My Story

 

I went to Korea in August of 1952 and was assigned to the 326th Communication Reconnaissance Company, part of the Army Security Agency.  I had just turned 22 years old.  Most of the guys in the unit had some college education or college degrees.  I had none but I came to the unit with a hell of a lot of world experience.

 

When I finished High School in Manasquan, New Jersey, I had no money for college and not wanting to work in a local soda store all my life I purchased a bicycle and with $180 took off for South America.  I spent a year and a half on that first trip, learning Spanish on the road.  I sold the bicycle in Guatemala and went by bus most of the rest of the way and took an airplane when the roads gave out.  I was hitch-hiking in David, Panama, heading for the Canal Zone when I met some officers from the US Army Engineers who were field officers for the Inter-American Geodetic Survey.  After a brief discussion with them I was offered a job as Engineer Aide with the IAGS.  The next 14 months were spent in the mountains and jungles of Panama and Guatemala.  I loved the work as it took me out in the bush and into the small villages and hamlets populated by native peoples. 

 

In June of 1950 I returned to the U.S. to go to college but as luck would have it I arrived in the 'States the week the Korean War began.  Knowing that I would shortly be drafted I took off for Europe and spent four months hitch-hiking all over Western Europe, returning to the US in late December, 1950.  In January of 1951 I enlisted in the US Army hoping to get into the Army Engineers but instead was assigned to the Army Security Agency.  After Basic Training I was sent to high speed Morse radio intercept school and then was sent to Monterey, California to study Chinese Mandarin.

 

When I got to Korea I had been away from home for almost three years, had visited or worked in 27 countries and spoke two languages other than English.  I ended up becoming a staff person in the operations office for this radio unit.  Not long after I arrived I found out that our unit sponsored a small orphanage located across the road from our motor pool and quickly became involved in orphanage work.  I shortly assumed the role of corresponding secretary for the orphanage committee.  It was my job to acknowledge receipt of all packages and letters sent to the company for the orphanage.  Ultimately I was spending about 20 hours a week on orphanage work after my duty hours in the operations office, doing guard duty and other such military responsibilities.

 

Our major source of information for the news of the world was the Pacific Stars and Stripes newspaper.  I noticed that in almost every edition there was a story or a note about one military unit or other that was engaged in helping an orphanage, having a party for a group of orphans, building a school for a village, finding some orphans living in a cave, etc.  What we were doing in our company was not unusual and, as a matter of fact, it seemed to me that almost every military unit in Korea that was not engaged in combat was helping the war child of Korea in some way or another.

 

My own involvement with the company orphanage, called Manassas Manor, is told in the section on this web site dealing with orphanages.  Here I just want to note that I knew that what we were doing was not unique.  Many, if not most, military units in Korea were doing the same.

 

Almost half a century later when the U.S. Department of Defense was given nine million dollars to spend on the Korean War 50th Anniversary Commemorative activities I was a bit upset that nothing was being done to recognize the humanitarian aid the GIs had rendered the children of Korea during the war years and afterward.  Everything was commemorating battles, invasions, and activities dealing with war as war.  I applied for a grant to study the 'soft side of the war' but could get no funding.  Being stubborn I took it on myself to do the research at my own expense and so began the Korean War Children's Memorial Project. 

 

UNDER CONSTRUCTION