Korean War Legacy Project

William Wienand


William Wienand volunteered for the US Navy after graduating Freeport High School.  After being trained as a radioman, he was sent aboard the USS Pine Island AV12 to assist in reconnaissance missions.  Throughout his time on the ship, William Wienand worked his way up to a 3rd Petty Officer while taking on the leading role of Radioshack Supervisor.  After surviving four typhoons, one rescue mission, and many reconnaissance missions,  he explains his specific role and how it contributed to the war effort. William Wienand felt that he had done his part to help end the Korean War.

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USS Pine Island's Work in the Korean War

William Wienand and the rest of the soldiers on the USS Pine Island participated in many reconnaissance missions as the flagship which hosted the Admiral of the Navy. He explains the breakup of the groups and their responsibilities. As a radioman, William Wienand worked his way up to a 3rd Class Petty Officer since he worked around the clock as the Supervisor of the Radioshack.

Tags: East Sea,Living conditions,Pride

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William Wienand's Role and Missions for the USS Pine Island

William Wienand's role in the Korean War was to radio all information from the soldiers stationed in Korea to naval leaders across the world. All messages were encrypted, but he knew that many messages gave instruction to the admiral of his flagship in addition to supplying assistance to ground troops. While he doesn’t remember all of the messages, he knew that they were important.

Tags: East Sea,Living conditions,Pride

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Playing an Important Role: Basketball

William Wienand explains how the operations assisted with the Korean War even though he was mainly offshore. He had to convey weather information, which was extremely important. As the supervisor of the radioshack, he had to make sure that all of the others were doing their job, including helping the basketball team.

Tags: Living conditions,Pride

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Video Transcript


[Beginning of Recorded Material]




Bill Wienand:

My name is Bill Wienand, William, as we know it.



Could you spell your last name?


B:        Oh, my last name is spelled W-I-E-N-A-N-D.


I:          Could you spell it again?


B:        Surely. W-I-E-N-A-N-D.


I:          How do you pronounce it?


B:        Wee-nond.


I           Wee-nond. And that’s–






B:        That’s German, yes.


I:          Ah. What is your birthday?


B:        2/19, 1931. February 19, 1931.


I:          And where you born?


B:        In Freeport.


I:          Freeport here?


B:        Yes.


I:          Ahh. And tell me about your family when you were growing up, your parents and siblings.


B:        Okay. My mom and dad, we had a family of, actually six for many years.




I had five sisters that were older than me and finally I was born in 1931, in the height of the Depression. And, my brother came along 10 years later.


I:          Mmm.


B:        So, he’s the only one besides myself that is living anymore.


I:          Mmm.  When, when did you graduate your high school?


B:        What did I do?




I:          No, when did you graduate your [unintelligible]


B:        Oh, I graduated from high school in 1949, 1949.


I:          At Freeport High School?

B:        At Freeport High School. Yes, sir.


I:          Did you learn anything about Asia at the time, when you were in school?


B:        Not really, not really. Everything that we talked about and heard about was World War II, [laughs] at that time.


I:          Ummm. And you didn’t know–




–anything about Korea either?


B:        Did not know anything about Korea. It’s–


I:          Didn’t know where it is?


B:        –it’s just like the forgotten war, you know, we didn’t, we weren’t taught anything–


I:          Mmm.


B:        about Korea, no. So.


I:          Isn’t that, you didn’t know anything, you didn’t know where it was, and now you are the Korean War Veteran.


B:        Yes, sir.


I:          How do you link that dot?


B:        [laughs] Well, I, I, when I got out of school, I had a buddy that was in the Navy. And he, kind of convinced–




–us guys that we oughta be doing something like that. Well, I was an, kind of an athlete, athletic type guy and, and I played a lot softball, and it was hard for me to give that up.


I:          Mmmm.


B:        But, five of us decided to join the Navy in 1951. In October of 1951.


I:          Mmm hmm.


B:        And, went to Great Lakes Naval Training Station.




Graduated and I did pretty well, and they sent me to radio school out in San Diego, California. And I was in San-, tha-, in school for five months out there and because it was what they called a, a rate that was needed right away, I was put on a ship at Port Chicago in San Francisco and immediately was sent over to–






I:          When did you leave for Japan?


B:        In 19-, actually it would have been 1952, probably around the latter part of May or the first part of June of, of ’52.


I:          And, where did you get the basic military training?


B:        The basic training?


I:          Yeah.


B:        F-For?




I:          Boot camp.


B:        Boot camp–


I:          Yeah.


B:        –was at Great Lakes, Illinois.


I:          Mmm hmm.  And so, you left San Francisco?


B:        Yes, they, right, I-I, I was going to radio school in San Diego and they sent me to San Francisco, to, outgoing unit they call it up there, to send me over to, overseas to my duty station–


I:          Mmm hmm.


B:        –which was going to be the USS Pine Island.




I:          And you went to Japan and what happened to you?


B:        In Japan, I was, I stayed there for probably around a week, and they put me on a, a plane that flew first to Okinawa–


I:          Mmm hmm.


B:        –and then on to Sangley Point in the Philippine Islands. And, at that point, they put me on a–




–PBM, that’s the flying boats, and they flew me to the Pescador Islands. Which was, our ship was doing a, it’s operation there for the sea plane and the sea planes did air-sea rescues and they also did, just at the initial time that I got there, they were doing reconnaissance over Korea.




And, we had, oh my goodness, I, we had a, we were a flag ship, and we had an admiral on board, so he was not only head of, commander of Task Force 72, which consisted of VP squadrons, the flying boats as we call them, and d-destroyer command. And, and that, all that, we, we stayed there, usually the–




–duty stations were about a month long and then they would relocate us. And, so, we were in the Pescador Island when I met, and boarded the ship.


I:          Tell me about, more about the ship. What was the name of the ship?


B:        It’s, it’s the USS Pine Island–


I:          Mmm hmm.


B:        –AV12.


I:          AB12.


B:        Yes.


I:          And what kind of ship was this?


B:        It was an air-sea rescue, but it was a–




–command ship with the admiral aboard and his staff and he was responsible, really, for a lot of the activities that went around in there.


I:          You mean the four-star general was there?


B:        Yes.


I:          In that ship?


B:        On our ship, we had–


I:          In your ship?


B:        Yes, sir.


I:          Wow, what was his name? At that time?


B:        Well, right in here, oh, okay, I, is, Covette, was his, his name–


I:          Uh huh.


B:        –but they usually–



–I, I, probably while I was aboard, I was aboard the entire enlistment of four years. And we had probably 3-4 admirals, different admirals, they, um, their, their tour of duty–


I:          Yeah.


B:        –only lasted so long and then they–


I:          Yeah.


B:        –switched.


I:          But that must be a really important ship–


B:        Yes sir.


I:          –or big, was it big?


B:        Oh yeah.


I:          How big was it?


B:        We had 1,236 fellows–






I:          12?


B:        1,236 crew members, and the admiral with his staff w-would, when our sister ship, the Salisbury Sound, would relieve us, we would be there t-, seven months, come back to the States, and then stay for about two months and then go back over again.


I:          How many airplane there?


B:        Well, the planes were, we were like a floating hotel–




–if you will. The planes came and went and they did reconnaissance. And what they did was report back every hour, on the hour. And it was very important that they let us know where they were at–


I:          Mmm hmm.


B:        and they send their reports back.


I:          So, the base was in Philippine?


B:        Th-th–


I:          The–


B:        The, the primary–


I:          Yeah.


B:        –location was the Philippine Islands, but the–




–flew to different–


I:          Right.


B:        –destinations. For example, in the Pescador Islands, they would come and after a, a reconnaissance flight, and then they would land, and they would spend time there, and.


I:          Mmm hmm.


B:        And–


I:          What was your specialty?


B:        My specialty was a radioman. Ss–


I:          And–


B:        And I–


I:          What was your rank?


B:        Right, well, to start out with, I came right out of boot camp. But I, I became a 3rdclass petty officer–




–when I made, you had to wait your turn, and anyway, I, I was pretty sharp.  I’m sorry, I had to say that. But, they made me a supervisor of the radio shack–


I:          Mmm hmm.


B:        –on one of the watches. So, we had aboard that ship, we had the admin circury-circuit, which was where the planes were at at Sangley Point. We had a destroyer circuit, an air craft circuit.  We’d copied–




–the fleet broadcasts and obviously the admiral was a busy man–


I:          Mmm hmm.


B:        –with a communications ship as well as what our operations consisted of.


I:          How was life inside?


B:        Life inside?


I:          Of the ship?


B:        I loved my job. I loved the work. We had a great crew. Everybody did well. Um, I, there’s a lot of things they could tell you. [laughs] Um–




–but our ship not only was in the Pescador Islands, but they went to Buckner Bay, Okinawa, Sasebo, Japan. And operated sea drones and all of those different things. In the meantime, we escaped about four typhoons on different occasions, and I’ve got ’em listed in the book over there. And, and so, we were in trouble sometimes.




Quite often, [laughs] if you will.


I:          Did this ship, when you were in there, actually involve in the rescue mission?


B:        Oh, yes. Yes, sir.


I:          How many times–


B:        Oh, well–


I:          –did you actually experience that?


B:        –as far as the rescue mission, only one.


I:          Only one.


B:        Only one rescue mission at sea.


I:          Right.


B:        Right. Now, as a radioman, we did a lot of things, and we had, beings that we were a command ship, we had a doctor aboard and I remember–




–one incidence that would, one of the destroyer, who only had a pharmacist mate aboard, and they need to operate on a, for attack of appendicitis. So, I was directed to sit the radio circuit, while the doctor was over my shoulder, giving me instructions that we, I sent on to the other ship and, and it all went well. He came out of the surgery fine.




I:          So, what do you think about this, this big ship with the admiral in it, and you have only one mission, rescuing a pilot or whatever?


B:        Oh, no, tha-, well, we had only one instance that we had to go, our ship–


I:          Right.


B:        –to assist. We did have another occasion where we were relieved by our sister ship, the Salisbury Sound, and the admiral was transferred to–




–it’s duty station and we were supposed to be heading back the States, and a typhoon was coming down on us, and we were directed now by the new command to go and assist this Japanese ship, which was dead in the water, it needed assistance. So, we had to go right in the teeth of a typhoon to assist. Well, we were a half day in their direction, and they got underway under–




–their own power. So, they said, get out of there. So, we [laughs] we, in fact, got [laughs] outta there.


I:          How was food and sleeping quarters and?


B:        Food onboard the, the ship was, was, was very good, very good.


I:          How much were you paid?


B:        How much was the pay?


I:          Yeah.


B:        Um, very little [laughs], very little. I, I–


I:          I want to compare with some of the salaries of the, I mean the pay for the people who were in Korea.




B:        Oh, oh.


I:          How much, do you remember?


B:        I really don’t remember all that well, but–


I:          About.


B:        –probably oh, maybe 40-some dollars a month, I would guess.


I:          And–


B:        But, we rel-, we didn’t need that money. I-


I:          Exactly, right?


B:        [laughs]


I:          They feed you, they give you–


B:        Yes.


I:          –clothes to put on and everything.


B:        That’s right.


I:          Ahh.


B:        That’s right. Yes.


I:          And you had, a–




–hot shower and hot meal all the time.


B:        Yes, sir. We did, we did. That’s what we had over at, the, the people who were af-actually in Korea, if you will.


I:          Yeah.


B:        We assisted in their operations, don’t get me wrong.


I:          So, tell me about those. How you involved in the Korean War? How you were, what kind of mission that you carried for [unintelligible]


B:        Well, the mission that I had, obviously, our planes did the recons and they set all that information back and we–




–were receeding it, receiving that and passing it on to the admiral and all of communications that we had was to d-direct operations that occurred in Korea.


I:          So, you got the, all the information from Korean Pennisula, and distribute it to?


B:        That’s right.


I:          Huh.


B:        Yes.


I:          Were you close to Korean seas?


B:        Was I called to–


I:          Your ship. And you. Were you close to the seas–




–around the around the Korean Pennisula?


B:        We were use–


I:          During the war?


B:        –in, in the Sea of Japan and–


I:          East seas?


B:        Yeah, Sasebo, you know is on the, the west coast of Japan–


I:          Mmm hmm.


B:        –and that’s probably as close as I got to Korea.


I:          Mmm hmm.


B:        But, it, it, our duty stations, again, were in Buckner Bay, Okinawa, and Pascador Islands, and, and–




–and the Philippines.


I:          Mmm hmm.  What did you hear about the Korean war, when you were in the ship?


B:        Our communications–


I:          Did you hear anything about?


B:        Being the supervisor of the radio shack, I saw a lot of the message that came over–


I:          Tell me about that.


B:        –’cause–


I:          What kind of messages did you see?


B:        Well, the messages were, were to the extent of what was happening, and, and, and the orders that they had for our admiral. He got his orders too, you know, to go into different locations, and–




–what have you.


I:          But do you remember any specific information or message from the Korea that you remember?


B:        Um, not really, because–


I:          Related to the Korean War?


B:        –that was all coded and that was sent to our crypto shack–


I:          Right.


B:        –which was right next to our radio shack, and from there, that information was passed on to the admiral and–


I:          Yeah.


B:        Yeah.


I:          So coded?


B:        Right. Um hmm. All coded.


I:          Anything that you particularly remember about–




–your service, which has some relationship with the Korean War? Anything that you remember, or you want to tell me?


B:        Well, I thought everything was concerned with the Korean War.


I:          So, tell me about it. [unintelligible]


B:        Well, I, I’m not sure just, our operations surely had some extent of assisting with our planes doing the recon and all of that data that they sent back to us–




–was put into effect and, and assisted the operations that occurred in Korea.


I:          Mmmm.


B:        The locations, and, and what have you.


I:          Mmmm.


B:        The weather reports came through all the time and that was passed on.


I:          That’s good information. See that, those are the things that I want to hear from you.


B:        I see.


I:          That weather information that you convey-, related to–


B:        Yes.


I:          –to other ships around the Korean Pennisula, right?


B:        That’s right. That’s right.


I:          So, that’s how you actually–




–being part of the Korean War–


B:        Um hmm.


I:          –and we need to know about that, because I am not the one who listen again, but childrens and the–


B:        Um hmm.


I:          –school, they will learn from you. So, tell them how your work and the work of your ship related to the Korean War. That’s important. Do you understand what I’m trying to ask you?


B:        Actually, being the supervisor of the radio shack, I had to make sure that all of the, the–




–operators were doing their jobs, you know, and they information that we received was very, very important, to the extent of the operations that occurred in Korea. And, we were consistently, oh, I’d say, every month, we would go to the different duty stations. I don’t know if that was for a reason. Well–




–we would to, to Formosa quite often, Keelung and Koahsiung and, and we were a, a very good human relations ship, if you will, because those operations that, that we went into Keelung, Koahsiung, and I gotta say that our–




–captain was a very athletic type person who started a lot of different things, in regard to basketball teams, if you will. [laughs] And I, believe it or not, I played on basketball team and I, we trans-, we actually had a destroyer pull up along side of us in the Pescador Island, take us to Formosa, and we landed in–




–Keelung. And we were taken by truck and whatever, to play basketball in TaiPei, Formosa and Madam Kung Shi Shek was in attendance at one of the game and we played one, and we were, we were told that we should, in fact, go ahead and play more games–


I:          [laughs]


B:        –because we were–




–doing a very good human relation–


I:          Yeah.


B:        –ship type work with playing those other teams.


I:          That’s good diplomacy.


B:        Um hmm. Um hmm. And, in those books that I brought here, I’ve got a lot of pictures of the different things that we did–


I:          Mmm hmm.


B:        –and, unfortunately, most of my camera work was done with slides and, I never did have those, other than to show them at home–




–of what we did.


I:          Mmmm.  We’ll look at the picture later, okay?


B:        Okay.


I:          Yeah. Any other episode that you remember during your service:


B:        Well, I remember doing my job every day. It was around the clock. 24 hours a day. We, we did have rest and recreation, they usually took us to–



–Hong Kong. We actually, we were destined for Australia one time, but we were called back right away because there was some trouble with the Chinese. I’m trying to think of, Matsu, in that area there, and that, that occurred before the actual shooting occurred around Matsu.




I:          When were you discharged?


B:        I was discharged in October of 1955.


I:          Mmm hmm.


B:        That was, four days short of four years. [laughs]


I:          What is the, you think, that is the impact of your service, upon your civilian life?


B:        The impact of my service?  Well, I think, our operation and all the operations that we–




–had there, definitely had a, assisted in the outcome of, of the war. I’m proud of what I did. I met a bunch of great guys when I was in service. I did, in fact, go to a reunion. We had a reunion every year, in the United States, for our ship, for many years–




–until it was disbanded. But, we would travel all over the United States and the guys would come whether it be in California, Florida, you name it. So, we kept good communications with each other, and unfortunately, we’re all getting pretty old, and a good number of us have–


I:          Passed on?


B:        –passed on.


I:          Mmm.


B:        Um Hmm.  But I, I enjoyed–




–my service and it had a great impact on my, my life as I grew old. I got a good job at Honeywell and became a supervisor at Honeywell, in Freeport, Illinois. We had over 3,000 our company, and, so, I owe a lot to my, my service.


I:          As a Korean War Veteran, what do you think is the legacy of the–




–Korean War and your service?


B:        The legacy?  We love their people. We love the Korean people. We, we have, we’re in parades. Maybe Frank filled you in? We, we, we go to a lot of parades, and at one time, we traveled to Chicago, to have, we have a float, and we go to these parades every year. In fact, Monday–


I:          Yeah.


B:        –we’ll be having a parade–




–in Freeport, Illinois. And it’s a float, and it’s right on there, Korean War Vetarns, and, while in Chicago, I must say that we were overwhelmed by the, the, the, the people coming to us and thanking us for our service and, and I never had a chance to go to Korea myself. But, we respect all–




–of Korea and, and are worried about the situation as it is now.


I:          On behalf of Korean Nation, I want to thank you for your honorable service and your fight for Korean War and now, we took the freedom that you fought for and now we have (vibrant) economy in the world and strong democracy in Asia.


B:        All right. Thank you. I–


I:          And, that is your legacy and your–




–your service, actually resulted in their success story. That’s why we are doing this to, to–


B:        I see.


I:          –teach our younger generations.


B:        Yes.  We–


I:          Any other message you want to leave to this interview?


B:        Well, I, I just wanna say that, this is an experience that we’ll never forget. I think it’s great of you for doing this. And, well, Frank’s–




–an, testament to what we have. We, we meet once a month. I guess you know that. As a chapter, and we do a lot of good things for, for not only the Korea, but, we sell these daisies, so. They probably filled you in on that. And, we give a lot of donations to help our veterans continually.




And we’re quite proud of what we have done, and we built that Veterans Memorial Park out there, you saw that.


I:          Yeah.


B:        We, we’re–


I:          Yeah, I saw that.


B:        –proud of doing that. You probably saw the Korean War walls.


I:          I saw.


B:        All of our names are on there. We’ll never–


I:          You–


B:        –never forgotten.


I:          –your name’s there right now?


B:        My name is on that Korean War wall.


I:          Oh, okay.


B:        All of our, all of our veterans in Stevenson County, who served in Korea–



–are listed on that–


I:          Oh, okay–


B:        –we’ve–


I:          –so, not only for the pass away, but those who–


B:        Oh, no, no no. It’s, if, if, if some-, if somebody has boots on ground right now in Korea, they come back, their name, if they want–


I:          Yeah.

B:        –will go on that wall. Yes, sir.


I:          Right.  Thank you again.


B:        Oh–


I           It’s, it’s a great pleasure and honor to meet you and to be able to hear from you.


B:        Well, thank you very much.


I:          Thank you so much.


[End of Recorded Material]