Topic: "Terrible Tom" Part 2
Replies: 6   Last Post: Feb 20, 2018 1:55 PM by: Joe21®
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"Terrible Tom" Part 2

Posted: Feb 19, 2018 4:04 PM

Christmas was approaching and the men were wondering what had happened to Terrible Tom. This was not the man they had come to know. Some of the guys remarked he even had a small smile on his face. However, one of the best comments was he was trying to be nice in hopes Santa Claus would bring him some goodies. I was enjoying the reaction of the men. I had not told them of my visit to Terrible Tom and had no plans to do so.

Christmas came nd we had one of the best meals we had had in a long, long time. A day without "C" rations was a banner day. But all the news was not good. The Chinese Army had crossed the South Korea border and headed toward Seoul. We all began to wonder about our next move. We had already lost some men and a lot of our equipment. New Years Eve came and those of us in one tent celebrated with that five gallon jug of applejack we had made in Pyongyang and some dried squid. The applejack is another story.

New Years Day started off with a bang, and it was not firecrackers. The three of us WW2 vets were told to pack our gear, we were leaving immediately to join a combat engineering company at the 38th Parallel. The only reason we could think of for our being singled our was our having engineering degrees. We had no idea how long we would be gone or what role we would play in the company. We packed our gear, threw it on an awaiting truck and was telling our company mates goodbye. Terrible Tom came over to me, wished me luck and then he said, "I don't know where you will be in the future, but if you are still in Korea, I promise I will find you and bring you a beer". The words sounded real good, particularly coming from him, but I brushed it off as just a lot of BS.

I don't remember a thing about our trip North except we went through Wonju and it took us two days to get to our destination. One thing I definitely remember was the temperature. It was not just cold, it was bitterly cold, about 0 F. when we arrived and eventually down to 35 F. below zero. (That's another story) We were back in the mountains and we surmised we would be in for some mountain climbing. Maybe on a day when it's about 98 F. in Clemson, I'll post a story about those sub-zero days of yore.

Soon after our arrival we learned that Team "D", Terrible Tom's team, had returned North but did not know their location. After about a month, we learned Team "A" had joined the remainder of the company in Pusan and had then gone to Camp Nara, Japan.

I did not maintain a diary, thus some dates I can't remember so have to use a best estimate. When I use a specific date, these dates were given to me by one of my company mates with whom I have made contact in the last five years. The three us were with the combat engineering company for about 2 months or slightly more. After completing our assignment we returned to Pusan and joined another Signal company temporarily until we caught the shuttle ship to Japan and eventually joined the other company elements at Camp Nara. Soon after our arrival at Camp Nara, we had a six inch snow, a late snow for that area, so that would place our arrival sometime after mid-March.

We arrived back in Pusan on April 22,1951. After checking out our new equipment and a new repair truck, about 6 - 8 of us left Pusan and went to Taegu, a city north of Pusan. Our quarters were in another huge warehouse but we spent most of the time in our repair truck. Before leaving Pusan, we got a 10 pound container of coffee, canned milk, sugar and a few other food items. We also had a coffee pot, hot plate and a few other items. There was a farm nearby and we were able to buy or barter for a few eggs.

One day a jeep drove up to our repair truck and I heard someone ask, "Is Sgt. Joe21 here"? I recognized the voice and knew it was Terrible Tom. In each hand he held a beer. That was the first time I had seen a big smile on his face. He greeted all of the other fellows warmly. We had a nice visit with everyone in the repair truck. After Terrible Tom had left, the guys were making all sorts of comments about the change in his demeanor. They were amazed at what had happened to Terrible Tom. Someone finally asked me, why did you get a beer and we didn't? The only thing I could think of was because He asked my help in moving the tents in Pusan.

About two or three weeks later, we moved further north to Taejon and were joined by about 12 - 15 more men. One day a Jeep drove up with a man looking for Sgt. Joe21. It wasn't Master Sgt. Terrible Tom, it was now Warrant Office Terrible Tom and in each hand was a beer. After another friendly visit he got in the Jeep, drove off into the sunset and that was the last time I saw Terrible Tom, a changed man.

A few days later, we packed our gear and were off to the 38th Parallel again. This was to be my last trip to the 38th. One night in late September, 1951, about 2100, the Lt. came to my tent and said words I will never forget. "Sgt. Joe21, pack your gear. You are leaving for home in the morning". All of my tent mates joined me in a loud war hoop that probably made the Chinese across the border think the Indians were on the war path.

And Terrible Tom kept his promise !!!!!

One of my company mates with whom I've made contact during the past five years has been to see me a couple of times. He was a Tech Sgt. on Team "D" with Terrible Tom. When we were in Pyongyang he was one of the men who told me of Terrible Tom's reputation. When we were discussing his drastic change in attitude and demeanor, I told him about my conversation with Terrible Tom in Pusan. He then told me that he and several others were talking one day and had said to them. "I will bet that Sgt. Joe21 had a "friendly chat" with Terrible Tom".


This is just great stuff. Please keep the stories coming!***

Posted: Feb 19, 2018 4:10 PM



Thanks Joe! I've been looking for part 2.***

Posted: Feb 19, 2018 4:21 PM

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Re: Thanks Joe! I've been looking for part 2.***

Posted: Feb 19, 2018 4:43 PM

Thanks Joe, My dad was in Korea in 51 and he died in 1990. Love to read anything about what happened over there because he hardly spoke of his experiences. But I do know that he came home just before his mother died and many of his platoon were killed while he was home.
Thanks again for sharing!

Re: Thanks Joe! I've been looking for part 2.***

Posted: Feb 19, 2018 5:38 PM

Great story. Did you ever run into TT after the war ?

2018 purple level member

Re: Thanks Joe! I've been looking for part 2.***

Posted: Feb 20, 2018 1:55 PM

No. His visit at Taejon was the last time I saw him. The Tech. Sgt with whom I have made contact during the last several years and has been to see me on a couple of occasions, was on Team "D" with Terrible Tom. When Terrible Tom was promoted to Warrant Officer, he was reassigned to another unit and that was the last time he saw Terrible Tom. I never knew Terrible Tom's age but believe he was about three to five years older than I. That would put him at least 100 years of age, if still living, but I assume he has passed on.


Great story and thank you for sharing!!***

Posted: Feb 19, 2018 11:00 PM

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"The one who thinks we can and the one who thinks we can't are both right! Which one are you, son? Which one are you, son?"

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