LeRoy Ramon Hintsa


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                   B Company Marines Oral History Project

                  Narrator: LeRoy Ramon Hintsa (b. 1930) LH

                     Interviewer: Gina Temple-Rhodes GTR

                               (Cedar Story Services)

                          Recorded: February 19, 2013

                           At the Depot in Duluth, MN


GTR: Would you start by telling me a little bit about your background and when you were born? 

LH: I was born December 8th, 1930 in Duluth. I spent all my years in Duluth until the time I went into the Marine Corps. I guess I was a Depression kid. My folks never really had good jobs and probably an interesting thing is, by the time I was seventeen years old we had moved seventeen times. I think every time they wanted to raise the rent we moved. But anyhow, I went to Central High School here in Duluth. I went to Nettleton Grade School, Washington Jr. High and Central High School. I was active in football and swimming. And when I was in my senior year I was a lifeguard on Park Point and the following year I was captain of the lifeguards, seventeen years old. I was supposed to be older but they didn’t have anybody else around, I guess. And at the same time I was seventeen I joined the "B" Company Marine Reserve down on, it used to be at Emerson School on Eleventh Avenue West. So, anyhow I joined the Marine Reserve up there. The main reason was, we got two and a half dollars a week for attending the meeting.

GTR: Okay, that sounded pretty good! Did you have friends that had joined?

LH: No. My brother had joined before me but he was always out of town. He never attended the meetings so eventually he had to turn in his uniform. The only one that I really knew while I was in Korea, even, that was from my high school class was Clifford Boe.

GTR: We’ll have to talk to him, but I haven’ yet.

LH: Anyhow, so I joined the Reserves when I was seventeen years old.

GTR: That would have been 1947? After World War II.

LH: Right. I graduated from high school in ’48. So, I went to UMD (University of Minnesota Duluth) prior to being called into the war. I was going to be starting my junior year.

GTR: What happened during World War II? Did you have much experience with having family members in the military or anything else?

LH: Yeah, I had two male cousins a little older than me, both were in the army. I’m not sure where one of them was, the other was in Italy at Anzio. And one of my other cousins married a guy that was, I don’t know what he was, a petty officer in the navy? So, I had, those were about the only, three relatives. Also, I had an uncle, my uncle’s father who died in the army in World War I, who I kind of looked up to. I had a photo of him on the farm and I always thought I looked like him. That was kind of a close relationship that way, even though he died years before I was born.

GTR: So, you had some knowledge of military service.

LH: I was in the Boy Scouts where I think I learned a lot. You learn how to camp; you learn how to be out on your own. A great experience.

GTR: Did you ever play football?

LH: I played football in high school. And I was on the swimming team. Actually, I didn’t know how to swim in the tenth grade, but all my friends were on the swimming team. I was bussing dishes at the Duluth Athletic Club, which was just down the street from here, but after work I asked my mother if I had to keep working, she said not really. I said, because I’d like to be with my friends. So, I learned how to swim. I went down to the YMCA and taught myself how to swim. The following year then I went out for the swimming team.

GTR: You must have learned pretty well to become a lifeguard then, too?

LH: Well, I guess so. It just happened that way, all my friends, we all went out to be lifeguards. I guess we had to be, I was only seventeen, you were only supposed to be eighteen, I think, but I was seventeen. But we all became lifeguards.


GTR: Did you, being a lifeguard down on Park Point, did you see the Marine base, or where the reserve company was based at all in that travel, or was that not part of…?

LH: They moved down there later. We used to go to Emerson School for the meetings and we did go down to Park Point though, about Twelfth Avenue on Park Point. But actually that had no other bearing with my working down there on the beach.

GTR: Were there some meetings down there or nothing really at that point?

LH: We went down there sometime. I wasn’t totally active, because I was working most of the time, whatever I was doing. And I never went to the summer camps. So, when we were activated I was just a regular guy.

GTR: You hadn’t done much? Did you ever think you’d be activated?

LH: No. In fact, my dad said, the Marines, that’s a good outfit to be in here, after the second World War, he says, he didn’t know anything about them, but he said, I don’t know if they ever get called in in World War II. Of course, they did.

GTR: So, a bit of a surprise when you got that letter? Or how did you find out you were being activated?

LH: We got the letter in the mail to be ready to go on August 21st. At that time I was working at Duluth Builder’s Supply. I started out to be a lifeguard that summer, but the City of Duluth, I took the test and I was going to be captain of the guards again and Monday I was reading the paper and I saw in the City of Duluth paper my name was in there and they were going to cut my wages ten dollars on one of those sprees where they’re going to save money. So, I never went back to them, even. I said, heck with you. I went and got another job. I got a job for making more than twice as much money down at Duluth Builder’s Supply unloading freight cars and driving a fork lift. So, anyhow, I worked there until we got activated.

GTR: Tell me about that. About how you all felt after you got that letter and then what happened before you left.

LH: It truly didn’t bother me. I think most guys at that age are kind of looking for a little excitement, so it didn’t make a whole lot of difference.

GTR: So, it was exciting.

LH: Yeah.

GTR: Were you in the group marching?

LH: Yes. We marched down the… We met down at the armory down on Park Point and we marched up and came right down this street here (Superior Street), and boarded our train and away we went.

GTR: This building (The Depot). Were there a lot of good-byes at the corner, or what was the scene like? (Dan Hartman, Veteran’s Memorial Hall director) has asked me what was it like here at the Depot?

LH: I don’t recall a lot of people saying good-bye to you. None of my friends or relatives were there.

GTR: Oh, really?

LH: Not that I recall.

GTR: You just marched on down.

LH: Marched on down and away we went.

GTR: A few people had families already at that point.

LH: Some of the guys were married and had children.

GTR: So, you were just away. Did you get to Camp Pendleton?

LH: Yeah, we took a train down to Texas and picked up other reserve units along the way. And came up across, I think, even into Mexico and came up through California and up to Pendleton. And there we were processed, you know, given our gear and all. And most of the guys, I think, we had Quonset huts, we were up on Tent Camp One in Camp Pendleton and I think all the guys in our Quonset hut were from Duluth.

GTR: And what did you all know about the conflict or what did you think you were getting into? Any idea?

LH: Hmmm. Only what you read in the paper.

GTR: There just wasn’t much. Some people said they had not even heard of Korea.

LH: A lot of the guys were anxious to get into combat. There was one guy, I don’t know if I’ll mention his name, but he was from Proctor and he said he couldn’t wait to get into combat and I saw him after our first major engagement and he said he had had enough. {laughs} So.

GTR: That was enough of that. Sounds exciting from the outside, but not so much on the inside. Did you have training? You had never been to a summer camp. How did that work, then? People got separated?

LH: Well, let’s see, we got to California around…we left here on August 21st, we got out to California late August. By the time we got our gear and all this was around the first of September. And we had training until we left, we went overseas, I think we left October 4th. So, we didn’t have a lot of time in the States. A lot of people can’t believe, even some officers I know in the Marine Corps, that we never went to boot camp. We’re some of the few Marines in the whole country that never went to boot camp.


GTR: Was there some training for some of you that hadn’t had any?

LH: Right, we went through infantry combat training, which, you did a little bit of everything, rifle range, a lot of hiking to get you in shape, I think.

GTR: Did you get a little more training, having never been to even a summer camp? I heard some people were classified as “combat ready” right away.

LH: Right. I was not. I was in the group that was classified as “to go through training” and that lasted about approximately six weeks, maybe a little less, five weeks, six weeks.

GTR: But it wasn’t really a boot camp.

LH: No.

GTR: It was just that combat training. And by then you weren’t necessarily with that many Duluthians, were you?

LH: Our Quonset hut was mainly all Duluth. I don’t remember anybody else. I think it was all Duluth.

GTR: Okay.

LH: So, all through that training was all guys from Duluth.

GTR: Were you in a Company by that point?

LH: They were training companies and I don’t recall the numbers an all, what have you.

GTR: So then how did you get to Korea and did you get assigned? People were telling me they were Able Company, B Company, Charlie Company. Did you get separated that way later?

LH: Later, when we got to Korea. We were not affiliated with anything in particular. We were the called the “first replacement draft”. So, we were when went over. And we stopped in Japan before we got to Korea. We landed at Kobe, Japan and we opened up a old army base, I think, we just went in there to kind of clean it up and have a place to stay until we got shipped out again. And then we got shipped out. I can’t recall how we got to Korea. {laughs} I’m not sure what kind of a ship it was. I think it might have been a Victory Ship, but I’m not sure.

GTR: Some other people were on that one, too. So, I could find out if we want. So, what did you actually do when you first got there?

LH: When we got to Korea? Well, I made a mistake and I volunteered to help unload the ship. {laughs}

GTR: Why was it a mistake? Too much work?

LH: You don’t want to volunteer for anything. {laughs} So, anyhow, it wasn’t bad. We unloaded mainly c-rations before so, after we got through working our number of hours and it was time to eat, we cracked open the c-rations and they were really good. They were fresh ones. Some of the ones that were going over were from the second war. But, I thought they were good the first time. We ate almost the first box of everything. So, anyhow, then we got off ship, we were a little late. We rejoined our units and we still were not assigned to any regular Marine outfit in Korea. Finally we got moved up to, uh, ummm, let’s see, that was in Wonsan where we landed but and we finally got moved up to, the name of the place is Chinhung-Ni, which is at the foot of the mountains before you go up into North Korea. And that’s where we got assigned to our units. I think that was in, let’s see, what was that? Must have been early November. And it wasn’t really cold yet, not too cold, because we weren’t up the mountains yet. And here I have an interesting story. All of us here in this photo (referring to group photo) were assigned to the same company except this guy, he was a corpsman; he went somewhere else. But we were all assigned to…. Well, he stayed with us, but not in the same company, was in the same Battalion. We all went into the same Company and the gunnery sergeant came out and he asked where we were from. And here he’s got four or five guys from Duluth. And there were two guys from Rockford, Illinois, and he went back in the tent and he came back out and he said “I got a surprise for you guys. Our company commander is originally from Duluth, Minnesota and he said, he needs a runner. One of you guys is going to be his runner. He wants you to take off your field jackets, roll up your sleeves.” We thought, “Uh-oh, what kind of a guy is this?” So, we took off our jackets and rolled up our sleeves and the gunnery sergeant brought him out. The gunnery sergeants, these were old-time Marines, these guys were close to their forties. His name was Captain Walter Godenius, from Duluth.


GTR: How do you spell that?

LH: Godenius. G-O-D-E-N-I-U-S. Behind his back later on, we never told to his face, we called him “Captain God”. {laughs} Because it was G-O-D… E-N-I-U-S, so. Anyhow, the captain came out and he had a big mustache, handlebar mustache. And he wanted us to roll up our sleeves and put or arms out, so we rolled up our sleeves and put our arms out. Well, I had been doing a lot of stuff down at the YMCA, I was doing a lot of gymnastics, a little bit of weight lifting and also being a lifeguard, I was quite muscular, I guess, so.

GTR: Is this you, right here? That one in the middle back row? [looking at photo]

LH: That’s me. [pointing to photo]

GTR: That’s you. Okay.

LH: So, anyhow, he went up and down the rank, looked at us, he came up to me and said, You, you’re going to be my runner.” And he rolled up his sleeve and little skinny arm and he said, “I used to look like you about six months ago and I guarantee you in six months you’re going to look like me.” Well, as it happened, about six months, seventh months later, I ended up in a hospital in Korea and Japan with hepatitis, infectious yellow jaundice, and I think I looked worse than the Captain. But, anyhow, that’s how I got into the Company. That was H and S Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. And I was in that Company as company runner the whole time in Korea.

GTR: So, you would run ahead or run messages back and forth?

LH: I was just a handy man, right hand man, whenever he wanted something done, well, that’s the guy that had to do it. But he never requested much; he was not one of those pushy guys or anything. He was an old time Marine. Although, the first night that we were there, it was kind of interesting, all the other guys had pitched their pup tents, shelter halves, whatever we had they called them, and they slept outside. They invited me into the tent with the gunnery sergeant, the first sergeant and the captain, and he started talking about the old days in Duluth. He used to live up on Lake Avenue and about Ninth Street. I used to live on Lake Avenue and Fifth Street. You know, a number of years later. But he asked me if I knew some of the girls that he went around with. I had heard the names, but {laughs}… So, he talked a long time and he had married a girl from Australia. Uh, after the Second World War. I had a harmonica with me, the key of C harmonica and he asked me if I knew how to play Peg O’ My Heart. Well, you had to fake it, this is a different key. But he had me play Peg O’ My Heart the best that I could for the longest time. And, anyhow, that was my introduction to Captain Godenius, so…

GTR: That sounds like a serendipitous meeting, that you were both from the same area and knew some of the same people. [looking at photo] You guys look so young. So, you were the runner the whole time. You were twenty by this time?

LH: No, nineteen. So, anyhow that was really the beginning of the tour in Korea at the bottom of the mountains there. I think the name of the town was Chinhung-Ni.

GTR: So, what significant engagements or battles were you involved with?

LH: Well, after we went into the companies there we moved up into the mountains and we moved up to the east side of the reservoir. And the word was out then that the war was over. We got ready to go home. Because the Americans forces had gone up in someplace and had even touched the border. But, on the way up, I think the Marine intelligence knew we were running into Chinese. They captured some and fortunately, I don’t know what you called them, the head man in the Marine Corps, Oliver P. Smith, he was a smart man, he saved a lot of lives. We wouldn’t move as fast as the upper brass told him to move. He did the job right; he protected the flanks, kept rear echelons, put out posts, made sure he had supplies. And because of him, I think it’s the only reason a lot of us Marines are alive. I have to give a lot of credit to General Oliver P. Smith.


LH: Anyhow, we were up on the reservoir. We spent Thanksgiving up on the reservoir; I remember that. That’s when this picture was taken, right about Thanksgiving Day. I made another mistake, it was getting cold, they were going to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, so I volunteered to peel potatoes. {laughs} Well, I don’t know if you know how many potatoes it takes to feed a battalion, but there were about three of us, we peeled potatoes for the Thanksgiving dinner all day and I guess into the evening. And, of course, by the time we were done everything was freezing up on us and they were cooking and then we finally got our meals and our trays and by the time you got to eat them, everything was half frozen. That was the beginning of the cold weather, right then.

GTR: Thanksgiving time.

LH: About that time, the advanced parties were finding out that there were Chinese in the area, so we knew that the Chinese were around us, but came couple days after Thanksgiving we were moved out. This is on the eastern side of the Chosin Reservoir. I guess some Marines moved more westwardly, so we moved an army outfit that took over for us, we moved out, it was just about night time. And we were in trucks and we went through, I can’t think of the name of the town now, oh, Hagaru-ri. We went through Hagaru-ri, up into the mountains and we were heading for Yudami-ni. And, we got into Yudami-ni, I’m not sure what time it was, probably around ten, twelve o’clock at night and there were tents set up down the valley. There hadn’t been any real Chinese attacks yet, but anyway, we pulled in. We were in a tent and I don’t know, sometime shortly thereafter, we started getting incoming mortars. I guess that’s when the real battle started.

GTR: In the nighttime?

LH: Started at night, right. And we, of course, we got out of the tent. It was a squad tent, a large tent. There were fox holes already dug. I think the Chinese had dug the foxholes, because there was an old house on the side of the hill, too and the house it had a basement, and the whole downstairs was full of beans and peas that the Chinese had put in there. That was their supplies and we moved in. We must’ve moved in so fast they pulled out and left all their beans and peas in this house. Anyhow, that night, with all the incoming and all, we couldn’t do much. We were down in the valley and we didn’t know exactly what was going on but they were having some kind of real tough battle up on the hill. The wounded started coming in and getting close to day light and they started sending us up to bring out the wounded, bring up ammunition. So, we spent the next part of the day going up and down the, I don’t know, we call them hills here in Duluth, over there they might have called them mountains.

GTR: Kind of like this topography.

LH: Right, yeah. So, anyhow, we haul rations up, help bring the wounded down. Ah, that went on, seemed like forever.

GTR: Were you getting fired on during that time?

LH: Not during the daytime, no.

GTR: It was quiet. Was that right on the Chosin Reservoir, or that wasn’t quite yet?

LH: We had already been on the Chosin Reservoir, on the eastern side of the reservoir. Where we were was west of the Chosin Reservoir, we were in the mountains then.

GTR: And you were out. Were you one of the groups that ended up, people told me about being out for thirty days without any shower or going indoors, getting warm, or anything for that long stretch?


LH: Yeah, we didn’t, I don’t remember. From the time that we got assigned to our outfit until we got out from the Chosin Reservoir and we got out to Wonsan, on our way out, never took a shower. There was no place to take a shower. I don’t know how long that was, oh probably three, four weeks. We were pretty cruddy, all right.

GTR: And cold. Was this getting into the really cold temperatures?

LH: They say it was running between twenty and thirty below zero. And the worst part about it was, the clothing, the jackets and all, they were good, they were alpaca lined, but the foot gear, the old-time shoepacs, single layer of rubber and hard on the feet. I didn’t know it at the time, but about fifty years later, around 2005, 2006 I was washing my car in the driveway one day, and I started like falling over and I thought, is the driveway crooked? And it kept going on and I didn’t have any feeling on the sides of my heels. So, I went down to the VA office, because I heard a lot of guys were having frostbite injuries. So, I went to the VA guy up in Cloquet, because I was staying up in my cabin up in that area. I was living in California, but I was coming back here for a vacation. Anyhow, they sent me down to Minneapolis. Trying to think about when this was, this was late in the fall. And they did some tests on me, poking with pens and all, and I had to go back down there again to Minneapolis, later on. And they had a snow storm, freeze storm, I got about an hour outside of Minneapolis and it was bumper to bumper traffic, about ten miles an hour, but I had left early in the morning. I had left Duluth here. I’m trying to think if I had moved to Duluth yet back, I had been living in California. I think I was still living in California, but staying at my cabin. Anyhow, I got down to the Veterans place in Minneapolis, because the roads were so bad most of the people from the VA, they couldn’t get in. I made it in all the way from Duluth. So, I think it was lucky because I ended up having a different doctor than the first doctor I had. It was a female doctor and she was really good. I remember some of the tests they did. They put me on the table and she had a pen like you had and I thought she was poking me with a pen and she says, “Can you feel this?” I said, “Yeah, it feels like you’re poking me with a pen.” Well, she had a needle and she was poking me. And finally she hit me in the instep and I felt that, so I guess they determined I didn’t have much feeling so after a while- they said I had frostbite. So, it didn’t bother me until about fifty years after coming back from Korea. I remember in Korea taking off my boots and I’d have ice, a ring of ice around them, my heel, where the shoe come together? So, I did get frostbite, but like I say, it didn’t bother me until fifty years later.

GTR: Did you have any other injuries while you were there? You said you had jaundice, anything else?

LH: Right. Well, I think everybody, when we came out of the Chosin Reservoir; we were in pretty bad shape. We had dysentery. I ended up in the, I don’t know what you call it, they had a tent, anyhow, that they put the guys that were sick and I was in there for about a week when we got out of the Chosin Reservoir.

GTR: Because of the hepatitis?

LH: No, that wasn’t hepatitis, that was just diarrhea mainly. We ate; a lot of the guys say the same thing. We don’t remember having a whole lot to eat, but before we left the Chosin Reservoir, they had big warehouses where they had brought sweaters and candy bars and things, so we loaded our packs and so forth, Tootsie Rolls and Lifesavers and that’s what we ate for many days. And another interesting thing we did is they had a room this size here, full of sweaters, I mean right to the, half way to the ceiling here. So, we cut off the sleeves of the sweater, cut a little hole about the size of a dime, and pull that over our head and that hole would open up so yeah, so… Then, of course, when we left they burned all that stuff. They were getting ready for the wintertime.


GTR: That was American supplies you had?

LH: That was up at Hagaru. The Marines had their main supply base when they were up there.

GTR: I heard about the Tootsie Rolls being dropped as a slight misunderstanding, but it ended up helping people out?

LH: Yeah, I read that, too, somewhere where someone said they made a mistake or they said they don’t send Tootsie Rolls to the Marine Corps, but that’s what we ate. And a lot of the guys say they don’t remember having anything to eat. When we left Yudami, we were one of the last units to leave. And they ran out of food, ran out of c-rations. So, we didn’t have rations and it took us three days, and we didn’t get any sleep because the convoy was moving. So, we went from about, I think it was about eighty hours without sleep from the time we left Yudami ‘til we got to Hagaru. Hagaru was where they had a, we thought we were safe there, but they were surrounded by Chinese. But that night we got in, they laid us down on a rice paddy. We kicked away the snow, it was all black, and I don’t know, I went to sleep that night, and I don’t know what happened. I guess they fought a battle that night, but I didn’t know it, I was sleeping. And I made one mistake there. I took my shoepacs off; I didn’t want to get my sleeping bag dirty. Big mistake, they were frozen in the morning and I couldn’t get them on.

GTR: Oh, no.

LH: So, I learned in a hurry. So, after that I was able to get them on after a while. After that, when I’d go into the sleeping bag, I’d go in with my boots, take my boots off, leave them inside at the bottom of the bag. It’s something they don’t teach you. They should have taught us before we got there.

GTR: Did people expect that much cold weather, though? It was a cold winter, right? It was more unusually cold?

LH: It was, I think, yes. We didn’t have air mattresses and all night long we’d sleep, I’d sleep and my hips would get so sore, I’d roll over onto the other side and that hip would get sore from the cold. You didn’t sleep good, you kind of rolled back and forth all night. And your shoulders would ache.

GTR: Right on the ground?

LH: Right on the ground!

GTR: Did it snow sometimes?

LH: We had sleeping bags, but we didn’t have any air mattresses or anything.

GTR: Wow. Were you actually engaging with the Chinese? Were they actually firing on you sometimes?

LH: Oh, yeah. I was in H&S Company. Headquarters and Service, so I wasn’t in a line Company, so we weren’t up on the line. We were down in the valley once it came time to take care of the wounded, supplying. Once in a while they’d pick a few guys from our outfit to plug a few holes or something. But basically we were the Service Company. But one instance, I recall, we were going down the road, probably the second or third day out. I think it was the second day out, and we were getting sniper fire from a big open plain. It must’ve went for a mile or two. And they were shooting the machine gun, but you couldn’t hear the machine gun firing, but there were holes coming in the snow, and they were shooting at us. And we lost, a lot of guys got hit there. We had a little guy from, I say a little guy, he was a small guy, he was from Oregon somewhere, I can’t think of the name right now, but anyhow, he got shot through, he got shot with a burp gun, they were close by, too. It went through both of the calves of his legs and they had him in the jeep and we were bandaging him up, well the top of the jeep started getting cut off with a burp gun, the holes coming, they were shooting at us. This guy got out and he ran down the road and I heard he was crippled for life after that. And of course, we dove in the ditch, too. But anyhow, at the same time, sometimes funny things happen. Not funny for the guy it happened to, but for us. One guy, no matter what you told him, he was from Detroit area, I won’t tell you his name. {laughs} But, some of the guys from our outfit, they’re in our company, were from Detroit, in their reserve outfit, and knew him well. No matter what you told him he said, “you’re ass”. No matter what it was, “You’re ass.” That was his standard answer. We were going down the road and he got shot, guess where, both cheeks. And he was laying down on the side of the road and the corpsmen were bandaging him up and they guys walking by and they said, “You’re ass.” {laughs} So, we had some humor once in a while, too. It was flesh wounds, he wasn’t wounded too bad, but I guess he got his coming, you know. {laughs}

GTR: Brought it on himself?

LH: Right.


GTR: You were just working hard to support the guys that were on the line and the wounded. Were the wounded able to be evacuated farther out? I’m sure eventually most of them were, but how did they get out?

LH: There was very few evacuated out. Yudami, which was the farthest north, the engineers built an air strip, and they did fly a few out of that air strip, but primarily, I think, they built the air strip to fly in some of the brass, and also they flew in a woman correspondent. I think her name was, someone else might have told you, I think it was Maggie, Maggie Smith. I think that was her name. Maggie Smith flew in.

GTR: From the US?

LH: From the US. She was a correspondent. I think she flew into that area. I don’t think they flew a lot of people out from there. That was a very short runway, and they could only put in Piper Cubs. And I think they only brought in a couple of airplanes and they had airdrops at the time and of course batteries wouldn’t last long so they dropped in batteries, and hand grenades, artillery shells, we didn’t have much artillery there, we had some. But some would go right through the river, or the ice in the river and go right down into the water, so we had a tough time scrambling to see who got it first, you did or the Chinese got them. Anyhow, we were supplied by air, which saved us. And we all took the parachutes and we cut them up, we all made scarves out of them. So, we all had pink scarves, white scarves, blue scarves, and they all identified different things. For instance, I think, I’m not sure, but I think, ammo came down in the red chutes, so if you needed ammo you went for the red ones and different supplies came down with different colors, so, there was no way to get the parachutes back. I’m sure the government would have liked to get them back, but you could hardly get the people back, so.

GTR: Right. You guys needed to stay warm, it sounds like. Well, tell me about this correspondent, did she interview people?

LH: No, not that I know of.

GTR: She just hung out, walked around?

LH: I’m not sure, I think she came in there, but I’m not sure; I never did see her. But I’m pretty sure, you might have to check from some of the other guys.

GTR: I haven’t heard that from anyone else. They didn’t get to talk to her either it sounds like.

LH: But anyhow, I don’t recall them flying out any wounded form there. Like I say, if a plane came in, it came in once or twice and that was it.

GTR: So, it was airdrops.

LH: Of course, when we got down to Hagaru-ri, which was the next big town down, which was about twelve miles away, it took us three days to get there. They were building an airstrip down there. Which was a savior, because I think they hauled out about three to four thousand wounded. Well, we had extremely heavy casualties. Not a lot of wounded, but frostbite and all of that, I’d say, oh, probably twenty-five percent casualties. They flew them out of Hagaru.

GTR: That was a really brutal battle. Some of the stories I’ve heard from some of the people, like Jim Morrissey, he was telling some, well, that was more Nightmare Alley, I guess.

LH: You really don’t, I don’t remember at the time; it’s all mixed up jumbled up. I couldn’t separate one day from the next, if you ask me what day that was, or this day, it was in this period of time. I think it’d be the same for everybody. Like I say, that first night we got into Hagaru, they put us down on a rice paddy, and we went to sleep, and I didn’t hear anything, I imagine they had a gun battle in the night, but I don’t. I woke up in the morning and so did the other guys and they had hot chow and hot coffee cooking, because this was division headquarters. That’s first hot meal we had in a long time, so we had, I think we had eggs and pancakes and coffee. But I think it was the last time I had it. {laughs}

GTR: A lot of people couldn’t build fires, were you part of that, you couldn’t even build a fire for a lot of that time?

LH: Oh, that’s another story. Oh, yeah. Coming down from Yudami, which was the farthest out we were, where we were going to Hagaru-ri, we were cut of there, eleven-mile stretch. I was going down the road, I came across a jeep, and started talking to the driver, and the driver was from Duluth here. John Hull was his name. John was in the Navy in the Second World War. John was a little older than the rest of us and anyhow, John was in the artillery and what he did, he used to drive the jeep to haul around the artillery pieces so, I asked John, I says, John, you got any food, we haven’t had any food for a couple of days and he reached down and he had a can of chicken and vegetables. It was probably the worst c-ration they had. And he gave me a can of chicken vegetable. Some of the other guys had a can or two of beans or whatever and we tried building fires. Our captain had a can of something, too, and he punched a hole in his, ready to cook and we couldn’t get the fire going. Soon as you get it going we had to move on. He got mad and he took his beans and he threw them down the hill. Some of the guys who put them on the engines, the truck engines and punctured a little hole in them and the manifold would heat them up. But, I never could get mine warmed up so I threw mine away, too.


GTR: Some people chopping them up with bayonets and trying to eat the chunks. Doesn’t sound good.

LH: Anyhow, I don’t know if you talked to John Hall in these sessions? John, he was a Navy man in World War II then he got into the Marines. He was a very interesting character. John had, because he sat in the jeep so long, his circulation’s cut off, he lost a lot of his foot. I think he’s still having operations on his foot.

GTR: And he’s here in Duluth nowadays?

LH: He lives up the North Shore a little ways. Interesting character.

GTR: Sounds like it. And he was in World War II; you said he saw service in World War II, as well?

LH: Or shortly right after World War II, you know, in the…

GTR: Oh, okay, yeah. I don’t have his name on my list.

LH: I think he was in World War II, because he was going to school on the GI Bill at UMD (University of Minnesota Duluth) when we got activated. Interesting character if you happen to run into him.


LH: Right.

GTR: I’ll have to look him up. How did you get out of Korea? How long were you there and how did it work for you to get back home?

LH: Well, that’s a long story; I don’t know where to start. Well, after we got out of the Chosin Reservoir, we loaded aboard ship, Navy ships, and here’s another interesting story. This Doug Michaud here [points to photo]. Doug Michaud had diarrhea so bad, I don’t think you could believe anybody could get it that bad. On board ship, Doug was down to a t-shirt, he had to wear it upside down for his bottom part of his underwear. That’s what he had left of his clothes. And one of the Navy guys saw Doug and he felt sorry for him and told Doug, come on, sleep in his bunk. Well, Doug told me later on, “Well, I felt sorry for that guy, I dirtied up that guys bunk like you wouldn’t believe.” So, anyhow, he really suffered from that. After that a lot of us ended up with the same stuff.

GTR: I suppose. Were you drinking contaminated water? Or just catching this stuff?

LH: We just drank the water right out of the river. They had a few water tanks they hauled behind trucks, but not very often. And the water looked clean. But I’m sure it wasn’t. It’s a wonder everybody didn’t end up with hepatitis. In the end I did end up with hepatitis, but I think I got it later on.

GTR: I hadn’t heard about that necessarily that from anyone.

LH: You hadn’t heard about hepatitis?

GTR: Not as much from this group, no. Or even the dysentery.

LH: Oh.

GTR: Even more unpleasant things.

LH: I had both. But anyhow, I had dysentery. They called it the “bean patch” down in Mason. You heard that name before, right? So, we stayed down in Mason, got reorganized and what have you. They had tents down there with the gasoline burning stoves, replacements, etc. And we were probably down there for about a month, and then we went back up on-line, but in reserve. We were, I guess we called it “guerilla hunting”. We were looking for stragglers and small groups up in the mountains. At that time, too, I think I got a new captain at that time. Our other Captain Godenius, he went to another line company, so we got a new captain at that time. Another interesting story. I don’t want to mention the captain’s name, but anyhow, we were guerilla hunting and we went….at night time we pulled into a little village, it’d be a little school there, something, that’s where the cooks would be setting up and what have you. And I’d go out with the Captain, we’d be setting up the perimeter, and our company then, because the line companies were on the hill all day long. Then the other companies, weapons companies, and the H&S, we’d take to the hills and man the perimeter at night. Not the total perimeter, but parts of it. But anyhow, we were going down the valley and there was a high hill on one side and the Captain was setting up, told the sergeant to put a machine gun on the road here, and a machine gun on the road at the other end and what have you. And I asked him, “How about the hill up there? Think we oughta put something on the hill there?” He looked at me, says, “You’ve been reading too many magazines and books. You think that the enemy’s going to come off that hill, walk through the mountains to come there?” So, we didn’t put a machine gun on the top of the hill. Well, in the morning we were having chow. Very few times we had hot chow, but we did have hot chow, we were down having hot chow and a machine gun opened up from on top the hill. The captain looked at me, I looked at him and we both dove for cover. And another word was never said again.


LH: But anyhow.

GTR: He should have listened.

LH: It amazed me sometimes how lax some of the operations were. At the Chosin Reservoir I was sent to guard a communications hut that was on the edge of a big rice paddy and the ones driving the jeeps, they parked the jeeps right out in front which could be seen from miles away. I thought to myself, “Boy that’s dumb, because you think the enemy would be shooting at the jeeps.” And come early in the morning, they did. I was guarding the entrance so nobody could come in. The tracers were coming down so I duck behind the wheel on the jeep and one went through and got one of the radio operators and I thought to myself, “Why do they ever park the jeeps so where people could see them?” Anyhow, that’s the way it went. Things happen sometime, you wonder why people do such things. Where were we again before I got going? I meander.

GTR: That’s okay. You were in the “bean patch”. I was curious how you got back home.

LH: We went into, what do they call it? Guerilla hunting. Looking for the oddball stragglers and all. And we did that for couple weeks or so and then we went back on-line. It was probably February before we got back on-line again, actually on the front line. We went through a series of operations. They had different names for everything. I don’t remember much anything in particular happening in February, March. But in April we got into a big push again. And we were down around the Hwachon Reservoir, was the name of the place. And the Chinese and the North Koreans were painting signs on the wall “Marine, tonight you die”, they’d paint on the houses. I don’t know if you’ve heard these stories before. But they would paint on them, “Tonight you’d die”, and what have you. And we were going down one road, I think it was April 21st, 22nd. Again, I don’t want to name the officer, but we had an officer that was a little bit off. We could see guys climbing a hill and I forget what you call the secondary officer, hmmm. Anyhow, the secondary officer told the Lieutenant Colonel, he said, those are our men up there! Lieutenant Colonel says, “No, they’re enemy.” So he called tank fire on our own men. And I don’t think he killed anybody, but he wounded a few. And these are things you probably never heard of, but these things happen in war.

GTR: Right.

LH: He was relieved of duty, right there. They brought up a full Colonel and they relieved him of duty and put somebody in charge of our outfit and I never heard of him again. Like I say, I don’t want to mention names. I don’t know the whole story. All I know is he called tank fire. I was there because I was company runner for our captain who was in the group. It was the first time I had seen that happen. Lot of people probably never seen that happen; an officer got relieved of duty right on the line.

GTR: Did they send him back or what did he have to do?

LH: I don’t know what they did to him, but it was an unusual circumstance.

GTR: Sounds like it.

LH: But anyhow, that was the beginning of the Chinese offensive in April, like around April 21st or something, so quite a big battle going on then. And we were going back and forth in the mountains, up and down the trails and all over and I say, every day runs into the next day.

GTR: I’m sure. Anything in particular that you want to make sure that you share or that gets recorded from that time before you came back to Duluth?


LH: Hmmm. Well, again, more toward the summer, probably in April or May, we got a new company commander again. This was the third one since I’d been there. He was from Ohio, a reserve officer from Ohio. He was a good guy. I can’t recall his name right off hand either. I guess it’s not good to give names, anyhow. And he was okay. He was kind of aggressive. We used to go out on night patrols, looking for trouble. {laughs} Shortly after he became our officer, I got ill. I was sick, I didn’t have any energy. At that time we were in a reserve area and, of course, I was the company runner, I was also working with supply. Part of the job was when we were switching over from winter gear to summer gear, have the guys change over their sleeping bags and what have you. Our mess hall was down the bottom of the hill. I call it a hill, they call it a mountain. I couldn’t make the trip three times a day, it was just too much. I was getting sick. I didn’t know it at the time. I probably went once a day to get some kind of a meal. Where our tent was was kind of a natural amphitheater and I know Jack Benny and his crew came and put on a show for us there. This had to be now in June. No, it was in May yet, because I left June 7th, right around May, 1st of June. One day I was shaving, I’m looking in the mirror and I saw my eyes were yellow. I thought, uh-oh, so I asked around or asked the medic or corpsman or whatever and they said, “Looks like you got yellow jaundice. “ And I was starting to hurt all over, especially in the stomach area. So, all the other guys started looking in the mirrors, too, to see if their eyes were yellow. They sent me outa there. I just took whatever gear I could carry; not much of anything. And I traveled by any means necessary, except submarine. I took a jeep and a truck and a train, I think I flew, from one place to another place. I ended up down in Pusan. I was really sick. On the train there was a guy from Sioux City, Iowa. And I looked at him and he was yellow; he was like an orange, more yellow than a lemon, more like an orange and later on he said he looked at me and I looked the same way. So, anyhow, we both ended up on hospital ship down in Pusan. I can’t remember the name of the hospital ship; there were two or three of them over there. Our own, I think it was The Haven, was the name of it. Anyhow, they took away all of my clothes; they were contaminated, I guess, so, all I had left was my dog tags and wallet. And they put me in a bunk bed on board this hospital. So, they showered me at first, gave me a shower. I must have slept for three days; I don’t remember anything for a number of days. I was on board that US hospital ship for about a week or so, ten days, and then they transferred us over to a Danish hospital ship called the Jutlandia. And that ship was going to take us over to Japan.

GTR: How do you spell that, do you remember?

LH: Jutlandia, J-U-T, Jutlandia. So, that was nice on this Danish hospital ship. By that time, I was feeling better.

GTR: That’s good. Was there a treatment for that?


LH: Not a whole lot. Mainly it was nutrition. And you couldn’t eat fatty foods. And they wanted you to eat a lot of sugary foods, candy and stuff like that. Which was good with me! So, I ended up in the hospital in Japan, which was a hospital. The ward I was in was strictly for guys with yellow jaundice; was a sixty-bed ward, just row upon row. It was the old Japanese naval hospital in Yokosuska, Japan. No, see I left Korea, I think it was on June 7th. I was in that hospital probably longer than most guys. I think I was in the hospital all together ‘til around the first of September. The whole time, on board hospital ship and it was about the first of September and one day I got a call, a telephone call, nurse came and said I had a telephone call. This is unusual. It was my brother. He was in the Army, he was just coming over to Korea, he was in Tokyo. So, he says, “Can you come up to see me?” I thought I hadn’t got outa bed yet, you know. I could get up and walk around, but I hadn’t been anywhere. So, I talked to one of the doctors and the doctor said, “Well, you can go if you take it easy.” I was getting better. So, I got my uniform out of, they must’ve had it in storage somewhere. I took a train up to north of Tokyo and I met my brother that night and we sat and we talked all night. He was going to be shipping out the next day. So, the next morning I took the train back to Yokosuka and my brother shipped off to Korea, so we met him on the way over.

GTR: How did he know where you were or find you?

LH: Well, I had been in the hospital for so long they had my hospital address.

GTR: And how long was he there?

LH: In Korea? He was there the normal rotation time. I’m not sure what it was at that time; ten months to a year or something. He was in the Army engineers. So, he came out okay, too.

GTR: Younger or older brother?

LH: Older brother. He’s the one, he had joined the Marine reserve before I did here in Duluth, but his job, he was working up on the North Shore so he could never attend the meetings so they requested him to turn his gear in. He was lucky, he turned it in about two months before they activated us.

GTR: Oh, really? But then he joined the Army later?

LH: He didn’t join the Army, he got drafted. Now that’s something that I don’t understand either. In the Korean War, I’d say every guy my age from the city of Duluth went into the military. They don’t do that any more. Everybody I know, there’s some that I even don’t know, but I hear about, everybody got drafted into Korean War. Probably a more fair system. Nowadays, I don’t know how they get their combat troops. In those days everybody went.

GTR: Everybody went, okay.

LH: Anyhow, let’s see, after I got out of the hospital, another interesting story, I guess. After I got out of the hospital, they sent us down to Otsu, Japan. A rehabilitation company or a company where they got you ready to ship you back to your unit or something. I was down there one day watching a new group of guys who’s coming in and I watched them come marching in formation and there was a guy named Walt Iverson from Duluth and so I hollered at Walt, “Hey Walt!” And he turned around to look at me, but he had to keep in formation and after they broke up he came over. I said, “What are you doing here, Walt?” Walt had been wounded twice in Korea, so I thought, because of his wounds they were sending him home. And he said, “Yeah, I’ve been wounded two times and now they’re sending they guys home with wounds. He said, “Are you going home?” I said, “No, they’re going to send me back to Korea. And he said, “You’re in good shape to go there?” I said, “No, I’m not.” So, I guess Walt and some other people suggested I go see the base commander at the camp in Otsu, Japan. So, I went up to see the base commander. I don’t remember his name or anything, but he got out his records, whatever he had, and he said “You’re one day short from going home.” You see my hospital time only counted like half time, or something like that. But if we send you back to Korea, by the time your records catch up it’ll be three months before you go home. So, he said to his orderly, “Take someone off of that next group going home and put Hintsa in there.” So, he knocked off somebody else and they put me in, so some other guy had to stay and wait for the next, which wasn’t too bad, wait for the next group going home. So, they sent me home with Walt. And here’s the list of the guys. Yeah, Walt, there were more guys, I didn’t know that they were on the same ship on the way home. Anyhow, Walt and I came home together.


GTR: Wow. And how long did it take on the ship?

LH: I’m not sure, about, at least ten days, maybe more.

GTR: Did you talk about things or was this all part of your processing or debriefing?

LH: With Walt? Between Walt and I? It was just two guys going back home, you know, happy to go home.

GTR: Just happy. That’s good.

LH: And when we got to California, we went to Treasure Island, which is just across the bay from San Francisco. And they gave us our train tickets or money for train tickets; I don’t remember how they did it. Not many people flew in those days either, so, we got money, I guess, for the train tickets and one night we all went into town. We all took a taxicab. We went over the bridge. We went into San Francisco at night, but we were down on the main street, Market Street and that’s all business. We didn’t see anything down there though. We might have had something to eat if we found a place to eat. It wasn’t an enjoyable trip. So, we went back to Treasure Island and eventually shipped out. I took a train, came back to Duluth. I was home in Duluth here for almost a month and I was assigned to a naval air station down in Memphis, Tennessee. And so I bought a new car; ’51 Chevrolet. I drove down to Memphis and I ended up being a turnkey in the brig. At that time I was a sergeant. You had to be a sergeant to be a turnkey, I guess. You know the guy that, you’re at the desk and a new prisoner comes in and you log them in, etcetera and you tell them what’s going on and that was worse than combat.

GTR: Oh, really?

LH: Oh, it was terrible. They know all the tricks of the trade. The prisoners know more than you do and if you’re not careful, you’ll end up behind bars. It was not an enjoyable experience. But I think they only keep guys doing those jobs for about three months. Because it really is bad duty.

GTR: You weren’t considered done then? Why did you have to go back to Memphis?

LH: I think they wanted to acclimate you back to civilian life. So, anyhow, I was down there for about three months or so. And then April, yeah, 1952, they said, you can go home. And that’s it. I’m sure you left out a lot of things that you might want to hear, but I don’t know.

GTR: Well, I wonder about coming home then. What kind of reception did you receive? Did anyone talk about it or know where you were really?

LH: I didn’t have any problems, let’s put it that way. Some people, in latter wars, here, they had problems. I came home and spring quarter was starting at UMD and I went right to UMD, I think probably a day or two after I got home.

GTR: And what did you do later in life in college or work?

LH: Let’s see what did I do? Oh, yeah, after the first quarter at UMD I went to work for the Minnesota Power and Light Company in the summertime and, trying to think where I was working first, I might have been working on the brush crew. There was a crew that cleaned out the lines, the high lines, high-tension lines. And after the summer was over I wasn’t ready to go back to school again so I stayed on to the Power and Light and they put me in the substation, where you transfer the low cycle power into household power. I worked in the substation then, oh, I don’t know how long, and then I ended up back again out for Minnesota Power and Light on the line crew as a grunt. I was a ground man, you know, sending me stuff up with the ropes and stuff like that. And I stayed there until about March. We used to clean out the substations, out in the middle of the woods, you know, they have a place where they threw switches and had change the source of the power, and we had to shovel them out to keep them open. Well, it was in March of that year, it was wet up to here. Enough of that. So, I had a friend of mind, who’s also in the Marine Corps, he joined, oh, that’s another story. But anyhow, he was an officer in the Marine Corps then and when I was in high school I used to hang around at his house and his dad had old cars and we’d help his dad fix his old cars. Well, his dad happened to be the chief engineer at Coolerator Company. So, I used to go up and see him once and a while, even when his son was in the Marines. And he asked me if I would go to work for him, at Coolerator Company. He was the chief engineer at Coolerator and I was working for Power and Light then and I didn’t really want to but after that spring experience, I called him up and I said, you still got a job? He said, yeah. So, I went to work at Coolerator Company.


GTR: That was in Gary, or West Duluth?

LH: Yeah, 59th Avenue, whatever it is. Anyhow, I was a test engineer in the lab; that was the title of the job I was working on. Then Coolerator sold off to off to McGraw Electric and they’re going to move to Evansville, Indiana. He offered me a job, he said, why don’t you come with me? No, I wouldn’t leave Duluth. So, I didn’t. I guess that’s another interesting story, I guess. So, I looked for different jobs and finally I went down to the employment office and they did these tests and they test you out to see what you might be good for and they told me I had a high mechanical abilities, is what they told me. Which didn’t surprise me; I like to do things mechanically all the time. So, they called me up one day and said, hey, we’ve to a job for you out at Chun King. I said, hey, I don’t want to go out there, where I worked for the Power and Light Company we used to see those people going out of the shop. He said, no, no, no, not working at their plant; he’s working in their lab. Because I was working at the engineering lab at Coolerator, they need a lab technician. So, I went out there and interviewed at Chun King. And the guy that was running the lab was only about a year older than me. And he had been in the army and I think he took a liking to me, so they hired me. That’s about the end of the story. I stayed with the Chun King Corporation, moved around the country and all, for thirty-five years. RJ Reynolds bought us out in between and I ended up retiring. I was working out in San Francisco for, well, actually RJ Reynolds bought Del Monte Foods and we all got moved out to California. I ended up in San Francisco again so after thirty-five years. We had company buyout, I was fifty-eight years old, I threw in the sponge, I quit and that’s the end of the story.

GTR: You retired. So, do you think your military experience would have changed your life? You know, the guy that hired you because he was army or that kind of thing?

LH: No. They didn’t have a bearing on it at all.

GTR: Okay.

LH: The only bearing it had on my military, the best thing that ever happened to me was that I froze my feet, because I ended up on disability. And along with my company pension and my disability, I lead a pretty good life.

GTR: But that doesn’t kick in until later in life, right? Is that what people were telling me?

LH: Disability? Yeah, I was seventy-one years old when I started drawing it.

GTR: Yeah, I think it was Mr. Booker, Duane Booker was telling me about coming back when he was young and had family and he had frozen his feet really badly, but he didn’t get anything until he was older.

LH: Same with me.

GTR: He had to go to work and even though he had some injuries.

LH: It doesn’t start bothering you. And the good thing about it. I have to give you a little background on it. You know the government is very slow. If this government had to figure out if a guy’s got frost injuries and all. We’d still be fighting this battle. But the fortunate thing for us is the Russian-Finnish War in 1939 and ’40. They had the same experience that we had and after fifty years, they found out that the guys that were fighting battles over there in sub zero weather ended up with frost bite and all the research and work was done and it was very easy then. The VA hospitals go to know all this information so if you had frost bite and they could detect it at all it was very easy for us. So this was all laid, the groundwork was laid by the guys that fought in the Russian-Finnish War. Isn’t that something?

GTR: I hadn’t heard of that. That’s good. Yeah, our government is not so quick.

LH: I have to give the VA credit, though, I had no problem with the VA, time-wise or anything else. I had nothing but good experiences with them.


GTR: That’s good. Well, what about these reunions? And even the larger, do you go to the larger, like Chosin Reservoir reunions?

LH: No, no.

GTR: Or just local? You do meet with that local group?

LH: I don’t even go to many of the local ones any more. My wife is quite ill. So, we don’t go.

GTR: Did you start meeting with them? Well, you’ve lived a lot of other places. Did you meet with any of those? Any reunions or anything any other places that you’ve lived?

LH: No, even when I was working away from Duluth, I used to come back for the reunions.

GTR: Okay.

LH: Reason we had a summer, well, we didn’t own it at the time, but our relatives had a summer cabin and we’d come back for a couple of weeks during the summer and we’d try to time it with our reunions. And also, I did attend, I’d say most of the reunions.

GTR: Okay. And what role do you think that played for you? Why was it important for you to do those?

LH: It’s very important because it’s one of the few contacts that I think a lot of older guys have. I think a lot of older guys, the only contacts they have are the guys that are at work. And when they get older, they disappear. We still have our guys here. And I think it’s a good thing, because we’re still called “a band of brothers” and that’s what we are. I go to the meetings almost every month. And we’ve shared the stories, the same experiences, we don’t have to talk a whole lot about them, and everybody kind of knows what’s going on.

GTR: That’s good.

LH: One thing I’d like to say. I’ve seen quite often. It says people don’t like to talk about their experiences in the war. I don’t find that true. I’ll talk about mine to anybody anytime. Not bragging or anything. I think people are just, they don’t want to infringe upon you. But most guys don’t mind telling what happened during their lifetime, regardless if it’s in the military or whatever. People shouldn’t feel bad about asking.

GTR: Well, that’s good. And do you think it’s important for those stories to get passed on or to understand?

LH: That’s right, people should know.

GTR: What about veterans returning today? How do you think things, how are they different for them? Was there anything about your return to the US that you wish would have been different?

LH: Well, I think they, biggest thing today is communication. They’re not fighting the same kind of war we fought.

GTR: Right.

LH: I really think it’s probably harder on them now. Because they got too close communication. And they’re having to communicate their problems to their family and friends and vice versa, whereas we were just out of touch. So, I suspect the more communication you have nowadays, for a true Infantryman, a guy that’s in combat, is probably harder on him and the family than in my day.

GTR: I suppose, yeah. You weren’t necessarily getting mail or sending mail out yourselves, were you, because you were out?

LH: Mail call was always good. We always looked forward to mail call.

GTR: So, you got some mail?

LH: Oh, we got mail. Oh, I got to tell you another story there. The guy that I eventually went to work for at Coolerator, the chief engineer, of course I went to school with his son, so I knew the family. His mother started sending me packages. Maybe just a tin box of hard candies. I think she’d go down to Freimuth’s Department store and buy them and they’d wrap them up and everything and she’d take them to the post office. She sent me packages on a regular basis. I’d say once a month. And it wasn’t much, but it was very nice. And the reason I think she did it, because her son was in the Marine Corps, he was in the United States at the time. And I felt like part of her family, I’m sure. It was a very nice thing for her to do.

GTR: Yeah, small packages.

LH: It didn’t amount to a whole lot, but it was nice.

GTR: You felt remembered somehow, back there. That’s great. And did that feel odd coming back. People didn’t necessarily know what had been happening in Korea? I hear about it being “the forgotten war”.

LH: Well, other than your own relatives, probably your relatives, like my brother, I can talk to him. People never asked. Nobody ever asked what went on. What did you do over there?

GTR: Was there a sense among people that they had really had sacrificed in World War II and now that was over and they were moving on and people didn’t want to think about war any more.


LH: I don’t know. It was… “Forgotten war” was probably the right term. People didn’t want to talk about it. I don’t think the veterans mind talking about it. They don’t want to brag about it, but if somebody wanted, like you’re asking about things, I don’t mind telling you whatever you want to know.

GTR: People just didn’t talk about it. Do you think people talked about World War II very much when that was over? With the veterans coming back or?

LH: Pretty much the same thing. Although, like I said, I had two male cousins that were in, between the males, probably not too much. We could share experiences. They would tell us their experiences in World War II or their time in the military or just in the army and in the US.

GTR: Sure. Were there some parades or things when they came back, when the World War II vets came back anyway, more parades or more recognition than there was when Korean Vets came back?

LH: I don’t miss any of that, if there was something to miss, I didn’t miss it.

GTR: And what was the citation (in his records)? What was that for? I didn’t read it. That happened after you got back? (Explain?)

LH: No, it’s from up at the Chosin Reservoir. And later.

GTR: You were a Corporal at that time. [reading; silence]

GTR: Nice. Was that mainly because you were the runner? Was that a lot of the work that you had to do? Being the runner? Was your frostbite or other injuries, there was no combat citation at that point or citation?

LH: I was one of the very few guys from Duluth that was not wounded. Most of the guys from Duluth suffered injuries from wounds, etcetera. I was one of the few that was up at Chosin Reservoir that was not wounded.

GTR: Any idea why? Because you were running around all the time?

LH: Well, we were not on the front line combat. All of us here, let’s see, none of us were wounded here. But we were in the Headquarters and Service Company, we serviced the other troops.

GTR: Who were these guys again (referring to the photo)?

LH: The names are on the back. They’re all dead, except me.

GTR: You look so young in that picture. And they were probably younger than you even, weren’t they, some of them?

LH: No, no. He was older, he was older. [pointing to photo]

GTR: Yeah, he looks older.

LH: This guy might have been one year younger. And this guy here, maybe one year, pretty close. Us three were pretty close, maybe year’s difference.

GTR: And those guys were from Duluth?

LH: Everybody’s from, he was from Superior, all, otherwise, we’re all from Duluth. We all ended up in the same company. When we got to Korea we got assigned to H&S Company 1st Battalion 5th Marines.

GTR: Okay, that’s how you ended up together. Well, I could take a picture of this.

LH: No, that’s yours.

GTR: Okay, thank you.

LH: I made a couple of those the other day.

GTR: Thank you. I have my camera I’ll take off over there and take a picture of these two. Is there anything else? You know, they might want to kick us out at, not until noon.

LH: No, unless you have anything else. I’m sure I didn’t tell you everything, or everything that you maybe wanted to hear. Or you could ask if you want.

GTR: I did ask some things; I think we’ve covered a lot of it. Everyone’s experience was so different, about, you know…

LH: I was fortunate that I was serving under an officer from Duluth. I feel fortunate.

GTR: That’s great that they, was it good to be a runner, or was it just hard work?

LH: It was a good job.

GTR: It was good?

LH: I was in on everything and it was a good place for me to be. It fit me like a tee.

GTR: That’s good. And you said you looked skinnier than him when you were done? Partly because of the hepatitis?

LH: Well, I weighed 178 pounds when I went into the Marines. I weighed 169 when I got out of high school. But when I got to the hospital, after I’d been in the hospital for about two weeks, they weighed me, I weighed 140 pounds.

GTR: Wow.

LH: Right now, I maintained the same weight I had when I was in high school. So, I’ve been lucky.


GTR: That’s good. Different challenges for everybody when they were there. And Dan, Dan Hartman, who does the Veteran’s Memorial Hall, he said something about Marines, or this group seems to age well.

LH: {laughs}

GTR: Is there something about being in the Marines that helps people age well?

LH: I don’t know.

GTR: Discipline, or?

LH: Everybody ages differently. Like people ask me, too. I don’t have a stiff muscle or bone in my body. A lot of people are crippled up.

GTR: Do you stay active?

LH: I do.

GTR: Yeah.

LH: Nothing in particular, but I do all the work around the house. All my life, I’ve fixed my own cars, do all that stuff, so.

GTR: Yeah, that’s great.

LH: I think it’s, a lot of your health when you’re older is how you did when you were young.

GTR: Smoking or not smoking?

LH: Yeah, and all the guys that I know when I was working, not these guys, working, all the guys that drank a lot, they’re not around anymore. So, I suspect that tells me something.

GTR: Could be.

LH: I never was a drinker.

GTR: That’s good. Although I do hear stories of the people who had their one little glass of wine a night and they’re a hundred.

LH: Oh, that’s different, right.

GTR: My grandmother was 104 and she had a little beer every lunch, I think. Well, I think I got my main questions. Thank you very much for sharing all this. And if you think of anything later, too, you can let me know.

LH: Oh, there’s all kinds of little experiences. Oh, have you ever read the book, Retreat Hell by Jim Wilson?

GTR: I haven’t. I’ve heard of it. I should probably look that up.

LH: Oh, a lot of these guys were interviewed for that.

GTR: Okay. Where was he from, the author?

LH: I think it was Los Angeles newspapers. Jim Wilson. Retreat Hell was the name of the book. I had three copies, but I gave them all away. Very interesting reading. I was interviewed for that book and I have a few little stories in there.

GTR: I should, yeah. I have, who, what is his name? He did a little memoir.

LH: Dale Erickson.

GTR: Dale Erickson, yeah. He gave me one of those, I’ve read some of that. I guess everyone had very different experiences or different processes coming home and all that. Sounds hard. So, great, thank you so much.


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