1950, Fort Riley, Kan.

I got through four weeks of basic training with no problems. Then the Great Missouri River overflowed into our camp. We had to fill sandbags to put on the dykes; when we ran out of sandbags, we used pillowcases and mattress covers. We worked day and night for several days, until the dykes began to get soft and started to sink. At that point we were told to ‘Run for the Hills’! They paired us up so each guy had a shelter halve; it was very cold and still raining. After several days of camping, the weather cleared up and the water receded, so we went back to camp for clean-up duty. I was not feeling good so I went on sick call. They put me in the hospital with pneumonia. I was there for three weeks; while in the hospital the paymaster came around to pay me $93 in brand-new dollar bills. That night after I was asleep, someone stole my wallet! Two days later they found my wallet outside soaking wet and empty.
As I got better they put me to work in the hospital. When I was strong enough to go back to training, I had to join a new outfit to finish my basic training. They shipped some of us to Fecom. We left Seattle in December (a sad time to be shipping out); it was a troop ship with a lot of men. We went through a hurricane for four days on the way to Korea. No food was prepared; no one could keep food down anyway. They finally told us we had to eat a slice of bread. I cannot believe we made it through alive - thinking back I know the Lord got us through that storm. As we got closer to our destination, I had a tooth go bad, it was abscessed. When we got to North Korea, they wouldn’t let me off the ship. It was very cold, everybody had a full duffle bag, helmet and rifle. You had to use the rope ladders on the side of the ship (one man fell into the water). They sent me to Japan to have my tooth fixed, half of my face was swollen down into my neck. The hospital did not want me to bring my rifle inside; eventually they locked it up and I was there about a week. When I was released they told me to take a boat to the replacement depot, then by truck to Korea where I received a ‘dear John letter.’ The truck took me to the front line combat, and that is a different story.

Nick Bonfiglio

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