Korean War Legacy Project

Wilfred Lack

Bio

Wilfred Lack admits that he never imagined he would end up in Korea when he joined Mississippi National Guard at the age of sixteen.  Wilfred Lack believes that the Korean War was one of the most important conflicts in United States history and is shocked that it is not taught more in American schools. Disappointed that he did not get sent to Korea during his first tour, Wilfred Lack reenlisted in the Army and quickly rose up the ranks to become an interrogator in the 4A Korean Prisoner of War Camp. Wilfred Lack describes the big prisoner break in 1953, that resulted in the escape of over 600 Korean prisoners. He gives his impressions of Korea during the prisoner exchange during the cease fire.  Finally, Wilfred Lack recalls American POWs crossing the Bridge of No Return and his initial interactions with the shocked soldiers.

Video Clips

Big Prison Break

Wilfred Lack describes the big prisoner break in 1953, that resulted in the escape of over 600 Korean prisoners. Wilfred Lack suspects that there was cooperation between the prisoners and Korean guards that resulted in the loss of 80% of the prison population.

Tags: Fear,Front lines,POW

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMyhkVOUrW0&start=395&end=509

Prisioner Exchange Mode

Wilfred Lack describes his role during the cease-fire. Working with other soldiers, he rode in helicopters to exchange many Korean prisoners for American prisoners. During this time Wilfred Lack was able to see the true beauty of Korea and was fascinated by the land and tides of the sea.

Tags: Front lines,Impressions of Korea,POW

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMyhkVOUrW0&start=774&end=865

POWs cross the Bridge of no Return

Wilfred Lack recalls American POWs crossing the Bridge of No Return and his initial interactions with the shocked soldiers. He remembers the expressions on the soldiers faces as they were released. During the prisoner exchanges, Wilfred Lack was there to tell the soldiers that they were home and safe, which he regards as a rewarding experience.

Tags: Fear,Impressions of Korea,Pride

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMyhkVOUrW0&start=905&end=1050

Video Transcript

 

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

 

W:       My name is Wilfred Lack, L A C K, and, uh, I’m, all my life I’ve been known as Bill.

I:          Bill. And what is the ethnic origin of this last name, Lack?

W:       It’s a, it comes from a, from the, actually from the word lake.

I:          Lake?

W:       Lake. L A K E.

I:          Uh huh.

W:       From, uh, my family history goes back, uh, on my family background, it goes back, I go all the way back to the 1500’s in, uh, in England and

0:00:30

then from there to Scotland, and from there to Ireland, and in the course of moving from England to Ireland, the spelling kind of changed all from, from Lake to Lack.

I:          [LAUGHS] And tell me what is your birthday?

W:       August 6, 1934.

I:          So you are now 72?

W:       82.

I:          82.

W:       82.

I:          I’m sorry.

W:       82 years old, yeah.

I:          Where were you born?

0:01:00

W:       Meridian, Mississippi.

I:          Could you spell it, Meridian?  M E

W:       Meridian, M E R I D I A N, Mississippi.

I:          Okay.  And tell me about school you went through.  When did you graduate high school?

W:       Okay.  Uh, in my senior year of high school, uh, I joined the Mississippi National Guard, and, uh, while I was at, uh, summer camp with the Mississippi National Guard, the Korean War started.

0:01:30

I:          You mean 1958, I mean 1950?

W:       1950, yes.

I:          So you were a senior.

W:       I was a senior in high school in 1950, yes?  I was one grade ahead.

I:          Wow.

W:       I was

I:          You were 16-year-old, right?

W:       Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

W:       At that time, yes.

I:          So, wow.

W:       Turned 17 before, you know.  When I turned 17 in, in July of, in August of that year.

I:          So when did you join, so you enlisted or drafted?

W:       No, I, I joined the National Guard.

0:02:00

I:          Guard.

W:       Okay.  We were called to active duty in

I:          Active

W:       In December of 1950 we were called to active duty.

I:          Um hm.  So what happened?

W:       During that year, I went to Fort Jackson, uh.  I was in a tank battalion, uh, part of the 31stInfantry Division, and we were at Fort Jackson, and from Fort Jackson I went to school at Fort Knox, and then back to Fort Jackson.

I:          What did you learn actually?

W:       I was a tank leader.  Tank leader course and then, uh, uh, advanced tank leader course. Twice I was

0:02:30

in Fort Knox, and from there we went to, went on maneuvers, uh, in North Carolina and, and from there we went on maneuvers again in January up in Texas, Exercise Longhorn. That was the first time the Army ever moved a division, complete division by air.

I:          Um hm.

W:       But we moved from South Carolina to Texas and then from Texas back to Indiana where they reassigned us to Camp Atterbury, Indiana.

I:          And when

0:03:00

did you leave for Korea?

W:       I, well actually I, I went, I stayed in until, uh, I was discharged in, uh, October of 19 uh, 1952.

I:          Um hm.

W:       Never been to Korea.

I:          You never been to Korea.

W:       And started back to school at University of Southern Mississippi and went home for Christmas, and I just didn’t feel right about it, you know, just kept bothering me, and I told my mother, I said you know, I’m not gonna be happy unless I, unless I go to Korea. I’m

0:03:30

goin down and re-enlist in the Army and tell them this time I want to go to Korea.  And I did.

I:          When did you re-instated?

W:       That was, that was in, uh, December of, uh, of, uh, ’52 that I, I re-enlisted in the Army.

I:          Uh huh.

W:       And went, and went to Fort Lewis, Washington expecting to go to Korea.

I:          Um hm.

W:       Instead, I stayed in Fort Lewis about six weeks, and I, I was in, transferred into the MPs prior to that,

0:04:00

and I was, sense I was an MP, they were using me to take prisoners on busses down to put them aboard ship and then put them back on duty.  These were guys who had minor things, AWOLs and things like that, you know. But we put them back on duty status when we put them aboard ship.  I, I went in and made a complaint. I said this is not what I wanted to do, you know? I wanted to go to Korea.  They said you’re going, don’t worry.  So anyway, uh, that, the week after that I actually went to, uh, uh, aboard a ship to,

0:04:30

went with a load I took, and I went aboard the ship and went to, we went to Japan.

I:          When did you leave

W:       That

I:          Fort Lewis?

W:       That would have been, uh, March of 1953.

I:          Um hm.

W:       That I went to Japan

I:          Yeah.

W:       I went to Camp Drake, and it’s, while the other guys were getting reassigned and going to Korea, they sent me over to North Camp Drake, and that’s where the 500thMilitary Intelligence Group was headquartered, in North Camp Drake.

0:05:00

I went in there, went through a couple of interviews, and then they sent me to a school in Camp Palmer, Japan for a Prisoner of War orientation course.  There were 36 of us who went to that school.  They’d been selected various reasons that you were selected and all.  But, uh, the fact that, uh, that I had some MP experience and were, and were, we’re gonna be involved with the Prisoner of War Command that, uh, I, and I was an NCO, it made, it made sense to them that they’d need them.  But only four of us were NCO’s.  The rest of them were

0:05:30

either like Corporals and PFCs and.  But, uh, but anyhow, we went from there, we went to, uh, uh, Pusan.

I:          When was it?

W:       That would have been in, uh, April of ’53.  We went to Pusan, and from Pusan we went to Koje-do.

I:          Um hm.

W:       And then back to Pusan, and then went to Cheju-do,

0:06:00

and then back to Pusan, and then to Taegu.

I:          Um hm.

W:       And then they, they broke us all down and reassigned us. We, we all went to, our separate ways to all of the Prisoner of War camps all, all over South Korea.  I went to Camp 4A which was outside Taegu. There were two camps in, in, in Taegu, Camp 4 and Camp 4A.

I:          Um hm.

W:       I was in Camp 4A across the river.

I:          That’s a Prisoner of War camp.

W:       Prisoner of War camp, yes.

I:          Um hm.

W:       where we had to

0:06:30

and, uh, I stayed there, I was there during the, the big escape of the prisoners, you know, when we had the big breakout, you know, lost a lot of prisoners.  Well I was, I was at Camp 4A when that happened, and we lost 80% of our prisoners.

I:          How many were there actually?

W:       Uh, maybe 800.

I:          So you lost

W:       It was small, it was one of the smaller camps.

I:          So you most, almost 600 and

W:       Yes.

0:07:00

I:          700 people

W:       Yeah.

I:          to POW or just escaped.

\W:      Just disappeared, yes.

I:          How?

W:       They broke the fences down.

I:          What were you doing?

W:       We didn’t do anything.  We, they, we had taken the American guards off the towers and replaced them with, uh, with, with ROC guards.

I:          And

W:       Republic of Korea guards, and they was all, you know, appeared to me it was part of a plan because they were, this was holding up the, uh, the cease fire.

I:          Oh.  So you think

0:07:30

that it was

W:       These were people who were not, they were not North Koreans.  They were listed as North Koreans, but they were not North Koreans and did not want to go to North Korea.

I:          So that was planned.

W:       I, I’m certain it was planned.

I:          So.

W:       Nobody told me it was a plan or anything, but you could, you could see, think, you could see they was building.

I:          So the American military was replaced by the Korean soldiers, I mean, the ROC,

W:       Yeah.

I:          ROC Army, and then

0:08:00

there was a big breakout.

W:       Yeah, it was several weeks later before the breakout.

I:          When was it?

W:       You could see, you could see going through the Compound, you could see, they were preparing.  They were organizing, and they were, you know, putting together their own military inside the camp.  You, you could see it happening.  But you had no evidence of anything that, you know.  But it was just

I:          Right.

W:       Suspicions that, you know, something’s going on here that’s not right, you know.  But

I:          But you said that it was, the Prisoner of War

0:08:30

were not North Koreans, right?

W:       Pardon?

I:          Were they North Koreans, the

W:       No.

I:          No.

W:       No.  These were, these were, in my opinion, South Koreans.

I:          But they are Communists.

W:       And they’ve been inducted into the North Korean Army as the North Korean Army came south.

I:          Um hm.

W:       They were taken into the, but they, they were not North Koreans and had no desire to go back to North Korea.

I:          Uh huh.

W:       To go to North Korea.  Some of them never been to North Korea, but they were, we were holding them like North Korean prisoners

0:09:00

because they were in the North Korean Army when they were captured.

I:          When was it?

W:       Oh, that was, that was in late June of, uh, 1950, ’53. And there was just a few weeks after, after this escape and the dust settled and all that, uh,

I:          Cease fire.

W:       a truce was signed.

I:          Yep.

W:       A cease fire was signed.

I:          So what were you thinking at the time?  Did you know that it was planned?

W:       I, I suspicioned, but nobody

I:          wants to talk about

0:09:30

W:       Nobody talked about it.  Nobody talked about it.  It would, I, it’s more less we just let it happen is, is the appearance that I had, you know.  In fact, the, uh, one of Colonels who was there, you know, he was one of the, one of the, uh, MPs there was, what, you know, what, what do you we do?  He, he says you know, that, the, it’s 10 to 1, 8 to 1 on us, you know, more than we had, you know, than what we do, you know? He said well just, everybody go grab eight prisoners and bring them back,

0:10:00

and laughed, but he didn’t, we didn’t, we went out, make, making up a sur, search but, uh, not really bringing anybody back, you know.  The only ones that came back were the ones that had got hurt in breaking out, you know,

I:          Um hm.

W:       and they were brought back and given medical attention.

I:          What was your rank at the time?

W:       My rank at that time was Sergeant First Class.

I:          Um.  And what was your, uh, unit?

W:       I was, I was, had been at,

0:10:30

assigned to G2 of the head, of, uh, uh, Prisoner of War Command, and then my duty station was at Camp 4A.  We were all assigned to the G2 section.

I:          Under what?  8thArmy?

W:       No.  Prisoner of War Command.

I:          That’s a independent?

W:       They, yes.  It, it was a part of the 8thArmy,

I:          Army, right.

W:       But we were, but we were in, pretty much independent of the rest of them because we had a different mission from what they had, and at that time I

0:11:00

was, my, my MOS, I was an Intelligence Analyst at that time.

I:          Um hm.

W:       I was an interrogator/analyst.

I:          When were you, when you were, um, high school student and, and joined the National Guard, did you learn anything about Korea?

I:          No.

W:       And the Korea

I:          Abs, the first time I ever knew the, you know, even remember hearing the word Korea was when they told us that, that, that North Korea has just invaded South Korea, and

0:11:30

and instead of going home in two weeks, you’re gonna stay here on, you know, we’re on alert. And we stayed three weeks, three and a half weeks and went back home, and we weren’t called to Active Duty until December.

I:          Have you imagined

W:       The first time to hear about Korea.

I:          Had you imagined that you’d be in Korea when you were in high school or growing up?

W:       No.

I:          What was Korea to you at the time that you arrived and you working there.  I mean, serve as a veteran, I mean the soldier,

0:12:00

what was Korea to you at the time?

W:       Korea to me,

I:          At the time.

W:       was, uh,

I:          Be honest, please.

W:       It, it depended on where you were in Korea.  Uh, Pusan was, I mean it was, uh, just stuffed full of refugees.  I mean, the streets were full of people with no pla, no, homeless people and things like that, alright.  When you got further up, got up to, Taegu was not as bad.  Taegu was, was, wasn’t as crowded as Pusan

0:12:30

was, and it was cleaner, and, and there was, you know, like they had put the, their, their, their lives back together better than the ones in, in Pusan had.  But Pusan had so many people, and my favorite place was actually Inchon, uh.  What I remember best about it was, was during that summer when I, you know, we were in, us, let me back track.  When then, when the cease fire was signed, we immediately

0:13:00

went into the Prisoner Exchange mode, and, half of us went to Pusan, the other half went to Inchon. But once we took the prisoners from the camps and took them to Pusan, put them on LSTs, brought them around to Inchon where we unloaded them at Inchon, took them on helicopters up to Munsan-ni.  Well, I was in Inchon, and we’d go, you know, once or twice, three times a week I would go to Munsan-ni with a helicopter load, you know, going up.  But mostly I was in Inchon while that was going on,

0:13:30

and I loved it, absolutely loved it.  It just fascinated me that I could sit on that pier, look out across and see Wambido out there as an island, lean back, take a nap and wake up in a little while, and when you wake up, the island’s gone.  The tide has, there’s no water around it anymore, and that, that really amazed me, you know, that, that, the, I’d never seen a tide like that.

I:          That’s where the Chromite, you know, acts, the operation of Inchon Landing made it a successful

0:14:00

W:       I was very fascinated with Inchon.

I:          Yeah.

W:       And, and I found the people there were real nice, you know, and, and I was there longer, I spent more time in Inchon than any of the other places.  I was also in Wejongbu and, you know, Taejon and, you know, different places around Masan and Kimpo and, you know, but, but all over the, all over the country.  But, but to me, the thing I remembered most was Inchon.

I:          But were you at the, uh, the spot where the POW were exchanged in Pa. Panmunjom?

0:14:30

Tell me about it.

W:       Okay.  We would bring them up on LSTs, and we would take them up, load them on, load them on the helicopters, take them up to Munsan-ni, exchange them, bring the American prisoners back down to Inchon, and depending on their medical condition, some of them went aboard the hospital ship that was there.  The others went through the regular rotation system of going home aboard a ship.  Some of them were ac, were taken to Kimpo where they were flown to Japan or to, you know,

0:15:00

back home to when, it depended on their medical condition as to how we handled them, where they went.

I:          Do you remember the first day that you saw American POW released from North Korea acrossing the Panmunjom, the Bridge of No Return?  When you saw them, what were you thinking?

W:       I didn’t, I didn’t see the first ones.  I was in Inchon.

I:          But, anyway, when you

W:       But it was a couple of weeks later before I went up there to actually witness that.  It’s, the expression on their faces, uh, was, was just unbelievable,

0:15:30

you know.  They, they had like that, the, you know, frowns on their faces, but the minute, the minute they, stepped onto our side, the, they began to loosen up a little, and, and I recall with, with one of them that, uh, I was all ready to, he was really nervous and shook up.  He couldn’t remember his serial number, and that’s the first question you ask, you know, I need your serial number, you know, because everybody remembers their serial number,

0:16:00

and we wanted to be sure that we got the right person, you know, and we don’t mix anything up. But he started to say his serial number, and he, he couldn’t remember it, and he just looked like, guys, I’m in trouble, you know.  I said that’s okay.  I got some more questions to ask you.  We, we can get back to that later, you know.  He blurted out his serial number then.  But, but, and, but it was, it was just amazing to see how they would, the expressions on their faces change, and we did not want to do, you know,

0:16:30

we didn’t want to ask them any questions.  We didn’t want to do anything of any kind of interviewing or debriefing or anything at that point.  We just wanted them to know they’re home and make them feel welcome and that we were here to help them, you know, and that’s what our job was, was just to get you down to see where, what the doctors say you need to go, you know, and they would, they would go get you lined up to go there, you know.  And that’s kind of what my position was.  It was kind of a, I wasn’t doing the debriefing.  Those were done on the ships going back to, back to, to California.

0:17:00

I:          What were you thinking?  Were you thinking I’m lucky because you were not POW, right?

W:       You, you had to, you had to be amazed at these people, you know.  You look at them, and you know they have been through hell.  I mean, you could just, you could just see it, you know. They’re, you know, a tall guy with his, with his ribs showing, you know, and, you know, and it, it just, and many of them were nervous, and they, they wondered what’s happening to me now, you know?

0:17:30

I:          If you go to my Foundation’s website, you can see more than 50 POW interviews.  I did more than 40 interviews with them. and I know the real life there is a hell, for, even for three years, you know.

W:       But I saw what, what the prisoners we were holding, and how we treated them was pretty good, uh excellent compared to the way these returning prisoners of ours were treated,

0:18:00

and I felt sorry for them.

I:          Exactly.

W:       Because they were away from home.  They were scared to death, you know.  They, they were just, you know, they weren’t the ones who started the war.  They were just victims of the war, you know.

I:          In the beginning of the Korean War, who were, you know, captured by the North Koreans or the Chinese, they were given one meal a day, even very small, and

W:       I’ve heard those stories.

I:          14 people slept in a, half of this space,

0:18:30

you know, without any heat during the winter in 1950.  That’s a horrible s tory.

W:       Yeah, that was a, that was terrible winter.

I:          Yep.  Terrible.

W:       The first thing, several of them, how could, I would say that probably half of them wanted, really wanted food.  They would think about.  I like to have ice cream, you know, or, or something like that, you know. I’d like to have a hamburger or, you know.  But they would tell you things like that,

0:19:00

you know, and, and, you know, but we were just making light of a, I didn’t ask any questions. We didn’t ask

I:          No.

W:       any questions.  We were, because we didn’t want to make them feel nervous.

I:          Um hm.

W:       We wanted them to feel comfortable, you know, back home, you know, and this, this is just the first step of getting you, you know, getting you back home where you can be with your family and everything.

I:          You made a good point of how we treated, uh, the POW of North Korea and Chinese compared to, you know, the American POW

0:19:30

treated by the Japanese, I mean the Chinese and North Koreans.  So that’s very good point.  When, uh, any other service that you did during, uh, during that year, 1953?

W:       Well, after 1953 when we were finished up with that, they created an, an organization called Uncraig.

I:          Uncur, Un?

W:       UNC/RE, maybe, anyway it’s, it’s the, the United Nations Repatriation Group.

0:20:00

I:          Okay.

W:       And most of the 36 went to there.  I was, I had been selected to go to the Army Language School in Monterey, California,

I:          Hm.

W:       To take the Russian Language, so I did not go to UNCREGs.  But I, I had, I have a little brochure at home that we made out, uh, made out on a hand-cranked mimeograph machine about eight pages that has all of the makeup and the layout and the diagrams of how everything was around Munsan-ni and the, the, the proposed DMZ.

0:20:30

I:          You have to show that to me.

W:       I don’t have it with me, but I’ll, I, I can scan it and, and send it to you.

I:          Please.  Do you know how to scan?

W:       But I’m not in that picture because I didn’t go to UNCREG.

I:          No problem.  But do you have a scan?  Do you know how to scan those?

W:       Yeah, yeah, yes. Um hm.

I:          Please.  I will give you my [INAUDIBLE]

W:       Okay.  But, but, anyway, on this, when they did that, uh, I went back, we, we, we went, from the time we finished working with, with the prisoners, then we went over to, uh, I, I was a part of, I was, uh, back

0:21:00

in the 500 [INAUDIBLE] group again, I was the First Sergeant of 5, uh, 523rdMI Company which was attached to the 9thCorp. G2, 9thCorp..

I:          When was it?

W:       That, that was in the latter part of 1953.  I went there because I was, was gonna, waiting to go to Army Language School.  So I went over there.

I:          You mean Monterey?

W:       In Monterey.  I did not go to Monterey.  They, they cancelled that Russian class, and instead sent me back to Japan, and I went

0:21:30

back to the 500 [INAUDIBLE] group a Sergeant Major of the 55 [INAUDIBLE] group, and then on April of 1954.

I:          And then when did you go back to Korea?

W:       No, I, I made one trip back to Kimpo in and out the same day.

I:          Same day.  When was it?

W:       That was in, uh, ’55.  But that was my only experience until last year when I went back on a Korea Revisit.

I:          Ah.  When did you go?

W:       It’s not the same world.

I:          When did you go back?

0:22:00

W:       Last, last year.

I:          How was it?

W:       It’s, I, I can’t even describe it.  It’s so different, you know.  It, it’s a beautiful city.  The top of that 123 building from the hotel we were staying in when you’re looking out the window, you know.  It’s, it’s so tall.  And, uh, went up to the DMZ, you know, they, you know, made all these things and, and it’s, it’s just amazing to me that, uh, that the bridges across the river. There was one when I was there. And now [INAUDIBLE] 20?

0:22:30

Maybe at least 20, yeah.  And the subway system.  That’s, that’s beautiful.  I’m, and the roads and everything.  It, it’s so clean, and I, in the back of my mind I remember, you know, many parts of, of Korea, but, you know, and no fault of their own.  But the, the country was dirty, and there were no trees, and I was impressed with how many trees are there, you know?  It’s such a, a, it just changed my, my, I, I look back, you know, I said h ow, how did I have that opinion when I look at how beautiful this place is, you know.

0:23:00

But, but it was really a, a, I should have done it years ago.

I:          When you left Korea, did you, had you ever imagined that Korea would become like this?

W:       No.  I told my, my wife couldn’t travel with me, so I took one of my sons, and I told him, but I gotta take you to Inchon.  You gotta see [INAUDIBLE] Then I find out the airport’s there now.  You can’t, you can’t even, really can’t even see it, you know, when you come in.

I:          It’s the best international airport in the world.

0:23:30

W:       We got into there, checked out, through Customs with our baggage in 15 minutes.  No place in the world could they do that.  Nowhere.  And the people.  The, the, the real difference is the people.  They, they, on the street everybody, you know, if you had your, had your name tag or something, you know, where every, everybody would, you know, they would nod, you know, and, and, and, you know, recognize, you know, speak to you, you know, stop and talk to you.  It, it’s a, it’s, it’s a beautiful feeling,

0:24:00

you know, to, it’s, you can’t explain it.  It, it, it’s, you have to witness it and see it yourself to experience it, you know.

I:          So as American citizen and back then soldier, you fought for a nation that you didn’t know, right?

W:       Right.

I:          And now it became so successful, why it’s been forgotten, and why we don’t teach about it?  Why we don’t teach about it?

W:       Uh, That, that’s my question.  That’s what I’m asking.  That’s what I keep asking in the schools and things now.

0:24:30

Why, you know, we need, we need to know this story.  Them the thing that amazed me, one thing I didn’t mention the day we went to the DMZ with the bus took us up there, we had a Korean student with us, went with us, and this young man, we, we had pretty good conversations during the day, and I told him, I said I can’t understand why, why you’re so nice, why everybody’s so nice to us, you know.  He said, I said, I just can’t, can’t

0:25:00

believe people are not that good, you know, and he looked shocked that I said that, and he says look in the mirror.  I said okay, I’ll look in the mirror.  He said what do you see?  He says, I say, I said I look in the mirror I see, I see an ugly old man looking at me, and laughed, and he said I look in the mirror and I see myself, but if you didn’t come to Korea, I’d look in the mirror there’d be nobody there.

I:          That’s what student told you?

W:       He told me that.  He said my mother and father would have been killed before I was born, and I

0:25:30

wouldn’t be here today.  And it hit me then, you know.  I didn’t really understand it until then.  He, he explained it to me, that student did.

I:          That’s why we are doing.  American History textbook have only one paragraph or maxim a page about the Korean War, not about the modern Korea you saw last year, and this is changed.  So we are doing this interview and make it as a digital history textbook telling our

0:26:00

students about your legacy.

W:       But I remember telling my son before we went, you know.  I said now, you know, Seoul, we really, I said I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve done in Seoul because I, I said the last thing I remember probably the biggest building still standing is the train station, you know, and, and it was bombed out, and I was absolutely shocked.  I just, I just could not, uh, I could not believe it, you know, that the, the, the changes, and I know it’s been a long, you know, a long time,

0:26:30

but my gosh, you know. It, it’s, countries don’t change that much in that, that short, short, that’s a short period of time in history. And, and it’s a tremendous amount of progress they made in that length of time.

I:          That is your legacy, and I want to teach this lesson to American and Korean students.

W:       I do it already.  I talk to everyone who will listen.  I tell my story all the time, uh.  I, we go,

0:27:00

we, I go on You Tube, and we, we do interviews on, on, on [INAUDIBLE] and put it on, put them on You Tube, and go to You Tube it says in their own words.  We let people tell us what, how they got to Korea, you know. Different soldiers, and, and it’s amazing the different stories that people have, and each, each one of you has a different view of the same, same thing that’s happening.

I:          Um.

W:       You saw maybe someone 20 miles away would see an entirely different picture than I’m seeing, you know, depending on what your, your job was in the Army and all our, in the Air Force or wherever you were.

0:27:30

I:          Any other episode that you want to tell me during your service in Korea?

W:       Uh, no, I don’t really think so, uh.  But I will tell you one, one comment. Uh, I was supposed to go to the Army Language School, go back to Monterey, California go to the Army Language School.  Instead, they sent me to Japan.  When I got to Japan,

0:28:00

I was working in the office with the headquarters Commandant and, uh, I was the Sergeant Major, and we had a, a GS4 secretary, a nice lady from Columbus, OH, and, uh, we got to be friends and I’d talk to her, and she would tell me about her family and all. She had two daughters.  One of t hem was, has, was also gone to work for the, for the U.S., for the military, you know, the Dept. of Army Civilians, and, uh, and she was working in Okinawa and she was coming to Japan to live with her mother, and they were

0:28:30

working there. Well anyway, it turned out she working in the same building that we did, and her mother introduced me to her.  We went out on a few dates and in December 1954 I married her, and we’ve been married for 62 years.

I:          Wow.

W:       So it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I:          What a story, huh?

W:       Uh huh.

I:          You are

W:       I have to put that in, in my Korea story. If I had gone to Army Language School, I never would have met her.

I:          Wilfred, it’s my great honor to meet you, and thank you for sharing your stories.  We need to tell this story.

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Your legacy, your success story, your successful service as a Korean War veteran, to our younger generation.

W:       One, one other thing.  I have just to mention one other thing.  I have met some of the  greatest people in the world are in the Korean community in Ashville, North Carolina.

I:          And you are from North Carolina, right?

W:       Um hm.

I:          Do you have a chapter?

W:       Yes.

I:          How many Korean War veterans there?

W:       Uh, 32.

I:          And do you have

0:29:30

other chapter near your region?

W:       No.  We have two in all of North Carolina,

I:          All of

W:       We’re working now to get more chapters on working, but we’re gonna have to

I:          What about the other chapter?  How many veterans there?

W:       The oth, the other one has 46.

I:          Can you organize a interview like this?  We can go visit there and do interview like this.

W:       Okay.

I:          Could you do that?

W:       Sure, I can do that.

I:          Alright.  So

W:       I’m in the process, we’re, right now I’m working with a retired

0:30:00

Navy, uh, Comma, uh, Captain in, uh, Duplin County, North Carolina.  But Duplin County is in the, is in a triangle.

I:          Um hm.

W:       You have Fort Bragg at the top of the triangle. You have Camp Lejeune Marine base, and then you got, uh, Pope Air Force Base, three of the largest military installations in the United States are right in that area, and, uh, he, they, he raised the money for Korean War Memorial that’s, that’s

0:30:30

gonna, uh, be dedicated in October of this year, and wanted a speaker, and I was helping him find a speaker.  And in the course of time found out yet only talking with him and all, and he has met a lot of Korean War veterans since he started that, and, and he’s gonna help us because we gonna set up three chapters down there, one for each of those three military installations.

I:          Beautiful.  Thank you, sir.

W:       Thank you.

[End of Recorded Material]