The next batch of letters covers the month of January 1953.
From the rear, Johnny gets orders to move to outposts Old Baldy, Pork Chop, and T-Bone where he digs trenches and pulls guard duty. After a few weeks out there he gets moved back to Main Line Reserve.
While I was getting this batch of letters ready to post, I came across a ton of old photos my grandmom left behind when she died. There’s several photos Granddad sent her from Korea as well as a handful of negatives I hope to get developed. I’ll share them as I get them developed and repaired.
I’ll start off with this shot. Johnny is the soldier on the far left. On the backside Granddad wrote: (L-R) Me, Simpson, Thompson.
JANUARY 1, 1953
Happy New Year!
Well, your little boy has finally come to writing. I’m sorry that it took so long, but you know how that goes!
Well, I’m glad Betty and you all are making out so good. That really means a lot to me. And speaking about us being close to each other, well, you will probably think Betty and I live there cause we’ll be over about every night (we won’t have a TV set, ha).
Mom, I got a Xmas card from the Evans, also from a woman in Crockett, but I lost the envelope – I think her name began with a R. I was going to write her but I don’t know her name now.
I told Betty where I am now and you probably know but it is a fine place. We haven’t done much at all. Last night we really had fun celebrating the New Year. Everything on the line opened up at 12 o’clock. I wrote Betty all of the details. Speaking of tales – I read in Stars & Stripes where the Turks drafted a Turk who had a 20 inch tail coming from his spine. Gosh, what is this human race coming to? Oh say – those pictures were grand. I hope you send some more. The car really looks pretty. But not as nice as you all looked.
I have convinced about everyone around to buy Fords when they get home. I wonder if it will show up in the Gooks, ha, ha.
Well, all you good people, I’ll say good-bye for now. Remember your little son loves you!
PS – Yes, Mom, believe me you really look old – as you say. The fellows wanted to know who was my wife and who was my mother.
JANUARY 12, 1953
Gosh but I’m sorry for not writing to you all sooner, but time just seems to fly by. That is, free time to write in. I wish guard time would go by quickly.
Well, as you probably know, we are out on the outpost. This is the main outpost for “T-Bone,” “Pork Chop” and “Old Baldy.” This place looks like a real fort. There are guns coming out of every hole. Our whole Company is out here and a few of the 81mm mortars are attached to us. “Ole Joe” will get a real bang if he tries to take this place. And up on the mountain behind us sits about five tanks with 90s and the rest of the Battalion. And then a few more mountains back sits the Artillery just waiting for the word.
Those rounds of artillery sound just like jets going over. I’d sure hate to be on the receiving end. Well, I just wanted to tell you how well I’m being protected. Just to show how quiet it is – a woman was out here today. I didn’t see her, but the fellows from Hawaii saw her. She is a reporter for a paper in Hawaii.
I don’t have much news so you’ll have to pardon me this time.
I go on guard in 10 minutes, so remember I still love you! I will write more the next time and more often. You can get Betty to read you her letter. I started that one when I had more time. Well, I’ve got to go so bye now.
All my love to all of you,
JANUARY 14, 1953
Here I am again on guard as usual – only tonight I’m pulling it in the bunker by the phone. I wish I could call long distance, but I’m afraid I can only get a few people on this hill. I was surprised to find that you had reached Pusan. I would have given anything to have talked to you.
Dad, this Ford Outdoors is a nice little book. I get to read a few stories every night.
Nothing has happened around here to talk about, so if I begin to talk of nothing you will know why.
I got a letter from Betty and Russell the other day but I haven’t written them as yet. Tell them that pretty soon I’ll get around to it. So just hold on a little longer – and to kiss the kiddies for me. You all can kiss each other!
I’ll say bye for now. Maybe I’ll have something of interest next time. Maybe some good rumors will start rolling.
I love you,
PS – From here on I’m speaking of nothing.
JANUARY 18, 1953
Well, here I sit in a very nice, quiet bunker. This is the best and safest place we have been yet. I wouldn’t mind staying here the rest of my time over here.
We will go back into Battalion Reserve in a few days for a while. I don’t care for that too much. That means digging blocking positions and I’m getting allergic to a shovel and pick. But what’s the use, I’ll be digging anyway.
Mom, have you talked Dad into buying that place up at Crockett yet? I figure you’ll have to do some tall talking to get it. If I get to do what I want when I get home – that will be one of the firsts on Betty’s and my list. I’ve got the dreams! The real thing takes time. But who has more than we do?
Dad, I want to tell you that I really enjoyed that Ford Outdoors and if you see another magazine about hunting – could you send them along also?
Well, I hates to close but it’s just one of those things.
Remember I love you, so love me,
JANUARY 19, 1953
Just a line to say hello and that I’m doing just fine!
It is about time to run down and get a bit to eat. Now that we’re back on the MLR, we get two hot meals a day. It is quite different from C rations all the time, but sometimes I think I would prefer to the Cs.
Things are about the same. We are digging trenches and pulling guard. Of course, now, we only dig a half of a day and get the rest off. Off means shaving, cleaning the bunker and weapons and policing everything. But I really can’t complain, this is the best yet (that ain’t saying much).
I’ll be glad when those paints get here. And then if I can only get some time. I think I’ll be able to though.
Well, I’ve got to go now.
Love me, cause I love you,
JANUARY 21, 1953
I received some nice letters from you two this day. They were really nice and the pictures were great. I’ll be glad to receive the colored ones. I bet they are the best yet.
Everything is the same over here. Not much happening. Mom, you don’t be worrying about me. I’m as safe as if I was in the back yard.
It looks as if I might make a little rank now. I’m a squad leader and that usually calls for a Sergeant. I’ll be a PFC on the 25th. But I will have a job down at the Battalion HQ if I want it. I’ll be doing the clerical work and there’s not much rank for the job (maybe Corporal). But it has other advantages. I haven’t decided what to do yet.
Dad, the fellows got a kick out of the Texas dollar and the other joke. I hope no one gets a patent on that outfit. We’d be out luck, huh?
Well folks, I’ll close for now.
Now remember, I love ya,
JANUARY 22, 1953
Here it is another night and another day has passed. That makes one less from the big list.
Nothing has happened today. A few of us rode back to the showers, but they were out of clean clothes, so I just walked over to the PX and got in line. I bought a box of candy, a can of cocktail shrimp, beans, box of cookies and a couple cans of grape juices. It is a big kick to get to go to the PX. It’s not so often that one’s around. This one here has been the first I’ve seen over here (and it’s not much to speak of).
Mom, your letter was really nice tonight. I think I’ll read it again to see if I can answer anything.
Oh yes, I was going to say if you have someone to pour a patio – why not make it in a curved design instead of the same “ole” squares? (Just a suggestion.)
And about “the shoes” maybe Betty is afraid not to wear them for fear it might hurt you. Did you think of it that way? Ha, ha. Speaking of misers I guess I’m beginning to be one also, although it is easier for me, because there’s nothing I can spend my money on.
I’ve been thinking about R&R. Most of the guys spend anywhere from $200 to $500 while on R&R in Japan. I might spend a little but my main interests will be buying things to send home. Also I would like to find out how to paint on silk the way they do. I doubt I’ll have much time to get the hang of it. But it will be interesting to find out.
I finally got Billy’s letter while on the outpost. He mailed it regular mail. I mentioned to him what a difference 3 cents would make. I also received the letter all of them wrote for Christmas. It was a riot.
Yes, you can say that the OJs are ice again. He always did impress me in that manner. I can’t remember her too well though. But I know I won’t forget them.
I was really sorry about Harold’s and Irene’s baby, but it was probably better that way than to have it sick – (I guess) sometimes a person doesn’t know what’s right. Do they? I hope someone does. All we can do, is leave it up to Him.
No, Dad hasn’t said much about that hunt. He did say that he was fined for trespassing though. That really tickles me. I’ve been waiting for the whole story. I bet it’s a hot one!
No kidding, Mom, this place is safe. You have no worries about me being here! We should go into Battalion reserve very shortly.
They spotted a few Chinks last night – get this – they were howling like wolves and dancing, so some of the fellows said. They (us) called for mortar fire, so we dropped a few rounds and nothing else was heard. A lot of the times the Chinks will try something like that just to try and find out the machine gun emplacements – they’ll learn!
Everyone except the guards have gone to bed. A few minutes ago everyone was up around the stove reading their mail and listening to one of the medics play his harmonica. He used to play nothing but hillbilly but I’m slowly changing him over to popular. You didn’t know I was a music teacher, did you? Heaven only knows how he gets the right tune, because I’ll sing a line and then he will play it. You’d be surprised at the results. Ha.
Well, I had better get some sleep myself, so I will say good-by for now.
All my love to all of you,
JANUARY 31, 1953
The following letter isn’t a letter at all – Johnny sent three pages from the December 19, 1952 edition of US News & World Report – annotated with his eyewitness observations. Click on the image to enlarge it.