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Topic: "Terrible Tom"
Replies: 13   Last Post: Feb 18, 2018 8:38 PM by: tigerzeye
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"Terrible Tom"

[39]
Posted: Feb 17, 2018 2:49 PM
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Three of us Inactive Reserve WW2 vets joined Team "C" of the 205th. Signal Repair Company in Pyongyang, North Korea, about Nov. 1, 1950, Each one of us had an engineering degree. We were housed in a huge warehouse that could easily have been used as a cold storage facility. One small oil burning heater was almost a lost cause in 10 F. weather. There were bout 20 men huddled around that heater. The 205th. was composed of five teams of about 30 men each and each team assigned to a division or other Army unit.

About one week later, Team "D" returned from a forward position and we all moved to a four story unfinished apartment building. Don't envision luxury quarters. There were no windows where windows should be and each room was like a wind tunnel. Terrible Tom was a Master/Sgt assigned to Team "D". He was originally a cowboy from Montana who had volunteered for the Army during the early part of WW2 and spent his entire time during the war in the States.

Our first encounter occurred on the first day we moved into the apartment building. One of our first duties was to locate positions for our machine guns and other security measures. The three of us WW2 vets realized a couple of our machine gun placements presented a greater danger to our own men rather than the enemy. Some of the guys on Team "D" had already informed us of Terrible Tom's reputation. I drew the short straw to confront Him re our recommendations for the machine gun placements. Terrible Tom was not a happy camper and read me the riot act. I didn't back down and told him the three of us had some experience during WW2 about machine gun placement. Actually,the placement dealt more about common sense rather than experience. Terrible Tom didn't like our invading his realm of power but he did finally follow our suggestions, much to the delight of all the other men.

Things between Terrible Tom and I continued to be rather tense during our remaining time in Pyongyang. His berating the men over insignificant matters was a thorn in the side of every man and not one man had anything good to say about him. The Chinese Army was moving rapidly toward our position and on Dec. 1, we received orders to evacuate. We left Pyongyang through the South gate as the Chinese were entering the North gate. About Dec. 8, we arrived at Pusan on the Southeast coast. We had a small compound on the grounds of an old school. There was not much flat space but we did erect two 24-man tents, a small supply tent and had enough space for our vehicles and equipment. During this time Terrible Tom was on a rampage, chewing out and demeaning almost everyone in sight.

The next day I asked Terrible Tom if I could talk to him in private and he said "OK". I told him he could hate my guts but I was going to level with him. In essence, I told him he was supposed to be a leader and leaders command respect. Every man in this company hates you and follow your orders out of fear. You never give credit to the men for a job well done but belittle, in public, anyone who makes a minor mistake or questions your decisions. These men have a lot to offer and your mind is closed to their suggestions. To make a long story short, I said a lot more and not once did he open his mouth. After a few moments of silence, I got up and left.

About three or four days later, Terrible Tom sent word for me tocome to his quarters. All I could think about was my lecture a few days early and I thoiugh this was going to be an unpleasant meeting. Not happy thoughyts, off I went. When I entered I received a warm welcome. Not one word was said about our ptrevious meeting.

Terrible Tom told me two more of our teams would be joining us in a few days and we would need to move the two 24-man tents and erect two more 24-man tents. In addition, we would have to consolidate our vehicle and equipment space. "You are an engineer. I want you to determinre if we can move the two current 24-man tents without dosmntling them". I told him I would check it out and get back with him. Other men were surveying our availkable space and designating places for the tents.

After reviewing the tents and how best to proceed, I presented my plan. Have the men remove all of their personal equipment and the huge tarp. I estimated the wood flooring, partial siding and rafters weighed abour 2,500 - 3,000 pounds. We had about 50 men and should be able to pick up and move the framework with no problem. Not being able to see how the flooring was constructed, I did not know if it would sag when we lifed the outer edges. The men surrounded the framework and, on signal, up it went. The flooring did not sag and the move workerd to perfection. We moved the second tent with no problem and we were in business. The two dditional tents were erected and we wre ready for the arrival of two more teams.

A couple of days later, the two teams arrived and we now had only one team at a forward position. This was the first time I had met the men in Teams "E" and "B".

A few days later I received orders to report to Terrible Tom"s quarters and again,I wondered what was in store. I entered his quarters and without him saying a word, handed me a beer. He thanked me for my part in moving the tents and that he had told our CO my part in moving the tents. Now came the bombshell. He told me no one had ever talked to him like I had and, at first, he was as mad as a wet hen at me, but as I continued to talk he realizrd what I was saying was the truth. He thanked me for doing what someone else should have done long ago. He even told me we were correct re our suggwstions about the machine gun placements in Pyongyang but he was too hard-headed to admit it.

(This is a long story so Part 2 will be posted some time in the future. Will tease you with this. Terrible Tom made a promise and six months later it came true)


Re: "Terrible Tom"

[2]
Posted: Feb 17, 2018 3:02 PM
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I can't get enough of your material, Joe. Your accounts are incredibly detailed and bring me right into the situation with you. Thanks for your service and thanks for giving me a window into your story. Outstanding.

2018 white level member

Re: "Terrible Tom"

[1]
Posted: Feb 17, 2018 3:07 PM
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I forgot to add this one bit to the above story.

About six years ago I began searching for former members of the 205th. I found the names and email addresses for five men still living. To establish a connection, I sent them two stories, one about out making some applejack and the story about moving the tents. A former member, now living in Scotland, sent pictures of our moving the tents. He was the one in charge of determining where the tents, vehicles and equipment were to go. And in one of the photos, there I was, pretending to know what I was doing.

One other former member remembered the applejack story and was one of the apple slicers.

It's a small world.


Re: "Terrible Tom"

[2]
Posted: Feb 17, 2018 3:21 PM
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Joe:

This is great stuff and each time I read it I really believe you came from the "Greatest Generation". Of course you are going to deny it and claim you were "just doing your job" ......... and that is why you truly are the greatest generation.

I've got some really unique WW II material and if you get a chance to send me a private message I'll relate to you some interesting things.


I disagree, Joe. The world is huge. It's just


Posted: Feb 18, 2018 8:38 PM
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that some folks have the heart to reach around it. Thanks for being one of them.

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Re: "Terrible Tom"

[1]
Posted: Feb 17, 2018 3:18 PM
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Thank you, Joe. I really enjoy your posts.

When you met Terrible Tom, what was your rank compared to his. I inferred that you were subordinate, but couldn't tell by how much. It sounds very grown-up that Tom was able to consider your message without just dismissing it out of pride.

I'm sure that took some skill to speak up the way you did


Re: "Terrible Tom"

[2]
Posted: Feb 17, 2018 3:54 PM
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I was a Staff Sgt. When the war in Europe ended our company was on alert to transfer to the Pacific Theater. I was offered a direct commission (2nd. Lt) but had to commit for three years and I was not interested in an Army career. After the war I was in the Inactive Reserve, supposedly the last ones to be recalled in the event of another war, Such was not the case during the Korean War, I was recalled before the active reserve and National Guard. My recall was for 14 months or less. Again, I was offered a direct commission, this time a 1st. Lt, and a three year commitment. And again, I said "NO". Much of the time one serves longer than the stated time for a recall. But much to my surprise. I served only one year and 11 days, all but about 35 days out of the US.


Joe......keep these coming

[2]
Posted: Feb 17, 2018 3:55 PM
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I can't get enough of them. I look forward to everything you post. And I can't wait to see what happens with Terrible Tom

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Can't thank you enough for you stories, and your service

[1]
Posted: Feb 17, 2018 3:56 PM
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You really turn the clock back to a part of my history. My Dad was a Warrant Officer and Flight Engineer on a B24 based in North Africa. He passed in November 2014. He was also a Clemson student (1946-1948) but didn't graduate... probably because I came along. Please keep the stories coming. I can't thank you enough.

2018 orange level member

Re: "Terrible Tom"

[1]
Posted: Feb 17, 2018 4:07 PM
    Reply

2 thumbs UP


Re: "Terrible Tom"

[1]
Posted: Feb 17, 2018 4:13 PM
    Reply

Joe I hope you write down your memories. I bet your family loves to hear your stories of life. I love history and could listen to these for days on end

2018 orange level member

Go Tigers! Once A Tiger Always A Tiger


Re: "Terrible Tom"

[1]
Posted: Feb 18, 2018 3:17 PM
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So could I, love our history of this small world that we live in!!!!

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Can’t wait to hear part 2 about "Terrible Tom" !!!***


Posted: Feb 18, 2018 3:46 PM
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2018 white level member



"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?"


Re: "Terrible Tom"


Posted: Feb 18, 2018 7:44 PM
    Reply

Thank you for your service and thank you for sharing your history. Go Tigers!


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