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How many things apparently impossible have nevertheless been performed by resolute men who had no alternative but death

-- Napoleon Bonaparte
Freedom Village6424 Reads  Printer-friendly page

Korea It was sometime in March 1950, when my Brother, Spencer Walter (Walt) Welsh announced to the family that he was going to join the Army, As he was only 17 years old and did not have a profession decided for himself and jobs in York, Pennsylvania were few and far between, he said he wanted to better himself.

My Mother giving her permission allowed him to enter the service. Walt went to Fort Dix, New Jersey where he received his combat training with the 69th Infantry Division.

He completed his training in June of 1950 and was home on leave awaiting reassignment orders, when into his lave of about a week received a telegram to report to Fort Devens, Mass. The radio news was back to back with the Invasion of North Korea into South Korea. Walt was taken to the bus station and waved good bye to Mom, our Sister Mary and myself. Little did we know that would be the last time our Mother would ever see him again. Walt was shipped to Korea and joined up with the First Cavalry Division. His letters were infrequent and short, but he spoke of the North Koreans being pushed back into the North and he like all other American's thought the war would soon be over.

It was around the later part of December 1950, when we received a telegram that Walt was among those reported Missing In Action, the news was devastating to all of us. I went to bed each night praying to God that my Brother was OK and that we would soon receive some good news, after wards we started receiving mail slipped into our mail box by Communist sympathizers, who wanted us to write letters and also support the Communist cause with money and other support. We immediately went to the FBI with this material and the letters came to a stop. I was 16 years old at the time and had a bad fall in school and broke my arm. I too decided to quite my education and help my Mother with different types of employment, as time rolled by the Truce talks started in Korea and we suddenly began to receive POW mail from Walt. His tone made the music, but he was very vague in what he wrote, we answered all of his letters and I remember that we even included a Camel cigarette in one of the letters.

I was approaching my 18th Birthday in April 1952, and finally made a decision to also join the Army, our Mother's health was deteriorating and I thought it would be better for her if she had one less at home to contend with, I asked her for permission to join the Army and she signed the necessary permission for me to do so. I went to Indiantown Gap for my 16 weeks of basic training with the 5th Infantry Division. It was understood that as the remaining son (more or less because of the Sullivan Brothers) that I would not be sent to a combat Division in a combat area. I was shipped to Japan where the 24th Infantry Division was under going training, being re-equipped and receiving troops.

In the early part of 1953, the Division was shipped to Korea. I remember being a BAR man that as I climbed the rope ladder from the LST or LSU, that one of the bi-pods on my weapons came loose and was banging against my helmet, I was concerned because we had just before lost one man who missed his footing on the rope ladder, we were in addition to our individual weapons carrying our full combat equipment, including pack and cargo pack with horse shoe roll. Any way at the top we were helped over the railing by navy personnel. We were on the water for a time and eventually landed in Korea, where we moved North and then were stopped and turned around and again loaded on boats where we were sent to Koji-Do Island and relieved the 40th Infantry Division with POW duties.

I remember that one hot day in the Summer of 1950 a Republic of South Korean (ROC) approached me and said that the war was about to be over and I would be reunited with my Brother. I was 19 years old now and felt like a lot older person. It was some time later my First Sergeant approached me and said that I should pack my gear, that I was leaving the island and was being flown to Seoul in a Army Piper Cub. I packed and was flown there in a storm.

When I got to Seoul I was exactly lost, there were United Nations troops all over the place and my orders read Pam Mon Jom. A 21/2 ton truck was leaving the area and the driver asked me if I needed a ride and when I affirmed that I did, he took me to a location that was set up as a sort of barbed wire compound. I seen a full Colonel and I approached him and stated my problem for transportation, he got a jeep and driver to take me to Freedom Village. When we arrived there, I was approached by the American Red Cross who with saddened expressions took me into a room and gave me a letter to read. The letter was written by Walt, who stated that he was OK and that he was sorry he could not wait for me as he wanted to return to the States with other POW's that he was with for so long.

I don't know how they did it but the American red Cross got a tug boat somehow and with the permission from the ships Captain took me out to where the ship was and which my Brother was on. He was sleeping and when I got to where he was, we hugged and then we were allowed out privacy in a curtained room, something like a telephone booth in size. It was there I asked him if he was aware that our Mother had passed away. He said he was that our Mother's twin Sister had written to him. I think I maintained my self control until he produced the cigarette we had sent to him so long ago. He told me that if hostilities should commence again that he would pray for me as I did for him over the hard period of time that we had endured. In the early part of 1954 I returned to the States and was reassigned to the 69th Infantry Division at Fort Dix, where I completed my term of service.

Note: by Jay Welsh


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