Graybeards - Korean War Veterans Association

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Graybeards - Korean War Veterans Association

24

60th Anniversary Memories

Imjin and the MLR and subsequent DMZ.

There was one working alternate one-way bridge, as I recall.

One half was destroyed in a defensive move in 1951-52.

Allen Affolter, 514 S. Franklin St., New Ulm, MN 56073, (507)

354-2328, bev_allen7@hotmail.com

I learned discipline

On June 25, 1950, I was driving from my grandmother’s

funeral in Washington State to my home in Houston, Texas,

along with my father and mother. Although I was already a

member of the Naval Reserve, I don’t remember thinking at the

time that the North Korean invasion would involve me.

However, I was in favor of UN/U.S. intervention in the war.

I did know where Korea was, and my most significant memory

of being there is the depression I suffered from six uninterrupted

weeks aboard my ship on the line off North Korea. I am

ashamed of that reaction. While so many men were going

through hell on shore, I had a warm bunk to sleep in and three

square meals every day. I was a self -centered young man who

didn’t appreciate how good he had it.

In retrospect, I don’t think I made such a great personal

investment. But, as the years have passed, I have understood

more and more how my years on active duty in the Navy have

contributed to my personal character. While I didn’t appreciate

it at the time, I learned discipline and I learned that I was not

the center of the universe.

So, as I look back I am grateful for that experience. I am not

happy to know that the same evil governments are still in

charge in North Korea and China. I hope to live long enough to

see Korea united in freedom and in a representative government.

Thomas Fife, 224 Ridgeview Dr., Gray, TN 37615

Another Homeward Bound Story!!

It took one ship and two oceans to get me home from Korea!

My tour of duty was finally over, so I was told to report to the

Port of Inchon for the return trip home!! As always in the military,

things didn’t go as planned. After several days a “Liberty” ship

made port. Rumor had it that it was a “Banana Boat”—whatever

that meant. I was soon to find out. The ship was scheduled to be

mothballed at the Brooklyn Navy yard after disembarking troops

at various ports of call.

After fourteen months in Korea, Honolulu, Hawaii, our first

port of call, was a beautiful contrast. We were given five hours of

shore leave. The first thing we did was head to a restaurant for a

big steak dinner and a cold glass of real milk! There was a long line

at the restaurant. But, when those in the line found out that we only

had a short time off ship, they moved us to the head of the line.

Since this was during their “Aloha Week,” we all returned with

several leis around our necks. We were told that if we threw our

leis overboard and they drifted back to the islands it meant we

would return one day. (Little did we realize the wake of the ship

probably would make it appear that the leis were drifting back.)

The ship’s crew distributed a daily progress bulletin. Soon after

we left Hawaii, it listed our next ports of call as the Panama Canal;

Cartagena, Columbia; San Juan, Puerto Rico, and finally New

York Harbor.

We were restricted to the Canal Zone because there was unrest

in Panama at that time. However, we were allowed to purchase

from vendors, who set up refreshment stands within sight of the

ship. We then got back on the ship for the slow trip through the

canal into the Atlantic Ocean.

There was a strong storm as we neared New York, so they kept

us out to sea one more day. The morning of our 33rd day in transit,

we sailed past the Statue of Liberty and docked at the Port of

New York—on Veterans Day, November 11, 1953. Do you think

this might have been planned?

At last, it was our turn to be greeted by a crowd of people and

a military band on the dock. We were hustled off the ship and onto

buses that took us directly to Grand Central Station to catch our

trains. In my case it was to Fort Sheridan near Chicago. It took

me some time to get my land legs back.

(I have always wondered if I should have earned Navy pay for

this trip!!)

Cpl. Robert E. Shelton, 351st Com Recon, Army Security Agency

(’51-’53), Detroit, MI), 109 White Hawk Way, Kingsport, TN

37663-3068, 423-239-9778, cshelton37663@yahoo.com

September – October 2010

The Graybeards

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