Herman "Herm" Arnold Aho

Mr. Aho served in the Korean War.

He served in the U.S. Army from September 11, 1950, until September 11, 1953. He was assigned to D Company, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division.

Mr. Aho had six weeks of infantry basic training at Fort Riley, Kansas, and eight weeks of combat engineer basic at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. His unit was sent to Fort Lawton, Seattle, Washington, and boarded the General M. M. Patrick for his trip to Japan. From Japan, he was sent to Pusan, Korea.

His rank was E-7, Sergeant 1st Class. He served on the front lines and was attached to the rifle companies, initially as a radio operator in support of a forward observer and later as a forward observer with no radio operator support. When he returned to the United States, he was assigned to Camp San Luis Obispo, California, where he was a supply sergeant.

He was decorated with the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Occupation of Japan Medal, and the Korean Service Medal with 4 Bronze Stars.

Mr. Aho was born on March 17, 192_, in Suomi, Minnesota, the son of Herman and Inga (Saari) Aho.

Source: Veterans’ Memorial Hall Veteran History Form; veteran reminiscences (see below)

U.S. Army 1950-1953
Korean War Veteran

In the spring of 1948, Sarge Hoffman stopped by our house on a recruiting mission. I told him that I would be interested in enlisting and that my high school chum would probably sign up as well, which he did. Unfortunately, my chum passed the physical and I didn’t due to a hernia that I didn’t know I had. Knowing that my friend would not have enlisted on his own left me back home feeling remorseful, but I was envious of him as well.

Ellen and I were making wedding plans in July of 1950 when the Korean War broke out. I checked in with the draft board; they said I could be on the next bus from Itasca County. Hurriedly, I put our wedding on hold and enlisted for three years.

My six weeks of infantry basic training took place at Fort Riley, Kansas, followed immediately by eight weeks of combat engineer basic at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. From Fort Belvoir, our troop was given nine days’ travel time to get to Seattle, Washington. I was able to spend a few days at home while en route to Seattle. At Fort Lawton, we were given our shots, then boarded the General M. M. Patrick for a seventeen-day voyage to Japan. While in Japan there was a five-day orientation and more shots. We then travelled by train to Sascho, Japan, and got on a Japanese ship for an overnight trip to Pusan, Korea. At that point I realized that maybe I had gotten myself into a real mess.

While in Pusan, we were loaded onto a train of three small boxcars and one flat car manned by two MP’s and a 50 caliber machine gun. It was bitterly cold even in the boxcars, and I felt bad for the two MP’s on the open flat car. We finally reached the Replacement Center where we were given our orders. I was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, Company D, 5th Cavalry Regiment. A, B, and C Companies are infantry, and D Company is a heavy weapons company. They gave me two days’ training as a radio operator. I and the forward observer were attached to the rifle companies when we were on the front lines. The forward observer was training me for two months, and then he rotated home and I ended up as the forward observer with no radio operator.

I spent 10 months on the front lines; the longest stint was six weeks straight. Usually, we were taken off the hill for a three-to-four day rest along with a good shower, hot meals and a lot of mail to read. My experiences during my stint on the front lines of combat and warfare were horrendous and beyond description. Many days were spent in fear and terror and are unspeakable even to this day.

After my tour of Korea, I was assigned to Camp San Luis Obispo, California, as a supply sergeant. I received an honorable discharge with a rank of Sergeant 1st Class in the fall of 1953.

I was one of the fortunate who survived the war and made it home to my future wife, who had been waiting faithfully for me. I am blessed to have shared 58 years of marriage to Ellen and to have a wonderful family. I am very proud of my service to my country and continue to be active in the VFW, American Legion, and the Disabled American Veterans. I am looking forward to attending the 1st Cavalry Division Association Reunion in Bloomington, Minnesota, in early June 2011.

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