I served in the Korean War, a conflict that didn’t get much attention then, and is rarely mentioned in the media today. This July 27 will be the 60th anniversary of the end of the war between North and South Korea. Also involved in the combat were the United States and China.
How It All Began And Never Really Ended
It started on June 25, 1950, when North Korean troops invaded their neighbor. Actually, it’s ironic to celebrate the the end of that war date this month. Considering all the recent saber rattling from North Korea, even today there is no clear victor nor any satisfying conclusion to that long-ago conflict.
My Korean War Story
I served with the U.S. Navy during World War II, which included duty in the Pacific and Philippine Islands campaigns. After my discharge, I enrolled as a student at the Philadelphia Museum College of Art (now University of the Arts), majoring in advertising.
Need To Earn Money
As a veteran qualified under the G.I. Bill of Rights, my tuition was free, plus a $100 a month allowance. However, I had to find part-time work to pay for needs beyond living expenses. At first, there were the usual low-level jobs, including waiter, messenger and apprentice carpet layer.
Living with three other students in a fourth-floor walk-up apartment, my share of the rent was $25 a month, with another $5 for utilities. My various jobs kept me barely subsisting, and I wanted something better. It happened when another student, also a Navy veteran, told me he was a Weekend Warrior.
Weekend Warrior = Good Pay
He was a member of a Naval Reserve Aircraft Carrier Air Group, composed of a fighter and bomber squadron. Members spent one weekend a month and two weeks each summer at the Naval Air Station in Willow Grove, a suburb of Philadelphia.
I re-enlisted and found helpful income and considerable experience over the four years I was a Weekend Warrior. Because of my rating of Chief Personnelman, I also spent three-months’ active duty at full pay each summer as a recruit instructor. The money was considerably higher than I had earned as a waiter or carpet layer.
Recalled To Active Duty
When the Korean War started in June 1950, as in current conflicts, National Guard and Reserve units were activated and served for from one to two years. Just completing my junior year at college, I was fortunate that my Navy Air Group was not immediately called up.
I spent my senior semesters knowing it was inevitable, and it happened within days of my graduation in June 1951. I served my active duty on a carrier for six months in Korea, plus a year and a half at a stateside Naval Air Station.
I have the deepest respect and appreciation for the many equally brave part-time warriors today now carrying out their missions in the Middle East.