Korean War Legacy Project

William F. Honaman

Bio

William F. Honaman enlisted in the National Guard Reserve when he was in high school. He was activated as a result of the Korean War. Due to his experience in the National Guard Reserve, he was given officer training and sent to Korea to lead his own platoon. He describes the 30 day occupation of a hill where he first encountered death as Chinese forces approached from behind, setting off the alarms the American soldiers had fashioned out of beer cans. He explains his understanding of how the Japanese occupation of Korea led South Korea  to pursue freedom from Communism and occupation. This influenced their motivation to fight in the Korean War. He also describes the first time he was wounded and earned the Purple Heart.

Video Clips

First Experience with Death

William F. Honaman describes what his living conditions were like when he first encountered the death of other soldiers. He explains that he was encamped in ditches surrounded by barbed wire with only one entrance from the back. Homemade alarms were fashioned out empty beer cans that were filled with rocks. He recalls the entrance was adorned with the bodies of the dead who had tried to get in.

Tags: Chinese,Front lines,Living conditions

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzO74VOy9NM&start=1563&end=1685

The Real Reason We Were There

William F. Honaman states the official reason for fighting the Korean War as stopping the advancement of Communism. However, he elaborates that as he grew older and learned more, he began to understand the conflict between Korea and Japan that influenced Korea's need for freedom. He states that many people don't understand the segregation that Korea experienced because they haven’t lived under similar circumstances.

Tags: Communists,Impressions of Korea,Modern Korea,Prior knowledge of Korea,South Koreans

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzO74VOy9NM&start=1781&end=1891

The First Purple Heart

William F. Honaman describes earning his first Purple Heart after being wounded during a patrol. He explains that the pointman he was accompanying stepped on a land mine, losing his leg but not his life in the process. William F. Honaman was wearing an armored vest at the time but had unzipped it due to the heat. This allowed the shrapnel was to pierce his chest.

Tags: Front lines,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzO74VOy9NM&start=2955&end=3019

Video Transcript

[Beginning of Recorded Material]

W:       My name is William Frederick Honaman.  Honaman is a German name, a German derivative, but it’s ben Anglo-cised, so it’s spelled H O N A M A N.

I:          If it is not Anglo-cised, what would be the original?

W:       H A H N E M A N N .

I:          You completely confused me. [LAUGHS]

0:00:30

So it’s a German origin.

W:       German origin.

I:          And so your descendants, your

W:       My great-grandfather came from Germany.

I:          When?

W:       Uh, 1848.

I:          1848.

W:       As a young child.

I:          Wow.  And what is your birthday?

W:       My birthday is December 16, 1930.

I:          Where were you born?

W:       Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

0:01:00

I:          And tell me about your family when you were growing up,

W:       My family

I:          even including siblings.

W:       Well, I had one brother, younger brother, four years younger.

I:          Um hm.

W:       But he was killed in an automobile accident in 19, 1960.

I:          Um, I’m sorry to hear that.

W:       Yeah, and, uh,

I:          So you are the eldest.

W:       he was; he was in Arizona.

0:01:30

But he was killed the same day our youngest son was born.

I           Your youngest son?

W:       Um hm.

I:          Oh.  So your son replaced your brother.

W:       My youngest son

I:          Yeah.

W:       has my brother’s name.

I:          Um.  Oh, okay. What is, what’s his name?

W:       Walter Hugh Honaman III.

I:          Um.

W:       My brother was Walter Hugh II.  My grandfather was Walter Hugh I.

I:          I see.

0:02:00

W:       So our, our youngest son was born in 1960 in Tokyo.

I:          Um, Tokyo?

W:       Yes.

I:          Why?

W:       Because we were living, my wife and our other two sons, were living in Tokyo.

I:          You, how ‘bout you?

W:       I was in Tokyo, yeah.

I:          What were you doing there?

W:       I was a missionary.

I:          Missionary?

W:       With the Anglican Church.

0:02:30

I:          Ah, that’s interesting.

W:       The Episcopal Church in the United States.  I was a lay missionary from 1958 until 2000.

I:          Um hm.  And how did you become involved with Anglican Church?

W:       Uh, I was born into a family of Episcopalians.

I:          Um.

W:       My father was a priest in the Episcopal Church.

I:          Ah.

0:03:00

W:       So I grew up as a preacher’s kid.  [LAUGHS]

I:          So you are Christian.

W:       Oh yes.  Absolutely.

I:          Normally the Christian’s kids are more like, uh, negatively reacting to the religion because all the time you were indoctrinated, I mean, you were bombarded with this material.

W:       Yeah, I, I lived with it.  I lived with it, uh.

I:          Right, right.

W:       grew up with it.  So I knew that I, I didn’t have a calling to be ordained myself, but

0:03:30

I:          How did you know?

W:       I just knew that wasn’t for me.  But I knew also that I wasn’t against the church.  And so it was, I was prepared to do something else in my life, and I read in a church newspaper that a missionary, a lay missionary was needed in Tokyo.

I:          Um hm.

W:       So I answered the want ad in the newspaper, and my wife and I and out oldest child went to Japan in 1958.

0:04:00

I:          How was it?  I mean, being a missionary in Japan.  Japan is kind of tough area

W:       Very tough.

I:          to, to, yeah.  Tell me about it.

W:       Well, Japan and Israel, they say,

I:          Yeah.

W:       are the two most different, difficult countries.

I:          And in that sense, Korea is the Heaven.

W:       That’s right, Korea is very, very Christian-oriented, and, but I’ve, in a joking way,

0:04:30

I’ve always said the Holy Spirit has been so busy in China and Japan that she does not have time, I mean in Japan and, uh, in China and Korea, that she does not have time yet for Japan.

I:          So you were there.

W:       But no, no, not I was there, but the Holy Spirit will get to Japan and do, uh, I think Japan sometime will be more amenable to the Christian faith.

I:          Absolutely.  Um.

0:05:00

W:       But the Anglican church in Korea is very strong and active and is all Korean, and the Chinese church is all Chinese, and the Anglican church in Japan is all Chi, uh, Japanese.  And the missionaries do, are very few, and they’re mostly lay people and mostly do rather specific jobs that they’re asked to do.

0:05:30

That basic evangelism is the responsibility of the Japanese church.

I:          My wife’s grandfather was bishop of Anglican church in Korea.

W:       Who?

I:          Uh, Echungwan.

W:       Echungwan.

I:          Yeah.

W:       When?

I:          Ch’on-Hwan Li.   He, he passed away several years ago.  He was

W:       Oh, what’s his Christian name?

0:06:00

I:          Uh,

W:       Paul, Paul Lee?

I:          I think so, yeah.

W:       I know, I know Paul Lee.  I knew Paul Lee.

I:          You know?

W:       Yes.

I:          E Ch’on-Hwan.

W:       I don’t know that.  I know Paul Lee.

I:          I can, I can find the picture for you, okay?

W:       Yeah.

I:          So.

W:       He was the first Korean bishop.

I:          I think so.

W:       Yeah.  After, uh, the English bishops, and during the Pacific War, eh, Japanese Anglican church was in Japan, was in Korea.  Paul Lee, yes.

0:06:30

I:          And how long did you stay in Korea?

W:       In Korea?

I:          Yeah.  I mean in Japan, I’m sorry.

W:       Until 2000, 42 years.

I:          So you been there all the time?

W:       Yeah.

I:          Wow.  So you, you speak full Japanese?

W:       No, uh, I don’t get lost, and I don’t get hungry, yes, that’s Paul Lee.  I know him very, I knew him very well.

I:          Ah, that’s so, what a coincidence.  I used to meet him when, you know, whenever I visit Korea.

0:07:00

W:       Yeah.

I:          He’s also Chairman of the Board of Yonsei University.

W:       That’s right.

I:          It’s my alma mater.

W:       Oh.

I:          My, my wife, too, same class, Political Science.

W:       I’ve been, oh, how ‘bout that.   I knew Paul Lee very well.

I:          I used to go visit his, uh, apartment, very small.  He’s very, well, man of integrity and, and

W:       Yes.

I:          Later he suffered with a diabetes so that we used to bring the,

0:07:30

what is it, uh, vinegar marinated beans for him.

W:       Oh.

I:          I remember that.

W:       Oh.

I:          Yeah.

W:       Did you know Simon Kim who followed him as bishop of Korea?

I:          I don’t know.  I don’t think so.  No.

W:       I knew him, Simon and his wife, knew very well.

I:          Um hm.  Wow. What a coincidence.

W:       It’s a small world.

I:          Small world.  Let’s go back to Korean War.

W:       Okay.

0:08:00

I:          So tell me about the high school.  What, what high school did you graduate and when?

W:       Well, I graduated from Carlisle High School in

I:          Can you spell it?

W:       Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  C A R L I S O

I:          C A R L

W:       I S L E.

I:          I S L E.

W:       Carlisle.

I:          Yep.  It, it’s hard, it’s just a little bit west of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

I:          Okay.  When?

0:08:30

W:       Uh, 9148.

I:          And tell me, let me ask this question.  It’s a typical question that I ask to every Korean War veteran.  Did you learn anything about Korea from the school?

W:       From high school?

I:          Yeah at the time.

W:       No, not that I remember.  1948, did I learn about Korea?  I don’t know.

0:09:00

I:          Did you know the location of Korea?  Did you know about Korea?

W:       Oh yeah because I like, I was interested in geography.

I:          So you knew where it was.

W:       I knew where Korea was, I knew where it was.

I:          But you didn’t know anything about history, culture.

W:       No.  But I did in college.

I:          Yeah, you did it in college.

W:       Yeah.  And in graduate school.

I:          Yeah.  And so after graduation, wh, what did you do?

W:       From high school?

I:          Yeah.

W:       I went to Franklin and Marshall.

I:          Oh, here.

0:09:30

 

 

W:       Here in Lancaster.

I:          Franklin

W:       And Marshall.

I:          And Marshall.

W:       College

I:          Yeah.

W:       Here in Lancaster.

I:          It’s a famous college, isn’t it?

W:       Yeah.  It’s very good.

I:          Is it, how, how many students?

W:       Oh, I don’t know.  Now it’s about 2, 200 or so.

I:          That’s it?

W:       Yeah.

I:          Huh.

W:       When I went, it was, oh, maybe, uh, 1,800 or so. All men.  When I was, I went in, I started in 1948,

0:10:00

and most of the students were GIs from the Pacific, uh, the Second World War.

I:          Oh.  So it’s a

W:       I call, I call the Second World War the Pacific War because of living in Japan all the time

I:          Right.

W:       it was always referred to as the Pacific War.

I:          So it’s the GI Bill that, uh,

W:       That’s right.

I:          that the, the veterans

W:       So I was just a young kid out of high school.

I:          Everybody veterans.

W:       Yeah.

I:          What did you study?

 

0:10:30

W:       I was a history major.

I:          So did you learn anything about Korea at the time?

W:       Yeah because I was, I took a course in Asian, uh, Asian History.

I:          Where there a course only for Korea?  No.

W:       No.

I:          No.

W:       It was included in northeast Asia, China, Korea, Japan.

I:          What did you learn about Korea at the time?

W:       Well, that it had, I learned

0:11:00

basically history and how much China was influenced in Korea, in Korea and Japan.  But it’s hard to separate because having lived in Japan, I know so much, uh.  I mean I learned more while I was in Japan.  It’s hard to differentiate what I learned in Japan and what

I:          Got it.

W:       I learned in college.

I:          Um hm.  So after that, was it four years or two years?

W:       No, just two.

I:          Two years.

W:       Because I, well, while I was in

0:11:30

high school, when I turned 18 I joined the Pennsylvania National Guard

I:          National Guard.

W:       which was the 28thInfantry Division, and so when 1950 happened in Korea, we were activated.  So I had to give up college.  So I went, uh, became on active duty in the

I:          When?

W:       Uh, it was September

 

0:12:00

W:       of 1950.

I:          Did you get the military training again?

W:       Yeah, well yeah.

I:          Where did you go?

W:       Indian Town Gap.

I:          Indian Town Gap.  Where is it?

W:       That’s here in Pennsylvania.  That’s where I did my National Guard training.  But in 1950 when we were activated, the whole 28thDivision which was the Pennsylvania National Guard, was sent to

0:12:30

Camp Atterbury, which is in Indiana.  And then Camp Atterbury in Indiana was when we did out preparation and more training as a division.

I:          So at the time you knew that Korean War broke out.

W:       Oh yeah.  But because, uh, yeah.  We were at, on active duty because the Korean War broke out.

I:          And so you knew that you going to be there.

W:       Um, no, I didn’t know for sure.

0:13:00

But it was a possibility.

I:          Yeah.  Were you afraid and nervous?

W:       No.  Because while I was there in training, I was, uh, a Sergeant and, um, and I had an office job in Division Headquarters, and I thought to myself well, here I am in the Army. I’ve gotten two years of college.

0:13:30

Uh, and all we’re doing here is just training, training, training, and I don’t know what’s gonna happen.  So I volunteered to go to Officer’s Candidate school, and so that means that I left the 28thDivision.

I:          Um hm.

W:       And I was accepted and I went to Fort Benning, GA for infantry officers training.

0:14:00

And while I was there, the 28thDivision was sent to Germany.  So I, they went, they went to Germany, and I was, I was at OCS in Fort Benning, and when I graduated my first assignment was back to Indian Town Gap in Pennsylvania.  So I gave, I was in a unit that was teaching basic training,

0:14:30

giving basic training to new recruits in the Army, and while I was there, I got orders to go to Korea.

I:          When was it?

W:       Uh, when did I get the orders?

I:          Yeah.

W:       Uh, oh probably November of ’52, or October, November, somewhere around then.

I:          Um hm.

W:       I got orders to report to Fort Lewis

0:15:00

in Washington State in January.

I:          Um.

W:       So in the, in the meantime my wife, not yet my wife at that time, we, we were high school classmates, so we grew, we were both living in Carlisle.  My father was a priest in the church in Carlisle, and so we were there in high school, and we knew each other, but

0:15:30

while I was at Indian Town Gap, I went back to Pennsylvania, to Carlisle, and met my wife, met her again

I:          Um hm.

W:       and when we got orders to Korea, we decided to get married before I went to Korea.

I:          What a decision.

W:       So we got, we got the orders in October or November. We got married in early January of 1953, and

0:16:00

I went to Korea.

I:          So now you’re officer.

W:       Yeah, I was a

I:          Second Lieutenant?

W:       Second Lieutenant then, and uh, we

I:          When do you, go ahead, sorry.

W:       No, we got married in Carlisle, and we drove to Washington State.  We drove in the car

I:          Wow.

W:       and sold the car, and my wife flew back to Carlisle, and I flew to Tokyo, and then took

0:16:30

a train to Sasebo and from Sasebo a boat to Busan, and Busan to Uijeongbu.

I:          When did you arrive in Busan?

W:       Oh, I don’t know, early February.

I:          Um hm.

W:       Of ’53.  I don’t know the exact dates.

I:          Tell me about Busan you saw for the first time. Detail, describe it because student will hear from you.

0:17:00

W:       Well, we were on a Navy ship.  We were, first of all from Washington, an airplane, we flew on a, a DC7

I:          Um hm.

W:       but what ship, no, pardon me.  It was a DC6.  It was a propeller airplane from Washington, Seattle, Washington to Anchorage

I:          Anchorage

W:       To Shemya Island out on, next to last of the Aleutian Islands,

I:          Yeah.

W:       And then from there to Tokyo, to the  [HUNAIDO?]

0:17:30

I:          Um hm.

W:       And then we spent a coup, we spent several days in, at Camp Drake which was a replacement depot

I:          In Tokyo.

W:       In Tokyo.  Then we were all, we were all on airplane load of Second Lieutenants.  It was amazing.  We were all young, fresh kids, second lieutenants.  We didn’t what we were about really.  Anyhow, off we went,

0:18:00

and then we, from, at Camp Drake we were assigned.  Some people stayed in Japan.  Some people went to Korea.  I don’t know the process about who did what or how they got assigned, but

I:          That’s how you got split between Germany and Korea for the first time and then Japan, right?

WI:      Yeah, then went to, I was in Japan for a bit, took a train, overnight train to Sasebo.  The whole train was all of us Second Lieutenants going to Korea,

0:18:30

and we took a Navy ship to Busan, and I hardly remember except that we got to the port, and that was all military, you know, and, uh, because, uh, by this time, the war had settled out into the main line of resistance, the MLR.  So there we were.  Things, it was being resupplied,

0:19:00

and it was an active port, and we were just herded onto trucks to the train station and on another train.  So I hardly saw Busan.

I:          Um hm.

W:       I didn’t have any, I don’t have any memory of reacting or, it was just a city, a port and lots of activity going on with military supplies and

I:          Then what about Korea

0:19:30

first time you saw. What was your impression?  Be honest, and give us detail for the young students.  1953.

W:       1953.  Well, it was war.  It had, and Busan the, you know, the famous perimeter and the fire fighters and the outfit that I was assigned to had been in that perimeter that defended Busan, the 25thDivision.

0:20:00

I:          Um hm.

W:       And I was in the 27thRegiment.

I:          Tarrow, yeah.  Oh, what is, what was your unit, sorry?

W:       The 25thDivision

I:          Um hm.

W:       The 27thRegiment.

I:          Um hm.

W:       The 2ndBattalion Fox Company.

I:          Um.

W:       And the 27thRegiment was well known as the Wolfhounds.

I:          Wolf

W:       Wolfhounds.

I:          Yeah.

W:       We were called the Wolfhounds

I:          Um.

W:       Because at night when the,

0:20:30

when we were on the main line, we’d all [howls] howl like wolves, and it would go up and down the line.

I:          Um hm.

W:       So we were the wolfhounds.  That was our nickname.

I:          I’m the jury.

W:       So, uh, I just saw buildings that had been destroyed, uh.  The streets were passable, but there were a lot, there was just lots of devastation, and

0:21:00

I don’t, I don’t know. I, I was just so much involved in what we were doing, it was hard to, because we didn’t have any real relationship with the people in the city cause we just were on our way through.  But it was a pretty train ride.  I knew that the, I mean the countryside was nice.  It was, but it was winter.  It was cold, uh, and the countryside

0:21:30

had been through a war.  So it wasn’t, uh, things were not normal I didn’t think.  Life was not normal, although people were living there, as best they could under the circumstances.  But the fighting in that area had ceased, but it had been through a lot.

I:          Um hm.

W:       Uh, it’s, uh, hard to remember exactly a lot of things

0:22:00

because, uh, so much has been influenced by later thinking or later experiences that you kind of don’t clearly remember the beginning.

I:          Um.  So from Busan, where did you go?

W:       Train to Uijeongbu.

I:          Uijeongbu.  And?

W:       I think we spent one night, and trucked to the front line.

I:          Where?

W:       Uh,

0:22:30

I went north to Munsan-ni

I:          Yeah.

W:       And then across, um, we went across the Freedom Bridge and, uh, my outfit was to the west, north and west from the Freedom Bridge. We were on the main line, and the train, local train station

0:23:00

was Tunjung-ni

I:          Um hm.

W:       But   it, I men, there was, it had been a train station.  It was in the middle of, uh, what  ended up the DMZ, it was on the MLR, so.  But I was on that section right across from the Freedom Bridge.

I:          So you were in charge on what, platoon or

W:       Platoon.

I:          Um hm.  How many?

W:       Uh,

I:          About 30, 40?

W:       Oh, I had more than that.  Well, the first thing

0:23:30

 

that, the first action, first military action that I was involved in, after we got up there and got assigned and all that kind of stuff, we did a, a night re, uh, what, what do you call it?  I’ve forgotten the word

I:          Patrol?

W:       No, no, uh, we relieved, we relieved an outfit that was on line.

I:          Oh yeah.

0:24:00

W:       So we did the night relief, and I ended up on an outpost a mile in front of the main line

I:          Um.

W:       out in the middle of no man’s land.  We had an outpost, and I spent 30 days with 90 men. I was responsible for 90 men

I:          Forward up

W:       Out in this outpost

I:          Yeah, yeah.

W:       and we were behind barbed

0:24:30

wire all around it, and we lived out there and got shelled all the time, and

I:          Were there active, un, engagements at the time?

W:       Oh, every day.

I:          Every day?

W:       Every day.

I:          Oh.  Tell me about it.  Detail, Describe it.

W:       Oh, it was awful.  It was terrible.  We lived on a hill surrounded by four or five rows of barbed wire, and the only way that you could get in was

0:25:00

through a back, off the backside toward the MLR.  The main, the enemy was over here.  Then the enemy was Chinese.

I:          Oh.

W:       But this time, I was always fighting against Chinese, not North Koreans.

I:          See, that’s the point that I used to make because many of American soldiers, they didn’t really fight against North Koreans.

W:       No.

I:          It was, uh, first modern warfare between the United States and

0:25:30

Republic of China.

W:       That’s right.

I:          Yeah.

W:       That’s right

I:          And that War hasn’t finished yet.

W:       Oh, it’s still on?

I:          Still on.  And Korea is the center of that storm, you know?

W:       Then if our, those two kindergarten kids, the, we just should take, uh, Kim and Trump p and put them in a sandbox

I:          Yes.

W:       Like kindergarten kids and let them fight it out.

I:          Somewhere in remote island in the Pacific Ocean.

W:       [LAUGHS] Yeah.

I:          And let them live there.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Oh my goodness.

0:26:00

It’s crazy.

W:       Anyhow, the first action was 30 days out in front of the MLR, and then we lived in holes down in the trench line, because we got shelled all the time, and the peop, and the, the Chinese would try to come and take the hill fight because we,

0:26:30

we could see what they were doing and call back, and we called shells in on them, too, of course. And they tried to come in, but they, we would take empty beer cans or any kind of a tin, put rocks in them and hang them on the barbed wire

I:          So they can notice.

W:       So that you can, if anybody’s in the wire, you can hear it.  And, and then there’d be dead bodies get caught in the wire so it would smell.

0:27:00

And

I:          So, basically we can say it’s a Hell.

W:       It was terrible.  And the only way in was at the back, so every night a tank would come up, open the hatch, throw out boxes of food and water, and then close the hatch and go back, and we’d send men out to get it, and then that was our food and water. And the

0:27:30

facilities, no flush toilets, of course, and on the backside of the hill were just slits where we built, we dug slit trenches, and that was the toilet facility, day or night. You’d have to go up and out on the backside of the hill.  And, you know, you could be shelled or what’s going on. You don’t know.

I:          So you live with smell.

W:       Oh yeah.  That was terrible.

0:28:00

But, and that was my first experience with death, well, I mean seeing dead soldiers.

I:          Were you afraid?  You were fresh second lieutenant without any battle experience

W:       That’s right.

I:          And

W:       Afraid, I don’t know.  I didn’t, I was young, you know.  I, people of that age, I was just, uh, in 1953, that,

0:28:30

I was born in 1930, so I was 22.

I:          Um hm.

W:       Yeah, I was 22.  You can do anything.  And so I, afraid, yeah, but you didn’t have time to be afraid cause you were just trying to, to live and to see what your men were doing and to take care of them and make sure they were safe and, or as safe as could be, but knew what they were doing and that they wouldn’t stand up and do dumb stuff, you know.

0:29:00

You just had to be responsible and spend your time thinking about what’s happening.

I:          What did you say to yourself?  What the hell am I doing here?  Did you?

W:       Oh, yeah.  Uh, we all did.  Why are we here fighting for Syngman Rhee?

I:          Yeah.

W:       Why, why am I in Korea fighting Chinese?  Of course, we all thought that.

I:          Um.  Why were you there?  Did you know?

0:29:30

W:       Well, the state, well, I was there because I was in the Army, and I had orders, and you had to obey the orders.

I:          Not that, not that, the real reason.  Why you were there?

W:       Uh, the stated reason that was always given was to prevent Communism from taking over.

I:          South Korea.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Yeah.

W:       Uh, well, we were there to protect the, but the, you know, when, at the time,

0:30:00

of, I wasn’t aware really.  I had had a course in Asian History in college, but to really know what was going o n and what the people thought and, uh, it wasn’t until later that I internalized and really knew and understood this position of the Korean people.

I:          Tell me about it now.

W:       Because of their long under the thumb of control

0:30:30

Japan, that the, the, September, I mean the victory in the Pacific, the end of the Second World War for the Koreans, the most important thing was they got freedom from Japan.

I:          Liberation.

W:       Liberation.

I:          Yeah.

W:       They, it, it wasn’t about the end of the war. That,

I:          Um hm.

W:       their big thing was they were liberated from the Japanese control.

I:          Um hm.

W:       And Japan had been

0:31:00

very bad to Korea since 1910.  And still, you know, everybody knows the Koreans and Japanese are always wary of each other and

I:          Still fighting.

W:       Still, and still fighting in a way.  Cultural fighting.  But it’s, uh, but you know, not until you live and experience it and realize what the segregation is

0:31:30

and the oppression.

I:          But what’s got to do with the Korean War that you fought for?

W:       Well, uh, it helped keep the Chinese out from expanding into Korea, and what, who knows where, uh, Japan or

I:          So now you think what do you think about the legacy of the Korean War?  Why you were there?  From your current contemporary perspective

0:32:00

after you all put that into perspective.  Do you know why you were there, and what is the meaning of you being there and so many other Americans for the war?

W:       Uh, to help, to help keep freedom for people.

I:          Um hm.

W:       And to help, uh to stop Communist aggression, uh, but now, I, you know,

0:32:30

Communism, political Communism is

I:          It’s ideal.

W:       Political Communism and economic Communism and social Communism are all a little bit different.

I:          Yeah.

W:       Uh, the way that Commu, the way the Chinese Communists liberated China, well, a dictatorship is

0:33:00

the kings, the emperors of China were not ideal, and that was not an ideal way, and it’s a, and, it needed to be changed.  But it was rather drastic the way that Mao Zedong went about it.  But that kind of political Communism where you oppress and kill people is not necessarily good.  Uh,

0:33:30

it’s, it’s a different, I think it was, we used to always talk about don’t cut that tree down. We’ll have to pay Syngman Rhee for it. There was an order that you couldn’t cut down trees because Syngman Rhee didn’t want the trees being denuded from the, so, enough of them got blown up anyway.  But, well, there was always something about Syngman Rhee.  He was the President of  South Korea at the time,

0:34:00

but now too popular amongst the American military.

I:          Um hm.  Also, the North Korea was, the King Mil Sung was a very popular and legitimate leader because he’s the one who stood up against Japanese colonial control

W:       That’s right.

I:          In Manchuria and in, in Soviet Union

W:       Yep.  Yep.

I:          So in all only North Korean period, he was upheld as a father, and he’s the national leader, legitimate leader and until 1970’s,

0:34:30

North Korea was better off than the South Korea.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Yeah.  So I think, uh, your point, deliberation, has a lot to do with this whole thing in, uh, on North Korea and the Korean War, and that problem hasn’t been solved yet.

W:       But I think it will be.

I:          Yeah.

W:       I mean,

I:          What do you think?

W:       Oh, I, I think it’s, uh, it, ridiculous is a dumb word, but I think it’s im,

0:35:00

it’s just immoral that people of the same language and the same culture are separated just because of human error.  I mean, who deci, some junior grade officer in the middle of the night decided that that’s the line.

I:          Exactly.  Yeah, Dean Rush, another fool, draw the line along 38th

0:35:30

W:       And some officer in the military looked at the map. Oh, that looks like a good place.

I:          Yep.

W:       I mean, no reason.  Why is it, uh, you know, the, the, uh, Imjin River is here.  Oh, that’s good, and we’ll just draw it across here, and it, it doesn’t go on the 38thParallel.  It starts below it and goes up above it.  Um, but it’s impossible for, uh, those people are natural to live together, uh,

0:36:00

and, and originally before all that separation, there were more Christians in the north than the south.

I:          Yeah.

W:       Uh, but most of them fled or got out somehow. But I mean, I think eventually they’ll be reunited.

I:          We hope so.

W:       And maybe, maybe, maybe Christianity can help with that.

I:          Yeah.  Yeah. And the point that how

0:36:30

Korean Peninsula was divided along the line of 38thParallel, that’s it, you know.  After the end of, toward the end of the World Was II, Soviet Union and U.S. were allies, and they wanted to reoccupy the grand peninsula

W:       Yeah.

I:          expelling the Japanese, and that’s how it’s been drawn, and it’s been there forever.

W:       And it’s just a manmade thing that has no meaning.

I:          Yeah.

W:       And in order to,

0:37:00

yeah.  The Soviet Union came into the Second World War in, in Asia two weeks before it was over

I           Exactly.

W:       just so that they could, and of course they wanted to take Hokkaido, and they wanted to take half of Japan like they took half of Korea.

I:          Exactly.

W:       And, uh, that made, then MacArthur prevented that just, he said no, no way, and, but they still have, uh, Soviet Union, uh,

0:37:30

Russia now, still has the, uh, Habamim uh, Island.

I:          four islands there,

W:       Yea, four islands off Hokkaido.

I:          So this is kind of tragic history of the Korean division

W:       Yeah, and it makes no sense.  And a, well after all these years.  It’ll be difficult to reunite.  It’ll be economically difficult

0:38:00

and, and I understand that the, well, the South has developed so rapidly and so much, and the North has been, uh, re, has been held back from developing, and I understand now that the languages are beginning to separate.  There, the languages are beginning to be different when the, the Korean language is the Korean language.

0:38:30

But of course, language develops.

I:          Um hm.

W:       And the South has developed, and all the young kids and all the, uh, want new wealth and everything, has really changed what’s happening in the south and the languages changing.

I:          In terms of this, the, the renegotiation about North Korea’s nuclear ener, and missile program,

0:39:00

I loved President Obama except one thing, that he didn’t do anything about North Korea, and Secretary Hillary Clinton said that it’s a strategic patience, and to me was a strategic negligence.

W:       Neglect, neglect.

I:          Yeah. they didn’t do anything about North Korea, so

W:       That’s right.

I:          So even though I

W:       No, they don’t.

W:       I don’t agree 100% with, uh, President Trump, but I

0:39:30

like this fact that Trump is trying to do something about it even though we’re not sure whether it will draw any success out of it.  I’m not sure whether Trump wants to strike out the nuclear sites in North Korea which will bring, uh, devastation again to the Korean Peninsula again.  So

W:       I, uh, uh, I have a hard time with the

0:40:00

United States deciding who can have nuclear weapons and who can’t.

I:          Excellent point.

W:       Who are we to determine that?  Just because we were first doesn’t mean we can control who else has it.

I:          We are the one who opened the Pandora box.

W:       That’s right.

I:          Yeah.

W:       Hiroshima.

I:          Yeah.

W:       Every American should go to Hiroshima.

I:          Nagasaki.

W:       Nagasaki.

I:          Yep.

0:40:30

W:       Eh, we can’t decide.  We shouldn’t be thinking ourselves that we have the power to decide who is going to have a nuclear bomb.

I:          Amen.

W:       And the Pakistan has it, India has it.  They’re just back and forth at each other, uh. It’s on,

I:          Israel.

W:       Israel.  Why does Israel have an atomic bomb? That little country?  Why?

I:          Even they’d never

0:41:00

W:       Even the way they treat the Palestinians, and they have an atomic bomb.

I:          They didn’t even join the NPT, Non-proliferation Treaty.  India, Pakistan and, and Israel, they are the one who has all these capabilities of more than 100 nuclear war head with the ICBM technology

W:       Yeah, yeah.

I:          And the most dangerous country is the Pakistan because it’s

W:       Pakistan.

I:          tribalism there so that it’s really, North Korea is a strong centralized country so

0:41:30

that they can hold this

W:       Control it.

I:          weapons

W:       Oh.

I:          Pakistan, no.

W:       And Pakistan and Afghanistan are at each other, and Pakistan is, is helping to keep agitation in Afghanistan.  America should not be in Afghanistan.  The Brits went down, the Russians went down.  Everybody know, I mean historically, back Genghis Khan, all those people, nobody, nobody wins in Afghanistan.

0:42:00

I:          Absolutely.

W:       Except the Afghans.

I:          Yep.

W:       That’s their country

I:          Yep.

W:       and they always prevail.

I:          Absolutely.

W:       Keep everybody else out.

I:          Yeah.

W:       And why do we think we can do any, what are we doing in Afghanistan?

I:          It’s a hypocrisy of U.S. so called national interest that they have to pour the money for India for nuclear, nuclear program and doing a lot of things for Pakistan to contain Chinese.

0:42:30

W:       Yep.

I:          And they never said anything about Israel nuclear program.  But, but North Korea.  Why do you think that they, Americans are doing this?  Why only North Korea?  North Korea was in NPT, Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Those three countries never joined them, okay, and why Americans are always focusing

0:43:00

on the nuclear and ICBM technology of North Korea?  Do you think that North Korea will attack United States?

W:       I don’t think so.

I:          Absolutely not.

W:       They know that they couldn’t, if they do then they, they’re done.  That’s the end.

I:          That’s what Kim Jung Un said.  When Madeline Albright and Sherman, Wendy Sherman were in 1999 in Pyongyang to pave the way for Bill Clinton to sign the treaty with Kim Jung Un, they show a massive

0:43:30

carved section where that first missile was just launching there,

W:       Um hm.

I:          and Kim Jung Un said to, uh, Madeline Albright that this will be our first missile but can be the last if U.S. recognize us, and he did same thing to the Wendy Sherman to his right.  So, and he said that we know, if we attack United States, we will receive thousands of thousands of nuclear missiles.

W:       Which is, in, which is bad for us.  Even, I mean

0:44:00

and a, and absolutely we shouldn’t go first, we should not strike first.

I:          So why always North Korea?

W:       Uh, I don’t know.

I:          It’s because China and Russia I think.

W:       [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Yeah.

W:       Being supporting, yeah.

I:          I’m so glad that we are able to talk about this point.  We never, I had never, uh, talked like this with other veterans, but anyway,

W:       I always said when I

0:44:30

came back from Korea after I was woun, oh, I was wounded in, uh, twice.  I have two purple hearts.

I:          Let’s talk about that.

W:       So, uh, well

I:          But, let me ask this question first.

W:       I always said the next time, the next war America’s in, they’re gonna be two people not there, me and the guy they send to get me.

0:45:00

I:          Um, so in that hill, do you know the hill name or number that you were in?

W:       No. It wasn’t that big.  But I do know that behind us, if, behind us was a bigger hill,

0:45:30

and I think it was 155.  But, do you, have you been to the MLR recently or to the demilitarized zone?

I:          Yeah.   Last year.

W:       When you go across, there’s a new Freedom Bridge, right?

I:          Yeah.

W:       Well, I have pictures of the old Freedom Bridge

I:          Um.

W:       and that’s the one we used to go across.

I:          Um.

W:       When the railroad bridge next to it.  The railroad went straight, and the road went across the bridge and then turned right

I:          Uh.

0:46:00

 

W:       and went along the Imjin River, then went left and went to Panmunjom.

I:          I see.

W:       Well, we were by the railroad, by Cheongnyangni Station to the left of that.

I:          Um.

W:       That’s where our little hill was.  But over here on the other side of the railroad tracks was a bigger hill, and I think right now there’s a observation point up there or there’s a museum, or a, there’s some kind of a

0:46:30

place that visitors go and

I:          Yeah, yeah.

W:       can sit and look out at the main line.

I:          Yeah.  I was there.

W:       And off to the left is the remains of a bridge and the railroad station, and there used to be an engine on the ground there, but they put the engine up in the building, the, the railroad engine.

I:          Oh.

W:       I have a picture of that train station.

I:          Yeah, yeah.  I’ll, I’ll, let’s look at it later, and I took

0:47:00

30 history teachers back to Korea yes, last year.  We were there, and we were briefed about the MLR and DMZ and North Korean side of it. Wow, you got

W:       That hill, I think, was 155.  I’m not sure.

I:          Okay.

W:       But that, but our little hill was, un, didn’t have

I:          Didn’t have any name.  But was that first mission that you occupied that hill and, and maintained it?  Was that your first mission?

0:47:30

W:       I think so because after that, we came back, after the month, this, uh, no, there’s some place I must have gone before that.

I:          But you were the top officer there

W:       Yeah.

I:          in the hill.

W:       I was, yeah.

I:          How can they send first, second lieutenant, inexperienced, be in charge of the hill that it was so strategically important?

0:48:00

I think they had a high trust on you.

W:       We were just out in, in the middle as an outpost and alert if there were any big invasion was coming to the main line. And the rest of the division, the rest of the regiment was back on the main line, and there were some people in reserve.  So there were, the reserve, the main line and the outpost.

I:          So you were there for 30 days in a row?

W:       I was there 30 days, yeah.

0:48:30

I:          In a row?

W:       Yeah.  One month. And then we came off and back in reserve, and somebody else went up the mountain

I:          Right, yeah.

W:       you know, so you switched around.

I:          Yeah.

W:       So we had time from reserve, then to the main line.

I:          Did you have to go back to that hill?

W:       Never went back.

I:          Never went back.

W:       I didn’t.

I:          Okay.

W:       I mean, I got injured and evacuated.

I:          How?  How, how and when you got injured?

W:       The first time was in early June.  Well

I:          of ’53.

W:       But after

0:49:00

we came off the hill,

I:          Uh huh.

W:       we came back into reserve, and so we were behind the main line,

I:          Right.

W:       and we ran patrols at night, out.

I:          Um hm.

W:       So I ran, in 21 days I ran 15 night patrols.

I:          Wow.

W:       And so on one of those patrols, uh, the point man stepped

0:49:30

on a mine and lost a leg.  He didn’t lose his life, but he lost his leg. And the shrapnel from that mine hit me in the chest.

I:          Chest.  That was June?

W:       I had, I had a, an armored vest, but it was hot. I had it unzipped.

I:          And that’s how you got?

W:       That’s how I got hit in the chest with shrapnel. And so I was taken back to the battalion

0:50:00

aid station, and they took the pieces out and, of course, it drew blood.

I:          But didn’t go deep.

W:       No, it didn’t go deep.

I:          It was June, right?

W:       June.  And so I got, uh, they bandaged me up, and I went back to the, back to duty.  But that was the first Purple Heart.

I:          Uh huh.

W:       Then the second time, but every day, ever y night almost we were going out in front of the main

0:50:30

line.  We went down to the train station

I:          Um hm.

W:       or we went to the, and way out in front of their main, their main line was over there, and there was a, what had been a cement factory.

I:          Uh huh.

W:       And it kind of sat on a ridge, like a finger that came out, and they had a heavy emplacement in there

I:          Um.

W:       and that, you know, the main line was here. Then that hill

0:51:00

that I was on and then over here was this finger, a cement factory.  And somebody at regiment decided there should be, uh, an attack on that finger because it was supposedly armored and armed pretty heavily that, uh, I’ve, why they decided this I have no idea

I:          Um hm.

W:       Looking back on it, it was stupid.

0:51:30

But they wanted a combat patrol to go have a fire fight and to destroy that position,

I:          Um hm.

W:       and I got the job, and I asked for volunteers who wanted to go with me, and we went out, and we picked a fight, and I got, well, I, there, there was a trench line that came out to this factory, what was a

0:52:00

cement factory, and then there was a bunker at the end of it.  So I had 12 men, and we went out.

I:          Um.

W:       We cut the trench line, and the signal was, the signal to begin fighting was I was to throw a white phosphorous hand grenade into the bunker. I did that, and I got five hand grenades back.

I:          Um.

W:       So fine hand grenades went off around me,

I:          Um.

W:       But I had zipped up

I:          At that time.

0:52:30

W:       but, yeah.  But I had my legs, this, this knee and this leg were all, I mean, I have scars all here

I:          Oh, that’s why.

W:       and here.

I:          Um hm.

W:       and here.

I:          Hold on, hold on.  Let me, can I take a, where?

W:       You can’t, there,

I:          Uh huh

W:       And here, but you can’t see it on there.

I:          Right, right.

W:       Back here, I have, and over here,

0:53:00

this scar, this knee

I:          I see.  Um hm, um hm.

W:       So, and my hip.

I:          Hip, too.

W:       Yeah.  But they, uh, and I couldn’t stand.  I was lying in the Chinese trench line.

I:          Hm.

W:       with my right, with my carbine and firing at somehow I used the carbine to, to, uh,

0:53:30

climb up the wall of the trench, and I got to the top and rolled down, and some, two guys from the reserve squad came up and got me

I:          Um.

W:       and pulled me back.

I:          When was it?

W:       That was July the 19th, 19, uh June. June the 19th, 1953.

I:          You said you got shrapnel in the chest in June, too.

W:       Yeah, early June.

0:54:00

And then I went ba, I went right back to duty the same day.

I:          Right.

W:       Uh, and then that was it.  They brought a jeep up with a stretcher on the, over the hood and took me back to the aid station, and my, they said they took my vest off, and it was full of shrapnel from these hand grenades.

I:          Wow.

W:       So, that saved my life.  Then I was taken back to a MASH

0:54:30

hospital in Monsan-ni.

I:          Um hm.

W:       I forget what the, what was the number, 443rdor 440, I don’t, some

I:          Yeah.

W:       MASH hospital, and I was on the stretcher than I came from the, on the field, and they put it on two sawhorses on the ground, and here was a truck here with all the equipment coming out, and I was operated on right outside, outdoors.

0:55:00

I:          Outdoors.

W:       Yeah.  The grass underneath.  Uh, and I had, I was entirely encased in cast with a thing across here that they could lift me up.

I:          So then did you leave Korea?

W:       Yeah.  I was taken back to Seoul.  Interesting, but I don’t know, maybe kids might be interested in this.  The railroad still existed

I:          Right.

0:55:30

W:       and the, from Monsanni it was by the railroad, and they had a bus that had been changed so they could put stretchers in it, and the bus went to the railroad and straddled the rails, and they cranked railroad wheels down, lifted the bus up, and it went on the railroad track.  Very ingenious.

I:          Very, very

W:       So we went on the railroad right into Seoul

0:56:00

I:          Like that?

W:       Yeah.  In the same bus that can run on the street.  It had railroad wheels.  So then I was in a hospital in Seoul overnight,

I:          Um.

W:       and the next day I was taken to Kimpo and flown to Japan and went to, we went to Takikawa Air Base

I:          Um hm

W:       and then I was taken to

0:56:30

Yokohama Hospital. There was a hospital in downtown Yokohama that had been a department store

I:          Um.

W:       and it was changed into a hospital by the American Occupation Forces, and I was there from July until September, and then September I flew back to the United States and was sent to Valley Forge Hospital

0:57:00

outside of Philadelphia and was released from active duty in November of 1953.  And then went back to college in January.

I:          What a journey.  Um, did you write letter back to your wife?  What was her, what is her name?
W:       Eleanor.

I:          Eleanor.  L E L E A

W:       Yeah.  E L E A N

I:          No.

W:       O R.

I:          Did you write?

0:57:30

W:       Yeah.  Oh yeah.

I:          What did you tell her?

W:       Oh, I told her what

I:          Wounded?

W:       Yeah, well she got a telegram.  I still have the telegrams.  She got five of them from the Army.  The, the, the first one practically had me dead, but I mean, you know.

I:          Show me that telegram if you have it with you.

W:       No, I don’t have it.

I:          Okay.  You, you promise to the camera that you going to let

0:58:00

your secretary, check with secretary to scan it, okay?  Do you promise?

W:       Uh, the, the telegrams?

I:          Yeah.

W:       Why do you need that?

I:          To, to show it so your memorabilia, historical artifacts that we are collecting.

W:       Okay.  I have pictures of the front line where I was and all that.

I:          Yeah.  I think we out of time, so we’ll scan this later, okay,

0:58:30

if you allow.

W:       Alright.

I:          There is no reason that you

W:       I also have all, a bunch of those flyers that they distributed

I:          Yeah, yeah.

W:       that tell you to surrender.

I:          Yeah, yeah, yeah.

W:       Have you seen those?

I:          Yeah.  I, I need that, too, okay?

W:       I have a bunch of those.

I:          Yeah, please.  So

W:       So then, so aft, yeah.  So after all that, I came back and then went to, uh, back to Franklin and Marshall and finished.  Then I went to

0:59:00

the University of Michigan and got a Master’s degree in Far Eastern Studies

I:          Ooo.

W:       at the center for Japanese studies

I:          Um.

W:       at Michigan University.  And then I went to Japan to live.

I:          Was that war worth to fight to you?

W:       Yeah.  Yeah. To me?

0:59:30

I:          Yeah.

W:       Yeah.  I grew

I:          Why?

W:       I grew up.

I:          Personally you grew up

W:       Yeah.

I:          And what’s the change?

W:       Oh, I’m had responsibility, and I learned to be responsible, and I had, it, it changed me as a human being.  It made me realize how bad war is.  I’ll never go to another war, but I’d never, be part of another war.

1:00:00

Uh, I think war is wrong.  It’s the wrong answer.  So, but it, it changed me.  It made me a better person I think.  And it gave me a lifetime’s experience, and it made me live differently with, I mean having come so close to not living, it made, it changed me in my attitude about living. I’m much freer

1:00:30

and easy, and I don’t get upset, you know, that’s all.  I almost died once.  It doesn’t matter you know.  So I have a different attitude.

I:          And what is, have you been back to Korea?

W:       When I lived in Japan

I:          Um huh.

W:       I went to Korea several times.

I:          So tell me about the Korea that you saw in 1953

W:       Oh,

I:          and. an entirely different

I:          Tell.

1:01:00

W:       Well the modernization and the, the growth and how people have, uh, been economically relieved and economically grown and how the south has changed through education, and the education of people is different, too. So that’s a big change.

I:          Um hm.

W:       Or in the, and, uh, the young people have changed in,

but some of the cultural things or Korea have changed also, like, uh, like in Japan.  Things are not, not the same.

I:          Um hm.

W:       Life is different.

I:          Very different.

W:       This was before going out on my last patrol.

I:          For the second one.

W:       Yeah.

I:          Yeah, okay.  Yes, that’s the Seoul station.  These are the people, right.

1:02:00

W:       Was a train, this, this was the main railroad from Seoul to Pyongyang

I:          Um hm.

W:       Went across the Freedom Bridge, or next to the Freedom Bridge.

I:          Yeah.  We need to recover that.  We have almost recovered now.

1:02:00

I:          Um hm.  Yes.

W:       That’s the Hahn River bridge in 1953.

1:02:30

W:       The legacy of the Korean War is that it’s not over.

I:          Um hm.

W:       And we’re just in a truce.  There’s no end to this war.  And the way things are now in 2018, uh, maybe it’ll

1:03:00

still, still be going on.  It needs to be solved, and Korea needs to be united.  The legacy is that it’s a war that was engaged in the United States by the United States and Turkey and Britain, and Australia and India and all the others.  I had Turkish and Brits that I worked with.  So it was a combined U.N. War

1:03:30

to help keep Korea free that had just won its freedom in 1945 and was just a brand new country operating on its own and, it needs, it needed to be able to continue and to not be divided and it’s, we went, we Americans went, uh, some of us,

1:04:00

some went willingly.  Some went unwillingly, but it’s something that we had to do.  It’s, uh, I hope it will soon be finished and that there will be peace on that peninsula, and the Korean culture can continue to develop and to be its own independent country.

I:          On behalf of Korean nation, I want to thank you for your fight.  Thank you.

W:       Fight I did.

[End of Recorded Material]