Vet shares Infantry training experiences in Korean War

Fulton, TX

When the Korean War started in June 1950, I, along with a shipload of men whose orders had already been cut, loaded the USNS Buckner in San Francisco Harbor. We set sail for Okinawa.

During the post-World War II occupation of Japan, regiments were in a peacetime mode: two battalions instead of three.

We new arrivals were formed into a third battalion of the 29th. The officers and NCOs were canonized from other units on the island, none of which were Infantry.

If a commander is asked to send off men, is he going to send his best men? Toilets were flushed! We had very few combat veterans. The quality of our officer- and NCO-cadre was established.

One captain lectured a bunch of 18- and 19-year-olds, about to go into combat, on celibacy. A lieutenant teaching a map-reading class said, "The magnetic North Pole is 600 miles south and 100 miles east of the North Pole." Fearing I might get the guy as a platoon leader, I didn't ask him which way, from the North Pole, is south.

Some of the non-coms did ridiculous things to try to get bad conduct discharges and avoid combat. We felt that in combat, a man's life can be dependent upon his superior's good judgment.

The battalion trained for 30 days, then boarded a Japanese freighter for Korea. Aboard, we learned our battalion would be broken up and the men sent to other outfits as replacements. Hurrah!

I was sent to a regiment which later became one of the fire brigades. I went in as a private and eventually became platoon sergeant, 2nd Platoon, Company C, 27th Infantry Regiment.

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