After my squad had delivered the prisoners to the lst Battalion area we then were transported by jeeps up to the front again. This time we were crossing the 38th Parallel that used to be the dividing line between North and South Korea before the war started. Our task was to probe the area going north to find the enemy. I was hoping that we would find some more enemy that were willing to give themselves up and not give us any fight. We were north of the town of Inje and close to the Hongch’on Reservoir. We were involved in an operation that the big wigs called Operations Rugged and Dauntless. I think they liked to use those big words to impress themselves. All it meant to me and my squad was more walking and climbing hills and trying to get shot at so we could find the enemy.
At night we would secure a hill and the surrounding road so we could keep the enemy from getting behind us and causing havoc. These Chinese especially liked to do just that. When we would stop for the night we dug fox holes and put out watch stations out front with trip wires to set off flares to notify us of welcomed guests. The next morning we would retrieve all the wires and flares to be used at the next stop. From April lst to April 11th we made good headway and found only a few stragglers who were wounded or just had had enough war. It was on the evening of April 11th that the Captain came up to my position and said “Graham you are being rotated home tomorrow”. With that good news I started digging my foxhole a few feet deeper.
True to the Captain’s comments, just after morning chow a jeep came up on the road and I took my gear and headed behind our lines to be processed and get out of this terrible unfriendly environment. I did ask the jeep driver to stop by the 7th Division Headquarters area so I could see my old buddies from the G-3 section. One of my buddies was Robert Tate and he snapped a picture of me leaving the front that I did not know about until I make contact with him 60 years later.
It is interesting to know that Truman fired MacArthur that same day so I can say I share significant history with one of our Generals.
The summer of 1953 was used up in some college credits at Texas Tech University. I needed some more foreign language. They had an interesting course in German that I signed up for. Made a C grade I think but it did get one of the requirements for medical school off the plate. I also took a course in memory training. I knew that I was going to have to take Organic Chemistry and this would help me in that regard. I even found a relief job at the Lindsey Theater and this was a job I dreamed about when I was a lowly projectionist in Morton, Texas before going into the Army. I sent all of my college credits to West Texas State and they accepted me as a Junior pre-med student. I was disappointed in the Federal Government because they had not passed a bill for the Korean Veterans at that point. The Korean Armistice had been signed in July and it looked like to me that they could have helped us GI’s out but Washington moves very slow I found out.
A week or so before my enrollment at West Texas State I packed my bags and stayed a couple of days with Leola and Gilbert Ford in Canyon, Texas. I looked for a theater projectionist job but they were unionized in Canyon and Amarillo. There was no way I could break into their union ranks so I got a hotel room in Amarillo and took a test for my chauffeurs license so I could drive a taxi. I still needed extra money to make payments on the car. I enrolled in all the appropriate courses to get my pre-med work done and started attending the functions at the Church of Christ Bible Chair. In the first function I attended there, the Bible Chair Instructor had an introductory session. He had us all sit in chairs in a circular fashion. Some of the old hands there knew what was about to happen but I was totally unaware. There was a scramble to get the first few chairs. I was close to the last chair in line. The next instruction from the leader was to the first person in line to say their name. Then the second person was to say their name and the first persons name and so on and so forth. There was a good looking young lady about in the fifth chair who said her name was Johnnie Marie Pavlovsky. My memory course was helping me to memorize these names as they repeated over and over. When it became my turn I was able to say all the names and I found out years later that the pretty lady had leaned over to her next door in chair neighbor and ask “who is that smart aleck”.
After classes started it did not take me long to realize that the taxi driving at night was incompatible with all the study that I was required to do under Dr. Whaley. I think I lasted about 2 weeks or maybe three and decided that I needed to get a job and pay off the car and build up some cash in order to continue my higher education. The chauffeurs license stood me in good stead. One of the first jobs that interested me was working for the Western Company in Odessa, Texas. I knew a little about the company and I applied there. They put me to work in my old stomping grounds. It was a hard job. We would drive these trucks loaded with acid out to an oil well site and pump the acid in the well to break up the formations. Sometimes we were on the job 36 hours at one site. Being sleep deprived and driving back to Odessa was a hazardous trip. The drivers were on call 24 hours per day. Good money but brutal.
It seems to me that the last year of school at Odessa College whizzed by. Working the projectors at night gave me a lot of time on week-ends with friends. John and Johnette were especially good friends of mine. Jimmy Johnson was close behind because we had a lot of the same classes together.
As seen from one of the pictures, we witnesses a fire in Ruidoso. The barbeque got too hot I guess. My folks house was a neat place to stay with my friends. Mother and Dad were both in Lubbock running the Drug Store at the time and they let us have the run of the place. Johnette’s mother and her two young siblings came along for the excitement.
A lot of tears were shed as we left Ruidoso. I was going to Lubbock to visit with my folks and check out enrolling in West Texas State. John and the Fultons were going back to Odessa. Johnette was not sure where she was going to finish college. Some relatives lived in Las Vegas, Nevada and she was thinking about going there but had not made a decision.
I was also going to have to go to Canyon or Amarillo and find a job to help put me through the last two years of college since the U. S. elected representatives had not decided on a GI Bill for the Korean War Veterans in 1953. The War was still going on sporadically and not armistice had been signed. I did have pretty good transportation in that Ford Coup but it also had payments on it that had to be kept up.