Last month, I posted a link to an article in the Western Herald about my Dad’s Combat Veterans’ Writing Group. Dad’s story and others had been showcased in the article.
Dad has written another story about his experience in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. I’d like to share a bit of it with you. In this piece, he explains why it took a long time on the sea for him to arrive in Korea.
Let’s start at the beginning. His military service started in 1948. He was a graduate of Lane Tech High School in Chicago and had realized he did not want to work in a factory or a grocery store. He counted on the army to help him get to college via the G.I. Bill.
World War II was over and the close down of the army for its people and materials was on the downslide. My two-year enlistment was a growing time of my life. It opened up travel: Ford Knox (gold storage), black-and-white drinking fountains, Camp Carson (mountain troops), New York City, driving the old Alaskan highway, Whitehorse Yukon Territory Canada.
Dad also visited Washington, D.C., when he was at Quartermaster School.
By June 1950, Dad says, “my recall sent me back to Fort Knox for retraining with World War II veterans.” His enlistment had originally obligated him to a seven-year inactive tour, but this looked like change.
For two days we were issued tools and told to chop the corn down– (NO WAY!) All of these men were high-grade noncoms who had been commissioned officers during wartime conditions in World War II.
I asked Dad what “NO WAY” meant. Did they do it or didn’t they? Did they risk court-martial? He said the details are coming up in the next installment!
A few days later we boarded trains for Seattle, where we boarded the Navy troop ship, M.C. Meigs. The exact dates are foggy to me at this part of my journey. Once on board, we realized that half of the ship was the Canadian U.N. Army.
As the ship started out, we found that we were running north until we got to the Aleutian Islands and then for some reason we turned south, spending several days in Pearl Harbor. This was the first time I heard the song, “Harbor Lights.”
This video features Dinah Washington singing the 1950 version of “Harbor Lights.”
After 30 days, we arrived in Yokohama, Japan, where we were transferred to Camp Drake by Tokyo. After a few days, we departed for Inchon, Korea. We were lightly equipped and no personal arms.
The coincidence of this day was that the Chinese Army crossed the border, entering the Korean War: 3 November 1950. Chaos at that time was very evident to us. We were immediately loaded on a train for our destination, Pusan perimeter. As we moved south on the train, U.S. troops were suffering some of the worst part of the early part of the war: the retreat of our army!
The reason for the 30-day adventure was directly related to the Canadian UN troops. The Canadian government was not going to enter the war until the United Nations had declared it a Peace Action.
The REAL value of the story was not recognized by me until much later.
What Dad means is that because he had the luck to be connected with the Canadians at just that moment in time, he was “stalled” along with the Canadian troops until just after the worst danger was over.
This is how he tips his hat to the Canadians:
When playing golf now, I use a Canadian loonie to mark my golf ball.
Not being a golfer, I had to look up loonie because I might have gotten the wrong idea ;). However, it’s not about golf, but about it being Canadian. A loonie is a gold-colored Canadian one dollar piece, first created in 1987. Thank you, Wikipedia.
The U.S. Army Center of Military History has an online page devoted to the phase of the Korean War which began November 3, 1950, the day Dad landed at Inchon, the day the Chinese entered the Korean War.
Next up: I will start tackling my list, beginning with Etaples!