Korean War Legacy Project

William Alli


William Edward Alli was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1932.  He enlisted into the Marines while still in high school in 1950.  After basic and  infantry trainings, he served in Korea on the east-central front in a machine-gun unit of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1951–52.  After other military assignments in the U.S. Airforce, he went on to attend Wayne State University, where he received both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics, and met his wife.  He later worked with the U.S. Government in many capacities, and became very active with numerous causes for both American and Turkish veterans.  He has written a book entitled Too Young For a Forgettable War, which is about his experiences in the Korean War.  He describes the suffering he saw, as well as the fear he felt while serving as a young soldier in Korea.


Video Clips

Land of the Morning Calm

William Alli describes his arrival to Korea at Busan. As he was leaving the ship, there was a morning calm that quickly disappeared with a horrible stench, people in rags, and the anxiety of not knowing what comes next. He describes travelling deeper into Korea by trains and trucks, and his realization of his being a part of the sixth replacement draft. He describes his experience with being a machine gun ammo carrier and his first encounters with tracers and sniper fire from the surrounding hills.

Tags: Busan,Basic training,Civilians,Cold winters,Fear,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,North Koreans,Weapons

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In the Midst of Combat

William Alli explains the details of getting sick while in a fox hole. After his recovery, he went back to the line to face combat with North Korean and Chinese enemy fire as a part of the stretcher crew, carrying bodies of the wounded out of the combat area. He describes having to find his way to safety in the dark, with only the light of flares that were being dropped by planes from above.

Tags: Chuncheon,Chinese,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions,Weapons

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Raining Flares and Mistaken Identity

William Alli describes his experience with retreating a major combat zone. He recalls helping his foxhole buddy who was wounded in combat. He further describes a unique experience in Korea where he reconnected with his father's cousin, who was fighting as a part of the United Nations forces with the Turkish troops. While on route to visit his cousin, he was mistaken for a Communist spy. He describes how he was arrested and had to get out of this situation.

Tags: Chuncheon,Communists,Fear,Front lines,Weapons

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