Wayne Dierlam, after graduating from High School in Texas, enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1960 and served in Korea. He was named after two generals, and many of his family members served in the military. He enjoyed playing all sports. He trained as an infantryman at Fort Benning, Ga. He was shipped out to Korea in September of 1961 to help maintain the stability of South Korea. He served as a Company Radio Operator while in Korea.
Wayne Dierlam describes the living conditions in Korea in the early 1960s. He shares how there were various living quarters and talks about the names of the camps he slept in. He explains that he had food, but it was cold.
Share from this page:
Reflection of Service
Wayne Dierlam reflects upon his service while in Korea. He remembers the mountains and valleys and gives his thoughts on a unified Korea. He shares the importance of training.
Share from this page:
[Beginning of Recorded Material]
Wayne Dierlam: I was born in–at [unintelligible] which is part of Calhoun County.
Interviewer: Oh wow!
W: I graduated from Bloomington High School in 1960. Played football and all sports basketball, baseball, every–you know, always involved. And all my life I’m–my grandfather named me after two war generals. One being General Douglas MacArthur, which is my middle name. The D I put on there, Wayne Douglas. And General Wainwright, which was
Commander over foreign events under MacArthur’s. Went–from rather than Wainwright, he just spelled it out Wayne. W-A-Y-N-E. So, I’m in the military. I’ve had family member, uncles and that that served back during the war.
W: And it something that I, myself, prided myself on always someday wanting to serve my country because I think that’s the greatest honor that–that we can do and I think that people will stand up when the cause is right. So, in 1960,
before I started at Victoria Junior College, I–I came to Victoria and seen the sergeant by the name of Master Calwell and visited with him a time or two and went back and told my family that I was going to join the Army. So, I left in August of 1960. But I still have my records in my notes that–you know, they always tell you and I was told before when you want to enter a certain part of the service,
and whatever it is make sure you have your orders and you have it down right and you have it written in your contract, because they’ll put you somewhere else, you know.
W: so that’s–that’s the way it is and i–I left here in August and went to San Antonio and was inducted went to–
I: And that was in 1960?
W: August of 1960.
W: I went. Then we did all our little testing and stuff in San Antonio. Shipped out to Fort Washington Colorado to be inducted into the military.
to receive your uniforms and, you know, get your shots and, get all your– everything in order. And after that, I was assigned to a–a group called Over Rep, it was over–over seas unit replacement, which was a–a trial and I have it in my book here a full trial of one unit replacing a whole unit.
W: And we was also sent–we–we did a new combat boot
And we did a U ration and a number of things that… so then training 18 weeks of infantry and basic–you know basic training and then advanced training. Then we had unit training. Then we shipped out–we shipped out to Korea in September of ’61.
I–I was home on leave at the time and they gave me two weeks to come home and–before I left and I was home a week and they had called me and said you got to report back a week early because our–we was going over by ship. They had already sent the advanced party over like they always do, and the other groups. And I was in the main body.
I: Mm-hmm and what was your specialty? Your rank?
W: Field te–well, I was–I was at that time I was just a
W: in training and PFC. And when I–when I went to Korea I became a specialist fourth class and then I became a sergeant E5 rank when I got out. Maybe I’m went too much detail for you.
I: No, no.
W: I’ll tell you the whole story.
I: We love details. We want to know, you know, we want to know your story. So feel free to elaborate on those things like that. Okay so, I’m sorry.
W: So, there when we got to
After our training in Fort Benning–
W: when I told you we–we–they asked me to come back early so we had to report back to Fort Benning and then they flew us in an airplane a couple days later. Like we were going to leave on this sh–we went over on the William A. Mann, which was a troop carrier. And once we got– they double timed us to the plane. They double timed us everywhere we went, but bags and all your gear. We got on that ship we sit on that ship for two weeks in the dock
in California at–at San Francisco before we shipped out.
W: And then, we was on the–on the ship for 21 days. I particularly pride myself on, when I first entered the service, I didn’t know a colonel or enlisted man from one or the other. Just as green as I could be. Well, in our first formation when we fell in at–after we got to Fort Benning Georgia,
the first sergeant, which was, well, we found out we always called the top sergeant asked if anyone could type. So little old me, I could type 60, 65, 70 words a minute in high school and I was a pretty good typist at that time, I still could type. I raised my hand in with of all of these 300 and some odd guys. So, after that formation he said meet me in the orderly room. I had no idea what the orderly room even was. So, anyway, I found out
reported to him. And my job was to–was to the next day all the men would come through that was in that unit had to write a letter home to all their parents to let them know that their son had arrived.
W: At that time, there wasn’t no women there, just all–totally all men, you know. Not–not like today but had to take the names and addresses of all the individuals that were in our unit in our–in our–in our company and address the envelopes.
Of course, they filled the letter in for it. And after that, well I got to meet the top sergeant. He said where you from, son? I said from Texas. He said, I thought everything was big in Texas. [laughing]
W: So I became good friends with their first sergeant.
W: and anyway, we was in there by their seventh week of basic training and the sergeant he made me also, after this time, he made the alternate mail clerk. So, every day, I’d run down
to the battle group headquarters and I got a little time off from other duties that the rest of them were doing that I didn’t have to do. Because I figured I volunteered. I volunteered to get there and then I volunteered after I was there. And it gave me a first shot, or closeness with the first sergeant.
I: Tell me a little bit about your living conditions at the time that you were in Korea. As far as food and your sleeping arrangements went.
W: Well, we–we lived in huts called Quonset Huts.
W: That we–when we were in the field we had pup tents that we stayed in. Go in the mess tents that’s for your eating and all that. But, when we were in– when we were in–in–in the–in the general area in Camp Hovey,
W: Camp Hovey, Camp Casey, we had individual buildings. And, of course, we had the kerosene. It was cold and wintery, you know it snowed there all the time some time. And it start in September and it–it stayed, you know, cold–very cold. But a different kind of cold
than we have here it was no humidity much. Was a dry cold. The living conditions was good. The food was good. I mean, we’ve always been especially on holidays and Thanksgiving and places like that we was able to–to–you know they–they fed us good.
I: What was your impression of Korea? How–what were– what is Korea to you?
W: Mountains. [laughing]
I: [laughing] mountains?
W: Mountains. Mountains and valleys and, you know peaks,
W: We’d climb up one mountain and I –I’m being in good shape and knowing the first sergeant like I did. We had a company commander by the name of–and I need to tell you this– by the name of Rudolph [Housen].
W: He was Cuban born. He was a ranger. He went through all the training that anyone could go through. And see, I’m being the radio operator I was his radio operator.
And I carried that radio and I could keep up with him and my–my little old steps you know I’d have to take four or five to his one. And he’d always tell the top sergeant I–I try to lose this guy from Texas I can’t lose him he’s so tough he’s right there. Because we’d get the signal coming in and I’d have to tell the company commander what was going on. And he’d talk on the radio back and forth. And of course I–I thought that was good. I mean, I enjoyed that because I was got to be in a lot of conversations with the–
with intelligence and stuff like that. That a lot of other company commanders –I mean other men in our outfit didn’t know. Cause I was there with him
W: and could hear. And if you’re the radio operator you get a call in well you– you hear the conversations that’s going on. Where we’re gonna move or where this one is going and so we did–not only did we went in battle over there, but we would do it always in training. And, you know, you have to train like a football team, you have to train in order to be good if the day ever comes
that you have to fight.
W: We found that the–one of the things that when I went in the Over Rep unit found out that they did–discarded that a year or so after we got there, because they found out that people that know everyone would get to know everyone you get to know their families you know where they’re from in war or in fighting if you lose one of those guys it hurts you pretty bad because it’s one of your own. But if you’re with complete strangers,
and don’t know one another if someone dies or gets killed or hurt you don’t– it don’t hurt you emotionally like it does if you really know somebody. Because we lived with them for 32 weeks, 38 weeks you got to know everything about them. I think the theory was good, but they found out that they don’t make a good fighting machine.
I: Do you think it’s ever possible for North and South Korea to be reunified and–or would you re–would you support that even?
W: I would like to see that happen one day.
W: But the regime in North Korea is just so–you know. If it was up to the people themselves,
W: there would be no problem with unification. Because they’re starving in North Korea. They–people are starving I mean you could… South Korea is–you know South Korea is a lot like the–like we are here, now.
W: I don’t know if it’d ever happen, on account of the communist regime.
You know, we still have trouble with North Korean on nuclear this and nuclear that and all this other stuff.
I: Mm-hmm. What do you think we need to do to end that hostility?
W: What do we need to do to end hostility?
I: Mm-hmm between North and South Korea or North Korea and even the United States.
W: If you and I can sit down and talk and agree on whatever it might be, we could accomplish a lot.
W: But when the other person, thinks you’re
trying to get advantage or gain something or whatever and they feel that way maybe.
I: So, do you think it’s important for younger generations to understand of the sacrifices made in Korea? Not even–not just in ’50 to ’53 but even, you know still, we still have, you know, soldiers there in Korea right now. Do you think it’s important and necessary?
W: Yeah, but we’re–we’re in what you call–the wars never ended, we’re in a truce.
I: Right. Right.
W: It’s a truce.
I: It’s just an armistice. Mm-hmm.
W: And they could start armistice–they could start any day again tomorrow.
W: I, you know, I think that the
to me the young generation today, the younger people, you know, they’re–don’t understand what our forefathers and everybody went through. For us to be free and be here there was a lot of–a lot of things that had to be accomplished.
W: You know, the War Between the States the–the war with England I mean you know its–there’s always been bickering and fighting but I don’t think young people understand what
we–I say we–what our forefathers went through.
I: But thank you so much for coming in and talking.
W: I hope that–I hope that was okay.
I: No, you did wonderful.
[End of Recorded Material]