Korean War Legacy Project

William F. Borer


William Borer was born on July 25th, 1929 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He enlisted with the Army on 18 August 1946 and was assigned to the 20th Infantry Regiment in Kwangju, Korea.  In 1947 he re-enlisted for assignment to the 24th Infantry Division.  He was assigned to the 19th Infantry Regiment in Beppu, Japan when he got the news that North Korea had attacked the South.  Bill fought in several major battles and was taken prisoner in 1950.  He was released in 1953 and evacuated to Valley Forge Hospital in Pennsylvania where he stayed until April 1954 when he re-enlisted once again. Bill then spent the remainder of his career in various assignments in Europe and East Asia until his retirement on 31 May 1967.

Video Clips

The Korean People Had Nothing

William Borer describes his shock at the terrible sight of the Korean people and how desperate they were. He explains that the starving civilians stole and begged for food and dug through the trash looking for scraps the soldiers had thrown away. He explains that being a child from the Great Depression, he knew what being hungry was like but the Korean civilians literally had nothing. He recalls feeling disdain for President Truman for not helping the Korean people.

Tags: Geumgang (River),Food,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Physical destruction,Poverty,South Koreans

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Go With Them or Die

William Borer describes the night his squad arrived at a police station and asked the police chief to contact the American Forces to pick them up. Shortly after, a South Korean Patrol, commanded by a First Lieutenant, joined his group. After questioning the police chief the South Korean Lieutenant discovered he was actually a North Korean Communist and had phoned the North Korean Army to come kill them all in the morning. After killing the "police chief," the South Korean Lieutenant said it was time to leave but the US Lieutenant said they weren't leaving until US Forces picked them up. Against orders, William left with the South Korean Patrol, leaving his squad and lieutenant behind though they soon began to follow the South Korean Patrol.

Tags: Daegu,North Koreans,South Koreans

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"Made me reappraise my opinion of the American Army Officer"

William Borer describes his capture by the North Koreans and their executing about two-dozen men simply because they were American. After marching north, they arrived at a large village and were placed in a compound dividing officers and enlisted men. He recalls one particular night when two enlisted POWs were placed in the not-so-crowded officers quarters but the officers quickly sent them to the very crowded enlisted side. Sergeant Estrada, who was in the same room as William blocked the door and wouldn't let the men in, saying the room was too crowded. Both men froze to death that night and though Bill reported Estrada, the Army's criminal investigation said there was nothing they could do.

Tags: Chinese,Cold winters,Fear,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW

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Maggots Covered My Face I Was Pronounced Dead

William Borer describes being moved to Camp 5 where he spent over a month and became ill with pneumonia. He describes the school house that cared for the sick as an an "ant-hotel" where you check in but don't check out. He recalls after being pronounced dead, he awoke among stacks of bodies and maggots encrusted on his eyes and nostrils. He explains that the Chinese were superstitious and when they saw him as he left the morgue, they ran the other direction thinking he had been resurrected.

Tags: Chinese,Communists,Fear,Living conditions,POW

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Don't Take Your POW Clothes Off

William Borer describes the day of his release as a bright sunny day. He recalls that once in UN territory the US Military Police Officer ordered him not to immediately remove his Chinese prison clothing, as many Chinese POWs had done, and was taken into a medical facility to be deloused with DDT, fed, examined, and given new clothes with rank chevrons sewed onto his sleeves. He recalls being asked what he wanted to eat and he said a big bowl of ice cream. As he was eating his ice cream he was asked if he was anxious about going home to which he said he wanted to go back to his unit.

Tags: Chinese,Food,Home front,Letters,POW

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