3. We Recruit ROK Soldiers in North Korea - 1950
In October 1950, we were operating a radio relay station from the south into the north for the First Marine Division. We were on a low hill on the coast of North Korea many miles from any other United Nations forces. The small town had been extremely friendly and helpful for our operations. They had helped us build a road to the top of the hill and constructed several houses for our radio station and our comfort. The road, about a mile long and the three houses cost us 9,000 Korean dollars. At 6,000 to the dollar that amounted to $1.50 US.
Over the radio one day came an order for us to participate in a effort to recruit North Korean men into the South Korean Army. Each unit was to send each of their trucks out to designated towns and villages to pick up men who desired to join the ROK Army. I was sent in my 3/4-ton truck to a village some miles away and I was to deliver them to a common pickup point where they would be inducted into the ROK Army.
|View from Our Radio Station in North Korea -- 1950|
When I arrived at the police station of the village I was assigned to, there a big crowd waited for me. I tried to screen the recruits but the crowd just clamored on to my truck. My truck was the size of a large pickup truck but that day I carried 45 men to the recruiting station. The springs of the truck were bowed backwards and the axle was riding on the frame. These men were so anxious to leave North Korea they were willing to leave everything for a chance to go. Some of the men were just hanging onto the side of the truck and some were riding on the bumpers. I had to ask some to get off the hood so I could see to drive.
At the recruiting station they accepted all but two of my cargo. One man had only one leg and one man was blind. I took these men back to their village and then returned home to my radio station. I heard later that 250,000 men had been recruited into the South Korean Army.