Freedom Is Not Free - Korean War Veterans Association

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Freedom Is Not Free - Korean War Veterans Association

22

A CHANCE

TO COME

OUT CLEAN!

By Michael C.J. Kaminski, Korean War

(1950-51) 8221st AU Field Artillery,

Topographic & Meteorological

Detachment

Several months into 1951 our unit

located with X Corps Artillery HQ

near a river along a route leading up

to the MLR. As usual, we set up our little

tent bivouac with our defense perimeter

surrounding our motor pool and operations

section. The Topographic and

Meteorological 2 ½-ton vans contained our

sensitive equipment and computer gear.

From that bivouac we would fan out into

the countryside to complete survey recon

and ground surveys for the artillery battalions

coming up the line. At the same time

our Met section would send up weather

balloons throughout a 24-hour period to

record climate conditions. The data they

produced was important for corrections for

artillery fire direction control and for the

Air Force’s flying missions.

After a couple days at this location,

Corps Artillery HQ sent us a message that

a Quartermaster Bath & Shower Company

was to be in our area. It had been several

months since any of us had a shower or

change of clean clothes. We had been too

busy completing missions and moving

from one bivouac to another since our

arrival at Wonsan, NK in November of

1950.

The idea of a shower and clean clothes

was great news. Our CO, Lt. Dockstetter,

passed the word that it looked good for us

to take advantage of the facilities that were

The Bath & Shower Co., Korea 1951

to be set up near a river close to

our location. The CO directed the

Sections Chiefs to set up a schedule

(that would not interfere with

our missions) for all the work parties

to get a shower and an issue

of clean clothes. The word got

around fast, and the humor began

to build.

When my survey team’s turn

came we all got together in our jeep and

weapons carrier and headed out to the Bath

& Shower Company campsite. There was

singing and a lot of hootin’ and hollerin,’

along with some kidding about all of us

getting together naked in an open shower

area. M/Sgt Reynolds came along with our

group and joined in with some shower-stall

humor of his own.

At the river site there were a couple

large (Mess Hall Size) tents set up. They

were surrounded by water trailers

(Buffalos), pumps, a generator, and water

line hoses like the firemen use, extending

from the river into the heating units and on

into the tents. Steam from the field stoves

and heaters reached up to the sky through

long extended stove pipes.

The scene did not fit the landscape, but

it was inviting even here on the rocky edge

of a river along a very flat stretch of terrain.

The sound of artillery was in the air. The

location was not that far from the MLR.

The immediate area was buzzing with

activity. The sign on one end of the big tent

was inviting with the word,

“ENTRANCE.” Way over at the other end

of the big tent was another sign with the

word, “EXIT.” The signage was typical

military….short, concise and non-descriptive!

We all got out of our vehicles to line up

LEFT: Taking a bath in Korea,

1951: 8221st A. V. personnel.

BELOW: The laundry ladies at

work, Korea 1951

at the entrance flap behind a column of jabbering

and fidgety bodies waiting their

turn. M/Sgt Reynolds elbowed his way in

to find out what the procedure to enter was

going to be. He was also hoping that he

could get our group in and out in a hurry.

He disappeared inside for a few minutes,

while we got the word on the outside from

those standing in line as to what we had to

do to make it through the shower process.

Just then M/Sgt Reynolds came out with a

little sneer on his lips and the rage of the

devil in his eyes. Right behind him was

another M/Sgt with a Quartermaster Corps

patch on his fatigue jacket shoulder, and a

surly look on his face. We thought we were

either going to get to buck the line or get

kicked off the campsite.

M/Sgt Reynolds must have hit a nerve

or said the right things to one of his

own……..the Quartermaster Corps M/Sgt

motioned us to move ahead of the line outside

and into the tent. As we slipped inside

we could hear the cat calls and snide

remarks from those still suffering outside in

the cold. It was nice and warm in the big

tent. It was also very busy and steamy. A

bunch of field tables and chairs on one side

were in front of us. There was a divider curtain

ahead of that with a flap doorway and

steamed-up window. Beyond that was a lot

of hootin’ and hollerin’ goin’ on. Boy, we

March – April 2007

The Graybeards

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