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That's my story of how I got to Korea.
Almost every Basic Training Sgt's were Korean War Veterans. They were rough on us...Once in the Inchon area we were put on smaller tender boats to go ashore...Then we were given our mail from the last 2 weeks.
“Oh yes, I remember the day I was drafted to South Korea like it was yesterday.” - Paul Black
Paul Black just before heading to Korea. Winter of 1958 at the age of 23
I was drafted late in 1957. At that time I was working in a cabinet shop helping build kitchen cabinets. In fact, to this day I am good friends with the daughter of my then-boss.
I entered the Army on January 15th, 1958, and left from the Federal Building steps. Whenever I see that Federal Building in a picture I think of those steps outside the building. Only about 8 of us guys took the bus to Ft. Knox, Kentucky that cold winter day.
I had been on a similar trip in that direction not long before as our high school basketball team was playing an All-Star game vs Kentucky All-Stars in the Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY. It was also a very cold night when we left to go back to Indiana.
Going to Ft. Knox was a day trip and no snow that day, the 15th of January. All of us guys had been given tests to see what we were best at doing for the Army. I seem to have picked up my mother’s Administrative skills during the testing. I remember I was not good at music. I was fairly good at math, and math is part of music. I was always dismayed at my music numbers that included the math ties.
I headed off to bed just after I left the Federal Building in my Indiana hometown. I think there were about 8-10 of us guys on the bus headed to Ft. Knox, Kentucky on that Cold January day back in 1958.
We were put up in old WW II wood barracks that were supposed to have just a 20-year lifetime. So if they were built in 1943, was time for a new building in 1963. Actually, these barracks were so basic, what could go wrong with them? Maybe the roof might leak or the plumbing might go bad? Anyway, we had 8 weeks of Basic Training ahead of us, then another 8 weeks of schooling. Unfortunately for me, this was the 3rd coldest winter ever recorded in Kentucky. Sleeping outside in a pup tent at 10 degrees above zero isn't good. We were supposed to stay out there for 3 nights, but they let us go back to the barracks after just one night.
Almost every Basic Training Sgt was Korean War Veteran. They were rough on us.
I think each barracks had about 100 men in them for sleeping. Lights out was at 10:00 pm and we woke up at 5:30 am. After going to formation we then went to have breakfast before heading out on a cross-country march up and down hills.
I remember one morning while double-time running a guy slipped ahead of me and my rifle butt send him flying off into the snow and ice on the road. I just kept going.
After the first 8 weeks, I was sent over to the Army Clerk School for another 8 weeks of Army Administrative Training. During this period you were assigned a MOS number. Not sure if they use this job description system anymore. All Administrative numbers began with a 700.00. I graduated with a 716.10 so I was qualified to be a Company Clerk. This involved making out the " morning report " which is sent to Washington, DC every morning to keep track of where people are located. This report does not allow for any typing mistakes whatsoever. GIs are moved around by what they call " General Orders ".
Every trooper had a Serial Number. This number was dyed onto even my underwear, everything I owned. If I had enlisted I would have been a RA or Regular Army with a number. It turned out all the RA guys did a lot of complaining and the US guys took it in stride.
My parents drove down to Ft. Knox to see me for a weekend pass. While driving my dad’s Buick on base a 1st Lt ran into the back of my dad’s car. No damage, but an issue. My dad and the 1st Lt. were concerned, but not mad at each other since no damage was made to the car. Then another weekend my girlfriend came down to Ft. Knox and we went to Louisville to eat lunch and dinner. She went back that evening.
After 16 weeks of Training and having Orders for Korea my parents, girlfriend and aunt, and uncle all came to Ft. Knox to wish me off to Korea.
Of course, during the 16 weeks, I made a number of Army friends along the way. We were taken to the Louisville, KY airport and took a flight to the Chicago Midway Airport where we boarded a Northwest Orient DC-7C aircraft and made an overnight flight to Portland, Oregon, and then on into the Seattle, WA airport and then we were taken to Ft. Lewis, WA near Tacoma, WA. I stayed there a week as more troopers arrived from across America.
We were then taken to the Seattle Port where we boarded a Troop Ship headed to Inchon, South Korea. We took a rather great circle route coming close to Alaska before stopping overnight in Yokohama, Japan. The ship was met about 1 day out from Yokohama by a Japanese ship that had painters on board. By the time we docked in Yokohama, the ship was freshly painted and looked like new. Many of the Japanese painters were women.
The next morning we headed for Inchon. Once in the Inchon area, we were put on smaller tender boats to go ashore. Then we were given our mail from the last 2 weeks. It so happened the mailman was from my home town too. He was more excited about me getting Mail from Indiana than I was.
I remember Inchon looked much smaller than I had expected, even though it was over 100,000 residents at that time in 1958. Luckily I was able to ride in the cab of an Army 2 1/2 ton truck on the way to Seoul and the Yongsan base. Along the way, the Army driver forced a Korean man with an Oxen off the road and into the ditch.
The next day I reported to the SAC Hq Det 8096 unit.
Paul Black standing in front of HQ Seoul Area Command Unit 8096. Yongsan Garrison_1958
I never worried about being in Korea at all. I began my work assignment in the Personnel Office. I was charged with 4 units with about 100 men in each unit. Most of my administrative work had to do with the men rotating back to the US. This was very unlike working in a Personnel Office on a State Side Army Base.
That's my story of how I got to Korea.
(OP: Aug. 30, 2018)