Our Military Life Blog

My Interview With A Korean War Vet

The Korean War is often referred to as the “Forgotten War”. We here at MMS honor all those who served by celebrating National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day on July 27th. The best way to honor those brave people is to share their stories. There are so many out there with stories that have never been told, and even more who have passed with their stories never told. I have been blessed with many relatives who have fought in almost every war in recorded history. Sad to say, I don’t think I ever have had any tell me the stories of their times in service, because they had passed before I was born, I was too young to ask, or just never had an interest to talk them about it. Until today.

I never knew my Pop was even in the military. I knew him as an amazing cook, a musician, and a Mummer. (For those who do not live in the Philadelphia area, Mummers are string bands who dress in elaborate sequenced outfits and perform incredible routines every New Years Day.) He plays a mean banjo! So when I married my husband 13 years ago, my Pop finally gave us a glimpse, little by little, about his time in the military. To say I was shocked, was an understatement! Who knew???

Pop was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. He was the middle child of three sons to 2 Italian immigrants. After graduating from South Philadelphia High School, he immediately joined the United States Army. After Boot Camp, he was stationed in Korea. Even though the war was technically “over”, the tension was still there. Many American soldiers who were still in Korea at this time had very little combat experience and were in the midst of raging hostilities and civil unrest.

What was the hardest part about being in the military?

I was right out of high school and knew nothing except how to do what the Army told me in boot camp. I had never left the city before joining and then, I was thrown into a foreign country.

Why did you get out of the Army?

I got Hepatitis while I was Korea. It was a big thing over there at the time. After I got home it really messed me up, and I was medically discharged.

If you weren’t medically discharged, would you have stayed in?

Probably not. I mean, if I had I wouldn’t have met your grandmother, and that would have been the biggest mistake of my life! After leaving the Army, I got a great job, met her, and really just lived. Being in the Army would have not allowed me to have the family I have today.

Tell me the craziest story you have from your time in?

So, I mainly was a desk guy – a paper pusher, but there was a time where we were getting it from all sides! People were getting real upset. They made me and my buddies arm ourselves and just grabbed a bunch of random artillery. I remember Joe and I were hunkered down just waiting and when I looked over at him I saw tags hanging from his gun. Here they had given us stuff that didn’t even work- it was tagged for repair. I was scared to death but luckily I’m still here to talk about it!

Can you imagine being young boy, right out of high school? I think about all the kids in my neighborhood that have just graduated and picture them in this situation. It is scary!

It was fun talking to my Pop about his time in. He never really talks about it and gets a little distant when certain topics are mentioned, but it was great hearing about how and why he joined, along with some of the times he can sort of laugh about. If you have time, I recommend heading down your local VFW or American Legion and chatting it up with a military vet. They always have a story or two they would love to tell you!

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A salty, seasoned Submariner Spouse who is living the Navy dream!