Jim Beavers is interviewed by Barbara Hull. rghs 96
Mr.Beaver:Well I went right out of school into the army , when I was seventeen years old and , so that that was it. I was a student and then I went into the army.
Barbara:Where did you have your basic training?
Mr.Beaver:At Fort Knox Kentucky,and it was with the, I think seventh medium tank battalion for basic training at Fort Knox.
Barbara:Had the war already started when you went in?
Mr.Beaver:No, I was already in service. The war started in I think it was June,1950. The Korean War. I went over seas in August 1950.
Barbara:How did you feel about going to Korea?
Mr.Beaver:I'd never heard of the place till the war broke out. He laughs. So, so then of course then they shipped me to Korea I was seventeen years old. , I really wasn't aware of what was going on to that extent, and then as far as having any feelings, I don't recall whether I disliked the idea or liked the idea. It was just something that happens in life,I guess. That's what a soldier is expected to do,I guess and you go along with it.
Barbara:What were the outfits you wore?
Mr.Beaver:I was with the second infantry division,and we shipped out from Fort Bliss, Washington, and I was with the second division while I was in Korea. , I was there three years for the duration of the war. I was wounded twice, and was on orders to come home and , was captured by the Chinese and was held prisoner of war for twenty seven months and ten days. So I stayed from almost the beginning of the war till the end. I spent my 21st birthday on the ship coming home.
Barbara; Oh gosh! What were you trained to do?
Mr.Beaver: Well I was an infantry man. Just a front line soldier. I was a squad leader,when I was captured. I had eight men under me,and again I was eighteen years old when I was captured, and spent my 19th and 20th birthday with the Chinese and then my 21st birthday on the ship coming home.
Barbara:Oh gosh. Um, did you make any friends?
Mr.Beaver: Oh yeah! I had three real close friends, in the P.O.W. camp. , one of them is in Hawaii. I went to see him we we got together my wife and I went to Hawaii in 1990 and visited him. I've got one friend I was prisoner with that lives in Huntington, West Virginia, and we stay in contact regularly, by telephone and I see him pretty often, and one of my friends that I got close with lives in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and I don't know what's happened to him. I've never been able to get in contact with him. He did come back from Korea, but I don't know what's happened to him. The four of us the Chinese took us out of the main camp and said we were reactionaries and they said we were trouble makers, this happened about three or four months before the war ended. They took us out in the mountains and kept us out there. There excuse was they were afraid to release us with the others, they's afraid that we'd harm some of them, because we were trouble makers they said. we didn't cooperate with them, that's what it amounted to.
Barbara:Were you involved in any fighting?
Mr.Beaver:Any fighting, yea for the nine months that I was prior to my being captured. See I was wounded twice, shot in the hip once and shot in the mouth in the upper lip and came out the side of the neck.
Barbara:How did you feel about being so far away from home?
Mr.Beaver: Well I 'd much rather been home but there was times we got home sick especially, my worse experience was when I was prisoner of war. Freedom taken from ya. And there was time when you had time to think of course then you got home sick and we spent the days trying to do something to out smart the Chinese that kept us kinda occupied.
Barbara: Did you get letters from home?
Mr.Beaver: Not while I was a prisoner no.
Barbara:Did the American people support you over there?
Mr.Beaver: Well I think Korea in comparison, it was called the Forgotten War, and it was wedged in between the Second World War and Vietnam and I think I think that we probably got less support than the Second World War veterans and we got more support than the Vietnam veterans, an we were kinds in the middle I guess. Like I say the war was right between the WWII and Vietnam, and so it's called the Forgotten War that's the name it's called.
Barbara:What was it when you got home?
Mr.Beaver:Well exciting! when the ship landed at San Francisco and course they put me on a plane shortly after that and flew me into Tricity Airport at Bristol Tennessee and we u landed there and they had a band out there playing and big welcome home and it was was exciting and it was I guess I was in a daze. It seemed like I was in a dream that really didn't see real until months later.
Barbara:How did you feel about President Truman firing General MacAurthur?
Mr.Beaver: Well I didn't like it of coarse when he fired him I felt like that anytime you're fighting a limited war coarse I didn't know just when he fired him but fighting a limited war General MacArthur had the right idea. If you're going to fight a war go out to win the war not fight a limited war, but I'm glad that Truman fired him, because I was right near that Yalu River in that prisoner war camp that if they would have dropped those low yield atomic weapons that they were going to use, I probably wouldn't be here today but I was close enough till probably some of it would have got me but still yet I think MacArthur was right in wanting to go all out.
Barbara:Were they mean to you while you were a prisoner?
Mr.Beaver: Yes, they were very mean to us while we were prisoners. We were sometimes beat, we always went to bed on the floor because there was no bed, and the food they brought us to eat was terrible usually it was rice with weevils mixed in with it. It was really hard to eat.
Barbara: Do you have any other interesting stories to share?
Mr.Beaver: Not while I was a prisoner no.
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