January 1946 — Niasong, Korea
Company A – 1st Infantry
My life in the U.S. Army as I remember it.
Kenneth A Smith
B.A.R. (Browning Automatic Rifle)
In the month of June 1944 I got my invitation to go to Providence, R.I. and take an examination to see if I was fit for military service. After I had my examination they said I would be called into the army within three months. Three months passed and I didn’t hear from them, and I started to think that they had forgotten me. But, I had no such luck.
The third day of December 1944 I received my invitation to go downtown and be sworn in. The induction papers however stated that my friends and neighbors wished to see me in the service.
On December 7th 1944 I went to Providence for my final examination and passed with flying colors, (Damn it!). Well, anyway we hung around the place all afternoon, after eating a dinner of cold cuts and potato salad, at five O’clock that afternoon we were loaded into a bus and started for Fort Devins Massachusetts.
It was a long ride and we landed there at 9:30 that night. When we came in sight of the camp lights, the bus driver yelled out “Well, there’s your new home boys”, and I felt like hitting him over the head with a crank. We got off the bus in front of a great long building and after calling our names out for the fifth time that day, we were sent into the building by a corporal with a black eye. When I spotted him with the black eye I sure thought I was in a tough place. I didn’t like it a damn bit either.
After we were all in the building they gave us a towel and toilet articles and marched us to our barracks where I spent a very sleepless night. Right then and there I started to figure out a way to get out of this damn army, but, I am still thinking after eleven months in this man’s army.
The next morning we were woke up by a sergeant that let out a yell that could be heard for a mile. I got up and went downstairs to the latrine to wash and shave with the new tools that they had given me as yet it was still dark out, and I wasn’t used to this kind of monkey business. Shortly we were called out, and had our names called off again, after which we were marched over to the mess hall. It was a large hall with nothing but tables and benches. I followed the line and picked up a tray and fork spoon and knife. The spoon was the size of a table spoon like we have back home. I followed the rest of the boys around the counter where German prisoners slapped all kinds of breakfast foods on the trays.
That was the first time I ever saw a German prisoner so I looked them over pretty well before I left. On my way out I followed the line out through another door where another prisoner took our trays to be washed. Well, I didn’t know what was going to happen next so I went back to my barracks, where we were put to work sweeping and washing the barracks floor, right then was when I really missed my wife. After we were taken around to the movie where we got a speech from the chaplain and a few other officers. I cant remember just what else we did that day except for getting a couple of shots that scared me to death.
Two days passed and we were taken to another long building which looked like a store room. We had to strip naked at the first end of the building and then we went down the aisle where they threw clothes into a basket which we had. Well, when we came out the other end of the building we had a full dress uniform on and a full duffle bag over our shoulders.
Finally after seven days we were loaded on a train where there was a band playing for us and took off. Where? We didn’t know for the present but after we traveled for a day the sergeant in charge told us we were going to Alabama. Fifteen weeks of hell I spent in Fort McCullen, Alabama, and then came the day for us to go home on a ten day furlough, and a very happy day it was. We left for home at eleven O’clock in the morning and I walked in my door at eight O’clock the next night. The ten days went by very quickly and soon I found myself on a train heading for Fort Meade, Maryland. We landed there at twelve O’clock the next day and were fed first of all.
I was there seven days, which was long enough for me to get a weekend pass. They wouldn’t give me a pass to go home on, but I made one myself and headed for home. I got held up for three hours in New York but finally I pulled into Providence, Rhode Island at five O’clock Sunday morning. I couldn’t get a bus for Pascoag until nine O’clock so I went to my sister-in-laws house and got them to take me home.
I got home at nine O’clock Sunday morning and spent a very short day with my family. At six O’clock that night I had to leave for Fort Meade again. I left my wife at the depot in Providence and boarded a train. That was the last time I saw her seven months ago. We were sent from Fort Meade Maryland to Camp Stoneman, California. It took us six days to make the trip. We stayed in that camp for nine days and then we were loaded onto a ship. It was a big white ship by the name of U.S.S Walter Reed or something like that. We went by the island where Alcatraz prison was and by then we went under the golden gate. It seemed as if they closed a big door in our faces when the big gate slowly went out of sight.
We traveled for thirty days over the Pacific Ocean before we landed in Manila Bay in the Philippine Islands. We passed a number of islands and places such as Guater Canal and other places I can’t remember. We stayed on the boat for two days in the harbor before we were taken ashore. When we got ashore they loaded us into a bunch of box cars, we stayed in those box cars for three hours and ate K-rations for dinner. We finally started our way through the city of Manila. We traveled in those slow moving box cars for twenty miles. We got off the train in a small town called Alabang and walked from there to the first depot which was a mile. It was so hot that our steel helmets would burn us if we touched it and I aint kidding. Anybody that has been in the Philippines will tell the same story. We got into the camp and we were put into our tents where we were to stay while in that camp. We stayed there for two weeks working most of the time. One afternoon we were marched down to Alabang where we got off the train on our way in and boarded another train. This one had a top on it but it wouldn’t hold water. We traveled all night and it rained enough to get us all wet. We got off the train in a town called San Fernando at six O’clock the next morning. We hung around there until eleven O’clock that morning and then we were loaded onto trucks and taken on a wild ride over the mountains of Lugon. I never saw so much dust in all my life, and most of it was on me. It took around eight hours to get to the camp where we were going.
That was when I joined Co. A – 1st Inf. Of the 6th Army which I am still part of. We were assigned to a platoon and also a tent where we were to stay. They asked me which weapon i liked the best and I told them I would rather use the M.I. Army rifle so I was put into a rifle squad. We stayed there for a couple of weeks and then came an order for us to get ready to go up in the hills where the fighting was going on. I was kind of nervous at the thought but still I wanted to see for myself what combat really was.
It was the first part of July when we were loaded into trucks and started our journey up into the hills. We traveled over very bad roads for about seventy miles and then the road was too bad to be traveled by trucks. We got off the trucks and put on our packs with ammunition for our rifles and hand grenades. There was a steep hill we had to climb before we could get on the trail again. It was hot as all merry hell that day and our clothes were pretty well soaked through before we got half way up the hill. I finally made the damn hill and took off my pack, steel helmet and laid my rifle on the top of the pack. My legs where pretty well done in by then so I just sat down and let them rest. My buddy however was carrying a B.A.R. and belt full of ammunition which was plenty heavy. He was still down near the bottom of the hill when I reached the top. I got rested up a little and took off down the hill again to help my buddy lug his load. I took his B.A.R. Gun from him and he had the ammunition. We both made it that time. Some of the others that had reached the top before us had started down the road but we sat around and rested a little more.
After sitting beside the road a while and eating a C-ration we started after the others. We walked slowly for a mile or more before we came to a ridge where some men were dug in. We were sent to the further end of the ridge where we dug in. that was the first fox hold I dug since my basic training. The ground was damn hard so we only made a slit trench deep enough to cover us lying down. After we got our holes dug, we spread our ponchos over the top to keep out the rain and sun. Well, I could smell a very bad odor, something like an old dead horse that had been dead for a week, only the smell was much stronger. I decided to look around to see what stunk so much. Down the bank a ways I saw two dead Japs that had been killed a few days before and the hot sun sure brought out the odor. Those where the second Japs that I had seen dead. My appetite was gone then, but I soon go hungry enough, so I ate a little of C-ration.
After a while, darkness came so we crawled into our holes to see if we could get some sleep. We each took turns going on guard, and I took my guard once and then settled down to get some sleep. About an hour later I was awoken by a machine gun firing very close to my hole. I was awake in a split second and grabbed for my rifle. By that time every weapon in the company was going and it really sounded like war for a half an hour. Hand grenades were going off and bullets were singing over my hole. I was scared as hell but I just laid there with my rifle cocked and watched for something to move. It was dark as hell then and I could only see the silhouette of a bush and trees in front of me. I didn’t see anything however while all the shooting was going on. The firing stopped after a while and everything was quiet. In a few minutes I was sound asleep again.
The next morning we crawled out of our holes and started to find some C-rations to make our breakfast. After we had eaten we packed our equipment and was ready to move out. They told us we had to go as far as the river which we could see down in the valley. It was only a mile away from where we were but we had to go around by the trail, so we pulled out at nine o’clock and started on our way. We walked along the trail which was about wide enough for one car. There was plenty of mud along the trail but we went on until we came to some Jap trucks and bicycles which were along the trail.
We first saw a lot of human bones and skulls laying along the trail, but after a short distance we saw dead japs everywhere that had only been dea for a day or so. Every hole and every crook in the trail we saw dead Japs. We went on a little further and I could smell something that almost made me sick. We rounded a bend and there was a Jap truck in the road. Around the windshield and on it was all black. I couldn’t make out what it was at first but soon I found out when I got a little closer. The black that was on the windshield turned out to be millions of blow flies, and great maggots about an inch long. Curiosity got the best of me and I stopped for a minute to look at a sight which I had never dreamed of even in my worst nightmare. Some of the boys I could see just turned their heads when they passed and looked the other way.
We saw many more Japs lying along the trail, but none of them were like this one. We traveled on a little further and met some spear men coming down the trail carrying a littler on their shoulders which held and American soldier with a bandaged leg and head. There was another G.I. with them who had a bloody bandage on his hand. A short distance away we could hear rifle fire, both M.M’s and Jap rifles. We could tell a Jap rifle by the sound of it firing. It sounded like a 22 caliber rifle that we have back home, where our Army rifle makes a big noise. We didn’t bother with that because we were given orders to clear the trail and the firing came from up on a hill. We went around another bend and saw two more Japs lying in the road with blood running from them. They where only kids about the age of fifteen. Their packs and clothes were all ripped apart by the GI’s who had shot them. Souvenirs’ is what they were looking for.
We went on past an old grass shack that had radios sets in it that was worth a lot of dough. By that time we had traveled six miles, we went on about a mile or so when we heard firing a short distance from us. It was a B.A.R that was doing the firing. An officer went back to see what was up and when he returned he said that the men in the rear of the company had found three Jap men and a woman in one of the grass shacks. I won’t say what they were doing but I think you can guess. The boys had kicked the door open and saw them inside, without hesitating a minute one of the GI’s opened up with his B.A.R and shot both the Jap men and the woman. We never take chances with the Japs because they could walk out with their hands up and have a hand grenade in their pocket with the pin pulled. They would blow themselves up and us to if they got close enough. We went along the road for about two miles when we came to a bunch of trucks that had machine shops in the back of the trucks. There were lathes and press drills and everything else that you would find in a machine shop. There were a few dead Japs lying in the trucks and around on the ground. By this time we were pretty well out of water and I sure was thirsty. We went a little way further and there was a nice cool mountain stream. We filled our canteens and I drank some without putting any halazone to purify it. A few days later I found out that there was two dead japs lying right in the water that I had been drinking.
We reached the river and set up camp. We stayed there three days and went swimming in the river. We got orders to move out on the third day, so we packed and got ready to go. We headed across the river and wen we were all on the other side a spearman came up to us and said “there are some Japs up the road a little further”. We went up the road with the spearman with us to show us where the Japs were. We got to the place where he said the Japs where and we circled the place and sneaked into the huts. It looked like there had been quite a few Japs around there, but we only found two of them. One was dead and the other was wounded by a spearman. The dead Jap was covered with blood from his waist down and it wasn’t even dried so I don’t think he had been dead long. They bandaged up the wounded Jap and put him on a litter and sent him back to the river.
From there we marched about three miles where we made cap along the road. We had to stay there for a road block. The first night at about eleven o’clock the guard opened up with the machine gun. I didn’t think there was anything out there, but the next morning we found a Japs rifle with a bayonet on it lying in the road about twenty feet from where we slept. A bullet had hit the rifle and knocked it out of the Japs hands, but there wasn’t a sign of any Japs anywhere. I don’t know how he ever got away, but he did. We stayed there five days and then we moved back to the river and from there we went back to our base camp near Bagabag. We were there six days and on the sixth night we came in from the movies and they told us to be ready to move out at eight o’clock the next morning.
There was a lot of trouble up in the hills and we had to go up and help. We got up in the hills the next afternoon and stayed in one place for a week or so. When we got to the place one of the boys saw a Jap crawling over the next hill. He shot him and that’s all we saw while we were at that place, but we did hear a lot of shooting up the road aways. We left there in trucks and went about fifty miles up further where we got off the trucks and walked a short ways to Bonarie, where we camped that night. It rained just before we got there and we were all soaking wet. We put up our shelters and after eating some C-rations and tried to get some sleep, but it was so cold that I dint get much sleep. The next morning at about eight o’clock we pulled out and followed a foot path for about nine miles through the hills. We came to a river where we met some spearmen with five litters with GI’s on them, Three of them where dad and two were wounded. That didn’t make me feel and better seeing that. We crossed the river on two poles that was put there for a bridge. Then we went along some nice patties until we came to some grass huts that were sitting up on some poles. There we rested up a little and filled our canteens with some water that was coming from a rice patty.
We left there and started our climb up the mountain side. Our objective was the top of that mountain where K-company was. We started up the mountain, most of the time we had to pull ourselves up by getting hold of trees and brush. That was about the steepest hill I had ever climbed. We got to the top that night just before dark and dug in on the top of the mountain. A couple of days after we got there we got news that the war may be over in two days, wo we didn’t make any pushes then. We were waiting to see if the war would end. Two days later they said that the war had ended.
None of the boys hollered or fired their weapons into the air like I thought tey would, they just stood around with big smiles from ear to ear. Everybody was pretty happy then and started to make plans for going home. We ate ten in one rations while we were on the mountain. Our rations were brought to us by plane, and dumped out from the air. Well, the war was over and we were wondering how long it would be before we would go back to our camp near Bagabad. Two days after the end of the war we were to move out. While we were there we didn’t have any attacks, so I guess the Japs were waiting for the war to end too. We did see a few Japs down in the valley, but they were so far that we couldn’t hit them with our rifles. A short way from where we were on another hill there was a machine gun mist that was firing on some spearmen that was coming up to where we were. One of the boys knocked out the Japs machine gun with one of our machine guns and that’s about all that happened while we were there.
The day came when it was time for us to leave for camp, so we started down the mountain around noon time. We came to the river that we had crossed coming up, but the bridge was mashed out. We waded across by hanging onto a rope that had been strung across and tied onto a tree. We got back to Banawie at the same place where we spent the night on our way up at six o’clock that night. We expected to see trucks there waiting for us but no such luck. We spent two nights there and on the third morning trucks came to bring us back. We got back to the camp that night and had a good supper and good night’s sleep. Well, we didn’t have anything to do so the made us put in sand sidewalks and such stiff as that to keep us busy. After a couple of weeks of this they made us train in the mornings until we got ready to move to our next place in the Lingazon Gulf. It was about two months before we left there to go down to the beach in the Lingazon Gulf. We got on trucks at seven o’clock one night and started our trip. We rode all night and landed on the beach the next morning at eight o’clock. We had breakfast and started to put our tents up. We stayed there about six weeks before it was time for us to get on a truck and go to Korea. We had a little training while we were there. We left the Philippine islands on October 18th and headed for Korea. It took us six days to reach Korea. We got off the boat and waited in the town all day before we got on a train and headed for Andong.
We loaded the train about for o’clock in the afternoon and got off the Andong the next night at nine o’clock. We spent three days in a building there and then we got on trucks and came to Niasong where I am now, waiting to go home, in six weeks. We are going back to Andong within a week from now and from there, (who knows).
By Kenneth A. Smith
Kenneth Andrew Smith
Drafted on – December 7th 1944
Discharged on – February 4th 1946
A.S.N. – 31479636
I have been in;
Philippines – Manila –Alabang – Bagabag – Banari – Lingayon Gulf
Korea – Andong – Neasong – Jenson – Seoul
Combat – Five weeks Northern Luzon
Waters – Pacific Ocean – China Sea – Yellow Sea
Weapons – B.A.R. (Browning Automatic Rifle) – 45. Caliber Pistol (No. 1636936)
Friends in Company A, 1st Infantry 6th Army
Jokin D Hughes, Huntsville, Mo. – R.F.D. #3
Walter D Rowe, Coggan, Iowa
Cleo B. Whiles, B.R.I. W, Gindotta, Mich.
Rex Crosland, Hollen, Utah
Lester Cunninham, Seneca, Mo. R. #3
Hagan Greene, Snedeville, Tenn.
Dumas Evans, Haydenbury, Tenn. R. #1
Buddy Greene, Austill, Ga. R.F.D #2 Box 198
Raynold G Miller, Raymond Ill. R.F.D. #1
Albert Colbert, Cyrene Mo.
Donald Walker, New Hampten, Ma
George Crawford, St. Paul, Ark
Delbert Young, Lynj, Ohio
Helmut K Klem, 869 Lookout Ave. Huchensach, N.J.
J. E. Dugan, Orich, Mo. R. #2
Delbert Melloy, Homquest, S. Dakota
Gary A. Mendoza, 1539 San Fernando, Calif
Cecil W. Stewort, springbois, Ohio
Jesse Hall, Magnolia, Miss Route 1
Reynoldo G Cortez, San Bento Texas
Henry J. Kush, 28 Grove St. Buffalo, N.Y.
C. H. Maricle, 211E Roma Ave. Albuquerque New Mexico
Oran D. Blackweller, Rusten, Louisiana, Route 1
Arthur Gagnon, Statler hotel, R. 402 Boston, Mass
Joseph Kester, Staunten, Va. Route 3
Grafter F. Faugal, Tesco, Missouri Box 71
John W. Stull, 308 S. High St. Mickaniesbury, Pa
Frank Cissell, 2511 Montgomery Av. Louisville, Ky
Lutha L Crommenes, Houston, Tx Box 548
Ted Balsley, Barlett, N. Dakota
Thomas A Elkins, Route 2 Mendon, La
Luther Cunningham, McLein, Tex
Alvin Larson, Slayten, Minn.
Vestal Buche, Broken Bow, Ok.
Benedict S Latessa, St. Philla, Pa.
William Haskall, Wilkes Barre, Pa.
Frances W Clapk, Callevsville, Conn.
Cecil Kakinbough, Sandy Lake, Penn.
Junior Thompson, Levonia, Mo.
Robert E. L. Cooper, Norfolk, Va.
Soyong Koun, No. 210 Boukson St. Andong Korea
Wayne Dixon, Blackey, Ky.
Georgie O’Brad, Gary, Ind.
Charles E Crowder, Laylorville, Ill.
Alvin Wesley Garbe, Pomona, Cal.
William Gunton, Bradford, Penn
Clevland Withrow, Hot Springs, Ark.
Silas Chruch, Roaring River, N. Carolina
Vincent H. Monenez, Montechello, Calif.
John E. Hall, Laurel, Md.
William Greene, Jacksonville, Fla.
Coy E. Green, Turbeville, S. Carolina
Bruce E Bates, Idaho Falls, Idaho
Alfred A Wikerson, Authur, Tx.
Dominic Tarello, Lowell, Mass.
Davis A. Clark, Danville, Ala.
Wilson M. Bell, Franklin, Louisiana