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Heroes Remember

When spending long periods of time away from home and family, dealing with constant bombings and witnessing death all around you, a friend is sometimes all you have… We were like our own little gang. We all knew one another.

Soldiers drinking together.

We knew what each of us was capable of… or not. That's how it was. We were good buddies. We tried to help one another, and...

Three friends joking around.

to have fun, to smile, to laugh. But there were some … who were really down. But we always tried to pick their spirits up. There was one little Newfoundlander with us. He was really funny. He would have made a good living if he had been on TV. When we were on "stand to" . . . we all had to be awake and quiet and it was boring. No talking, no nothing. But he just couldn't help himself. He used to tell jokes. Good jokes, y'know, not dirty ones. He made us laugh. He had a way of making us laugh no matter what was going on. A guy like that was worth his weight in gold! We were given a beer a day in Korea. That's what they gave us,

One soldier taking a picture while two others are holding beer.

one beer a day. It was Japanese beer. The rations truck drove right into where they had built a fire and got stuck there! In the fire! The guys were yelling, "Forget the truck! Save the beer! Forget the truck!" To hell with the truck, we had to save that beer! What we used to do was buy a few bottles of beer from the guys who didn't drink. We gave them a buck a beer. We had money, military money called script money. We gave a dollar for a big bottle of beer. When we had two, three and started getting tipsy, then we’d say, "I won't be guarding tonight. Take my shift and I'll return the favor. Next time it'll be your turn." We had a little arrangement amongst ourselves so that we could get a good night's sleep, a little down time in one of the dugouts. We used to play cards. We loved to play cards! That’s for sure! It was all we had to fight boredom. Christmas Day all activities stopped. We used to play Christmas carols over the wireless sets and over the systems that we had. And you could hear Christmas carols on the front lines and that kind of made everything kind of quiet and I kind of remember that particular time when the moon was shining bright. I remember that at midnight on Christmas Day, the planes dropped flares and it was as bright as it is in here. Y'know, flares with parachutes? They burn for about 10 minutes. They dropped a whole bunch of them over our positions. And after that, they dropped different coloured phosphorous bombs, red, yellow... That kind of made you feel nice that it was Christmas Day. At least we’re not fighting, at least it’s peaceful today. We used to go on leave to Japan. They called it R and R. Rest and Recuperation. In Japan, we chased women, we drank and we had fun. We had money because we hadn't spent any. That's how things were done! We played hockey against the Australians. I think we beat them 100 to 0. They couldn’t skate!

Soldiers playing hockey.

When we played, we Canadians would grab a guy by the arm and play with him, y'know? When it came time to change nets, we went to get the other team's goalie and drag him over. We had a lot of fun! The best friend you have in the army is the guy next to you, because he might be the one to save you. Even if he’s the person you hate the most, you still respect him when you’re in the line of fire. He might be the one to save your life. At that moment they’re the best friends that you have, okay. Don’t matter family, others, they’re the best friends that you have. They do the same for you as you do for them. Your primary responsibility as we understood it, and I believe this to be true today, is to your fellow members, and these people, the people that you were with are brothers. We were a family. If one of us had something it was… "Hey, what's eating you? Can I help you?" There was a lot of camaraderie. There was no problem in that respect. And losing just one made us sad. It made us really sad. When you lose friends in action, when you’re overseas and they’re buried in a foreign country that affects you. To see somebody shot is not a nice thing. If you hear somebody holler, you know how bad they were hurt. When he got shot, it was like a punch hole... It’s a tough situation to be in when you lose a buddy, a good buddy. Even today I have more feeling for my comrades than I have for family. They are, these guys are more my brothers than my biological brothers. I don’t know if you can feel that or understand that but that’s how it is.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
War Korean
War, Conflict or Mission:
Korean War

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