552nd Military Police Company
I was born in East Chicago, Indiana, on June 17, 1929. When I was very young, my family moved to the small community of Ralphs near Deanefield, Kentucky.
On the 8th of February, 1951, I was drafted. I was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington for my basic training. After basic I would be shipped to Korea, where I arrived in early 1952. I was to be assigned to the 40th Infantry Division. However, six of us were pulled aside and given new orders. We were to report to the 522nd M.P. Company located on Koje-do Island, where the Chinese and North Korean Prisoners of War were housed.
When we arrived, it was the most eerie feeling I have ever had. Just before our arrival, General Dodd, the camp commander had been captured by some of the rioting prisoners, and the whole island seemed to be on fire. Anything that could burn was burning. Every compound (I believe there were eight) was flying communists flags and had signs tacked on poles, and the inmates were singing communist songs. It was very unnerving. They sang twenty-four hours a day, in the hopes of keeping us from getting any sleep, or rest.
Those who had captured the General soon charged him with abuse of prisoners, and placed him on trial; they found him guilty. After getting as many concessions as they thought they could get, they released Dodd—unharmed.
Shortly after our arrival, Brigadier General Haydon Boatner was appointed the new commander of Koje-do. A few days after the release of General Dodd, things changed. Boatner ordered two tanks, along with the 38th Infantry Regiment, to smash through the barbed wire fences and gates of all the compounds. They leveled all the poles, so there went all their communist flags. The infantrymen used flamethrowers to burn all their signs. He told the prisoners they could make all the noise they wanted to between the hours of 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM, then there would be complete silence. He wanted to be able to hear a pin drop. I thought he was going to have a hard time pulling this one off, but to my amazement he did.
He wore two pearl handled pistols, and when he spoke—you listened.
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There were a lot of civilians living on the island when I first arrived, and they were always keeping the prisoners (both Chinese and North Koreans) stirred up. You never knew if someone milling around the hillside was a local or an escaped prisoner. However, after Boatner was able to get things under control, a lot of the civilians were evacuated from the island.
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The M.P.’s pulled six hour shifts at the guardhouses located at each of the compounds gates. However, the infantrymen pulled two on and four off as they guarded the perimeters of the compounds. Most of the infantrymen had spent time on the front lines, and those who weren’t able to rotate home, ended up back on the front lines. We also watched or guarded the prisoners on work details.
During my time on Koje-do, I would carry a carbine, a .45 automatic pistol, and an M-1 with a bayonet.
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The communist would kill the ones that turned against them (anti-communist) and bury them in their compounds. There was one anti-communist prisoner in one of the compounds, and I knew they were going to kill him if they caught him. So, I had him come out of the compound and kneel on the ground with his hands behind his head. I then called for the sergeant to tell him what was happening. He took the prisoner, and after that I didn’t know what happened to him.
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I was discharged from the Army on January 24, 1953, at Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky.