I was sure to use the word “conflict” because my Dad corrected anyone who called it a war. Even at the age of 84, he’d say “It was a police action and not a war, dammit!” Don’t want to get Dad’s spirit angry, now do I?
My Dad was drafted in 1951. Here’s a photo of him when he first went into the service. He is pictured with his brother, Gene (on the left) and his friend (on the right)
My Dad was a cook in the army. I remember his saying they made two requirements of him. He had to be able to carry his frying pan on his back when marching and he had to go through a rifle test twice a year. That was the only time he ever had to use his gun. Knowing my Dad’s cooking, he would have done far more serious injury to the enemy if he served them food. He was used to cooking for 100 or more and had a theory that everything cooked best on the highest flame possible.
His time in the army was not without danger. A couple of times while on board ship he had to act has a lure. He and others who were selected for this assignment. He had to lower himself into the water on one side of the ship with his full pack on, swim over to the other side, then climb up the ladder on the other to draw enemy fire.
My Dad was stationed in Japan mostly, though did a brief stint in Korea. One Winter it was very cold and snowed regularly. My Dad was a Oakland boy, not prepared for such weather. He got frostbite in his feet in the jeep heading back to camp. Back at camp, he and the others warmed their feet on a wood burning stove but they never had their frostbite treated. My Dad had problems with circulation when he returned home and it was a problem that bothered him until the day he died.
My Dad had to deal with some emotional stuff. One of the things he remembered while in Japan and Korea was the poverty. The peasants had very little to eat. When they moved camp they left a lot of food behind, but they weren’t allowed to leave the provisions to the people in the villages. They buried everything in the dirt that they weren’t taking with them. As they drove off, they’d watch the peasants run down to the former camp digging through everything trying to find the food.
My Dad was stationed in Japan when that major earthquake struck Hokkaido in 1952. It measure 8.1 on the richter scale. He told me that it was the most violent earthquake he ever felt. They were shaken from their beds onto the floor. One of the men in his unit freaked out and ran screaming out the door. I don’t know if this still true, but according to my Dad water pipes in Japan were above ground back then. The pipes burst and scalding water shot out. The guy who had run out the door was badly burned.
The times weren’t all bad. My Dad remembers swapping supplies so he could get a short wave radio which was their main entertainment some days. He told me that he wasn’t supposed to have it and a superior officer wanted him to turn it in, but he never did.
Here’s a crazy photo of my Dad on leave in Japan. Evidently, he got drunk then decided to do a little costume swapping. Perhaps he was trying to get out of the army using Corporal Clinger’s method on MASH. LOL
My Dad was proud of his time serving his country. But, when his time was up he was out. He had done his time and it was time to move on with his life.
My Dad had a photo album filled on every page with photos from his time in the army. I’m going to end with this one. I like it because my Dad and his buddies seem to be having a good time. It also is one of the photos that shows that the army was integrated by the time the Korean Conflict came around. Whatever these guys felt about race before getting in the army, they depended on each other once they got in.