The visit home on furlough after basic training was too brief. I had orders to report to Oakland, California where I was to embark for Korea as a member of the occupation forces that had taken over that country after the Japanese were defeated. The Army had supplied me with train tickets and meal tickets but the two day trip was boring to say the least. On April 22, 1948 I boarded the USAT General R. M. Blatchford for a 22 day trip to the Port of Inchon, South Korea. As we went under the Golden Gate Bridge the waters became a little choppy and I went below somewhat nauseated. It seems that I stayed below the deck for about three days until a lieutenant came below and gave me some crackers to eat and told me to shower and go up to chow. I was not sick the rest of the way. I had developed my sea-legs.
When we were passing close to Hawaii a soldier fell down some stairs and broke his back and some ribs so they diverted the ship to Pearl Harbor briefly to send this soldier to sick bay. We had no on-shore time there. We were taking some dependents to Guam and were then going in that direction. My brother Bob was in the Marine Corps and was stationed at Guam. It was my hope that I would get some shore time there so I could visit Bob. I had not seen him since sometime in 1947. Unfortunately, one of the dependent children on board had developed measles and we were not allow to take any shore time there. They did relent at the last minute and let the soldiers get on trucks and take a trip around the island of Guam, but no contact with the civilians was permitted.
To keep us from getting too bored, the ship published a newspaper daily (The Crows Nest) and the one on 6 May 1948 had this interesting paragraph:
KOREA: In Korea, US Military Commander, Lt. Gen John Hodges rejected renewed Communist demands that the US troops be withdrawn from Korea immediately. “There is every reason to believe that if such a withdrawal were carried out as demanded — said Hodges — the North Korean Communist Army and its horde of power-hungry camp followers and stooges, already selected and trained for the job, would take control of the rest of the nation”.
Truman and others in the administration did not listen to Lt. Gen John Hodges apparently since we know now that when the troops left in early 1949 it gave the North Koreans and opportunity to do just that. Over 30,000 young Americans lost their lives as a result of that decision.
The ship docked out in the Inchon Harbor area because the tide was so extreme that the mud flat became a two or more mile distance. When the tide came in a few of the troops and families would be unloaded and the next high tide allowed another unloading.
They took me immediately to Camp Sobbingo where the 7th Infantry Division Headquarters was located. I was assigned to the G-3 section as a clerk typist. What struck me almost immediately was the odor. It seems that the odor was more intense when certain ox pulled carts passed by. I learned later that these carried human excrement that was intended to fertilize their rice paddies.
An experience of a life time had just begun.