5:14 | He didn't like the look of the Navy uniform so Jack King joined the Marines. While he was at boot camp, the Korean War broke out and the drill instructor sent them off with a promise about guarding the home front while they were gone. He landed at Inchon after a tense climb down the cargo net and it wasn't long before he saw his first dead Marine. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
Keywords : Jack King East Point GA bell bottoms Drill Instructor (DI) Parris Island Korea Inchon landing craft cargo net mortar rear echelon 81 mm mortar rigor mortis
Moving on after the Inchon landing, Jack King recalls how a liberated brewery supplied the men beverages right in the foxhole. He didn't drink but he did try some well water which led to his new nickname, "Frog." He was a mortarman and, typically, was behind the front lines where the direct fire was minimal. While observing the Korean people, he developed an admiration of their ingenuity. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
How was the weather up there? Marine mortarman Jack King will give you an earful about the weather in Korea, especially the freezing cold in the north. He remembers a time when he had on two of everything and it didn't really work. During the retreat from the Chosin Reservoir, it was at least 30 degrees below zero. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
After Seoul was secured, the Marines boarded LST's and went around the peninsula to Wonsan. Jack King was a mortarman who was typically in the rear echelon. He remembers guarding the mountain pass which led to the plateau where the Chosin Reservoir was. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
From the time he joined the Marine Corps, Jack King had heard of the exploits of Chesty Puller, the most decorated Marine in history. While serving in Korea, he got to meet the man. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
When the entire division hurriedly departed North Korea from the port of Hungnam, the ships were so full that Jack King had to sleep on deck in the frigid weather. When he was safely back at Pusan, he had an experience with the Red Cross that angered him for the rest of his life. Before they headed back north, Chesty Puller adjusted their weaponry for the better. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
Jack King was on the rotation list, but he had to saddle up anyway and get up to Horseshoe Ridge. There, the Chinese unleashed a human wave attack and the rear echelon Marine mortarman found himself under direct fire for the first time. It was during a lull in this battle when one of the sergeants opened a Dear John letter. It did not go well. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
Laying in a foxhole during a mortar barrage, Jack King thought for a moment about sticking a foot up and possibly getting a million dollar wound. That feeling passed. He recalls the story of a young replacement Marine who came into the unit really gung-ho. That also passed. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
There was a private in the outfit who had been busted from corporal more than once. Somehow he got hold of some lieutenant's bars and Jack King reveals how this led to the Marine mortar company getting some free transportation courtesy of the Army motorpool. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
In Korea, there was a gunner in Jack King's mortar platoon who kept making fun of preachers and religion. The lord had a way of making those guys shut up. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
There were aphorisms in the Marine Corps that started with, "old gunney says...." Jack King started a new saying while in Korea, and the unit carried it forward after he came home. He stayed in the Corps two more years, but his obstinance kept him from making it a career. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
They never made it back north to the Chosin Reservoir. The advance of the Marines stalled near the 38th parallel and mortarman Jack King recalls how he was threatened with court martial there, twice. The second time, his refusal to load the weapon actually prevented a fatal error. (This interview made possible with the support of RALPH J. TINGLE.)
As company clerk, John Meyers had several responsibilities, the captain's morning report, letters home to parents of men killed in action and writing up awards recommendations. He wrote up the recommendation for Charles Gilliland, a seventeen year old, whose heroic actions made him the youngest soldier to receive the Medal Of Honor in the Korean War.
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.
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.
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.
It was a fighting withdrawal, all the way down from the Chosin Reservoir. The Marines went to Pusan to lick their wounds and refit. Once ready, they moved out to Andong, where they patrolled and cleared the area. It was on one of these patrols to clear a ridge line that Charles Vicari shot a man at point blank range for the first time. What he saw had a profound effect on him.
The Marines leaving Japan finally found out on the ship where they were headed, the port of Inchon. The air was full of gunsmoke when Charles Vicari boarded the landing craft. Once ashore, he moved inland and on the fourth day, faced his first enemy attack.
After seeing action off the coast of Korea, the USS Cowell resumed its around the world cruise, which had begun in Norfolk. From Korea, the ship headed south. Charles Kelly recalls the delightful liberties he had in many ports on his trek from Singapore to Ceylon and up through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean.
After he was drafted, Ed Price was surprised to hear he was going to the 101st Airborne. He wasn't going to jump out of any plane! But it was just a training unit so he got the regular basic training and then went to anti-aircraft artillery school.
The Marines had to take a large ridge line and it was a tough one. They started taking rifle fire and then mortar fire. Charles Vicari heard a loud crack and then felt like someone hit him in the back with a hot poker.
When Ed Price went for his first guard duty in Korea, he was surprised that some men had nicely pressed uniforms at the inspection. Why? This was a war zone. Then he found out that, each night, one man was selected to be the supernumerary, who got to stay inside where it was warm. He now had a new goal.
While walking past a recruiting office, Charles Vicari made a spur of the moment decision to join the Marine Corps. When the Korean War broke out, he volunteered for duty on the west coast to replace Marines that had been sent there. He was told the duty may be a little further than the west coast.
The destroyer was off the coast of Korea when, down in the crew quarters, Charles Kelly heard a muffled explosion and felt the ship lurch. Turns out it was not the enemy. His ship, the USS Cowell, participated in the siege of Wonsan, as well as patrolling the coast looking for supply trains.
Ed Price thought he made a pretty slick move. By becoming a clerk in the personnel section, he wouldn't have to be out in that cold Korean weather. Somehow, he still found himself manning a .50 caliber machine gun from time to time.
There was stiff resistance at Yeongdeungpo as the Marines pushed toward Seoul. While crossing a large plaza at a crossroads, Charles Vicari was sure he was going to get it right there. When it was his turn to move out, he froze. After a not so gentle nudge, he ran across. After surviving that, he survived a North Korean counter attack.
He was fortunate that his time in Korea was relatively uneventful. Ed Price remembers a couple of big air attacks, but most were on the level of hand grenades lobbed out of a small plane. Since he was in headquarters company, which had a small amount of privates, he was in for a lot of guard duty.
It was quiet at Koto-ri when Charles Vicari got there, but then the Chinese struck. The Marines got on trucks to head up to Hagaru-ri, but they were soon cut off. They repelled all attacks, but they had to withdraw down that same little mountain road they had ascended. The retreat from Chosin had begun.
When North Korea invaded the South, a train pulled out of Brooklyn with William Moncus on board. It picked up more Marines as it traveled across the country, arriving finally in San Diego. After shipping across the Pacific, they landed at Pusan and went straight into battle. The tide was turned.
Japan was the R&R destination for troops in Korea. Ed Price got an extra trip when he won soldier of the month. In his unit, there was a Japanese American soldier who kept getting mistaken for a Korean, which he would milk for laughs whenever possible.
Shortly after high school, Robert Martin enlisted in the Army. He became a cook and when the Korean war broke out, he joined the 2nd Infantry Division there. While he was deployed, the order from the White House came that the troops could not fire unless they were fired upon. This was very bad, in his estimation.
At seventeen, Charles Kelly joined the Navy Reserve. He had three cruises under his belt before he went active. His training on those meant that, unlike almost every other service member, he had no boot camp. Life aboard a carrier was not to his liking, so he requested a destroyer.
Ed Price was stuck in Seattle. While other troops boarded ships for Korea, he and several others had to wait for records to catch up with them. After a couple of false starts, he was finally headed across the Pacific. When he got to his anti-aircraft unit, he was asked a fateful question. Can you type?
It was eleven days retreating down that narrow dirt road from the Chosin Reservoir. William Moncus had two wounds and frozen feet and was airlifted to Japan after a runway was improvised. He began a long journey through several hospitals until he was able to walk again.