Narration Henry Conley 448 narration by Daniel Mullins
I was 16 years old when I went in service. I was in high school. School was all right. I just, I just wanted to get away. I just ran off from home. I was just trying to get away. Get something better for myself. I didn't really have any; I didn't really have any feelings one way or another about it. I wasn't, I didn't go particularly for that reason, I went just because I was poor and I needed something different. I needed a change. For basis training I went to Fort Knox, Kentucky, my drill Sargent Collins, I'll never forget him, That's been over 50 years ago, but I remember him. You never forget your drill Sargent.
He was Probably a nice man. I really didn't think so at the time, but he probably was a nice guy. He was about six foot four, six foot five. And, uh, pretty hard on young boys,
There were recruits from everywhere. I made causal friends. We were only gonna be there for 8, 8 weeks. And then I left there and went to Fort Campbell in Kentucky for jump school. I went to prepare troopers. I sometimes got sick.
I was an infantryman, and I went to Fort Campbell Kentucky for jump school, with the eleventh airborne division. And then I went from there to the Five a regimental combat team, which was going to Japan or I thought it was. And uh… they wanted us to take a short discharge and by that time I had about four or five months in the army and I was on a three year enlistment and I didn't want to give up anytime that I had already pulled and start another three or four years, wanted wanted us to take four years so that we would have thirty-three months when we got to Japan, but I wouldn't do it so they told me they said get out if you don't you’re going to wind up in Korea and I still said no, I'm not going to do it and so they shipped me out from the five and eighth regimental combat team to a to a Cradcite area in Fort Campbell and just moved me on. Sent me on home for a leave and sent me right on to Korea. That was when they sent me to Korea. All I wanted to do was get my time in and get out. I felt like I was a long way away from home in Korea.
We didn't have you couldn't make telephone calls then cause we didn't have a telephone system in this area here. If you…If we… If you coulda made a call we didn't have any phones to make a call back to Bland too. And uh… you depended on the mail at that time. For your communication. I arrived at Korea in 1955. They was or army had assigned a armistice that was a peace treaty. Not a. They signed a cease fire not a peace treaty. I got to Korea. I went over on a ship. I left Fort Lewis, Washington and went over on a ship. When I got to the, when I got out in the bay they anchored the ship out in the bay and there was some LST's that come and met us and we had to get on the LS we had to get off the ship and get on the LST. They took us on LST's that's landing crafts that the front end drops down. They took us into a place called Inchon. They took us off there. Inchon is a little place there in Korea. Beachheads would come into Korea. And when I got in I guess as I was comin' in on the Beachheads . I could see the shells bursting in the air. I thought it was enemy fire, but it was our own artillery fire, but they were having airbursts. And everybody was scared to death. All of us was just a bunch of young kids. And uh… so we moved on up from there and uh…. We moved on up and got on trucks and started north started North in Korea. Up north, northern part of Korea. And uh… we didn't know where we was going to and I remember the, I remember the first woman I ever seen. The first person I ever seen in Korea was a woman. She was in the rice paddy and she was using the bathroom out in open and I thought; the stench was so bad they use, used uh… outdoor johns and uh… the feces from the outdoor johns to fertilize there rice patties. And the next woman I saw. The next person I saw was a woman and she had on a GI T-shirt and she had on a had on a pair of pants made out of a GI blanket. Can you imagine that? Yeah. She had on a GI T-shirt with holes cut in it and her breast were hanging out and uh… they told us they told us before we ever got off the ship. Now when you’re moving up through the Korea don't stick your arm over the side or don't trade or nothing cause is you got a ring or a watch on they will steal it before you can get your hand back. Of course I didn't have a ring for them to steal or a watch either one. Now they didn't steal nothing off of me, but now they got a bunch of jewelry off of those GIs who would come up put their hands over the sides when the truck was stopped and they would run up beside the truck and try and sell them something you know, and they would reach there hands over the side and they would take them watches and stuff just like that.
I was assigned to D-company. 34th infantry regiment 24th division. I was at a place called Petamanjohn that’s were they held the peace talks at. On the north, north I was on the south side of the DMZ facing into Petamanjohn.
When I got there their was a guy by the name of uh… Captain Butler was my company commander and I had a first Sargent named Rez and Rez was a Puerto Rican and so we got in there on a Sunday evening. Got in there on a late Sunday evening and Rez was a big burley guy like myself then, but he was muscled up and he wore his chevrons; his first Sargent chevrons on his sleeve right here and so he come down to greet us. We were all standing there talking and he was going to take us and assign us to our where we was going to and our company and he said I'm the first Sargeant of Dog company and I can whoop any S.O.B. here and he said do you understand that Coonley? He called me Coonley and I said yes sir, sergeant I understand it very well. And uh… they took us and uh… and they and we hadn't had nothing to eat that day. We hadn't had nothing to eat. And I we a I was afraid to ask for anything to eat I wadn't gonna do that. And he finally took us up there and gave us some C-rads. We got the C-rads and you know what C-rads are? There C-rads are rations and they are they got; they come in a can about this big, about this tall and they got two hard tack crackers with'em, and uh… I think that day I can't remember that day what I got, but I think most of the time I got a can of pork sausage, where the grease is all on it and uh…. It had a pack of cigarettes on with four cigarettes in it, It had uh… a little ole candy bar about that big, and of course it had toilet paper, and stuff like that.
When I got there I was called a RTO and Radio Transmitter Operator that’s what they put me with and I was supposed to have been a Rifle man, but I guess because I was young. Rez he kind of like me. He picked on me all the time and he kindly liked me and and he told me how bout a RTO job and he said your gonna work in a building said D-company is taking care of the whole Battalion and they had a bunker dug out there in the ground and I was I was to keep up with the communications of the whole battalion patrols and they was patrolling in no man’s land and they would check in I believe it was every thirty minutes or every hour with me on the radio and they had a switchboard there and I worked the switchboard on the field telephones that went from company to company and that lasted for about a month I guess or a little longer, maybe six weeks I can't remember. And they said they was gonna do a way somebody said that they moved in a big communication truck and on the communication radio arrow with antennas on it and they had a guy they had a guy doing Crip code and all that on it. Morse code not Crip code. And he was sending all the messages out and he didn't have to authenticate we had a authenticate sheet, but anyhow they told me that told me that I could be the battalion’s commander operator; RTO Radio RTO if I wanted to and ride the jeep all the time and I told them I didn't want it and they made me do it until they found; until that got somebody to do it. And I told them I would go back to a line company which I shouldn't have done. I would have had it easier if I wouldn't of went to that line company.
I had one guy that was my age, he was 16 too. And he was from Warsaw, Indiana and I haven't been able to find him since. He rotated just before I did. I lived all over. We didn't have no living quarters. When I went there except a Cp. tent. A Cp. tent is a just like a orderly room that's where they keep the first S argent and the supply and the company commander. It's kind of headquarters for the company. There was a tent and I stayed in that tent there in that tent with the first Sargent and all of them when I was operating the field telephone outfit and uh… the Radio RTO, but then when I went to when I went to the battalion commander I stayed with him about two weeks I think it was. And was his radio operator and while I was there I stayed with him and was close to him all the time. And then when I went to a line outfit. When I volunteered and went to a line company I went out there as a machine gunner. And I stayed with well just in the fields you just sleep out.
You got two meals a day. When I first went there and I stayed eight months up on the north there on the Manila Bay. And you got about a cup for breakfast about a cup of powdered eggs and a slice of bread of light bread and a cup of coffee. And for and for another meal you got one more meal during the day you got a package of C-rads of c-rations and like I say I usually got a now sometimes you would luck up and get a can of beanie-weenies that was about this tall and two hard tack cracks and cigarettes and then your candy bar. It was something you needed to survive off of, you ate it because you needed to survive.
We were kind of like It's like being out It would be like putting you out on Dismal, I guess, but shot all to pieces, full of land mines , and you never knew when something was gonna come across the line and kill ya. That's just the way it was. No houses around. Except back in the south.
Back in the south we was cut off by a river. We went across the Emchimea River and went across we was cut off by the river and the North Koreans was facing us.
They was South Korean soldiers assigned to us. And uh… they stayed they stayed right with us all the time. They weren't too bad. I don't guess. I don't. I had to hit one in the head one time. They put us out on the, I hadn't been there too long after I come out of the I had hadn't been out on that line company very long and they sent us out on a listening post it's were you go out and It's kind of a re-con of the area and you listen for movement and you report it back in. What's moving if it's armor or if it's jeeps or trucks or if it's foot soldiers, but you’re just there to listen, your not there to engage anybody your just there to listen. And he got to singing a bunch of Korean and I told him to shut up and he wouldn't shut up and I radioed in to the radio and told them that I had somebody out there that had gone crazy on me and Korean out there that had went crazy on me and the radio man said radioed back and said knock him in the head. So I knocked him in the head.
The South Korean people like. Well they was very poor, You can't imagine the ravages of war. They ate rice. They ate whatever they could get. They ate cat. They ate dog. Whatever they could get, but they did raise rice. And sometimes you would find some in some places that would. When we got to moving around when we come off the line and we would come back and move to different places in South Korea. And sometimes they would find some fruit you know they would have some fruit or something like that. But for most of them there basic staple was rice, and fish, and octopus and dog and cat. I never ate no dog. I never ate no cat. I've seen'em skinned out I've seen what they look like skinned out. One night a Mama Son was. Me and another boy went and got held up in a house were it was warm and you had the fire under the floor and had a dirt floor, but they had it tunneled out and you know. You just go in where you could and stay warm because the temperature would get down to 30 below 0. And me and a boy named Murphia were in there and Mama son came in and she was eating. She was eating some food and it was in a little ole bowl about that big and she was picking up her chopsticks and she would and and blood was dripping off them and she had some little onions about like that chopped up in it and I could see the blood and I could see her scrunching her teeth while she was eating it and uh… I said what are you eating Mama son? And she said rattled off something in Korea and this other woman said uh… and I asked this other woman what'd she say? This other woman kindly interpreted for us and we said what'd she say and she finally said she's eating dog liver. She said you want some. I said no thank you I don't believe I care for any.
It's hard to say if they were mean or not they would welcome you at one time, and other times they would try and steal off of ya. It was, it's been so long, I can't. It's been over 50 years and you know I can't remember. It's been 50 years.
For fun and relaxation we got drunk. And we would go to the village. And uh.. you got a ration of whiskey when I was there. You didn't you got a ration book and you was allowed two fifths of Canadian flat whiskey a week and uh… I forgot how much beer and uh… you was allowed so many cigarettes and they was a fifth of whiskey was a dollar and fifty five cents and carton of cigarettes was 99 cents or something like that, maybe 90 cents and uh… you go we would just go to the village and uh… mostly just raise hell to tell you the truth. There was no drug problem at that time.
We were in firefights. We had several fire fights. And uh… they had a they had a I was in one, two, I guess three pretty good fire fights that I can remember in Korea. I never I never I thought I was going into another one, we was in the south and they pulled all of us back up and set us back up towards the line and some what they call line crossers come across the line and just destroying the place. Just shooting everything in sight. And uh.. we went up there, but another outfit had done got'em, Seventh Division had done got'em before we got there. When they got the line crossers you knew it was one of two things you didn't take no prisoners it was a fight till the death.
There were mines and booby traps too. They booby trap things. A lot of weapons were laying around. A lot of weapons were laying around on the ground and they would booby-trap them so that when a GI would pick them up it would blow up on them. And then you had land minds and so then, what you had to do was you always had to walk a beaten path. You always had to stay on a path that other people had walked on. Cause if you didn't you could step off of it and step on a land mine and it could kill ya. You had a thing called a bouncin' Betty. And you stepped on it here and right out here in from of you it would shoot up it had a shot gun shell in it and it would shoot up and bring it about your. Right along here and it would explode on you and usually take off your privates and hit you in the stomach and it would leave you alive. It would mess you up. You had to be careful about a Bouncin Betty. Called a Bouncin Betty.
Combat was horrific a fire fight would not last too long, but you felt like it would last forever. You thought that it would never be over. Umm… It's hard to explain. I mean your…Your adrenaline is pumping so much and there is so much going on and when bullets are hitting the dirt. I mean the ground all you can think about is getting down. And getting out of the way. Before one of'em gets ya and your always so glad. When one hits close to ya you are so glad; so happy that just that it didn't get you. You know what I mean.
I have had some buddies hurt not seriously. Not seriously they usually used a thing called a burp gun on us. It was fully automatic and what it was it shot a 45 shell, but a 45 something like a 45 shell. A big slug came out of it. It come out there, but you see what they do is if they didn't get real close to ya. They couldn't hit ya. And Burp gun and sometimes if you let'em or if they got to close to ya. They could take a Burp gun and cut ya into. Of course we was using a machine gun. And all that and they wasn't. They used that to sometimes. Sometimes that machine gun fire is what you had to fear. And uh…
The scariest moment that I ever had. I hadn't been there to long. And uh.. they sent me back to the mess hall well not back to the mess hall, but back to the to go up and get my meal. And pick up my rations. It was a truck come in there that brought the C-rads and the powdered eggs. And they sent me back to get my rations and I was going and the guy I had relief for me and he said theres no brass around there and there is no point in you taken that old weapon and wearing your helmet and all that and you know you had to wear a pistol; I mean a cartridge belt. And carry a rifle and wear your steel pot helmet. He said just put on your soft cap and go on up there. I was coming on up there and the engineers had cut a road around the backside of the mountain and I'm coming out threw there and I'm it's a good. It's a uh fall day and it's real pretty and I'm just going to get my stuff ya know and uh. I had to go up the hill down into another valley there and I was going up the hill and I heard this talk hear it was south Korean and I guess they was talkin south Korean I don't know what they was talkin and I walked up face to face and I was about from here to the kitchen wall in there and there was two North Korean soldiers and they had burp gun and I was lookin'em right in the face and I started to run backwards. And I run over the bank and I fell over the bank and when I fell over the bank I rolled and fell on my feet and started running and I didn't know where I was going to. I was running toward the river and I didn't know whether I was going to step on a land mine or what. And you know it was just awful and I waited on them to open up on me with them burp guns. I guess it scared them to. I don't know what happen it was an awful scene I don't know what happened.
The weapons I used was the M1, water cool 30 caliber machine gun, light machine gun, 30 caliber, sniper rifle, which was a car beam with a infrared scope on it. Uh… a 45 pistol, I guess that’s it. They faught pretty good and well they came back when they come across the line, they came back to kill and destroy, kill and destroy and that’s what they did. They done pretty good. They used a like I side a burp gun, but they had another rifle there but I don't know what it was. It was some kind of a Russian made rifle. Wasn't a AK it wasn't a AK 47. I never faught any Chineeses and never did any flagging incidents
A typical day when I got there I stayed eight months on the line. A typical day when you got up you would well the other guy had been up all night you and him had been up all night together rotating back and forth. And uh You would just take over for him when daylight came or if you was on he would take over for you and you would just sit at you positions. Now if you was out on patrol a typical day was if you got called out into the militarized zone that was out in no mans land if you got called out there in the daytime you just had to stay out there in concealment you had to conceal yourself and get you some cover and concealment and conceal yourself until night came on until you could come back.
We didn't live in a tent. We lived in trenches and bunkers. If you was running a machine gun you would live in a bunker. If you was out with a rifle company than you would stay in the trenches and they had some places you could go to and they had it fixed up. They had bunkers too. Along those trenches. But it wasn't the best of living. Now back south, when we moved back we had tents. It had monsoon rains. Which would start raining and everything would get wet and you would be wet and water would be running everywhere. And then that was in the spring and fall.
They had spiders and this is no lie. They had spiders and the body on them was this big around. They called them tarantulas. And a boy from my outfit got bit by one right here on the arm and his name was right I will never forget him cause me and him came from the same airborne unit together. And he got bit right here on the arm. And it eat a big place out in his arm until you could see the bone. They they got some stuff and the medics finally sent him back to a medivac hospital. They finally got it stopped and they run some skin graphs or something on him. He he never did come back. Somebody said that they saw him at a medivac hospital. It ate a place out in his arm about this big. Just rotted away. I had jungle rot they had a thing called jungle rot there. Jungle rot if you got hit by a they cut it off with a beard of the of the. Beard of the rice you know they've got a beard on them like rice. And they had so much bacteria on it when it stuck in your leg or something while you was passing around the rice patty or something. If you got hit in the leg. I got a place right here on my leg about this big; sunk in about like that. And when you would get that it would start festering and making a soar and just start eating away. And uh.. I had it on my hands and on my legs and they give us some stuff from somewhere. Medics got most of that stopped.
There were snakes there, but I don't remember whether they were poisoned or not. When I came from Korea I weighed 135 lbs. And I had eat on a ship on the way back for about 20 some days. And then you know when I got home that’s what I weighed, was 135 lbs. If people wrote to ya the mail was done alright I guess. Sometimes you wouldn’t get no mail for two or three weeks. You'd get three, four, five, or six letters, a lot of letters.
They had USO shows there, but the USO shows were back south of us they weren't. There were some movie stars that come and tried to entertain us but I didn't get to see'em. Bob Hope was there, Marilyn Monroe, I didn't see her. She was there, I heard about her.
When I went through Seoul. When I went through Seoul it was in rubble. They had shelled that city till it was leveled. They was people living in Jean Toa's that they were just starting to build back. People living in leantos and they would take pieces of tent and I mean pieces of tin and put it up. I mean put it up against something you know. It was awful. The Koreans they would steal off of GIs the Koreans would ever chance they got. But I could understand why they stole cause they had been shot all to pieces and they didn't have nothing to eat. They had a lot of disease there. They had malaria, thyfloid, something I think called thymus I think. Uh… bad hemorogic fever. Hemorogic fever is brain fever. Uh… I can't remember all the disease they had but I do remember those.
Alcohol might have turned into a problem for some people. But uh… you could cope better if you drank. You had a a lot of it was boring you understand what I mean? Your out in nowhere you never know when something is going to happen. And you go for days and days and nothing would happen and then you would wish that something would happen. And when something did happen you was glad that it was over. And you would say I don't want that to happen again.
Some guys in my outfit opposed. I say some guys they was two. Uh… Went across the line in North Korea and give up to the North Koreans. And then they came along about Christmas and the Koreans set up a big ole P.A. system along there border. And played Christmas music and they had a woman that would come on there and she had a real pretty voice and pretty good English and she would say GI where's your wife tonight? While your over here in these trenches and sleeping out in the cold and just trying to survive. Where is your wife? Is she with some capitalist pig? Is she enjoying the evening dancing and dining with some capitalist pig? You know GI come on over and that’s when these two guys just went over on the other side. We got the women, we got beautiful women over here GIs and we got plenty to eat, and they just went on and on and on about it.
The trip was the day before Thanksgiving and everybody got their rotation drop except me, and a master Sargent. One master Sargent and the master Sargent he had 5 kids and he said Conley did you miss your rotation drop and I said yes I did. I said did you he said yea. I said I got a fifth of liquor let’s get drunk. I said ok. We was in the south then, we had squad tents then. We was sitting in the squad tent drinking when the first Sargent came along and called his name I can't even remember his name now and said uh… y'all got to clear out of here and this was right at dark too and he side y'all got to turn in all your weaponry and get cleaned up. Y'all are leaving out in the morning with the rest of us. Yall's rotation drop just come down and the master Sargent said Sargent first Sargent this is no laughing matter to me I've got 5 kids at home I wanna see I'm gonna miss Christmas. You’re not gonna miss Christmas. We left out on Thanksgiving morning at about 2;00 in the morning. They took us somewhere down south and put us on a train. It was a steam engine train. It took us all day we got on that train at about 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning and we rode all day and we go into a place called Inchon about 8 o'clock that night it was done dark. And they had us a Thanksgiving dinner there. They had some turkey and some good stuff or I thought it was cause of what we were used to eating. It was probably garbage, but we hadn't been eating nothing much. It was good. We eat and they sent us out on the LST''s the next morning and put us on a ship.I was just glad. Glad to be home. I Probably got drunk or something I don't know. I didn’t get out right then I still had another year to stay in the army and so I went to Fort Polk, Louisiana and stayed the rest of the time. I wouldn't give anything for my experience, but I wouldn't give 50 cents to do it again, and I suppose it was worth while.
We lost during the shooting war. We lost over 53,000 soldiers or men, young men and we wound up in the same place we was as we started and the threat is still there, it has never went away and men working the DMZ still draws combat pay like they did then and it had been going on since 1950. So you tell me if we succeeded.
First of all that we tend to our business. This country tends to it's business. Uh… we said we were stopping Communism. And we went in under the United Nations and that’s what I was under was the United Nations and they said were stopping Communism and we lost all those lives and for some family that lost young men over there like one family I know here in bland lost a young man over there for no reason we never gained no property and we never gained any ground and we still got the same threat and they ain't got good money to keep them soldiers on the DMZ over there and paying them combat pay and they still have shooting incidents over there.
I would like to add this right here. If people would have listened to what Jesus said Jesus said to love your enemies. Well, that’s a hard statement to accept to love your enemies and to pray for those who despitefully use you, that’s another hard thing to accept. We serve the God of the universe who created everything the stars and the sun and the moon and the earth and our very being is in his hands and he says pray for your enemies and those who despitefully use you. I wonder what would have happened if South Korea invaded North Korea. North Korea invaded South Korea and the Christian this is supposed to be a Christian nation and all the Christians would have prayed for the North Koreans. Would God have intervened? Same way with the war in Iraq. Same way as when we got hit by the Al Quada. If all the Christians in this country would have prayed. Mine sayeth the Lord I will repay. What would he have done for us to protect us. If we wouldn't have started this war we are in right now. We lost going on over 2,000 lives in it and over 100,000 Iraqis have died. Because we became blood thirsty when the Al Quada bombed the trade center and the Pentagon and brought that plane down in Pennsylvania. We became blood thirsty we wanted revenge, but you know what Jesus said about revenge. Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord. I will repay. It is for God to revenge not man. We made-up a bare face lie. We were so our politicians were so set on and our people in this country were so set on going into this war in Iraq and Afghanistan that our intelligence even conjured up false information so we could invade a sovereign country. People I'm gonna tell you I'm against war. I'm totally against war. I believe what Jesus said love your enemies and pray for them. Thank you.
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