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A Korean War Vet Reminisces: Farm Collector's Sam Moore Shares His Experiences

| 6/15/2010 11:47:53 AM

Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., photo from Adobe Stock/Zack Frank

Sam Moore 


Sam Moore


June 25 is the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, a bitter conflict that claimed about 34,000 American lives. Although  I never got shot at, I spent 16 more or less happy months (from the fall of 1953 till the spring of 1955) in Korea.

I became a 19-year-old member of Uncle Sam’s Army in April 1953, while the war was still fitfully sputtering, and was sent to Fort Knox, Ky., to train as a tank driver. In July, a truce was signed in Panmunjom so some of the pressure was off, but we still trained as though our lives depended on it.  

I left for the Far East about Nov. 1, 1953, after a short leave, and flew to Chicago where I boarded a troop train for California. Then, as though there was a critical shortage of tank drivers in Korea, three of us privates were hustled onto an airplane along with a bunch of officers and were off to Japan.

The flight was long, about 36 hours, with brief stops in Honolulu and Wake Island. We landed in Tokyo and were taken to an old Japanese Army camp just outside town. After all the rush to fly us to Japan, we spent three weeks at the camp, where I experienced my first earthquake. I made several trips into Tokyo and saw some of the sights, including the Ginza.  

Then we took a Japanese troop train (with canvas hammocks instead of seats) for the trip down through Japan to the southwestern port of Sasebo, where we boarded an old motorboat. After an all-night trip across the Korean Straight, we landed at Pusan on the southern tip of Korea. There we boarded an ancient train, pulled by a steam engine. The passenger cars had hard, wooden bench seats, along with a large pipe through the floor that served as a latrine. As we slowly traveled north toward the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), we met several trains of American troops heading south and home. They took no pity on us new recruits and at every stop regaled us with stories of the terrible things the Chinese and North Koreans were going to do to us.

Sam Moore
9/30/2010 10:12:55 AM

Joni,have you tried searching the military records at the National Archives? Their on-line address is Sam Moore

8/25/2010 3:40:56 PM

I am looking for someone who can help me find information on my dad??? I was adopted and I may have found him but he can't remember when he got out of the Army is there a way to find out? He thinks he got out in 1955 he said he was in the 2nd Division Rank Specialist 2nd Infantry He said he was in basic training at Fort Riley than he said he went to Fort Knox KY then he went to Japan he said he signedd up for three years I was conceved in August/September 1955 in MN I was born June 1, 1956 I know nothing about the Army his name is Harry G. Swanson from MN If you can help me Please let me know Thank you Joni


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