Clifford Theodore Boe


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BOE, Clifford Theodore

Clifford Theodore Boe was born on December 9th 1929 to Toralf Dorius & Agnes Eida [Severtsen] Boe in Duluth, Minnesota. He attended Duluth Central High School.

Mr. Boe joined the "B" Company Marines while still  in high school, and was not yet married when he was deployed to Korea. He was assigned to Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines with some other men from Duluth. He participated in the Chosin Reservoir battle and was evacuated for frozen feet. He brought a Korean flag to the interview that had been signed by members of his Company while in Korea.

He shared details such as the Thanksgiving Day meal that froze to their trays before the Chosin Reservoir, and some memories of Ray Davis, Medal of Honor winner.

After the war, he returned home and married Shirley. He was a member of the VFW (Veteran of Foreign Wars), American Legion, and the DAV (Disabled American Vet). He attended many reunions and enjoyed reminiscing with his Semper Fi Brothers who served with him in those conflicts; he said that they were healing, informative and social. Boe credits the experience in Korea with making him grow up quickly.

He died on July 4th 2019 at the age of 89 years. He is buried at Park Hill Cemetery in Duluth.

His oral history in 2013 follows:




         Company B Marines Korean War Oral History Project


Clifford Boe (b. 1929) (CB) Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, Buck Sergeant And his wife Shirley Boe (SB)


            Gina Temple-Rhodes (GTR) Cedar Story Services

                               Recorded March 22, 2013

                             At the Depot, Duluth, MN


GTR: This is Gina Temple-Rhodes, March 22, 2013, interviewing Mr. Clifford Boe for the Company B Marines Oral History Project.

CB: I joined the reserves in high school. I think I was 17 or 18 years old, I guess, and I joined it basically because when you join the reserves, you could -- we never went anyplace like the kids nowadays, you know -- we got to travel and we went to summer camp in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and we traveled around. We had new uniforms and nice clothes and we thought it was an adventure in itself.

GTR: Did you grow up in Duluth?

CB: I grew up in Duluth.

GTR: Did you have friends that also joined at the same time?

CB: There were about four or five of us. Three of us were over in Korea at the same time. One of them I still keep in good company, the other one, Bob Smith, died about maybe four or five years ago. John Hogquist, he lives in St. Cloud and I still get together with him quite a bit.

GTR: What year did you graduate?

CB: 1948.

GTR: When were you born?

CB: I was born in 1929 -- December.

GTR: Where did you graduate from high school?

CB: Duluth Central High School.

GTR: I’ve heard of people from Cathedral and all over.

CB: There were a lot of them, Cathedral. A lot of the guys who went to Korea went to Cathedral because they were buddies, I think it what they were. But there was about four or five of us guys from Central, too.

GTR: What was your life like during World War II? Did you know people in the military? Did you have relatives or anyone in?

CB: During World War II, I was probably too young to really know anything. The only thing that I remember about World War II is my grandfather had a farm and he had three boys and two older ones went in the Army, so they didn’t have enough help on the farm, so I used to spend my summers up there on the farm with my uncle, who is only a year older than me. So, I used to go up on the farm and work all summer for two summers in a row, but that’s all that I really drastically remember about World War II.

GTR: That was an important role, as well, right?

CB: I remember the day it was over -- it was on a Sunday afternoon -- and we heard it on the radio -- Japanese surrendered.

GTR: So then when you joined, did you have any inkling that you would be drawn into a conflict or a war?

CB: Not really, no. We joined the Marine Corp Reserve, which had at that time when we joined -- they used to meet at Jackson School on 11th Avenue West and Third Street. They’ve since moved on to the Naval Reserve Building down on Park Point.

GTR: That’s the building used when you were there -- when you were part of it? People told me you marched from that building.

CB: Yeah. That’s where we marched up to the depot right here in this building to get on the train. We marched from Park Point -- it’s about 1100 Park Point Minnesota Avenue -- and we marched up just a few streets over and down here and got aboard the train and it was about three days, I guess. We picked up a group of guys -- another reserve unit in Minneapolis -- and another one, I think, was in Rockford, Illinois, if I remember right. I remember going through Texas, but I don’t remember a whole lot about it.

GTR: What was the feeling like on the train? Were people excited?

CB: We still had no idea that we were going to Korea until we got to Camp Pendleton, California, then it kind of got out pretty much because they were forming the 1st Marine division and the division [the brains?] there were quite a few men and there’s three -- the 5th and the 7th Marines Regiment were formed out there and just about all the guys in the 7th --from the Duluth area around here -- we were all in the 7th Marines mostly. When we got there to California, they split us up into three groups -- there was combat ready -- which I happened to make because I had attended enough meetings and I went to a couple of summer camps, so I was supposedly combat ready. And then there was a group that stayed behind for six or eight weeks of more training. And then there was a young group that just joined and went to boot camp. They had started right from scratch. And so, I’m one of the Marines that joined the United States Marine Corp that never went to boot camp. There were a few of us in the reserve unit that did.

GTR: Did that feel odd? Did you feel ready?

CB: I didn’t. Yes, I felt ready. I didn’t -- you don’t know what to expect when you go over and you’re going. You don’t know what you’re getting into. We went to Japan and then from Japan we made the landing at Inchon. Our particular company didn’t make the initial landing at Inchon, we stayed aboard our ship and we unloaded our ship. Our ship was full of 55-gallon drums of gasoline -- I remember that -- and ammo and stuff -- so, if we ever got hit by a torpedo or something, it would have been the end. (laughs)

GTR: And you had to unload that?

CB: We had to unload that from our ship to small ships and we took it into land at Inchon.

GTR: And what company were you at that point?

CB: I was in Weapons Company First Battalion 7th Marines.

GTR: At that point, what was your rank?

CB: I was a PFC.

GTR: When they talk about Able, Baker, Charlie-- were you in weapons?

CB: There was Able, Baker, Charlie and then there’s weapon and headquarters. So, there were five companies in each battalion, but I was in a weapons company, which consisted of bazookas. I was in 3.5 rocket launchers. There was a machine gun platoon and heavy machine guns and there was mortars -- 81 mortars and 60 mortars -- that’s what weapons company consisted of. That’s one of the disadvantages of being in a weapons company -- you are assigned temporarily to these other companies, as they need them. They would go out on patrols and they need a bazooka with them in case they run into tanks or some kind of placed armor (inaudible) and they’d always take two or three machine guns and one bazooka and you never really knew the men you were with. After a while you got to know a few of them if you went to the same company all the time. I was probably fortunate that way. I used to go to Charlie Company a lot.

GTR: So that’s how Jim Morrissey...

CB: Jim Morrissey and I were together a lot. We were in the same weapons company and then we were both in bazookas -- or 3.5 rocket launchers -- that’s what they were. I got assigned to Able, Baker, too, but Charlie probably the predominant one.

GTR: And how long would you generally stay with a company?

CB: Oh, maybe sometimes two or three days and that’s about all. Sometimes only for 24 hours as they went onto a patrol, you’d go with and when they’d come back, you’d go with your weapons company again.

GTR: And so, when you first got there -- my understanding is -- people didn’t think it would be a big event -- they thought it was going to be kind of done soon?

CB: There was a lot of talk that we were going to be home by Christmas. We landed in Inchon, didn’t have any problem -- I’m not going to say any problem -- a lot of guys got killed -- and we had a fight up to the 38th Parallel -- we got up to the 38th Parallel and then we were relieved by an Army group and then we were brought back to the Inchon. We got aboard two ships and we went around the Matterhorn of Korea and we landed at Wonsan, I believe, or Hamhung -- it’s the same area. That’s when we made another landing. We got aboard ship there and made another landing. We were on LSTs -- were all manned by Japanese sailors -- you couldn’t understand them guys -- that was an experience in itself.

GTR: I suppose. And was it rough, too? I’ve seen pictures...

CB: It got where it was very rough, very rough. We lost -- if you know an LST -- the front opens up like this and then there’s a ramp that comes out and they ride the tanks all along that and then two front doors opened up it was so rough at one time, but they finally got them closed.

GTR: People seasick?

CB: There was a lot of guys got seasick. I fortunately didn’t get seasick one day. Another place where it was rough was taking the ship from San Diego to Japan -- the SS Okinaga -- that was really rough -- we lost a lot of the life boats that were tied at an angle on the ship and the waves were up so high they just take these boats right off and that was terrible. I never got sick there either, but I never slept down below deck. They had you piled five high and the holes down there are probably 12-14 feet high, but you had five decks -- people laying there and I’d have my bazooka in there -- there wasn’t room for everybody, so we slept up on deck and it got kind of wet and windy and stuff up there, too.

GTR: It doesn’t sound very restful up there where you slept.

CB: It’s better than being down there and the guys are sick. You know what that smells like -- terrible. That’s why I stayed up. We went up on deck. I never slept below deck -- maybe one night -- it took us 10 days to get from San Diego to Japan.

GTR: You were always on top? Sounds like you had good sea legs (laughs). Had you been out on Lake Superior?

CB: I had been out on the water a lot, yeah. I think that helped because the guys that got sick were predominantly from the big cities that never got out on the water or anything like that. No, I never did get sick. That’s very fortunate.

GTR: You never know who’s going to get it. That’s good. So, you got to Korea and you didn’t know -- people thought it was going to be easy or you didn’t really know what to expect. What had you heard at that point? Did you have any particular expectations when you got there?

CB: When we got there, we landed in Inchon. The only thing that I really knew was that we were going to go up to the 38th Parallel and as far as I knew that was going to be as far as we were going to go, because the 38th Parallel was a dividing line between north and south at that time. North Korea was the one that invaded the South Koreans and they were trying to make them into communists -- communist countries. We met a lot of South Korean people at some of our reunions and they are the people that really appreciate us for coming over there and saving them from the communist thing -- the people that are our age or younger. But the kids -- they don’t know -- that’s the whole thing.

GTR: Right. So, when you were there, was there a feeling that you were fighting communism or you were just trying to stay alive?

CB: Everybody got a different feeling there, I think. My feeling was that we were fighting communism and trying to save South Korea from being invaded by North Korea and I think that was the whole story about it. South Korea didn’t have the equipment or the manpower to defend themselves, and that’s how the United States got into it. And, it wasn’t only the United States. We had a group of Turkish Army from Turkey and there were a lot of British Commandos with us. We were a Marine unit, but there were a lot of companies or battalions of Army that were attached to us occasionally at different locations for short times. But we did have the British Royal Marines with us most of the time. And the Turkish -- I wouldn’t want to fight against those guys -- they were terrible -- in my book anyway.

GTR: Tough?

CB: Well, they were different. If they shoot a guy, they go and cut his ears off and then they’d hang their ears along their neck and the more ears you had around the neck the braver you were, I guess. Isn’t that funny? Different parts of the world have different...

GTR: Interesting. So, you were actually in combat with some of these groups? When you were in some of the biggest battles or any of the Chosin Reservoir, were you side-by-side with some of these?

CB: Oh, yeah. The British Royal Marines were with the 1st Battalion 7th Marines for a while. They were moving around, but they were with us for -- coming out of the reservoir when we were trapped up there. That was probably the worst part of the war that I remember.

GTR: Tell me what your role was or how that went?

CB: The biggest thing was the coldness. It was probably 25-30 below and they always used to say, “Well, you’re from Northern Minnesota, you’re used to that.” You don’t get used to it. And if it gets 35 below and you get cold, what do you do? You go in the house or you go in someplace and warm up. But there was no place over there to warm up. And I admit I did freeze my feet over there and I froze them bad enough where I had to be evacuated out of there because I just couldn’t walk. That was on my birthday -- December 9th -- I got out of there. We were just about completely out by then anyway. I got out -- evacuated -- Koto-ri -- that was the last big offensive -- battle -- that we had to fight to get out.

GTR: So, you were in there a whole month -- almost -- that was December right -- it started in November?

CB: It started in November 24th or right after Thanksgiving. When is Thanksgiving?

GTR: It varies.

CB: I remember one of the nice things about it -- we had turkey on Thanksgiving -- I don’t know if anybody ever told you that. We had turkey and they came up in Army kitchens and then they serve you it on this tin trays and then they put -- I had turkey leg -- I remember that night -- I was going to go back -- I was going to eat it and that turkey leg was frozen to the tin (laughs) but it was good. It was delicious.

GTR: It still tasted better than C-rations?

CB: Yep.

GTR: When you are up there, how long would you be out without getting warm?

CB: I don’t recall getting warm more than -- I would say -- of the month that we were there in that cold weather -- I don’t remember going to a tent more than once. And that’s when we got issued new boots -- they were back boots -- rubber backs -- and I went out on patrol with it the next day and I got a blister on my heel from the new boot and it got so bad without treatment -- they got some stuff -- I never heard of it -- my wife is a nurse -- cellulitis -- I had down there. So, they put me back in the sick bay for three days, I think, and they treated it -- it got better, so I went back to my unit again. But, it was warm there and we had good food. They had 10 in one rations are bigger cans and 10 people eat out of that can and we were individuals most of the time. When I got out of the hospital or infirm that’s when the replacements were coming back to relieve the guys that we lost -- wounded and dead and stuff like that. We had a replacement crew that came in about that time, so we had to go back to my company. Well, I didn’t know where my company was, they said, “Well, just get on one of them trucks,” and that’s what I did. We all did -- everybody -- you had to get your way up there the way you want. There’s no organization to speak of. If I would say anything about the Marine Corp, it’s probably more organized than any other branch of the service. Because we were -- I know I’m getting off on another tangent --

GTR: That’s OK.

CB: We went up and relieved an Army unit that was overrun by the Chinese. And, when we got there, I felt so sorry for those guys because they had no idea where they were -- why they were there -- if the leader got killed -- which did happen there -- nobody took his place. Now, in the Marine Corp, if the sergeant gets killed, the corporal underneath him takes its place and so on and so forth. Pretty soon you may have a PFC or something leading it, but he at least knows what he’s doing -- one guy with more experience. But, that’s one of the things -- I’m not knocking the Army -- I’m just bragging about the Marine Corp, I guess.

GTR: Even Dan has said -- this group seems to age well -- or something about being a Marine -- did being a Marine seem to affect the rest of your life, too, and why?

CB: Well, there’s a story and you’ve probably heard it -- once a Marine, always a Marine. A good example of that is this group of guys that left here with D Company in 1950 still get together and -- you were up there once weren’t you?

GTR: Um-huh.

CB: There’s 25, 30, 40 of us up there.

GTR: Right. It’s amazing.

CB: And they don’t all live in Duluth anymore, either.

GTR: Good longevity. I’m getting ahead of myself just a little bit, because I’d like to hear more about that and how the reunions started.

CB: How do you want me to go?

GTR: Well, stay back in Korea -- you got the blister and you were back, but then what happened when you actually froze your feet? You want to tell that story?

CB: When I froze my feet, I believe, is when we were going up to relieve Fox Company, 2nd Battalion -- was surrounded and they had been surrounded for a week or two and our company commander, who was Colonel Ray Davis, who got the Congressional Medal of Honor up there. His battalion -- I went with them -- there was about -- I don’t know -- I have no idea how many -- 80, 90, 100 -- we went up and relieved Fox company, 2nd Battalion and we got them out and we brought them back. But, that was where I froze my feet, I’m sure. Because that was probably -- I don’t remember dates that well -- it had to have been around the 2nd or 3rd of December, because we were just about out and the Fox company was surrounded because they were left behind to protect the supply rank. See, you never go way up -- it’s 50 miles ahead -- without leaving people to protect the supply line -- because if you run out of supplies you’re dead. So, they were protecting the supply line and somehow they got overrun. They were outnumbered by about 10 to one -- 10, 20 to one -- that was one of the reasons.

GTR: Is it Ray Davis? I know I’ve heard that name before?

CB: Ray Davis.

GTR: Who got the Medal of Honor? So, you knew him? What’s he like?

CB: He was such a nice guy. He came up here to Duluth, Minnesota when we dedicated our War Memorial on the park there. And he came up here because his runner was from Minneapolis, but his -- Roy Pearl -- was his -- I can’t even think of the name of what he was -- but he worked right with Roy David and Roy Pearl was from Duluth, so that’s why he came up here. And, Bob Watson was his runner and he was from Minneapolis, so he had a lot of camaraderie between the Minnesota boys -- he had a lot of good things to say about us -- I know that.

GTR: That’s good. What happened to Roy Pearl?

CB: Roy Pearl died here -- of natural causes -- after we got home.

GTR: I didn’t realize there was that connection with the Medal of Honor winner. Was he a gunnery sergeant?

CB: Roy Pearl was his radio man. Roy Pearl was a World War II vet and he was a radio man in World War II -- in the Marine Corp -- and when Ray Davis was setting up the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, he picked him to be his radio man because he had more prior experience.

GTR: Was he a member of the reserves?

CB: He was a reserve unit from Duluth. The reserve unit here wasn’t all guys like me that were 17, 18 years old. A lot of these guys were World War II veterans that were Marines in World War II and they just joined the reserves because they were Marines.

GTR: So, they came back. So, what exactly earned the Medal of Honor for Davis?

CB: What he got it for I don’t know. I’ve never really read the whole story about it, but he took his contingent of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines people and led them up to Fox Company and relieved them and saved them from annihilation you might say, because they were surrounded and we got them out. One thing about Ray Davis -- this is my personal opinion -- if he wanted to do something, he was always out in front saying, “Follow me.” Not, “You go.” And Ray Davis, he came up here and he was just the nicest guy -- I’ve got pictures of him.

GTR: We’ll have to look at those.

CB: I have 21 of the books -- I think I’ve got 10 books like that (referring to a scrap book he brought).

GTR: We should talk about that in a little bit. I would love to hear more about that, but let’s just go back to... So, you got frostbite. That push to rescue Fox Company, you just realized your feet were just...

CB: My feet were really bad and we were on our way out from the Chosin Reservoir then and we got -- you have to fight your way out, of course -- we were always surrounded, too -- we got to Koto-ri -- you’re almost out to the coast then and then got aboard ship and I never got that far because they evacuated me by airplane out of Koto-ri. A C-47 and they had just made that airport -- bulldozers were just there plowing and getting it level -- how they landed an airplane there I’ll never know, but I remember I got out and it was full -- it was probably 30, 40 wounded Marines on there taking us to Japan. And, they were bounding down that road -- the air field -- we made it and I got to Yokosuka, Japan and then I was in the hospital there for maybe a month or so -- three weeks or a month -- then, I went to California to Oceanside -- I mean -- not Oceanside -- Oceanside was where Camp Pendleton is -- we were in California, anyway. And I was there for three or four months. And about the only thing they do for you is -- we used to soak our feet in a whirlpool bath about three times -- four times a day and they’d give you some kind of antibiotics, I’m sure. As a Marine you’re sitting there -- you don’t even know what they’re doing other than it feeling better.

GTR: That’s good. So, you had to recover well enough so that when you got back to Duluth -- were you able to work and all that?

CB: They asked me when I was California -- there’s going to be a long time recovery in this -- you’re going to be two, three months, so would you like to go to a Navy hospital? Because the Marines are part of the Navy -- a Navy hospital -- I have to go closer to Duluth and the only one I could think of was Great Lakes. So, that’s where I went -- to Great Lakes Naval Training Station and they have a hospital there. When I got there, there were quite a few other guys from Duluth there, too (laughs). I was there for maybe two, three weeks and then they say, “There really isn’t a whole lot more that we can do, it’s time now.” So, they gave us a 30-day convalescent leave -- we could go home for 30 days. And then I took the train home and I was home for 30 days before I had to go back.

GTR: You went all the way back to Korea --or, to the hospital?

CB: No, I never did go back to Korea -- back to Great Lakes.

GTR: And when you came back here, you were only about 20 by then?

CB: Twenty-one. I had just turned 21.

GTR: And you had parents or other people you came back to see?

CB: My parents were here and I had two sisters that were living here. One was in high school, yet. And my other sister is three years younger than I am -- she was probably about 17 -- she just graduated, that’s right. Because, I remember she was going to go to college and Dad didn’t have enough money to send her to college and she got a job with the telephone company. But, then she went out to California and got a job and then she since got married up there and moved back here again.

GTR: And what was the reception like here when you got back? Did people know what you had been doing?

CB: Not really. I can’t say that it was bad. My family treated me well and wherever we went Dad would always take us and he would tell them that I had just come back from Korea. But, people didn’t know about the war as much as World War II. There was only five years ago World War II was in, you know.

GTR: Were people just so ready to be done with war and rationing and things?

CB: They talk about the Korean as being about the forgotten war and I can’t say that we got a whole lot of glory for it. Although I felt good about it -- that I was home and didn’t get wounded as bad as I think I did. It was bad enough, but I’m still walking.

GTR: Did you get a job when you came back and did that go fine?

CB: What did I do when I came back? No, I got a job, yeah. The first job I got was working for Northwestern Bell Telephone Company -- outside -- digging holes for telephone poles -- and I did that for the first winter and then in the summertime we had finished the job, so they laid me off and they said, “You’re going to be laid off only for a couple of weeks, because we are going to start the same thing up in Grand Marais, Minnesota.” Well, that’s 160 miles from here and I said, “I’m single -- just got frozen feet here -- I don’t know if I want to go -- I just spent about nine months up in Virginia, Minnesota working for the telephone company.” So, I didn’t go -- I stayed here and I got a job at Clyde Ironworks as a machinist. I took machine work in high school -- a trade course -- I did have a background there, so I got a job. Actually, it was Bob Smith that went to work with me -- he got a job there, too. We went to the same trade course at Central.

GTR: How do you think your experience either as a Marine or in Korea affected you later -- your professional life or family?

CB: Well, I’ll tell you one thing and I think anybody that was in the Marine Corp will tell you the same thing. You grow in a hurry and I became a man, I think, in the three years -- the two years -- that I was in there -- in Korea and the reserves. If somebody tells you to do something, you don’t say, “Why?” You better do it. You don’t question a whole lot of things. But, I did enjoy my time in the Marine Corp. I can’t say that I would want to do it again, but I was pretty thankful for what I did and I think you’ll see that most everybody will tell you the same thing. I don’t know. I’ve never heard anything bad about the Marines, yet. There’s not all good things, I know, but...

GTR: And then you started meeting -- did that happen shortly after you got back or how long before the reunions?

CB: These meetings?

GTR: Yeah.

CB: I’ve got to think about that. In the meantime, there were a lot of things that happened -- I got married and I stayed at Clyde Ironworks for five years and then I got a job with the post office and I spent the rest of my working time working there. I worked there for 33 years.

GTR: And when you got married, did you share any information -- were there questions about Korea -- or did that just not come up too much?

CB: She had a brother that was in Korea, too. He and I once in awhile would talk about it, but it’s like I said before, we never talked about Korea too much. I know my kids used to say that -- the only time I can say that I talked about it is my oldest daughter lives in Iowa -- and I have a couple of grandchildren -- well, we’ve got seven grandchildren -- 11 grandchildren all together. But there was one of them that was -- it was Veteran’s Day down there and we were down there, so they had a bunch of veterans at their class and they said, “Dad, do you want to -- they want somebody to get up and say a few words to these kids -- about your experience in the service?” I had never done anything like that, but I did, and those kids, they appreciated it. I have to say so today, because when I was going out, one of the teachers called me and said, “Would you come into my classroom -- I’ve got some questions that I would like to ask you in front of the kids?” And they did, you know. The only thing I could say is that freedom is not free. You’ve got freedom here today, but it ain’t free -- somebody’s paid for that and it isn’t only in this Korean War, but World War II, World War I, any war that we’ve had. They are fighting for the freedom that United States has, right? And, I say that’s the only time that I can remember that I ever talked. Well, I did once before that -- my dad was a Norwegian immigrant and he belongs to the Sons of Norway. And while I was home on that 30-day leave, he introduced me there and they wanted me to talk about it, but I did it very slowly up there -- I didn’t tell them other than it’s good to be home and I feel good.

GTR: It’s not something that people always want to...

CB: No. But, these kids -- I did enjoy that and the kids did. That’s the reason you say something is because you know somebody is interested.

GTR: Did your own children end up in the military?

CB: My oldest son joined the Air Force. He was going to go into the Marine Corps, but all his buddies were going in the Air Force, so I said, “You go where they want to go.” And, it was good to him. He learned -- he was in the MPs in the Air Force and he got a job after he got out with the U.S. Bank as their security officer in Minneapolis. Today he is 51 years old and he just started as a policeman in Los Alamos, New Mexico -- 51 years old -- (laughs) I wouldn’t want to be starting to be a policeman.

GTR: (laughs) Some people retire at that age.

CB: Yeah and he just loves it.

GTR: Well, that’s good.

CB: His wife says she’s never seen a guy that just loves to go to work.

GTR: That’s great.

CB: That’s the only son of mine that went into the service; is my oldest boy and I’ve got two boys and two girls.

GTR: When you returned and started having those meetings -- we are kind of curious with this project, too, if there’s any advice or interests for what things might be different for veterans returning?

CB: Well, first of all, I think when they first came back we belonged to American Legion up on First Street -- David Wisted post -- that’s the only veteran’s connection that I had. We used to go down there and have a few beers and talk about a few things and out of that started this B Company reunion, because a lot of the guys -- and Bob Olson was the instigator of it -- and Jerry Couture -- I don’t know if you’ve talked to him?

GTR: His wife is not well.

CB: His wife is not well, yeah.

GTR: Bob Olson, you said, was also active in getting people together?

CB: Yeah. He started this B Company thing and some of the older ones -- Ed McKeever is probably the instigator of the whole thing -- and you’re going to talk to Laverne.

GTR: Yeah, next week. And I saw his name -- was his name on there? No, I saw Kregness on there.

CB: Kregness.

GTR: Yeah, he also hasn’t gotten back to me, but --

CB: Warren Kregness has been sick.

GTR: Yeah, I didn’t know. But, the flag (referring to a silk Korean flag signed with names from his Company, including a map of signatures), you told me a little bit earlier, but when did you get that or pass it around to get all those names?

CB: That was only in Korea. I didn’t pass it around here at all. Jerry Couture has a flag just like that because Jerry Couture was in Weapons Company, too. And he brought it home and he -- well, I got mine home too -- but he had the guys at B Company sign it. Now, I thought of that too, but I couldn’t find it at the time. Well, I found it and it’s been folded up and put away for years.

GTR: And that was just yours?

CB: That’s only the Weapons Company in the 1st Battalion -- probably the platoon -- I don’t know -- there are about 20 names on there, maybe. The guys I was with most of the time over there. And, that’s where that flag came from -- only in Korea that they signed their names on there. We got back here, we never brought it out.

GTR: And, that was just a flag that you said they were giving out?

CB: I have no idea how I got it. We were in reserve or something and there was a Korean kid -- I think he was the one that got it for us.

GTR: He was your translator?

CB: Yeah.

GTR: It’s a memento.

CB: We had two translators and I don’t know if they both signed it or not. We were talking about how we couldn’t get a good meal one time. This is just funny -- the guy says -- we were in South Korea then -- he says, “We’ll get some chicken for you, if you like chicken.” The guy that is in the company commander, he is the cook, so he’ll cook it for us. So, we got these chickens and this kid came up with these chickens and he had the feet of the chickens tied together and he had them on his bicycle -- on his handlebars -- the chickens were alive, yet! Oh, God.

GTR: Fresh (laughs)?

CB: They were fresh all right. But the kid had a razor blade and he cut them at the neck and drained the blood, then he drinks that blood. I’d never seen that before, but that’s what they do over there.

GTR: Nutritious, maybe, right (laughs)?

CB: That’s just one of the things about this interpreter -- he got that.

GTR: You got them cooked up, though?

CB: They were very good. All we had was chicken. There was no potatoes or gravy or anything but it was still good. Better than C-rations.

GTR: I heard stories about those freezing solid when you were up in the Reservoir.

CB: Terrible.

GTR: What else did you eat? Did you eat Tootsie Rolls?

CB: That’s another thing -- yeah, you probably heard that Tootsie Roll thing.

GTR: Yeah, but did you eat them?

CB: Yes, yes we ate them. They didn’t last long, because we didn’t have that many of them. But Tootsie Rolls…we were needing more 60Fs -- 60 millimeter mortar ammo. So, everything has a code name -- so those 60 millimeter mortar were named, “Tootsie Rolls.” And this guy that took the message over the phone -- whoever it was -- radio, I think -- that we needed Tootsie Rolls -- what we needed were mortars, not Tootsie Rolls. Well, he didn’t interpret it that way, he sent us Tootsie Rolls. Actually, they were good -- they weren’t mortars. I still think that saved a lot of guys from -- you know -- if you don’t get nothing to eat, you get depressed and you get all kinds of goofy things.

GTR: They would freeze, right? But, you could still eat them?

CB: Put them in your mouth and they melt.

GTR: Do you still like Tootsie Rolls today (laugh) or did you have enough?

CB: Oh, yeah. We don’t buy them too often. I think they sell them -- because every time we have a reunion -- which is every three years -- the Tootsie Roll company is there and they bring us Tootsie Rolls -- big cans about this high and they are about that big around. I was going to bring one down here today, but I’m sure you’ve probably seen them.

GTR: Jim Morrissey -- he had a little something --

CB: Little cans.

GTR: Yeah, I didn’t know that before I started this process, but I should have brought Tootsie Rolls for them (laughs).

CB: Tootsie Rolls -- they come to our reunions and they always bring a can of Tootsie Rolls for each guy.

GTR: It’s a good connection.

CB: And at one of our meetings -- their names were Mr. and Mrs. Gordon -- they are the people that own the Tootsie Roll company -- they were there themselves -- and they got a standing ovation. Greg Davis was there then, too, and he got a standing ovation, too -- of course, he won the Congressional Medal of Honor -- they got just a big of an ovation as he did.

GTR: (laughs) Kind of an accidental hero there -- that’s great. So, you have local reunions, but you also go to these [bigger two?]?

CB: I belong to two organizations. I belong to the 1st Battalion 7th Marines that has a meeting every two years and the Chosin Few, which has a meeting every two years. So, every year there’s one to go to. Now, last year I didn’t go to the one -- it was in Wichita Falls, Texas, I believe -- I didn’t get to go to that one. It’s getting hard to go these things. Right now, if you noticed, I’m on a walker. I don’t really need a walker -- I can use a cane -- but -- I can’t walk very far on a cane. I get so tired and I don’t know. It’s a combination -- it’s frozen feet and then I was in a snowmobile accident and broke my hip and I’m had six total hips put in. So, it’s a combination. My leg is just weak -- my right leg. But, I’m getting around and I don’t complain.

GTR: Got here, that’s good. At the reunion, do people talk about the actual battles or is it is more just a group to get together?

CB: They do talk about it. They usually have one of the guys -- you’ll have meetings and some are just fun meetings and some you have a big dinner -- banquet-like. And then you have small little groups that get off and companies or battalions or whatever you want to do. Usually at one of these smaller meetings, somebody will get up and talk. And it’s getting less and less of them because -- let’s face it -- we’re all in our 80s now. There are a lot of them that are dying already, you know.

GTR: Well, it’s been a long time ago.

CB: A long time ago -- yeah.

GTR: It’s a lot of dedication to that same -- talking about those events -- your wife goes with you usually to those events?

CB: My wife goes to all of them. I think she’s been to every one of them.

GTR: Mrs. Boe, would you mind telling us --?

CB: Shirley, put the book away.

GTR: You’re good! We’re just getting into the reunion part and just wondering how you find those reunions or what do you do? Are their women’s meetings?

SB: Oh, yeah. We go shopping and luncheons -- things that women like-- you attend a memorial service and they always did something (inaudible) doctors came to all of those meetings.

GTR: Talk about frostbites or recovery?

SB: Effects of extreme temperatures and those were always very interesting to me.

GTR: You were a nurse. Have you helped -- have you had daily effects, now? People tell me it sometimes comes around years later -- the frostbite is worse?

SB: It is worse. His feet were gangrenous and that was a lot of the times they didn’t put that down on the hospital records. His was definitely put down, so there was no problem when he went for disabled.

CB: I was very fortunate that way because I got evacuated out of Korea because of frozen feet and that’s what I’m getting my disability on right now. So, they kept good records of me, but a lot of guys didn’t get evacuated out of Korea and it wasn’t as bad or something, anyway, they took the ship out and they’ve got no record that they froze their feet. Now, anybody that was there froze their feet.

SB: Do you want us to go back and get his records?

GTR: No, it’s good.

SB: I have that on file. Cliff, what kind of shrapnel was it?

CB: I got shrapnel on my leg -- I never saw it when the doctor dug it out.

SB: It never was reported because --

CB: So, I never got a Purple Heart -- which I’m not complaining. But, in order to get a Purple Heart you have to be wounded with some -- either mortars or shells or bullets or something. When I went in, they took shrapnel out of my leg, but that was nothing compared to the frozen feet. And today, I think my hands don’t look that bad, but if I go out in the snow now, I can only be out there for maybe an hour and then I’ve got to go in. If I don’t go in, my hands hurt like crazy.

GTR: Long-term effects, yeah. I heard a few stories from people, but they just didn’t have very good mittens or you would have to take your gloves off to use your weapons, or --

CB: That’s the trouble -- they didn’t have the proper equipment over there and I think most everybody that was there will tell you that. If we would have had the proper shoes, I would say 50% of the guys wouldn’t have had frozen feet. You know, they don’t have the shoes them days as they’ve got now.

GTR: And the shoepacs -- they’re not really that great when it’s really cold, right, because then you sweat?

CB: What happens -- your feet would sweat in the daytime and then they’d freeze at night. I can still remember in Japan when they took my boots off, I still had my boots on -- they took my boots off and pulled a sock off and the skin was frozen to the sock and they were pulling it. So, it was very tender for a while, but my skin grew back and I can’t complain.

SB: When they were treating him, they soaked feet.

CB: Well, I’m sure they had some kind of antibiotics, but I didn’t know --

SB: When he was home, we happened to have a picture that was sitting and he said, “Are your feet wrapped?” And he said, “Oh, yeah.” The dressings were still on there. He went home that week and…

CB: We had to keep them wrapped up.

SB: And I could see that it was like gauze on the feet. He was (overlapping conversation; inaudible)

CB: It’s like I’m saying, there are a lot of things that you forget. It was just a routine thing, so you never --

GTR: Do you have those pictures in your binders here or somewhere?

CB: I don’t know where that picture is.

SB: But I just kept noticed that -- I don’t know -- his mother -- she never did mention it.

CB: We must have 10 of them, don’t we?

SB: Yeah.

GTR: Those are the reunion booklets?

SB: Yeah, these are just reunion pictures taken when he was home on that 30-day leave.

CB: That was, I think -- Delores, my sister, or my folks had that. That one there is a bi-monthly that we get. But, there are some very good stories in there.

GTR: Why do you think these groups have met for so long? Not all these groups have been that long-lived. What was it about this --?

CB: Chosin Few?

GTR: Yeah.

SB: They were all there together.

CB: I think it was -- if you read that thing it will tell you -- it’s a group of guys that were together -- not just each individual did not win the war -- you won it as brothers -- in other words, you were a group of people that did it -- not one company or one battalion or one division or anything like that -- it was the group of Chosin Few guys.

SB: That came through that -- particularly the campaign.

GTR: And it was so intense.

SB: And now they’re talking -- they are all at least 80s, plus 90s -- (talking over one another)

CB: Well, I’m 83 -- I was just 20.

SB: -- legacy of scholarship for some time, and they set it up because (inaudible) if you’re dying.

CB: They’re talking about maybe next year or the next one after two years later, might be the last year for the Chosin Few, because there’s not that many guys that we have left.

SB: Now, they can’t do it any more. Age catches up with you. He was very interested in -- there was an article -- this one -- this was in his unit -- he came up to get one of their B Company.

GTR: So, you had seen this.

CB: We’ve had a lot of guys come to these meetings of B Company. There was a pilot -- a Navy or a Marine Corp pilot that came to one and he’s from Minneapolis -- his name is Smith -- Captain Smith -- and he was a Marine Corp pilot -- Corsairs -- and they come in and give us air support. They are the guys that saved our lives, I think -- because as soon as the Chinese saw the planes coming, boy, they’d go.

GTR: What did this guy do? Lieutenant knew him?

CB: That was Puller -- he was a Marine’s Marine, that guy. He was one of the most decorated Marines that there was. He was in my division, surely -- Ray Davis and him. Chesty Puller had the 5th Marines and Ray Davis had the 7th Marines and there were 11th Marines down there too, but they were mostly artillery. The 7th and the 5th and the 1st were there.

SB: Another place that we went was (inaudible) . Remember when we went to Iowa?

CB: He was in the Chosin Few. But, there’s a lot of guys belong to the Chosin Few.

GTR: Sounds like it. And not everybody though that meets when you do your luncheons -- not everyone was in Chosin, but they were all -- most of them were in Korea, right?

CB: Most of them were in Chosin Reservoir, too. I think probably 90% of them were up at the Chosin Reservoir. Not all of them. Fred Peterson was one of them that didn’t. Because Fred -- remember I said we got to California and he split us up into three groups? I was combat ready and he had to go to boot camp -- about 10-12 of them that had to go to boot camp.

GTR: And just never made it to Korea?

CB: I don’t think a lot of them went to Korea. See, the Korean War was only three years -- ’50 to ’53. In ’53 it was over, but I don’t think we sent many over -- to go to boot camp takes 12 weeks -- and then after that -- I don’t think they were sending as many.

GTR: I think Fred said he did tank mechanic stuff or something.

CB: Most of them went to different things. I know this Bob Pearson -- he was in Las Vegas that had something to do with the atomic bomb explosions. Have you got any other things that I’m supposed to be talking about that I’m forgetting here?

GTR: If there’s anything you can think of -- I’ve got most of my questions. And, you told me a little bit -- I am intrigued by the reunion piece and what that does for you -- what role does it play for you in your life?

CB: The local reunions?

SB: The reunions started until ’94, and I don’t know when the Chosin was --

CB: Well, this here in Duluth didn’t. The Chosin Few is not Duluth people -- this is everybody that was in the Marines at the Chosin Reservoir. But, locally, I think when we started to collect money for that Korean War Memorial. You know, there’s a little bit of friction there between the Vietnam War and the Korean War, because they were after us and they got theirs up, see? So, we were just the guys in B Company -- what is there 200-300 of us? I don’t think there’s that many that got involved -- there was probably 40 of us that got together. Well, let’s build a Korean War Memorial. Well, there’s a lot of work to that. We had to go around and collect -- I think it cost us about $300,000 to build that thing and there were a lot of people that helped. Kolar Buick gave us a car that we could raffle -- take chances on -- raffle it and whoever won that -- I think the chances were $5 a piece or something like that and then whoever won it won the car. Well, that’s where we got most of our money and a lot of it was given.

GTR: It’s a nice memorial.

SB: We have books on that -- on the B Company. It is surprising how many of them are still here.

CB: That’s very interesting to go down there because there’s bricks down there -- that’s what we have a lot of those -- and you paid $25 or -- how much is it for the brick?

SB: I don’t know.

CB: We got a lot of bricks. Isn’t that funny how you forget that?

GTR: Right before all the snow came down and covered it all up -- I was down there in March -- it’s nice -- the pictures.

CB: Every Memorial Day we have a service down there. (talking over one another and in background)

CB: And that’s at the Korean War Memorial -- but that’s one thing that the B Company guys are pretty proud of because we did it and you never think that you could do that -- just a small group of guys could do something like that, but you can do anything if you set your mind to it.

GTR: And it’s great to have that and have that picture of you marching down. Are you in that picture -- do you know where you are in that picture?

CB: I know about where I was.

SB: We have isolated his picture. It’s very small. (talking over one another and in background)

CB: That’s our B Company -- when we went to summer camp, we’d take a picture -- that’s what it is. When we go to Camp Lejeune and they take a picture. Everybody that was in B Company is in that picture someplace. There are 100 guys in there.

GTR: I can’t remember the number of the people on the train that left the depot here.

CB: Two hundred and twenty-five of us marched down Superior Street -- I know that.

GTR: Was there a crowd? Were people watching?

CB: Well, not a whole lot, no. Mostly relatives. My mother and my sisters were there. My dad had to go to work. My dad -- we met out in the yard by the house that morning -- I had to be down there by six o’clock or something at the Marine depot -- and I didn’t have a car in them days, so my dad drove me down there -- and he started work at eight o’clock -- he was a plumber -- working in them days meant a lot -- they had to go to work -- especially my dad -- he came from Norway and working was a big thing -- if you had a job -- and he did -- he had a job -- he worked all his life. But, I remember going down there and Eddie McKeever -- his wife, Laverne -- and she was carrying her little boy -- Mike -- and Mike was the oldest one and he’s the one that got killed in Vietnam. And she had another son that was diving off of a diving board up at Pike Lake and hit a rock on the way down and he’s paralyzed now completely from the neck down. But, he’s got a daughter named, Judy -- she’s very active -- she’s a very nice person -- you should talk to her sometime, too. She might be at Laverne’s house.

CB: She knows us guys like crazy -- all of us B Company guys. She wasn’t even born then.

GTR: Memories by association (laughs). That’s good. Well, great -- so, if you think of anything later, you could let me know. I’ll get my card out.

CB: I think I’ve done just about --

GTR: It was good -- great -- thank you -- you remembered a lot!


SB: Once he gets talking about it and the guys each have their own special time that they remember.


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