Back to Korea Again – The Chronicles of Harold

The Chronicles of Harold

By Harold, Editor At Large

Back to Korea Again

I left Catherine and Linda with their other sister, Barbara and her husband, and journeyed to California where I flew out of Travis Air Force Base across the Pacific, with several refueling stops at Hawaii, Midway, Okinawa and terminating in Japan.  We flew from Japan to Kimpo air base in Korea and took a bus to the Ascom City replacement depot. 

There we were separated, and since I was on orders to KMAG, a truck came from Victor compound to transport me to KMAG replacement barracks.  The next day, during in processing, one of the officers stated that he had expected more excitement from me having been shipped to Korea for my first time.

I replied, “This is not my first time. I spent sixteen months previously assigned to the Twnety-Fourth Infantry division and later the First Calvary division just two years ago on a prior enlistment.”

He said, “I wasn’t aware that you had prior service. Then I guess you aren’t excited at all.”

I said, “No. And I’m unhappy because I had orders for Europe that were cancelled. Someone decided KMAG needed my services.”

He said, “There seems to be some confusion, since you’re recorded as both a clerk and a helicopter mechanic. Neither of which we need at the moment in KMAG.” 

He asked, “Where would like to be assigned?”

I said, “Europe.”

He said, “No chance in that. Where in Korea would you like to go?”

I said, “Last time I was about as far north as possible, this tie I want to go in the other direction.” He checked my prior records and found my signal experience, so accordingly I was assigned to Detachment F KMAG for assignment with the advisory group at the ROKA Signal Base Depot.

 

Arrival at Hialeah

Arriving at the Hialeah compound, I checked in and was assigned quarters and had a briefing the next day.  One of the KATUSA soldiers came from the depot and took me out there where I was introduced to the US and Korean element of the depot headquarters. 

The Colonel commanding did not know what to do with me, so after I was assigned a desk in the main room of the headquarters, I was told to take a week with an assigned Korean army sergeant, who was designated as my assistant and counterpart, and tour the depot and see if there was anywhere I could find that needed my services. 

It became apparent since this was a Table of Distribution (TD) unit there were no positions available that a person could be assigned in hopes of a promotion. My promotion had been withheld before leaving Ft Knox because they wanted to keep it within the unit which was a common practice, since once reassigned your promotion generally came through.  Not so in my case, since first of all I was not assigned to a TD slot and there were none available for me to be assigned. 

Since there were already three clerks assigned, I reasoned that there should be a chief clerk, like in most units, and the  Colonel commanding the KMAG contingent at the depot gave me permission to write up authorization for a chief clerk position.  Surprisingly, KMAG headquarters agreed and issued a TD slot for a chief clerk in the rank of E6.  I was hoping for an E5, so I could get promoted. 

I advised the Colonel that he needed to message KMAG headquarters that I was to be assigned the new position, but it was his opinion that they already knew this, and they would automatically assign me in that new position.  Someone evidently never told KMAG personnel, because two weeks later they sent down an E6 chief clerk thereby killing the reasons for creating the slot. 

The Colonel showed deep remorse and so to did our other recently promoted Colonel and Major who had experienced the same thing happening to them.  I was at a loss and just drifted around doing what I could, wherever I was needed, at the Depot until I was sent TDY to a super secret assignment for ninety days, that I am still bound not to reveal by the National Secrets Act. 

After return to Pusan, I only had a short time left on my tour, so with the Colonel’s blessing, I initiated paperwork to reinstate my previous Helicopter mos.  Since I was in effect, unassigned and KMAG did have a couple of helicopters assigned, the nearest one about one hundred fifty miles away at Tageu, this turned out successful.

 

The End of the Tour

Since I had less than ninety days on my tour, they did not reassign me, but I remained with the Signal contingent at Pusan until my rotation date came around.  I was sent to KMAG replacement company at Seoul and held there until I was offered the choice of awaiting my normal shipment date which was some six weeks in the future or I could leave on a ship that did not go straight back home, but was scheduled to make a series of stops at outlying islands in the Pacific and would take twenty one days home instead of the normal eleven to fourteen days. 

Back  to the States

I took this opportunity since I would not be stuck at the replacement company for an extra six weeks.  I left the next day and boarded the ship which did indeed make a lot of stops at a number of islands in the Pacific, including Hawaii, and finally arrived at Oakland Army Terminal where I found I had not been assigned to a unit. 

They did not give me the choice of going home and awaiting orders, but I had to remain at the terminal for several days until they found a unit that needed me. They then cut orders assigning me to the 937th Engineer Group at Ft Campbell, Kentucky, and issued travel orders with a thirty day delay for leave enroute. 

It was in the middle of the winter, ours was not a scheduled trip but rather a chartered bus that broke down in the middle of the winter in the middle of Kansas in below zero weather.  We had to wait for hours for a tow to the nearest town and then the firehouse was the only heated building big enough to house us while the bus was being worked on.  They got it running again, but the heaters did not work properly and only the front half of the bus received heat and the rear half was very cold. From somewhere they procured some of the GI mummy type sleeping bags, so we rotated between sitting in the heated seats and sleeping in the bags until we reached Chicago. 

I only had a twenty minute delay and I was headed south to home and arrived after about a six hour trip culminating with my sister’s husband picking me up in the city just south of them to avoid a ten hour delay awaiting a north bound bus.  They had brought my wife and son to their house for our joyful reunion, after being gone for over a year and it took my son some time to realize just who I was.  

The following day, my wife’s sister’s husband and she came and picked us up and took us to my parents’ home where I intended to pick up our car, which was stored there, and return to their house and then the apartment where my wife and child had been living.  Upon arrival at my parents home I soon found the usual.

To be continued…

 

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