Korean War Veterans:
Interviews November 8, 2009
Participants in the Korean War Veteran Interviews: Veterans included David S. Fellows, Richard Luers,
Robert Olsen, Richard Golz, Harlan Boley, Leonard Meehan, Rodney Leeder. Other participants John
Ehle, Ruth Ann Montgomery, Videographers from Evansville High School: Nick Seeman and Keith Able;
Kyle Geisler, our audiographer from the Gazette and Gina Duwe, reporter from the Gazette.
John Ehle: Welcome everybody and thanks for coming out today. For some of you it was on short notice and
for others I’ve been working on you for at least two or three weeks, Golzy. Welcome to the people from the
Janesville Gazette. Gina Duwe is back with us and we’ve had some really nice coverage of our military history
here in Evansville. I want to thank Gina and her crew. I am going to turn it over to David Fellows who is going
to share a couple of words.
David Fellows: Let’s pray together. Father God as we come together during this week of the nation’s
observance of Veteran’s Day, we seek your mercy, healing and blessing for the victims and families of the Fort
Hood tragedy. We unite as veterans of the Korean conflict and the subsequent Cold War years of the 1950’s,
to remember of our comrades who gave their lives during those years. We are grateful for their sacrifices and
grateful to you for our survival. Continue to bless them for honoring their country the way they did and to bless
their surviving families. We seek your blessings now on this gathering, as we come to remember our roles in
those conflicts, during those years. We pray all this in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen. Shall we stand
and say the Pledge of Allegiance. [All stood and said the Pledge of Allegiance.]
John Ehle. Well, just a couple of words to get everybody going. What we have done in the past is, we have
gone around the table and done a short introduction. I think we’ll start with Harlan. We’ll start with you and go
around. From there just a short description of where you are from and just a short description of where you
were when you served in the military. Believe me, the stories will come and it takes on a life of their own. Let’s
enjoy the moment and remember this is a chance to tell your story. Ruth Ann has always been kind enough to
do a transcript. So I am sure it will be in the Review, so if that has any effect on how you choose your words, so
Harlan Boley: Well, I suppose it is about time for me to get started. I’m Harlan Boley and I’m originally not from
Evansville. I was drafted into the service at Arena. I went in through Mineral Point. I was in from July 10 of ’52
to July 10 of ‘54. I am a transplant to Evansville here. I took my basic training at Fort Chaffee, (Fort Smith)
Arkansas. I got overseas in December of ’52. I was in Japan for a while and then we went as a Division into
Korea, later on. When we went in we were loaded with the trucks that went onto a Merchant Marine ship. When
we got into Korea, the Merchant Marines dropped our trucks and bent them in the middle and the drive shafts
fell out. So there we sat for several months before we finally worked our way up through there.
Richard Golz. I really don’t have much to say. I was just there sometime or other and there was just one time
that I ever was scared beyond anything.
John Ehle: Are you Army?
Richard Golz: I’m Army. I happened to have guard duty from 2 to 5 in the morning, or something like that.
And they warned us to keep a lookout as there might be infiltrators, which I didn’t like. Anyway about 4:30 in the
morning, I was wandering around. It’s getting dark and quiet at that time of day. I stepped around the mess
tent and I stepped on a cat. The cat screamed. I don’t know if I wet my pants, or p…. or had a heart attack, but
that’s was the worst part of the whole thing. Otherwise it was a great thing. Lots of good experiences; A lot of
good friends; a lot of friends who didn’t come back. I think that everybody did their thing, as I did Hopefully I did
a good job at what I was told to do. I think that was about my thing. Close enough. I’ll give it to Richard.
Richard Luers: My name is Richard Luers and I was from Brodhead when I got drafted. I served from Feb ‘52
until Feb ‘54 and then wound up here in Evansville that year on the police department. Golz and I knew each
together since we were 16 years old, more or less, didn’t we? I was in the transportation corps, just a lowly little
old truck driver with stories that won’t quit. I went from one end of Korea to the other. I guess it all starts out for
most of us with a letter that said: “Greetings: your friends and neighbors have chosen you to represent them.”
So that’s what I did.
Richard Golz: There’s just one other thing. He’s bringing this up. I wrote a letter to him.
Richard Luers: A letter? That’s my story. You just shut up.
Richard Golz: Ok. Go ahead. Just so you get it in.
Richard Luers: On a cold old winter day and I’d be standing there at mail call and I wouldn’t get any mail.
And then the mail clerk would hold this up and he’d say, “and this is one of my favorites. Is there a Richard
‘Beautiful brown eyes Lefty Luers in the group’ and if there is, would he like to share this with us?” And it would
be from him [pointing to Richard Golz.] And what do you do? How do you explain something like that?
Richard Golz: I was far enough away so he couldn’t shoot me.
Richard Luers: Ya, you were home. Leonard.
Leonard Meehan: I’m Leonard Meehan and I was drafted, like everybody else in ’52, but I thought I’d rather
be in the Navy than the Army. So I enlisted in the Navy in May 1952, I guess around the 27th or so. I took my
basic at Great Lakes in Chicago. From there I went to radiomen school in Bainbridge, Maryland. I came home
for about two weeks and I was put aboard ship, the USS Intrepid. We were in and out of Virginia. Our home
port was Virginia. We were in and out of there for a couple or three years. We were back and forth in the
Mediterranean, in and out of there. I enjoyed it. I didn’t see too much action. Come May of ‘56 I was
discharged, came home and got married. That’s about it, I guess. I would do it again. I made a lot of friends
and didn’t see, like I say, any action to speak of, but I enjoyed it. I guess that’s all I’d say.
Robert Olsen: I’m Bob Olsen. I was born and raised here in Evansville and I’m probably the senior member.
Looking around the table, obviously, I am. Anyhow, I enlisted in World War II on November 6, 1942. I had just
turned 19. After spending three and a half years in World War II, when I was discharged out of Fort Sheridan,
before I could go, they wanted to know if I wanted to re-up and I said “no”. Then they said, “Well, how would
you like to be in active reserves” and I said, “no.” “Well how about being inactive reserve.” I thought about it.
They said, “you can retain your rank.” I thought, well that’s all right. So, I stayed in the inactive reserves.
During that period of time, after I got out in 1946, I never heard a word from the government or anyone else. I
was working for Heffel Chevrolet. One day, on December 11, I came home and there was a letter there.
“Pursuant to authority you are hereby ordered to report to.” Of course, Korea started in June 1950. Well, I
had 11 days to get my affairs in order. Within six months, after taking some training and crewing up on B29s, we
went to Okinawa and that is where we flew our combat missions. I was in the 307th bomb wing, the 321st bomb
group. The 19th bomb group was also there and from there I flew 28 missions over North Korea. As a matter
of fact, we had our 25 missions in and we were ready to go home. They had a replacement crew that came in.
The replacement crew had to fly one mission with us, before they could be released for regular combat duty.
So, some of them flew with us and some flew with other crews. After this mission that we were on, we got back.
They were scheduled to fly a mission and they did. They got shot down. So, we had to stay longer. We had to
wait for another replacement crew. I had to fly three more combat missions. There are other stories that I could
relate here. I have a couple of things to share with you. I can pass it around if you like. This is a compass
that we were given and it is an anus compass. In the event you were shot down, you knew where to put it. Also
we had this [small brochure.] It was given to us, before we flew the missions. It had both English and Korean
text, Chinese and so forth. It says on this: “The bearer of this pass is an American. He is friendly towards you.
Help him return to American or South Korean forces and you will be rewarded.” We had that on our body. I just
thought I would relate that to you. I can tell some further stories but will pass it on.
Dave Fellows: My name is David Fellows, born and raised on a farm east of here, about six miles; and went to
country school, at White Star School; graduated from Evansville High School in 1951; planned to go on a
scholarship to the UW in Madison that fall which I did. Which gave me a student deferment during the duration
of my college, bachelor’s education. Some of my classmates went on into the Korean War, almost upon their
graduation from high school. I personally cannot recall losing any of them in the war. Maybe eventually I will
become enough of a student of this, as a result of this effort, to discover for myself just who of my classmates
were involved in that Korean crisis. I graduated, as I said, in ‘55 from the University at Madison having gone
through NROTC there on campus and happened to end up in Naval aviation because in the summer of 1953, I
went on a 6-week’s summer cruise, as a Midshipman, stationed on a heavy cruiser, the Pittsburg. I did not like
to contemplate Naval sea duty after I graduated in ’55 with my Ensign’s commission. I was a motion sick type
person. I was prone to that and I thought, “Wow, I don’t think I want to do this.” So I got back to the UW that fall
and I happened to luck into taking a ride on an aircraft from the Glenview Naval Air Station that a Chief Petty
Officer had flown up to Madison to give Midshipmen a ride on, if they were interested in aviation. I became very
interested in aviation and was fortunate enough to get steered off in that direction. So when I graduated I went
on to flight school and spent about a year and a half in getting my flight education, first at Pensacola, Florida
and then at Hutchinson Kansas, where I got my wings. I was assigned to the Patrol Squadron in Whidbey
Island, Washington, in the Puget Sound, not far north of Seattle. My wife and I were stationed there and had
our first two children, sons, while I was in the Navy; one in Pensacola and one in Whidbey Island, Washington.
It was a land based squadron of Lockheed P2V-Neptune patrol anti-submarine bombers. We really did carry
bombs. In fact, we carried an atomic depth charge, which at that time was a bit of secret information. One was
never fired during the Cold War of the 50s, when we actually had a covert operation of attempting to learn more
about the Soviet capabilities, in case of war. That was what the whole Cold War was all about, watching the
Soviets, watch us. It was just kind of a cat and mouse game. Never a shot was fired, or a life lost in our
squadron all the while we were stationed in Alaska for six months, covertly watching the North Pacific shipping
lanes and covertly watching the Russians and their fire control radars and that sort of thing, that we were
attempting to get information for our Naval Intelligence division. So it was a very interesting and exciting
experience for me. I had two or three close calls, during that six months in Alaska waters, but never lost
anything, but maybe some of my hair, as a result of it. All and all, I would say that my military experience…. I
got out in late 1958 when my father’s health failed and they asked me to come home and take over the family
farm or it was going to be sold. I said, “Don’t do that, Dad. I’ll come back.” Otherwise, I probably would have
stayed in the Navy and flown aircraft, which I thoroughly enjoyed, for a much longer period of time.
Rodney Leeder: My name is Rodney Leeder and I went in the army October 16, 1951, which was our wedding
anniversary, 1951. I spent a couple of months in South Carolina I went to basic training down there and then I
went to radio school down there. I was a radio operator, they told me. So, I finally got my orders to go to San
Francisco. From there we went to Japan and then to Korea. I was on the ship 11 days and I was sick 12 and
that’s no baloney either. That’s how I liked the water. So anyway, I went to Korea and got more training over
there and then I was with a Lieutenant Colonel. We were in KMAG (that Korean Military Advisory Group) and
we had a Korean division. He was the advisor and I was the radio operator. We each had our own jeep, but
we still traveled together for meals and stuff. We ended up in central Korea and after a couple of months there,
we got pushed up to the front lines again. Another radio operator was with another Lieutenant Colonel. We
had our own bunkers and everything. The Chinese came in and they took his Lieutenant Colonel and they
stabbed them both. He was from east of here. His name was Biers, but I can’t remember what his first name
was. He lived through it all. This went on for about a year, I guess. What was the date? I can’t remember my
own… I think it was June 9th . Yes, it was June 9th of ’53. That’s when I got wounded. It was midnight on
June 9th, which is my wife’s birthday. We were getting in shells by the Chinese, thousands of them. I and
another Korean, we went outside of our bunker to do something and that’s when I got wounded. They came up
and got me at midnight and they took me back to the Division and I went from one hospital to another in Korea
there; and then I ended flying to Japan to the hospital over there. I was in a hospital in Osaka and I spent a
couple of months there in the hospital. Then we got on a ship and came back home. That was a good ride all
the way home. I never get sick once. I was on my way home. That made a difference and then I got
discharged and I got the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart and that’s about the story of my adventure over in
Korea. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I think it would be the best thing for a lot of these kids. If they have to do
something like that. If you volunteer, that’s another different story. It would be the best thing for some of these
kids that have problems; to have to go in the Army or Navy or whatever and spend a couple of years. You’d
learn a lot. Some of it is good and some of it is bad, but it would be good for them. That’s my story. I’m still
farming. Well, not really, but I own it yet. I spent all my life, except when I was in the Army, farming. Now we let
somebody else do it.
John Ehle: I think it’s important to note that 4.9 million Americans served in Korea. Of that 4.9 million, 55,000
were killed in combat. I think there are people, maybe people in this room, that think of Korea as kind of the
forgotten war or the forgotten conflict. It was never really a declared war. I think for the people who are going
to be reading the transcript and hearing what you fellows have to say, I think it would be interesting to hear from
you what led to our involvement there. Because it was so soon after World War II, what were the situations that
led to American entry into that part of the world? If anybody would like to volunteer that, because, most people
don’t know that any more.
Richard Luers: As Dave alluded to, it was the start of the Cold War, of course. We were all 20-year-old kids at
the time and don’t remember a lot of history but I guess we can all remember Harry Truman getting mad at
General McArthur. Harry wasn’t popular, but General McArthur was. As I remember it, the Communists came
down out of China in ’50 and overran Korea. They wanted South Korea back and ran our troops into the
ocean, practically. And then of course, McArthur, to make a long story short, he wanted to go back up into
China and chase the Communists back up there. As we all know, Harry said, “no.” One thing led to another.
He came home and we went over. That in a nutshell is basically the Cold War. I think that was basically it was
our fear of Communism. I don’t know why were scared of a country that only had one transcontinental railroad,
but we were. For the next 20 years we lived with the Cold War. I guess for me, again, as I said, you’re a 20-
year-old kid and you get a draft notice. They tell you, you are going to go someplace. You can’t even spell the
name of the place, let alone where you were going to go.
Harlan Boley: You didn’t even know where it was at.
Richard Luers: Ya, I was at loose ends, and didn’t know where my life was going. The military was good for
me. With a GI Bill, I got an education, a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree, and a pilot’s license. All paid for
by Uncle Sam. I now get VA benefits. I can’t complain. I am one of those that survived. It wasn’t so great for
the 53,000. They didn’t get to come back. We did. As far as Korea, the only thing I can remember is the
everlasting, penetrating cold. It was always cold. Wasn’t it? It was always cold. Those mountains were 40
Richard Golz: People don’t realize the 38th parallel is no man’s land. Where is our 38th parallel? What, a
dot, 100 miles north of here? Their weather, other than the rain and the rain, that’s the thing. The monsoon
hit. We had a river that we drove through, back and forth, and it started raining. The second day, it was up 16
feet. The next morning, I got up and we were up on a hillside. I swung my feet off the bunk and I was in 6
inches of water. It was up to 26 feet. You see this on television today, what water does. You live with that for a
while and you will appreciate water, because that is the most wicked thing in the world. We lost people in the
water. We had a timber trestle bridge. It had transits on each end and two cranes just pulling debris off it. And
around the corner to get up to the line, oh, it was a quarter of a mile that we had to have people along the road,
this deep in water (Golz pointed to his chest), so that we could drive the trucks and know where the road was.
You live with that. You see that on television what the water does. That is probably one of the worst thing that I’
ve ever seen happen to people. It hangs on to everything. You drive down the road today, come back, and the
road is gone. You drive through the rice paddies. I don’t know how the people live with that year after year,
you know. It’s constant. You see a creek that you can drive across and three days later, you’ve got 26 feet of
water. That’s a lot of water, no matter what. There’s a thousand experiences and mine is more of this than
(like) Rodney’s. I was back far enough. Once in a while I could hear the rifle fire, but that’s as close as they
could ever get me. Everybody had their thing to do and as I said, I did what I was told. I thought I did a good
job of it and that. I had a good time. It’s a beautiful country, if you want to look at it. I went from Pusan to the
DMZ. I helped to build the DMZ. I was out in the middle of it once, hauling logs out there to build bunkers. I
didn’t realize that, either.
John Ehle: Dick, would you explain what a DMZ is?
Richard Golz: Well, that is the no-man’s land between North Korea and South Korea. It’s four miles. Is it? Or
something like that. They call it no-man’s land. We were on the south. We built log bunkers. Now, today, if
you watch it on television, they have got big beautiful buildings there. You look around the corner of the
building. When I left we were always in mud and logs. The middle of this thing doesn’t belong to really
anybody. It’s still there. It’s still a “no mans’ land.” It’s the difference between North and South Korea. That
was one of the most fascinating things the way they lined the bunkers. They could cover the whole thing, from
about three different directions, as it went across the whole of Korea. Now it’s built up to modern. I hauled
some logs in there, but they had people build them. They had to stay and build the thing after I left. A lot of
that stuff, you can remember four hundred thousand things of it. Like I said, my biggest thrill was stepping on
the cat. Like it or not. Oh, it’s fun. Of course being, like I say, from Pusan to the DMZ and Incheon and
Uijongbu and Yougsanpo and all of this, to go through all these towns. To see it…. Of course at that time
there wasn’t much left, but to see these different places, it’s an experience that you’ll never get any place else
in your life. If you are fortunate enough, as I was, to go and look and it and to come back perfectly healthy, it’s a
Godsend. I know of 26 people in our basic training battalion that didn’t come back. So you can feel, no matter
what, if you can go and do your thing and come back, you are in pretty good shape, no matter what. It was
quite an experience.
David Fellows: Was there any time during the Korean conflict that those of you who were in it heard of an
Richard Golz: Atomic? No, not that I know of. Well, I don’t think that after Nagasaki and Hiroshima that they
ever used anything atomic did they? In Japan, I mean.
David Fellows: No, not that I am aware of. But you realize that was in 1945. And by the time I got into Naval
aviation, on duty in 1955, and thereafter, that means the atomic age was 10 years old and there was a lot of
fear of atomic conflict during the Cold War of the ‘50s. It was the H1N1 of its day, I guess. That fear, that
people had, that something atomic was going to happen because America had opened Pandora’s box in ’45
with the atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So, this was really very much a foremost thought for those
of us that, I don’t want to say fought the Cold War, but endured the Cold War of the ‘50s, after Korea shut down
in the form of the DMZ, that you were so interestingly talking about there, Dick. You see the squadron I was in, I
think I mentioned the atomic depth charge. You might say, “What was that for?” It was to crush a submarine,
like you would a beer can, if you ever used it in anger or in a war-time situation. We carted those things
around for all the time that I was in that squadron. We had one aircraft that was called the alert aircraft. It
changed numbers every couple of weeks. A different crew and a different aircraft would be the alert aircraft.
They would load one of these atomic depth charges into that aircraft. So that, with that and a couple of 500-
pound bombs, and a full load of 5-inch armor piercing rockets, you were ready to destroy any submarine that
Russia would want to try to bring into a conflict anywhere. It was interesting to note that at the point at which
that fairly sizeable land-based Navy bomber was loaded with full ordinance, it weighed close to 100,000 pounds
on takeoff. We had a couple of jet engines for assisting us to get that baby off the ground that we had to use at
moments like that. It was always a nail biting thing when we would find a Soviet submarine on the surface
somewhere in the northern Pacific shipping lanes, which we did on a couple of occasions. They always turned
out to be harmless occasions, but it sure did raise everybody’s adrenaline level for awhile, until these things
Richard Luers: Dave, you’ve got to remember the segment of the population that you were dealing with. It
was an unpopular war. We had just gotten over the Second World War. You had a bunch of 20-year-old
draftees, for the most part, who just didn’t have the kind of knowledge that you would have had. You were
dealing with a different segment of the population than we were. I don’t think that, for the most part, any of us
wanted to be there. We were there because in those days, you didn’t go to Canada. You went into the
service. If they drafted you, you went, or like Leonard and you went in the Navy. It was a different group. You
had a bunch of kids that said, “What am I doing here.” The only thing you wanted to do was you counted the
days till you could go home.
Richard Golz: The same way with your type of bombing, Bob Olson could probably tell you more than the rest
of us. He flew so many missions of whatever type of warfare that you used. He was associated with it. I wouldn’
t have any more idea of what the Air Force did, than the man in the moon. The closest you could get, they had
the scraping on the line. They had jets and small planes. But, the jets, you’d watch them. They go over here
(motioning in a circle) and then they’d go back over and come back. The little planes would go boom, boom,
boom, for line hitting. For the type of bombs they used, Bob could tell you a hell of a lot more than the rest of
us in this group. How many missions did you say you flew?
Robert Olsen: Twenty eight.
Richard Luers: What I remember is rough dirt roads, with old people walking up and down them, with things on
their backs or on top of their heads.
Harlan Boley: The honey buckets.
Richard Luers: And honey buckets…refugees. Just the grueling daily routine of being in a combat zone, day
after day after day. Sometimes you got shot at and sometimes you didn’t. It was just the long dragged out
affair of being there. You know, I was there 14 months, 2 Christmases, 2 Thanksgivings, 2 New Years. I was 23
when I came home. Here we are, a bunch of 78-80-year-old guys. When you are 20 years old, it’s a different
concept you have of the world. Here we were. We were in Korea, someplace that was what? 10,000 miles
away. They didn’t want us there and why were we there? We made it back. Really, I can’t kick for my time in
the service because I got an education out of it and I got a job out of it. I wouldn’t have been hired on the
Evansville Police Department had I not been a veteran. The chief at that time was a veteran and the guy that
recommended me was a veteran and they were looking for a veteran. Now you can’t do that. But in those days
if you were a vet you had a little better shot at a job. In the meantime, I think that for the guys that were in the
dirt and mud of Korea, that the only thing you were looking forward to was going home. Right?
Richard Golz: The thing with the Koreans, to a lot of people they were “rice bellies”. If you were on the
ground, which I was, I hauled supplies. If you treated the Koreans decent, they would do anything for you and if
you didn’t treat them decent, they’d do everything thing against you. They were just people.
Richard Luers: How did you know which were Koreans and which were Chinese?
Richard Golz: You wasn’t ever sure. We had a dump and you hauled stuff in to unload. We had a honcho, a
head Korean. You’d pull in and you’d go to unload and he’s say, “Can I drive.” “OK”, and he’d get in and grind
gears and boom, boom, boom. It was shattering you to think of letting him drive. But, if I went in and if I said “I’
m was in a hurry”, he’d kill his people to make sure they’d work. He’d take care of you. But if you slammed
them, they would do the same to you. They were just as much people as anyone in the world. If you got along
with them, they’d get along with you. There were good ones and bad ones, no matter what. Just like anyone in
the world. They were funny people, but if you got along with them, they’d get along with you.
Robert Olsen: I’ll give you a little overview of what we in the Air Force did. As I said, we were on Okinawa, not
too far from where Ernie Pyle got his. We had eleven crew members in our B29. We would carry 6,700 gallons
of fuel, depending on what our target was. If it was an airfield, we’d carry about 144 one-hundred-pound
bombs. If it was for rail, we’d usually carry, 40 five hundred pounders. On some occasions we carried twelve
1,000 pound bombs. Our altitude was about 25-30,000 feet. On takeoff, you talk about being heavy, we had to
fly over the sea a long ways before we could start raising to altitude. Once we got into the combat area, we
were picked up by F84 fighters as fighter cover. They were good and they were always nice to see. But as
soon as you hit your initial point and started your bomb run, they broke away, of course, because we were
getting heavy flak at that point in time. After we dropped our bombs and pulled away, then the fighters would
pick us up for cover again. The best fighter cover we had, in my estimation, were the British Meteors. They
sat right on top of us as they covered. They were very good. Then of course, we were faced with a MIG-15 at
the time that shot 37mm cannon shells out their nose. The first briefing that we got, they said, “You don’t have
to worry about the MIGs coming up from underneath you.” And where do you suppose they came from? They
came from right underneath us because they put all armor plate on the bottom of the planes. Some of the
missions weren’t too good and that’s it. Most of the time we were unable to return to Okinawa, either because
of damage to the aircraft or fuel. We usually landed in Tachikawa, Japan for repairs and whatever. Then we
would fly back to Okinawa. We also had what was called an “electronic counter measure” fellow on board and
his purpose was to jam enemy radar or search lights. We were getting shot up so much on our daylight raids.
Well, going back a little bit, when we were sent over there, we were primarily a stop gap. We didn’t have all the
fancy clothes they had. We had our fatigues. We were thrown in to stop what was going on. There was a
friendship that you develop, a strong bond between you and your crew members, because you depended on
Richard Luers: Hearing you talk Rod, all these years that we’ve known one another, I was there where you
were, when you got wounded. Our outfit was up there hauling the 5th ROK Army and we were hauling them
out of there. I had the 5th ROK Army band on my truck, along with a lot of other junk. Two guys sitting on the
top playing trumpets, just as loud as they could play and we headed down the road, for “fair thee well.” So, I
was there, in that area, at that same time that you were, in ‘53. Right after that they signed the truce.
Remember when they turned all the prisoners loose?
Rodney Leeder: I was on my way home when they signed the truce.
Richard Luers: Remember when they turned all the prisoners loose? You were in the middle of that.
Harlan Boley: I was in on that.
Richard Luers: We didn’t know who the good guys were and who the bad guys were.
Harlan Boley: That’s when I first got into Korea. Like I said, we couldn’t move on so we were guarding
prisoners of war there. I’ve got pictures at home that I took when they were releasing them.
Richard Luers : I had a bunch of Turkish soldiers, I hauled up to Pork Chop Hill when that was going on.
That’s what we did, is we hauled troops around.
Rodney Leeder: The Chinese would come up and they would knock on your door. We had bunkers. This
one other Colonel, and they would just knock on your door at night and (speak in Korean.) He opens the door
up and they walked in. They took the Colonel and they walked him down the creek. They took him down the
creek. He finally got away, sometime during the night, but that other radio operator, he got stabbed. I don’t
know how many times. It punctured his lungs. I think Sharon, Wisconsin is where he was from, because my wife
was hearing from him.
Richard Golz : The South Koreans treated the North Koreans different than we did. They didn’t bother with
them. On the Han River a bridge between Seoul and Yeongdong, there is a railroad bridge. I guess it was west
of there. I went down there one day and it was foggy a little bit. You could see something hanging off the
railroad bridge. I went down and was coming back, there were eight when I went down and only five when I
came back…hanging there. I asked this bird at the bridge, “What’s that?” The South Koreans caught some
North Koreans infiltrating. They hung them from both sides of the bridge. They didn’t bother they just hung
them off the side of the bridge and left them there. That’s the way. The Koreans, they lived an entirely
different life and thinking than what we did. Of course, I don’t know, the good and the bad. I was in there one
day and a weapons carrier came in. It was cold, really cold. The guy came in the office and I said, “What do
you have there.” He said, “I’m waiting for a bulldozer.” What’s that? He opened up the back end and it was full
of frozen bodies, North Koreans. He said, “Just like policing cigarette butts, we just police up the North Koreans
and throw them in and bury them.” Just like a cat, you just dig a hole, shovel ‘em in and bury them.
Rodney Leeder. A lot of them they just piled them up. They piled wood all around them and burned them.
Richard Golz: That’s the way they handled that. There was no trying to ship bodies home. I suppose they did
the same thing to us. Several times he’d come in with the bodies. They’d go down to the rice paddies
someplace and bury them. That’s the way we took care of the North Koreans, the dead ones. A lot of that
nonsense, it is just the way it goes. So many things happened, that it’s unbelievable.
David Fellows: I think that it is so curious that the three of you, the three of us, and Rod over here. The three
of us really were separated from what you fellows went through, by the fact that we were in the Navy or the Air
Force. We had a clean place to sleep at night. It wasn’t a fox hole, or someplace where someone could
infiltrate and would come knocking on our door, or whatever. In that respect, we were very fortunate. We did
have our moments of panic and scare, I’m sure, all of us. One of the things about the Alaskan area at that
time, the mid ‘50s, when I was stationed up there in Kodiak, was that, anytime we flew our missions out over the
Bering Sea we were technically in Soviet territory. Consequently, we were in the same electronic
countermeasure, covert operation that Bob mentioned that the Air Force was, when he was there in Okinawa.
In this regard, we would always draw the radar, the Soviet radar, fire control radar, MIG radars, and so forth.
That was part of the bait that we were throwing out there in our little cat and mouse game. So, every once in a
while, I think that it was part of their game too, that they played. They would call our bluff and scramble some
MIGS after us. Remember those Distant Early Warning stations that we had there for a long, long time, in the
‘50s and ‘60s that kept an eye on the possibility of any Soviet missiles coming over the Arctic regions? There
was one at Nome, Alaska that kept an eye out for that sort of thing, of course. They also kept watch of these jet
bases in the northeastern part of Siberia. One was at Anadyr and I can’t remember the name of the other one.
They had MIGs that would scramble after us to chase us away. “Get out of our air space.” When that would
happen and these little blips would come up on the Distant Early Warning station’s radar at Nome. They would
simply come up on the guard channel of radio and say “Heads Up.” If there was anything that was any more of
an adrenaline rusher, than to hear Nome say, “Heads Up,” it was that. Because, that’s exactly what we did.
We made a 180 degree turn even if we were in the Bering Straits; and kick in our auxiliary jets that burned fuel
at the rate of a 2,500 gallons an hour and beat it for home in Kodiak, in that case; or if we were out at the other
end of the Aleutian chain, at Adak, we’d beat it for Adak, or wherever we happened to be stationed on a
rotational basis. So again, as I say, there were never any shots fired in anger at each other but it was always
there. The threat was always there and you had to live with that and be ready to combat it, if you had to.
Richard Luers: Rod, did you sleep, were you in bunkers? Were you in bunkers for the most part?
Rodney Leeder: Ya, we were in bunkers.
Richard Luers: Our back area was Chungchong. Of course, we were rarely there. We were always sleeping
in somebody else’s bed while you were out on the road. The guys, probably you did too, they’d take the 105
canisters and make urinals out of them.
Rodney Leeder: Oh, sure.
Richard Luers: Then they’d have them out in the back and then the North Koreans would crawl down and
think that was a chimney for a bunker. They’d drop a hand grenade down it.
Rodney Leeder: We had our chimney wired. If they dropped a bomb or anything in there, it would stop it, you
Richard Luers: They’d crawl up and drop a hand grenade down there and duck. The only thing that would be
blown up would be the Koreans, that and a lot of lime, around it. They’d make urinals out of them. That sort of
stuff is what you remember.
Rodney Leeder: We made a shower and everything and when the Chinese came there in that night, they
blew up our shower up and blew my jeep up. Two thousand or so rounds came in there that night.
John Ehle: Rod would you be willing to share the incident of your wounding and what the circumstances were
Rodney Leeder: Well, the Chinese came in there that night. They were shooting mortars in there and it was
about midnight. The Colonel and I, we were in our bunker, the command post, and they knocked our wires out
and everything, our communications. So, I and the Korean went out to run a new wire through. And that’s
when we got it. I heard the shell coming in and everything. I dove for the ground, but I didn’t get there. Well, I
Richard Luers: We used to get strafed. Of course, I was just over there a little while and they’d strafe us
once in a while in the gullies and up in the mountains. The guys would hit the brakes and set them, jump out of
the truck, and run, you know. Dummy me, I jumped out of the truck and got underneath it. When it was all
over the sergeant came and said, “Don’t you know you have 20 55-gallons barrels of gasoline on that truck and
you were under it. After that I ran out into the rice paddies too, whenever we…. I hated to go in the rice
paddies, they stunk so bad.
Richard Golz: You talk about ducking. We used to haul quite a lot of demolitions. They had a saying, “You
never put the blasting caps on the load.” You put them in the cab with you. I loaded a load of demolitions and I
was going up the road. I had something like 500 or 600 blasting caps on the load and I was going. All of a
sudden, bang, it hit me that I had these caps on the load. I actually broke out a little bit of a sweat. I stopped.
I got the caps and put them in the truck. I got in and started up the road. I made that boo-boo. Then if one of
those caps go off, it will set the 500 off and it’s gone off anyway, whether it’s a load or whatever. One other
Richard Luers: Just a bunch of dumb kids.
Richard Golz: One other thing. The Air Force, I have to say, I was in envy of them. I had very little to do with
the Air Force. In Yongdonho there was an air strip and it had a college there. The Air Force had taken over
the whole business. I was transporting back and forth, but I stopped at noon and I just walked in. Here they
are. Tables for 4 people, white table clothes, chairs, Korean women waiting on them and they would say, “What
do you want.” It was either six or seven times I managed to get in there. Someone said, “You aren’t Air Force
are you?” (motioned to leave) I could never get back in again. These were the things that were a lot of fun in
David Fellows: You needed some wings?
Robert Olsen: You have to remember, when I was recalled I was 27-years-old and had two small children.
That really wasn’t anything to look forward to. Premonition sometimes plays an important role in this type of
situation. I was a radar bombardier. All our bombing was done by me in the back of the plane. We had a
bombardier, as such, in the nose. His primary function was to open the bomb bay door and choose the bombs.
When we were flying a mission, we turned on the IFF which is “Identification Friend or Foe.” We could pick up
Chinese. We could pick up Russians. They were flying these MIGs. That didn’t make us feel too secure,
especially with the Russians doing it. By and large, there were some interesting times. There were some sad
times. Getting back to the premonition part, a radar bombardier from another crew, a Captain Robinson. I
remember it well, because he was a very good friend of mine. I was supposed to fly with that crew, the reason
being that his bombardier radar man was sick. He was sick because he knew that he was going to die. That
festered with him for so long that he couldn’t fly missions, so they selected other people, like myself, to fly their
mission with them. The day that I was scheduled to fly that mission, we aborted on takeoff. The next day, or
the next mission, when they flew it, their regular radar bombardier man, that had the premonition, he was on
that plane. They blew up on takeoff and killed them all. Sometimes that does happen, you know, it has a part
of your situation there. You never know what you are going to get.
Richard Golz: There’s a lot of things and people. One of the guys that I was in basic training with, I run into
him, over in Korea. He came and went right on the line. This old saying is, “If you live three or four hours on
the line, you might make it.” He said, “I went right on the line, I was there about an hour and a half.” He showed
me. He got hit with shrapnel and it drove this back (points to his finger), somehow or other, a stiff finger. He
said, “See, that. I was on the line for an hour and half or something like that. I got hit with shrapnel and they
made me rear echelon duty. It was the best wound I ever had in my life.” There’s the good things, the fun, the
whatever, and the bad ones. It’s all part of it. You see somebody like that that hit the line for an hour and half,
a minor thing like that and he got off. He just went to the rear echelon. They didn’t send him home. That’s the
way the army runs.
Robert Olsen: Lefty was telling about the holidays that he was over there. We flew every holiday. Ironically, it
worked out that way. They would try to have a good meal for all the crews that were there. We never got
them. We got in-flight box lunches. It was Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, for better or worse.
Anyhow, after we left there, getting back to our second replacement crew. When we flew, I had a radar screen
in the back, in the waist of the plane, where I was located. We were headed for Guam. You know when the
radar beam goes out and it hits the water, it bounces away from the plane and there is nothing to return it back
to the plane on the scope. So the scope is actually black. As our estimated time of arrival at Guan was running
out, our fuel was running out, at the same time. I had my scope out to a 300-mile range. Out of my peripheral
vision on the far edge of the scope, I thought I saw a little white blip. So, I called the pilot and I said, “I don’t
know, but I think we better turn into this and see what it is. Otherwise we’ll be floating in the Indian Ocean or
something.” Anyhow, he turned into it, a 90 degree turn. It just came and blossomed up, that it was Guam.
We made it there and we made it back to Hawaii. As we were coming back into the states, we were flying our
own bomber back. We were off of San Francisco and they had to make various moves with the aircraft,
direction changes and so forth, hold it for a length of time and then another one. Apparently our co-pilot got
something messed up on it because it wasn’t long and we looked out the window and we had two fighter jets
right on each side of the plane, just as we were going into Frisco. So I finally got that straighten out.
David Fellows: Up in Adak, way out at the other end of the Aleutian chain, we would go out there. Let’s see, I
think there were three or four of the 12 aircraft of the squadron would go out there every month and spend time
at Adak, flying out of there, over the Bering Sea. Adak Naval Air Station was circled by mountainous portions of
the island of Adak. So, in inclement weather, which was very common over the Aleutian chain, especially in the
winter when we were deployed there from November of ’57 till May of ’58. You’d get out there. We’d fly out
from Kodiak. Very often it would be socked in completely. We had ground-controlled radar approach that
would help us get in there. But, in order to avoid the mountains, we had to fly a very strict leg-type flight
pattern, as we were descending into this, like a bowl, where the air station was. You couldn’t see what you were
doing. It was all timing legs and making precise turns at the end of that leg. GCA would pick us up, finally, and
then they would help us get down the rest of the way safely. I was with Commander Ruffin and I was copiloting
for him one day. We were headed out for a 10-day period of flying every other day for 18 to 20 hour flights out
over the Bering Sea. It was terrible weather, just absolutely dreadful. We knew we were going to have a
serious crosswind on the radar approach runway, which you just deal with. Normally you fly into the wind, as
best you can, whenever you land or take off. We didn’t have an option there, because the wind was at about a
30 degree angle to the GCA runway, the only runway in and out at Adak. And then we discovered, just before
we landed our plane Captain said, he was a Chief Petty Officer, said: “We have lost our prop reversal on the
starboard engine,” which was the most critical engine that we would need to keep from weather cocking once
our air speed came below a certain point on our landing. We would end up landing sideways and wiping out.
Well, it is about a 10 hour flight from Kodiak out to Adak at 180 knots and it’s another, obviously, 10 hour flight
back, and of course, this is all on the vagaries of the wind.
John Ehle: Dave, how fast is 180 knots?
David Fellows: A little over 200 miles an hour, if we are not using our jets. If we are using those we can go
close to 300 miles an hour. Well anyway, to make this long story short, we headed back for Kodiak because we
didn’t have this prop reversing at our disposal and the only place we had to go back there was King Salmon,
Alaska, which is an Air Force Base north of the Aleutian chain that starts off from southwestern Alaska. At first
the navigator said, “Sir, we don’t have enough fuel to get there.” So you start sweating. We were wearing
these anti-exposure suits, which we called “poopy suits” for reasons I won’t go into. They were to protect us in
case we had to ditch in the Arctic waters. Protect us to the extent that it gave us five minutes to get out of that
water and into a raft, if we did have to ditch one of those P2V’s. If you didn’t get into a life boat and get out of
the water within that five minute period, you were just freezing to death. You were gone. So, that was clearly in
the minds of the eleven-man crew. Everybody was pretty quiet about it, this ride back to mainland Alaska. We
knew we couldn’t make it to Kodiak. That would have taken all of the fuel we had, plus some. The navigators
kept telling us, “We may not make it to King Salmon, Sir.” I was the copilot. Anyway, about half way back, we
found out that the head winds had backed off and they were quartering around enough so that it looked like we
were maybe going to have enough gas to get back to King Salmon. And we did. We made it to King Salmon in
35 degrees below zero weather, on a very windy, bitter cold night. We got there and you couldn’t see anything,
except the runway, because all of the buildings of that base were buried in snow, with tunnels between the
buildings. We spent New Year’s Eve of 1957 there at King Salmon, trying to get out of there, after getting a
flight crew, or repair crew up from Kodiak to fix our balky prop reversal. We made it. But, we were all
envisioning ditching in that Bering Sea. That was not a pleasant specter.
John Ehle: One of the things that, as I did a little research on the Korean War, one of the things that kept
coming up was the inadequacy of some of the clothing that the troops were given, whether they were in the air
or whether they were in a hole in the ground, or whatever. In fact, I think in a couple of places it said that it was
uniforms, or excuse me, clothing that was appropriate to the tropics, not to a place like Korea, where the
temperatures can get significantly below zero.
Richard Golz: Well, the trouble is with the Army, like with the sleeping bags, you waited until a certain date. It
didn’t make any difference what temperature it was. You waited until this date to get a mountain bag. If it turned
cold, a week or two weeks or a month before, you didn’t get a mountain bag until this date. That’s the way the
Army runs. They go by a date and that’s it. You could wrap up in whatever you wanted to wrap up in until you
got a mountain bag.
John Ehle: How were they constructed, Dick? What were the materials? What were the mountain bags
Richard Golz: A mountain bag? I don’t know. They were fluffy. I don’t know what they were lined with,
whether it was feathers or what. They were thick compared to just the regular sleeping bags. We wanted
them, but until the date came along, you couldn’t get one. The government said that’s the date that you get
them. You can’t do a thing about it until that date comes. If you can find one, use it, but they are not going to
issue one until then. But, one thing about Korea: I was a coffee drinker. I have been all my life. When I got
into my company, the first thing I did, and I’m proud of it. I stole five gallons of coffee grounds and put them
under my bunk. So I could have coffee whenever I wanted it, anyway. That’s the first thing that I did was steal
Harlan Boley I didn’t have to worry about that because I wasn’t a coffee drinker.
Richard Golz: I was a coffee drinker. We had a little stove and we’d get together a can, a gallon can, dump
some grounds in it and let it perk and boil. That’s your priorities, is to do something like that.
Richard Luers: Mine was just trying to stay warm, Richard. I didn’t have a sleeping bag.
Richard Golz: They were good bags.
Harlan Boley: I had a good one, too.
Richard Luers: Just trying to stay warm. That and we always had carte blanche, we could pull into any unit,
any compound and eat. When you are driving a truck, you just stop at chow time and eat. Remember sea
rations, Rod, the little cans? We’d lay those up on the engines and you’d always have a hot meal. I don’t
remember the summers. I just remember the winters.
Richard Golz: The summers were hot. Everybody talking about where you was and what you were doing, one
summer we had a USO outfit connected to us. One of my best friends, Claude Linson, he knew Dale Potter and
he had married Anita Carter. Linson and Potter were friends. So they were with us five or six weeks or they
were attached to us, down the road a half mile or whatever. Anyway, through this we had a ball for a while,
because every night when they got back from performing, two or three would come to our place, or we’d go to
their place and drink a bunch of beers and sing. I imagine it was good. We really had a ball. Something like
that just makes everything worthwhile. It was a lot of fun. Not only that, they’d go perform. Most units, if they
had beer or whiskey left over they would give it to them for performing. So, we had a little toddy once in awhile
and did our singing, or whatever you call it, “howling”. It was sure a lot of fun to do. There were good times.
For me it was more good times than bad. At least I think there was.
Robert Olsen: The way I look at it, coming back from the Korean Conflict over there. We came back home to
the states and we went back to whatever our business was. We just went back to work. There was no fanfare.
There wasn’t anything that was asked. We just came back and did our thing.
Ruth Ann Montgomery: Well, you know, it was so different than World War II where they came back in
groups. When I read through the papers, with you guys coming back, it was one at a time. You would suddenly
appear in town and there would be a notice in the paper that you were back and you were going to work.
Richard Luers: They had a unit number, like I was in the 540 Truck Company. It stayed that way forever.
They’d put in replacements and then you’d ship home but the numbers never changed.
Robert Olsen: I was just going to say, that after we had been recalled, we flew out of Topeka, Kansas, we flew
into Columbus Ohio to pick up a B29 out of cocoon. We flew it back. If anyone was around Evansville at the
time, they will remember when we made four passes over Evansville at about the 150 foot level. The radius of
turn on that B29 was 3 miles. We made some turns and my father, God rest his soul, was over at the Baker
Manufacturing Company. He was sitting up there. This I found out later. He stood there and he said to the
fellow he was working with, “Gee, look we can see those guys sitting right in the plane.” We lived up on
Longfield Street. At the time we were sleeping in a basement home. It had a little smoke stack up. We were so
low, that when we went across that area, the big elm trees out in front were swaying back and forth. It sucked
the stove pipe right off our outside chimney. Then there was a farmer by the name of Grundahl. Out here,
Clarence Grundahl was raising some chickens. My two waist gunners, as we were flying by, said all he could
see was chicken and feathers flying all over the place. We went back and landed at Topeka, Kansas. It was
David Fellows: We had an interesting couple of flights out of Kodiak, when we were stationed there 20 days
of each month and 10 days out at Adak. During that 20 days, the rest of us, of the seven or eight squadrons or
aircraft that were still there at Kodiak, would do what we called the slot hop into the Bering Straits and into the
Arctic Circle. The other one was, as I mentioned, monitoring the shipping lanes of the North Pacific. We did
what we called a rigging run, by all of these ships, where we would descend to a height of 200 feet off the
water. We’d make two passes down along side each vessel that we found on the surface of the water, whether
they were submarines or whether they were commercial shipping. Of course this was before the days of
container shipping but there was still a lot of cargo ships in that North Pacific shipping lane. As I called it, a
rigging run would consist of approaching one side of the ship, let’s say the port side first. We had a
cameraman in the Plexiglass nose of the plane and one in the waist of the plane, as well, and another one on
the other side of the waist. There had to be two stationed back there. We had to take photographs and then
every crew man was supposed to look at a specific item of interest, or area of interest, on the decks of these
ships. We always had to be on the guard that perhaps there was some elicit thing being shipped, somewhere,
either east or west on this shipping lane. So, it was quite interesting. It would draw the interest of the crew of
course of the ship that we were flying past. We’d make this close in pass down one side and then we’d make a
180 degree turn and come back up the other side, all the while photographing it. Sometimes we would get
menacing gestures and sometimes we would get friendly waves. You just never quite knew what was going to
come as a result of those passes. All of these things had to be turned in and sent to Naval Intelligence, who
would then analyze all of this gathered material and pronounce that particular ship. We also had to be sure
that we identified the flag of the ship and the name of it, if it was painted on the bow or the stern of that ship.
So, it was a very exacting process, but it was kind of an interesting and exciting time, every time our radar would
pick up a surface contact. Bob was talking about finding Guam that way. We’d go down and take a look at it
and run this rigging run. Sometimes it was very busy; on a particular flight, that were always 15 to 20 hours
flights, we would maybe rig as many as 6 or 8 ships. It kept you busy and it was an interesting duty. Not being
war time, you didn’t have to worry too much about somebody taking a pot shot at you. But when we found that
Soviet sub, that one day, that created a lot of stir. That turned out to be a mechanical failure and we ended up
helping that sub get a message out to somebody that would come to their aid and get them moving again. So
we did them a favor.
The following is a list of men and women (added to the list published in the last two issues of the
Evansville Review) who served during the Korean Conflict. Actual hostilities occurred from June
27, 1950 to July 27, 1953. However, the war period was extended to January 31, 1955 by Congress to
define a period of benefit eligibility in the wake of uneasy peace negotiations after July 27, 1953.
Please notify Ruth Ann Montgomery, RMontgomery@litewire.net or 882-6367, if there are others that
should be added.
Gerald “Jerry” Andrew
Robert S. Apfel
James C. Babcock
Jack Monroe Christian
Jack “Zeke” Deininger
Robert A. Dixon
Theodore J. Estes
David S. Fellows
Robert M. Fisher
Donald Leroy Gallman
Kenneth A. Giles
Gordon D. Guse
William Leigh "Bill" Harvey
Elwood "Bud" Heacox
William A. Heffel, Jr.
Robert W. Heritage
Floyd Dean Izer
Dean R. Johnson
Konrad K. Konsitzke, Jr.
William H. Lampa
Rodney J. Leeder
Bradford K. Libby
Alvin L. Miller
Edward J. Miller
Doral Dean Mitness
Bergen A. Nelson
Lonay M. Nelson
Corvan E. Neuenschwander
Leon Patterson, Jr.
Phil “Tony” Pearsall, Jr.
Walden R. Peterson
Bernard Ervin Schade
John W. Schneider
James L. Scott
Francis J. Sullivan
Harold W. Thompson
John Lester Tierney
Richard Van Alstine
John Walker, Jr.
Donovan S. Wall
John B. Wall
Ronald “Bee” Wall
David Ellsworth Weaver
William Giles Whitmore
Convoy of trucks in Korea. Photo submitted by Richard Luers
Richard Luers and truck in Korea
Photo submitted by Richard Luers