Korean War Legacy Project

Wayne Mitchell

Bio

Wayne Mitchell was drafted in late 1952 to serve as an artillery man during the latter parts of the Korean War. His service included action in over four of the war’s largest actions – they included Pork-chop Hill, The Punch-bowl, Outpost Harry, and The Iron Triangle. Sitting miles behind the front-line his mobile unit was in charge of providing pinpoint artillery support to American patrols that were made in the dead of night. Wayne Mitchell describes the living conditions in his unit throughout the war. He recalls running for his life for days-on-end after a North Korean push left the American front-line retreating in central Korea. Finally, he compares the experience of Seoul during the war to the Seoul he saw years later – two drastically different experiences.

Video Clips

Life in an Artillery Unit

Wayne Mitchell recalls his experiences in an artillery battalion stationed roughly three to five miles behind the front line. His unit had hot food and beds every night during the war- a privilege that not many soldiers in the war had. In his unit, many Americans worked side-by side with Koreans in jobs that ranged from manning the artillery guns to cooking in the kitchen. He goes on to describe the cold weather and living in tents.

Tags: Cold winters,Food,Front lines,Living conditions

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phRlS7uXqKs&start=976&end=1115

On-the-run from 100,000 North Koreans

Wayne Mitchell explains that his artillery unit served in over four major battles toward the end of the Korean War, one of them was at the Chorwon Valley. He describes the night 100,000 North Koreans pushed through the valley and his unit was forced to leave behind their artillery and retreat. Wayne Mitchell remembers that not all of his comrades in his unit were lucky enough to make it back - some were taken as POW's or killed.

Tags: Front lines,North Koreans,POW,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phRlS7uXqKs&start=1274&end=1414

War-torn Seoul versus a Prospering Seoul

Wayne Mitchell compares his experiences during the war with the experiences he had upon revisiting Korea over sixty five years later. He recalls the biggest change to him was the agricultural boom that now covers much of the South Korean countryside. He also remembers his recent experiences in Seoul as being filled with modern museums, skyscrapers, and freeways - A big change from the war-torn Seoul he arrived in during the war.

Tags: Seoul,Impressions of Korea,Modern Korea,Physical destruction

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phRlS7uXqKs&start=1683&end=1928

Video Transcript

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

W:       My name is Wayne J. Mitchell, W A Y N E  J. M I T C H E L L .

I:          What is your birthday?

W:       10/28/1930.

I:          And where were you born?
W:       Canton, South Dakota.

I:          Could you spell?

W:       C A N T O N .

I:          Canton, South Dakota.

W:       Yep.

I:          Would you please tell

0:00:30

me about your family when you were growing up, your parents and your siblings?

W:       Okay. I had two brothers and one sister.  I’m the oldest of the, my siblings

I:          Um hm.

W:       And we grew up on a farm just outside of Canton

I:          Um hm.

W:       And went to a country school there and high school in Canton

I:          What high school?

W:       Canton High School.

I:          Canton.  C A N T O N.

0:01:00

W:       C A N T O N.

I:          Yeah. C A M T O N.

W:       N as in November.

I:          Oh, I’m sorry.  Canton.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Alright.

W:       Yeah.

I:          And when did you graduate that high school?

W:       1948.

I:          By the way, you said you born in the family of farming, right?

W:       Right.

I:          Did you do, take care of a lot of animals?

W:       Yes.

I:          What kind?

W:       Everything.  Hogs, sheep, cattle, milked cows.

0:01:30

I also used horses for farm work, drove horse.

I:          So you were a cowboy.

W:       No, work horses.  I didn’t ride them.

I:          I see.

W:       But we used them to pull implements and in the farming process.

I:          Lot of work, right?

W:       Yes.

I:          Yeah.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Did you learn anything about Korea when you were in the school?

W:       In high school?

I:          Yeah.

0:02:00

W:       Very little other than just basic geography.

I:          Basic.  So you, did you know where Korea was at the time?
W:       Yes.

I:          Wow, you are the one of the most educated veteran I, have, never met, ever met.

W:       Okay.

I:          Ninety-nine point 9 percent saying they didn’t know where Korea was at the time.  They didn’t know anything about Korea.  Do you

W:       Well, I was kind of interested, you know. I followed the war, and I guess that’s how I got acquainted at the country of Korea

0:02:30

and how Japan occupied it and so on for many years and then how it changed after the war.

I:          That’s very good.  You are the very few veterans really had something, no knowledge about the Korea.

W:       Thank you.

I:          So after graduation, what did you do?

W:       Worked on farm-related businesses and farmed.

0:03:00

I:          And in, in your family farm?

W:       Yes.

I:          Oh.

W:       And then I worked for neighbors for different projects. So.

I:          And how was it? I mean you born one year after, after the Great Depression.

W:       Yes.
I:          It must been very difficult, right?
W:       Well, my memory isn’t real good of the early ‘30’s.  But I can remember as, my earliest memories.  We lived on a farm, so

0:03:30

we always had plenty to eat, you know, gardening and chickens and hogs we raised was most of our food.  But we had friends like that lived in town that didn’t have a job, and they didn’t have food, neither, you know, and, you know, we’d take milk in and chickens and, and pork and beef in to them whenever we had it butchered and so on and try to help them out.

I:          So good to be in the farm during the

W:       Yes.

I:          Depression, right?

W:       Wonderful.

I:          Yeah.

0:04:00

W:       We never went hungry,

I:          That’s good.   And, what were you doing when the Korean War broke out?

W:       When it broke out in 1950?

I:          Yeah.

W:       I was working in, on the farm and working for a fellow that had custom equipment we shelled ear corn and ground feed and so on, all farm related.

I:          Uh huh.  And

0:04:30

So how, how did you join the military?  When and

W:       I didn’t.  They, I was drafted in 19, in June of 1952.

I:          ’52.

W:       Yeah.

I:          June.

W:       Yeah.

I:          And where did you get to the basic?
W:       Basic training I went to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.

I:          Fort?

W:       Yeah, Fort.

I:          And then?
W:       Chaffee.  C H A F F E E I believe, isn’t it?
I:          Arkansas.

0:05:00

W:       Yeah, Arkansas.

I:          Yeah.  And how long did you get the basic?

W:       Pardon?

I:          How long did you get the basic training?
W:       Went, eight weeks Infantry and eight weeks Artillery and eight weeks NCO school.

I:          Wow.  That’s a total 24 weeks.

W:       Yes.

I:          So you were in the officer?

W:       No.

I:          No.

W:       Not, Non-Commissioned.

I:          Oh, NCO.

0:05:30

W:       Yeah.

I:          And then, were you thinking that you were going to be in Korean War?

W:       Well, it didn’t surprise me any when they sent us over there.

I:          Uh.

W:       Yeah.

I:          So when did you leave for Korea?

W:       Let’s see, in January of ’53.

I:          Um.  Could you tell me where did you depart from?

W:       Went to

0:06:00

Fort Lewis, Washington, and left from San Francisco.

I:          And when did, where did you arrive?
W:       In Korea?

I:          Yeah.  No, actually did you go by way of Japan, right?

W:       Yes.

I:          Yeah.

W:       Yeah.

I:          So where did you arrive in Japan?

W:       Tokyo.

I:          Tokyo.

W:       Yeah.

I:          And

W:       Camp Drake in Tokyo.

I:          What did you do?

W:       Got oriented to go to Korea.

I:          What kind of orientation did they gave you?

0:06:30

W:       Oh, lot, some of it was physical, shots, little history of what to expect and so on.

I:          Little history?
W:       Yeah.

I:          Oh.

W:       Yeah, you know, what was going on in the war and, you know, basically where we were going and so on.

I:          So by the time you, you

0:07:00

knew that you going to be in Korea, and for the war, right?
W:       Right.

I:          Were you afraid?

W:       Well, you were apprehensive, but you’re young then, you know.  You don’t have any fear, so.

I:          Did you know how the Korean War was going around at the time in 1953?
W:       Yes.

I:          How?

W:       Well, they, at that time it was pretty well stable along the, the Parallel there,

0:07:30

and not a lot of activity going north and south.

I:          By the way, what was your unit?

W:       I was with the 5thRCT.  It was a Regimental Combat Team, and I was in the artillery at, battalion, the 555.

I:          And Regiment?  The Regimental

0:08:00

And

W:       It was a, a battalion.  Field Artillery is a battalion.

I:          Yeah.

W:       The fifth, 5thRegiment.

I:          Fifth Regiment.

W:       Yeah, 5thRCT.

I:          And the division?

W:       Well, we were actually, we weren’t attached to a division.  We were attached to I Corp. they’re called.  That was the whole basic command in Korea.

I:          I see.

W:       Was, was I Corp.

I:          I Corp.

W:       Yeah.  And they, we supported all kinds of different outfits.

I:          Uh huh.

0:08:30

What is your MOS?

W:       Number?

I:          No.  The, the specialty.

W:       Oh, I was an Artilleryman.

I:          So you were trained to do, deal with the artillery.

W:       Right.

I:          So tell me about the details of your job description.

W:       Well, it, in the artillery you work, like I was on the gun section, 105.

I:          Can you give me a full explanation of how this artillery unit works, how many

0:09:00

people and what do they do and what did you do?
W:       Well, a gun section, which is one gun, there, there’s six artillery pieces in a, in a battery, or company I should say, or a battery, and there’s nine men on a gun, and you have truck driver, you have fellows that handle the artillery rounds and so on.

0:09:30

Then you have a, a gunner and a, a fellow that operates the gun for sight and elevation and so on.  And I done all those jobs up until I Chief of Section

I:          Um hm.

W:       which is in charge of the, of the bat, or the gun section.

I:          What was your rank?

W:       When I was in, discharged?

I:          In Korea.

W:       Well, I started from a PFC

I:          PFC.

0:10:00

W:       and then I ended up with a Sergeant First Class.

I:          Wow.  Very impressive.  Very fast promotion.

W:       Yeah.  It took me from Corporal to Sergeant First Class is two grades 30 days.

I:          Wow.  So where did you arrive in Korea?  When?
W:       Okay.  About the first part of February.  I don’t remember the exact date.

I:          Uh huh.  Uh huh.

0:10:30

W:       Went into Pusan.

I:          How was Pusan?  Tell me about the scene, the first image of Korea at the time that you arrived in Pusan.

W:       Well, you know, we got off from the boat, we went, got off the boat got right on a train and headed out toward Seoul.

I:          Seoul.

W:       So I didn’t see much of Pusan.

I:          Um hm.

W:       We was there just a matter of three, four hours probably.

0:11:00

I:          And then, how about Seoul?  The first Seoul image that you saw.

W:       There wasn’t much left by the time we got there. It was pretty well, you know, demolished, you know.  So, not a lot of buildings standing there anymore.  So, and we didn’t stay there very long.  We stopped at a camp overnight I think and got on a truck the next morning and went up towards

0:11:30

DMZ.

I:          Do you remember the place name?  Where were you in the DMZ area?

W:       When I first got there?
I:          Yeah.

W:       Place called the Punch Bowl.

I:          Punch Bowl.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Punch bowl is far east.

W:       Correct.

I:          Yeah.

W:       Correct. Yeah, we could hear the battleships firing inland.  We were, we were, we were about 20 miles from the east coast.

I:          Yeah.

0:12:00

How was the situation at the time that you arrived there?

W:       Well, it was wintertime, and there wasn’t a lot of activity, you know.  At first, it was always activity at night.  That’s when the patrols went out and then they want us, artillery fire, and they called it in.

I:          Um hm.

W:       But we weren’t real busy then.

I:          The March of 1953,

0:12:30

I think that was very intensive tug of war between North Koreans and the U.N. Forces, right, to, to

W:       Correct.

I:          to, to, to get even a little bit of the land in their influence, right?

W:       Right.

I:          Yeah.

W:       Yeah.  And that was probably more in the central part of the, of the Korean peninsula.

I:          Iron Triangle.

W:       Yep.

I:          Yeah.

W:       Yeah.

I:          So you were in the artillery meaning that you were

0:13:00

in the rear

W:       Yeah.  We was always, you know, three to five miles behind the line.

I:          Um hm, um hm.

W:       Yeah.

I:          So tell me about the typical day of your duties there in Punch Bowl.  What, how, how was it?

W:       Well, that’s a long time ago now.  I gotta think about that a little bit.  Normally, you know, if we done a lot of firing during the night, in the morning we’d have to

0:13:30

[inaudible] all the brass and the boxes and canisters and al that artillery rounds came in, get them ready, load them on a truck after breakfast and, and clean our equipment, check the equipment, work on that.  But some days we had, you know, truckloads of boxes.  Everything came in, in wooden crates, you know.  The ammunition did.  So everything went, all the brass and, and cartridges and boxes were all shipped back

0:14:00

to Ordinates again.

I:          How long, I mean when you have to fire, how long was it?   Like, the longest one that you remember that you had to fire the shells?

W:       The length time that

I:          Yeah..

W:       we’re actually firing?

I:          Yeah.

W:       Well, you know, it’s, it, very much, I have to think about that one.  You know, lots of nights, you know,

0:14:30

you’d fire five, ten rounds and then that’d be it for half an hour.  Then they’d call in and order and you’d fire another group of rounds and, and I guess towards the end, we fired one night for about five hours straight.

I:          Five hours

W:       Yeah.

I:          straight.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Tell me, explain.  I mean, this interview will be

0:15:00

listened by the, you know, school children’s, and tell them how was it like a straight five hours of firing the shells.

W:       Well, you know you just got different fire mission. You just kept loading artillery piece and, and firing, and, and, you know, you didn’t, it’s, it was at night so you get a lot of flashes and so on.  But it was busy.  Trucks

0:15:30

were bringing in ammo. You’d have to unload truckloads of ammunition and, and get prepared because you had to assemble the, the rounds.

I:          Were you able to corroborate how accurate your shelling was at the time?  Any means to corroborate?
W:       Not, not from our position.  You, you know.

I:          But there are forward observes, right?

W:       They had, there was forward observers.

I:          And they could tell you how accurate they were.

W:       Yeah.  But it didn’t go directly to the gun section.

0:16:00

You got a fire direction center that communicated with the forward observer, and then they give us information on how, you know, the elevation coordinates and, to the gun sections to fire.

I:          Um.  How was life there, in artillery battalion?  Tell me about the, the, the life there.  How did you, where did you sleep?  What did you eat, and were you able to take a showers or were you able to write

0:16:30

letters, all these things?

W:       Well, I mean, we used to, before the cease fire was involved, we, we’d have guard, gun detail.  We’d be on from 6 in the evening till midnight, and then had [inaudible] at midnight to 6 in the morning.  And, so that’s the amount of sleep you’d a got

0:17:00

was those six hours we were off.  Otherwise, you’re on duty and

I:          Um hm.

W:       Normally we, the food we had was good.

I:          Mess hall or C-ration?
W:       No, we had cooks, cook kitchen.

I:          Not meals?

W:       Yeah.

I:          Ah, that’s good.

W:       Only time we didn’t have hot meals is when we, after the cease fire and then we were out maneuvers training at times.  Then we’d have C-rations.

I:          Uh.

W:       But most of the time we had kitchen and cooks and, and we had, we had good food.

0:17:32

I:          What were the menus there?

W:       Oh, varied every day.  So, but we had all, you know, basic American food I guess. We had a lot of meat and, and vegetables and so on.

I:          Who cooked it?  Korean or American soldier?

W:       We had American mess Sergeant and cooks and, we also had Koreans in the kitchen, too.

I:          Um.

W:       You know that, after,

0:18:00

 

after the cease fire, I had Koreans in my gun section, too.  Katusas we called them.

I:          Katusas, yes.

W:       Yeah.  And I had, the 9, I had 4, 4 Katusas in my, my gun section.

I:          Where did you sleep?

W:       In tents.

I:          Tent.

W:       Yep.

I:          How cold was it?

W:       20 below.

I:          20 below.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Did you have a heating system there?

W:       Yeah.

I:          What?

W:       Had two little oil burning stoves in the tent.

0:18:30

I:          Uh huh.

W:       Yep.

I:          And did that make you warm?

W:       Oh yeah.

I:          Um.

W:       Oh yeah.

I:          How much were you paid?  What was your annual salary? [LAUGHS]

W:       Annual salary, it was by the month.   When I started, I think it was $67 a month, and I think my, after I made Sergeant First Class, it was just about $300 a month.

0:19:00

I:          $300 month?

W:       Yeah.

I:          You sure?  That much?

W:       Well, with, I got overseas pay and so on. It was up in that area some place.

I:          That’s not bad.

W:       No.

I:          No.

W:       And you board and room besides.

I:          Exactly.  So what did you do with that money?

W:       What did I do with it?

I:          Yeah.

W:       I sent most of it home.

I:          Mostly?

W:       Yeah.  I didn’t, you know, well, we was up in the, in the DMZ

0:19:30

there was no place to go.  We never went anyplace.

I:          No club, no café or anything like that?
W:       Well, we’d, we’d go buy a beer or two if you wanted.

I:          From PX?

W:       Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

W:       Yeah.  And beers were two for a quarter.

I:          Really?  So you have to pay for it.

W:       Oh yeah.
I:          They didn’t feed you beer?

W:       No.

I:          That’s too bad.

W:       Oh well, they paid us so.  They fed us anyway.  That was good.

I:          Were there any strong spirit, like whiskeys and so on, too?

0:20:00

W:       Not in enlisted men.

I:          No?
W:       Officers probably had that in their own, you know, facility.

I:          Yeah, somehow they smuggle in?

W:       No, I don’t know.  I was never involved with that, so.

I:          In your tent, were there Korean people helping you?  House boy?

W:       No.  No.

I:          No?

W:       We had to maintain our own.

0:20:30

I:          Oh, that’s weird.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Many of the interviews that I had, they tell me that there were Korean boys, you know, helping you guys, shining shoes and, you know, cleaning.

W:       They were probably in a different branch of the Service.

I:          So you were, you stayed in the Punch Bowl from the beginning to the end?

W:       No, no.

I:          No.  You’ve been, after the cease fire, you moving around?

W:       Yeah, we probably moved, well, before the cease fire, we moved probably four or five times.  We were

0:21:00

up behind Outpost Harry and, and

I:          Where?
W:       Outpost Harry.

I:          Outpost Harry.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Is it east of Punch Bowl or West?

W:       West.

I:          West.

W:       West.

I:          Uh huh.

W:       It’s towards the center of the peninsula.

I:          I see.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Any other location you remember?

W:       Oh, let me see.  Pork Chop was in there someplace, too.  They called Pork Chop for some reason.

I:          Pork Chop is very west.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Were you there?

0:21:30

W:       Yeah.

I:          So you’ve been everywhere?

W:       Yeah, we moved up and down before the cease fire.

I:          Wow.  Any particular episode you remember  that you were in danger?
W:       Well, I suppose just about towards the end of the war they had, North Korea had that big push in the Chorwon Valley area.

I:          Yeah, yeah.  Were you at the Chorwon, too?

W:       Yeah.  We were setting there.

0:22:00

Yeah we, we got overrun that night, and lost all of our, excuse me, lost all of our guns and, and quite a few personnel, prisoners of war and so on.

I:          How did it happen?  Please describe in detail.  How did it happen that you had to lose a lot of guns and, and personnel?

W:       Well, North Koreans sent about 100,000 troops down in that valley at us.

I:          100,000?

W:       Yeah.

0:22:33

I:          And?

W:       And they didn’t have manpower on our side to stop them, and of course, you know, don’t take long to cover five miles, and of course we couldn’t, we didn’t have time to load up and get out of there.  So

I:          Were you thinking that you are losing your life at the time?

0:23:00

W:       Well

I:          At the time?

W:       I guess you don’t think about that at that time, you know?  It gets pretty crazy, and, but I, you know, I don’t know if you think about that or not. I don’t recall.

I:          Um.

W:       But anyway, I was fortunate I got out and, you know, Philip [inaudible] they were gonna interview today, he was a POW.  He was in

0:23:30

the same outfit I was, but he didn’t

I:          Um hm.

W:       He got captured.  He didn’t make it out.

I:          Phil?

W:       Yeah.

I:          He declined to the interview.

W:       Well, he had to go to the hospital.

I:          Oh.

W:       Yeah.  He just called the gal here a few minutes ago before we came in.

I:          Is he going to coming back later?

W:       I don’t know.

I:          Okay.  Oh, I see. Let me ask this question.  What was the most

0:24:00

difficult thing during your service in Korea?

W:       The most difficult thing?

I:          Yeah.  One thing that I am asking you to pinpoint what was the most difficult thing during your service?

W:       That’s an interesting question.

I:          Because there are too many?

W:       No.  I guess trying to

0:24:30

figure that one out. I, probably the thing would be when we were overrun, and we were going, trying to get back, you know, to our lines, and we’d been up all night, we were up all, all the next day and all the next night, and it was the next night before we had a chance to get some rest.

0:25:00

W:       So, physically and mentally that’s probably the hardest part.

I:          Um.  Can you describe the coldness that you had to suffer at the time?  How cold was it?

W:       When I was in June, it was warm but

I:          No, but the winter that you had to go.

W:       Oh.  The coldest?  Oh it got down to 20 below zero, a lot of snow, a lot of snow.

I:          I interviewed the Chosin Few veterans

0:25:30

who were at the north up there.  They, they told me that when they peed, it just frozen into ice.

W:       Um hm.

I:          Does that make sense to you?
W:       Oh yeah.  I know it got awfully cold up there.  You’ll probably interview one of them today here.

I:          Do you have a frostbite from there?

W:       No.

I:          No?
W:       No.  No.

I:          Did you write letter back to your family?

0:26:00

W:       Just about every day.  Family and friends and cousins and.

I:          You were not married at the time?
W:       No.  No.

I:          Did you have a girlfriend at the time?

W:       No.

I:          No.

W:       No.

I:          Is that because you are in front of your wife?

W:       No.

I:          [LAUGHS]

W:       Back then I knew I was gonna have to go in the military, and I just bought a motorcycle and had a good time.

I:          Uh.

W:       So.

I:          I see.  Do you still have those letters you wrote back to your family?

0:26:30

W:       No.

I:          No?

W:       Well, I might have a few my mother got, that gave me. I’d have to look and see if I still got them.

I:          What did you write about?

W:       Oh, you know, you, you didn’t write about all the things going on there too much, you know, write them that you’re doing well and about your friends and, and weather and so on.  So.

0:27:00

One, you know, question you always ask how are things going on the farm and how this person was doing, you know, that was sick and, you know.

I:          So you still asking around the animals in your farm?

W:       Yep.

I:          [LAUGHS]

W:       Yeah.

I:          You’re a real farmer.

W:       Yep.  I still farm.

I:          You do?

W:       Yeah.

I:          Tell me about it.  What do you have?
W:       I, just grain.  I raise corn and beans.

I:          Corn and beans.

W:       Yep.

I:          Yeah.

W:       Yeah.

I:          How, how large is this, your farm?

0:27:30

W:       I’m just a hobby farmer.  It’s 160 acres.

I:          160 acres and you call it hobby?

W:       Yes.

I:          Oh my God.

W:       Well, nowadays in this area you don’t farm 1,000, 2,000 acres, you know. You’re just a hobby farmer.

I:          You have a lot of machines, too, right?

W:       Well, I had adequate older machine.  You can’t, I don’t buy all this new stuff.

I:          You still doing that?

W:       Yeah.

I:          You are 86.

W:       Will be.

0:28:00

October, yeah.

I:          Have you been back to Korea?

W:       Three years ago last March.

I:          Three, 2013?

W:       Yep.

I:          Tell me about it.

W:       Well, we flew into Seoul, and

I:          We means what, your wife?

W:       My wife and my daughter that lives in Singapore. She went with us, too.  And we met,

0:28:30

She had arranged for some people to escort us for a couple of days, and so then we spent two days with those, with the same guy both days, and one day he brought a friend with his that was in Korea.  He was retired military working with the Corp. of Engineers, and the other fellow worked in, the main one worked in Public Relations for the Army or something, I don’t remember.

0:29:00

Then there was a student, she was a student, wasn’t she, that young lady came the second day and rode with us.  They, the Korean Veterans Association furnished us a van

I:          Um hm.

W:       and we, we had that for two days to.  So then we spent, you know, we was up in the DMZ one day, and

0:29:30

I can’t remember where we went the other day, but we spent one day up in the DMZ.  So

I:          How does that make you feel, being in the same area that you were there 65 years ago?

W:       Well, you know, it, the only thing that hasn’t changed like I told them is the mountains.  The countryside is all changed, you know.  Now it’s all farm ground and, you know, big greenhouses as you know, and they farm everything.

0:30:00

That’s the big change, and, and met a lot of Korean soldiers, and, but, that was interesting.

I:          You were in Seoul, right?
W:       Yes.

I:          Tell me what you saw there.

W:       Well, we spent a lot of, a lot of time at the big memorial in, right, that’s right downtown in Seoul.

I:          You mean the War Memorial?

W:       Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

W:       The big one.  It’s a huge complex and all kinds

0:30:30

of artifacts and beautiful buildings and so on, so. Yeah. we spent a lot of time there in one day, and, so that was interesting.

I:          What do you mean interesting?  Tell me why you, what kind, how?

W:       Well, it just brought back a lot of memories of the situation that we were in, and it’s just great to see they’re preserving all this for history.  That’s the big thing.

0:31:00

I:          You were in Seoul, right?  Yep.  So you saw the Seoul 1950, ’52.

W:       ’53.

I:          ’53.

W:       Yeah.

I:          And you told me that completely destroyed.

W:       Yes.

I:          And the Seoul you saw in 2013,

W:       Well, it’s a metropolitan city.  Skyscrapers, bit freeways, everything.  Beautiful city.

Amazing.  So.

I:          Amazing, isn’t it?

0:31:30

W:       Yes.  Yeah.

I:          You are the only, one of the many veterans, okay, who can tell the young children, both Americans and Koreans and all other countries that the Seoul has been transforming from the devastation to today’s, right?

W:       Absolutely. Well, the whole, even the countryside is prosperous, you know.  They farm everything, grow all kind of stuff, and,

0:32:00

and crop, you know, a lot of agriculture products and, but, yeah.  Seoul’s a beautiful city, so.

I:          It’s one the 10 biggest metropolitan cities in the world.

W:       Yeah.  What is it, about 15 million?

I:          Yeah.

W:       As I recall.

I:          Yeah.

W:       Yeah.

I:          And so many bridges.  Were you able to count the bridge?

W:       No, no.  But we, were over a few of them, and, and there’s a

0:32:30

one part of Seoul is, is that big mountain monument.  I don’t actually remember what they call it, you know.  But it’s right in the middle of Seoul somewhere, and, but you could see that when you’re, you know, driving around the area.

I:          Yeah.  And Seoul’s surrounded by mountains.

W:       Yes, yeah.

I:          Um.

W:       Beautiful city.

I:          So this Korean War has

0:33:00

a very concrete successful outcome, right?
W:       Well, absolutely.

I:          Um hm.

W:       Well, just compare North and South Korea.

I:          How do you know?

W:       How do I know?

I:          Yeah.  What is, what, what is the comparison you have between North and South?

W:       Well, the prosperity and, and the democracy in South Korea compared to the poverty and the [inaudible] government in North Korea. North Korea, you know, they’re just not doing

0:33:30

anything for their people.
I:          Would you be interested in going again?

W:       Oh, I’d have to think about that.

I:          Yeah, think about it, and let me know.

W:       It’d be interesting, you know.  But I don’t know if I’d go back again or not.  I don’t know.

I:          Yeah.  You let me know, okay?

W:       Yes.

I:          Yes.  So is there any other message that you want to leave to this interview?

W:       Well, I want to thank you for interviewing me,

0:34:00

and I hope the information that, that you obtained will be helpful in your endeavor to educate people going down the road every day.

I:          Thank you very much.  You were in the, the last phase of the Korean war in 1953 starting from Punch Bowl.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Then you were going all around the DMZ area,

W:       Correct.

I:          Including

0:34:30

Outpost Harry and Pork Chop hill, Tri it, Triangle, Iron Triangle.

W:       Iron Triangle, yeah.

I:          Yeah.  So that was one of the  most intensive parts of the War, right?
W:       Right.

I:          Up to the armistice in July 27.

W:       Yeah.  Yeah. I remember that.  It sure got quiet that night, you know, no artillery, no nothing going on, just, just quiet.

I:          Very long silence.

W:       Yeah.

I:          But it’s been sixty-five years of division.

0:35:00

W:       Right.

I:          No other country suffered from that long division in 20thcentury history.

W:       Yeah.  Yeah.

I:          Alright, Wayne, thank you very much for your service for the Korean nation, and we were able to rebuild our nation, 11thlargest economy in the world and very strong democracy in Asia because you fought for us.  So I want to thank you,

0:35:30

and that’s why we are doing this, and it’s going to be used in the classroom for our education.

W:       Okay.  Well, thank you.  Thank you for the opportunity.

I:          Thank you, sir.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Yep.

S:         I’m Sharon Mitchell, wife of Wayne J. Mitchell.

I:          Oh.

S:         Mitch as his friends call him.

I:          Um hm.  When did you meet him?

S:         I did not meet Wayne until 2006.  We had both been married before, and out spouses had passed away

I:          Um.

0:36:00

S:         And we met at a VFW dance, and we’ve been dancing ever since.

I:          Ah.  And you’ve been back to Korea with your husband, right?

S:         We did.  We started in Singapore where our daughter lives, and then we went to Thailand.

I:          Um hm.

S:         And then, the original plan was to go to Korea, and we did that.

I:          And tell me about the Korea that you saw with your

0:36:30

husband that, who fought for the nation 65 years ago.

S:         Well, it was amazing that, to listen to him and to have him share, like when we had first arrived in Seoul, the airport was an hour from Seoul itself, and all that you saw all the buildings, all the bridges that we drove past as we were driving in, and, and again, how well

0:37:00

developed it was. When we, the next day after we arrived, the guides, if you will, who were all volunteer and retired military, they had been in contact with the Veteran’s Association, and they sent this van, and we were prepared to reimburse them, and he said the only thing you need to reimburse is

0:37:30

put in as much, replace as much gas as you burned up.  That was it.  And but, but we did, and as we drove around, when they took him to, was it Chorwon Valley,

W:       Chorwon Valley, yeah.

I:          Yeah.

S:         they said to him, and these gentlemen, too, had been in the, in the area for a long time, and they had stayed behind after they retired because they had married South Korean women.

0:38:00

And very happy and, and they were just glad to do this.  But they said to Wayne, okay Wayne, tell me.  How does this differ from when you were here, and he just looked at them like it hardly seems like the same place because of the mountains, it’s all, it looks the same.  But as you got closer to the mountains and all of the agriculture that has developed and,

0:38:30

and the people working so hard at it.  They did not have a lot of mechanization.  They were out there doing it by hand, is that a fair statement?
W:       Yes.

S:         And then, the day that we went up to the DMZ, they did a, a, first of all we saw the five buildings, the five blue buildings, and there are guards at each building

0:39:00

I:          You are talking about Panmunjom.

S:         Yes, I’m sorry, thank you.  And, and at each building, there is, on the South Korean side and then on the North Korean side, there is a building that houses all the security, and out in front of that was a guard with a gun, and you were told, as you can see I talk with my hands,

0:39:30

we were told keep your hands in your pockets because they mean business, and the guards, the South Korean guards, when they were facing north, only half of their body was exposed to the North Koreans so that if something broke, they would have somewhere to go.  And then we were invited into the building where they do the conferencing, and

0:40:00

right in the middle of the table, you know exactly where it is because the South Korean flag’s on one side, and the North Korean on the other side, there is a guard on each side, and so we talked about can we take pictures.  Sure, you can take a picture, and then we looked at each other and, and they said you want to go on the North Korean side?  And we said yes, and so they let us do that for a

0:40:30

picture. But then, when we were, they have this, you might be able better to explain going underground into that town?

W:       Oh yeah.  We visited one of the tunnels between North and South Korea.  And, up right in that area.

I:          Right.

W:       That was interesting.

I:          You all say interesting, but give me the description.  How did you feel about it when you were in

0:41:00

the tunnel, and North Korean, you know, Regiment could run into it.

W:       Yeah.  Well, I was tall, you know, so I had to stoop, you know.  The majority of Koreans are shorter than I am, you know, so you could tell what the tunnels were built for.  But,

I:          Yeah.

W:       But that was quite an, quite an accomplishment of them to, to dig that deep into the ground and come out on the other side.

I:          Mostly

0:41:30

we know where the tunnel is so that we can wait.  So it’s like just a plan for themselves, too, you know?  Running to the artillery of South Korea.

W:       Right.

I:          Your first name again, please?

S:         Sharon.

I:          Sharon.  You, have you known about South Korea before you went to Korea with him?

S:         Exactly.  I did because we studied it somewhere in, in school.  The war was over when I graduated, so we did learn

0:42:00

about the Korean War, and none of my relatives were, were there.  But they supported it.  My brother supported it when he was in Germany.  And so, yeah.  So basically knew where it was and what had happened, but

I:          When you saw Seoul metropolitan city, what did you feel?

S:         Overwhelmed by the size and all the people and the fact that

0:42:30

 

there were all of these, until I went to Asia all of the vendors in the street, and that was their livelihood.  That is their livelihood, and how they just catered to the needs of everyone. I, we were, and as Wayne said

I:          It’s my great honor and, and pleasure to meet you, and again, I want to thank you for your fight for the Korea.

W:       Thank you.

I:          We never forget you.

W:       Yeah.  Thank you.

I:          Right?  Thank you, sir.

[End of Recorded Material]