PERSONAL EXPERIENCES

From the 607th Personnel


From Joe Mulligan


Gundeck/Hillbilly site of the 607th AC&W Bomb Scoring compound above the Imjin River Bridge and the 38th Parallel. - I can't think of many very interesting "events" happening during my AF tour above the 38th Parallel because every day was an event. However I can describe below---

                     "Things I remember vividly but can now do without":


In 1952, decorating the tent "Christmas Tree" we had chopped down on the mountainside with ration and beer cans shaped into stars and balls. It was nailed to the wooden tent floor. - The stink around the Kangnung base on first arriving there in my first few days in Korea. I don't envy those stationed there permanently ( except that the night soil stink was something we all got used to, everywhere). - Someone fouling up my orders so that, after a harrowing flight from Seoul to Kangnung on a bullet riddled Turkish transport plane, I only stayed at Kangnung for three days, and then got new orders to return to 502nd squadron headquarters in Seoul from whence I had just come! But for my return, there was no aircraft to take me and on Good Friday, 1952, I packed myself into a sleeping bag for a 200 mile ride alone in the wide open, dusty back of a 6x Army truck. My cold journey through the high and desolate mountains of central Korea above the morning clouds was memorable(!). Then for my first night on the 1st floor of the 502 HQ building in Seoul I slept on a cot and awoke around 2 AM with beer dripping on me through a crack in the floor above. -Shower points- temporary facility where we would take our dirty fatigues, take a welcome shower, and get used but clean or new fatigues, socks back in return. -Being awakened in early morning to the sound of newly installed 105 mm Army artillery blasting the morning calm, 50 yards from my bunk. -Getting haircuts from a Korean "barber" in a ROK compound up the road. (We think he was really a ROK dentist)! -Listening in on AF pilots from Kimpo etc., on our forward base radios calling their wives in Japan to "get the martinis ready I'll be home in an hour". -Standing guard duty alone in our MSQ-1 Computer van during heavy night warfare, enemy infiltration, and severe weather. As the guard, one task was to periodically check the outside generators, about 25 feet away . The noise and weather around the generators was so bad you only felt safe when you were cradling the Thompson submachine gun that was standard equipment in the Computer van, although I don't think I could have hit anything more that 5 feet away! - On another occasion as the lone duty guard, hearing our generator mechanic screaming at 5 am, laying in the dirt trying to put out the diesel fuel fire on his clothes with handfuls of sand. He had caught fire trying to prime an engine. After overcoming momentary shock, I blanketed him and he suffered only minor burns. -Periodically digging latrines. The digging wasn't nearly as bad as filling in the old ones! -Good memories: - Just the other (south) side of the 38th about 2 miles south from us was THE Army M.A.S.H. Hospital of movie and television fame, the 8055th. On a regular basis, about 15 of us not on duty would truck to their compound tents to sit on wooden benches to watch movies they showed for wounded soldiers and staff (and stare at the nurses). As in the M.A.S.H. movie and television films, helicopters would regularly fly directly over our little compound bringing wounded soldiers from the front on stretchers extending out from the aircraft fuselage, sometimes with a bleeding hand outstretched. -On infrequent jeep or weapons carrier trips to squadron in Seoul, stopping at the British N.A.A.F.I. PX., you know with the Queen's portrait behind the bar? Not really a bar, because all you could get was tea and maybe a scone. But it was fun to snack with a little "class" for a change. -Being passed by for promotion because the C.O. didn't know who you were until you cracked up his jeep one day going for the mail. Then he remembered your name and a new stripe followed. There, I spilled my guts, hoping some of you other AF 607 or 502nd vets can do the same.

Joe Mulligan

607 AC&W Det. 4
Radar/Computer Maint.
March 1952 - March 1953

From Don Benson

Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2006 19:37:02 EST
   
Memories.......they are coming back in force now after years of trying to forget.   
I can remember standing onsite at Hillbilly and watching a group of at least 200 old men, old women and small kids streaming south past our station in mid-afternoon....refugees fleeing the combat zone just a mile North of us.  All greys and blacks and carrying what they could.  Frightened and afraid, they would scatter and run in fear when we approached them with water and food.  I remember watching a grenade loft out of the crowd toward us.  Our turn to scatter and run.  Nobody hurt and our OIC ordered us not to try to help or interfere any more.   
I remember crawling into my sleeping bag around 0300 and jarring awake, still in the dark, as machine gun and rifle fire stitched our tent.  Fortunately, all at chest height so no one was hurt.  We never found the infiltrators. 
I remember watching a swarm of black spots come over the ridge and listening to the screams and whistles and bugles of the Chinese.  Hundreds and hundreds of Chinese that split and went around our radar and then were driven back by the Turkish troops and the US Infantry troops that were bivouacked behind us before they could close on our radar site.  I remember burning my hand on the barrel of my M2A1 carbine.  I can remember my surprise at realizing that the hair really CAN stand up on the back of your neck. 
I remember an old Korean mama-san, shy and afraid, approaching our site to give us a few wild flowers she had picked in the hills.  I can remember being ashamed because I was frightened and alert and suspicious because some 'refugees' would get close, then shoot or throw something bad and run back into the crowd.   Not her, tho.........she wanted to just say 'thanks'.  
I can remember sitting with the Turks and toasting with raki over and over.  I can also remember laughing because my legs were turning numb and I couldn't stand very well.  They carried me back to the truck so I could get back to my radar site.  Bad head the next day. 
I can remember being "asked" to join an Army patrol squad because they found out I could shoot. They loaned me a Winchester Model 70  in 30-06 with a 3X8 Weaver scope on it and asked me to provide long-range cover for the squad as they investigated the far side of the same ridge the Chinese came over before..   It looked like a regular sporting model and their Sgt. said it was zeroed at 400 yds with hot rounds.  Head shots were easy under 400 yds and we used center-of-mass beyond that.  I can remember the pride/fear/excitement/confusion as my CO said I should go if I thought I could help.   
Enough for now.  Lots and lots of memories crowding back.  I was hoping they would.  I didn't want to lose my memories of Korea and Vietnam.  I think we did a hell of a job until we were sold down the river by our own government.
 
Don

607th AC&W
1949 - 1952
      

From:

William E. Harris Maj. USAF (Ret)


When I first arrived at the 607 in March 1952 we lived at the bottom of the hill where the site was located. The operations people lived here while some of the other personnel lived back at the sqdn. compound near the MSR. We were trucked to the site for our shift. The dirt path leading up the hill to the operations shack was murder when it was wet. Slip and slide all the way. We were very busy during the day checking aircraft in and out of North Korea and handling emergencies. At night we handled mostly B-26s which we aided in bomb drops. We would get the co-ordinates from a map, place them on the scope and proceed to direct the aircraft to the point. We also vectored F-94s around looking for Bedcheck Charile or something else that wasn't supposed to be there.
At night when we weren't too busy we would step outside to see what was happening at the front lines. Some nights there would be tracers, search lights, and heavy fighting going on. I always said a little prayer for those troops and the hell that they were going through.
One time when one of the radar maintenance troops was working on the antenna received an electrical shock and we hat to call in a helicopter to rush him to the nearest hospital unit.
Often the wind would get so strong that it would stop the antenna and even back it up a bit. When this happened several of the airmen would go out and push it around by hand.
After a couple of months or so, the CO had us all move back to the squadron compound. This made for a much longer ride to and from the hill. About this time they built the officers club. During our off time we played softball, touch football, and go swimming in the river, which was a ways from here. In July or August I was transferred back to the 502TCG and was there for the rest of my tour returning to the states in March 1953.

William E. Harris
607 AC&W
1/Lt Radar Controller
March 1952 - March 1953

From

Vernon Copeland


After we arrived in Japan in Yokohama Harbor, we were transported by train to Misawa AFB in the northern part of the Island on Hohnsu. The trip took the better part of 2 days. When we arrived at Misawa, we were processed for shipment by air to Korea through the 6406th Personnel Processing Squadron.
Merlin Clear and I found a dog wandering around the barracks at the 6406th. We fed him and he quickly became attached to us. So when it was time for us to ship out, I put Sparkie into the top of my zipper bag, zipped him in and took him onto the airplane for the trip to Korea. He remained very quiet and made the trip in good order. When we arrived in Korea, Merlin took him to stay with him at his duty station. Our plan was for Merlin to keep him for a month, and then I would pick him up and keep him for a month at my duty station. When he was moved to our squadron, he was quickly adopted by the entire squadron and given free rain to come and go as he pleased. He accompanied us to the "Hill" and lived in our tent. He did not like the Koreans except for our house boy, and so he became a very good watch dog




Vernon Copeland
607 AC&W
Radio Section
1952 - 1953

FROM

JOHN M QUINN


Thanks for your work on the Website, Skip.  It is good to see our efforts in Korea remembered because we did help a people keep free from Communist domination and they still appreciate what we did.
 
I joined the 607th AC&W Sqdn at Turner AFB, Albany, GA just in time to board a troop train of Pullman Cars and steam/coal fed steam engine to go across the U.S. to Camp Stoneman, CA.  We hit a semi, outside of Castle AFB, CA one Sunday morning wrecking the train engine and ripping the middle section out of the trailer.  Luckily the driver was not hurt.
 
We left San Francisco, in September 1950, on the troop ship Gen. Howze, running into a mean typhoon in the middle of the Pacific. For two or three days we got knocked around and very few of us thought we come out of it alive because the ship sounded like it was coming apart.  We were so 'sea sick' that we figured we'd die from that alone.
 
After 13 or 14 days we docked in Yokohama overnight then proceeded into Pusan the next day.  From Pusan we convoyed up to Seoul (Kempo) then a short time later moved up to North Korea and Pyongyang, with some detachments going as far as the Yalu river region.
 
I stayed in Pyongyang, pulling AP duty (Guard Posts) until the UN troops came South to escape the Chinese hoards.  After three or four days of Southbound traffic nothing else was coming down the road.  Our Sqdn Commander, I believe it was Major Gray, kept us in place until the Army tanks had passed us then gave the order to get out.
 
I had been on Post since Midnight.  When the sun came up I was told to grab my gear, load it on a 6X6, with a radio van and power unit trailer, and drive that in the convoy.  We drove all day and night through the mountains until I found myself in the middle of Seoul and separated from my unit at dawn.  That was a cold, dangerous and sleepy ride for me, my 'Shotgun Rider' SSgt Stasney and the two passengers we had in the radio van.
 
We joined the 607th again for assignment to Taegu and the mountain Radar site near K-2 for a few months then moved to another mountain by Kangnung and the US Marine airfield there.
My Unit became the 608th AC&W and I was running the diesel-electric generators until my 18 month tour was up in March of 1952.
 
It was a good group of Mountain men I served with, in Korea, as we lived on the Sites with the radar and comm.  I am proud to have had that honor and will always have good memories of my buddies.
 
John M. Quinn
1949 - 1952