Korean War Veteran

SERGEANT ROBERT F. GRANDFIELD, U.S. Army, Korea – 1950 to 1951

By James L. Grandfield

On November 17, 1950, Private Bob Grandfield debarked the troop transport in Wonsan. The son of a Cape Cod physician, the 20-year old medic was serving with the 7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division. Bob graduated from high school in 1948. Rather than take the chance of being drafted for three years of active duty, at the advice of his father, Bob enlisted in the Army under a program for 18-year old men; he would spend one year on active duty followed by six years in the reserves. While stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, Bob volunteered for medic training, by his own admission, to avoid assignment to the motor pool. Upon completion of his year in Texas, Bob enrolled at Tufts University, just outside Boston.

When President Truman committed American forces to defend South Korea in the summer of 1950, Bob was recalled to active duty and faithfully honored his commitment. He reported back for duty at Fort Dix, New Jersey, then completed refresher training at Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky. He took a train to Seattle, then flew to Tokyo via Alaska. Like many who served long ago, Bob remembers the lighter moments. Landing in the Aleutians for a layover, the troops disembarked the aircraft and were directed to a mess hall. The weather was cold and windy, a precursor of what he would endure in Korea. As an officer counted heads getting off the plane, a Soldier said, “Don’t worry sir, ain’t nobody going AWOL in this place.”

Arriving in Korea with other replacements, Bob was assigned to the 7th Infantry’s heavy mortar platoon. The regiment had established defensive positions north of Hungnam to support the withdrawal of the 1st Marine Division and Regimental Combat Team 31 from the fighting at the Changjin (Chosin) Reservoir. In addition to combat wounds, Bob and his fellow medics treated many Soldiers for frostbite.

At the beginning of the war, American troops were probably overconfident, and the slogan of “home by Christmas” was popular with the troops. The entry of the Chinese into the conflict changed all that. To this day, Bob has always been complimentary of the Army’s efforts to get a hot Thanksgiving meal to the front lines in 1950. He vividly recalls eating mashed potatoes out of his helmet liner in the rain. To his daughter-in-law in Virginia Beach, he has assured her many times that no matter what food item didn’t turn out “just perfect” for the family Thanksgiving meal, it’s always nicer than his meal in 1950. To this day, Bob has been an easy-to-please, appreciative, nothing rattles him person. His experiences at age 20 gave him a unique perspective for the rest of his life.

When X Corps was ordered to evacuate through the port of Hungnam, the 7th Infantry defended the perimeter that facilitated the evacuation of 105,000 UN forces, an estimated 91,000 North Korean refugees, and over a quarter million tons of equipment and supplies during the “Miracle of Christmas.” In his medical bag, Bob carried two mortars over 20 miles as the 7th Infantry withdrew to Hamhung, only to be told to throw them overboard as he embarked the troop ship. The 7th Infantry Regiment was the last unit to leave Hungnam, departing the port on Christmas Eve.

The 7th Infantry Regiment unloaded in Pusan on December 30. The following day, the 3rd Infantry Division was assigned to the Eighth Army’s I Corps. After being reequipped, the division took its position in the western section of the UN line south of Seoul. Bob continued to serve with the mortar platoon as the 7th Infantry Regiment advanced north. By mid-April, the regiment had established positions north of the Imjin River.

On April 22, the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army began the Spring Offensive, forcing the division to withdraw to positions south of Uijongbu. The division returned to the reserve following heavy losses during this period. In mid-May, the division moved east to assist units defending the central sector. By the end of June, the 3rd Division occupied the Chorwon- Kumhwa Line.

Armistice negotiations began on July 10, 1951. As noted in the division’s official history, the character of the war changed from “one of movement and major offensives to a fairly static defensive conflict.” Later that summer, Bob was assigned to an infantry platoon. He still recalls the mortar platoon as easier duty. “With the mortar platoon, when it was time to change positions, we packed up the trucks and moved. In the infantry platoon, we walked.”

Bob finished his tour in Korea as a sergeant on September 7, 1951. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for “meritorious service in connection with military operations against an armed enemy in Korea.” He jokingly tells his children that “the Army flew me to Korea, by way of Seattle to the Aleutian Islands to Tokyo, and then by ship to Korea. On the way home, it was 14 days on a slow troop ship. And I had contracted malaria, to boot.” He returned to Massachusetts and attended law school under the G.I. Bill, where he met his future wife, Mary Cunningham. Bob and Mary were married for 51 years, until her passing in 2005. Bob was a devoted caregiver in the last years of Mary’s life, when she was in poor health.

After her passing, he sought opportunities to serve his community. Bob began volunteering with the Princess Anne Rescue Squad in Virginia Beach, where he currently serves as the chaplain. His medic days behind him, Bob doesn’t ride the ambulance, but serves a variety of administrative functions for rescue squad. He recently celebrated his 91st Birthday.

Bob and Mary raised five children. Today, he is a proud Grampa to seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

About the Author: Jim Grandfield is Bob’s youngest son. He is a 1986 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who served five years as a surface warfare officer.

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COLD WARRIORS: American Father and Son Serving the Korean People

By: Brian Edward Malnes

Harry

The Korean War was the first major salvo of the Cold War, which lasted from 1947 to 1991. During the entirety of the Cold War, American military men and women have served the South Korean people. Under the United Nations flag flown by the United Nations Command (UNC), peaceful conditions through an armistice have been earned and maintained for nearly 70 years. Two of these Cold Warriors are father and son, and both served the South Korean people. This is the story of 1st Lt. Harold “Harry” Malnes, U.S. Air Force, and Sgt. Brian Malnes, U.S. Army.

Harry joined the service in 1951 and rose to the rank of 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. His service included direct support for the Korean War as an Air Intercept Controller. Although Harry did not serve in South Korea during the war, he received the Occupation

Medal and the National Defense Service Medal for being a part of the mobilization of men and materiel for the war effort.

After the Korean War, Harry spent the remainder of his military service in West Germany with the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. The Wing was established at the beginning of the Cold War in 1947 as a tactical reconnaissance and weather observation unit. The 10th Tac-Recon Wing evolved to include day and night, and multi- sensor capabilities. Today, the unit is designated as the 10th Air Base Wing and is the host wing for the United States Air Force Academy.

Brian

Brian was raised during the Cold War to believe in service and country. His father, Harry, instilled in him the value of giving oneself for something greater. That greater calling brought Brian to the United States Army in 1985. The Cold War was at its peak, and nowhere were the tensions higher than on the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas. Brian’s first duty assignment was with the 2nd Infantry Division, where he volunteered to serve in the Western Corridor with the 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment.

The 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment was responsible for accomplishing reconnaissance and security missions and engaging in offensive, defensive and retrograde operations on the DMZ. While assigned as the divisional cavalry squadron, the 4-7th Cavalry was the “eyes and ears” of the 2nd Infantry Division. Part of Brian’s job as an ImJin Scout was to do patrols on the DMZ and reaction force operations of which he did over 20.

Brian’s service in South Korea has had a lasting effect on his life. It was with great honor that Brian guarded the peace in the Joint Security Area, and along the 155 miles that make up the DMZ between the Koreas. After his tour in South Korea, Brian returned to finish his regular Army service at Fort Carson in Colorado. Brian reached the rank of Sergeant in the Washington National Guard.

The Cold War ignited into the Korean War, and with it the need for the UNC. And when the Cold War ended in 1991, it could be argued that the DMZ between the Koreas was the most dangerous place on earth. The end of the Cold War did not end the need of the UNC. That will only be achieved through unification. Until then, I believe in the UNC and my brothers and sisters in the ROK Army to keep the peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Today, the father and son Cold Warriors enjoy peace and harmony. They have earned that peace, along with the millions of people across the globe who would stand against the ills of humanity. Today, the Cold Warriors can take solace in the fact that their service has not been forgotten. And will never be lost to time.

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MY KOREA EXPERIENCE – Ray Huecker

 

By Ray Huecker

Shortly after North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, General Douglas MacArthur called for a Division of Marines to mount an invasion at Inchon Harbor. When told the Marines didn’t have a Division, he said “Call up the Reserves”! I got the message by radio to report to active duty at our unit in Pearl Harbor. I was 19 years old.

After a week or so, we boarded a MATS sea-plane equipped with JATO bottles under the wings… Jet-Assisted-Take-Off was the extra power needed to get the plane into the air. We all sat on the floor, back to front, legs crossed, leaning on the guy in front. The sound was deafening and scary. When the jet-packs activated, we all thought the engines had blown up. We landed after the 10-hour flight and were bussed to Camp Pendleton where the lieutenant in charge of us was asked: “how many warm bodies do you have?” We were there for two weeks; there was no boot camp for us. Then we boarded ship in San Diego, headed for Korea.

The 1st and 5th Marines had already made the Inchon landing; our 7th Marine Reserve Unit was backup. We arrived at Inchon harbor at night; it was pitch black, no lights in the city. We went over the side of the ship on cargo nets into landing craft. When we pulled up to the dock, we saw wounded Marines being loaded onto landing craft, heading out to the hospital ship. Then we knew … this was a real war.

We were deployed outside Seoul, in the northwest sector. We were told to dig in along the trails, thinking the North Koreans would travel along that trail. The first night was a little weird; as you looked out from the foxhole, you could see the moonlight dance between the leaves in the trees and in your mind, you just knew a Korean was out there hiding. But it was just the eyes and the mind playing tricks.

There was house to house fighting in Seoul; our progress was slow because this was our first fight and we did not know much about this kind of a fight … or any kind of fighting.

We ate our “C” rations sitting on the streets. There were bodies of dead Koreans there, covered with a woven mat-like material. The first one that I saw was an old man sitting in the street with his right hand on the wheel of a wagon. His eyes were open, and he had a bullet hole in the center of his forehead. I smoked the Lucky Strike cigarette from my C ration. We were at war in Korea.

Soon we were ordered to pull out to the outskirts of Seoul because our artillery was going to drop shells on the city. Our unit was to move out to a new location; there were Koreans on the road, a few of them had burp guns. The World War II Marines in the unit took the guns and turned the guys to the back of the column … after they kicked the North Koreans’ butts. We moved with caution up Hill No. 168.

I was in the open, directing mortar fire when the enemy on a higher hill, opened fire with small arms. I rolled over on my stomach and was hit

in the right heel. My boot flared out at the heel; I made my way down the hill and a corpsman put a helmet cover on my foot. The Marines were taking a beating; the wounded were evacuated to a MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) unit. I could see the military doctor trying to save a Marine but about five minutes later he covered the Marine with a white sheet. The wounded were flown from Korea to the Yokuska Hospital in Japan. I was given a “flying twenty dollar bill”; no more money was given out until your pay records caught up with you.

Earlier we had been told there was no need for winter boots or winter socks. “You will be back home for Christmas” was the official word. However, when we returned to Korea from Japan in November, winter was setting in and the ground was frozen. We were issued wind-breaker trousers and a parka coat but no socks or boots. Our gloves were so thick they were in three sections: one for the trigger finger, one for the thumb, and the third for the other three fingers. We slept with our boots on and M-1 rifle tucked into the sleeping bag to keep them from freezing. The sleeping bags were zipped up halfway, the parkas covered the opening with our faces covered with the hood of the parkas.

As we advanced toward the Chosin Reservoir, there were sporadic firefights and skirmishes with the enemy. We had been told that 140,000 Chinese troops were hiding during the day and would attack at night. They hit us on the night of November 27. They wanted to silence our 105mm canons. We could hear the enemy crawling in the grass and weeds. We threw our hand grenades toward the sounds; there would be silence and then we could hear them crawling again. We did not fire our rifles at this time; that would have given away our position.

We regrouped at the bottom of the hill; we were lying down on our stomachs in a skirmish line. The Chinese were coming up on the other side of the hill; the moon was full and behind them. As we began our advance up the hill, we could see them clearly in the moonlight. At one point, I paused to reload my M-1 rifle and when I looked up, there was a Chinese soldier coming at me. I yelled “get him, Charles!” and Charles did. It was an all-night fight; next morning the hill was covered with their dead and ours.

Many of us wondered what drove those Chinese soldiers to keep pouring over the hill into certain death. Were they on drugs … or just brain- washed into that kind of action? I have to say, that although they were our enemy, I have respect for them being the kind of soldiers they were.

When it became obvious our troops would have to push their way south to the ships docked at Wasong Harbor (“RETREAT HELL… WE’RE JUST FIGHTING IN A DIFFERENT DIRECTION”), I saw our dead on trucks, their bodies frozen and laid in different positions, being delivered to the final location. I was tagged as a casualty; I could hardly walk due to ulcers on both feet. At Hamhung, I got on a plane with other wounded and flew to Japan. It was a wonderful feeling to have heat, a good night’s sleep and hot food. God bless America.

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MY GRANDFATHER AND ME IN KOREA: OUR TIME IN KOREA WAS WORTH IT

By Jared B. Law, Captain, U.S. Army Retired

The story is somewhat short, as we only have a few details. My grandfather, PFC David U. Law, was a mortarman with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 116th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division during the last months of the Korean War. One week prior to the cease fire, a North Korean rocket barrage landed on his position and killed his mortar section. He survived, but the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit he was initially sent to (unknown) had to pry his helmet out of his skull from the impact. He spent some time at the 121st Combat Support Hospital (CSH) and in Japan before returning home. If it weren’t for the docs in that unknown MASH unit, my grandfather would not have survived. He never spoke of his time in Korea. My father, aunts, and uncles still have no idea what happened to him over there beyond what I’ve been able to find out from the National Archives. I set foot in Korea almost 60 years to the day later as a Captain in the U.S. Army and proudly served the Korean people and the U.S. for three years after that. I can only think of the sacrifice of those men, the skill of the doctors in the MASH unit, the 121st, and the generosity and camaraderie that I felt during my time in Korea to know that both his time in the war and my time as part of USFK were worth it.

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General Shin, Hyun-joon, ROK Commander and Commandant

By Lieutenant Colonel James F. Durand, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)

Major General Shin meets with General Lemuel Shepherd, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, in his December 1952 visit to U.S. Marine Corps bases.

 

 

 

At 06:10 on September 27, 1950, Republic of Korea (ROK) Marines raised the flag in front of the Seoul Capitol. Three months earlier, the ROK Marine Corps faced skepticism from the other services and doubt within its own ranks. Created without American advisors or equipment, the nascent ROK Marine Corps was a product of the determined efforts of its founder and first Commandant, Colonel Shin, Hyun-joon. The Marines’ superb performance in the early battles of the Korean War is a testament to his leadership. 

In the wake of the failed amphibious assault at Yosu, Rear Admiral Son, Won-il tasked Shin with forming a ground combat unit within the ROK Navy. Shin had participated in the October 1948 military in which four navy cutters attempted to land ROK Army Soldiers to suppress the rebels who occupied the port city. After the operation, Shin submitted a combat report arguing for the creation of a specialized unit within the Navy responsible for amphibious operations. Admiral Son assigned Shin to lead the new unit on February 1, 1949.

Shin found few takers as he sought officers and noncommissioned officers for the new unit. Those with knowledge of the Imperial Japanese Navy knew ground combat units as backwater assignments relegated to garrison defense duties by war’s end. Kim, Seung-un rebuffed Shin’s first two requests to transfer to the unit before accepting an offer to serve as chief of staff. Navy commanders withheld sending their model sailors in response for a call for noncommissioned officers, instead sending “those who were brave with a strong sense of justice, but occasionally caused some trouble in their units.” Despite these challenges, Shin assembled 80 officers and noncommissioned officers to lead the new unit. Three hundred sailors from the Navy’s 13th Recruit Class began training as the 1st Marine Corps Class.

On April 15, 1949, the ROK Marine Corps was activated in a simple ceremony at the Deoksan Air Base in Chinhae. The Marines assembled before the dignitaries were a humble lot, wearing an assortment of discarded uniforms and helmets; Japanese leggings were worn over oversize American boots. Those issued weapons carried Arisaka Type-99 rifles; others carried wooden drill rifles.

A veteran of fighting in Manchuria, Colonel Shin was accustomed to material deficiencies. He demanded tough, physical training. Noncommissioned officers drilled the new Marines on Deoksan’s cement landing strip and marched them up the 1,800-foot Chonja Peak so often that the mountain quickly became a symbol of the new Corps.

In late August, the ROK Army Chief of Staff requested that Colonel Shin send Marines to Jinju to protect the town from guerillas who had operated in the nearby mountains since the Yosu rebellion. In exchange for dispatching a battalion-sized unit to Jinju, the Army agreed to leave its equipment to the Marines. Over the next four months, Marine patrols restored security to the region.

On December 28, Colonel Shin and 1,200 Marines landed at Jeju City where a protracted insurgency had shattered the peace of the tranquil island. The Marines were as aggressive in earning the trust of the people as they were ferreting out remaining guerillas, assisting farmers with spring planting, and arranging free medical care. Colonel Shin worked to establish the Corps’ ethos, establishing an NCO Training Unit to instill a fighting spirit in the new Marines. He pressed Navy Headquarters for more Marines and equipment.

Despite success in early operations, Navy Headquarters refused to expand the Corps. This led to a sense of despair among the Marines. On June 23, the Corps’ senior officers resigned en masse. Two days later, North Korean Army units attacked south to start the Korean War.

The Korean War transformed the Marine Corps. Resignations were withdrawn as the Marines prepared for war. Colonel Shin’s efforts to restore trust among the people of Jeju were reflected in over 3,000 islanders joining the Marine Corps; the 126 women who served would be the only women to earn the title “Marine” for nearly half a century. A battalion-sized unit landed at Kunsan on July 16. They fought the North Korean People’s Army’s 13th Regiment for four days, delaying the attack south. Marines under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Kim, Seung-un earned the war’s first unit-wide promotion for their actions at Chindong-ni, and received international acclaim as the “Ghost-Catching Marines” following their amphibious landing at Tongyoung.

On September 3, the U.S. Far East Command approved the attachment of the ROK Marine Corps — organized into three infantry battalions, a reconnaissance company, and a headquarters element — to the 1st Marine Division. Initially assigned as the landing force reserve, the ROK Marines were tasked with clearing Incheon and the Kimpo Peninsula following the Incheon landing. ROKMC battalions were attached to the 1st and 5th Marine Regiments as they began their final assault on Seoul.

President Syngman Rhee awards Major General Shin the Order of Military Merit, Taeguk, on October 15, 1953 in a change-of-command ceremony for the commandant.

Colonel Shin invited Major General O.P. Smith, Commanding General of the U.S. 1st Marine Division, to review the Korean Marines following the liberation of the capital. The battle-tested Marines who paraded before the division commander were a sharp contrast to those assembled 18 months earlier. All wore complete uniforms, packs, and web equipment; their rifles, machine guns, and mortars were “spotless.” Writing in his log, the veteran of fierce fighting on Cape Gloucester, Peleliu, and Okinawa noted, “These Korean Marines were quite remarkable.”

After leading the ROK Marines in the defense of Wonsan, Colonel Shin turned over command of the newly established 1st ROK Marine Regiment and focused on training and equipping the rapidly expanding Corps. As Commandant, General Shin forged a relationship with the United States Marine Corps and instituted training and education practices modeled on the American system. The relationship between the two Corps would continue throughout the Korean War and Armistice, including deployments to Vietnam and Iraq. General Shin served as commandant throughout the war, remained in uniform until 1961, and served two assignments as an ambassador. He holds the distinction of being South Korea’s longest serving general officer and longest serving ambassador.

About The Author: 

Lieutenant Colonel Durand is a graduate of the 31st Marine Corps Course at the ROK Naval War College. He has worked with General Shin’s children to translate their father’s autobiography, “Memoirs of an Old Marine.” His article, General Shin Hyun-joon, “Father of the Marine Corps,” is available at http://icks.org/n/data/ijks/2017FW-6.pdf.

See this and other stories of our Veterans in KDVA’s “I Know a Korean War Veteran Campaign” webpage at https://kdva.vet/i-know-a-korean-war-veteran-campaign/.

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The Story of CWO George V. Lampman, USMC, Ret.

On Duty with the Marine Security Detachment at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul on June 25, 1950

By Fred Lash, from an interview with George V. Lampman

In June of 1950, Sergeant George V. Lampman, USMC was a member of the Marine Security Guard (MSG) Detachment at the newly established U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea.  The detachment numbered 20 Marines in all.

George was at the U.S. Embassy when, on June 25, 1950, North Korean forces crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded South Korea.

Backtracking a bit, these 20 Marines who would eventually serve in the first MSG detachment at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, Korea were selected from approximately 70 Marines, mostly veterans of World War II.

They reported to Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia on November 10, 1948 and were trained for several weeks by State Department security officers in Washington, DC, then taken to a local clothing store to be fitted for civilian clothes (suits, overcoats, hats, shirts, etc.).

George should know—he is the only living member of that 20-Marine MSG detachment.  The reason they had to be outfitted with civilian attire is that they would not be able to wear Marine Corps uniforms where they would be going.  They were also ordered not to tell anyone where they were to be assigned.

The 20 Marines arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul on January 9, 1949.  It is interesting to note that they arrived in Korea without uniforms, military identification cards, or dog tags.  On November 10th of that same year, the detachment held its first Marine Corps Birthday Ball in Seoul, with more than 300 guests.

Next came routine security duties and time passed rather quickly—until Sunday, June 25, 1950, when at 8:45 a.m., the MSG learned that North Korean forces had crossed the 38th Parallel at approximately 4:00 a.m.

The following is an account by CWO George V. Lampman, USMC (Retired) of the actions and events that occurred on the 25th, 26th, and 27th of June 1950.

On Sunday, June 25th, I was the Embassy Security Officer and had the midnight to 8:00 a.m. watch.  About 4:30 a.m., I started getting telephone calls from various people asking me what was going on in the north and what had I heard.  Even newspaper reporters were asking the same questions and I just told them that I did not know anything.  I and other two Marines who were on watch with me went back to our quarters.  However, we were not there long when our “room boy” came into our room, woke us up, and told me that I was wanted on the phone right away. I went down to the phone and spoke with Paul Dupre who relieved me and said, “George, get all the guys, bring any weapons you have, and get down here right away.  We are sending a Jeep to pick you up.”  As we were driving down a main street and some aircraft were flying extremely low over us. Gus said, “Look at those damn P-51s and how close to us they are flying.  It’s very dangerous.”  We had recently heard that the first class of the Korean Air Force had graduated from flight school, and we thought these new pilots were just showing off.  As we continued down the street, it became clear that these planes were not our P-51s but instead were Russian Yaks, flown by North Korean pilots.  We found out later that the Yak has the same silhouette as American P-51s.  The Yak started strafing us, and we had to do a lot of dodging and stopping quite often to get protection behind the stone pillars of government buildings.

Finally, we made it to the Embassy and our NCOIC (noncommissioned officer in charge) told us there were pre-prepared evacuation orders that we had never heard about.  At that point, we learned that we were among the lead people in these evacuation orders.  However, the orders were up-to-date and extremely precise, telling us exactly where to go, what to do, and when to do it.

After we received our instructions and knew what we had to do, we drove to all the quarters in the city occupied by embassy staff personnel, advising them of the evacuation plans.  The evacuation went quite smoothly, considering the circumstances.  The personnel were all driven in busses to the port of Incheon, southwest of Seoul where there was a fertilizer ship on which everyone boarded.  The Seventh Fleet escorted this ship to Japan.

After they were all evacuated, we still had work to do.  The Ambassador directed us to destroy all the communications equipment in the embassy.  All we did was to go from floor to floor, grabbing all the telephones and throwing them out of windows.  Now, it was Monday and we began wondering just how remaining personnel would be evacuated.

The embassy had inherited all the 24th Corps’ vehicles, and they were in our embassy motor pool.  We took a couple of M-1 rifles, a couple cases of armor piercing ammunition, and destroyed perhaps two hundred jeeps and other vehicles.  We devised a system to make this operation go more smoothly.  One guy would open the hood and another guy would then fire two or three rounds into the flywheel.  That way, the North Koreans would not be able to cannibalize them.  We did all of that in about three to four hours.

We then continued to destroy classified and sensitive material.  The Army Attaché’s office had tons of training manuals marked “Restricted,” and all that fell into the category of burning.  There was so much burning of various documents that the furnaces became overloaded, and we needed to erect a burning bin in the parking area made from chain link fencing.  With the use of lots of gasoline, we were able to get everything destroyed.

After that, I was given the task of getting the two code machines to the sidewalk in front of the embassy.  We got everyone back to safety, hooked up the code machines to Jeep batteries, and then put an electrical charge into them.  Within about 10 to 15 minutes, we had two football-size lumps of molten metal.

After finishing with the code machines, we drove to the airfield at Kimpo.  There were very few transport aircraft available for the evacuation since General MacArthur was using them to bring in the 24th Division.  Task Force Smith was at Osan, with a reinforced company of the 24th.

The last planes for evacuating embassy personnel and U.S. citizens had supposedly landed while we were still shaking the bushes to locate ambassadors of other countries who we could evacuate.  We found most of them; however, there were so many people they overloaded the planes.

After what we were led to believe was the last plane had departed, four or five of us got ready to drive our Jeeps to anywhere south of Seoul.  Just as we were departing Kimpo, someone let us know that there was to be one more plane coming in.  It was a C-54 that was being flown to Suwon from Inosuke in Japan.  When the pilot reached Suwon, he was informed that there were more people at Kimpo to evacuate, including several Marines, so he headed there.  Meanwhile, while we waited for this plane to land, more people arrived and wanted to board the plane.  The crew chief said the plane was grossly overloaded; however, everyone got aboard.  I never knew how many people a C-54 was supposed to carry, but there were approximately 110 aboard.

As we were taxiing down the runway, I heard the pilot tell the crew chief, “I don’t know if I’ll be able to get this SOB off the ground, so we better open the doors and throw anything out that’s not nailed down.”  The Marines assisted in tossing lots of stuff out the doors—life rafts, weapons, cargo boxes—and we were just barely able to lift off.

I was responsible for the Great Seal of the United States that was used at the embassy for passports.  Because of International Law, the Great Seal of the U.S. was not to go into another country.  My instructions from the embassy security officer were to throw the seal out the window of the aircraft after we were over the Straits of Tsushima.  I got the crew chief to open the navigator’s window, and I threw it out of the plane.

We landed at Inosuke, Japan, where the Air Force wives had set up a nice reception for us with refreshments.  A few days later, 19 of us (MSG detachment) were assigned to different posts at embassies throughout the Pacific area.  Later, after we retook Seoul in September, six of us would be recalled to the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.  We would be together again until the Chinese Communists invaded South Korea later that same year—but that’s a different story.

About The Author:

Fred Lash works with Military Historical Tours Inc. They are the finest, custom-designed tour program for Veterans, Family Members, Historians, Educators or Students. For 30 years they have followed the vision of providing opportunities to visit battlefields of past conflicts.

See this and other stories of our Veterans in KDVA’s “I Know a Korean War Veteran Campaign” webpage at https://kdva.vet/i-know-a-korean-war-veteran-campaign/.

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I Don’t Hate Nobody Because Life Is So Short

The Remarkable Story of the Only Holocaust Survivor to be Awarded the Medal of Honor

By: Mr. Ned Forney, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, career educator, and grandson of a Korean War veteran

“When I became a citizen, it was one of the happiest days in my life . . . [the U.S.] is the best country in the world, and I’m part of it.” – Tibor Rubin

He survived more than a year in a Nazi concentration camp, was awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Korea, endured thirty 30 months as a Chinese POW, and upon his release, became a U.S. citizen.

The Korean War

Arriving in America in 1948 after surviving the horrors of 14 months at Mauthausen concentration camp, Tibor “Ted” Rubin worked odd jobs, made friends, and repeatedly tried to enlist in the U.S. Army. But his English wasn’t good enough.

In 1950, however, he got his lucky break. With a little “unofficial” help from a few American buddies, he passed the English language test, was admitted into the Army, and was soon on his way to Korea.

As a member of I Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment, First Cavalry Division, PFC Rubin fell under the wrath of his company First Sergeant, a man described by fellow Soldiers as an “extreme anti-Semite.” The ruthless Staff NCO, who made no qualms about verbally assaulting the 21-year-old PFC and giving him the company’s worst jobs, frequently “volunteered” him for dangerous and seemingly impossible missions.

“He would send me to the most difficult positions so that I would be killed,” Rubin recalled. “It scared the hell out of me. I couldn’t even hold my rifle, but I still went.”

They Looked Like Ants

On July 23, 1950, Rubin’s sadistic First Sergeant sent him on what many would later say was a suicide mission. With his company in retreat, Rubin, now a corporal, was ordered to stay behind and defend a vital hilltop. Alone and without support from other units, Rubin was hit by an overwhelming North Korean force.

“There were so many, they looked like ants,” Rubin recalled in an MOH (Medal of Honor) video. “I didn’t have too much time to get scared, so I went crazy. I was like a machine, a robot. I ran around to every foxhole on the hill and started throwing hand grenades and shooting my rifle to make as much noise as possible so the North Koreans would think they were fighting more than one person.”

According to his Medal of Honor citation, “He inflicted a staggering number of casualties on the attacking force during his personal 24-hour battle, single-handedly slowing the enemy advance and allowing the 8th Cavalry Regiment to complete its withdrawal.”

But his First Sgt. was not impressed. Despite the fact that Rubin had been recommended for the Medal of Honor, the enraged Staff NCO refused to submit the paperwork and would repeatedly “misplace” every recommendation (Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, and Silver Star) that Rubin was nominated for.

Nightmare at Death Valley

By October 1950, with the North Koreans retreating and the Americans advancing deep into enemy territory, the war appeared to be all but over. The Chinese, however, had other ideas.

Sneaking across the North Korean border during October and November, tens of thousands of Chinese unleashed a massive offensive against U.S. forces in North Korea. In what became known as the Battle of Unsan, two Chinese divisions attacked the 8th Cavalry Regiment.

Outnumbered and outgunned, Rubin and hundreds of American soldiers were surrounded, taken prisoner, and marched for weeks to the camp they would forever call “Death Valley.”

A POW

Over the next 30 months, Rubin and his fellow prisoners endured the barbaric conditions of the remote camp located in the remote mountains of North Korea. Suffering from extreme cold, deprivation, and physical and mental torture, men starved to death, succumbed to disease and exposure, and simply lost the will to live.

Rubin, however, never lost hope. He became a beacon of optimism and strength for all the men in the camp. Frequently risking his life to steal food and medicine, the seemingly fearless corporal raised the morale of the prisoners and saved the lives of 40 men.

“He’d go out of his way . . . to help us survive,” fellow inmate Leo Cormier said. “He saved a lot of GI’s lives. He gave [us] courage to go on living when a lot of guys didn’t make it. He saved my life when I could have laid in a ditch and died — I was nothing but flesh and bones.”

James Bourgeois remembers Rubin boiling snow and using the steaming water to clean his wounds and bandages. “At one time my wounds got so infected he put maggots in them to prevent gangrene from setting in. [He] not only saved my left arm — which I have full use of today — but also my life.”

Rubin’s nightmare of Chinese captivity came to an end in 1953 when the 23-year-old corporal and countless other emaciated, sick, and wounded Americans were repatriated during “Operation Little Switch,” an exchange of prisoners from April 20 to May 3, 1953.

His release and reunion with his family back home, however, was bittersweet. Recalling his buddies that perished, he told Soldiers Magazine, “Some of them gave up, and some of them prayed to be taken.”

When asked years later about his feelings toward those who had imprisoned him during the Holocaust and Korean War, he replied, “I don’t hate nobody because life is so short. If you feel hate for your fellow man, you’ll only hurt yourself.”

To read the full story of Tibor Rubin’s life and how he became the only Holocaust survivor to be awarded the Medal of Honor, visit: http://nedforney.com/index.php/2020/06/22/tibor-rubin-holocaust-korean-war-pow-medal-of-honor/

About The Author:

Ned Forney is a Marine veteran, career educator, and grandson of the late Colonel Edward H. Forney, USMC, the evacuation control officer at Hungnam in December 1950.  He is currently working on a non-fiction book about the Battle of Chosin (Changjin) Reservoir and Hungnam Evacuation, the largest U.S. military amphibious evacuation of civilians, under combat conditions, in American history.

See this and other stories of our Veterans in KDVA’s “I Know a Korean War Veteran Campaign” webpage at https://kdva.vet/i-know-a-korean-war-veteran-campaign/.

 

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The Sharp Family Story

By Ms. Nicole Ruiz, KDVA Research Intern


Photo Caption: Gen. (Ret.) Walter Sharp is holding a picture of his father, then-Lieutenant Earl “Bill” Sharp (who is on the right), with the 40th Infantry Division during the Korean War in 1952 to 1953.  Bill Sharp ended his 28-year military career, retiring as a Cavalry Colonel and inspiring his son to follow in his footsteps. General Sharp started his Army career at West Point and ended in 2011 as the 4-star commander of United Nations Command (UNC), Combined Forces Command (CFC), and U.S. Forces Korea (USFK).


General (Retired) Walter “Skip” Sharp

President and Chairman, Korea Defense Veterans Association

Former Commander United Nations Command / Combined Forces Command / U.S. Forces Korea

Son of Korean War Veteran, Colonel (Retired) Earl “Bill” Sharp

 

Shortly after graduating from the University of West Virginia and receiving his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant, Earl “Bill” Sharp joined the 40th Infantry Division during the Korean War in 1952. In 1953, Lieutenant Sharp returned home to his wife and his new son, Walter “Skip” Sharp, who had been born while he was fighting in Korea. Then-Lieutenant Sharp would pursue a 28-year military career, retiring as a Cavalry Colonel and inspiring his son to follow in his footsteps. Skip Sharp entered West Point and graduated in 1974, launching what would become a 37-year military career and ultimately retiring as a 4-star General in 2011. When General Sharp was set to deploy for Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s, his father emphasized the importance of taking care of his troops thru tough realistic training and trusting his subordinates. Still, his father did not fully breach the topic of his wartime experiences.

General Sharp was first stationed in Korea between 1996 and 1998. General Sharp received his promotion from Colonel to Brigadier General and his parents, who had attended every promotion since West Point, joined him for a short visit in Korea. The trip held special meaning for his father because it was the first time he set foot on Korean soil since the Korean War. General Sharp reflected, “He really was amazed and pleased to see how much Korea has progressed and said several times ‘The sacrifices of the Korean War were worth it’.” Unfortunately, Colonel Sharp passed away in 2006 before he could see his son earn his fourth star and return to Korea for his dream final job in the Army as the commander of United Nations Command (UNC), Combined Forces Command (CFC), and U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) from 2008 until his retirement in 2011.

This tour as the 4-star commander in Korea gave General Sharp the opportunity to visit the location where his father fought, an experience he wishes he could have shared with him. His Deputy CFC Commander, General Jung, Seong Jo, mobilized Korean historians to help identify the locations where his father served in the Heartbreak Ridge-to-Punchbowl area in late 1952 and early 1953. General Jung also arranged for General Sharp and his wife to visit the battlefield as well as receive a briefing from the unit stationed in that area. Even though his father could not join him to revisit the battlefield, being able to do so was still a special moment for General Sharp, especially because his father never talked about his experiences in any detail. General Sharp remembered, “There were times when he would talk about how cold it was, the coldest he was ever in his life.” Besides these little snippets of information, much of Co lonel Sharp’s service was shrouded in mystery.

It wasn’t until several years after his father passed away that General Sharp would learn more about his father’s experiences in Korea and Vietnam. When the family stumbled across a cedar chest containing photos and military records, General Sharp described finding such a chest as “pretty emotional.” Like many veterans from the Korean War, his father closely guarded his experiences and never really divulged any details. General Sharp reflected, “I wish I had a better understanding on how things went and how he was able to prepare, lead, and fight in a war at such a young age.” He went on to say, “When I retired, I vowed that I was going to continue to do everything I could … to strengthen the ROK-U.S. Alliance and honor those who had served in Korea.”

True to his word, General Sharp honored the legacy of his father and other Korean War veterans after his retirement by speaking on their behalf. He also played a crucial role in forming the Korean Defense Veterans Association (KDVA), becoming the first chairman and president of the organization. These organizations are important because they provide a platform for the importance of the ROK-U.S. Alliance and for veterans to share their experiences and others to learn from them
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Photo Caption: This bayonet was presented to General Sharp by the 3rd ROK Corps during his visit to where his father fought in the Korean War.

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Photo Caption: Pictures of General Sharp’s father, then-Lieutenant Earl “Bill” Sharp, with the 40th Infantry Division during the Korean War in 1952 to 1953.

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The Champoux Family Story

By Ms. Nicole Ruiz, KDVA Research Intern

Growing up, Korea was an important part of the Champoux family. It came in the form of traditional Korean masks hanging on the living room walls and his father occasionally talking about Korea, although rarely mentioning the war. One of eight siblings, General Champoux was the only one to follow his father’s footsteps into the Army. General Champoux was commissioned a Second Lieutenant by his father on October 21, 1977. Now with his son as a fellow Soldier, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Francis L. Champoux began to share more experiences, finally broaching the topic of his war experiences in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. One such story was when then-Captain Champoux was first assigned to the 65th Infantry Regiment during the Korean War. Upon being assigned to the unit, there were some initial difficulties in terms of connecting with his troops. However, he eventually earned their respect when he made it clear that he would share the dangers of combat with his men, even gaining the nickname “El Toro” (Spanish for “The Bull”). Colonel Champoux expressed great pride in his son’s decision to serve. Unfortunately, he passed away at the age of 65, before seeing his son become a general.

During a deployment to Iraq, General Champoux received the news he would be assigned to Korea. Following an emotional plane ride to his new duty station with his wife, he settled into his new role as the Eighth Army Commanding General. During his time in Korea, he was able to enlist the help of a Korean aide-to-camp and use the book Honor and Fidelity to find the exact location where his father fought. Over sixty years later, General Champoux made a sort of pilgrimage with some family and staff. He was able to follow his father onto the grounds near Cheorwon, where then-Captain Champoux was part of the Battle of Jackson Heights. Regarding the experience, General Champoux explained, “To get the chance to serve where he had served, where he had fought, was really, really precious to me. Even now, I’m so proud of that. I’m so grateful that I had that opportunity. Although I didn’t need to be any closer… I felt that much closer to him.” Reflecting on his initial assignment to Korea, General Champoux believes it was partially due to divine providence. His father had often called Korea the “Land of the Morning Calm” and after living there, General Champoux can attest that, “there is something about when you’re out in the field. [When the sun is rising above the mountainous terrain,] there is a sense of quiet and calm.” Although their experiences in Korea were vastly different, both General Champoux and his father are and will remain Soldiers for life.

There are some things only those who have experienced war will understand. To many, there is a comfort in believing in such a place as Valhalla, a place for only the souls of warriors. General Champoux pronounces, “There’ll be a time when I’ll sit around a fire with my dad at Valhalla and we’ll talk about our combat service and we’ll talk about our time in Korea… [but] I can wait. There’s a lot that I still want to live for.” General Champoux’s commitment to the ROK-U.S. Alliance remains strong through his volunteer efforts with KDVA as a Board member and his current position as Senior Vice President of Hanwha Defense International, a South Korean defense company in the Washington, DC area. He believes that strengthening the Alliance through various channels can further solidify the bonds forged during the Korean War.

Hanging on Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Bernard Champoux’s office wall is a photo of the surviving members of the 65th Infantry Regiment “Borinqueneers,” the unit where his father, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Francis L. Champoux, was a company commander during the Korean War. A copy of Honor and Fidelity, originally presented by the author, Gilberto Villahermosa, to General Champoux’s mother, now sits in a place of honor in this library. These physical mementos serve as a reminder of the ties that bind. General Champoux never met the Soldiers with whom his father served, but their faces are still proudly displayed. Villanueva’s research helped bring General Champoux that much closer to his father.


Read more “I Know a Korean War Veteran” Campaign Stories.

“I Know A Korean War Veteran Campaign”

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General Paek Sun Yup

Submitted By: James Pierce 

My favorite Korean War veteran is General Paek Sun Yup, perhaps Korea’s greatest modern military leader.

I initially met General Paek probably in the 1970s, when I was first assigned to the American Embassy in Seoul. (I had been introduced to Korea a decade earlier, serving in 8th Army.) Over the years, with repeated assignments to Korea, I had the opportunity to meet General Paek a number of times. The last time I saw him was about 25 years ago at a reception held at the residence of the Korean Ambassador to the U.S. on Korean Armed Forces Day, October 1.

General Paek was the senior-ranking guest and, as such, was to give the featured remarks. I met up with him during the initial mix and mingle, reintroduced myself and, after mentioning that I had just re-read a history of the Korean War, asked General Paek if he could recall for me one particular event during the war that stood out most clearly in his memory. He paused and said, “Yes, there was such a moment, and I remember it very clearly.” He related how, on June 29, he had been directed to go to Suwon Airfield to meet a “high-ranking U.S. military officer.” The officer turned out to be General MacArthur, who flew in from Japan that day to assess the situation on the ground. After going up to the south bank of the Han River (Seoul had fallen by that time), MacArthur declared that he would direct U.S. ground troops to come to Korea and enter the war.

At that moment, General Paek related to me some 45 years later, “I knew Korea would be saved.” General Paek and I parted, said hello to other guests, and several minutes later, General Paek was called to the front of the room to deliver his remarks. He reached into his suit jacket pocket and took out a page of written remarks. Pausing a moment, he said, “I have these prepared remarks, but I’m not going to use them.” Putting them back into his pocket, he continued, “Instead, I’m going to tell you about June 29, 1950.” When he finished a few minutes later, the applause was thunderous.

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