Korean War Legacy Project

Out of the Shadows Inquiry: Supporting Question 3


Supporting Question 3:

How did Korean War veterans from underrepresented groups describe their service experiences related to discrimination?

The third supporting question, “How did Korean War veterans from underrepresented groups describe their service experiences related to discrimination?” helps students gain further understanding of the experiences of Korean War veterans. Where the second supporting question guides students to consider how veteran experiences contributed to their views of discrimination, supporting question three asks students to listen to the experiences of Roy Orville Hawthorne, Willard Maktima, and Beverly Lawrence Dunjill with a focus on the personal discrimination they experienced. The third performative task requires students to develop a complex thesis statement that is descriptive of the experiences of the Korean War veterans in focus.

On this page:
Source A: Roy Orville Hawthorne (Interview Transcript)
Source B: Willard Maktima (Interview Transcript)
Source C: Rudolph Valentine Archer (Interview Transcript)



Source A: Roy Orville Hawthorne (Interview Transcript)


I: So, how were you treated in the service? Were you treated as an equal? Did you feel any kind of barrier there, any kind of uh, discrimination?

R: I didn’t feel any discrimination. Someone asked um, I think it was uh, when they were filming, uh, Hollywood versus our history, History vs. Hollywood, something of that sort. And they had several code talkers there. And one of the questions was uh, what you asked. Was there any discrimination?  And uh, how did you feel when uh, people called you Chief? And so, I remember one of the fellows saying, he said well, at first uh, I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. But then he said, when I thought about it a little bit, I thought boy, that’s good. He said when I came in, I was just a brave.  But now I’m a Chief. We were misunderstood.  But uh, we misunderstood our counterparts also.

Um, the uh, the Anglo boys, the quiet boys, uh, had the idea that uh, you know, we were expert uh, bow men, and we could use a bow and arrow and hit the target, bulls eye every time. But the fact was that we had never used bows and arrows. We didn’t know anything about them. And so uh, one day

In Oceanside, California near Camp Pendleton, uh, we were out on leave for the evening.  And there was a carnival going on. We went to that carnival, uh, a group of us. They were Navajo boys, Navajo Marines and white Marines. And uh, so, uh, the guy there, the place where they had bow and arrows to shoot to get a prize. So, we were standing around looking, and nobody wanted to do that, uh.

And so, some of the white boys kept saying to us, uh, show ‘em how to do it, Chief.  And uh, then they kind of narrowed in on one particular fella, uh, who later became uh, the uh, the Chairman of the Navajo Tribal Council, uh, which is present today, uh. And uh, so they said to him Chief, pick it up and show ‘em how to do it.

And he, course, he didn’t know how to do it, uh. So, he picked it up, and that arrow went who knows where. And that’s, you know, we were misunderstood in that way, uh. And then on our side, you know, uh, white is right. Not everybody felt that way. But uh you know, you could, you didn’t like, cheat or steal or do any of those things, uh.

You lived a decent life. Well, uh, those ideas didn’t last very long. I mean, they would dissipate real quickly. And when we found out that our desires and wants and so forth and our failures, uh, were all the same. We were alike in so many ways. So uh,

I: That was a good, a good life learning experience.

R: Yes, it was. Now, uh, there probably was some discrimination. But uh, it would usually come from someone who uh, was a little dysfunctional themselves and uh, just came from uh, from a background that would enhance that. Just cause you put on a uniform doesn’t mean that you’re a good Marine or a good soldier.

You carry over some of the things out of your background uh. But in the uh, in the ghettos or the big city or whatever, uh, with all the hoodlumism going on, and that would carry, you’d find some people like that. And with uh, the Navajos, same thing you just did there.



Source B: Willard Maktima (Interview Transcript)


W: So, after that, you know, we were just about then Korea was getting hot. Korean War as getting hot. So, our squadron was split up. Not only that, but we were sending the Cold War with Russia in the Atlantic Ocean. So, they were anticipating the War to start in Korea.

So, they split our squadron up. So, half of them went to Korea, and our half went to the Atlantic Coast. So, we went down through the Panama Canal and went over to the Atlantic Ocean. And our port there, when we first got to the Atlantic Port, was in Norfolk, Virginia. That was our home port. It was a big old naval base there.

I: Right. Huge.

W: Yeah.

I: Uh, how was the trip by sea? Were you okay? Or did you get seasick?

W: Well, when I first got on the ship, I thought I was gonna get seasick. But I never did get seasick. I just, for some reason. But all the guys on the ship that came out of boot camp, they all got sick, you know. They were puking over the side. I never did get sick. I don’t know why.

I: I’m glad you were okay.

W: Yeah.

I: That can be miserable. I’ve been seasick. Um, when you got to Norfolk, then that was a completely different uh, part of the country and a different uh, bunch of people than in San Diego, right?

W: Oh yes, uh huh.

I: What did you think of that?

W: Well, south of uh, Norfolk, Virgini, the people there were very prejudiced against coloreds or, you know, any coloreds other than white.  That’s what I experienced.

I: So, you experienced some racial

W: Oh yes, uh huh.

I: Prejudice yourself?

W: Cause I’d go down south through, I had a friend that was stationed at Camp LeJeune in the Marine Corps there on the base.

I: Um hm.

W: In North Carolina, and we’d stop at the bus station when I got there from Norfolk to Camp LeJeune, we started making bus stops and I’d notice that these bus stops had separate, uh, bathrooms from whites and others. You know.

I: Um.

W: Which had coloreds or coloreds, Indians or.

I: Oh my gosh.

W: And even had drinking fountains, you could not drink where the white people.

I: And you had

W: You couldn’t go to the restraint with the white people. That was really prejudiced down there.

I: Yeah.  And you hadn’t experienced that ever because…

W: No. In the West, we didn’t experience that cause we’re a mixture there on the West Coast, you know.

I: What was your reaction? How did you feel about that?

W: I didn’t like it. But you know, I didn’t make the regulations for the state, for the states in the South. So, I remember one time when I went to Camp LeJeune with my friend, I got, just when I was getting on the bus, the bus driver said you don’t have to sit back there with them coloreds. And you know, on the bus there’s a white line where the coloreds sit on the back end of that white line, and the whites sit up front. I said well, I’m not white, so I’m gonna sit back there.



Source C: Beverly Lawrence Dunjill (Interview Transcript)


I: Tell me about your recent awards, the Congressional Gold Medal for the original Tuskegee Airmen.

B: That was a fantastic experience. Only it was 60 years too late. Uh, I was there with 300 other original Tuskegee Airmen.  And uh, the gold medal was presented to some of the original Tuskegee Airmen, those that had been shot down and had been a prisoner of war and various other reasons for being there, for example Charles McGee. He’s the guy that, a Tuskegee Airman, original Tuskegee Airman, actually flew combat in four wars. He flew in World War II, Korean War, Viet Nam War and Desert Storm. When he came out of the service, he retired as a full bred Colonel. When he came out of the service, he was the most decorated pilot in the history of the Air Force. He had more combat missions than anyone else in the history of the Air Force, 450 combat missions. He was one of the people that accepted the gold medal, Congressional Gold Medal from President Bush. There are others that had equally distinguished careers in the military. And uh, I can only agree with having those guys up there rather than somebody like myself.

I:  What moment stuck out to you the most during that ceremony in Washington?

B: When President Bush saluted the Tuskegee Airmen, that really affected me because the speech that he gave in my estimation was excellent.  And he saluted the Tuskegee Airmen, not just me but the guys that were older than me. They deserved it far more than I did. And he saluted them for the things that they did. Guys that were shot down. Guys that were prisoners of war. The guys that were killed. They deserved it. And they got it. It was something that was fantastic for the United States. To see it 60 years later. All of them. Where we were degraded. I have seen this country change from adject discrimination and segregation to a point where you can now go anywhere you want, attend any school, any hotel, travel anywhere in this country [INAUDIBLE]. In my lifetime, I’ve seen that change. I’m proud of it. Sometimes I get a little too emotional. I’ve seen this country change for the better. I had maybe just a bit to do with it, just a little bit.  But we started before Rosa Parks, before Dr. Martin Luther King. All of us were necessary. All of which built toward the desegregation of this country and building for you and me and our children, you can go anywhere you wish in this country. It’s fantastic. I’m proud of it.