On this Veteran’s Day my guest writer is my father-in-law, Robert Holst. This is his story of his service during the Korean War.
I joined the National Guard for three years. I was in it awhile before I graduated in 1949. We used to have fun at summer camps. We’d go down there for two weeks and drive a big truck. I drove a big six-wheel drive truck into Salt Lake once. One day I went with a friend to Ogden to join the Army. A newspaper boy came by and said that the 204th had been called into active duty. We went back to Brigham and reported to the armory where doctors came and gave us a physical. Every day we reported to the Armory to train and get our equipment ready to be sent to Fort Lewis. Each day we marched down to the Hower Hotel to eat.
When it was time to go we got on a train that took us to Fort Lewis. I was there about one month while we trained and I got my GI driver’s license. Then they sent me on a train to mechanics school in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. There I passed a test so they put me in a Master Sergeant class where I was the only Private First Class they had ever had. When I was done I went home for a visit and my Mom, Dad and Janet took me to Fort Lewis. There we got our equipment ready to be sent overseas.
Pusan and Inchon
At night we boarded the A. E. Andersen and by the next morning we were in rough seas and were all sick. When we got to Pusan we trained and waited for our equipment and then trained for another month. They loaded us and all our equipment on a ship and took us to Inchon. There we drove our equipment across a pontoon bridge into Seoul. From there we crossed the 38th parallel. I was put on guard duty on an outpost above a Korean cemetery. There was a place that was dug out and it was pitch, pitch black, no moon out. They put three of us up there and we didn’t know what to expect. All three of us sat there and stared all night wondering what the crud was going to happen, scared to death. That was the first night I was up on the front.
Almost Left Behind
Once we almost got left behind. We were being fired on and they called everyone in but us. The First Sergeant came and got us and we caught the last truck out. There were shells dropping right next to us. We got pushed back aways. Next we had an outpost in front of the guns and any time they’d fire it was loud. That’s why I can’t hear. I only had one blanket and I about froze to death all night. You couldn’t go back and get blankets or you might get shot. They had guards on the guns and if you went back they might shoot you. I just had to suffer it out. The next night they made everybody sleep out on the perimeter. There was supposed to be Chinese coming down at us. They went by us.
Pushed Back to Seoul
We were pushed back to Seoul. We fired the big guns out of the city of Seoul. Then we crossed the Haun River for some R and R (Rest and Relaxation). I was a mechanic. I drove the kitchen truck. I tipped the trailer over once. It was really muddy and we had a ditch to go though. Instead of going straight through I went on an angle and when the trailer got there it tipped over. We just got a bunch of guys to tip it back up. The next day they put dual tires on it. The next place we were put in an outpost in front of the guns and every time they would fire it felt like the bunks were being lifted off the ground. Then we moved to a dry rice paddy and it rained and we ended up in the water. Another time we put our tent by some water and that night the water rose and came through our tent. The guns crew didn’t have to go. They had to pull guard duty on the guns. So we had to do all the guard duty on the exterior posts. I pulled guard duty 5 or 6 times a week. We were on for a few hours and then off for a few.
We were in a position once and were being pushed back and this infantry guy came along and said they needed help. We went up to the main line of resistance. They were firing guns over our heads. There was an outfit stuck in the middle of the Haun River. We went across the Haun to the other side and accidentally turned the lights on. Someone hollered, “Turn them lights off!”. We had to tow him and pull him out of that river. We got looking and we didn’t have any ammunition for our guns. We towed that thing clear across. We had to drain the oil and put new oil in it, in the dark. We towed him across the river and we towed him half way back until it finally started.
We had a machine gun. There were three of us. One time they fired at an airplane. It was our own airplane. We were taking a jeep down to maintenance to have something major done. We were going along the road and all the sudden everyone was jumping out of the trucks and diving into the ditches. We couldn’t figure it out and then all the sudden over the hill came this jet and it had a gun firing. We hurried and got out and into the ditches. And they did it one other place right in front of us. The plane came over the hill and shot at us with a machine gun. It was our own jet. They did that a couple of times. I carried a Carben 30 caliber RB gun. I never fired it though. I was in Korea for about a year. When we came home I was stationed down at Colorado Springs.