11:10 | A year after his family made it to safety in Seoul, the North Korean forces had begun their invasion of South Korea. Young Chang Ha describes the terror he faced as he spent three months in an attic with his uncle trying to avoid capture, and the relief of hearing U.S. tanks retaking the city.
Keywords : Presbyterian Refugee Newspaper Invasion Russian Tanks Incheon Korea T-34 Liberation Driver Ambulance Hahn River Uncle Bombings fire G. I.
Young Chang Ha was still a young man living in North Korea at the end of WWII. Korea had been divided and occupied by the Russians in the North and the Americans in the South. Growing up in the town of Yongchon, he lived a quiet farming life, but the religious persecution against Christians brought on by the Communists would force him and his family to flee.
There were many miles between Young Chang Ha’s village and possible refuge in South Korea, so when his father decided they would flee, they had to figure out the safest possible route and carry only the essentials. The Communists didn’t make things easier when they switched the national currency.
Young Chang Ha’s family took a train from the Northwest Corner of North Korea through Wonson, and eventually made it to the 38th Parallel. While there, his mother would be separated from them as they were able to get into Seoul, but he recalls the miraculous string of events that happened as they made their way to his uncle’s house in South Korea.
Able to reconnect with his mother and find shelter with his uncle, Young Chang Ha had successfully fled the Communist regime in North Korea. With only the little capital they had from selling dried squid at the border, his family took up baking as a means to survive in Seoul, but this period of peace would not last.
The outbreak of war in South Korea pushed Young Chang Ha’s family further south to Pusan where an already struggling family would have to find any way to survive. As the U.N. forces repelled the North Koreans, he would find work as an interpreter despite not knowing much English at all. In spite of the hardships he and his family were able to hold out until the armistice was signed.
After the war, competition for any work or education was very high for the young men living in Korea. Young Chang Ha tells the story of how he managed to get his education, make his way to America, and begin a career in the U.S. Navy as a Chaplain aboard the USS Sperry (AS-12).
Walt Russell’s uncle secured him an appointment to West Point, where he met his best friend and future brother-in-law Joe Clemons. After graduation and basic, he went to jump school because paratrooper pay meant an extra $110.
His last post was Sandbag Castle, another barren Korean hill, where the soldiers had hoisted an American flag and then got rid of it as the artillery zeroed in. A new commander surveyed the situation and decided what he needed was modified depth charges that could be catapulted at the enemy.
Robert Weisbrodt says that to get an idea of what it was like in Korea, look at the flimsy clothes on the statues of soldiers in the Korean War Memorial, and imagine having only that to wear in minus forty degrees with a foot of snow and a thirty mile per hour wind. He also discusses providing support for the peace talks and hitting a mine.
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.
Ben Malcom describes the makeup of the 8240th Army Unit, a Special Forces collaboration between the U.S. Army and guerilla fighters in North Korea. Over 200 Americans were spread out over nearly two dozen individual units, commanding and assisting hundreds of guerrilla fighters each. Malcom's individual unit became known as the White Tigers.
Ron Clark explains the bunkers they used when fighting in Korea. He remembers being in these bunkers during guard duty and the strategic mental games the Chinese and Americans would try on one another when fighting on Bunker Hill.
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.
Ben Malcom describes some of the more unique aspects of living on the small islands near North Korea. Boats were numerous and very important, and his boats were specialized to disguise their function and speed. Aircraft flying missions over the area also depended on the small islands to crash land when necessary, in which case Malcom would destroy the irreparable aircraft.
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.
The mission was photo reconnaissance and Clyde Burnette maintained the modified F-51's that flew the daily flights over North Korea. It was a miserable place to work, he recalls, as they had to maintain the aircraft with no hangars or sheds, just tents for shelter.
Ben Malcom comments on the disappointment many of his North Korean guerrilla fighters felt that the United States didn't press further into North Korea, and instead negotiated a compromise to end the war. Some of his fighters settled in South Korea, but many stayed behind in the North, some of those even continued to report on their operations after the war.
Ron Clark talks about many things he learned during Marine training on Parris Island. He tells stories about how disciplined it was, but also how it was necessary for purposes of preparing them for Camp Pendleton and war.
It was in Korea that Bo Blasingame decided on the Army as a career, but it wasn’t his experience as a platoon leader that convinced him. It was becoming a personnel officer that made him interested in the organizational side of the military.
Ben Malcom explains how his Special Forces unit controlled several small islands off the coast of North Korea, where he helped command a guerrilla unit of Korean fighters, along with a guerrilla leader named Pak Chol, to disrupt North Korean military and economic actions as much as possible. His missions were Top Secret and even other Army leaders in the area knew little or nothing of his activities.
Bill Minnich recovered from a bullet to the shoulder and returned to action in Korea. It was a lot less action, but he learned that the Army radios must weigh at least three hundred pounds. He learned what fertilizer was used on the rice paddies, and he learned a lot about the spirit of the Korean people when he was sent to stop a POW riot.
Ron Clark explains how he began in the Navy, but as soon as he decided the Navy was not a good fit and wanted to go to college, the Korean War was just beginning. Clark later joined the Marines and discusses his duties and journeys during training.