Korean War Legacy Project

William Trembley

Bio

William H. Trembley was born in Santa Monica, CA, and was going to school and working for Lockheed in their aircraft parts fabrication and assembly areas until he was drafted for the Korean War in 1952. He went to basic training at Fort Ord, California and was identified as having special skills that would be valuable in training new draftees, thus he was promoted to the rank of corporal.  After he was discharged from the military in May 1953, he went back to school, work, and family.

Video Clips

Creating Soldiers

William Trembley describes his induction into the U.S. Army and his assignment to a training company to help train new draftees the skills necessary to go from being civilians to soldiers. He believes he was chosen to help train recruits because of his skill with the rifle from a lifetime of hunting.

Tags: Basic training,Weapons

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWvE8dSuyao&start=272&end=360

Returning Soldiers

William Trembley describes how he felt guilty about leaving his wife with newborn twins. He developed an ulcer which sent him to the hospital. This led his duty to change to helping take care of soldiers returning from service in the Korean War. This experience changed his life as he became aware of the suffering many of these veterans experienced.

Tags: Home front,Physical destruction,Rest and Relaxation (R&R)

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWvE8dSuyao&start=440&end=537

Video Transcript

00:00
william trembly i was born in Santa
00:02
Monica California and I went to several
00:06
schools six junior colleges and three
00:10
universities including USC and UCLA and
00:15
university of santa clara i started in
00:21
the aerospace business by accident I was
00:25
going to school to become a geologist
00:27
but I had to to work at something at
00:30
night because I needed classes in the
00:31
daytime so I went to work for lockheed
00:34
when I was 19 years old and in january
00:37
of 1951 um when when when did you want
00:42
24 32 24 32 all right and what about the
00:50
school you went middle school in high
00:52
school middle school high school word in
00:56
the high school is in the San Fernando
00:58
Valley a typical Valley kid mm-hmm and I
01:03
was fortunate in the sense that I was
01:07
three years ahead of my classmates so I
01:10
graduated high school when I was 16 by
01:12
the time the crim war broke all what
01:15
were you doing you were in the high
01:17
school no no I had graduated from high
01:19
school and matter of fact i yeah but
01:24
just I had been with lucky for a short
01:26
time i’ve been working in construction
01:29
as it as a youngster up for 18 is from
01:33
time i was 60 until i was eighteen
01:35
nineteen ninety years old haha i had
01:38
started with school on a scholarship but
01:43
again sponsored by Standard Oil to
01:47
become a geologist in tho what
01:49
university and that was in taft college
01:52
Kraft cottage yeah ok and turned out
01:57
that i wanted to return to the Santa Ana
02:00
Valley
02:01
and to my girlfriend and so we were
02:04
married when I was 19 and she was 17 and
02:09
again I started to work at lucky so I
02:13
could have a night class and go to
02:15
school at a time how did you end up
02:16
working with the locker marking please
02:18
know what that was easy it was big I
02:21
could get a job that was easy to apply
02:23
for by herself oh sure okay yeah and all
02:28
were you doing there in the beginning in
02:30
the beginning you know I was in the
02:31
business of fabricating parts for
02:34
aircraft and then I went to the business
02:36
of assembly of aircraft mm-hmm and
02:40
apparently I had a certain amount of
02:42
skill in that regard my dad was in that
02:47
business also Wow did you know about the
02:53
breakout off with the Korean War very
02:55
little by as most civilians in the
02:58
United States know very little about
02:59
that other than the fact that we didn’t
03:01
think we should be there but on the
03:03
other end of it we felt that we had to
03:05
be in order to help people who were
03:06
being oppressed mm-hmm and so
03:10
philosophically I was in favor of it but
03:13
it turns out that as a newly married guy
03:18
with it with a pregnant wife he was a
03:20
quick yeah I am working in an essential
03:24
industry I wasn’t really too anxious to
03:28
go learn and I till it the story that
03:34
considering that we’re taking married
03:36
people or or people in essential
03:40
industry how come I got drafted anybody
03:45
I did mm-hmm and so you were drafted
03:48
yeah
03:50
and I was very fortunate in the sense
03:54
that that I got into an organization
03:57
that was intent on training people
04:01
because at that time there were very few
04:03
real active soldiers and so forth and it
04:07
happened that my commanding officer and
04:10
the second officer somehow or other they
04:13
decided that I thought would be useful
04:15
to help train other people on an upward
04:18
or basically civilians in their life
04:20
mm-hmm so I was assigned that early on
04:26
off before that are when were you
04:29
drafted and where did you receive the
04:31
military training but I was drafted in
04:34
1952 uh-huh right and basic training is
04:41
was true of a lot of kids in at that
04:43
time at Fort org in Northern California
04:46
mm-hmm and as I say that the company
04:51
that I was assigned to was essentially a
04:54
matter of basic training for people who
04:58
are essentially civilians and knew
05:00
nothing about being a soldier mm-hmm so
05:03
my commanding officer said made me a
05:08
temporary corporal immediately and made
05:10
it part of the training room why do you
05:12
think that they fit to him that category
05:15
I’m not really sure what I’m glad
05:18
because again I talked people to fire
05:23
the garand rifle because I was an expert
05:26
at 300 500 yards and
05:30
because I had been a hundred so forth
05:32
that’s kid hmm and so that was obviously
05:37
something that i could teach people to
05:38
do and again it might assigned a
05:44
temporary state it says corporal i went
05:47
through the routine of teaching people
05:49
to understand commands and accept them
05:53
and do all the foolish things that you
05:56
teach soldiers in the first place having
05:58
to do with marching and all that sort of
05:59
nonsense yeah but as as time went on
06:05
turned out that my wife bless me with
06:09
twins hmm and I had a sense that that
06:13
something was what’s going on at home
06:14
and I and I told by my first sergeant
06:17
that I was I was going to go over the
06:19
hill if I couldn’t get a fast I was
06:21
gonna go over they owned he says well
06:22
way to let stand reveling tomorrow and
06:26
then go if you’re going to go so i did
06:29
go and i arrived back to intercept my
06:33
dad was just coming back from luck from
06:35
the Oceanside hospital and he said Kathy
06:41
be my wife was having the baby so we
06:45
turned around and went back to oceanside
06:47
and we arrived about 45 minutes after my
06:50
twins were born and i was thrilled with
06:54
that but of course i was absolutely
06:56
without leave so I called my commanding
06:59
officer and we had a little small talk
07:01
and he said son do you have a pass and I
07:03
said no sir he said oh and I was a
07:06
little silence then he said can he get
07:11
back by Tuesday this is a very fine
07:14
understanding officer so yes I got back
07:16
by Tuesday and continued with my
07:18
activity but as time went on I became
07:22
increasingly concerned about the fact
07:24
that my my little girls and my wife had
07:28
to stay with my
07:29
mother dead and so I wasn’t doing my job
07:32
I didn’t think I was doing the direct
07:34
duty because I was wearing the uniform
07:36
but my family was with somebody else so
07:40
it turned out to my body rebelled and I
07:43
had it I developed a bleeding ulcer and
07:47
at that point I was sent to enter of an
07:50
Army Hospital in the San Francisco Bay
07:53
Area and as an ambulatory patient I was
07:59
given a responsibility to go around to
08:02
the various awards the fellows that that
08:05
were not ambulatory and show movies for
08:09
them and so forth and I had a class a
08:15
facet in San Francisco so that was
08:18
pretty good duty except for one thing
08:19
which changed my whole life the guys
08:24
that were coming back from the war in
08:25
the wards that I was calling on to show
08:29
movies too mm-hmm were so terribly
08:32
terribly damaged loss of limbs and
08:38
injuries that maimed them in one way or
08:42
another either psychologically or
08:45
physically mm-hmm and I persisted in
08:49
that capacity for some time and actually
08:53
that was released early nineteen
08:55
fifty-three mm-hmm and went back to to
09:02
Lockheed and was in the business of
09:05
building airplanes again with the intent
09:09
of being a geologist someday
09:11
but I continued the airplane building
09:14
business for what turned out was lucky
09:16
to be 13 years mm-hmm and in the latter
09:19
part of that 13 years said I was most
09:22
active with the Polaris missile program
09:27
well and I was a program manager in
09:32
several aspects of the Polaris missile
09:33
program and I was blessed in many
09:38
regards and the discipline that the army
09:40
taught me was what’s useful in that
09:43
regard there were things that I could
09:44
bring to the business of building
09:45
missiles that those that had not had the
09:49
experience in the army didn’t have that
09:52
sense of need or importance and when I
09:59
left Lockheed after some 13 years I left
10:03
as a program manager to go to another
10:05
company still in the same kind of
10:07
business and to shorten a rather lengthy
10:11
story my military service served me in a
10:15
wonderful way because when I got out I
10:17
got the full benefit of the of the
10:20
schooling of the GI Bill yeah with my
10:24
new family that we continue to add
10:26
children we ultimately made to fight
10:31
beautiful little girls in four years and
10:34
Reuben and we bought three different
10:39
houses on the GI Bill and on all that I
10:44
have benefited by late from my time in
10:47
the service but relative to the business
10:50
of making war I’ve been adamantly
10:53
against the business of making more
10:55
since spending time with those horribly
10:58
maimed
10:59
soldiers that I met a letter Barney
11:04
hospital hmm that’s all you really need
11:07
to know so you or never been in Korean
11:10
soil never been agreed soul mm-hmm and
11:13
but I had the benefit of again being and
11:16
service and serving something relative
11:18
to the effort exactly so you took care
11:22
of the soldiers who returned from Korean
11:25
War yes those were ended and you were
11:27
able to care them yes and please expire
11:31
know why you are designated as a
11:34
criminal veteran but the audience
11:36
doesn’t know so would you please explain
11:37
why you’ve been designated as Korean War
11:42
veteran even though you never been in
11:44
Korea well the first thing of course was
11:48
the fact that i was drafted and i went
11:51
through the basic training and was
11:54
originally considered to go to the the
11:59
training forehead codes and that sort of
12:02
thing in monterey but it turned out that
12:05
when i was a freshman in college I had
12:07
friends who were card-carrying
12:09
communists and so they would not allow
12:11
me to go into the business of codes and
12:15
that sort of thing which i think is kind
12:17
of narrow minded but that’s another
12:19
story if I say that the the issue of
12:25
seeing these and other fellows who had
12:28
not wanted to go to toward and who came
12:32
back so terribly damaged that changed me
12:36
for a lifetime all those soldiers who
12:40
were drafted and enlisted during the
12:42
Korean War up to nineteen fifty-five
12:45
they’ve been designated as Korean War
12:47
veterans that’s why you got the benefits
12:49
and GI bills as Korean War veteran even
12:52
though you never been in Korea that’s
12:54
right yeah and my direct
12:56
mission in the business of training
12:58
soldiers as I looked at in retrospect I
13:01
think that was a useful thing to do but
13:04
again philosophically I’m so opposed to
13:06
the war as a result of saying most
13:09
terribly damaged man yeah you how much
13:12
will you pay while you are in the
13:15
service it’s the soft side of the war
13:17
yeah you know the truth is I don’t
13:20
remember how much i was paid but i
13:22
remember how much my wife was paid we’re
13:24
in she was paid 91 dollars a month what
13:29
did she walk she didn’t work it was it
13:31
was she was by dependent and Uncle Sam
13:35
Vader 91 dollars a month which was
13:37
supposed to support she and my twin
13:39
daughters in addition to your seller yes
13:43
oh that’s nice yeah well as far as my
13:46
salary was concerned i gamble this most
13:49
soldiers did and I accept supplemented
13:51
by my income with the gambling of one
13:55
kind or another what I mean supplemented
13:58
you lost the model no I didn’t lose you
14:00
always earned it I was let’s say the
14:05
kind of thing that says that was
14:06
fortunate that Rico GRE bill what
14:08
university did you go I USC was notable
14:13
among those from on and of course that
14:16
both the USC and UCLA I’d I subsequently
14:21
went back to those schools initially I
14:24
went as a student or just auditing the
14:30
classes but subsequently I came back as
14:32
lecturer and I have lectured at USC and
14:36
UCLA with honorarium in the business of
14:42
assembling structures in particular
14:46
aircraft and missiles
14:51
so please tell me about exactly what
14:54
part that you worked for the missile
14:56
program interlocking Martin well there
15:00
are a number of things that I can’t talk
15:01
about to this day even though that was
15:03
in the 60s mm-hmm but yes I was a
15:06
program manager in both test equipment
15:09
and missile structures and apropos that
15:17
the biggest responsibility i had for
15:20
that was i had four hundred engineers
15:22
and scientists to answer to me what kind
15:27
of illness do you have and while you are
15:30
here in the veterans home no illness I’m
15:33
okay now I’m just old oh so you living
15:37
here or I’m living here yes oh okay is
15:40
there that’s another that’s another
15:42
benefit of by a Miami minute series what
15:45
about your family my family they’re
15:47
grown they blessed me with 15
15:50
grandchildren nine great-grandchildren
15:52
and four great-great-grandchildren wow
15:56
so they live around here know that
15:59
that’s that’s one of the reasons I’m
16:00
here because I do have some their
16:03
clothes here but I have children and in
16:06
Oregon and Washington and Colorado and
16:10
Arizona and all over California what
16:14
about their attitude about Korean War
16:16
are they interested in or they were
16:19
interested in it when they were growing
16:22
up because daddy talked to him about it
16:24
and we talked about the philosophy of
16:28
war in general and I believe in
16:33
defending your country I believe in
16:36
making the best weapons that that can be
16:39
made I worked for 10 years with a come
16:41
nothing but weapons and to support
16:46
soldiers I’m not absolutely in favor of
16:48
it but the business of war up by itself
16:51
I’m opposed to it could you tell me how
16:56
to think about what’s happening in the
16:58
grand penance run right now I think that
17:01
it’s it’s criminal in the sense that
17:03
that the effort that’s been put on the
17:06
north where the people of North Korea I
17:11
think have nothing to do with the
17:13
pressure that’s being applied yeah and
17:17
they themselves are suffering under the
17:21
current regime if you will mm-hmm and
17:24
they’re there is no benefit to the
17:28
efforts that they’re being put to
17:29
pressure them at all they did they do
17:32
not benefit from it and God forbid there
17:35
should be a war as a result again I’ve
17:38
seen the results of war yeah you know
17:42
what happened in South Korea after the
17:45
war well in general yes they did the the
17:50
people are basically benefited and of
17:53
course we still have a bunch of soldiers
17:56
there which is not very well known by
17:58
most Americans I think yeah and I think
18:03
that we’ve we’ve done as much as we can
18:05
do without being aggressors ourselves
18:08
the objective of the United States at
18:10
least as I understand it is to assist
18:13
the people in their own activities and
18:16
in their plans are about themselves not
18:18
to make them into Americans and so I
18:23
think the south is kind of good
18:26
attitude and they’re doing very well in
18:29
and the north is just tragic just tragic
18:32
yeah and of course said like many
18:41
Americans and I feel like I’d like to go
18:44
in and beat up two guys that are beating
18:45
you up but unfortunately that doesn’t
18:48
work either if you don’t if you don’t
18:52
believe it that’s a mistake and take a
18:53
look at the Iraq and shit and so forth
18:58
that has not worked out very well for
19:00
some 6,000 soldiers who’ve died what is
19:04
the quarry qualification for criminal
19:06
veterans to be checked into the
19:08
veteran’s home on honorable discharge 41
19:15
and 62 years old for another and I think
19:23
I think also the it’s a clean civilian
19:27
record as well in other words we can’t
19:30
be criminals and
19:33
I don’t think that my gambling with my
19:39
fellow search would be considered to be
19:41
a criminal activity to be here took
19:44
about I had been an ink in the Lancaster
19:48
facility and I was accepted there and
19:51
I’d been there for about roughly a year
19:52
year and a half and I applied here
19:56
because I do have some family in this
19:57
area and it took about a year to happen
20:01
so I’ve been involved in this kind of a
20:04
program for about about two and a half
20:06
years you go overboard effeminate know
20:09
why not because they they need to be
20:13
able to establish their drawing
20:15
directions and to pursue them and if
20:18
they need help from Grandma give me a
20:21
call it’s not be here for you hmm so
20:24
what is the life here do you drive
20:26
around ball whatever you want to say I
20:30
have complete freedom because I have our
20:32
own vehicle and of course I I go places
20:34
and do things mm-hmm but they make a
20:37
real effort to keep us interested and to
20:43
some degree to entertain but the
20:45
difference between interest and
20:47
entertain is pretty evident yeah and
20:50
there’s some remarkably talented and
20:53
experienced guys here guys that are well
20:55
into their 90’s who are authors and it’s
20:59
wonderful that they are authors because
21:01
life that they have
21:04
lived this is so full of outstanding
21:07
experiences my turn again of it probably
21:18
the issue of us being helped in the
21:22
medical fields with the VA and the
21:25
things that the VA offers in that regard
21:29
and of course housing and the expression
21:36
of three hots and a cot and of course
21:40
we’re takin care of it the fundamentals
21:42
of living but the most important aspect
21:44
that would say is probably the medical
21:51
any other message that you want to leave
21:53
about as you being Korean War veterans
21:56
and the world I’d say if you’re called
22:00
on by a country do it as best you can
22:03
and it has worked out very well for me
22:05
as a matter of fact hmm but at the time
22:09
that I was called the more I didn’t want
22:12
to go and I was blessed by virtue of
22:14
having wonderful officers and they
22:17
that I was assigned to and I’d like to
22:21
think that I contributed something as a
22:22
soldier and when I was in in the process
22:27
of being mustered out in the Letterman
22:29
Army Hospital I learned so much about
22:33
the terror of war so many young men my
22:38
same age at the time who were damaged
22:41
for a lifetime yeah just with the
22:44
physical aspect and they had no
22:45
philosophical issues as far as war was
22:47
concerned they simply knew that somehow
22:49
or other they had to go back to civilian
22:51
life without an arm or a leg or with
22:54
otherwise damaged and that is it
22:58
terrible legacy and
23:04
like most it why don’t mostest is the
23:10
wrong expression like many people in my
23:13
age bracket and the next two or three
23:15
age brackets younger the terror of war
23:20
is something that’s clear in my mind as
23:22
I say in my checkered career I were ten
23:26
years doing business of design and
23:29
manufacture of weapons and that finally
23:36
decided to get out of that business
23:37
because the weapons that they wanted me
23:40
to work on we’re just too terrible it’s
23:42
too awful exactly that’s the point it’s
23:45
the destructive power of military
23:48
industry complex what we need it it’s a
23:51
necessary evil exactly and that’s that’s
23:53
the way i ingested things that blow up
23:56
and travel long distances to go beat up
24:00
on somebody yes I had a lot to do with
24:03
it over time and I like to think that I
24:06
contributed positively in that regard
24:08
but it’s not likely that i would get
24:11
involved again if i may ask unless my
24:14
country said we need your help which
24:16
case in hell am i doing what about the
24:19
relationships between us and korea south
24:21
korea we think it’s important i think
24:24
it’s very important I think that most
24:26
Americans have no idea what it’s about
24:29
and I think that it’s worthwhile that
24:31
they learn because it what it has to
24:34
happen is the Americans have to put if
24:38
not pressure certainly knowledge on
24:41
their administrators and
24:45
congressman to give the appropriate
24:48
support I mean we we get that today at
24:52
least go out and send a couple of foot
24:56
unmanned vehicles over to put bombs and
25:00
weapons and so forth against it the
25:03
north that makes no sense at all but I
25:08
think that Americans in general just go
25:12
through their life rather smoothly
25:13
easily without real real consciousness
25:16
what’s going on in the world thank you
25:20
very much