Interviewee: Robert Bailey
Interviewer: Jason Goley
Date: December 9, 2000
G: It is December 9, 2000. Robert Bailey is a Korean War veteran. Where did you
live before you went to Korea?
B: I lived here in Jacksonville.
G: You were born in Jacksonville?
B: Born in Jacksonville, only two blocks from here.
G: In Jacksonville when you were growing up, how would you describe race
B: It was nil in this area here, the east side of Jacksonville. The railroad tracks was
the line of demarcation as far as any race relations were concerned.
G: So Jacksonville was a segregated community?
B: Yes. Just by nature, yes, it was segregated. The only white people I actually
came in contact with were the merchants downtown or the merchants at the
stores in the neighborhood. That is about the gist of it.
G: That is about it?
B: Yes, until I was enlisted into the Army.
G: When did you enlist?
B: August 23, 1948. Took basic [training] in Fort Dix, New Jersey. First sign of
G: Was in basic?
B: Basic, yes. We were not integrated in basic, but this is where we were processed
together. After processing, we all went our separate ways. 365th Regiment, 9th
Division. We were all black. The busses were even segregated on post. You had
a W bus and you have a C bus. They were all Uncle Sam's busses, and they
were all the same color. You would have to wait for the C bus to come along to
go where you were going.
G: Did it have a marking?
B: Oh yes. It was a big C. This was on all posts throughout the United States, North
and South. The Army was segregated then.
G: The C stood for Colored?
B: Right. The guys down here were used to that, but the guys up there, [in the]
North, were not because a lot of them went to school together, but they were
segregated once they got on post. They had their own mess halls, own service
clubs, own barber shops. Even in the hospital, we had no barber shop, in the
state's hospital. Had to send them to town to get a barber to cut our hair. We
could not go to the barber shops in Army hospitals. PXs were integrated.
G: Those are stores? Can you explain what the PX is?
B: Yes, PX is a post exchange, a store. That is what it is, a regular grocery store,
clothing store. It is all incorporated into one [store], called PX, post exchange.
G: Why did you enlist, and how old were you?
B: I was nineteen years old. There were no jobs, and I wanted to get out of
Jacksonville and see the world and learn a trade.
G: You said there were no jobs. Could you expand on that?
B: Because I had no experience. No job-related experience. You had menial jobs,
but I am talking with an education. My mother died. My father was only making
$15 a week, for real. I worked on small jobs, dishwasher, busboy, stuff like that,
but there was no future there. So I joined the Army. I had dropped out of school
in the eleventh grade. In fact, I was promoted to the second semester in
eleventh. It was eleven B and eleven A during that period, and I was promoted to
eleven A. Then I joined the Army.
G: Why did you choose the Army over the other branches?
B: I wanted to wear khakis. I went to the Army and Navy and [Army] Air Corps
[predecessor to U.S. Air Force], and they said, well, if you go Navy, you cannot
wear khakis until you become a chief. I said no, I cannot wait that long. I want to
wear khakis now. So, I did. I was proud of those khakis.
G: What was it about the khakis that you wanted...?
B: They had a nice pretty crease, and the girls loved them too. Made you more
huggable. I used to come home on leave, and those khakis used to stand out.
Basic training was real interesting. I learned a lot. We were all men. I had never
been in an all-men's class in my life. It was real interesting. They taught you
responsibility. You can go as high as you want to go, just as long as you are
responsible and know right from wrong. That stuck to me all the way through my
G: What did you expect to get out of the military?
B: Right. Basic training is where they teach you to be a fighting man. This is your
first eight weeks of training. Your second eight weeks, they teach you a job,
called military occupational specialty [MOS]. You are chosen by the aptitude test
you take and what skills you max at. They put me in the signal corps. I went to
signal school and learned how to operate a switchboard, called them tiddler's
wax. By the time I got out of school, I put in for another area since the signal
corps was so lucrative, I put in for radio repair school. They sent me to radio
repair school at Fort Gordon, Georgia.
G: This was before you went to Korea?
B: Before I went to Korea. This is in 1948, 1949, in that area. The Korean War broke
out in 1950. I did not go at the first bunch. I went the second or third bunch.
Anyway, I came out a radio operator. When the Korean War broke out, I thought I
was going over as a [radio operator]. They said no, your primary duty is a soldier.
That is what I was. 1745 was the MOS specialty, a rifleman. I went from PFC
[private first-class] to corporal. When I came back to the States, I was a corporal,
during that time in 1951.
G: Now, you went to Fort Dix, you said?
B: Fort Dix for basic, yes. I went to Camp Gordon, Georgia, for MOS training,
military occupational [specialty] training. Then from there, I went to Korea.
G: You said Fort Dix in 1949 was segregated?
B: Oh yes.
G: So, the only thing that was integrated was basically the PX?
B: The PX, right.
G: Everything else...
B: Everything was segregated.
G: Even training and everything?
B: Even training. I trained in an all-black outfit.
G: In New Jersey, was the neighboring town or community segregated?
B: Trenton? No, it was not segregated at all. This is only on the post. The Army and
the Navy, all services were segregated during that time. Even Truman
desegregated the Army, you know, by law, but shoot, they did not go along with
that until 1953. They tore down the barriers on the post out in Fort Gordon,
Georgia. From 1952 to late 1953, I was in the hospital during that time. When I
was discharged from the hospital in 1953, they were tearing the barriers down
between the barbershops. This was on post. In the hospitals, they only had one
barbershop, and that was for white only. Of course, the barriers were being torn
down all over. All in all, it just took years and years to gel in.
G: When you first arrived into the military, were you aware that Truman had ordered
it to just be desegregated [[in July, 1948]?
B: No, not at all.
G: Because he had done it even before you went. I believe it was 1948.
B: He probably did, but I was not aware of it.
G: When did you become aware that he had told the military to desegregate?
B: In 1953. This was when the barriers, the walls started [coming down]. The
busses changed, but the busses from the post to town were still segregated. You
would take a bus from the post. You were integrated on the post, but you had to
get on the backseat once you pass that gate. There have been a lot of fights from
that gate all the way into town. One time, the guys commandeered the bus and
drove it themselves. Put the driver on the backseat.
G: When was this?
B: That was in 1953. All of these guys were patients in the hospital from the Korean
War. They commandeered the bus. Took us to town, got off the bus...
B: ...bigger towns. We got a lot of little towns around here.
G: When you went off base in Trenton...did you ever go off base?
B: No, I never did.
G: Trenton, New Jersey. Because most of the people I have talked with were trained
in the South, where all the communities are segregated, so this is an unusual
B: Yes. Trenton was integrated, the city, yes.
G: There were no problems in town?
B: No, no problems at all. They treated us real good, as long as we wore our
uniforms. That way, they identified us as soldiers. They treated us real good. In
fact, bus fare was free for the servicemen.
G: You said going off town, you had to get in the back of the bus to leave?
B: Oh yes. These are different busses now.
G: In Trenton?
B: Trenton, no. I was talking about Fort Gordon in Georgia, when I was there in the
G: Oh, we will get back to that.
B: Okay. Now, Trenton, no. It was just the busses on post, the post busses, the old
Army drab-colored bus. All of them are the same color, but they specified W and
C, white and colored.
G: So then if you were taking a Trenton bus towards the base, you could sit
B: Anywhere you want, yes. Those were city-owned busses.
G: But then when you got onto the base, you had to get in the back?
B: On the city busses? No, they just brought us to the gate. That is all, to the
terminal. There was a bus terminal on post, there and back. They do not run you
all over the post. That is when the post busses take over.
G: And the post busses are segregated.
B: Yes, they were segregated.
G: Now, how did that strike you, coming from town and then having to sit in the back
of the bus on post in the Army?
B: It did not bother me at all because I was used to it. I was hardened to it, and it did
not bother me at all. In fact, that motor is warm in the wintertime. It is cold in New
Jersey, and it was pretty warm.
G: So it actually could have been a better place to sit.
B: Oh yes.
G: Well, that is a good way to look at it.
B: The best place. I think a lot of guys from up front wanted to sit back there too. We
had no problems. It was just policy, that was all.
G: How did the white and black soldiers get along on base in Fort Dixon?
B: A lot of the white and blacks knew each other. They got along real good. Every
now and then you have a few clashes but nothing serious. Nobody killed nobody.
G: What kind of clashes are you speaking of?
B: Like in movies. We all go to the same movies on post. Some guy may want to put
their foot on the back of the seat and because it is a black guy up there and vice
versa, I cannot put the blame on one and not put it on the other, they were both
bad. I just stayed clear of all that. I never had any problem. Execute a little close-
order knuckle drill, and it is all over with. Nobody cut anybody, nobody killed
anybody. When I say close-order knuckle drill, I mean just knuckle fights. Other
than that, there was nothing serious.
G: So the movie theaters were integrated?
B: Integrated, yes.
G: How about swimming pools? Were there swimming pools on base?
B: Yes, there were swimming pools.
G: Were they integrated?
B: I do not know because I never did go swimming.
G: Because believe it or not, that is one of the major things. My research has found
out that swimming pools have been a big problem. For some reason, there is a
lot of resistance for allowing black Americans to swim.
B: Right, and that is why I stayed away from them. I did not need a tan. That is what
a lot of guys go out there for and show off their prowess, but I never did go. I
used to swim out in this river. We used to swim all the way to Arlington from
here, a little over a mile. We would swim all the way across there. I would not do
G: What was your general impression of your interactions with whites on base?
B: Good. I have learned a lot from them. We all went to different schools, and
interaction was good. In fact, a lot of our classes were with whites, especially in
the signal corps, because these were more technical subjects. But they were
good. In fact, I met the inventor of a certain type of vacuum tube there. He is one
of the instructors, and he was drafted during that time in the service. I learned a
lot. In fact, I got some of his books here now. But interaction was good.
Education was too, and socially, the little social life we had there. We made do
with what was available to us.
G: Basically, the impression I have gotten so far in Trenton was the PX, the movie
theaters and some technical classes were integrated?
B: Yes, they were all integrated.
G: And everything else was segregated?
B: All the other segregated, yes.
G: Obviously, the barracks were segregated?
B: Yes, because you were in a segregated unit, yes.
G: How did your barracks compare to the white barracks?
B: Same thing. They were the same barracks, just different people. That is all. The
mess halls were the same chow. You could go from one mess hall to the other.
Of course, you know, you did not go to their mess hall. But they used the same
menu all over the United States Army. Same menu. It is a master menu. And the
pay was the same. All privates in the Army got the same thing, all the way up.
But I noticed officers of the same rank, white or black, the black is a little down,
even if their date of rank was the same day. I saw that. That was real obvious.
G: Did that bother you?
B: No. I did not want to become an officer. I liked staying in the pool hall with the
boys. These guys, they had chips on the shoulders. I said, no, I do not need that.
There was another fellow who came in the service with me. He came out a three-
star general. We went to school together, and we left here the same time.
General Emmitt Page. He retired as a three-star general here about a year ago.
That was about forty-three years. He lived two blocks from here. In fact, they
lived across the street from me.
G: Do you still keep in contact with him?
B: Yes. I got his picture here too when he was a two-star general, but he retired as
a three-star general. [Tape interrupted.] ...yes, he was good.
G: After basic, you said you went to Fort Gordon in Georgia?
B: Right. Camp Gordon, Georgia.
G: Now, this base was also segregated?
B: Oh, this is down in Georgia, yes. It is outside of Augusta, Georgia. There is
definitely hard-core segregation there.
G: Was the segregation on base different in Camp Gordon than it was in Fort
B: About the same.
G: But Augusta was definitely segregated.
B: Yes, definitely segregated.
G: Did you have troubles there?
B: When the busses leave post, get on the backseat while you are on post so you
do not have to get on the backseat once you leave the gate.
G: In either of these camps, the one in Trenton and Augusta, the service clubs and
dances and stuff like that....?
B: Yes, they were segregated. You always remember service club number four.
That is one I went to. You could go to one, two and three, but service club four is
where all of the black soldiers normally went. That is on all posts, all posts
throughout the United States. Service club number four, during that time, see.
G: So they had three service clubs for whites and one for blacks?
B: Well, they have plenty of service clubs, depending on how many soldiers you got.
But four, maybe service club numbers four and five, anything below four and five.
G: Camp Gordon is where you learned the signal...?
B: Yes, learned radio repair and carrier repair, electronics repair really.
G: That is something my dad did in the Navy, electronics, in the early 1960s.
B: That is what I did until they sent me to Korea. After that, I said, hey, can I get my
old MOS back? And they did, they gave it to me. I taught electronics for a long
time, back to Gordon again. I went to Gordon about four times, four different
trips. Gordon is like heaven now. It is getting there.
G: When did you find out that you would be going to Korea?
B: Orders came down in a pipeline status. This is what they called a pipeline. It was
just a blanket set of orders. You had not been and they needed you over there
real bad. They were trying to put enough people in companies to form a division,
I guess, and I was just one of them. They got people from all over the post, no
matter what their MOSs were. We need rifleman. That is your basic MOS. You
are a rifleman. Even guys who went to cooking school, good cooks too. Put a rifle
in his hand. We need you up there on the front line.
G: So this was early 1950? Or actually after June, obviously.
B: Right. This was around November, December. See, it was cold then. It was
about forty below zero [degrees] then.
G: In Korea?
B: Yes. We got over there and processed. We had our weapons but we did not
have any ammo, so we picked up ammo and everything after we got off the ship.
They told us what companies we would be in, and we would be able to take a
shower in about a week. It was about three months before I took my first shower.
Or die first. That is the way it was. It was rough. I said, mama did not tell me
about days like this.
G: What did you expect to find in Korea, especially before you got there?
B: Well, I knew there were guys getting killed over there. They assigned me to an
outfit. It was Company B, Black Regiment, but Company B was all white. I guess
they saw my name and said, that sounds like a white boy, Robert Bailey. So, I
was there for a while, and they said, no, no, you need to be in the 3rd Battalion,
so they stuck me in the L Company of the 3r Battalion, 9th Regiment. But I had
earned my combat infantry badge there with the B Company, and my PFC
[private first-class] stripe. So that was passed on down there to the 3rd Battalion.
G: When you first arrived in Korea, you were not integrated essentially, in Company
B? It was all white?
B: Yes, I was in Company B, but I was not supposed to be assigned there.
G: But you were.
B: Yes, I was.
G: How long were you assigned for?
B: I was there for about three months.
G: Then they reassigned you to a segregated unit?
B: Yes. There were Indians and Puerto Ricans, no, mostly Mexicans. Puerto Ricans
were in the 3rd Division. They had a regiment called the 65th Regiment of the 3rd
Division. I was with the 2nd Division of the 3rd Battalion. They were all black
except Colonel Pope. He was the only white one there. He was a good colonel.
He was a good soldier. I do not know why they blackballed him. He was a
captain in charge of a battalion, which calls for a colonel rank. But he made
colonel before he left. He was wounded, but he was colonel when he left. I saw
him again in 1978.
G: So you knew the war was going on in November. Did you support this war? Did
you have any opinions about the war one way or the other?
B: No, no. None at all.
G: How come you did not have an opinion?
B: Well, that is part of the job. It was not much like they do it nowadays. See, we
knew that the Army was not a democratic Army. You do what you are told,
regardless of what your ideas are. Once you do as you are told, you will have a
good easy life in the Army. That is the way it was. I just went along with it. I never
tried to get out of anything. I guess we were over there to do a job. I noticed that
as my sleeve started getting heavy with more rank, more money. Shucks, give
me another job. Good.
G: How did you mentally prepare to go to war?
B: You set up patrols. We all had rosters. 1st Platoon, 2nd Platoon. This is in
combat, now. We would go out on day patrols, night patrols, and we would take
turns as being point-man. You know, it is a roster, and it their job to do it. We lost
a lot of people. I have been point-man and shot at, but I was lucky. But it was a
G: When did you ship out for Korea?
B: The day?
G: Not the day but...
B: It was cold. Around November about, 1950.
G: Did you ship out of California?
B: Out of Fort Lewis, Washington, out of Pier 91. I was shipped from that area.
G: Did you go straight to Korea?
B: Yes, twenty days later. On the ship, it took us that long to get there because we
went in convoys. We had to meet up with some other ships. About twenty days
later. We had some pretty bad weather out there. General M. C. Mays, I will
never forget the name of the ship. You had to stand up and eat, and a lot of guys
were seasick. Anything they barfed up would slide down your way, man. That
was rough living.
G: Was the ship integrated?
B: Yes, the ship was integrated. That was the first sight of true integration I saw
because they had to. They could not segregate everybody on a ship like that.
When it is chow call, you see all up in line, everybody. Right up the steps and
down the gangplank here now, and finally they get to the mess hall.
G: How did that work out, the integration on the ship?
B: No problem at all. In fact, we were more friendly on that ship than anywhere else.
Either be nice or overboard.
G: Did you socialize with whites?
B: Oh yes, quite a bit. Still do. We always did. That is a good lesson I learned, that
the Army taught me really. People are people, no matter who they are, where
they are. In fact, you find some people with the same personalities. I match a
personality with a Korean with a black person, and they are the same. They are
just different languages, that is all. People are people.
G: Do you think perhaps the Army taught other people, namely racist whites, the
same type of thing?
B: That is what we need, another war. That will bring them together.
G: War will bring them together?
B: I am not in favor of another war, but that seems to break the ice right there. War.
Wars will break all that. People want to separate and go on their own and think
the government is all wrong. Everybody in the government is not wrong. People
are people. The Army did all of this.
G: After being on the ship, did you expect it to be integrated or segregated once you
got to Korea?
B: Once I got to Korea?
G: Yes. What did you expect, or did you have expectations?
B: I did not have expectations. I just wanted to get off that ship. I was rocking for
about six weeks after I got off the ship. Once I hit land, I just wanted to get
assigned to an outfit, and they did. They assigned me to this company. They
treated me nice.
G: Where did you land in Korea?
B: Pusan. In that area.
G: You said you were shipped out in November. By this time, were you aware that
the Chinese...had the Chinese intervened at this point?
B: Oh yes, they had intervened, but the North Koreans were still alive. In fact, the
Chinese had pushed us out to the ocean. Of course, we landed on a dock, my
ship did, but further down the peninsula, some of them were fighting from the
water. We established our own location on land, in __ and different places
going inland. All transportation was nil. We had to walk. Holes in trains like this.
Trains were immobilized. All of our vehicles were torn up, the ones that landed
ahead of us. So, we had to walk for three or four days just to set up a perimeter.
We had to relieve the 1st Marine Division. That is with the 2nd Division. The 1st
Marine Division, they were all shot up.
G: What were your initial impressions of Korea when you first arrived?
B: When I first arrived there, all I smelled was death. I just hoped I was going to
leave. I did not know what was going to happen from one day to the next.
G: And it was pretty damn cold there, wasn't it?
B: It was cold. Before these Mickey Mouse boots came out, we were wearing the
same thing, three pairs of pants with shell pants over them, oversized pants, and
combat boots. Then we finally ended up getting some of these, the Mickey
Mouse boots. You can sweat in those, in the coldest of weather. I just could not
keep warm. It was a heck of a place. You cannot build fires because you will
draw rounds. We ended up, the 9th and the 23rd Regiment met up. The 23rd
Regiment were all French. They had a French unit with them. They used to light
the fires. Say, what are you trying to do, draw rounds? They said, yes, we are
trying to draw them. And they drank their wine. Those guys. That was another
thing too, you meet a lot of personalities. Some guys just did not give a damn.
That helps too, but not at your expense.
G: So when you first arrived, was this when you were assigned to Company B?
B: B, yes.
G: Were you the only black person in that company?
B: No, about two or three of us there, with Scottish names.
G: You think it was because of your name?
B: Probably so, yes. They have done that here, at Shands Hospital. I got an ID card
saying I am white. I had a, what do you call it, when they check for lumps.
Anyway, I got it in there now. I will frame it until that time comes. Yes, the name
threw them, I guess. I did not get paid until six months later. My records were still
over in the 3rd Battalion.
G: So the segregated units in the 2nd Division, which is what you were in, right?
B: 2nd Division, right.
G: They were battalion level?
B: The divisions, you had four battalions and a regiment. I was in the 9th Regiment.
You had four battalions, and you had four companies within a battalion. Then you
had four regiments in a division. You had the 9th, the 23rd, and I forget the other
ones. There were four regiments in that division. That is what it was. A lot of
people. At first, I was in the 1st Battalion in B Company, and I ended up in the 3rd
Battalion, which is L Company. They had M, I, L, and K, no J, companies in that
3rd Battalion of the 9th Regiment.
G: So the black units, were they company size, battalion size?
B: No, I was in a battalion.
G: It was an all-black battalion?
B: Yes, an all-black battalion.
G: And was that the only one in the 2nd Division?
B: That I know of.
G: So, how were you treated in Company B?
B: They treated me good. Called me Bob. Yes, they were nice guys.
G: Did you have any problems at all? Did you notice anybody resent you for any
B: No. Until I heard them say, hey, you are in the wrong outfit. I said, well, give me
some orders. There were not any orders. They said, reason we cannot find your
records, they are over there in that 3rd Battalion. Shit, I still did not get paid until
three months later, even after I was transferred to the 3rd Battalion. Yes, they
were nice. That was just the way the Army was configured, that is all. Blacks in
one outfit and whites in the other, and screwballs were in a certain [outfit]. I
guess they considered them screwballs, but we did not treat them like that. We
were over there to fight a war.
G: And the screwballs, where were they?
B: Yes, they put them in outfits where you were most likely to get killed. That is what
they did. That is where they stuck this colonel. He was a captain, Captain Pope.
He will tell you that himself. I think he is still alive. 1978, that is when he was my
boss in Tallahassee. I spent fifteen years there. Had a lot of them with self-
inflicted wounds that they brought back to Korea and put them on lines, with us, I
guess hoping that they would get killed.
G: In the black units?
B: Yes, in black units. Yes, a lot of them.
G: So, you think a lot of the white people that were in the black unit were either, like
you said, blackballed...?
B: Some of them were, yes, and some of them were misplaced like I was. This
colonel told me he was blackballed from the States, but he retired. I think he had
about thirty years then when he retired.
G: Have you ever heard of the 24th Infantry Regiment?
B: Oh yes.
G: Did you hear any criticisms, rumors, about that unit?
B: They were over there first. I was about to say, a regiment from the 25th Division
from Hawaii. That is where part of them were. Some of them were in Japan,
some of them were in Hawaii. I had some buddies get killed in that outfit, a lot of
them from here. We all went to school together here.
G: Right. That was the largest all-black unit, the last one.
B: Yes. Then they trickled down to battalions, and then later on it just petered out
and they just integrated everybody.
G: Did you ever hear criticisms of all-black units at all?
B: Oh yes, a lot. Shucks. Well, we were always the last to receive rank, the last to
receive...even on Christmas day, some people got hot chow and we did not.
They dropped these bromide cans of hot food from the rear on the line, with
helicopters, and some people got it, some people did not. I did not get any hot
G: Was this the first Christmas, by the way?
B: Yes, that Christmas. Only fruitcake I got was in my C-rations, and it was
[End of side Al]
G: What exactly were your duties as a soldier during the war?
B: Infantry, I was just a rifleman. Then I ended up as assistant squad leader.
G: This was towards the later part of your...?
B: Later part of my tour over there in Korea.
G: Where and when did you first go into battle?
B: About December of 1950.
G: And you were going north from Pusan? You walked?
B: Yes, we walked.
G: Were you engaged with North Koreans or the Chinese at this point, or do you
B: The North Koreans and the Chinese, both. Those Chinese, those fellows with the
tennis shoes. They had tennis shoes with the big toe. Mittens on their feet, that is
what they were.
G: Could you tell the difference between a North Korean and a Chinese soldier?
B: Yes. See, I speak Korean.
G: Oh, you do?
B: Right now, yes. It is a lot different.
G: I mean, if you were facing them and they were coming toward you, could you
B: No, not then. See, I went over there twice. This was when I really learned it. The
Koreans are mostly Mongolic, faces are flat and their heads are sloped, most of
them. Some of them got a pretty good-sized cranium, but we called them slopes,
among ourselves. We did not call them that. But those Chinese were good
fighters. In fact, you had to kill them. We had the order one time, says, do not
take any prisoners. Shoot to kill. Because they were killing us. That is sad about
the 503rd because they were supporting us, see. The nickel the group with
the automatic artillery, but it so happened they were under the 2nd Division. When
we lost them, we almost lost the war. What else have you got?
G: What was like to wait in anticipation of an attack? How does that come about?
B: We are either in an offense or we are in defense, just like football. In offense,
word comes along where we are going to jump off-this is the word they use-and
they tell us where our objective is. When we jump off, the artillery and our planes
will have already softened the area where we are going. Sometimes they miss,
and we will catch hell trying to get to the objective. But one of the hills we had
was Hill 1061, a big hill. In fact, the Chinese were on that hill so long they had
hospitals built and railroad tracks and everything built into that mound. They
would roll the artillery out on the rails, fire at us and many times hit us, and pull it
back into the mountains. They were hard to get. I have seen sorties of planes
dropping napalm, and some of the bombs would roll down the hill and some of
them would explode. Some of them would just fall as duds. I wanted to shoot the
darn thing so bad just so it will go off. They said, no, do not do that. You will have
them shooting at you. We had to stay off the skyline too. As we walked, we
stayed on the side of the line, on a knoll, a finger of a hill, so that none of your
body would be exposed to sniper fire. They were good. The snipers were good.
They picked off a lot of our boys like that.
G: And that is an offensive.
B: Right, offensive. This was when we go into combat ourselves. Now, defense, we
just wait and see what they are going to do. Wait for some G-2. Find out what is
going on over there. We had our people giving us some intelligence as to what
our next move is and what to do. In the meantime, we just pull patrols and try to
find out where Charlie is. It is a little different than the war they fought in [Viet]
Nam, because they had a lot of vegetation over there, see. Over there in Korea,
you could count the trees. They did not have enough wood for firewood at the
houses of the people in the town, because they would use it all up trying to keep
warm, and all that the planes did not destroy in the war. There were no woods at
all over there.
G: What happens when the Chinese or North Koreans attacked when you were on
B: We had people on our post that would let us know when they saw a mass
coming, see, the outpost about a mile in front of our company or our location.
They either told us on radio, PRC-10s, or a radio telephone EE-8. The little
radios just got a little hand-generator. If that does not work, you use your pack
radio. they called them. They would say, hey, they are coming. So we
called those guys in, all right, come on in. We will get them when they get here.
Yes, kill everything that moves. That is why we called them in, because we did
not want to shoot them, not our outpost, see. So, we called them in.
G: When did they normally attack?
B: Mostly at night. We would shoot tracers and shoot flares and everything else. We
had artillery fire flares, and the flares would come down in a little parachute and
light the area up. We tried to hide ourselves around the hill. Hell-fire just went
everywhere. Sometimes we shot our own people. That has happened, by
mistake. But we have never been overrun, not the 3rd Battalion, but we have
been hurt pretty bad by artillery, incoming rounds from them. They were pretty
good, the Chinese and North Koreans. Both were good. When [General Douglas]
MacArthur came over and had us push forward all the way, I just knew the war
was going to be over then. Shit, but those Chinese came in, and it looked like a
lot of millions. I ended up with the 1st Calvary Division. Anything rolling to the
rear, I was on that tank, holding the gun-turret. They said, what outfit you in? I
said, I am in your outfit now, buddy. Yes, we all caught any transportation we
could going back around those mountains. There were a lot of mountains in
G: How far north did you get?
B: We got all the way to the Manchurian border.
G: Did you see the Yalu [River] yourself?
B: I saw the Yalu, yes. I was there.
G: And then the Chinese started coming.
B: Yes, they were coming. They were all over the place.
G: Now, you said the Nickel __ Artillery was taken. Was it that they were
B: They were overrun, yes.
G: Mr. Coleman was involved in that.
B: He was in there, yes. They took all those guys. I do not know if they killed any of
them or not, but they were all black. We know the guns had silenced. They sent
some patrol out there. The guns were still there, those guys were gone. They had
supported the whole division, the Nickel Artillery. There were about five other
artillery batteries that supported us. That is frightening. The Nickel Artillery was a
threat. They killed a lot of Chinese, and they had to get those guys. How was
Coleman treated, did he tell you?
G: He said the Chinese were better to him than the North Koreans.
B: Yes. Well, they were more educated too. We took some prisoners, and those
guys spoke better English than I did. He had never been to the States, but he
was an interpreter. He just got caught in with the prisoners. We treated him good.
We treated all of them real nice. We did not hurt any of them. A lot of them
wanted to give up. They did not want to fight. A lot of them were high on that stuff
G: What stuff?
B: Pot. Marijuana grows over there like weeds, everywhere. There is plenty of it
over there. They eat some of it, and they smoke a lot of it. Their eyes will be all
back in their head. They could care less if they lived or died. A lot of them just
wanted something to eat. They were hungry. We took prisoners of war. We got
the orders, do not take any prisoners. That is what we do, but we have taken
prisoners to attain information. We just do what we are told.
G: So when they say do not take any prisoners, that means you have to kill
G: So was that ever a problem, someone you could have taken as a prisoner but
you were told not to?
B: All of them looked bad. I mean, out in that cold. Kids too. Kids will kill you. I
almost got killed by a kid with a doggone grenade, potato masher. I saw that darn
thing coming. It fell as a dud, and he was running. One of our boys chopped him
up over this with his AK-47 [automatic rifle], on the BAR [Browning Automatic
Rifle]. Chopped him up. That kid had about two or three of our grenades on him.
Come on __ [Mr. Bailey speaks some Chinese or Korean words at this
point.] Shoot, no way. Kids killed grown people over there.
G: What is the difference between an anticipation to attack and waiting in
anticipation to be attacked?
B: What is the feeling? You are scared in both instances.
G: Which do you think is worse?
B: Going to attack, because you do not know what you are going into, do not know
how you are going to come out of it, especially in cities. This is the worst kind of
attack mode you can get into, in the streets and buildings. We went into one
building, and the building caved in on about four of our men. Killed them. Scared
the hell out of me. They were made out of mud, most of them, mud and grass
and stuff, and they had been shook up a few times with mortars and bombs. That
is no safe haven. Just finished tearing it down because that is where Charlie
[code name for enemy troops] might be, Joe Chink [code name for enemy
G: Did you attack cities often?
B: Oh yes. We went through Seoul. Seoul is a big city. Went through Chipari, went
through Anju. I have some pictures of the Anju, the Anju River where bodies
were floating all around. I think my sister has got those pictures. See these guys
go on R&R [rest and relaxation], they get these pictures developed, and they can
bring them back there. In Korea, see, we did not have no ways of doing it over
there. It rained a lot. This is into the monsoon season. When it rains, you can get
dusty in rain. You see everybody with the powder on their face and it is raining
out there too, that can happen in Korea. You can get enveloped in dust and rain
at the same time. This is what happened in Inchon when we got there, and this
was in March or April of 1951. We were bivouacked on the theater. The top was
blown out, but the building was still there. It rained all that morning, got wet, and
it came down on a lot of us, a lot of guys who were sleeping in that area, but we
only lost two people during that time. But it is dangerous. You can drown walking
the streets because it rained so hard, the streets would collapse and the roads
that we built would collapse. The sides of mountains would fall in and everything
else. It was terrible. There was another time the Chinese pulled an offensive on
us too, during the monsoon season, because they knew we were not used to
fighting in the rain and all the soft ground and collapsing mountains and all that
stuff. That was rough. A terrible country.
G: When you were retreating from the Yalu River, everybody was going south....
B: They called it a strategic withdrawal, right. We were all headed south by any
means necessary. If you think you can run that fast, go. Go at it.
G: How strategic do you think this withdrawal really was?
B: It was strategic to save your butt because that is what you did. Thank goodness
we had air superiority. They would go and bomb to slow the Chinese down. They
strafed them and bombed them. In fact, some of our slow guys got caught into it.
But the ones that were moving on those big tanks, those M-40s, like the tank I
was on. That was the roughest ride on a tank I ever had. I was holding onto the
barrel, the gun. They said, hold on, we are going to hit a ditch after a while. I
said, all right. I rode about 200 miles on that tank. Stop and gas it up. They had
tanks with gas. Gas it up and roll again. Never did check the oil. I have never
been so scared in all my life.
G: During that withdrawal?
B: Yes, because they were not taking any prisoners, the Chinese were not. They
were killing and stomping over everybody they could.
G: Were you ever in a situation where you felt you were going to be surrounded
and/or taken prisoner or not?
B: Oh yes. That is why I did not sleep in a sleeping bag. You know, you got a
sleeping bag and zip it all the way up and it would pop open for you. Zip it up part
of the way and you are snug as a bear. I have seen a lot of guys stabbed in their
sleeping bags. They never knew what hit them. I lost a lot of sleep in that place,
yes, a lot of sleep. You do not trust the guys on the outpost either. You check on
them. They might sleep and let the guy come through the line. Called a guy here
about two months ago by the name of Marshall. When he slept, he snored real
loud. I said, Marshall, wake up and listen to me real good. I was a corporal then. I
said, if you snore one more time, I am going to cease your snoring my damn self.
You are going to call Charlie to come around to us. That guy did not snore no
more because I was going to take him out. Hey, he must have thought he was
home in his own bed or something. We are out there and he is snoring, and in
those mountains, it sounds off. You can fart, and you can hear it all over the
place. Shucks. I said, no way, buddy. I called him about that three months ago. I
said, are you still alive? He said, yes, I am back snoring again. I said, yeah man.
He is an old cat now. All those guys are old [or] dead.
G: When you were on the retreat in your strategic withdrawal, you said you went
with the 1st Calvary?
B: Yes, I ended up with the 1st Calvary.
G: Was that integrated, segregated, or at that point, did it matter?
B: It did not matter, no. I mean, even in the foxholes where we ended up at, it did
not matter. There was no segregation, not even rank. There was no rank
segregation. You jump in on top of a general if he is in there, no problem.
G: That was my next question. Does race matter in the foxholes?
B: No, no. Save your butts.
G: Just to clarify, when you did reach the Yalu and then the strategic withdrawal,
were you with the all-black company?
B: Yes. At that point, I was with the 3rd Battalion. In fact, they had big beer vat there
in North Korea, way up in a city called Chipari. We would shoot holes in the beer
vat and open our mouths and get beer out of it. Good beer, too. That was good
for about two or three days when we got word that millions of Chinese were
crossing the Manchurian border. [We were ordered to] withdraw. Shoot, I did not
see my outfit for over a month. They ended up on the east coast of Korea, and
the 1st Calvary was on the west coast. I ended up over there, so they got me
back in a jeep. Took me about a day and a half to get there on the convoy. You
have to catch the convoys. You do not get out on a jeep and say, okay, go that
way. No, no. You got a whole lot of people going your way.
G: At the Yalu, did you pretty much believe the war was about over?
B: Once I got there, I thought it was. No, it just started. Man, I tell you, those
Chinese in those quilt-looking uniforms. I got to see a few of them, because they
killed shortly after. They were just a forward party, and man, millions of them.
You could hear the whistles, the horns and all that stuff in the background. When
those planes came over, I said, we are buying some time now. Those guys would
shoot at those planes with rifles. Have you seen a guy hit with a fifty-caliber
machine gun? Leaves a big hole in him. I mean, you can see through him. That
is what they were shooting, the P-51s. We had a few jets over there during that
time but not many. Mostly were P-51s, the ones they used back in the Second
World War with four on each wing, with the fifty-caliber [gun], and they were
fixed[-wing aircraft]. They would stir up a lot of dirt and a lot of blood.
G: Were you aware of any preconceived misconceptions by whites of black fighting
B: No. We were over there really trying to save our own butts. There came a time,
walking in a minefield. See, the 1st Marine Division had laid a minefield before
they moved out, and we had to call the PNA, the __ ammunition people, who
may have had overlays of that area to remove mines. They did. They did not
remove all of them, but this is when the comradery comes in, black or white,
says, just follow me. If I stop, just use your bayonet and try to find that mine and
remove it, no matter who we are, because we are going to be in this area a long
time. This is where we are going to bivouac at. We looked out for each other that
way. Whoever takes our place, we look out for them. Oh yes, there was nothing
white against black when it comes to that. We were all over there to do a job. It
just established did not see it their way. I mean, up with the president.
Well, you know during the Second World War, they did not think we should fight.
They did not think we were capable of fighting. There was a guy in my battalion
who won the Congressional Medal of Honor, but he did not get it until about five
G: This was in Korea?
B: Yes, in Korea, he and I were in the same outfit.
G: Do you happen to know his name?
B: Uro Mitcham. He is dead now. He is a World War II vet, too, and he was drafted
in the Korean War, from Chicago. Before he died, he was awarded the
congressional medal of honor. He made quite a few silver stars and DSCs,
Distinguished Service Crosses, in that outfit. I just got the Bronze Star. I was a
G: How did you get that?
B: I got it for valor.
G: Can you describe the situation?
B: What I did? I destroyed a ammo dump with some other guys. We all did it. We
had to move out. It was all ammo. We destroyed it so that the enemy could not
use it. We had no way of hauling it. And we saved some guys. There were five of
us that got it that time, the Bronze Star. I was hoping to get the Silver Star, but
you do not think like that, what kind of medals you are going to get. You do it
because it has got to be done. We did not want these guys using all this
ammunition on us, so we destroyed them with Composition C-3, that plastic
explosive. Just burned it all up. Only it did not explode, it burned.
G: Did you feel that you ever had to outperform white soldiers in order to prove your
B: Not over there. Not in Korea, no.
G: It sounds like you perhaps did not feel that way at some point when...
B: Yes, I had to do it for promotions. I was in Fort Wachuka, Arizona. This was after
segregation. This was in the early 1960s. This was right after I left Korea for the
second time. My date of rank was higher than a lot of the white fellows, see, and
they would not want to give me a job. They wanted to give it to some guy with
less rank than I had. I was a E-7 then, sergeant first class E-7. They wanted to
give it to an E-6 because he had been there longer. I said, well, I have been in
the Army longer. I asked for a transfer. I got out of there and ended up being this
guy's boss. I was at battalion headquarters, so I became his boss. Then I made
E-8. They just pull those kind of shenanigans every now and then, try to put their
own people in, whether it is white or black, just try to because the guy has been
with them a long time. Yes, that is the only thing. You run into a lot of competition
throughout your Army career. Now, DA, the Department of the Army, handles the
promotions now. You got an evaluation report that goes up every year. Every
place you go, it is how you produce. That determines what number you will get
and the order of priority of being promoted.
G: That is to eliminate discrimination?
B: Right, they eliminate discrimination. It is done by number, not by race.
G: When did they do that?
B: Back in the early 1970s. I was getting ready to get out. I am glad they did that.
During this time-this was 1969-this was a two-star general here putting those
stripes on me, but DA directed it.
G: Was there any discrimination in issuing equipment, ammo, weapons, blankets,
boots, winter clothes, in Korea?
B: Yes. I got I only saw these boots later on. It was almost summertime when
I saw those boots.
G: Did you see white soldiers wearing those earlier?
B: Yes, they had them. Sure did. A lot of us have frostbite still, because of the non-
availability of boots.
G: Is that the only thing that you think they might have...?
B: Yes. Promotions were real slow, too. You can believe it or not, guys used to
shoot each other for promotions.
G: You are kidding.
B: Yes, get them out of the way and say okay, I am squad leader now. Not in this
outfit, but I have seen it happen.
G: In Korea?
B: In Korea.
G: Was that a matter of race that they shot each other? Was that a race thing, or
was it just a trying-to-get-a-promotion thing?
B: That is how slow promotion was.
G: For black people?
B: For black people, yes. In fact, these guys here, I think they were all PFCs. They
were going back to Korea. They were there in Korea again after having been in
the hospital. This fellow here, I think he had to go back to Korea. No, he went
home. He was the same as a Curtis. He was a combat medic. He got hit
because he was attending to wounded men. He lost a foot there, and he had to
go through surgery again before I left.
G: Essentially, the impression I get is that during fighting and battles and stuff that
the race does not matter.
B: No, that does not matter at all.
G: What do you think, that the main priority would be to stay alive?
B: Stay alive and try not to get hurt. You can get hurt accidentally and die
accidentally because you are taking chances. Mine fields, booby-traps. A lot of
booby-traps. When we were reserves and I would be in my bunk, this one guy
over here in another bunker, one of them got some Korean liquor, whiskey. We
had to pack up and go to the line, and that guy had been laying around in bed for
three days, dead.
G: Was something wrong with the whiskey?
B: Yes, it was poisoned. Yes, they will do that. You think they are your friends.
North Koreans poisoned a whole lot of those guys. I did not drink whiskey. I
drank mine out of the can when it says Budweiser, and I still do.
G: When the fighting stopped and you were back in reserve for whatever reason,
was there discrimination, racism, back there?
B: No, because we would be at our own camps, our own bivouac area. We would
just go back for rest. When they say reserves, we go back there for rest. We stay
on the line for about thirty days and go back for rest for about thirty days. It was
spit-and-polish then. You got to clean up your gear, just like you do in the States.
I was even involved in a parade over there. Yes, they would bulldoze and they
would flatten out a whole lot of area up the side of a mountain. You ever tried
marching up a mountain, and a band is playing. I was in the 2nd Division, and that
is what they do in reserves, make you feel like a soldier again. When you leave
reserves, you go back on the hills and act like a warrior again. The reserves is
the only place you get a chance to take a shower and brush your teeth and
change your shorts. They give you all new clothes, see, when you come back in
reserve, because all that other stuff is old and they just bury it. That is what
G: So your reserve units were segregated?
B: Yes, all segregated, in your own units.
G: Did you have contact with whites in reserve?
B: No. Come to think of it, I did not. Never did I see them, not during that time. We
had our own bivouac area, see. The engineers would come over and clear an
area for us and would remove all mines and duds and everything out of there and
say okay, put your tents here. We had tents, shelled halves they called them.
Two men would tie their tents together, and there goes your buddy, head to foot.
No kissing. That is the way we did it.
G: The first time, when you were first actually assigned to a white unit, did you have
to sleep in those kind of arrangements with...?
B: No, we had our own bunkers. We built it just like we did this one, see. Those
were no regular cots. That is wood and an air mattress, logs and whatnot. We
made our own to sleep [on]. Do you see how rugged that is? That took us about
a week to put together and stack sandbags around it. That is what it looks like
from the outside. We had about six people in there, and we got about twenty of
them around there.
G: You would be in there with black and white soldiers?
B: Yes, at that time. Oh yes, we had no problem. We got along good. I just do not
know why we were segregated. That question did arise.
G: Why were they segregated?
B: Why were we segregated? I mean, we got along. We spoke the same language.
G: Of the white soldiers that you did come in contact with, how do you believe they
G: The Southerners and Northerners?
B: I think the Southerners were better than the Northerners.
G: They were? Why do you think that is?
B: Because you had no beef with them, and they were most trustworthy. They were.
They were more trustworthy than the northern ones, in my experience. Some of
my best white friends were Southerners, even though they were from a different
part of the South. Even today. My best friend is from North Carolina. He is still
alive. In fact, he was the best man at my wedding, Bob Dutton. We still
correspond. He lost his wife too, to cancer, just like I did. We were friends in
Germany. We visit each other even now.
G: Why do you think whites, especially Southern whites, who were raised to believe
in white superiority, why do you think they disregarded those things?
B: You know, I believe they are looking for an identity. They do not want that flag to
die, that Confederate flag. They want to accuse somebody for not letting them
have it, letting them stand out, the Jews, the blacks and whatnot. That is all I
think it is, because when you put them on the front line, they turn chicken just like
anybody else. That is why I say a war will bring it all back together again. Of
course, the Jews fought this war just like the blacks and the whites. I heard one
guy said, the only reason I hate you is just because you can pass away. This guy
says, I ain't wanted, because he is a Jew, you know. He said, what is your
excuse? I just got a kick out of him. But they were all friends anyway. They were
just joking when they said that. It is getting a lot better, especially in the service. It
is a lot better. People know more about each other now. They got the same...
whatever problems that come. Everybody comes up with the same kind of
problems. People are people. The environments are the same, whether it is black
or white or mixed. They come up with the same problems anybody else does.
G: Do you think whites who treated African-Americans differently, how do you think
they were treated by other whites for being...?
B: For being friendly with blacks?
B: Some of them did not care. Like, in Augusta, Georgia. This fellow and I were in
Vietnam together. In fact, he had a section and I had a section. The neighbors
came over, and then when my wife and I arrived there, they left. He made the
statement, goddamn it, if my neighbors do not like me and my friends, they can
move. He said that, and he meant it too. But that was the atmosphere that was
there. He just let them know, said these are my friends. If you do not like my
friends, you are just neighbors here. And he meant it. His name was Allen
Thompson. I have not heard from him in about a year, but we exchange
Christmas cards. But a lot of these guys, this guy here, he is dead now. In fact,
he got killed over there in Korea. Parker, from West Virginia. He was a mortar
man. He was in the M company. I do not know what happened. I saw my friend in
Augusta, who lives in Augusta, and he told me that. I showed him some pictures,
and he had a picture of him too. Then he said, you know he died. I said when?
He said, after you left. I said, I will be doggone. He had a Silver Star, before I left
there. He came after I did. Young fellow, he was only about seventeen years old.
I was nineteen, big deal.
G: Did you have black officers in Korea?
B: Yes, we had black...
[End of side A2]
G: Did black officers treat black soldiers differently than they treated white soldiers,
in your experience?
B: Where? In Korea?
G: In Korea, right. Or did they have any chance to treat them differently?
B: No, we were not together. We were all-black and [all]-white units then. That was
that trip in Korea. I spent two trips in Korea.
G: The second trip was after the war?
B: After the war, yes. Back in 1959 and 1960, I went back to Korea in an advisory
capacity. That is when I learned to speak Korean.
G: Did black soldiers treat black officers differently than they treated white officers?
B: Over there then?
G: Correct, in the original, in the 1950s.
B: No. We only had one white officer, and that was Colonel Pope. He came as a
captain. All of our company grade officers were all captains too, see, but he
came there to be the battalion commander because the battalion commander we
had before then got wounded. He shipped out. He had a stateside wound [a
wound serious enough to require a soldier to be shipped home] there. Colonel
Sherard, I think his name was.
G: I have heard of him. His name comes up fairly often, actually.
B: That is right. So, Captain Pope took his job, so he made major and colonel while
he was over there. Made two, yes, so they took him on the blackball list. Good
man, too. He said, son, do not leave me here. I said, no sir, we are not going to
leave you here. He was a heavy dude, too. Yes, we took him off the hill.
G: Explain that. What was that? He got injured?
B: Yes, he got shot. He got shot through the neck. Hit through the neck, and he was
bleeding. Called the medic and the medic was busy with somebody else, so we
patched him up with our own kit. [We said,] sir, you are losing a lot of blood. Said,
So, we took him off the hill. Called in the Heliports. They picked up about
four of them that day. This happens every day. This happens every day in the
offense. Yes, Colonel Pope was a good man. He always told us what we were
going to get into and what to look for. In reserves, he used to take us in a
mountain draw and tell us what to hit, just give us objectives. Said okay, put all
the firepower this battalion's got, and put it on that hill there. He brought us back
later on and said, no one in the world, no chink in the world can get through all
that firepower that we put there. He said, and when we go out there again, I want
you to do it for real. So, that is what we did on the offense when we were
charging. We threw everything we can at them. No way in the world they can
crawl through that thing, but some of them tried. Oh man, some of them tried. On
a wing and a prayer, they still tried.
G: Were you aware of any high-ranking black officers?
B: Over there? No. None at all. The highest ranking black officer I saw was a major
during that time, and he was a chaplain. Chaplain Boyd was his name. He made
major about the same time Colonel Pope made major. Both of them made major
about the same time.
G: What did you think when you found out that General MacArthur was being
removed? You were in Korea, right?
B: Yes, I was in Korea. I just read about it. See, that was the first time a president
met up with the general on his own turf. First, Truman told MacArthur, come to
Washington. He said, no, you come to the Philippines. I got a unit to run here.
So, Truman came out there, all the way to the Philippines, sweated like a hog
and fired him. But I do not think we would have had the Korean War. It would
have been all over with because he had us all the way up to the Manchurian
border, but Truman did not want us to go all the way to China. I do not know if
that was a mistake or not. See, both of them were in World War I. Truman was a
major, and MacArthur was a general then. He said, no major tells me what to do.
He said, I am not a major. I am the commander-in-chief. So he fired MacArthur.
That is what killed MacArthur. He died because of that. I do not know. Truman
thought that was the best thing to do. In other words, he started this war. He
wanted this thing over with, and he thought MacArthur went too far. We lost a lot
of troops in that strategic withdrawal. That is what happened. Yes, but we beat
the North Koreans. We had them completely beat. We were getting ready to
occupy the buildings and all of their infrastructure and everything. Yes, and they
called us back.
G: Do you think MacArthur should have been fired, personally?
B: No, I do not think so. He was a good general.
G: Did you notice anything different in regards to the strategics, anything like the
way the war was fought, after [General Matthew B.] Ridgeway took over.
B: No, not really. Not at my level.
G: How about as far as race relations when Ridgeway took over?
B: Well, that is when they started integration, but we did not get it at our level. Not
there, but we did later on.
G: Not during Korea?
B: Not during the time I was in Korea. It was after Matthew B. [Ridgeway]. I saw
Matthew B. at Camp Drake, Japan. He was there.
G: When was this? When did you see him?
B: I saw him on my way back to Korea. I was at Camp Drake, Japan, and he was
there. When I got out of the hospital the first time, I went back to Camp Drake,
reprocessed to go back to Korea, and I saw Ridgeway then.
G: How did you get wounded?
G: Where were you? When was this?
B: This was in North Korea, Anju, in that area. Yes, shrapnel from a mortar.
G: Were you attacking or being attacked?
B: Reading the paper. We were. I was reading Stars and Stripes. That darn thing
came in. That is the one you did not hear. The one you do not hear, that is the
one you got to look out for. The other one will whistle right by you, but one you
did not hear.
G: You do not happen to know what you were reading at the time, do you?
B: Stars and Stripes. Probably Beetle Bailey or something. We were not even in
combat. We were just there on the line.
G: So it was a mortar round.
B: A mortar round, yes. Unheard and unseen. Got me here and here and my back,
spun me around.
G: Back of the head and then the back and the side.
B: Yes, side that spun me around. My shoulder.
G: How serious was this wound?
B: I got a plate in my head.
G: Where were you sent after being wounded?
B: To Osaka Army Hospital.
G: In Japan?
B: Yes, in Japan. That was evacuated there. Carried back there.
G: How long did you spend in the hospital?
B: About three or four months. That is why when I stopped getting four points a
month, and they were giving me two points in the hospital. You get four points a
month as long as you are in a combat area, a combat zone. One or two points-it
was not much-you got there in the hospital. That is why I had to go back after I
got out of the hospital.
G: Did you have any free time in Japan at all to go and leave the hospital area?
B: No, not really. Right here in these pictures you saw here?
B: Oh yes, my arm was broken too. These pictures were taken in Nara, Japan. You
probably see down there, Nara Chale. That is where I met these guys. This was
Camp Nara. All these guys here at Nara. This is when we left Osaka. Osaka, I
was in bed. This was a rehab center at Camp Nara. Used to be part of the 25th
Division, the ichi-go-ku [Japanese for 159], we used to be the 159th Field Artillery
unit there with the 25th Division before the war. They converted into a rehab
hospital for Korean vets. That is what happened there.
G: Was the hospital integrated?
B: In Japan, yes. Everything was integrated. But those clubs there, they did not
want them to be integrated. They had a lot of fights down there because, like I
said, I did not go. I was mostly at the base because they had a nice club there.
But those cattlerays, the Kabukis [Kabuki theatre, a Japanese art form
combining mime and theatre] and all that, I did not go out there. A lot of guys who
were stationed there in Japan, they thought they owned the place. Yes, there
was a lot of segregation there, but they did it on their own. The Japanese did not
segregate you. They did not want the Japanese to come in there.
G: I have heard a lot of stories about white soldiers telling Japanese a lot of bad
things about black soldiers.
B: Oh yes, they did that in Korea and Vietnam too.
G: What kind of things did they tell?
B: Told them we had tails. You had to show them the real tail. They did that in
Germany, during the Second World War. When I went over there in 1953, that is
when I got out of the hospital. I went to Germany, and they had some signs up
there where it said, do not bother with the black soldiers. They got tails that come
out at night. So they dispensed with that real fast. But other than that, it was the
same old thing. Every generation has got their own thing going. It changes.
G: So after you were rehabilitated and sent back to Korea, what was the fighting
like? What was going on at that point? When did you go back?
B: They were in reserves when I got there in a place called Chowon, South Korea.
That is where we stayed until we went back on the hill. We were more or less in a
defense mode, but there was no action. Just little sporadic fire and patrols and
whatnot, but there was no major operation. Like when the whole line all the way
across, we did not have no offensive like that. Not until I got ready to go home.
G: When was this when you got back to Korea? Late 1951, perhaps?
B: Yes, 1951. By May or June of 1951. It was warm. I do not even remember what
month I left in, but I left in 1951, coming back to the States. I was in the hospital-
they were just checking me over and everything-from 1951 to 1953.
G: You were in the hospital for two years?
B: Almost two years. A little over eighteen months, yes.
G: For the original...?
B: Oh yes. They had to go back in that. That stitch was busted and everything, and
they had to go back in there. Other than that, I was all right.
G: How long were you back in Korea until you injured yourself a second time?
B: About three months. About ninety days, yes.
G: And how did that happen, when you re-hurt yourself?
B: When that mortar round hit, that was the last time, and that took me all the way to
the States. I had about twenty-eight, maybe thirty, points. I had less than thirty-
six points, but I had a stateside wound, see. Then I went on over. The first time, I
just broke my arm. The second time, I was all bandaged up. I stayed in the
hospital for almost two years.
G: The first time you hurt yourself, you broke your arm. Went back.
B: Broke my arm, yes. Bones will not heal in that area [Korea] too well.
G: How come?
B: I do not know. The weather, I guess. Any injury to a broken bone, anywhere in
Korea, they send you to Japan or Okinawa, somewhere away from Korea, to
G: Then you went back for about three months, and then that is when you were hit
with a mortar?
B: Yes, just reading the paper, minding my own business.
G: So, that is what sent you home.
B: That is what sent me home.
G: Okay, in 1951. And you are in the hospital for about two years after that.
B: A little over eighteen months. About nineteen months. They were trying to decide
whether to keep me in there or kick me out. I had to go before a medical board,
see. I said, hey, I am all right. [They said], well, what do you want to do? Where
do you want to go? I said, I have never been to Germany. Can you send me to
Germany? No problem. Orders came down from Germany. Another long boat
ride. I went to Germany and stayed over there from 1953 to 1956.
G: So, even though General Ridgeway had begun the integration program before
you left, you were still in a segregated unit in Korea?
B: Oh yes, until after I got here.
G: Was that the last segregated unit you were ever in?
B: Yes, sure was. That was the last one. Like I said, when I went to Fort Gordon
Hospital, the barber shops were segregated, but the PXs and everything were.
But before I left to go to Germany, they were tearing down all the walls. 1953,
they were tearing down the walls between the barbershops on post.
G: How did you feel about segregation after coming back from fighting in the war for
B: It was disheartening, I tell you. It really was. I remember the time I left the
hospital. In fact, I was going to hitch a bus to come home, to come from there to
Jacksonville. Guys called me all kinds of names. I could not fight back. You
know, I was scared to say anything because I got my arm in a cast, and my head
is all bandaged up. I could not put a hat on. It was disheartening. In fact, I was
treated worse there than I was here, at home.
G: Worse than Jacksonville?
B: Yes, worse than I would have been at home. This was in Augusta, Georgia. I was
trying to come home, see, catch a Greyhound and come home. I was waiting for
the city bus to take me to the Greyhound station. These young guys came by and
called me all kinds of stuff. Fighting words, you know. After all that fighting I did
over there, I mean, I had been through some hand-to-hand combat. I had to tell
the doctor here about six months ago. I said, have you ever been in hand-to-
hand combat when your life depended on it? He said no. I said, well, dammit, you
are about to get in one right now if you do not make the right decision. So, he
was not talking about my disability. He was just slow about doing it, see. Yes, I
am still suffering from my injuries. Of course, I have contracted arthritis and all
that other stuff that is related to a breakage of bone. I have had surgery on my
back since I have been here. That was hurt over there than too, but they did not
know about it. Yes, man, get blown off a hill. My back was injured too, but they
did not find any broken bones in my back. But in my arm and my head, you
know, was busted open here. It is all scarred up. I am trying to get disability on
my back because I got a walker in there. I walk on it sometimes when I get, what
do you call it...I had a back fusion, see. They fused quite a few discs in my
back, and I get a lot of pain back there sometimes. But other than that, I am all
G: Do you believe that you were less tolerant of segregation after having fought and
been injured in a war for America? Was it harder to swallow?
B: Yes, it was real hard to swallow.
G: Was that a direct result of having fought in the war?
B: It was a direct result from taking a bunch of junk too over there, going cold. You
had to make your own way. A lot of guys froze to death because they did not how
to stay warm and protect themselves. They wanted to stay awake and see what
was going to happen. I did too, but I did not hesitate about digging and beg,
borrow and stole what I could. A dead man has got no use for his clothes. I used
a lot of them. I even took a Chinese jacket off. It was just like a quilt. Man, I
unwrapped that open and wanted to cut his arms off because I could not get his
arms out of the sleeves fast enough. I started to cut his arms off. It was sad.
They were warm, but it restricted the movement of the body in our case because
they were all small in stature. Most of them are. We had clothes like that, and we
could not run and move around. But it was a good blanket. It was good and
warm. And you come back here and somebody call you all kinds of names that
their mama did not tell you were, that hurts. Yes, man. This happened in the
hospital, in the game room. One guy got hit with shrapnel. All of us were Korea
returnees. Pool table. I could shoot using one hand. Anyway, if you rack the
balls, you got the next game. This one guy, I do not know where he came from,
he was just going to take my game. I had the break ball in my hand. You know,
he hit me on my head before I realized it, and I released the ball at the same
time. The next thing I knew, I was on him. Wires came all out of his hands and
everything. This was when the white fellows came to my aid. I said I got nothing
against that, white or black. That was a court-martial offense for both of us.
Nobody saw anything, but they took me off of him and took me back to my ward
and took him back to his ward. I do not know what happened then, but I did not
go to the pool room again. But he was a black fellow, see. But this was the first
sign of integration I had seen while I was in the Army.
G: In the hospital?
B: In the hospital, and they squashed everything. Now, the blacks would not have
done it. The white guys did that for me, you know, guys from my ward.
G: You do not think the blacks would have done it? Why not?
B: These guys, they had a bunch from Virginia. This is what it is, depending on
where you are from.
B: Yes, see, he was from Tennessee, and the guys from Tennessee stuck to each
other. The whites and the blacks. And all these guys were from Florida. I do not
know how they whisked me out of there. They got me back to ward. I was in a
wheelchair. They got me back to my ward and put me in bed and everything, and
nothing was ever said about it. I have not messed with a pool room since. I was
about to kill a guy because of it, and he was about to kill me. He hit me with a
pool stick. He only had one hand. I only had one hand. But we got along good
G: Do you think the uniform code of military justice [UCMJ] was more or less fair
than the civilian code of justice, as far as for race.
B: No, it is not democratic. UCMJ is not democratic. I will tell you what happened to
me later on. I was an instructor in Fort Benning, Georgia. I was there from 1956
to 1959. They had me report to a classroom. I had my lesson-plan, the whole
works there in that particular class I was assigned to. What happened, they
changed it in the meantime to another classroom, and I was not there at that
particular time. They court-martialed me for failure to repair, not being at the
assigned place of duty at the proper time. And I can prove it. The captain who
told me where the classroom was going to be denied it. They did not bust me.
They fined me $30. It was thirty minutes later before I found out where the class
was. But the class ran thirty minutes over, and they fined me $30 because of the
UCMJ. It gives you no latitudes. It is specific. Whatever the special occasion is,
that is it. They do not elaborate on the special occasion of any charge. That is it.
G: Do you think they were harder on blacks than they were on whites?
B: No, this applied to everybody. I believe I was court-martialed because I was
black though. See, normally they just gave you a summary. But I said no, I would
appeal to the next higher court, which is special court-martials. The convening
authority is like God. He has got the final say-so, but he is lenient.
G: Were you aware that in early 1951 Thurgood Marshall [famed NAACP lawyer
first African American Supreme Court Justice] went to Korea specifically to look
for examples of racism in the code of justice there?
B: Yes, I was aware of that.
G: Was that in the Stars and Stripes?
G: Have you heard of the Forty-Two Minutes Trials, because at that point they
were charging quite a few, especially in the 24th Regiment. That is why I ask
about that. But especially in segregated units, they were charging a lot of black
soldiers with being, you know...
B: AWOL, failure to repair, something like that?
G: Yes. In Cowardice in Front of the Enemy or something like that, you know they
refused to fight...? Were you aware of that?
B: No, I was not aware of that.
G: Okay, because some people, depending on which unit you were in, you were
more likely to know that.
B: Yes. Well, I never ran from the enemy. That is one thing. But stuff has been so
hot. Vietnam fools stay out there in it.
G: Did you resist segregation on your return from the war?
B: Oh yes.
G: How did you resist?
B: Do you mean here in the States?
G: In the States, anywhere. Just after the war, because of your war experience or
anything. Did it change you? You said it made it harder to swallow, made it more
B: Oh yes.
G: I was just wondering if you resisted.
B: I sure did. Let us see, what happened? On details, you know, while you are
waiting to be shipped someplace, they put you in a holding company. They would
assign work details to certain groups of people. I could never get the officers'
club with my group of men because I had mostly black. All of them were black,
and they always gave us some old shitty detail. You are working at the dump
today, or some servant-type job, or you are working in a warehouse. With my
men, you know, they were all clean-up detail. We never got those spicy jobs,
see. This happens every day. You are just strictly pulling details on the post.
Some job needs to be done. Take you and about four men to do it. Hey, I am a
sergeant now. I would take my men, and I would get the worst jobs. We would do
it, but it happens that way all the time. I had to say a few words to this lieutenant
here. He wanted to court-martial me. I said, well, we can go a little higher. I said,
I have been here for a month now. No orders yet to be shipped out, but you want
me to...you do what you are told. You know, that is supposed to be the last word.
But if you say anything back to them, it is insubordination. This is why it is so
narrow, the Uniform Code of Military Justice. See, like Gore and Bush, they are
going up the ladder [referring to lawsuits stemming from the 2000 presidential
election winding up the legal appeals process]. See, the buck does not stop
there. They are going up to the Supreme Court. See, we could not go any further.
That is what used to tear me up. But it got better. Set all counts towards
G: When did they start getting better?
B: It started getting better in the late 1960s.
G: It took that long?
B: Yes, it took that long. This was in 1969. This place was loaded. Yes, this was the
outfit I was with. Got a patch there, 2nd Division patch. That is when I was in the
2nd Division. You wear that on your right shoulder, your combat unit. The unit you
serve with in combat is shown on the right shoulder. I do not think I even had all
my ribbons on. I just had my combat infantry badge at the top and the Purple
Heart, I think, and a few of the other ones. I did not even have the Bronze Star
because this was called in a hurry: you are getting promoted today. Orders came
down from DA, and I did not even know about it. What happened, my son had
saluted the general before I did, and we were all laughing about that. Boy, you
are trying to take these stripes from me. Don't you do that. This is my son. He is
thirty-seven now, so you can see that was a long time ago. He gave the general
a nice pretty salute too. My wife and I had been married thirty-two years before
G: She died of cancer?
B: Breast cancer, yes. We were living on the upside of town then, had a big house,
a big home. I sold it because the medical bills were getting to me. I sold the
house, and my son got married the same year and my daughter. I have a
daughter too who was just born during that time. She is thirty-three now. They
agreed, said, okay, sell it. So we split the money. I came here and bought this
G: Well, you repaired the place up real nice.
B: Yes. These were all rooms. I cut those out and rewired it and had a couple guys
help me drop it so far.
G: Respond to this statement by a black veteran of the Korean War. He said, we felt
freer in a foreign land than in the land of our birth. How does that strike you?
B: Over there, you are treated like an ambassador, really. This is in Korea,
Germany and Vietnam. We were treated real good by the people over there. You
forget what color you are, really. That never enters the question, see, never
enters your mind. Like I said, people are people. They get past that, the color of
your skin. You got nothing to worry about. Why think about it, you know? We had
a job to do. We did it. I got letters of thank you from the Vietnamese and
everything else. They gave me a box of cigars. I was scared to smoke them.
They would probably blow up. One of the guys I was working with was a VC [Viet
Cong, communist Vietnamese group]. Yes, he was a converted VC, and they
gave him a job working in our shop. He got married to one of the South
Vietnamese. He was a good old boy. He used to work in the camera...we had
people we called people-sniffers that we would mount on the helicopters. They
would go out over in the area to check ammonia, any ammonia-producing person
or an animal. A horse or a human are the only two that produces ammonia. That
is when you can fire your gun. That is what these guys were working on, the
people sniffers. They were both VCs. They were good. Well, you know, they
were born in North Vietnam. They were not VC. They were just born there. They
came down before the war.
G: Back in the 1950s, during Korea, did you have any negative feelings about
fighting for America, considering its racial situation?
B: No. I did not think I would run into any racial problems over there, because we
did have it here. I was glad to leave here, in a way. But once I got to meet with
other people and their views and their outlooks on life, things got better.
G: Do you believe whites sometimes change their views according to race after
being in contact with you and other blacks?
B: Oh yes, just like we do too. Just like this friend, Bob Dutton, I was telling you
about. Best friend I got. My wife had just delivered my son. He was born in
Germany. She started losing blood, and the only person she could call was
Dottie, his wife, who lived across the street. We were living in government
housing. Called her and she was not there, but he was there for lunch. He came
over and stopped the bleeding, took her to the hospital and told me later on. He
said, your wife is in the hospital, she is all right now. You know, who would have
done that for me? That was my buddy. He still is. His wife and my wife died about
the same time from the same type. She had ovarian cancer. My wife had breast
cancer. They died the same year, the same thing. We still contact each other
every year. He has had his second retirement too.
G: You said he was from North Carolina. North Carolina, you know, white people
are raised to believe a certain way. Do you think his attitude changed?
B: His attitude changed. He hated himself when I first met him. He was a good guy.
I tell you, we drank more beers than a little. I have eaten at his house. His wife is
from Louisiana, and he is from Rocky Mountain, North Carolina. Oh yes, he
changed. This guy Thompson too. He changed too. He came up in a segregated
town. Both of them did. Both of them farm-raised. I attribute this to the Army,
bringing us together. I do not know why it took them so long. They could have
done it earlier. But I think it is a gradual thing they did, and it worked. Now, you
got black generals, Japanese generals. They never had that before, no matter
how smart they were. This guy here, he was smart. I wanted to go to school, go
to college, while I was there. His folks could not send him to college. My folks
could not even support me. My old man was only making $15 a week working at
a laundry. I wanted my younger sister to finish school. She is sixty-four now,
Jean. I am five years older than she is. I said, well, somebody has got to get out
here and work so these girls will not run wild. I did. I used to send them my
allotment. That was the only dependent I had-well, she and my old man-and she
[End of side B1]
G: Keeping in mind the progress the military was making at this time in the 1950s
and the 1954 Brown decision that supposedly desegregated the schools, did you
think there was some kind of a racial revolution going on? Did you think things
were going to start changing quicker, things were going to get better?
B: Yes, it is going to get better.
G: Did you think so at the time?
B: Yes. When was that accepted, that...?
G: 1954. Basically a couple of years after the military segregated. So, that is two
major institutions in American life becoming integrated, very similar time.
B: I was not familiar with that, Brown versus...?
G: The Board of Education. Yes, that is what desegregated the schools, or that is
what made it happen.
B: That is [the case that overturned ] "separate but equal" [referring to the 1896
Plessy v. Ferguson decision that allowed for separate but equal segregation].
B: Right, because it was never equal. It was separated. It was never equal because
they built that school I was going to, to be on the same level any white school
was, but it was never equal. We used their books when they were finished with
them, and they were all beat-up. If something new developed, since those books
were printed, and what they learned from them. Right, it was never separate-but-
equal. It never was. Now these kids here got it made. They all know each other.
They are all in each other's houses, know each other, marry each other. They
are happy. I sit on the porch sometimes and I say, this place has never been like
this. I never disapproved [of] it. It just is something that should have been done a
long time ago. I will tell you what, when I was a kid, there was a little white boy
about five years old, a black lady raised him. She found him on the railroad track
and raised him. The city officials found out about it and wanted to know what was
that little white boy doing in that area? She said, I found him. I raised him. And
they wanted to take that little boy from him. That boy, he is a grown man now. He
is about as old as I am. He takes care of that lady. She is about eighty-something
years old now. He says, this is my mama, this is the only mama I know. Boy, that
brought tears to my eyes, even today. I tell you, that was a great thing. That was
way back then. I mean, a person is a person, regardless who they are. I have
never been mad at nobody but that VC that shot at me. I still do not know what
he looked like, shucks. But I tell you, it is changing for the better. Are you
Democratic or Republican?
G: I am a Democrat.
B: I am too. I think Gore is going to get it too.
G: You think so?
B: Yes, if the U. S. Supreme Court does not stop the counting. I know Bush went all
the way to big papa to stop the counting, but I do not think they are going to
override our state Supreme Court. What else do you got there?
G: Did you ever participate in any civil rights activities?
B: NAACP, yes.
G: Are you a lifelong member? How does that work? When did you join the
B: When I was in the service, 1969. I am not a lifetime member. I send my dues
every year. Yes, just the civil rights part of it.
G: Did you ever participate in any demonstrations?
B: No, I never did, but I know a lot of guys who did. Like I said, in the service, you
do not participate in any kind of demonstrations, pro or con. You do not view your
political ambition. It is always do not ask and do not tell. That was all. I just
supported them, you know, Thurgood Marshall and the Civil Rights Act and the
whole works like that, but I never got out and marched or anything. You know,
what is right, I am all for it.
G: Do you believe that integrating the military had an effect on speeding up
integration elsewhere in American society?
B: Hm-mm [yes]. That is the way it started. I believe so. Because they spread the
word, the military people themselves. You know, when they went back to their
homes in different places, they told their folks about the experience. I got another
friend. He is Indian, James Beargrease. He is still living. That guy, he is older
than I am. He is from...
B: ...a beautiful country in the summertime though.
B: Hm-mm [yes]. The mosquitos eat you alive, but other than that, it is beautiful.
G: What was your opinion about the war around that time?
B: In Korea?
B: When I went over there, I was under the impression that these people want to get
from under communism. I have experienced communism in Germany. Yes, there
was a communist group there in Germany. They were for themselves. I was in a
communist group and did not even know it. We lived in a communist town called
Funstadt. But the government put us there because they had a lot of activity
there, you know, communist literature and stuff all on our door and all this stuff.
Americans did. I did not know anything about Germany, you know, or could read
German. So, they moved us out. They moved us to a place called Deimstadt,
from Funstadt to Deimstadt, and a lot of people went to jail in the communist
party there. Yes man, they blew up a lot of the American cars and all that stuff.
The Americans were not in them, just their property. I did not have a car, not at
that time. I thought about that when I went to Korea. I said, well, this is the
reason we are fighting over there, to pull these people out of...to keep the
communist aggression from taking over. These were good people. I mean, they
were nice people. Koreans today, I got plenty [of] Korean friends here. They want
to know how I can remember Korean so well. A lot of it is bedroom Korean, but I
learned how to speak some of the proper everyday language too, the kind that
they use. They are good people. You got a friend that is Korean, just like an
American, you got a good friend, you got a good friend. A lot of the ones I know
run stores and bars around here. I relate to them. This is the reason they are
here, because of democracy. A guy the other day said, you ever seen
$1,000,000? He is Korean, you know. I say, yes, I have seen it here and there.
He says, pick that bag up over there. Put your hands on $1,000,000. Surely
enough. Hundreds of hundred-dollar bills in stacks like this. I said, you want me
to take this to the bank for you? I said, I just got it out the bank. He cashes
checks, see, at this liquor store he owns. I said, what do you got so much money
here for? He said, well, I cash just about that much a week. Not a million but
quite a few thousands. He says, you can only get that in America. I said, you are
right. I know you did not get it from over there. I do not think it was a million. It
was quite a few hundred thousand.
G: That is a hell of a lot of money.
B: A lot of money. Real money too.
G: So, how do you believe that worked out? Did it work? Did they stop communist
B: They sure did. In fact, your communists are all becoming democratic now, even
the North Koreans.
G: So you have been following recent events.
G: What do you think about the recent events with North Korea and South Korea?
B: I think it is a step in the right direction.
G: Do you think it proves that communism does not work?
B: Communism does not work. See, the Russians did it for a long time. They are
democratized now, because they were always broke. You can only gain in a
democratic society for all of the people. I had Germans tell me about Hitler. I
spent three trips over there. I learned German pretty well on the second and third
trip. The old people used to say Hitler was good because he gave everybody
work. I said yes, but what was he paying you? They had nothing to show for it.
G: Yes. They were making guns.
B: Yes, making guns. That is what they were doing, and building cobblestone
streets, good streets, but nothing to show for it. Now, Roosevelt gave us a Social
Security system, see, so that anybody over sixty years old, or sixty-two, who has
worked anytime during a lifetime can get some money, and we will compound it
with money from the government. They do not have that over there, not in
Germany. Better work for it and save. Of course, they got a stock market, and
they got a good lotto system over there. The mailman brings you your money, the
postman. I made a little money over there, and I did not think the postman was
going to bring it. I made about 20,000 marks, and he brought it to me. I said,
mailman, in the States, you would get hit in the head. He said, not here, I work
for the federal government. I said, they do too. But they are good. They are
getting better, becoming democratized. That is the only way to go.
G: So you think the Korean War was worth fighting?
B: Oh yes. Any war, you are going to have some losses. That is expected. But look
at what we have achieved. We can go anywhere in the world. Where there is
democracy, you can walk with your head high, don't worry about a thing. That is
in Korea. Where we lost was in Vietnam. I do not know what happened there. I
do not know whether that war was worth it or not, but the communists will soon
become democratized. Even the North Vietnamese as they took over South
Vietnam, see, they are welcoming our goods now and trading, and I am pretty
sure they come to our schools. You got some going to the University of Florida. I
know quite a few Vietnamese going there, and Koreans. I know some doctors
that are Koreans at the University of Florida and FSU [Florida State University].
In fact, the doctor I got in Gainesville is from Vietnam. He is good. Yes, they take
that right on back to Korea with them, but a lot of them want to stay right here.
They do not want to go back. There is more money here.
G: Finally, do you think Korea was a forgotten war?
B: It should not be.
G: Do you think it was?
B: I think it was, yes, after fifty years. Just like the Second World War, that is why
they keep reviving the memory of it, see. We lost a lot of people. I remember
World War II good, just like yesterday. That building there used to be a store.
That was the only store out east here, and everything was rationed. All meats
were rationed. He was selling horsemeat. It was good too. It did not have no fat
in it, but it was meat. Old man Townsend. Shoes were rationed. Sugar was
rationed. Candy was rationed. Yes, Snickers and Baby Ruths [candy bars], all
that. You had to have a ration-stamp to buy that stuff. Tires for your car. You do
not have a ration-stamp, you cannot get it. You would have to go barefoot in the
winter, you know. I think tennis shoes were rationed too. Because that was a
world war. But all the slicing machines...they were selling bread in bulk. You had
to slice your own bread at home because all the slicing machines was going
towards the war effort. They would melt them down to make tanks. They did.
They were hard up for rubber, and the only rubber we got was synthetic rubber.
You can use an eraser one time. It is all gone.
G: Do you think that since in Korea that they did not have to mobilize an entire
country like that, no rations or anything, do you think that is perhaps a reason
B: That is the reason why. They did not have to do that.
G: So the civilians did not have to be involved in Korea as they did in World War II?
B: No, they were not because we provided them with everything. In fact, when I
went back in 1959 and 1960, I was with the KMAG, Korea Military Advisory
Group. We were getting them tanks, we were getting them trucks, we were giving
them food, truckloads of soybeans. You would be surprised what they can make
out of soybeans. They do not eat soybeans as a bean. Man, they make
everything out of it, from food to drink and cosmetics, from soybeans. I had never
seen a soybean in my life until I went over there. They got soybeans going
everywhere. And they got roads. They got highways out there like we got them
now. They built them by hand. They are good roads, yes. They got engineers
and everything. They learned right here in our schools.
G: Do you think they owe that to you guys who went over?
B: Oh yes, and the United States, you know, the government providing this. The
they come on the goods that we provide have handshaking. I mean,
tons and tons of goods. They got a rebuild shop in Japan where they rebuild all
of the military equipment and ship it to them, ship it back to Korea. Now, Korea
and Japan are real close now. Japan owned Korea before the war, North and
G: That is why it got divided in the first place.
B: Right. Now, they are friends. They exchange a lot of goods and everything,
goods and resources. Yes, they are together. See, Japan also owned China, but
Japan, they become Chinese, they stay there so long, because Chinese will
absorb them. There are so many of them over there. Yes, they are all the same
people. People are people, you know.
G: Most definitely.
B: There are some smart ones over there too. I have learned a lot from a lot of the
citizenry there now, especially around Pusan and the big cities, Seoul. What they
have got, they are good with it.
[End of Interview]