4:39 | He had been a Radioman for the Navy and when Turner Harris was called to active duty during the Korean War, they sent him to Adak, Alaska, where he monitored Russian Morse Code for Communications Support Activities, a Naval signal intelligence agency. He missed his wife, but the chow was good.
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He decided he would rather ride than walk, so Turner Harris volunteered for the Navy in 1942. His journey started out rough in an open rail car with cinders blowing on him. After basic training, he was sent to radio school and eventually assigned to the USS New Orleans, a heavy cruiser.
Turner Harris joined the crew of the USS New Orleans just as repairs were completed. The Radioman was assigned to Radio Room 3, deep in the ship. His first action was off Wake Island, where he felt, but could not see, the artillery fire from shore. After the battle, he asked his Chief for a big favor.
The MPM Circuit was a continuous feed from Honolulu, one coded message after another, 24 hours a day. Radioman Turner Harris translated the Morse code for the decoding officer, then was on to the next message. That was also his battle station so he spent a lot of time there. He was on a heavy cruiser that was bombarding Japanese held islands.
Two planes roared right across the bow of the ship. "Those are Jap planes," said Turner Harris, and he watched one of the kamikazes damage two aircraft carriers. At the Battle of Okinawa, his ship bombarded the island for 59 days, all the while fighting off Japanese attacks with anti-aircraft fire and smokescreens.
It became known as the Turkey Shoot because of the incredible numbers of downed Japanese planes. That was the Battle of the Philippine Sea and the next battle, Leyte Gulf, broke the back of the Japanese in the South Pacific. Radioman Turner Harris credits the American Hellcat pilots with his survival in those battles.
Turner Harris went through three typhoons during his Pacific tour. The first two didn't amount to much, but the third one was deadly. He describes the sight of the giant swells and how he avoided injury, at least until he went to fetch sandwiches.
Turner Harris had to go to the head but there was a long line, so he sat down for a moment on a ladder at the edge of the ship. He heard a plane in distress and turned to watch it hit one of the masts and explode. The next thing he knew, he was over the edge and hanging on for dear life.
Finally back home, Turner Harris could not find a job, so he reenlisted and became a Navy recruiter. After a while, he took a civilian job, but the Navy lured him back in with clandestine work, although he didn't realize that was what it was. He was working for Communications Support Activities, a Naval signal intelligence agency.
He always wanted to be a Marine. Ever since he followed the daily news through World War II, Fred Fletcher had that deep desire. He survived the abrasive Drill Instructor at Parris Island and was assigned to Subic Bay on routine station duty when the Communists from the North attacked South Korea. Soon he was in a different climate.
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.
Ben Malcom recalls a mission to infiltrate and destroy a 76mm gun hidden inside a North Korean mountain. During the cover of night on July 14, 1952, Malcom managed to sneak 120 guerilla fighters onto the mountain and into the bunker, and describes the combat that ensued.
Ron Clark remembers when the Chinese would attack and how the strategies between American and Chinese differed. He also explains one detailed account of an American casualty during battle and his own major injury that permanently disabled his eyesight.
When it was time to act, Bill Minnich came through. On a night watch, as he caught sight of a Chinese patrol, the only question was, rifle or grenade? When the unit was pinned down and no one responded to the order to move out, he cussed them all out and charged forward. And when he fell wounded, it was a sure thing that he would get up and scramble through the bullets landing at his feet.
Fred Webb was enjoying his Marine Corp Reserve meetings, but then the Korean War broke out and it was back into the service. The trombonist played in the band at Camp Lejeune and finally got some overseas duty of sorts. He spent a month in the Caribbean on maneuvers.
He had been a Radioman for the Navy and when Turner Harris was called to active duty during the Korean War, they sent him to Adak, Alaska, where he monitored Russian Morse Code for Communications Support Activities, a Naval signal intelligence agency. He missed his wife, but the chow was good.
He had chickened out after trying to enlist, but the Army recruiter showed up at his house a week later and Lou Pardy wound up going in for a three year stretch. Basic training was tough and it put a few more pounds on his small frame.
Evarist LeMay recalls the capturing of a group of Chinese soldiers by his regiment and the actions they took for retribution. While scouting, LeMay and his fellow scouts come across a group of American soldiers that had been brutally executed. He credits these types of situations for the PTSD that happens to guys like him when they come home.
Lou Pardy remembers the daily grind of Korea, the constant moving around and making do wherever you were. He also reflects on his long tenure as a Corporal, and why that was, and on his ill-fated attempt to reenter the military years after the war.
When Bill Camper arrived in Korea in command of an engineer company, the peace talks were going on so they were able to do their work on roads and bridges without getting shot. Mines were a threat, though, left by the retreating Communists. After tours in Japan and Germany, he was training paratroopers at Fort Benning when the Vietnam War began to heat up.
After moving around South Korea, Records Clerk Lou Pardy prepared to head into North Korea to Hungnam. The unit was in relief of Marines, whose tanks were not winterized. It was bitterly cold and there was a constant stream of refugees to screen in addition to regular duties. Finally, as the Allies lost ground, the city was evacuated in almost disastrous fashion.
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.
After a short stint in the Navy, Bill Camper decided that it wasn't for him. He was going to serve, but in the Navy, the gulf between officers and enlisted men was too wide, so he got out and enlisted in the Army, where he knew the officers would be in the mud with him. Once in the Army, he was sent to Officer Candidate School and went to Korea with an engineer battalion.
After a training operation in the Caribbean, Lou Pardy was settling in to a routine as a clerk in a tank battalion when the Korean War broke out. They were given seven days to get ready to leave and after that hectic week, they were shipped to a slightly more hectic location, the Pusan Perimeter.
We were totally 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.
Records clerk Lou Pardy had always been just behind the front lines with Headquarters Company, but after the rapid retreat from North Korea, all HQ personnel were moved back to Seoul. As his rotation date neared, and with a savvy replacement already in place, he took an unofficial job as a courier, which carried him back to the front on a daily basis.
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.
Curtis Banker's armored unit was part of the force that came into Hungnam to support the Infantry and Marines who were "advancing in a different direction" out of North Korea. After the evacuation of thousands of civilians and Allied personnel, and as they were sailing away, he saw the warehouses full of supplies burning, torched so the enemy would not benefit.
Lawrence Abel was called back into service for the Korean War. The Air Force maintenance technician kept the planes flying over the 38th Parallel, then he was selected for a secret unit based in Japan. He made a career of it and even took his family with him to his favorite post in England.
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.
After the war in the Pacific, Curtis banker got married but the Army still beckoned and he reenlisted in 1947. After a year of driving a target tank on the Fort Benning firing range, he got orders to ship out to Korea, where a desperate force was clinging to a perimeter around Pusan.
The Marines were heading North when they found out that China had joined the North Koreans. Fred Fletcher was one of the men on the high plateau at the Chosin Reservoir. One of the patrols from his unit got to a ridge top and when they looked over, there were "many, many, many Chinese."
At first the tank battalion supported the line around Pusan, but then they became a part of the huge landing at Inchon. Tank Driver Curtis Banker drove his vehicle ashore with only one boot, which still makes him laugh. As part of the RECON platoon, he had a variety of missions, only one of which was reconnaissance.
It took a while for the doctors to figure out what had happened when Fred Fletcher was knocked out by a projectile which hit him in the back of the head at the Chosin Reservoir. He recovered and made the Marine Corps a career, although he feels the Corps pulled a fast one on his last assignment. At least the deal made him a Captain.