William John McLaughlin was born in Torrington, Connecticut, on June 26, 1950. In 1968, he graduated from the Loomis School in Windsor, Connecticut, and then attended Boston University where he graduated in 1972. He recalls not being taught very much about Korea in school and not knowing much about it before he arrived. He was drafted into the Army in 1972 and was first stationed in Germany. He was glad for his placement since he was allowed to bring his wife with him. He was in the 509th US Army Artillery Detachment, Air Defense Unit Mission in Germany, assigned to a Dutch Air Force base. There he serviced American Hercules missiles containing nuclear warheads. He then served on Korean Defense before retiring and becoming a UN weapons inspector.
Events in Korea
William McLaughlin discusses his responsibilities while in Korea as well as his training. He also discusses some dangerous events, including when two drunk Korean soldiers stole a cab and were eventually killed by his brigade. A Korean newspaper, though, called it a suicide. This made him question what he was reading in the newspapers. He also witnessed the Rangoon bombing in October of 1983. He recounts his experience.
What is the Legacy of the Korean War?
William McLaughlin discusses the legacy of the Korean War. He believes the legacy is a democratic and thriving South Korea. He was not sure if that would have happened if the Americans had not fought alongside the South Koreans and then stayed there throughout the subsequent decades to help with defense.
Did you know anything about Korea?
William McLaughlin speaks about his high school experiences and recalls not being taught anything about Korea. He had relatives who were Korean War Veterans, and his father would talk to him about the war. There were some cultural references to the Korean War in the media but not like what was available on World War II. He does recall hearing that Korea was an undeveloped and poor country at the time. He remembers the possibility of being drafted to Korea and the subsequent consequences.