Korea Vet Recalls War

R.I. Korean War vet, 91, recalls the difficult days of America's 'forgotten war'

The Korean Conflict is sometimes called the forgotten war. But at least one soldier who served three tours of duty with the Army in Korea can't forget it.

Tom J. Dailey of East Providence, now 91, lived a hard early life. He was an orphan who offered to wash dishes for food, a steeplejack who went to extreme heights (motivated by the compensation), and while in between jobs he sometimes lived in his car. One evening when he took a rest on a park bench in Florida after depleting his money, he was shackled for vagrancy and sentenced to 30 days on a chain gang.

When it released him, the prison gave him a bagged lunch and a one-way ticket back to Rhode Island. Arriving in Providence, he soon learned that the draft board had been looking for him for quite some time. He was ordered to report for military duty within 48 hours.

Settling into life in the Army meant a bed to sleep in, three square meals, regular income, and soon a girlfriend and a hot rod. Life was good for a short time, until he was told he was shipping out to Korea.

The voyage to the Asia-Pacific region was grueling. During the 22 days it took to reach Japan, the boat hit two typhoons. Seasickness and fear gripped his fellow soldiers, but Dailey, a streetwise kid from Pawtucket, was undaunted. Little did he know that what awaited him would trivialize his childhood trials in just a few short months.

As he said in an interview this month: &ldquoWe didn&rsquot know what was in store for us.&rdquo

Dailey was part of the 7th Infantry Division, brought in by Gen. Douglas MacArthur to reinforce the 12,000 members of the 1st Marine Division in Korea.

One bitterly cold night in November 1950, the Marines, along with the Army, moved inland to a mountainous area in North Korea. That's when &ldquo120,000 Chinese jumped us in a four-pronged attack,&rdquo Dailey recalls.

The skies lit up like the Fourth of July.

&ldquoOh, my God. It was 35 to 38 degrees below zero and snowing that night.

&ldquoWe fought them around the clock, without eating. Without sleeping. Without ammunition. Out of artillery. Out of mortar. Out of medics. The only thing we had was air support from the Navy.&rdquo

The American military had been caught off guard by the entrance of the People&rsquos Republic of China into the five-month-old war. Twelve thousand Marines and a few thousand Army soldiers, including Dailey, were surrounded.

&ldquoIn three days of fighting, we killed 32,000 Chinese,&rdquo he remembers. &ldquoIn 10 days of fighting our way out of this trap, we ran the count up to 45,000.&rdquo

And the fighting didn&rsquot seem to stop.

About 6,000 Americans ended up killed or missing during that two-week battle, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 9. The group&rsquos fight to withdraw to safety on a mountainous road in sub-arctic conditions is considered one of the most challenging campaigns in U.S. military history. Dailey was one of the lucky ones who lived to share his story.

His escape from the combat zone didn&rsquot mean the end to his role in the war, however.

&ldquoI saw a tank company headed north&hellip. And I was sick of being in the infantry, so I went over to see the captain and told him I was a gunnery instructor and a tank instructor on the Sherman tank. He said, &lsquoI could use a guy like you.&rsquo

&ldquoHe puts me in the tank company and promotes me on the spot to a sergeant, and put me as a driver in Tank 15. I get in the tank with the other guys and they say, &lsquoDidn&rsquot you just escape from the Chosin Reservoir?&rsquo

&ldquoI said, &lsquoYes, it took us 10 days to get out of there, and we damn well near froze to death.&rsquo&rdquo

Eventually, one of his crew broke the news to him: they were headed back to the Chosin Reservoir.

This time, however, Dailey&rsquos mission, as a tank commander, was to return and search for the wounded, and others left behind.

&ldquoSome were half froze to death. We were to pick them up and put them on the rear deck of our tank, where the heat came out of the engine, and put them under a canvas. I must have picked up 12 to 15 that I found."

Because of the treacherous terrain, returning with a full load in search of aid wasn&rsquot easy.

&ldquoWe were going down a road, a pass&hellip. and we were scraping against the mountain with the right side of the tank, and trucks were going the other way. One of the guys who was on the back of the tank with me, his leg fell off the side of the tank, and it got caught by a truck going north and ripped him right off my tank. But I couldn&rsquot stop. That has haunted me the rest of my life.

&ldquoThe first 125 days that I was in Korea, it was so bad, and we were so short of manpower, that we didn&rsquot even take our shoes off for 125 days. We never shaved or brushed our teeth for 125 days, and we wore the same clothes for 125 days before we ever went to a shower point. It was so bad and we were so short [of everything].&hellip&rdquo

Day-to-day life in Korea was cold and dark. The temperature inside his unheated tank was 10 degrees colder than the air. He slept with his crew on the ground under the tank each evening, to keep warm near the engine. And it was dark. &ldquoIn Korea, at 5 o&rsquoclock every night, if the moon wasn&rsquot out, you could not see the hand that was in front of you.&rdquo

Consequently, getting out of enemy territory by sunset was critical to survival. One night, he was five miles beyond the "main line of resistance" when his tank engine blew.

&ldquoWhat an explosion! I thought maybe a mortar hit me. So I got on the radio and called for help from a retriever, to hurry up and come get us.&rdquo

Unfortunately, the retriever backed up into a mine, rupturing the tank. Another retriever and another tank were quickly dispatched as each minute of nightfall in enemy territory clicked off, seeming like an eternity before his return to safety.

The long, cold, dark nights were punctuated by moments of warmth with his &ldquofamily&rdquo in the tank. &ldquoI had this kid &hellip he was nice. He had a guitar. He used to play every night and make us all homesick.&rdquo

Unfortunately, that kid didn&rsquot follow Sergeant Dailey&rsquos instructions and, once again, Dailey&rsquos world was shaken.

&ldquoI used to tell my men, never, never jump from the tank to the side of the ground. If the tank gets hit, I want you to either jump right or the left track, don&rsquot ever jump on virgin ground. You want to jump where there are tank tracks, okay?

&ldquoWell, my tank got taken out and what does he do? He didn&rsquot listen to what I had told him. He jumps off the side of my tank. It was about 12 feet up and he weighed about 150 pounds and he jumped off the right-hand side and, sure enough, he jumped on a tank mine&hellip.

&ldquoIf a tank mine will turn a tank completely upside down, you can imagine what it will do to a human being. There was nothing left of him. He was completely vaporized&hellip.

&ldquoWe marked the coordinates. Grave registration came to see if they could find his dog tags. But there was nothing to be found. He was completely vaporized.&rdquo

When all was totaled, &ldquoI lost four tanks by mines.&hellip The fifth tank wasn&rsquot by the enemy [it was mechanical failure].

&ldquoI did three hitches that&rsquos over 630 days. Out of 24 months, I [had] seen 18 months of combat.

&ldquoThirty-six thousand, six hundred guys walked into Korea and didn&rsquot walk out. They were either prisoners of war, froze to death or killed in action.

Many happy times followed Sergeant First Class Tom J. Dailey's tour of duty in Korea. On his return to Rhode Island, he met a beautiful blonde at a dance at Crescent Park. It took some convincing, but her family eventually agreed to let them marry.

Soon after, Tom became a father. During their marriage, Tom and his wife, Ellie, raised a boy and a girl and had 51 years of adventures together before her death in 2007.

Tossed in with those happy times were the memories of those cold, dark days at the Chosin Reservoir, and the men who served beside him on the battlefield, and in the bowels of those Sherman tanks 69 years ago.

On this Veterans Day, let us not forget them and the sacrifices they made.

Do you know a veteran with an interesting story? Do you offer a program or service focused on serving retired military? Email Mary K. Talbot at [email protected]

Veterans Day discounts (with Veteran ID card)

Numerous establishments are offering discounted or free services and products to veterans and active-duty military today, with proper ID. (Call ahead. Participation varies by location.)

Free meal from a limited menu at Applebee&rsquos, Chili&rsquos, TGI Friday&rsquos, Subway and Red Robin

10% off at Home Depot and Lowe&rsquos

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Free haircut at Great Clips

Free coffee at Starbucks and Cumberland Farms

25% off at Ocean State Job Lot (through Nov. 13)

Free membership at the YMCA of Pawtucket for November, for new and existing members. Visit membership desk for more information.


12:28 | It was called Hill 205. The small Ranger company was told to take and hold the hill. They did that as long as they could but Ralph Puckett and his men had to go through hell to do it. Waves of Chinese attackers had him calling in very close artillery strikes. He lay there, unable to move after three wounds, watching the Chinese bayonet wounded Rangers. Then two figures charged up the hill. For his actions in this battle, he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.

More From Ralph Puckett

Keywords : Ralph Puckett Korea Ranger Hill 205 Pusan Inchon 8th Army Yalu River Task Force Dolvin Douglas MacArthur Harry Truman Republic of Korea (ROK) Korean Augmentation To the United States Army (KATUSA) Barnard Barney Cummings artillery grenade Chinese whistle bugle mortar concentration flare bayonet Billy G. Walls David L. Pollack esprit de corps


Ralph Puckett | Other | Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade | 2:41

After twenty two years of service, Ralph Puckett retired and had a successful private life, but it was inevitable that he would reconnect with his beloved Rangers. His talent at building confidence is put to very good use at the Ranger school.

Ralph Puckett | Other | Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade | 3:10

What do men need in a leader? Ralph Puckett draws on his long experience to answer that and then relate it to today's challenges for the military. He notes that some mistakes are repeated and that perhaps, "What we learned is that we don't learn anything from our wars."


Ralph Puckett | Korea | Eighth Army Ranger Company | 4:19

He wanted to be a military aviator, but West Point had no aviation program. Impressed by the infantry leaders he encountered, Ralph Puckett decided there would be no truer test of himself than to become a combat infantry officer.

Ralph Puckett | Korea | Eighth Army Ranger Company | 5:13

He was at jump school when he heard about the North Koreans invading the South. Determined to get in the war, young 2nd Lieutenant Ralph Puckett was at a stopover in Japan when he was told to report for possible selection for a special Ranger unit. He found out that the officers were already selected but he made a pitch to get on the team as a rifleman if nothing else. Come back tomorrow, he was told.

Ralph Puckett | Korea | Eighth Army Ranger Company | 4:02

We were unprepared for war when we had to fight one in Korea. Ralph Puckett should know because his job was to take a small unit of new Rangers into the country for dangerous missions. They arrived at Pusan where the American forces had just barely avoided being pushed into the sea.

Ralph Puckett | Korea | Eighth Army Ranger Company | 5:43

Piano wire? Those Rangers want everything, groused the supply officer. When the volunteer company got into Korea, though, they only had the most basic cold weather gear. The first mission for company commander Ralph Puckett and his men was to rout North Korean stragglers and units left behind when they retreated Northward.

Ralph Puckett | Korea | Eighth Army Ranger Company | 4:37

Both feet were severely injured so Ralph Puckett had some serious hospital time coming up. Evacuated from Korea to Japan, then back to Fort Benning, he could, at least, see his family. Then came a knock on the door and two pretty girls walked in. If only they knew what he had just told his father.


Ralph Puckett | Vietnam | 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division | 4:16

He already had a pretty significant career, but Ralph Puckett went to Vietnam as a battalion commander and didn't waste any time getting into the field. His first matter of business was to assure his unit commanders that he had their backs.

Ralph Puckett | Vietnam | 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division | 6:14

Battalion commander Ralph Puckett recounts the story of a night long attack by Viet Cong and NVA Regulars on a position held by one of his companies. He was grateful they had a Forward Observer to coordinate artillery support and helicopters for resupply, things he lacked in Korea. For his leadership during this attack, Puckett was awarded a second Distinguished Service Cross.

Ralph Puckett | Vietnam | 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division | 5:07

It was better to put men in the field and leave them there. That was the philosophy of Battalion commander Ralph Puckett in Vietnam, where some commanders inserted and then quickly withdrew their troops. When the operation was over, the reward was beer and steak and ice cream. Being prepared was very important to him and he illustrates that principle with a story about some soldiers who were not.

Ralph Puckett | Vietnam | 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division | 3:29

It was nearly time to go home and Ralph Puckett was trying to rally his successor's spirits while showing him around the battalion's operations. Rely on your experienced men, that was his key point. His homecoming was bittersweet because his father was very ill but he was joyous to be reunited with his wife and children.

Ralph Puckett | Vietnam | 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division | 3:31

Ralph Puckett had two homecomings, from Korea and Vietnam. The first was all joyous, the second bittersweet. Despite the anti-war feelings so prevalent at the time, he experienced gratitude and respect in public.

Cold War

Ralph Puckett | Cold War | Multiple Units | 3:44

After suffering severe wounds in Korea, Ralph Puckett spent two years at the Ranger Department in various training assignments. Then he went to a command assignment in Puerto Rico, a "go to war" company. He was given the job of setting up a short orientation school, experience that would help him on his next assignment.

Ralph Puckett | Cold War | US Army Mission to Columbia | 6:17

It was an interesting assignment. Help the Columbian Army establish a Ranger training school and get it going. Ralph Puckett built up the program from nothing and he knew it was going to be very good, but he did have one problem, what to call the Columbian Rangers?

Ralph Puckett | Cold War | Multiple Units | 4:19

Ralph Puckett's favorite tour was the three years he spent in Germany with a Special Forces Group. He had his family there and the Ranger learned a lot from the assignment. It was early on for Vietnam, but he heard stories and began reading up on it. Back in the States in a Pentagon job, he asked to be put on the list to go.

List of 10: Famous Personalities Who were Korean War Vets

It was early morning of June 25, 1950 when North Korean soldiers, numbering to about 75,000 and in a coordinated attack, rushed through the 38th parallel to invade their southern neighbor. Basically considered as the Cold War’s first military action, the Korean War lasted for three years at the cost of 5 million lives – both soldiers and civilians.

Here are ten well-known persons, from actors to astronauts, who served during this said conflict.

1. Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong went down history as the first human being to walk on the moon but before he did so, he served in the US Navy during the Korean War. He had to since he was going through college with his tuition being paid for by the Holloway Plan, a US Navy scholarship.

It was on 1949 when Neil Armstrong started his flight training to become a navy pilot. Two years later, on September 3, 1951, Armstrong had to eject from his F9F Panther after an anti-aircraft gun struck it down during a low bombing raid. He was only 21 at that time it was only his fifth day after flying his first campaign in the Korean War.

F9F Panthers flying over Korea, c. 1951 116 was piloted by Neil Armstrong.

Eventually, Armstrong went on to serve almost a full year in the Korean War flying 78 missions and earning three air medals.

2. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin

Armstrong was not the only Korean War vet aboard the Apollo 11. Buzz Aldrin, like him, also served during the Korean War. In fact, he is also a decorated pilot.

Buzz, the second man to step on the moon, graduated from the US Military Academy in West Point third in his class in 1951. He, then, went on to enter the US Air Force and was assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing.

Just a day short of Christmas in 1951, Buzz was shipped off to Korea where he became a F-86 Sabre Jet pilot flying a total of 66 combat missions. Unlike Armstrong, Aldrin served in the Korean War until the ceasefire declaration in 1953.

he went on to become the recipient of a Distinguished Flying Cross medal for his service in the conflict which included downing two Soviet-made MiGs.

3. Sir Michael Caine

Sir Michael Caine, born Maurice Micklewhite Jr., saw extensive combat during the Korean War before he became an Oscar-winning actor.

Sir Caine was drafted into the British army May of 1951 and became a 1st Battalion Royal Fusiliers member. He arrived in Korea with his unit and was assigned on the front lines which were along the Samichon River. Here, he participated in heavy fighting as well as dangerous nighttime patrols that took him to No Man’s Land.

Not long after that, Sir Michael Caine contacted malaria that led to his being discharged from the army in 1953. Eventually, he returned to London and took his first step to being an actor by studying acting.

Ironically, the first major role he got was playing a British private in the 1956 war classic A Hill in Korea.

4. Ed McMahon

Comedian and considered one of the TV/Movie industry’s greatest “sidekicks”, Ed McMahon actually served in two conflicts — World War Two and the Korean War. But it was his service in the latter that he became the recipient of six air medals.

Ed was able to serve as a flight instructor in the US Marine Corps during WWII. However, he did not have the opportunity to fly on combat missions. He was already working as a TV host in Philly when he was recalled by the Marines for the Korean War.

He went back into service on February 1953 and flew unarmed Cessna O-1E Bird Dogs until the ceasefire later that year. In all, he flew 85 artillery-spotting assignments which he did over enemy lines. You may ask why he was able to undertake so many assignments in just a short span of time? It was because Ed flew as many as five missions a day during his Korean war service.

5. John Glenn

Ed Mcmahon is not the only well-known personality who was able to serve in two wars. John Glenn, who went down history as the first American to orbit Earth as well as a future US senator, also did.

The Second World War found John Glenn flying combat missions in the South Pacific as a Marine Corps fighter pilot. He was able to complete 59 assignments before the war ended.

Eventually, the future astronaut returned to the cockpit when the Korean War broke out and flew a total of 90 missions during his two tours of duty piloting F9F Panther and F-86 Sabre jets. It was during the last nine days of the said conflict that he downed three MiGs.

After his Korean War service, John Glenn graduated from a naval test pilot program and became “Mercury Seven” astronauts’ oldest member.

6. Ted Williams

Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams manage to snag a place within the Baseball Hall of Fame with his 521 home runs despite being absent for about five full seasons. His reason? Military service.

Ted Williams trained as a pilot and a gunner during the Second World War but did not see any combat. It was in 1952, after playing six games that year’s baseball season, that he was recalled by the military to serve in the Korean War.

In all, Ted Williams was able to fly 39 combat missions as a pilot in the Marine Corps. His assignments include a number where he was John Glenn’s wingman. There were at least three incidents where Ted William’s plane was hit by enemy gunfire but fortunately, he survived.

He was finally discharged following the July 1953 ceasefire and was the recipient of three air medals for his Korean War service.

7. Casey Kasem

Well-known American DJ and voice actor [he was the voice behind Shaggy Rogers of the Scooby-Doo franchise for 40 years] Casey Kasem was also a Korean War vet.

Kasem was already tinkering with voice acting and radio hosting while studying in Wayne State University, Detroit when he got drafted into the US army. It was during the Korean War that he was able to hone his broadcast skills on air as he worked as a DJ-slash-announcer in the Armed Forces Radio Korea Network.

He also produced as well as performed in several radio drama broadcasts for the soldiers.

8. James Garner

James Garner, known for his roles in Maverick, The Rockford Files and playing the older version of Ryan Gosling’s character in The Notebook, was a decorated Korean War vet receiving Two Purple Hearts for the injuries he sustained during the said conflict.

Garner, born James Bumgarner, was a US Army private during the Korean War. He was with the 5th Regimental Combat Team, a unit which sustained heavy casualties during the war. Garner himself was injured several times throughout his service. As a matter of fact, he sustained several minor wounds on his hands and face while he was only on his second day in Korea after being hit with shrapnel from a mortar round.

After the war, Garner pursued acting and starred in a number of war-themed movies including the celebrated The Great Escape.

9. Charles Rangel

The second longest current serving member of the House of Representatives is not only a Korean war vet but he also displayed an extraordinary act of bravery while in service that merited a Bronze Star with Valor device and a Purple Heart.

Rangel was a high school dropout when he joined the US Army in 1948. During the Korean War, he was a member of the all-black 503rd Field Artillery Battalion.

It was in November 1950 during the bloody Battle of Kunu-ri when Rangel led about 40 of his comrades to safety behind enemy lines after being encircled by the Chinese Army. He did this in spite of the shrapnel wounds he sustained.

10. Johnny Cash

Before becoming a country music royalty, Johnny Cash joined the US Air Force first weeks after Korean War broke out. After showing deftness with radio communications, the future country singer was shipped off to Landsberg, Germany where he worked as a high-speed Morse Code intercept operator. It was his responsibility to oversee Soviet Army transmissions, the USSR playing a covert role during the conflict.

Cash even went on to say in his autobiography that he was the first American to intercept transmissions reporting about Stalin’s death in 1953.

It was in Landsberg during his downtime that he wrote his songs. He even bought a guitar to practice them along with a ragtag band of airmen dubbed The Landsberg Barbarians.

Korea Vet Recalls War - HISTORY

Yin Jixian answers young people's questions related to war and history online. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Although the Chinese public generally take a harsher attitude toward North Korea for its sporadic nuclear tests, some veterans who fought in the Korean War think differently.

"If the US wages a war against North Korea, we should send the army to help the country resist US aggression like we did before," said Yin Jixian, who fought in the Korean War (1950-53), or the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea.

Yin, 85, was on the Korean battlefield for six years, fighting against the US army as an artillerist. These days, as the tension between the US and North Korea intensifies, he said he is "particularly sensitive to this situation."

Unlike most elderly people of his age, Yin has good computer skills, which enables him to search for the latest information online. He also has more than 120,000 followers on Zhihu, China's equivalent of Quora, where he tells young people about "correct military history."

He told the Global Times that the reason he thinks China should help North Korea if the US invades isn't just because of the need to "safeguard national sovereignty and interests, which was the major drive for China's involvement in the 1950s."

"Now, the reason for us to help North Korea is for world peace," he told the Global Times. "The US is actually the chief culprit. Because the US wants to sell weapons around the globe, it always likes to set off conflicts and war. It has pushed North Korea too hard. If the US were to start a war again and we could beat them, we would be bringing peace to the people of the world."

However, under the current situation, Yin suggests that dialogue is still the best way to solve the existing problems. "If it's possible, the parties concerned should change the Korean Armistice Agreement to a peaceful agreement for everlasting peace."

Yin's war medals Photo: Li Hao/GT

Yin was born into a farmer's family in Shandong Province. He said the main memories of his childhood are of repression from landlords and imperialism. He joined the army when he was 15, telling them he was 18 so he would be able to sign up. He participated in the war to cross the Yangtze River and Huaihai Campaign (1948-49) before being sent to North Korea in 1950.

"We were then preparing to recover Taiwan. But suddenly we were told that we were going to North Korea," he said.

Yin's unit first arrived in North Korea by train. When the train passed Yalu River, he still remembered vividly that "in Sinuiju, the lights were brightly lit at night and there were many tall buildings, which was in contrast to the darkness on the Chinese side." Shortly after they arrived in North Korea, he heard intense gunfire and bombings and had to temporarily retreat to China.

Later, they found out that the US had launched an air strike.

"The city was razed to the ground in one day. If this had happened on Chinese land, how many people would have died?" he said. At that moment, he gained a deeper understanding of his mission.

The battle was a cruel one. Compared with the well-equipped US troops, most of the Chinese volunteer army only had weapons they had taken from enemies in previous wars, according to Yin.

"The Soviet Union also provided some equipment. But as many soldiers' literary abilities were low, we didn't know how to use them," he said.

Yin revealed that they mostly fought at night in North Korea. During the day, air strikes from the US were too strong, but at night, it was difficult for the US army to identify targets.

The Chinese army adopted "close quarter fighting" tactics. "I didn't feel afraid. There was no time to be afraid. You had to be very focused," he said.

In the numerous battles he fought, Yin had never worn clothes that didn't have bullet holes in them. He was once shot in the leg, but managed to recover without any long-term effects.

To this day, he said he can't smell perfume, as it makes him think of the dead. In North Korea, Yin and his comrades had to use perfume to cover the foul smell of the corpses they retrieved.

"The war was too cruel. I understood why the North Koreans hated the US so much," he said.

An old photo of Yin in army uniform Photo: Li Hao/GT

After returning to China, Yin was drawn into the Great Leap Forward (1958-60) movement. As he had been opposed to the Great Leap Forward, he was labelled a "rightist" and sent to the Beijing post office to do the most menial jobs.

He and his wife had five children during those harsh years. After retiring, Yin still had to work as a welder to ease his family's financial burden.

His situation improved after the government began to pay more attention to retired soldiers like him in recent years. Now, he is entitled to get more than 6,000 yuan ($900) in extra allowance every month.

Satisfied with his current situation, Yin's main mission now is to "educate the youth on the correct conception of history and values online."

After first surfing the Internet in 2009, he wrote articles and answered netizens' questions about war and history on Zhihu.

He told young people about the battles he experienced and pointed out how ridiculous the plots are in many of today's shoddy war serials.

He sticks staunchly to his Communist ideals and takes his sacred duties as a member of the Communist Party of China seriously.

"What I suffered wasn't a big deal. Looking at the big picture, what the Party and the leaders did was for the overall benefit of the Chinese people and China's development," he stressed.

On Internet forums, many young people doubted his motives and his true identity, prompting him to post his military certificates.

He said he liked to debate with them as this could help more people know about the historical truth. "I have more supporters," he said. But he is still angry when some people attack Chairman Mao and the Party.

Yin admits that he still has many concerns. After talking with many young people, he feels that the values he believes in and fought for are fading away in contemporary society, where the youth never experienced the hardship and suppression he did.

"We don't have sufficient history education at school," he said. "Now, my needs are all satisfied. But young people still need me. So I will do my best to tell them more."
Newspaper headline: A soldier remembers

Local veterans recall the Korean War and safeguarding the peace

Though never officially declared a war, the Korean War was a brutal conflict that raged from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953 between North and South Korea and pitted U.S. soldiers against massive onslaughts of Chinese communist troops.

When the United Nations, China and North Korea signed a cease-fire armistice ending the Korean War 67 years ago, U.S. casualties amounted to 33,629 killed, 103,284 wounded and 7,140 taken prisoner. More than one million civilians perished.

American soldiers were dubbed “the walking wounded” because they were patched up in the field and sent back into battle—a savage existence where ever-changing front lines, merciless artillery barrages, amputations from frostbite and death from dysentery were commonplace.

John R. Krull of Three Rivers was thrust into such conditions on October 22, 1951 as a private first class rifleman assigned to 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. “I was 21 years old and only had six weeks of basic training,” he recalls. “I was woefully unprepared for combat.”

Krull and his fellow soldiers in George Company were eventually sent to reinforce American troops along the Jamestown line, a series of defensive positions designed to prevent another invasion of South Korea by China, which had entered the war to support North Korea.

George Company and Fox Company took turns guarding a heavily fortified outpost, Hill 255, overlooking the Yokkok River near Sokkogae, South Korea, about 1,500 yards in front of the main line of U.S. resistance to enemy troops.

Fighting broke out when Chinese troops shelled Krull’s company to keep his unit pinned down while they attacked Fox Company’s 3rd Platoon under the command of Lt. James L. Stone defending Hill 255. “It was harrowing,” Krull recalls.

After the battle, Thanksgiving day, Krull’s unit was sent to relieve 3rd Platoon. “What we saw then was almost beyond belief. Something I can never forget. People everywhere, most of them already dead.”

The Chinese had launched a full-scale assault to overrun the outpost. Stone and his men held off waves of grenade-throwing attackers, about 800 troops, throughout the night and into the morning hours when the fighting turned to hand-to-hand combat.

Wounded several times, Stone and his few remaining men managed to keep firing, even using flame throwers, on advancing Chinese troops until he passed out from loss of blood. Stone and five other men were taken prisoner.

“As I surveyed the carnage, I kept saying to myself, this could have been me,” Krull recalls. “You might say I grew up very fast. I was more alert and prepared.”

The battle on Hill 255 left an impression on Krull. “Every Thanksgiving Day I remember that terrible scene, and the bravery of Lt. Stone and the 3rd platoon.”

As a historical note, Hill 255 was dubbed Pork Chop Hill because of its shape on topographical maps. It gained infamy as the site of ferocious battles in the spring and summer of 1953. In just two days of fighting shortly before a truce was called, the number of U.S. artillery rounds fired per hour set an all-time record surpassing the largest barrages of World War I and II. Following his release from captivity, Lt. Stone received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Hill 255.

After the armistice was signed, a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was formed to serve as a buffer between North and South Korea. Since then, America has stationed around 30,000 troops in South Korea to help maintain a tenuous truce.

The 2.5-mile wide DMZ, which stretches some 160 miles across the Korean Peninsula, is heavily guarded and considered one of the world’s most dangerous places. Sporadic outbreaks of fighting have occurred there throughout the years.

Terry Dugan was stationed with the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division not far from the DMZ during the early 1970s.

It was a particularly tense time between the United States and North Korea. In 1968, North Korean patrol boats opened fire on the USS Pueblo, a Navy intelligence vessel, during the ship’s routine surveillance of the North Korean coast wounding several aboard. Taken prisoners of war, members of the 83-man crew were tortured into signing confessions. A year later, a North Korean MiG fighter shot down a U.S. Navy intelligence aircraft, killing all 31 men aboard.

Because the Vietnam War was still raging, Dugan felt by enlisting in the Army rather than waiting to be drafted he might have more options.

After basic and advanced training, he attended Artillery Officer Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and arrived in Korea a newly minted second lieutenant.

Eventually Dugan was placed in C Battery, 6th Battalion, 37th Artillery. “Our battalion was spread out in three companies in a very rural and mountainous area about halfway between Seoul and the DMZ. We were in one of the invasion corridors used during the start of the Korean War.”

Dugan initially served as an artillery forward observer during field exercises—requiring him to clamber up hills to establish camouflaged outposts—then led the fire direction center, which translates information from forward observers into data provided to the artillery crews for firing.

He received training on the assembly, maintenance and delivery mechanisms for 155 mm nuclear rounds. “This was a big secret—that we had nuclear rounds in country,” he recalls. “Should something start, we would either transport, assemble and deliver rounds to Korean gun units for their firing, or get the rounds out of country.”

Dugan’s responsibilities included ensuring his unit passed intense, multiple inspections concluding with a team from the states. “If we failed that, the battalion itself would be placed on inactive.”

His unit would typically go on alert about once a month due to suspected incursions by North Koreans through tunnels or other means. “We would arm up and everyone would have live rounds for rifles or in my case a 45 pistol.”

Dugan left the service a first lieutenant. He then continued graduate school at the University of Michigan where he received his Ph.D. in biology, taught at Kalamazoo College and later worked for Bristol-Myers Squibb. He resides on Birch Lake in Vandalia.

Perhaps John Krull best summarizes the feelings of many veterans who served in Korea. “I proudly served—and am thankful I got out alive.”

Army Veterans Recall Layoffs from Previous Eras

In 1973, Dennis Dillard was a fast-track captain in the U.S. Army. Having already served two tours of duty in Vietnam, he was hand-picked to be the executive officer of a military police battalion in Germany.

Dillard arrived to the country in April, activated the battalion in June and welcomed his family in July, with household goods and the car en route. He never thought he would be a victim of the service's so-called reduction in force, known as RIF, that year.

"Approximately two weeks before the RIF, I reviewed my records with an MP branch colonel who was traveling with a Department of the Army Personnel Team," he wrote. "I remember his words, 'Capt. Dillard, you are golden.' He then laid out my probable next three tours, promotion to major and attendance at Command and General Staff College. About two weeks later, I was informed that I would be released from the Army in 90 days."

For many military veterans, the latest downsizing of the U.S. Army officer corps brought back memories of similar experiences they faced decades ago.

This summer, published a story about how the service planned to separate some 2,500 officers and noncommissioned officers involuntarily as part of an ongoing drawdown of the force due in part to federal budget cuts. Many of the soldiers had already relocated to another part of the country under a permanent change of station, or PCS, or even deployed to a combat zone.

The article generated more than 1,000 comments and dozens of e-mails from veterans of previous generations or their family members who wanted to share personal stories about what it was like when their military lives were suddenly over. The responses that follow have been edited for space and clarity.

Mike Dunham said that the article reminded him of what happened to his father in March 1972.

"My father was a major and did two tours of combat in Vietnam (Military Assistance Command, Vietnam and the 5th Infantry Division) and was given his papers," Dunham wrote. "He called it being 'riffed.' He went into the National Guard then back to active duty thanks to the venerable President Reagan. My father got his pension."

Even so, life wasn't easy after his father left the service, he added.

"I lived with grandma and grandpa for a short time afterward. I can never forget sitting with grandpa and watching Archie Bunker – a 9-year-old watching Archie Bunker!" Dunham wrote, referring to the title character of the CBS television sitcom, "All in the Family."

He added, "My own personal feeling is, dad got the shaft and deserved better."

John Smith said that the same thing happened in the late 1950s and early 1960s between the wars in Korea and Vietnam.

"We all sweated it out back then," Smith wrote. "Additionally, we only had three-year 'contracts.'"

Indeed historically, the U.S. military has shrunk in size following periods of conflict. The Army, for example, was roughly halved from almost 1.6 million soldiers in 1968 at the peak of the Vietnam War to about 800,000 soldiers in 1973 the service again contracted from about 780,000 soldiers at the height of the Cold War in the 1980s to less than 480,000 soldiers in 1999, according to Census Bureau figures.

After rising to 570,000 soldiers in 2008 during the war in Iraq, the Army has less than 520,000 soldiers today and is on pace to shrink to 490,000 soldiers by next year. It's bracing for even further reductions driven by automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

The Pentagon's proposed budget for 2015 calls for the service's end-strength to decrease to 440,000-450,000 soldiers by 2017. If sequestration remains in effect, the number may fall to as low as 420,000 soldiers -- tens of thousands less than the figure the Army's top officer, Gen. Raymond Odierno, said is needed to respond adequately to conflicts around the world.

Some active-duty soldiers questioned whether the Army was targeting prior-enlisted members or other demographics. Leaked documents show black officers were separated at a higher rate than white officers. Other soldiers were simply confused why the service didn't go after less qualified members.

"I find myself scratching my head," one sergeant wrote. "Why on Earth are not only good officers, but good soldiers and NCOs, being cut before trimming the proverbial fat … those failing drug tests and hiding in the warrior transition units all across DoD? We know for fact there are many, possibly thousands, skating on the system and simply collecting paychecks with no contribution."

Some readers offered advice to the current crop of captains and majors who were identified for separation, including the O-3 who was profiled at the beginning of the original story.

The captain, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the incident, had more than a dozen years in the service, including tours of duty in Afghanistan and other combat zones. The former NCO had just received orders to move to a new duty station. So he and his wife, newly pregnant with their first child, signed a lease and put a deposit on a home at the next location. A few days later, he was called into his post's commanding general's office and informed that, effective almost immediately, he would no longer be in the military.

A reader named Jim Farrell went so far as to offer to put the man in touch with some of his professional contacts.

"Regarding the officer in your recent story, where is he located?" Farrell wrote. "If he's in Texas or North Carolina and has the right skill set, I can make some job introductions. I'm sure he is getting all the help he needs. But if not, please let me know how I can help."

As for Dillard, the Vietnam-era captain, he said he wasn't alone in being dismissed. Also let go were four of five company commanders, including the intelligence officer, training and operations officer, and the supply officer. Only two battalion officers remained, both of whom were first lieutenants.

"Seems like the military continues to shoot itself in the foot," he wrote of the most recent dismissals.

Dillard and his wife and their two young children eventually returned to the U.S. and settled in Atlanta.

"Long story short, I found a reserve unit, completed C&GS by correspondence, served a couple of Active, Guard and Reserve tours, and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1993 with 12 years of active service and 14 years of reserve," he wrote. "Pass on to the young captain that all is not lost. He just needs to find out what is out there and use it to his advantage."


A comprehensive, easy-to-complete self-interview called Service Reflections is available on which enables you to create a permanent record of key people and events from your military service. Your Reflections may be shared with other family members by way of a web address personal to you.

Editor’s note: The following Service Reflections is one of many recorded on, a secure online community with a membership of over 2 million active-duty and veteran members. This story may contain language which may not be suitable for young children.

Sgt Robert Deeds
Status: U.S. Marine Corps Retired
Service Years: 1948-1952


There were several life-changing events going on in my world when I decided to join the Marine Corps.

I was born into a large family of nine children in 1930 and raised in Isle, Nebraska, during the Great Depression. Like most large, blue-collar families of the period, we struggled to stay afloat. My father worked hard as a cement contractor and brick and block layer. It the warm weather he worked a lot. In the winter months not so much. My mother worked from sunup to sunset every day cleaning, cooking, washing and sewing clothes for me, my father and my four sisters and four brothers. Twice a week she baked bread, cinnamon rolls and on special occasions, pies and cakes. One of my fondest memories is her giving us hot bread right out of the oven covered with melting butter. She also made sure all us kids went to church every Sunday.

When I was seven or eight, the world was in crisis from both economic pressure and ethnic conflict. Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, stormed into eastern Europe, seizing Czechoslovakia, Poland, Finland, Norway, France and other nations. He ordered his SS Gestapo to round up Jews and put them in death camps. The Italian fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, raided and occupied Ethiopia. He banned Italian Jews from professional occupations. Japan's leader, Gen. Hideki Tojo, occupied much of China and took possession of British and Dutch colonies in the Pacific. In one exceptionally heinous crime in 1937, Japanese military forces marched into Nanjing and systematically raped, tortured, and murdered more than 300,000 Chinese civilians.

I remember how outraged the older folks were over the wanton slaughters, imprisonments and human degradation being carried out by Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo. But I also remember most of them saying it wasn't our problem and we should stay out of it. But that attitude changed overnight on Dec.7, 1941, when the Japanese, without warning, bombed Pearl Harbor, killing 2,402 Americans. The next day the United States declared war on Japan. Three days later, Nazi Germany declared war on the United States. In a matter of a few days, our nation turned from isolationists to one frantically building for war.

Caught up in the wave of patriotism sweeping the country, two of my older brothers, Marion and Lloyd, signed up in the Army. Marion never left the states, but Lloyd fought in most of the battles in Europe as a member of Lt. Gen. George Patton's Third Army. He was also a prisoner of war twice. The first time was when our forces crossed the Rhine River into Germany. He and others were captured but within a few day were liberated. He was captured a second time and remained a prisoner until the war ended in 1945. Lloyd was awarded the Bronze Star.

I quite school in the 8th grade and worked full-time with my dad pouring cement foundations and laying blocks. Increasingly, I began to distance myself from my dad who was a harsh, quick-fisted, short-tempered man. At 16, I left home for good.

I traveled from state to state in search of available work. Sometimes I would hitchhike, other times I would jump freight trains. I rather enjoyed travelling around seeing different parts of the United States and once I had a little money ahead, I'd moved on to the next place. But competition was fierce. Wherever I'd go, there'd be other boys like me, men of all ages and a lot of World War II veterans, all looking for work. Hearing the veterans talking about their experiences, I felt a surge of patriotism and excitement. As soon as I turned 18, I quit my job carrying shingles for two roofers in Ft. Smith, Ark. and enlisted in the Marine Corps.


I signed up for the Marine Corps on July 29, 1948 and within a week, I was raising my right hand at the induction center and two days later, put on a train with a bunch of other recruits and sent to Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

While I watched other recruits struggle with the physical challenges of boot camp, I did not. I was in good physical shape from my two years of hitchhiking around the country searching for odd jobs and was used to walking long distances when I couldn't get rides. The work I found was back-breaking, but it also laced my thin frame with strong, flexible muscle. So if any of my drill instructors (DIs) told me to drop for 25 push-ups, no problem.

But what I wasn't ready for was the strict discipline and the harsh penalties for slowness or inability to accomplish tasks like marching and rifle drills. I also had trouble with our DIs yelling at us like we were the lowest living thing on the earth. Worse was my having to do what was told of me without question. If any of us were slow in getting the point, our senior DI, Staff Sgt. Chatham, would not hesitate to 'clobber' us until we totally understood what point he was making. Toward the end of boot camp, however, I saw how he and the other DIs had shaped raw, fumbling civilians into tough Marines. As I stood proudly on graduation day, I silently thanked them for helping me get there.

When I got out of boot camp, my entire recruit platoon (Platoon 72), along with other Marines already at Camp Pendleton. CA, were assigned to the newly reactivated 1st Provisional Marine Brigade. Within days, we were loaded onto the troop ship USS General W.F. Hase and taken to Camp Witek, Guam. The trip to Guam seemed like it would never end but finally, after 31 days and 30 nights of sailing rough seas, we set anchor and stepped onto the island that would be our new home.

We were taught infantry tactics at first and then continuously ran field training exercise to refine those skills. We were also taught survivor skills by Master Sgt. Potter, a World War II Bataan Death March survivor. He was a tough old guy who earned our respect for what he knew and what he taught us. Our company commander was Capt. Robert Bohn, who retired a Maj. Gen. in Sept. 1974.

Sixteen months after arriving on Guam, Typhoon Allen ripped through Camp Witek, destroying everything standing. The entire brigade was shipped back to Camp Pendleton where we continued training.

A couple of months later, on June 25, 1950, North Korea attacked South Korea, crushing its army and within a couple of days captured Seoul and was moving rapidly down the Korean Peninsula. Among the casualties were some of the 481 American military advisors. To stop the onslaught, the United Nations rushed in military forces from 16 member nations. Our unit, the 1st Marine Provisional Brigade, left Camp Pendleton in mid-July, boarded ships in Long Beach and San Diego and landed at Pusan, South Korea, on Aug. 3, 1950. For the next seven months I found myself in combat nearly every day.

When I left Korea, I was sent back to Arkansas to finish off my enlistment at the Shumaker Naval Ammunition Station near Camden. But that's when the Marine Corps pulled a fast one on me. They involuntarily extended my enlisted for one year and sent me to Parris Island, the land of sand fleas and reptile-filled swamps. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a highly rewarding and character-building assignment.

I was made a junior DI. I couldn't help but remember how I had cursed my DIs when I was in boot camp and here I was, doing the same things all other DIs had done for decades, meaning I was tough on the recruits. But I was also fairer than most DIs.

When the senior DI was transferred, I took his place by default and graduated Platoon 431 by myself. Next I was given an even greater challenge. I had to turn a "slow platoon" of less than sterling recruits into Marines. With the skills I had learned from my DIs and what I had learned the short time I had been a DI, I managed to graduate most of Platoon 26. I was very proud of my accomplishment.

My superiors commended me for such outstanding work and asked me to reenlist. I thought about it, talked with others about it and thought some more about it. I could not make up my mind but finally came to a decision. It was time to move on to new adventures. In August 1952, I passed through the front gate of Parris Island for the last time and headed back to Arkansas a civilian.


I saw a lot of combat in the Korean War. Some were small firefights, others were among the most important battles of the entire war. While all the battles were highly significant, the one that stands out above the rest was the bloody 17-day battle in subzero weather at the Chosin Reservoir where we were outnumbered by the Chinese 8-to-1. It has been called by many historians one of the fiercest battles in Marine Corps history.

But our journey to the Chosin Reservoir there were other significant and historic battles. The first was the desperate battle at the Pusan Perimeter at a time when the war was going badly for our side. The second was the daring amphibious landing at Inchon followed by the bloody Second Battle for Seoul.

As we entered the Port of Pusan, every Marine sailing on the USS Pickway was standing on the deck watching a chaotic scene of ships from various United Nation (UN) countries hastily offloading troops, equipment, ammunition, food and other supplies. In the distance we could hear continuous explosions. Once our ship docked, we quickly moved ashore. Within an hour, we were rushed into the westernmost flank of the perimeter to fight off the North Korean Army mounting a major drive to overrun that side of the perimeter.

Within a day, our brigade became part of Task Force Kean, a combined Army and Marine force ordered by Army Lt. Gen. Walker, the 8th Army commander in Korea.

For three days of heavy fighting, the battle lines moved back and forth until our task force, supported by Corsairs from the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, clobbered the North Korean Army, forcing them to retreat north. A few days later, they began attacking again in greater numbers and again, pushed back our lines toward the Port of Pusan.

Several large and bitter battles were waged along the Naktong River were both sides suffered heavy casualties. I remember sitting on a hill overlooking the river as Marine Corsairs pounded enemy soldiers crossing the river. Hundreds were killed and wounded. The next day, I watched Corsairs wiping out a large column of North Korean motorcycles. By nightfall on August 18, although many of the North Korean units had been annihilated, those remaining fought with fierce determination. Eventually many were killed, wounded or captured. The enemy units that did survive retreated north toward Seoul.

When the Battle of the Pusan Perimeter ended in early September, the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade had suffered 500 casualties and was preparing to evacuate to Japan. In one month we had seen enough death and destruction to last a lifetime. But that's not what happened. Along with Marine reinforcements from Camp Pendleton, our brigade re-formed into the 1st Marine Division under the command of Maj. Gen. O.P. Smith. I was assigned to Gulf Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. Within a week we made the daring landing at Inchon on the western edge of South Korea just below the 38th Parallel.

On September 14, 1950, every Marine in our regiment was standing on the deck of the transport ship USS Diachenko watching destroyers and cruisers bombarding the North Korean defenses at Inchon and the island of Wolmi-do, where, the next day, my Marine regiment was to make an amphibious landing. We were to be the lead element. I was absolutely certain we were about to enter the meat grinder.

At 6:30 on September 15, my buddies and I climbed down the cargo nets into an awaiting LST (Landing Ship Tank) bobbing in the water. As we scrambled aboard, our planes were softening up the beach with bombs, rockets & 20mm machine gun fire. The USS Missouri was pounding the shore line with its 16-inch guns. As the preparation fire began to slack off, we began our journey inland, nervously waiting for enemy indirect fire to take us out at any minute. That didn't happen. When we did get ashore on the northern side of Wolmi-do, resistance was light. By noon, we captured the entire island at the cost of just 14 casualties.

The next day we joined other units in the battle for Inchon and by the afternoon, the city was in our hands. Because the North Koreans had not expected an invasion at Inchon, not many troops were defending it. It was a different story as we moved overland to Seoul. The North Koreans fought us every inch of the way.

Before we could actually enter the city of Seoul, we had to cross the wide Han River. North Koreans had placed major artillery positions on the other side and as our regiment crossed in nearly 100 "Ducks" (amphibious trucks), we were under constant bombardment. From our side of the river, we let loose with massive artillery barrages. The date was September 22, 1950.

With shells from both sides roaring over our heads, we moved across the river expecting any moment to be shot out of the water by enemy artillery and mortar fire. Some Ducks were hit and many Marines died. Somehow, none of our company's Ducks were hit. Our advance on Seoul was slow and bloody. The enemy was heavily fortified and our casualties mounted in desperate house-to-house fighting.

We had done some house-to-house fighting but not on such a large scale. The second day of the battle for Seoul, we were in the outskirts of the city when we ran into a well-fortified enemy company. Each time we advanced on their positions, we were cut down my heavy machine gun and mortar fire. Hidden snipers would pick off Marines with ease. When we finally received the artillery we'd called in 20-minutes before, the battled quickly shifted in our favor. When the artillery barrage was lifted, we carefully began mopping up. My squad was ordered to move through some bombed out houses along a narrow side street and root out any enemy still alive. Bobby Joe and I entered one house where two enemy were hiding, one badly wounded. We opened fire the same time they did. They missed, we didn't. But what I saw next as we continued moving down the road has haunted me all my life.

Laying in the doorway of one of the ruined houses was the dead body of a three or four year old Korean girl. I looked down at her motionless body and her dirty, lifeless face frozen in child's innocence. I broke down in tears. We passed up the house without searching it.

After securing Seoul, our Division moved back to Inchon where we boarded ships that took us around to the east side of the Korean Peninsula. We didn't realize it then but we were about to enter the fiercest, bloodiest battle of the Korean War.

It was a very cold day in late October when we came ashore at Wonsan, North Korea. The next day we began our climb toward the Taebaek Mountains and the Chosin Reservoir. We'd heard we were heading for the Yalu River separating China from North Korea and that Gen. Douglas McArthur may later have us push into China. That whole idea sounded crazy to me. Why, I thought, would we mount a major battle in the roughest terrain in North Korea in the beginning of winter?

On our march to the Chosin Reservoir we had a number of firefights with small bands of North Koreans and a few with Chinese troops. We were told the Chinese were only volunteers. What none of us know at the time, including McArthur and his staff, was that the Chinese had secretly crossed the border into North Korea with 400,000 regular army troops.

Something else we didn't know at the time was the man in charge of the whole operation had made many tactical and strategic blunders. Army Maj. Gen. Edward Almond, commander of our combined force of Army, Marine, South Korean and British Commando units had spread his troop too thin along a huge 400-mile front. This resulted in major units unable to support each other during combat.

After a week's march into the mountains, our division reached the Chosin Reservoir near Changjin Lake. A Y-shaped defense facing north was established around the reservoir. After a little shuffling around, eventually the U.S. Army was on the eastern flank while our regiment occupied the high ground on the western flank near Yudami-ni . To our south was the 7th Marine Regiment. Fourteen miles further to our south at the base of the Y-shaped defense was the 1st Marine Division headquarters at Hagaru-ri, defended by the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. Gen. Smith ordered a small airfield built so he could fly out casualties and bring in badly needed supplies. Predictably, Gen. Almond thought it was a waste of time and effort. It was another of his strategic blunders.

After several days in position awaiting further orders from Gen. Almond, a cold front from Siberia swept over the Chosin Reservoir, plunging the temperature to as low as −35 °F. I'd never been as cold in my life and thankfully, never have been again. Turns out it was the harshest winter in Korea in over a 100 years.

For several days the only enemy our patrols found were less than squad size. That changed on the night of November 27. Right after dark from across the Valley to our north came repeated calls of "Marines you die" in broken English. We knew that meant we were in for a world of hurt but we didn't know when it was coming. Sometime after midnight, it came. Dozens of bugles, horns and whistles shattered the quiet. We immediately fired illumination flares and couldn't believe our eyes: thousands of screaming Chinese were coming at us in wave after wave from the valley floor. We fired everything we had at them as they grew closer and when they began mixing in with us, we fought them in hand-to-hand combat using our bayonets, K-Bar knives, rifle butts, even fists. Some of our men died while in their sleeping bags. We eventually beat them off, forcing them to retreating back into the dark night.

At first light we got our first look at all the thousands of dead and wounded Chinese strewn around the battlefield. A great number of Marines also lay dead on the frozen ground. In this first attack of many to follow, the Chinese established a wedge between the 5th & 7th. Each Marine regiment was now surrounded, isolated by a Chinese force outnumbering us 8 to one.

Nearly every night the same thing happened, starting with "Marines you die," followed by hordes of Chinese blowing bugles, whistles and horns while attacking up our hill and into our positions where again, it was hand-to-hand combat before the enemy retreated. This constant battle took its toll. We were all hungry, tired, worn out and very, very cold. But in spite of feeling like zombies, we still managed to hold off the enemy assaults night-after-night. During one battle, my best friend, Bobby Joe Wilder, was badly wounded. Bill Heinz, another friend, was so badly frostbitten he had to have both legs amputated at the hip.

The Army's Regimental Combat Team-31 (RCT-31) on the east fell after a few days. Hundreds of soldier died or were wounded when their positions were overrun. Hundreds more went missing. The scattered survivors withdrew toward 1st Marine Division headquarter at Hagaru-ri. Along the way many more died in Chinese ambushes.

In the last week of November, all Marine units on the west flank were told to abandon its position and withdraw to Hagaru-ri to regroup with other Marine and Army elements in preparation for a total breakout from the deathtrap the Chinese had so skillfully set up.

We placed our dead and wounded in trucks, on fenders and hoods and carried them out with us. As best we could, we made sure no one was left behind. Sadly, many of our comrades went missing.

We fought a relentless enemy determined to wipe us out every inch of the 14 miles to Hagaru-ri. When we finally reached the 1st Marine Division headquarters in the early morning on December 4, we somehow managed to get into some semblance of a formation and limped in singing the Marine Hymn. Many of the badly wounded, many on deaths doorsteps, were flown out from our airfield, the one Gen. Almond had pitched such a fit over. While we were at Hagaru-ri, the Chinese attacked from all directions every night. And every night, they were driven back.

After a short rest, our breakout began on 6 December with the 7th Marines on point and our regiment covering the rear of the retreating column. At Koto-ri we married up with a battalion from the 1st Marine Regiment and continued our slow march down the narrow winding road through the mountains. It was hard to keep moving. We were overly exhausted and extremely cold and the road was in bad shape. At times it turned into nothing more than a dirt path with steep hills and drop offs on both sides. But the biggest problem was the Chinese. They were relentless in trying to destroy. From the peaks, North Koreans and Chinese in bunkers on both sides fired down on us. Enemy ground troops attacked us whenever the road would narrow, bringing the withdrawal to a slow crawl and creating chaos in our ranks. We were again fighting desperately for our lives but this time in the open with no place to go.

When we reached Funchilin Pass, we found the enemy had blown up a vital bridge. Our path to freedom was blocked. The enemy mercilessly attacked us where we stood. I figured this was the end. Fortunately our situation improved when Marine Air dropped bombs and napalm on the enemy positions. As I watched the aircraft come in sortie after sortie, I couldn't help think that without the Marine Air, a lot more of us would never have survived.

That night we fought off numerous enemy attacks and the next morning, watched C-119 (flying boxcars) drop portable bridge sections by parachute. Army and Marine engineers reassembled the bridge sections while we climbed the hills to keep the enemy at bay. My squad was on point. That afternoon we moved across the bridge.

We finally reached the Hungnam perimeter at 11pm, December 11, 1950. The next few days we loaded onto transport ships. We also evacuated 91, 000 North Korean civilian refugees, crowding them on the decks of the same ships carrying us out. I heard somewhere that hundreds of thousands of South Korean citizens are direct descendants of those refugees we saved.

From the deck of the ship I was on, I watched as tons of explosive blew Hungnam to smithereens, leaving the enemy nothing but a destroyed city and harbor.

Chosin Reservoir was a costly battle for both the UN forces and the Chinese. We lost 1,029 killed, 4,582 wounded, 4,894 missing and 7,338 non-battle casualties, mostly frostbite injuries. It is estimated the Chinese suffered 60,000 casualties.

I fought in a few more battles but never anything as big as Pusan, Seoul or the Chosin Reservoir. After seven months in country, myself and most of the Marines I was with were replaced by Marines fresh from the United States. I left Korea a much different man than when I had arrived.


Naval Ammunition Depot in Arkansas. It was the easiest duty I'd ever seen or heard of the Marine Corps. To begin with, I worked only one day out of seven as the Sergeant of the Guard. I would ensure all the Marine sentries on my watch were squared away and carrying on their duties. Because it was a small contingent, my time was split between checking on the guards and monitoring the radio in the guard house. When I was off duty, I had open gate liberty. That means I could come and go as I pleased, which I did.

Working a no-pressure job with plenty of time off allowed me the luxury of sorting out my feelings about what I saw and did during the Korean War. I believe it prevented me from entering that dark place so many combat veterans have been lost in.


When I was in Korea, my company commander, Capt. Charlie Mize and I grew pretty close. We saw a lot of combat together and spent some quality time talking about home when were not fighting for our lives. He was a good officer who took care of his men. I respected him greatly.

Sometime around 1990, I was glancing through a VFW magazine and came across a notice of someone named Tex Downs who was looking for people from Gulf Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines during the Korean War. I wrote him telling him about my time in the company and how Charlie Mize was my company commander. It turned out Tex Downs was a platoon leader I didn't know who had served in the company after I left Korea. He sent me a picture of him, Charlie and a few other officers and gave me Charlie Mize's address. I also learned from Tex that Charlie had retired as a Major General and at one time commanded the 1st Marine Division.

I send a letter to Charlie and wondered if he would respond or not. When I told my ex-wife and her husband I had written the letter, they both said he would never answer me back. He was after all a general who had tens of thousands of men under his command throughout his career and I was just a sergeant he would never remember.

Five or six days later, I got a letter from him and a command photo of him as a Major General. He wrote he remembered me very well and was glad I was doing good. General Mize died in 1997 at the age of 77.


After capturing Kimpo airfield midway between Inchon to Seoul, our battalion moved out toward the Han River. By this time I was a fire team leader. Our platoon was on the left flank, moving through steep hills and open land. My squad was on point and we'd been told to expect seasoned North Korean soldiers determined to stop our advance.

As we came over the crest of a hill, all hell broke loose. We were immediately pinned down by heavy small-arms and automatic weapons fire. Our squad leader, R.L. Clark, and I were laying close to each other as bullets whined overhead, others digging into the ground around us. Clark carefully peeked over the hill, took out his binoculars and raised them to his eyes hoping to get a better view of the enemy situation. He no longer got the binoculars up when a single bullet tore through the left lens. He died instantly. I was enraged. I wanted to kill whoever it was that had killed Clark.

I began crawling forward toward the enemy position. I looked back to see who was with me only to discover I was all alone. The rest of the squad was still behind the hill. Made no difference to me. I was on a mission to kill as many North Koreans as I could, with or without help, figuring the one who killed Clark would be among them. I crawled up to a slight rise and saw enemy fox holes connected by a four-foot deep trench. I inched my way behind them and opened fire with my M1 Rifle, stopping only to throw a couple of hand grenades and to reload my rifle. The enemy were falling like bowling pins. That's when my fire team caught up with me and together, we starting firing down the line of fox holes. Within minutes the enemy was destroyed.

For this action I was awarded the Silver Star Medal.


The Silver Star Medal. It is an honor I value above any in my life. But it is not my honor alone. I share it with every Marine who was with me that day. We were a team doing what Marines are trained to do: kill the enemy before he kills you and to take whatever action is necessary to protect your buddies from death or injuries.

Photo on the right is of three men I served with during the Korean War: Left is Mel Rasmussen, who stayed in the Marine Corps with a combat tour in Vietnam Center is Bobby Joe, my best friend who died of cancer Right is Blackie Cahill, my platoon leader who retired a colonel. Not sure who the guy in the background is.


After we captured Kimpo airfield from the North Koreans, Bobby Joe and I settled down for the night in a foxhole we had dug earlier near the runway. We'd been told to expect a North Korean counter attack that night. We were both a little nervous because our view in the direction in which the enemy was expected to attack was blocked by bushes 4 to 5 feet tall.

My watch was the first half of the night and almost the whole time a steady wind kept blowing the bushes. Every time the wind would gust, I thought the enemy were sneaking up on us. I was super alert and especially watchful when illumination flares fired by Naval guns off shore went off overhead. In addition to constant watching for the enemy, I fought pesky mosquitoes all night. They had gotten so bad, I rolled down the camouflage netting from my helmet and tied in under my chin.

When my watch was finally up, I went back to our foxhole where Bobby Joe was sleeping and shook him awake. He was sleeping soundly and when he finally opened his eyes, fear spread across his face. He instinctively kicked my legs out from under me and jumped up with his K-Bar combat knife in his hand, ready to do battle. I grabbed his knife arm as the two of us wrestled to the ground, me yelling for him to stop and that it was me. When he realized it was me, he yelled, "How the hell could I know it was you? You had that rag wrapped around your face, damn it! " Every time we thought of it after that, we'd laugh.

But I've always wondered what if he had stuck me with that K-Bar? He was barely awake, scared out of his wits and had every intention of killing the unidentified person he thought was about to kill him. Had he succeeded, I would not have been alive for these past sixty-odd years.


When I was stationed at Parris Island, S.C., me and this other DI were at a run-down bar somewhere near Walterboro. We'd been drinking quite a bit and were not totally in control of our good senses, when Woody spotted an attractive woman sitting at the bar. He got up, walked over and began flirting with her. This guy on the other side of her stands up from his stool, levels his eyes and in a menacing voice says, "Hey bud, this is my wife, do you mind?" Unflinching, Woody says, "No, I don't mind." I jumped up, grabbed Woody, saying something about his not meaning anything and got him out before a fight broke out.

Now, I don't know if this conversation originated with Woody in the Walterboro bar or if he had heard it before and decided this was a good time to try it out. Either way, I've heard this story as a "joke" many times since.


Laying pipe is hard and dangerous. I remember one job in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, near the shore of Lake Superior, that characterized both.

We were laying twenty miles of pipe through the Porcupine Mountains for the White Pine Coopering Mining company. While we expected it to be hard, we didn't expect trouble between union and non-union contractors working on the same contract.

One night one of our large semitrailers mysteriously burned and a fuel tanker blew up. We figured it might be mining company workers because whoever did it knew how to handle the kind of explosives commonly used in mining. The culprits put an explosive charge on top of the truck transmission which then blew through the cab floor and out through the roof. It looked like a huge can opener had torn it open.

At the same time this was going on, Van Ess had another crew working in Florida. One morning a boring machine operator noticed extra wires attached to his equipment. Explosive experts were brought in to check it out. I heard a bomb went off in the bore pit, hurting at least one person. That spooked all of us operators. From then on, we carefully checked over our machinery before we would ever turn a key.

It was on this same job in the Pine Mountains that I nearly lost my life. Running through the area was the Potato River, which had steep hills along much of its banks. On our side, we had dug trenches for the large pipes to be laid. On the opposite side where we were heading was a particularly large and steep hill. On the top of that hill was a gravel road the gas company wanted us to carefully dig or bore under so as not to cause an erosion of any kind.

A boring crew on the top of the hill on the opposite side began boring under the road at a very steep angle. Since I couldn't get the Case track hoe across the river, it was loaded and hauled around by road to where the pipe line was to continue. My job was to remove rocks the trencher couldn't and to dig for pipe bends where the ditch had to be very wide.

A cable was put on the back of my Case track hoe to secure me as I was let down over the steep side. When I got down to the river's edge, the cable was removed. By the end of the day, I had dug a path for the pipe to be laid and prepared to be pulled back up the steep hill. A crew members came over the top of the hill dragging a cable and hooked me up to reverse the method we'd used to get me down. Once the cable was secure, they began winching me up the hill.

I was helping with the lift by pushing with the hoe when suddenly the hoe began slipping back down the hill. I quickly jammed the hoe bucket into the ground and looked up the hill to see what was going on. I saw our foreman, Bob Morris, standing beside a winch truck. The driver had the truck door open and was trying to jump out. Bob pushed him back into the truck. I learned later Bob ordered him to step on the clutch to stop the winch from slipping. If the guy operating the winch had abandoned his truck with the winch still running, it would have pulled the truck over the edge, taking me and the Case track hoe along with it to the river 100-feet below. Bob saved my life that day.

After several decades of working the pipelines all over American, I retired. I bought a house for my family on the Ouachita River in Arkansas and can honestly say I am finally at peace with the world.


Not long after I got out of the Marine Corps in 1952, I joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW). I used to go to meetings, social events and ceremonies a lot in the earlier days but since I've gotten older, I seldom get up there anymore.


The discipline I learned in the Marine gave me a lifetime of confidence. I believe in my ability to accomplish whatever I set out to do regardless of the difficulties. It also gave me the courage to try things I would otherwise have avoided.

Perhaps the most important lesson I learned came from fighting in deadly combat, often against great odds. I should have been killed many times yet I survived without a scratch. I often wonder why but more importantly, I've realized how fragile and precious life is and how lucky I am to be alive.

I have also come to believe we'd have a better country if all able bodied men had to do at least one hitch of military service where discipline, integrity, endurance, self-confidence and teamwork are drilled into their entire being. I believe the result would be better, more productive citizens.


When you make mistakes, and you will, it's important to quickly recognize these mistakes and to devise and apply the means to correct them.

Be a cooperative team player, not a go-it-alone maverick. Failing to show a spirit of cooperation can doom the mission.

Learn the skills and take the training that give you a comprehensive understanding of your job and those of your subordinates. As best as possible, know your immediate supervisor's job in case that person is incapacitated and you must step in and take over.

Above all else, be as proud of your service to our country as were are as proud of you.


For many years I have thought about things that happened to me in combat. Now I am with a bunch of guys who have seen as bad or worse. Some were in my war in Korea, others are veterans of World War II, Vietnam and wars in the Middle East, but no matter which war, we are a Band of Brothers in the strictest sense of the term. keeps it alive.

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By Completing Your Reflections!

Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Profile Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.

Editor’s note: The following is from, an exclusive veterans network featuring more than two million members. This story may contain some offensive language and may not be suitable for young children.

SSG Bert Gividen

Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Army.

I graduated from high school, looking at the draft coming, I decided to enlist as a volunteer so that I could obtain the G. I. Bill to complete my higher education aspirations.

Whether you were in the service for several years or as a career, please describe the direction or path you took. What was your reason for leaving?

The Korean War was over I was anxious to get back home and begin my higher education studies using the GI Bill. The GI Bill helped me achieve my Bachelor of Science Degree from Utah State University. I went on to complete my Master's Degree in Science at Oregon State University, and my Doctorate Degree in Educational Administration at Brigham Young University.

In addition, I have graduate studies at the University of Utah, the University of California at Riverside, and the Los Angeles State University.

If you participated in any military operations, including combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, please describe those which made a lasting impact on you and, if life-changing, in what way?

My .30 Cal Machine Gun Front

I saw my first ever jet aircraft while I was sitting on top of my machine gun sandbag bunker.

Other experiences would not be served well by mentioning them here or in any other place. I was asked to submit my Korean War experience with my local Orem American Legion Post 72 unit, and they sent this information to the U.S. Library of Congress to be entered into their records.

It was interesting, as the war ended, as I was cleaning my 30 cal. Air-cooled machine gun atop my sand bunker, and watched the North Koreans and Chinese soldiers crawl out of their tunnels throughout the entire mountain right in front of me, (it was like a huge hive of ants crawling out of the mountain), and watch them pull back, while we pulled back on the front lines, that helped create the Demilitarized Military Zone, along the 38th Parallel separating North Korea from South Korea, that continues to this day to be the most fortified border in the entire world.

After the war was over, I was transferred from my line company facing the DMZ and called back to the 2nd Battalion Headquarters to set up the new Troop Information and Education (TI&E) unit. Our first assignment was to gather names from company commanders who determined it was too difficult to direct soldiers with sub I.Q. Intelligence, and discharge them from the U.S. Army with a "Convenience to the Army Discharge." Thus, these men were sent back to the United States and discharged from the Army.

Our second responsibility was to provide USAFI (Independent Study) courses for all officers throughout the battalion. The third responsibility was to identify soldiers without a high school education, find instructors and set up curriculum course work for these men. Also, I taught English to a group of Puerto Rican soldiers who could not speak English (very interesting and fun experience).

Also, in October 1954, the 2nd Division was transferred out of Korea to one of the nearby islands next to Japan, can't remember the name, but, since I had so little time left until I was to be rotated home, I was transferred to an artillery company. When I arrived, the company commander said, "What am I going to do with you, the assigned me to his company clerk, who gave me the assignment to help soldiers who wanted to get back home to attend the second semester of their university, process them out of the Army and back home. While doing so, I realized that I was "one of those guys who wanted to get home and into my university studies." Thus, I wrote to Brigham Young University, was accepted, and processed myself out of the U.S. Army. I left Korea in late November, was processed out of the U.S. Army in North Fort Lewis, Washington On December 4, 1954 (my prior release date was to be January 26, 1955.

Upon enrolling at Snow College, instead of BYU, the local U.S. Army Reserve Colonel asked me to join his reserve unit and "Whip His Farm Boy Recruits Into A US Army Unit." In so doing, he raised my rank from Corporal to Sergeant and then Sergeant First Class with responsibilities as NCO commander of this reserve unit. The first summer of training for our reserve unit required rifle training, and firing on the firing range located nearby, I scored higher than anyone in the entire Utah and San Pete county reserve units, we went to Yakima, Washington for summer training exercises. I was standing in line with our reserve unit, when the commanding general came to the podium and asked, "Will Sergeant First Class Bert Gividen approach the stand." Stunned, I did so and stood by the general. He then said, "After reviewing all of the firing line scores of this entire division, here is the man I would like to be standing beside in a fox hole with enemy fire coming in my direction." I was stunned. And unable to comment. The general then invited my wife and me to a steak dinner in the best restaurant in Yakima, Washington.

Trench leading to my machine gun bunke

Did you encounter any situation during your military service when you believed there was a possibility you might not survive? If so, please describe what happened and what was the outcome.

If you have ever been overridden by Chinese soldiers who got into the trenches and into the back of your machine gun sandbag bunker, then you know you are in trouble.

Enough said, "I made it home without injury."

Of all your duty stations or assignments, which one do you have fondest memories of and why? Which was your least favorite?

I felt great compassion for the South Korean people, whenever I had an opportunity to ride through the countryside and watch the adults and children hunt through our trash dumps for something to eat. That was the most humbling experience I have ever witnessed. And, low and behold, one of my best friends and neighbor today, is one of those children I probably witnessed clawing through our trash dumps. This young kid survived his childhood in South Korea, migrated to Hawaii, eventually completed his bachelor's, masters, and doctorate degrees in mathematics and just retired last summer from the Utah Valley University, here in Orem, Utah, as the department chair. Whenever I think that my life had some challenges, I think of this great man.

The worst experience I ever witnessed was watching the Nurses and Doctors in the MASH tents cavort when they were not involved in helping wounded soldiers being flown in by helicopter. I realize that they must have been under a lot of pressure, but the MASH units that I observed were nothing like the MASH units portrayed on television for so many years. It was difficult for me to watch the TV series. It was difficult for all of us in Korea.

From your entire military service, describe any memories you still reflect back on to this day.

Since returning home from the Korean War, I have often thought about, "Just what did we accomplish during that experience?" I often thought that the most impact we had on the Korean people, was that "We were an integral part in "Stopping the advancement of Communism." That has sustained me during my lifetime.

However, in May 2003, I received a letter from the United Nations Command, inviting me, and approximately 300 other US military personnel who served during the Korean War with military personnel of the 21 nations that fought communism, to return to South Korea as an ambassador of goodwill to the South Korean People and observe what happened economically and socially with the South Korean people and their country that we helped save from communism. South Korean businessmen provided funding for all of these military representatives to attend the "50th Anniversary of the Korean War Cease Fire."

I was not prepared for the experience that followed, as we were so splendidly catered to by the South Korean businessmen and people. When I was in Korea during 1953, and the war was over, I had the opportunity to commandeer a 2-1/2 ton truck to drive our squad from the front lines, where we had not had a shower for months, back into Seoul, Korea and rear headquarters, where we were given a wonderfully hot water shower, and new clean clothes!! What splendor we experienced. But, while there in Seoul, we saw all of the damage created by bombs and artillery shelling from the North Koreans and Chinese. THERE WAS NOT A BUILDING LEFT STANDING. however, Korean people had found 2" x 4" boards of various lengths, and 4ft x 8ft sheets of plywood, and they were trying to conduct business from these makeshift buildings. There was one bridge over the "Haun River," and the bridge itself was heavily damaged. Even the Imperial Palace received on a huge bomb that was remaining where it struck the ground in the courtyard but did not explode. The bomb had been left in place as a reminder of the enemy the people faced.

When I took a tour through Seoul, Korea, in 2003, I was unprepared for what I saw. South Korea is the largest Iron producing country in the world and export to other countries throughout the world, yet South Korea has no iron mines within its boundaries. The number of bridges covering the Haun River as it traversed its pathway through Seoul was staggering I think I counted (looking down from a lofty perch similar to the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington) fourteen modern bridges connecting supper highways throughout the city. I was told that there were over 17 major hospitals in Seoul and 12 universities. Major businesses were flourishing below my lofty perch. I WAS TOTALLY AMAZED. Our tour guides took us up to the DMZ and opened a chain-link fence, RIGHT NEXT TO MY SANDBAG BUNKER THAT HAD BEEN REPLACED BY A CONCRETE BUNKER AND WATCH TOWER ABOVE. Our guides drove us into the center of the DMZ on the South Korean side, let us climb into watchtowers, and through telescopes and field glasses, we were able to observe the conditions in North Korea. Again, I was totally amazed because what I saw, were villages with straw-roofed homes and thatched sides, just like there were when I was in Korea in 1953.

Well, I could go on and on about the distinct differences I observed between South and North Korea, but I will not do so here. However, I would like to mention, that the South Korean businessmen who hosted the United Nations tour, had collected all of the brass shell casings that they found throughout South Korea, smelted these spent casing down into brass, and then poured the brass into single medals that were given to each of us in this group of military representatives of the United Nations, and since that date of July 27, 2003, the South Korean businessmen have sent representatives throughout the 21 nations who fought during the Korean War and are still continuing to attempt to locate servicemen who spent time-fighting for the South Korean peoples escape from the throes of communism. THIS MEDAL, IS ONE OF MY MOST PRIZED POSSESSIONS.

What professional achievements are you most proud of from your military career?

My use of the G. I. Bill paid for my higher education and continued graduate studies, which has heightened my qualifications and expertise to enable me to hold some very important positions, ie, high school teacher of chemistry, biology, and human physiology. In administration, I have served as a high school dean of students, junior high school vice principal, junior high principal, high school principal, superintendent of schools, and the founding Director of the Brigham Young University Conferences and Workshops department.

I have been fortunate to travel throughout all of the fifty United States, and some extensively visiting other major universities as a representative consultant from BYU. Also, I have held regional and national positions within the National University of Continuing Education Association and hosted the 5,000 + member organization in Salt Lake City.

After retirement, I was asked to recreate the Orem American Legion Post 72 unit organization as Vice Commander of Public Affairs. Our commander and I identified 35 other veterans to join our unit, trained them how to provide deceased veteran memorial graveside services, how to provide military 21 gun salutes, how to provide flag-raising ceremonies for special occasions, how conduct the American Legion Program Honoring high school students, how to conduct military programs for junior and senior high schools on Veterans Day (3 high schools and five junior high schools), etc.

In addition, while serving as the American Legion Post 72 Vice Commander, the City of Orem Mayor asked me if I would help him, and his staff, create the City of Orem Heritage Commission, with the responsibility of choosing a sculptor to create a life-size brass statue to be placed in the City of Orem Cemetery to honor deceased and all other veterans. The statue sits on a concrete pedestal four feet high and depicts a nurse holding the head of a wounded soldier in her lap, with the inscription on the front of the pedestal "Lest We Forget." Also, I wrote the first Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs that continue to be followed to this day.

Also, to honor each deceased veteran buried in the City of Orem Cemetery, I found resources and Boy Scout Eagle Scout projects to create a plastic cross with a small US flag inserted in the top of the cross, with individual names of deceased veterans buried in the cemetery, and this display of crosses to be located in a military-style grid in a special located grassy area just south of the City of Orem Cemetery Veterans Memorial.

Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or other memorabilia, which one is the most meaningful to you and why?

The 2003 "50th Anniversary of the Korean War Cease Fire", because it was presented by the grateful people of Korea to the nations, who defended their democratic lifestyle.

Which individual(s) from your time in the military stand out as having the most positive impact on you and why?

Sgt Basil Presti.

When I first landed on the Inchon harbor shores of Korea, then by train to Seoul, then by 2-1/2 truck to the front lines of the Korean War. Sgt. Presti met me, looked at me with that awkward look of his (a true New Yorker), said, "Give me that M-1 Rifle, (which I did), and then he tossed into my open arms a.30 cal. air-cooled machine gun, with the words, "I think you can handle this piece of firepower!" He changed my life forever. When the war was over, he disappeared from our company. Then in January 1954, when I was sitting on top of my DMZ sandbag bunker, with my tarp spread out and cleaning piece by piece, my .30 cal. Air-cooled machine gun. I was looking down into the valley with a river below that separated our company from five companies of Chinese soldiers sitting 3 miles in front of me. Then, I felt this tap on my left shoulder, looked around, and there was Sgt. Presti was smiling down on me. He then said, "Are you tired of cleaning that machine gun?" "Yes, and I was and bored to death." He then said, leave the machine gun here, and come with me (I don't know who inherited that machine gun, but I was glad to be rid of it).

Sgt Presti then took me to the 2nd Battalion Headquarters and told me that he and I were to create the 2nd Battalion Troop Information and Education (TI&E) unit. Now that the war was over, company commanders were having difficulty finding things to do for the US Army sitting on the front lines of the DMZ, so general officers determined that they would like Sgt. Presti and me to create an education program to keep all officers and enlisted active, and hopefully, out of trouble. I have addressed activities that I participated in with the TI&E unit in a previous report in this profile.

Sgt Basil Presti soon rotated from Korea, and I became the acting NCO over the TI&E unit.

In 2003, I received an interesting telephone call from Basil Presti, who knew I came from Mapleton, Utah, who called my parents to find my telephone number to call me. We had a special and sweet telephone call reunion. Basil asked his two daughters to drive him out to Orem, Utah, and we had a great visit with each other. Then, soon after, his daughters drove him back to his home in Reno, Nevada, Basil Presti, one of my best friends, passed away.

List the names of old friends you served with, at which locations, and recount what you remember most about them. Indicate those you are already in touch with and those you would like to make contact with.

Since I am now 85 years of age, I remember faces of recruits that I pulled off 2-1/2 ton trucks in the 2nd Battalion of the 38th Regiment, of the 2nd Division to work with me in our expanded TI&E program in South Korea, and the recruits that I trained in the little town of Ephraim, Utah where a very grateful Colonel Crane, of the local US Army Reserve Unit, asked me to help him. But, at this age-specific names escape me.

Can you recount a particular incident from your service, which may or may not have been funny at the time, but still makes you laugh?

Yes, I will never forget being so dirty and filthy coming off the front lines and into a 12 man tent. We got into this tent, and the smell was awful. We thought maybe there were some dead rats underneath the wooden floor, so we took down the tent, lifted the wooden floor, but no dead rats.

So, we put the floor back down, erected the tent again, replaced our army cots, sleeping bags, and duffle bags, went back inside the tent, there was that awful smell again. It finally dawned on us the smell was us.

That is when I walked into the Company Commander's tent, told him what we had discovered, and he provided a 2-1/2 ton truck to transport us back to Seoul, rear headquarters, where we got a good hot shower and new clothes.

However, the truck did not have a flap over the rear entrance of the truck, so traveling 50 miles down to Seoul, over dirt/dusty roads, the dust just bellowed back into the back entrance of the truck and covered us in 1/2 inch of thick choking dust. When we arrived in Seoul, we were immediately escorted to the showers, stripped of all clothing, stood in the showers as long as we wanted, then we were given new clothing, but, we then had to travel another 50 miles from Seoul back to our front line position, and of course, when we arrived, we were again covered in 1/2 inch of dust.

However, we were clean on the inside.

What profession did you follow after your military service and what are you doing now? If you are currently serving, what is your present occupational specialty?

I have addressed in a previous reflection, so I will only state here that while I was in Korea, I arranged for a traveling mobile library to visit battalion Headquarters and individual companies. So, I also took advantage of this mobile library and read several books about doctors who were general practitioners there were very few specialties in the medical field in 1954. But, I was intrigued by the science they had obtained and their abilities to help people.

So, when I enrolled at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, I thought I would like to become a doctor and enrolled in every science course I could find. But, during my educational experience, I thought I had better really find out what a doctor does and would I be happy as a doctor. So, I visited a good friend's doctor of mine, asked if I could spend the day with him, and observe what he did all day long. Yes, he was a good friend and asked me to sit in the corner of his patient's visiting room, and I did observe all day long what this good friend of mine did as a career.

Well, I was impressed with his medical skill but was turned off by all of his patients who came with their aches and pains, and their whining complaints! And yes, I was disappointed and decided that being a doctor was not for me. However, if I had that experience today, with all of the medical specialties available, I would have gone after a medical degree in a specialty.

Well, I decided I didn't want to be a doctor, but how about a dentist? In Ephraim, I walked into the local dentist's office and asked if I could observe him during his practice? He said, "Sure, stay with me all day if you would like." So, in comes his first patient, climbs into the dental chair, opens his mouth, I looked into that big black hole and almost gagged, re he must have been a tobacco-chewing guy because I had never in my life seen such nastiness. Thanked the dentist for my intrusion, and left knowing that this man's mouth was probably the exception, but. no way did I want to look into anyone's mouth again.

So, I was graduating from Snow College and registering for classes at Utah State University, so with all of my science backgrounds, I thought about becoming a microbiologist, but after the first course working with those deadly pathogens, I decided I was not that cautious and did not want to take the chance of bringing home some terrible disease to my new family.

So, now what? Well, I began thinking about the experiences I had working with the TI&E course work in Korea, and how much I enjoyed teaching that English class to Spanish speaking Puerto Rican's. I thoroughly enjoyed that experience, and we had a great time together. So, I reviewed my transcript of courses completed, found that I had enough science courses that I qualified for a teaching certificate in chemistry, biology, and a minor in mathematics. So, I enrolled in education certification courses and graduated a year early (finished my degree in 3 years instead of 4) and went off to northern California in the heart of the Red Woods to teach chemistry and biology at Fortuna Union High School. I enjoyed that experience, except I went for the extracurricular activity of fishing for salmon and hunting deer. Still, it rained, and rained, and rained a total of 60 inches in nine months, and I could not see myself there in the future.

So, I returned to Utah and enrolled at Brigham Young University in a master's degree program towards my Educational Administration certificate. While there, superintendent Brockbank from the Nebo School District found me and offered me a mathematics teaching position. I loved teaching math, but the salary was so woeful, I had to exercise my welding skills from right after school until in the wee hours of the next morning welding hard surface rod on a rock crusher. I made more per hour doing that than teaching, so I applied for a National Science Foundation Scholarship to three universities, was selected for all three, chose the University of Oregon Physiology degree program.

After graduation, I was hired by the Riverside Unified School District in Riverside, California, teaching Human Physiology, and Advanced Biology. During this experience, I was selected as the "Outstanding Science Teacher in the Inland Empire of Southern California." My outstanding student and I were wined and dined at Cal Tech, then onto the Aircraft Carrier Yorktown, the special dinner with distinguished scientist and science business CEOs of Southern California. Jonas Salk sat to my left, and the CEO of Northrup sat on my right side. Wow, did we ever have some enlightening discussions.

What military associations are you a member of, if any? What specific benefits do you derive from your memberships?

I belong to the Utah Veterans Administration unit in Salt Lake City, Utah, who called me in 2010 asking about my hearing problems (evidently notified by my local physician), they tested me and walked back my history to the Korean War where I had lost all of my upper tones and damaged some of those lower tones. I was given a 10% disability and have been provided by VA Audiology Services, and hearing aids since that day, for which I am very grateful.

In 2002, a friend of mine, asked if I would help him re-organize a defunct Orem American Legion Post 72. We did, and that post is still very effective today, however, because of so much flashback experience while participating in some of the deceased veteran graveside services, and other activities, I decided I had done all that I could do to help my friend activate this unit, so in 2007, I withdrew from this unit and only participated as an audience member in the Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs.

At my age now, I am not active in anything anymore and miss my association with others with whom I share some experience.

In what ways has serving in the military influenced the way you have approached your life and your career? What do you miss most about your time in the service?

I joined the military at age 18 right out of high school, faced with the draft into military service, began traveling the world, and GREW UP VERY QUICKLY. I know why the military-drafted young men because it was an exciting experience at first, but then took its toll on my youth. I do not doubt that the structured life of the US Army helped me organize my own life and gave me the desire to achieve "All That I Could Become." This, little kid from this little town of Mapleton, Utah, with experience of living in a community of 200 people, challenged by playing all sports in high school, Quarterback of the football team for four years, Captain during my senior year, etc., etc., etc. But, when I took that one step forward at Ft. Douglas, Utah into the United States Army, MY LIFE WAS CHANGED FOREVER. For example, when I returned home from Korea, my maturity and confidence level was high. When Colonel Crane invited me to help him "Teach these Young Farm Boys of Ephraim, Utah into an effective US Army Unit," the difference in our ages was only two years, but the confidence and maturity difference was huge.

In fact, the English teacher at Snow College, after I had only been enrolled for two months, indicated that the college faculty encouraged her (we had become friends) to invite me to consider running for Student Body President of Snow College. I thought about it. I did not realize I had made such an impact at Snow College. I decided to take her up on her offer. I selected the captain of the football team to be my campaign chairman. With the support of the cheerleaders and our "White Party" swept the election except for one position, Vice President, who I was dating and we later married and served as Student Body President and Vice President as a married couple (never been done before nor since).

Yes, my military experience helped me organize myself. I have somewhat become a leader in my profession, a trusted consultant, and served in many leadership roles.

What do I miss most about being in the US Army? Being part of something big and important, and marching down the street in a military parade with the "Stars and Stripes" blowing in the breeze, hearing the command, "EYES RIGHT" and paying homage to what that flag represents. I still have that stirring inside of me whenever I participate in that "SACRED" activity of saluting the flag and bearing my allegiance to this great Nation. That experience will go to the grave with me.

Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Army?

Stick it out. Be aware that the basic training program is designed to break you down and then rebuild you into something greater than what you were before. Take advantage of what your military experience has to offer, decide that you can only do one thing at a time, be in one place at a time, think of one thing at a time, and you have

And watch them pull back Then, you will learn how to become "MASTER OF YOUR OWN DESTINY" and find your own rewards in this lifetime experience.

In what ways has helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.

It has given me a place to connect with others, a place to keep my military history from fading away with time. A place to share my military life and hopefully by telling my story it will help others.

Korean War veteran recalls 'death and destruction'


George Mackey, a Korean War veteran recalls his enlistment and his time in the battle of Chosin Reservoir. Poughkeepsie Journal

George Mackey, a Korean War veteran at his home in Beekman on May 18, 2018. (Photo: Patrick Oehler/Poughkeepsie Journal)

Some memories haven't faded with time.

Decades after the Korean War, Beekman resident George Mackey can recall the subzero temperatures, the biting cold wind. How the snow went up past his knees, higher than his boots.

Or the time the U.S. Army veteran watched from a foxhole as Chinese soldiers tried to gain access to an airport surrounded by barbed wire.

"They took people and made them lay on the barbed wire. and walked over them," Mackey said of the Chinese soldiers. "These are their own people and they walked over them. They were trying to get into the airport and blow up the planes."

He remembers when his unit was ordered to destroy its trucks and get on a ship bound for Pusan in South Korea, after the legendary Battle of the Chosin Reservoir.

"We decided we wanted to save the ballistics equipment," rather than destroy the trucks, Mackey said. "We drove south, went through roadblocks with our trucks. They gave me a Red Ribbon (award) for that."

But some of the 87-year-old's memories are lost.

"I saw too much death and destruction," said Mackey, who served in the Korean War with the 250th Ordnance Ballistics and Technical Service Detachment. "It was a hellhole."

And after he returned home in 1953, "I wouldn't talk about Korea for five years. Those five years took a lot out of my memory."

But, ahead of Memorial Day, he agreed to speak with the Poughkeepsie Journal about his service.

Born in Westchester County, Mackey comes from a military family, whose history of service dates back to the Civil War. His father served in World War I. An uncle was a Purple Heart recipient. Another uncle died on Normandy Beach. His older brother was in the U.S. Navy.

Mackey enlisted in the Army after high school. He signed up for the 250th after a brief stint teaching tank wiring in Maryland.

In Korea, Mackey spent three years providing weapons support and calibrating artillery for the Army and Marines.

He was among the 1.8 million Americans who served in combat during the Korean War, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The conflict lasted from August 1950 until a cease-fire, or armistice, was signed in July 1953.

Nearly 37,000 U.S. troops and millions of others were killed as South Korea, backed by a coalition of United Nations troops, fought off attempts from communist North Korea, China and the Soviet Union to dominate the Korean Peninsula.

For his actions during four battles, Mackey received the Korean Service Medal with four miniature bronze stars, along with the National Defense Service Medal and the United Nations Service Medal.

In Korea, Mackey focused on the tasks at hand, earning a promotion to sergeant 1st class at age 21.

When the war ended, he came home "unscathed," he said. But as he got a job at New York Telephone (now Verizon), married and became a father, there were memories he wouldn't talk about.

A family picnic in the late 1950s helped Mackey open up. There, his relatives candidly discussed their military service. Soon after, Mackey was able to speak about his own time overseas, first with a colleague, then with others.

In 1970, Mackey and his family moved from Mount Kisco to Beekman. The father of three raised horses and enjoyed decades at the telephone company. Last year, Mackey was inducted to the Veterans' Hall of Fame for the New York State Senate 40th District, and he was awarded an Ambassador of Peace Medal in February.

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