Korean War Legacy Project

William MacSwain


William “Billy” McCoy MacSwain was born on November 7, 1930 in Oklahoma.  He graduated high school in 1948 and joined the National Guard while enrolled in junior college to become a diesel mechanic.  By 1950, he was already promoted to a Buck Sergeant in the National Guard, and he was shipped off to war in 1951.  William MacSwain trained at Camp Keefer as a chemical, radiological, and bacteriological warfare specialist (CBR) non-commissioned officer.  He was a Section Leader with Baker company in the 4th platoon.  A feeling of true amazement comes through his mind each time he returns to Korea due to the political and economic transformation.

Video Clips

Horrors of War

William MacSwain describes some of the horrors of war experiences. He portrays a vivid image of scenes of war that illustrate the hardships Korean War soldiers faced. These first-hand accounts show the fear in every soldiers' mind.

Tags: Chinese,Cold winters,Fear,Front lines,Living conditions,North Koreans,Personal Loss,Physical destruction,Weapons

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Tricking the US Government to Join the National Guard

In 1945, William MacSwain lied to recruiters at the age of 15 when he told them that he was 17 so that he could join the National Guard with friends. Due to the low number of military divisions, recruiters signed him without a second thought. In 1949, he was put to work in Oklahoma to protect businesses after a tornado tore through the state.

Tags: Basic training,Civilians,Home front,Living conditions,Physical destruction,Pride

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Military Leadership Training

In September 1950, William MacSwain reported to a military leadership school that was led by WWII veterans. Since he was already trained on a variety of weapons, William MacSwain felt that psychological warfare treatment was important lessons that he learned. Once he returned to Fort Polk, he was in charge of 4th platoon (an infantry division) who were all older than him.

Tags: Basic training,Civilians,Fear,Home front,Living conditions,Pride,Weapons

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Training for War in Japan

In May 1951, William MacSwain was sent to Japan to train with his platoon on terrain that was similar to Korea. General Ridgway said that the US National Guard should not be sent to Korea because they were not trained well enough. After watching William MacSwain's platoon in Japan practicing a maneuver, he was impressed with what he saw, so the National Guard was free to fight in the Korean War.

Tags: Basic training,Civilians,Fear,Impressions of Korea,Living conditions,Pride,Weapons

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