We boarded the ships in North Korea at Hungnam. This was in December 1950. The Marines had been extracted from the Chosen Reservoir and the last to load was the 7th Infantry Division. We all of the troops were safely on ship there was quite a fire display on shore while the Navy bombarded the ammunition and other equipment that we did not have time to evacuate.
Many of us had frostbite and were being treated in the ship below deck at bunk side or for the worst cases they had to be admitted to the hospital on board. My blisters were not too bad and I did not want to report to sick bay because I was afraid of being court martialed from not taking my sleeping bag with me when I went up as shot gun to deliver battle plans to the 17th Infantry regiment who were near the Yalu River. I was assured by the driver that we would return by nightfall. What the driver did not know was all the traffic going north was one way and the next day the traffic was coming south. This was the plan because of the small winding roads and total chaos the haram scarum way. I was caught in 35 degrees below zero and the only way I survived was to find a school house where our troops were bedded down. I could hardly get to the stove in the center of the room to keep the coal shoved into the stove. By morning I could not feel my feet.
It took about 2 weeks for the ship to make the trip south to Pusan where we would be off loaded for the battles back north. The Chinese Communist has literally driven us out of North Korea and now a new battle plan was instigated. One bright spot in our stay in Pusan this time is the Bob Hope Show. Bob Hope as most people know entertained troops all over the world during World War II and now in the Korean War. This was a great Christmas Present for the Army, Navy and Marines.
I was able to do my duties with the G-3 section but was not able to march and do parade stuff. I hid out in my little office because the blisters on my feet were still pretty tender. It was some time around mid January 1951 before I got comfortable in my combat boots to do any marching. I really was getting homesick by now. Three years away from home.
Charles and Johnnie on beach in Galveston after mission trip to Bridge City to help with disaster cleanup
My barefoot bride loved the beach. After the team finished their work at Bridge City we went to Galveston for a couple of days before coming back to Southmayd. It was hard dragging her away from the beach.
The Korean War had now changed from retreat to pursue. Those in the Pusan Perimeter were now breaking out and coming north in pursuit of the retreating North Korean Army. The orders for the 7th Infantry Division, after the successful invasion at Inchon was to go south so we could board ships. Some said we were being sent back to the States. Wishful thinking. We were headed north to make a landing in North Korea. I am not sure Truman wanted that. MacArthur thought it was the right thing to do.
The landing site in North Korea was the Hamhung, Hungnam area. The South Korean Army was coming up the east side of Korea and was to meet up with the U. S Marines first and the keep going to meet up with the 7th Infantry Division at Hamhung. They were to keep going up to the Yalu river on the east side of Korea.
The orders for the lst Marine Division was to go to the Chosen Reservoir Area and head to the Yalu river. The 7th Infantry Division was to go up to the Yalu River East of Chosen. The 17th Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division was the lead unit and they made it to the Yalu river and celebrated by making a urine deposit in the river. Then things got hairy. This was the last of October in 1950.
There was a lot of talk about the Chinese entering the war but this seemed to be discounted. MacArthur was quoted as saying “The Chinese would not dare to intervene”. When all of the American and South Korean forces started going over the 38th Parallel it was with a lot of enthusiasm that the Korean Peninsula could be united under a Democratic Government.
Several things happened to change the results of the war. The “Coldest Winter” came to bog down the American Troops who were not well equipped for this kind of weather. The Communist Chinese did indeed enter the war with a vengeance. The air support was spotty because of bad weather conditions. On October 9, 1950 when I was supposed to be discharged from the Army, I was in North Korea near the North Korean Chosen Reservoir getting frostbite. I was headed back to Hamhung, Hungnam to be evacuated to South Korea. Christmas 1950 in the good old USA? How about South Korea?
Fast forward 68.5 years and we are still having difficulty with the North Korean Dictatorship.
The North Korean Army invaded the South Korean Country on June 25, 1950. They rapidly went south capturing all of South in just a few days. Truman got a declaration from the United Nations to send troops to defend the South. Several Divisions from the US Army were sent from Japan and the Divisions set up a perimeter around Pusan.
MacArthur was in Japan devising a plan to attack the North Korean Army. My Division, the 7th Infantry Division was part of that plan along with the lst Marine Division which was being sent from the States. MacArthur’s plan was very bold. He was going to send the Marines and the 7th Infantry Division in at Inchon. The tides at Inchon were very high and most of his planning committee thought he had gone off his rocker. He prevailed and the invasion up near Seoul occurred on September 25,1950.
I was devastated on the 4th day of the fighting going in at Inchon when our G-3 Leader Col Hampton was killed.
The Korean War then got very personal with me. Truman had extended all enlistments for a year. I was supposed to be headed home but instead I was now in the middle of a war not of my choosing. This is one that could have been prevented in my opinion had the powers that be left the troops in Korea until the South Korean’s were prepared to defend themselves. I grieved as though I had lost my father
The Marines captured Seoul and the 7th Infantry headed south to me up with our troops who were breaking out of the Pusan encirclement. Things were breaking our way and we started hearing that the troops would be going home by Christmas of 1950.
Remembering Johnnie. Johnnie left us this past November to be with her Lord. She was always trying to improve her education. This picture was taken May 16, 1972 at the graduation exercise at NTSU. She had been doing night classes in Denton. Dorcas was old enough to get supper for me and Tim. Johnnie was receiving her MS degree in elementary education. She was doing some substitute teaching in Plano.
We were very proud of her that night. It would be about 10 years after this picture before she came to my medical practice first as my receptionist and later as my office manager.
Always busy. Always helping others. Always serving the Lord. Now rejoicing in Heaven!!
After the move to Honshu, I was able to visit Ibaracki Christian College and meet a nephew of my aunt Zelma’s. Aunt Zelma and uncle Ray Lawyer had been missionaries to Africa in the 1920’s. Ray was killed in a tragic accident after about 3 years in Northern Rhodesia. Her nephew by marriage, Virgil Lawyer was an instructor at Ibaracki Christian College and my mother Bess told me that I should go visit them if I could. I met a very nice and hospitable couple there and spent a few days visiting the area.
After we moved to Sendai in early 1950 there seemed to be an uneasy feeling among our senior staff about the conditions in South Korea. I was still privy of most of the secret and top secret stuff since I did a lot of the typing from Col. Hampton. I do not recall anything that was said or communicated between the officers in our G-3 section that would indicate the coming disaster in South Korea.
I was anticipating being sent home on rotation in the summer of 1950 since I had signed up for three year enlistment in 1947. Usually the Army would send the soldier home about two months before the enlistment was up. Mine was up on October 9, 1950.
I was accomplishing what I joined the Army for. I wanted to save enough money to go to college. I was sending about $100.00 a month to my parents and putting $50.00 a month in a Bank of American account since I did not spend a lot of money beyond necessities.
June 25, 1950 came around and all of my plans were suddenly disrupted. The North Koreans invaded South Korea. President Truman extended all enlistments for one year and re started the draft. The United Nations was suddenly at war with the North Koreans.
Hokkaido was an interesting place to explore on weekends. There were a lot of interesting trails and me and some of my friends utilized these to get away from the normal mess chow and do a little camp fire cooking.
Food just seemed better away from camp. We rarely saw native Japanese using these trails. I suspect that they used them to get to their job during the week and were not interested in hiking them on week-ends. The two fellows in the left picture were both married with wife’s back home and were not too interested in going into towns to party.
This was the summer of 1949 and in never did get hot at the northern island like it did in Korea or Southern Japan. That was a very calm part of the occupation that I enjoyed. I was somewhat tired of being a clerk typist in the G-3 section and when a job description was put out to the GI community that they were needing a radio disc jock I thought that I would apply for the job. The Captain who handled the radio asked me to come in for an interview. He also gave me a test using a recording apparatus and played my voice back. His conclusion was that I had too much of a southern drawl to be doing radio work.
The summer on Hokkaido did not last long. Sapporo was the capital of this Northern Japan area. There had been some Russians who had fled from Russia to Sapporo, Hokkaido and they started some Russian Language Classes with one of the men of the community conducting the lessons. I enrolled in this course and enjoyed interacting with this gentleman. I did not retain much Russian but it did keep the boredom down somewhat.
Another way that I was able to break the boredom was working at night in the NCO Club. This club was for the Higher Ranked Sergeants and then there was the Commissioned Officer’s Club. I was the bookkeeper and enjoyed doing this job, mainly at night and this did not interfere with my other military duties.
I felt somewhat isolated on Hokkaido in spite of this other activity. Probably this island atmosphere was the cause or it may have been the length of time I was away from the states.