Korean War Legacy Project

William Beals

Bio

William Beals was born in Oregon in 1931 and moved to California when he was very young.  He enlisted in the Army in and was trained in artillery at Camp Cook. When he was sent to Korea, Beals was assigned to work on supplies for the 115th Medical Battalion. He explains that his brother, Bob, was also in Korea at the same time, having the opportunity to meet up with each other once during the war. William Beals also explains the living conditions in Korea, including how cold it could truly be. He is extremely thankful for the gratitude that he has received for his service. After his service in Korea, Beals worked for 34 years doing maintenance work for the school district that he attended as a student.

 

Video Clips

Thankful for Thankfulness

William Beals discusses how much it meant to him to receive a letter from the President of Korea thanking him for his service in the war. He truly was honored by this gesture and even hoped that his granddaughter, who is currently in the service, would be able to thank the president for this. He explains how much gratitude he has seen from Koreans for his service.

Tags: Incheon,Impressions of Korea,Pride

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQEZPlylk4E&start=1196&end=1311

Brothers in Korea at the same time

Beals describes a time he was able to meet up with his brother while they both served in Korea. He doesn't remember what they discussed, but they were able to meet up briefly. They shared stories about their experiences.

Tags: Incheon,Living conditions

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQEZPlylk4E&start=543&end=744

Stuck in the Mud

William Beals explains what happened when they landed in Incheon. The first thing that he noticed was the Union Pacific switch train and then a house that had been destroyed. He explains how they then moved to a hospital tent in a muddy, freezing area.

Tags: Cold winters,Front lines,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQEZPlylk4E&start=367&end=467

Video Transcript

my name is William Beals i was born in

0:04

carpenterville oregon 1931 the 20th

0:10

(February what ) february 20th

0:13

(did you go to school in Oregon)

0:17

no (where did you go to school and what)

0:20

i came to California when I was three

0:22

years old and I went to Montebello

0:26

Unified School District I went through

0:28

all the school and I couldn’t wait until I got

0:30

the heck out of that school

0:33

district and you know what stupid thing

0:35

I did I went to work for the railroad

0:38

I got laid off too many times and my

0:42

sister-in-law Lorraine which was my

0:45

brother’s wife said go down for an

0:48

application at the school district cuz she

0:50

worked at the school district so I put an

0:52

application in and they called me for

0:55

interview and who did I see but mr.

0:59

kemp was the dean of boys which I had

1:03

knew and I was the seventh one in line for

1:12

the job when I came for the job and I

1:15

went to the school district and I went

1:16

to work for him after I was trying to

1:19

get the heck out of there so I went back to work

1:21

and I retired from the

1:24

school district for what 30-34 years

1:29

(what did you work there) I was i started

1:33

out as a gardener and then I operated

1:37

a tractor and a truck at one time and

1:41

then I went into lawn mower repair (what

1:47

about your family) my dad just died at

1:50

96 years old (wow and your sibling) I

1:54

moved up here more or less I lived in

1:58

California I moved up here more or less

2:01

because I wanted to go deer hunting and

2:04

stuff in utah so you know what

2:05

happened all my family moved up here

2:09

my younger brother moved up

2:12

my sister didn’t she’s still in

2:15

California my older brother he

2:17

moved up here and died and my brother

2:21

Jack he he moved up (your older brother)

2:26

yeah I got an older bought Tom he’s my

2:29

older brother he was what four years

2:31

four years older (so he’s the one was in

2:34

Korea) no he was not in Korea (who was in the

2:37

Korea together with you) Bob my

2:39

brother Bob (tell me about Bob) two years

2:41

older than i am and I’m 83 so

2:44

he’d be 85 maybe something like

2:47

that and (so how did you come to go to

2:54

Korea when when were you were you drafted

2:58

or enlisted) no it’s a sort of a funny

3:01

story I wanted to join the army a friend

3:08

of ours was David Norton and he

3:12

was in Korea at the time when the

3:17

war started and he got killed and

3:21

so I told my mom I wanted to join the

3:25

army and she says no she says why don’t

3:27

you join the National Guard like your

3:29

brother did and I my dad said oh you

3:33

know what he says you can always if you

3:37

like the National Guard you can always

3:39

transfer over to the army but anyway

3:42

1950 in September I was in the National

3:51

Guard for two months and we got activated

3:54

and went to camp cook california

3:57

for six months then I went to Japan for

4:01

a year and then I went to Korea (when

4:05

were you activated) 1950 50 yeah (what

4:11

month do you remember month) was it sep-

4:14

tember I think it was September (so

4:20

what was your specialty) well in the ar-

4:23

tillery

4:25

I was a number two man for the for the

4:30

gun and the number two man feeds

4:34

the ammunition into the chamber and when I was doing

4:43

that see you got to put your fist like

4:46

so well I had my fist like that shoveling it

4:49

in and on the firing mechanism and

4:52

there’s two half moon deal well my thumb

4:55

got caught in there and it tore my

4:58

thumbnail off and they the sergeant took

5:03

me to the medics to have it done and I

5:07

had it all wrapped up and everything

5:14

they looked all over to see if they

5:15

could find my thumbnail and they could never

5:17

find it but anyway in the artillery they

5:23

teach you how to do is set the fuses and

5:26

everything on on the thing (you said you

5:30

didn’t know anything about korea is that

5:33

true when you were left for Korea) where

5:36

I went when I went to Korea (yeah did you

5:38

know anything about Korea) well just

5:41

what I heard on the news and stuff you

5:43

know didn’t really know anything about it

5:47

(you really didn’t know) well all I know

5:51

is fighting and killing going on (you

5:53

arrived in Incheon) yeah (when did

5:56

you arrive) oh I don’t remember the date

5:59

1950-51 I think it was last part of 51

6:06

we came in the late afternoon and we

6:12

landed in inchon and the first thing I

6:16

noticed the railroad had a union pacific

6:21

switch car there and and and the

6:26

second thing I seen was a house with a

6:30

big high fence all the way around it and

6:33

it had broken glass sticking up all over

6:36

heck

6:37

and then we we got in this train

6:40

that the windows was all broken out and

6:43

the wooden boxes we had to sit on and

6:46

we went so far and then they put us on

6:48

trucks and took us up and they took us

6:53

in this what you call a hospital tent

6:55

and they had the stretchers in there and

6:59

we had to lay down and what they taught

7:02

us was take our uniforms off and put it

7:05

in the bottom of the sleeping bag and

7:07

put shoes on the outside well when we

7:13

went in there it was muddier than heck

7:15

and they had (do you remember where it was)

7:19

I don’t know where it was that they

7:21

don’t tell you nothing they says go

7:24

and you go but anyway they had two butane

7:29

burners blowing at both ends and during

7:31

the night the butane went off and my

7:37

boots was in the mud and it froze and I

7:42

had to take a bayonet and chip my boots

7:44

off out of the mud so I could get them on and

7:48

then after we left we went up and I

7:53

seen an old cannon with wooden wheels on

7:56

the side and we went we relieved the 24th

7:59

division and this guy he says I have a

8:07

metal bed with inner tube stretched

8:13

across i bought it for ten dollars so i

8:17

can sleep you (were in the front lines

8:20

fighting or) no it wasn’t we were in the

8:23

rear the headquarters headquarters

8:25

company 115th medical battallion was

8:28

in charge of medical supplies that was

8:32

issued to the guys in the front so in a

8:35

way I I don’t know how close we was to

8:38

the front but I know one day we got

8:40

bombed and I went down to see the truck

8:44

and it was a big truck and the bomb hit in

8:47

the back end of it and wish like a

8:49

wishbone

8:50

(what was your mission) I was in supply

8:53

clothing supply (oh so you you didn’t

8:57

work as artillery second man at the time)

9:00

not in Korea (not in Korea) because when I

9:03

got transferred I went to the Medical

9:05

Corps and I think they wanted to

9:08

separate me and my brother because my

9:11

brother Bob was in the same outfit and

9:15

then we were separated I think about a

9:18

month before i went to Korea (yeah you

9:22

mentioned Bob) yeah (tell me about the

9:27

Bob did you leave for korea with him) no

9:31

he joined the National Guard before I

9:34

did and so he left maybe a month before

9:40

or two months before I don’t know for

9:43

sure (and did you correspond him or did

9:48

you see him in Korea) yeah (tell me about

9:51

those) okay i went to the commanding

9:53

officer and I i said is there a chance

9:57

of me getting a pass to go and see my

10:00

brother in the artillery and he says yeah

10:04

have you got a driver’s license I said

10:08

no I said I haven’t got army drivers

10:10

license but I got a California driver’s

10:12

license he says that’s okay he says you

10:16

go up to the motor pool and you tell the

10:20

sergeant that I said to give you my

10:24

jeep in the morning so he gave me my

10:26

jeep his jeep and I went to see my

10:31

brother (where were your brother) up the

10:35

road a piece i don’t know i think he was

10:37

i would say roughly maybe the artillery

10:41

was always around seven miles behind the

10:45

main line if i remember correctly and so

10:49

i went to see him i got off and i went

10:54

in there and my brother was in the on the

10:58

switchboard he was a wire man but he

11:01

was on the switchboard and

11:03

I talked to him and then I went over to

11:05

see we talked for a while but he was on

11:07

a switchboard and he couldn’t talk too

11:10

much because he kept on answering the

11:14

switchboard and you know how the switchboard is

11:15

you plug in but anyway I seen

11:18

him for a while talked to him then I went

11:20

over and seen the gun crew then I came

11:23

back in and seen Bob and then I got in my

11:26

Jeep and went back (that is it) because it was

11:29

late and that’s all I did (what this two brothers

11:33

meeting in Korea you are the brothers)

11:36

yeah (that’s it that’s it hi Bob) well

11:40

I don’t remember what we talked about I

11:42

asked him what he’s doing he says I work the

11:44

switchboard and stuff like that and he

11:46

told me about one thing that he he see he

11:50

didn’t smoke and I did and he says when

11:56

we had to go to the foxholes I didn’t

11:58

want to get in a foxhole with anybody

12:01

that smoked and he told me that and he

12:04

said there was a big rock boulder a big darned

12:08

one it and was tunneled underneath

12:10

and he says I guess the Chinese or

12:16

somebody was sleeping in that underneath

12:19

that bed rock and he said it stunk like

12:23

heck in there (what was the most

12:25

difficult thing for you during the

12:28

service in Korea) when we got in Korea at

12:30

this one place there was a big mound

12:34

next to the supply tent and it was all

12:37

covered with snow and we thought it was a

12:39

little foot hill or mountain as

12:42

the snow melted they took this they

12:46

found out there was a canvas there and

12:48

they took it off and here was all these

12:51

rifles pistols and stuff and the command

12:58

officer told me he says Bill he says

13:00

these guys don’t know nothing about a

13:02

rifle he says I want you to go and pick

13:04

some weapons out to put in supplies that

13:07

they could handle and that was m1 m2

13:10

carbines and there was some 45s there and

13:15

there’s some grease guns or

13:17

thompson 45s but anyway I had to go and pick

13:23

out the good stuff to put in supply

13:26

and then as I was telling you about when

13:35

we was bombed we went down I went down to look

13:39

at it and there was this truck that was

13:41

wishboned out that the bomb landed in

13:43

back there was blood all over heck and

13:45

about a hundred feet away here was this

13:49

bomb that didn’t go off and you know

13:52

what it said on there US Navy so I

13:57

don’t know if it was our own planes that

14:00

bombed us or if it was an enemy plane that

14:05

captured them some bombs we never

14:10

did find out where it came from (any

14:14

other moment that you might have lost

14:17

your life) well they always ask for

14:23

volunteers for for different details

14:27

and I volunteer for this one detail and

14:31

they had a bunch of infiltrators that

14:34

was supposed to come in and they didn’t

14:36

know where they where they was at so we went up

14:38

i guess it was close to the front lines

14:40

and all we had was carbines and so the

14:47

mountain came down like so and they took

14:53

wood logs across there and they

14:58

filled it up with that and they had

15:01

little deals that you went in there like

15:03

a bunker I guess that’s what you call a

15:05

bunker and we had to go play there and

15:08

so there was an infantry outfit on the

15:12

left hand on their side that we seen

15:14

that came by and we went over and talked to the

15:16

lieutenant that was in charge and he says what

15:19

you guys got i said all we got is

15:22

carbines and they were then with the

15:25

half tracks

15:27

and so he gave us each of us i don’t

15:30

know the five or six guys that we went

15:32

there and they gave us hand grenades and

15:36

he said he says do you know how to play

15:38

leapfrog yeah I says i know how to play leapfrog he says

15:42

well you guys do that and go to these

15:43

different places and toss in the hand

15:45

grenades and then the guy in back of you

15:48

can go in there and see what’s going on

15:51

but we did that (was it dangerous) huh (was

15:56

it dangerous) well I guess it wasn’t because we

16:01

didn’t see no Chinese and all we had was

16:06

carbines so we got went back and got

16:09

in our truck and went back to camp the

16:11

man officer came at me one time where he says

16:17

Bill you can go to R&R to Japan

16:21

he says but you only gonna be

16:24

here one more month and then you going

16:26

home and I said well I don’t have no

16:29

money to go anyway since all the time we were

16:31

playing poker and let

16:35

somebody else that has a longer time to

16:37

go because I was going to go home in

16:39

may anyway (how much were you paid at the

16:42

time) that’s a good question I think

16:48

about I don’t know ninety seven dollars

16:53

something like that for a private and I

16:57

was sending thirty-five dollars a month

16:59

home every month (to whom) my mom

17:04

and she was putting it in the bank or

17:08

whatever she did with it and I had a

17:11

1939 mercury car (that you bought with

17:18

that money) no that I had when I

17:21

went in the service and my mom

17:24

it was at the house and my mom wrote me

17:27

one day and said is it okay if Jack my

17:31

brother my youngest brother traded the

17:34

car and got a car

17:36

for him (how was your life in Korea did

17:39

you drink) did I drink yeah well I’ll

17:46

have to go back to Japan we used to go

17:51

and have beer once in a while and when I

17:54

was transferred to Sendai Japan my

17:56

brother Bob came up to see me at the

18:00

base and he had this bag that some guy

18:05

got off the train and left the bag so my

18:09

brother got the bag and he gave it to me

18:12

and there was two fifths of VO in there

18:14

and that’s just a water bag (water bag)

18:17

carry water in it there’s something that

18:22

I picked up in Korea and I think it is to carry

18:25

water we could take it in the

18:28

back and fill it up and see if it

18:30

still works this was in that bag the

18:35

mountain of stuff were all the guns and

18:37

stuff and I grabbed that out and I kept

18:40

it and I sent home my coat now this here

18:44

I don’t know where I got it at but the

18:49

coat was in Korea and an ammunition belt

18:53

was in Korea and I sent

18:58

it home (that coat looks very warm) it is

19:01

warm you know there there’s one thing I

19:04

wish that they would make the kids do in

19:10

United States like the ROK army

19:13

we’ve met korean boys that was in that

19:17

was on missions and stuff last year when

19:21

you have it there

19:24

and when he got well Mormon missionaries

19:27

and I found out this third day I have a

19:31

woman gardener because I can’t mow the

19:33

lawn no more and she has a son that was

19:37

on a mission in Korea now I don’t know I

19:40

wrote a letter we got that we got that

19:42

letter from the Korean government and I

19:47

wrote a letter and gave it to you

19:50

to see if the governor the president

19:53

wanted to get a hold of it and I

19:55

was talking to my

19:57

grandson daughter she’s in the army now and

20:01

she’s in Germany and I told her if

20:06

she ever got to Japan I mean Korea to go

20:10

and see the president of Korea and

20:12

thank her thank him I know it’s a woman

20:16

president now and thank her for the

20:20

letter I got you know I really feel

20:23

honored that the government the Korean

20:25

government or president would thank me

20:28

for being there and I know that there’s

20:32

been a lot of letters sent out for Korean

20:36

veterans and thanking them because I

20:40

have talked to some guys and they said

20:43

yeah we got a letter too I’m really

20:45

honored that the Korean government and

20:48

the korean people i have been to

20:50

different places I’ve been to Disneyland

20:53

I had my hat on that says Japan and

20:56

Korea and they came up and thanked me

21:00

for it and I was at the in vegas at the

21:05

buffalo bills and i was playing

21:09

blackjack and i have a japanese friend

21:13

that we all hang out we went to the

21:15

bathroom and this guy came in he

21:20

asked me he says were you in korea and I said

21:24

yes he said I want to thank your hand my

21:28

granddaughter about being in Germany and

21:31

she’s going to go to Korea she says she

21:34

has a chance of going because she signed

21:36

up for six years and I told her to go

21:39

and see the president now I don’t know

21:41

even if the president would see her but

21:45

anyway if she gets to Korea that’s one

21:49

thing I want her to do (I want to thank

21:51

you for your fight for the Korean nation

21:53

and that’s why we are here and we are

21:55

the strongest ally to the United States

21:57

and very strong economic

22:00

partner to the United States) well the only

22:02

thing I worry about Korea is the North

22:06

might try to start something again and

22:09

all these atomic bombs and stuff now

22:13

what sense you know if you stop

22:17

and think of all the no okay you take

22:20

the First World War and the Second World

22:22

War how many millions of dollars were

22:26

spent on that war on both sides what

22:29

they could have did to improve their

22:34

country (any other message that you want

22:39

to add to this interview) no i just hope

22:44

my daughter granddaughter gets over to

22:46

Korea I would like that