8:25 | 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).
Keywords : Naval Academy of South Korea Foreign Language College of Korea Education tuition Almanac Chaplain Eugene OR Northwest Christian College Seminary Theology U.S. Navy USS Sperry (AS-12)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you need to pick off a target at 1500 yards, the heavy M-1 is perfect, says Bob Moore. But if you need to crawl around in the dark on patrol, the carbine is a much better weapon. Especially after the maintenance guys modified it.
How close was Fred Fletcher to the enemy in the firefight? He was hitting them with his rifle butt. The Chinese had entered the war and the Marines at Chosin Reservoir were finding out just how many there were. He made it through the initial attacks but there was fighting all the way down the long steep road to the South. At Hagaru-Ri, he nearly froze his feet just before he ran out of luck dodging enemy fire.
Their second night at Chosin Reservoir, they were nearly overrun. The Marines were pushed off Hill 1240 by a horde of Chinese and they regrouped and retook the hill, twice. After the enemy scattered, Fred Fletcher and his buddy Ray Fairchild were at the end of the line keeping watch over a ridge line. They had not noticed that everyone else had withdrawn. Then, a mortar shell exploded.
After liberating Seoul, Martin Overholt and his regiment departed for Koto-ri in North Korea to try and push back enemy troops. Moving through that region, they faced heavy casualties from the Chinese troops. (Part 1)
Ron Clark remembers the steps taken to avoid critical injuries due to cold weather, including the boots that were worn during combat. He also explains a funny story about how he got the nickname One Boot Clark.
It was good incentive to survive. Bill Minnich received his GED while in basic, and as soon as he returned from Korea, he could get the diploma. Right away it was tough as he faced challenges from monsoons to mortar fire.
Life expectancy was short on the Korean front lines. Gene Sullivan recalls seeing green replacements killed almost instantly as they arrived at the front. He was wounded at T-Bone Hill when shrapnel penetrated the separate plates of his body armor.
On a mission to gather intelligence on North Korean land targets including a hydroelectric plant, Ben Malcom's B-26 was hit nine times by anti-aircraft fire. Having narrowly survived that excursion, Malcom devised a plan to team his guerrilla fighters on the ground with Army airborne assets to take out that hydroelectric plant.
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.
Lawrence Snowden was one of only 95,000 active Marines when war broke out in Korea, drawn down from a force of over 500,000. His superiors wanted him to stay in his planning role, but he pushed for a transfer to the action.
Robert Weisbrodt went right into the fray of battle when he arrived in Korea, moving North from Pusan. Enjoying some rare beer in his rations, he had to take cover under his tank and watched as the beer spilled from the shrapnel pierced cans.
When The Korean War ended, Ben Gross had to leave Japan and move to Korea to guard Chinese prisoners. On a Navy ship taking him there, he remarked to the sailors that they “had it made…bacon and eggs for breakfast.” Infantry had to make do.
Robert Weisbrodt’s tank crew took part in the landing at Inchon and saw MacArthur land on the beach after the assault. They then saw fierce fighting at Suwon. For the first time, he knew the pain of seeing friends injured before his eyes. Moving as far as the Yalu River, he learned how to advance to the rear when the Chinese attacked.
Bill Ozmint remembers his upbringing in rural South Carolina and joining the ROTC during college, which got him introduced to the military. Since he knew so many people involved in the war, joining the military was always on the table for him.