Topic: First Class Travel to Pyongyang
Replies: 1   Last Post: Apr 15, 2018 9:44 PM by: jaybird4
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First Class Travel to Pyongyang

Posted: Apr 15, 2018 8:20 PM

This will be a two-part story.

It was late October in 1950 when I had just arrived in Korea, the "Land of the Morning Calm". But is wasn't so calm. There was a war going on and I had been recalled to active duty, not something that was on my wish list. Winter came early and the temperature had already dropped well below freezing. Just a few days earlier we had been enjoying balmy weather in the Tokyo, Japan area.

Yongdongpo`, just a short distance from Seoul, was a replacement depot. The camp had been a regular base for the South Korean Army but when the North Korean Army came south and then had to retreat, they left the base in terrible condition.

Recently arrived unattached troops and those returning from hospitals or emergency leave were there for one overnight stay before being sent on to their newly assigned or former unit. It was here I discovered four other men and I were going to the 205th Signal Repair Company. Two, like me, were reservists, one was returning from a hospital and the other was returning from emergency leave.

Each morning about 10 - 15 trucks left the camp in convoy, destination Pyongyang, North Korea. The situation for the five of us was somewhat different. WE were not invited to join the convoy, we were to board another truck and join part of our company stationed in Seoul. We crossed the Han River on a pontoon bridge and made our way through war ravaged Seoul to a warehouse, supposedly the location we were seeking. No body was there to greet us and we were told our unit was in Pyongyang. So, it was back across the Han River and to Yongdongpo`.

The next morning, the same routine, the five of us were to board a truck which would take us to Seoul. We told the powers that be the unit we were to join was in Pyongyang but our pleas fell on deaf ears. It was back across the Han River over the pontoon bridge. Yes, there was ice in the river so I need not remind you of the temperature. It was back to the warehouse to hear the exact same words repeated, "your unit is in Pyongyang". Viewing the war damage in Seoul, crossing the Han River on that pontoon bridge and returning to Yongdongpo` was becoming a daily ritual. The five of us probably broke the record for the most days spent at Yongdongpo`.

The next morning the trucks were lined up to take troops to Pyongyang. Every name was called except for the five of us. Off went the convoy and thank goodness, the five of us were not even called out for a trip to Seoul. About two hours later a Sgt. came to our tent and told us to pack our gear and dress for cold weather, we were going to Pyongyang to join the 205th.

We put on all the winter wear we had, packed all of our gear and threw it on the truck that awaited us. There was a truck driver, a mounted 30. cal. machine gun and a heavly armed gunner. We were told we could probably catch up with the convoy at one of the check points along the way.

Off we went, back across the Han River into war torn Seoul and onto the super highway to Pyongyang. The super highway was a sea of rubble. Tanks, heavy eqipment, bombs and everything imagineable had reducred the road to chumks of asphalt. Our speed was limited to about 20 - 25 MPH. The water in our canteens had already frozen before we had left the Seoul suburbs. We had to continually wipe our running noses to keep it from freezing on our face. It wasn't very far from Seoul to the North Korean border.Just after we crosed the border into North Korea, the fun began and I'll post that in the next episode.


Re: First Class Travel to Pyongyang

Posted: Apr 15, 2018 9:44 PM

Mr Joe, I was born in July 1950. My dad fought in the Bulge, also a very frigid event. My still living father-in-law(a Gamecock lawyer) spent a very cool year on the front line in Korea as well. Like you, he remembers every detail of his tenure to this day. Please continue kind sir......

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