Legacy Project

Warren Middlekauf


Warren Middlekauf was born on September 5, 1929 in Maryland.  He lived on his family farm with his parents who had 6 children.  He married his wife on June 25, 1950, the day the Korean War broke out.  He was working his farm in 1952 when he was drafted to Korea.  Warren Middlekauf trained with the Army and specialized in Amphibious Duck Training, loading/unloading ships, and in the Ammo Company while stationed in Korea. He maintained membership with the Korean War Veteran Association’s Chapter 312 out of Maryland where he worked to connect Korean War Veterans and educate others about the Korean War.

Video Clips

Chapter 312: "The best thing that ever happened"

Warren Middlekauf discusses the Korean War Veteran's Association Chapter 312 located in Maryland. Chapter 312 is the most active chapter in Maryland, the East Coast, and perhaps the country. He also makes a contemporary connection analyzing the help and support veterans receive today, unlike the Korean War Veterans who never even got a proper welcome home. He remarks about the numerous entities that exist today to honor, and provide assistance to war veterans.

Tags: Civilians,Depression,Home front,Message to Students,Pride,Prior knowledge of Korea

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Basic Training and Specialty Training to Join US Army

Warren Middlekauf was drafted into the US Army in 1952 and he was informed of this event from a letter through the mail. After attending multiple training locations, he was prepared as a Stevedore to load and unload ships during the Korean War. Stevedores were also known as the transportation corps. After that, he was trained to use amphibious duck vehicles to transport supplies to troops.

Tags: Basic training,Civilians,Home front,Living conditions,Pride,Weapons

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The Significance of the 52nd Ordnance Ammunition Company

Warren Middlekauf's ship landed in Incheon in Jan. 1953 after a long trip. After loading a train to Pusan, he dropped off supplies and traveled to Taegu. While driving his truck, filled with ammunition, Warren Middlekauf went to Osan to unload boxes of weapons to supply Yongjong.

Tags: Busan,Chuncheon,Daegu,Incheon,Osan,Front lines,Home front,Living conditions,Pride,Weapons

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School, Letters, and the Excitement of the Armistice

Warren Middlekauf's military base was located near a Korean school that continued through the war. During the armistice of 1953, he was in Korea and was excited to send the US soldiers home. Throughout his time in the war, Warren Middlekauf wrote letters to his wife along with money to save for after the war.

Tags: 1953 Armistice 7/27,Panmunjeom,Civilians,Front lines,Home front,Letters,Living conditions,Pride,South Koreans,Weapons,Women

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Video Transcript

00:00:00  [Beginning of Recorded Material]

Middlekauf: I am Warren Middlekauf born 1929, 5th of September, and I was born in Halfay, Maryland. 

Interviewer: Uh, what about your family? At the time?

Middlekauf: At the time?

Interviewer: Your…your family?

Middlekauf: My family lived on the farm

Interviewer: uh hum…

Middelkauf: and they were all young, happy to go..to go wherever.


Interviewer: Did you have brothers and sisters?

Middlekauf: I had two brothers, the oldest one he is dead…the second one died at eighteen months and then afterwards…afterwards we moved from Halfway to Clearpring, Maryland. And I had an older sister after me and a brother and another sister and that was it.


Interviewer: How many? I forgot to count…ha ha…

Middlekauf: that was…hm.. six altogether.

Interviewer: wow, 

Middlekauf: so it was

Interviewer: Any of your family serve military like you?

Middlekauf: Yeah

Interviewer: Your older brother?

Middlekauf: My older brother passed away and then the second brother had passed away and then I am the oldest right now. My sister lives in Orlando, Florida, she is the oldest sister. And then I have a younger brother that lives down here in {Unintelligible} and then the younger sister lives in the country.


Interviewer: What were you doing when the Korean War broke out?

Middlekauf: Well, I was married at the time.

Interviewer: Oh

Middlekauf: lived on a time…mmn…and the government noticed through the mail that my friends and neighbors that they want me for the armed forces..


Middlekauf: So the gentleman I worked for wanted to give me retirement. I said, no, I’ll go take my chances like the rest of the boys. I said if I pass I will and if I don’t pass I’ll work for it. He said that’s a fair enough deal and so that’s what I done. I went down to Fort Meet and I was sworn in and I went from Fort meet to Fort Eustice, Virginia.


I took my basic training and then from Fort Eustice, Virginia I went to Langley Air Field and made radio tubes for I wouldn’t get that over in Korea. I left there and went back to fort Eustice and from fort Eustice and went down to…oh…not only beats…what was that now…let me think a little bit.


Interviewer: It’s ok, when did you actually enlist… you enlist right?

Middlekauf: No, I was drafted.

Interviewer: Draftered into the army?

Middlekauf: The Army

Interviewer: Right, and what was your specialty?

Middlekauf: Well, whenever I got finished from basic training I took stevedoor training loading ships and unloading ships.

Interviewer: Ah

Middlekauf: and then from there I went to Fort Story

Interviewer: Ah

Middlekauf: and took amphibious duck training on land with a truck


Middlekauf: and then put all of your plugs in and drove it out on water to the ship and went out and unloaded or loaded shuffling back and forth and then I um…left there and came home on leave over New Year’s.

Interviewer: what year are we talking about?

Middlekauf: 1952


Interviewer: So you were drafted in 1952 and you went through all of this training?

Middlekauf: Right

Interviewer: Where did you go from?

Middlekauf: I went from Fort Eustice, they sent me home for a couple of days then went to Camp Kilmer New Jersey and then left Camp Kilmer, New Jersey and went on a ship and we went to New York and lived on ship and


lived thirty seven days and a half on a ship. We left New York and went to Puerto Rico…

Interviewer: uh Humm

Middlekauf: and from Puerto Rico we went to Panama and from Panama we went to Japan and Japan into Korea so…

Interviewer: So you’ve been in the sea a long time?

Middlekauf: Right

Interviewer: You didn’t have any sea sick?

Middlekauf: Yes

Interviewer: You did?

Middlekauf: But then I …


when I got in Korea we unloaded the ship and went to Incheon. From Incheon we…

Interviewer: When was it? When did you arrive in Incheon?

Middlekauf: 1953

Interviewer: What month?

Middlekauf: January 

Interviewer: And then what happened?

Middlekauf: We went from there down to Busan.

Interviewer: You went down to Busan?

Middlekauf: On a train went down to Busan

Interviewer: Ah


Middlekauf: Was in Busan two weeks went back up to hmm….I’ll tell you in a minute…ha, ha..then up to Incheon


Middlekauf: from Incheon to Busan. Incheon was my permanent place over there with the 52nd borders ammo company. And I ended up being a truck driver there and hauling ammunition right there. They set me to Daegu and back down to Ulsan…


Middlekauf: unloaded ships onto barges and sent them on barges in boxcars on up to the front or wherever and make sure that they weren’t overloaded and get boarded up and everything. And then when I got that job done over there, I went back up to Yong’on


Interviewer: Yong’on?

Middlekauf: Yeah Yong’on

Interviewer: Yong’on? Where is it?

Middlekauf: Its between Busan and then go 24 and

Interviewer: {trying to sound it out} Yong’on

Middlekauf: Yeah with the 52nd ordinance {sambo} company


Middlekauf: the sign on the gate said the best ammo handlers in the world, that’s what the sign read but there, there was a Korean school just on the other side of our compound that they had school there the whole year round and all. So went I left over there, I left Yong’on and went back down to Busan.


Middlekauf: Got back and the general sent me home and got back and had the worst steak in California, California food in the ballroom.

Interviewer: I am already lost. You’ve been all around.

Middlekauf: ha ha

Interviewer: Um, so when did you leave for the state?

Middlekauf: Ah last part of 1953


Interviewer: So then there was Armistice signed while you was there, right?

Middlekauf: Right.

Interviewer: So how did you feel about the armistice signed?

Middlekauf: Well, I thought it was a good thing that way a lot of the boys got to come home and everything. There wasn’t anymore getting killed and anything else…and so


Middlekauf: so {unintelligible}

Interviewer: so you were already married and you had to leave your wife back home.

Middlekauf: Right

Interviewer: Did you write letters to her?

Middlekauf: Oh yeah, everytime I received one from her she would want to know what I was hauling, since I was a truck driver. I never told her I was hauling ammunition because that would no doubt have scared her to death. Yep, so…


Interviewer: Did you send the money back to your wife?

Middlekauf: Yep, I had that all arranged so that whenever I’am gone I had them take a certain amount out and send the rest home so, but then we got married the day the Korean War broke out. June the 25th 1950.

Interviewer: Really?

Middlekauf: Ha ha! Never thought I would end up in it.

Interviewer: but you were supposed to be in Korea?

Middlekauf: Right


Interviewer: What did your wife say toyou when you were leaving for Korea?

Middlekauf: What would any woman say? She hated to see me go.

Interviewer: Any specific comments she made? She cry?

Middlekauf: Yes, she was crying more than she was talking, yeah, she was crying more than she was talking, so she was.

Interviewer: Looking back all of those years, why do you think you were in Korea? Who made you go to Korea?


Middlekauf: Uncle Sam made me go to Korea because they get the list of names and you went where they sent ya. Some guys went to Hawaii, some went to Japan, some went to Germany, but I was one that was supposed to go to Korea. So…

Interviewer: Very unlucky.


Middlekauf: No, I wouldn’t say that I was unlucky. I learned a lot. I was in the army because I was one of those types of guys that didn’t like to go to school because I was one of those guys who was slow in learning and I learned more in the army than what I would have done in school. 


Middlekauf:  Whenever I come back I talked to gentlemen that wanted to know where I was at hadn’t see me for quite a few years. Young grocery store guy in Hagerstown and he note that from the time I was born until I come back from Korea he hadn’t seen me around.

Interviewer: What did he say when he saw you?

Middlekauf: He said, Where you been?

Interviewer: Just like that? Where you been?


Middlekauf: Yep, he said where you been? I said well I been cross country I said I’ve been to Korea and back. He said no way and I said yes. He said what are you doing now and I said looking for a job. He said have you talked to my manager and I said yes I talked to him. And he said he’d go talk to him and we will see what we can do for you.


Middlekauf: So he talked to the man that manages the store and he told me the manager that manages the store called me that evening and wanted to know if I could be at the store at seven o’clock next morning and I said I’ll be there. So I went to work for him for a dollar an hour.


Interviewer: I mean were there any dangerous moments during your service?

Middlekauf: Yeah

Interviewer: Tell me about those.


Middlekauf: Well, whenever the prisoners of war broke out down below where {unintelligible} we didn’t know where they were going or anything else.

Interviewer: uh huh

Middlekauf: But other than that, that was about it.

Inrerviewer: Really?

Middlekauf: Yep


Interviewer: Oh you been lucky. Um where exactly was the person that was very close to you that said to you, where have you been? That means that people didn’t pay attention to the war and after that they say it was a forgotten war. How do you react to that?

Middlekauf: It is a forgotten war.

Interviewer: Why?

Middlekauf: Mr. H.L. Mills was the one that wanted to know where I was at because he’d known me from the day I was born…his name was H. L. Mills


Middlekauf: and he’s one that knew me from little up and he wanted to give me a job and one dollar an hour is what I got.

Interviewer: One dollar an hour?

Middlekauf: Right

Interviewer: Was that a good wage?

Middlekauf: that was the wage back then.

Interviewer: Was it a good?

Middlekauf: Yep

Interviewer: hmm…

Middlekauf: I had more money in my pocket then than I do now. Ha ha, but you were saying about a forgotten war?


Middlekauf: There was nobody that met me at the airport except my wife.

Interviewer: Huh

Middlekauf: Nobody met me at the bus terminal whenever I come home.

Interviewer: Uh hmm

Middlekauf: and nobody ever said thank you or anything else except that one man and Mr. Mills. Other than that I went for jobs…we don’t have any…we don’t have any.


Middlekauf: And one guy said, well, where did you work before? I said I worked on a farm and I said the farmer rented me the farm out and I said so I mess around for a while before I got the job with Mr. Mills.

Interviewer: Hmm. So, why have you been back to Korea?

Middlekauf: No

Interviewer: No. You know what has happened to Korea now 12th largest economy


Interviewer: and vibrant democracy in Asia.

Middlekauf: Yep

Interviewer: What do you think about that?

Middlekauf: that’s good because when I left there Pusan was on fire. When I left that was the last part of fifty-three and course I met some good people from Oakland and Korea


Middlekauf: and I have a Korean girl that is married and lives across the street from me. She said I knew more about Korea than she ever did. So other than that it has been pretty good and all.

Interviewer: what do you think about U.S. Korea relations?

Middlekauf: Wonderful, wonderful! Yep…


Middlkauf: So I say yeah I met the president down D.C. there we had a three course dinner there, very nice…she is a very nice lady and I think she will do the job superb.

Interviewer: Do you have grandchildren?

Middlekauf: I have two grandchildren.

Interviewer: Grandsons?

Middlekauf: Right

Interviewer: How old they?


Middlekauf: One is 24 and the other one is 26.

Interviewer: 24, what is he doing?

Middlekauf: He’s working on the railroad. He’s working on the railroad down in Baltimore. That’s the 24 year old and the 26 year old was in the army for four years and he was stationed out at where all the shooting and stuff was, fort Hood, and he got out


Middlekauf: and went to finish his schooling and he lives up in Maine now and he has a part time job up there delivering furniture.

Interviewer: Did you have a camera when you were in Korea?

Middlekauf: No, I got one of those little dollar camera…

Interviewer: Did you take pictures?

Middlekauf: Yes, plenty pictures


Interviewer: Do you still have those pictures with you?

Middlekauf: Yeah

Interviewer: You know that Clayton he will collect the memorabilia and scan those picture so he can send it to me and I can upload it to the work site so that everyone can see it.

Middlekauf: Yeah, I worked for Clayton Buckholder.

Interviewer: You worked for him?


Middlekauf: Yeah, I worked for him and never realized he was in the air-force. He was in Korea about the same time I was. He run a supermarket for Mr. Mills and I worked for him in the store and I worked for him in the store, but never realized he was there to. Ha ha! And that there was a coupld of boys that worked there that was in the Marine Corp and of course the one man that was in the Marine Corp, he is in pretty bad shape now. 


Middlekauf: Whenever we worked together and he said he wanted to take one of the girls home that from the cash register, that worked the cash register. I was supposed to bring her home, drop her off on my way home. I went back and told her a lie


Middlekauf: I said I have to stay over so Mike needs some produce trimmed up for tomorrow morning. I said Mack said he’d take you home. He took her home, he took her out to supper and everything else.

Interviewer: Please talk about your chapter, Chapter 312.

Middlekauf: 312 is the best thing that ever happened.

Interviewer: Why?

Middlekauf: Why? Because we got more satisfaction out of the country and around Hagerstown and around here and there than we ever did…


Middlekauf: Now I belong to another Korean outfit of the Korean War and now I am trying to talk them into joining 312. They don’t to so we just had a banquet Saturday and over seventy people there and nine showed up out of 175 accepted living and the rest have passed away.


Middlekauf: but..ah..312 has done things that people wouldn’t realize that the Korean veterans do it and all. It’s not like today I can’t do the meal, do letters, help the wounded veterans from coming back from these places, help this one, help that one. Nobody ever got any letters while we was in there to help us. We done it on our own.


Interviewer: Who is chapter president?

Middlekauf: Right now it is Ed {Unintelligible} as president.



Another: Hello!

Interviewer:  I want to thank you very much I have wonderful interviews here now…How many?Like eight? Right?

Another: Ten altogether.

Interviewer: Ten altogether and this is last {unintelligible} Right? Thank you so much! Do you want to say something about this interview?

Another: I am very pleased that we were able to do this. This is part of an initiative that I want to promote.


Another:  That we can save as many of these stories from our Korean war veterans as possible. We are going to try and create a local library like you are doing with the digital memorial so these stories will be saved forever and ever.

Interviewer: Again I want to thank you. We are most happy to be with the most active chapter.


Another: Warren is exactly right. We are the most active chapter in Maryland. We may well be the most active chapter in the East Coast, maybe all of them, I don’t know about the western ones. What Warren was saying a few moments ago about the activities and the banquet he went to on Saturday night. We have 83 members and we get 35-40 of them out to every single meeting every month.

Interviewer: Beautiful, beautiful! 


Interviewer: We have to keep working on this legacy otherwise it won’t get preserved. Thank you so much and as we talked about I want to come down again and do more interviews of your chapter members.

Another: We would welcome that with open arms.

Interviewer: And I would like to get more memorabilia so that I can build chapter 312 photo album of the Korean War. 

Another: Thank you!

Interviewer: Any message you would like to give to this interview?


Middlekauf: Yes, very much…I would like to send a message to the young people of Korea that got killed on that ferry so I do…that’s terrible! Oh my eye doctor is a captain and he could not watch the television whenever them people went down. He told me, he said, it was terrible and he said he couldn’t watch that.


Middlekauf: Now he was a captain in Korea but not doing the Korean War. He was talking to the men and of course we have them Korean books that show how it was and how it was now. And ah I was talking to him and he wanted to…


Middlekauf: if I had any of them. I said I got one at the house you can borrow. And the wife was with me and she said, why don’t you just donate that to him? He said he thought his father would like it too. You’d have thought I gave that man a gold mine! So, I did and he really enjoyed that book that they ought to do again. He said now I got to do something for you and I said No! You enjoy reading that book and have your father read it because I think his father was in world War II…he didn’t get into details on it.


Middlekauf: I told him we tried to get it into the library and we tried the school libraries and stuff and then he said, wonderful. But once people find out what you was doing and everything, they appreciate your service. The young girls that work for him in his office found out that me and him were talking about the Korean War. I come out from his room from checking my wife’s because he had a cataract taken off and those girls said, we want to thank you for your service!


Middlekauf: We never realized that you was in Korea. I said well I was in that place and I said I was in Vietnam too. They said they couldn’t believe that.

Interviewer: You were in Vietnam too?

Middlekauf: No, Vietnam in 68/69 I went to Vietnam too.

Interviewer: You went to? So you were in the war?

Middlekauf: Yeah. I was over there repairing the helicopters. My review unit was called to active duty and we went down in the Virginia and left there for Vietnam. Flew over and flew back so we did and all. Yep…


Interviewer: Thank you for your condolence of tragic accident of ferry. 

Middlekauf: Yep and I enjoyed the younger people coming up and then going back and writing a book about it. They told about it in the book.

Interviewer: I am trying to connect this Korean American young eyes with the descendants of the Korean War veterans. OK?

Middlekauf: And ah, the one parent with the young people…I said about that…when I was in Korea we donated money in the pot


Middlekauf: and took care of an orphanage. We got them dried fish and rice and took them out and she just started clapping her hands and threw them up and said, wonderful. And I thought this is one thing that would keep the children living was to feed them. I threw a couple of dollars here and there in the pot for them. And like I said, they would go down and buy dried fish and rice, fish, and everything else.


Interviewer: Thank you very much again!

Middlekauf: Yes sir!