By all means, use the pic as you please, as well as the write up. It would have otherwise been forgotten.
Good luck, John C. Hall, Petaluma, California
John Hall provided this picture of Chinese and North Korean soldiers boarding trucks for the trip from Yong Dong Po to the Freedom Bridge area.
(From John): "I believe this compound was close to Yong Dong Po, and I don't remember the name of it. These were Chinese and North Koreans. I don't know where he got it, but one prisoner had a small Red Chinese flag. The returning Exchange prisoners were supposed to have been South Korean, but there were 21 Americans among them, five of which had died of exposure reroute to this compound. I believe it was in February 1954 (note; some were wearing parkas, including me.). We were not supposed to have cameras there but I hid mine, and was able to snap several shots without being caught." John C. Hall
ODDS & ENDS
"The Old Korean Vet"
By Gene Nelson Isom
Today I passed an old man
Sitting still on a busy street
His look was gray and cloudy
As our eyes suddenly did meet.
His beard was long and shaggy
As was his gray and dingy hair.
His clothes were worn and tattered
And on one sleeve a long ragged tear.
I did my best to look away
To avoid his cold blank stare,
But try as I may I could not escape
The message feebly held there.
The sign he held though seen before
Held no words of profundity;
"Will work for food," large and bold
Were the words I first did see.
It was the next two words I read
That gave my heart a pull, and yet
I wanted not to feel akin
To this old Korean vet.
I quickly turned my eyes away
Toward the light that held stubbornly red
And wished it hurriedly turn to green
So I could be somewhere else instead.
The stores that day were dressed with cheer
As I Christmas shopped with a will to spend,
But I couldn't forget that down and out vet.
Could he possibly be a long lost friend?
Could we have marched side by side,
On some long ago parade ground?
Could we have shared a smoke or two
While leisurely lounging around?
Was he close by one frigid night
When death appeared at hand?
Did he have thoughts the same as I,
In that far off distant land?
With at last our duty done
And we returned to friendly shores;
With no bands to play and no one to cheer,
Could he not return to life as before?
My mind turned inward as I milled around,
No more thoughts of shopping this day.
I hastily returned to the place last seen,
But the old vet had gone away.
Time and again I would return to see
If by chance we yet could meet,
To talk a while and reminisce,
While squatting near a busy street.
That vet has now become a long lost friend,
Although we have never met
And of this I know, I'll never forget
That old gray Korean vet
He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.
And 'tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Bob has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a Soldier died today.
He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.
He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won't note his passing,
'Tho a Soldier died today.
When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young
But the passing of a Soldier
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?
The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.
While the ordinary Soldier,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.
It's so easy to forget them,
And many times it's so
That our Bobs and Jims and Johnnys,
Went to battle, but we know,
It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.
Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever waffling stand?
Or would you want a Soldier--
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Soldier,
Who would fight until the end.
He was just a common Soldier,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honor
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING,
A SOLDIER DIED TODAY."
Dick, I have searched all my old Ft. Mason newspapers and can only find the name of the other WAC shown with me in the Returning POW photo. So, if you still want to post that photo on your web site, here are the names:
mine = Pfc. Iva Narvaez
the other WAC = Pfc. Wilda Koonce
the other woman was the civilian Chief Operator of the On Post switchboard. I am sorry I just can't find her name.
So, if you want to post the photo with only two names, then you have my permission to do so.
Let me know when it is up and running. I want to send the site address to my friends and relatives.
Thank you and God Bless You and Yours,
From: Iva Narvaez
I was a WAC, stationed at Ft. Mason in San Francisco in 1953. My job was to try and locate the waiting families and reunite them with the returning Korea POW's. It was a very sad and emotional tho satisfying experience. So many of the returning American soldiers were ill and injured. This took place at the ship dock's and we tried very hard to not keep any family or soldier waiting. I am enclosing a photo of myself, (I am the one inside), the supervisor of the Ft. Mason On Post Telephone System and a fellow WAC during this experience in 1953.