4:43 | A veteran of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Frank Noonan reenlisted after the war and served on the aircraft carrier USS Valley Forge during the Korean War. He details the awesome firepower its dive bombers carried and the technology of launching and landing jets on a floating runway. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
Keywords : Frank Noonan Korea USS Valley Forge (CV-45) carrier Korean Chinese dive bomber Douglas AD Skyraider Grumman F9F Panther jet tailhook arresting gear hydraulic Sea of Japan Yellow Sea
On a family vacation in San Diego, Frank Noonan became enamored with the sailors he saw and, instantly, he had a new goal. As soon as he was old enough, he would join the Navy. His chosen path led him to a berth on the battleship USS Oklahoma, which pulled into Pearl Harbor on December 6, 1941. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
It was Sunday morning and Frank Noonan was getting ready to go on liberty when the alarm sounded. The ship was under attack. In fact, the entire fleet in Pearl Harbor was under attack by Japanese aircraft. He made it to his battle station, but was trapped when the ship capsized. In an air pocket with two others, he banged and yelled for help that would not come. Part 1 of 2. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
Frank Noonan was trapped with two others below deck on the USS Oklahoma after eight torpedoes ripped into her hull. A savvy Petty Officer figured a way out, but it was no picnic in Pearl Harbor when he broke the surface of the water. Coated with oil and sick from swallowing it, he wondered what his next step would be. Part 2 of 2. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
On his first maneuvers after joining the Navy, Frank Noonan saw a destroyer performing boring duties and thought to himself, "I'm glad I'm not on that ship." He was on the battleship USS Oklahoma at the time, but after it was sunk during the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, he had to be reassigned to another ship. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
The Japanese had been bombing a weather station south of Hawaii, so the USS Helm was dispatched to evacuate the civilian survivors. Frank Noonan was a lookout on the bridge and he was having a problem with his helmet. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
The USS Helm returned to its home naval yard at Mare Island to rearm with improved weapons. Frank Noonan was able to call his mother for the first time since the war started and then it was back to sea. The Helm was an older destroyer and its sonar would not function when the ship was making more than 15 knots, so she was relegated to escorting auxiliary ships. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
When the Japanese fleet came down "The Slot" to support its troops in the Solomon Islands, an American force was rapidly gathered to engage them. Frank Noonan was loading projectiles on the USS Helm, so he could not see the action, but he could sure hear it. After the battle, the ships that were damaged were told to make for port at what speed they could manage. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
Frank Noonan's ship, the destroyer USS Helm, was sent to join up with some Australian ships, a Dutch destroyer and a French destroyer. The crews of the Dutch and French ships had escaped the Nazis in Europe. The duty was mostly anti-submarine patrols and, eventually, the force moved to Sydney, where they became part of "MacArthur's Navy." (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
The USS Helm was told to protect the Queen Mary on its way into Sydney harbor, but there was one problem. The cruise ship was way faster than its anti-submarine escort. Frank Noonan had made his way up to coxswain of the whale boat on the Helm and this allowed him a great privilege, going ashore. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
The Marines were having a lot of trouble on the beaches in the Marshall Islands. Frank Noonan was on board the USS Helm, a destroyer that was bombarding the shorelines. After this action, the Helm escorted a damaged battleship back to the States and he got leave to go visit family. His new assignment was going to be totally different. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
After a long stint aboard a destroyer, Frank Noonan ended the war on an entirely different kind of craft, a crash boat. Based in the Philippines, his job was to wait just offshore to rescue downed flyers. He was obligated until 1946, so after celebrating with friends and visiting home, he was going back to sea. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
A veteran of World War II and Korea, Frank Noonan served long enough to make it to Saigon on the first American warship to venture up the Mekong River. There, he observed a German civilian use an unusual defensive technique when attacked at a sidewalk cafe. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
Frank Noonan owed the Navy another year. That's how he wound up at the Bikini Atoll for Operation Crossroads, the first post-war atomic bomb tests. There were two detonations, an air burst and an underwater burst. He describes the scene and the devastating effects on the target ships. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
After a short bit of shore duty, Frank Noonan was assigned to the USS John R. Craig, a destroyer that was bound for a goodwill tour in the Pacific. It berthed in some unlikely places, including up the Irrawaddy River at Rangoon. (This interview made possible with the support of JANIS HAUSER In Memory Of Alfred W. Hauser, Army Air Corps.)
Following training and boot camp, Bob Owen attended radar school so he could learn to detect and communicate with other ships while overseas. Before that, however, he was given two weeks with his family for the holidays and remembers a nasty bus accident that happened on the way home.
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).
T.J. Martin was marched north to Camp 1 in NW North Korea, along the Yalu River. He recalls what he considered the mercy of his captors, and fellow prisoners’ comparison to their treatment as captives of the Japanese years prior.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
With few options, T.J. Martin had to make a move to get out of the ditch. In spite of taking a hit from a grenade, he made it to a larger group and they’d attempt to escape the massacre, but many of those men would not survive. Part 2 of 2
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.
T.J. Martin was trying his best to resist the indoctrination attempts of the North Koreans, so they sent him to Camp 2, just north of Camp 1. There, they had different methods to try and break him. He remembers his time there before being relocated again, as well as participating in Operation Little Switch where North Korea would exchange wounded prisoners with the U.N. Coalition.
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.
T.J. Martin left his home in South Carolina when he graduated as he was drafted into the Army in 1950. The Korean War would take him across the Pacific to Japan where he would do some teaching, before ultimately landing in Korea to join the 38th Infantry Regiment.
Grace Chicken wasn't necessarily drafted into the Korean War since she willingly took the nursing job she was offered immediately out of school. It was around this time that the Army Air Corps became the Air Force. She was stationed in Japan and would fly to Korea to pick up wounded Americans, and oddly enough, sometimes they would even pick up wounded enemy soldiers. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD A. BERNSTEIN.) ( Interview conducted at, and with the assistance of, the Military Heritage Museum- https://freedomisntfree.org/.)
The North Koreans had captured hundreds of soldiers and kept them in a prison camp that was also a tactical target for the American Air Force. It became unfeasible to keep the prisoners there, so they began marching for the North Korean headquarters. T.J. Martin recalls not everyone being able to survive the trip. Part 2 of 2
He was tired of war and service, but he still found himself trying to get back in the Marine Corps. Emory Ashurst had to settle for the Army, but it worked out for 17 more years serving his country. In Korea he was a communications specialist and was fortunate to face no combat. (This interview made possible with the support of MICHAEL J. TANNER.)
During her time in the service, Chicken remembers that the treatment nurses received on board the airplanes was incredibly positive. According to her, nurses were held in very high regard because of their ability to quickly care for patients as well as their status as officers. One time in Korea, her team was tasked with saving a group of orphans. After the war ended, she went back to having a job at the Red Cross. She gives her reflections on both wars she was involved in, and what she wants to say to everyone watching her stories. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD A. BERNSTEIN.) (Interview conducted at, and with the assistance of, the Military Heritage Museum- https://freedomisntfree.org/.)
After his missions in Japan, Owen came back to the states for a brief period as a plane guard for aircraft carriers with the Valley Forge. His ship acted as underwater security for the pilots in the air. If a plane went into the water, it was his team's job to rescue the stranded pilot. As soon as the North Koreans crossed the 38th parallel, the US declared that it was going to help the south. Owen and his team helped aid in the Korean War.
T.J. Martin had already lost many men and the Chinese were taking even more prisoners. Thanks to some quick thinking and some good teachers back home, he was able to talk his way out of captivity, but he wasn’t out of the woods yet. Part 1 of 2
After a bit of relaxation back in the states after World War II, Koshewa was recalled in to report to Springfield, Massachusetts for the start of the Korean War. In Springfield, he had to undergo navigation refresher courses in preparation. His Korean missions mostly involved transportation, such as dropping off leaflets or agents behind the lines. Unlike in World War II, a lot of the times the enemy did not have radar to help them shoot down US planes. Because of this, Koshewa's missions became much easier to carry out. (This interview made possible with the support of RICHARD SPEARS.)
During the Korean War, Bob Owen took on many responsibilities in the Navy. He joined Task Force 95 and helped the South Koreans intimidate the North during negotiation periods between the two. His team continued to help pilots that were shot down, but at one point there was an incident where they accidentally shot down a friendly pilot who had lost the ability to communicate that he wasn't a threat.
Nearing the end of the Korean War, Bob Owen was sent back home for the second time and was accepted into Tennessee Tech college. Following that, he landed a job working radar for the Federal Aviation Administration. After spending many years in the states, he was very flattered when he found out that his grandson wanted to join the military too to follow in his footsteps. To conclude, Owen leaves us with his sentimental final thoughts about his interactions with the Korean people.
The Chinese People's Volunteer Army had begun to push back against UN Forces in Korea, and T.J. Martin would be there, present for the Battle of Hoengsong. His column was moving out and he would be on the last Jeep, but the oppressive fire led to him taking cover in a ditch. Part 1 of 2