Eltiste-Kaiser Web Site
Herman Edward Kaiser
Letter From Private Edward Kaiser
Pvt. Edward Kaiser Writes
An Interesting Letter From Korea
"It has been nearly one month since I arrived in Korea from Camp Mower in Japan. We landed in Pusan via a Japanese luxury liner. We then boarded a train for our replacement center, Pusan. One of the largest cities, is near the southern tip of the Korean peninsula. It ranks in size with our Minnesota. Pusan is an old city which has not been damaged by war. Its houses are mostly made of mud with straw thatched roofs. It was filled with refugees, as well as soldiers.
After arriving at our replacement center, we took five days of infantry training to condition us before going to our respective companies. My battalion was in reserve, but we soon moved up on the line.
"Korea is mostly hills except for the rice paddies in the valleys. The portion south of the 38th parallel is mostly agriculture; the northern part has many natural resources, industry and lots of timber. Rice is the main crop although soy beans, melons, sweet potatoes, millet, and corn do well. Saw some fine pear and apple orchards of which the people are justly proud. They claim to raise the best."
"Modern civilization is virtually unknown here. It's not unusual to see women wash clothes in the streams, pounding them with a wooden stick, laying 'em in the sun to dry and bleach white. The only method of transportation is on foot, and a few bicycles. Large loads of wood, rice, pots filled with ground rice can be seen being carried on the backs of men, women and children. One type of cart looks like a wheelbarrow, only there is not wheel. The front is strapped to a person's back. They usually pace at a dog trot. Women also carry large loads or bundles and pots on her heads, with a baby strapped to their back. A number of the farmers own an ox and cart, and plowing is mostly done with an ox. The plow is similar to the first one invented by John Deere. One can't be here long until the pungent odor of the rice paddies and all the villages stand out. The villages have a most horrible smell. All crops do well, as all fields are still fertilized with human excreta which has been stored up all winter. Anyone who has ever been in the Orient will never forget the smell of the honey buckets. All towns or villages are dirty, and therefore, disease breeds fast. The Army has therefore banned the use of villages by our troops (I'd rather have a pup tent anyway) on account of lice, fleas and typhus. The mosquito's love to breed in rice paddies, which will be another insect to fight. Quinine tablets have already been issued, so the summer season is not to far off."
"It's springtime here. The sun is warm this afternoon and all the spring shrubs are blooming and trees budding. Never have I seen so many pussy willows grow alongside the streams. There are no scenic spots in Korea that I've seen, however, there are wild geese, ducks, white swans and also native pheasants of which we think so much of back home."
Our battalion has just moved out of the lines and we're now in the rear area for a rest. We were on the line 20 days and saw combat nearly every day. Every hill is being combed for the enemy, which is a slow process, but the only way to get them out. The hills range from 500 to 5000 feet. It was cold during the nights and snow and rain were frequent. Most of the time, the weather was warm and the climate so far has been similar to that of Kansas and the wind likes to blow occasionally."
"Our resistance was light at first but it stiffened when we crossed the 38th parallel and our last objectives was a tough one. The enemy don't have too many weapons, a few machine guns, rifles like ours which have been given to China through Lend-Lease. We have even seen a few British and German weapons as well. They dig in like rats and are really good at camouflage and concealment. Can't say that I blame 'em for when the air corps (Silver Angels to us) get through with 'em they usually have trouble. The new jelly gasoline bomb is very effective. It bursts with a radius of one mile with a solid sheet of flame and usually burns everything. The artillery does its share too, and can literally demolish a hill."
"So far, only a few heavy mortars have been dropped on us. They use none of their planes, as our jets give 'em the works."
"Koreans are helpful, but a person can't trust 'em. Our only supply was by mule train, composed of Korean workers who work for food, which gets us our C rations, ammunition and water in the hills, usually carried on their backs over the ridge lines. They do their share of the war and in addition to carrying supplies, are litter bearers for the medics. They are most stupid though in a way a person can't heckle them. When a shot is fired close by, they drip everything and run. It's hard to make them understand and usually do the opposite of what you want them to do. Guess a person has to have patience with them. They like U.S. Army chow, as most Koreans eat rice, roasted soybeans and bean sprouts, and other things made out of rice. Millet also and corn. Dried fish can be bought in the village. Had a taste of dried octopus today. Tasted fairly well.
Before coming on line, I saw or went through, by truck, the famed city of Seoul, also crossed the Han, of which I had heard and read of in the news. Seoul was a most modern city compared to the rest of the Korean villages. It had churches, newly constructed buildings and street cars. It's a large city, larger than Pusan. It lay in its ruins. After entering the main gate, a person could see what destruction bombs can do. Almost demolished, only a few buildings can be found that don't have a broken window. Saw also the famed capital building. Only its hugh bulwark frame was left standing. Seoul at one time must have been a modern Orient city. Only few people could be seen and hardly no shops. This was shortly after U.N. forces had retaken it for the third time. No wonder it's demolished. Many GI's are hopeful to be rotated to the U. S. soon. Can't say I blame them. After being here in this mess for 9 months. War is a terrible thing, even if it is fought on a small scale. Only hope it can prevent it of ever hitting our U.S.A. I have seen things I want to forget. Only hope it can soon be settled and all boys can come home to live in a peaceful world.
Private Edward H. Kaiser, US55006950
Company F., 21st Infantry. Regiment 2nd Battalion
C/O: Postmaster, A. P. O. 24
San Francisco, California
P.S. Hope this proved to add an interest to our local paper, I know home folks like to hear from servicemen. Hoping this will be over soon.
Phillips County Review
May 10, 1951
Eddie Kaiser Writes
Another Interesting Letter
To His Brother and Sister-in-Law
John & Loretta Kaiser
Mail has been catching up with me its old through. Iíve moved so much no wonder, was about 5 weeks before I heard from anyone.
Our Bat. is or has gone back for a rest after being in combat for 20 days, was to go back 60 miles tomorrow & go into Army Reserve. Our Company took quite a few hills & it was rough, the most chinks bagged were 5 at one time. Weíve crossed the 38 degree about 10 miles guess itís mostly mountains here only a few valleys. We lived on C rations most of the time. Gouks (Koreans) bring food, water & ammo in by mule trains our only source of supply. They are most stupid & crazy. Not so dumb you canít heckle em much or pull the wool over their eyes.
Last nite we got 2 cans of beer & plenty of cig & candy. The mountains are from 1,000 to 5,000 ft. high. We had snow just before we can down & rained last nite. Itís still chilly & damp a climate similar to Kansas or where you live, only rains often.
Weíre camped in a rice paddy, our food is good and its nice & warm here today. Everybody is cleaning up, shaved the beards, prize winners its difficult to keep clean on the (F.L.) front line.
Has John planted any garden yet? Hope Helen & Royce make good in restaurant. So glad to hear you was such a bests girl in Lent. Havenít been to church service since March 18 that was in Japan. Easter was spent in Korea, Repl. Bn. (Replacement Battalion)
Hope this mess comes to an end soon. I wonder sometimes what weíre fighting for. How are wheat prospects? & howís Johnís business? Hope both are good.
Well I must close for this time, I have more letters to answer. Just got another handful of old mail. Do write when you have the time I know you are busy with so many more added duties now.
I want to close with a popular song Ė
May the Good Lord Bless & Keep you,
Whether near or far away.
May you find that long awaited golden day today.
May your troubles all be small ones.
And you fortune ten times ten.
May the Good Lord Bless & Keep you till we meet again.
Hope this finds you, all well & OK, Iím fine. Give my regards to all.
God Bless you all
Love always, Eddie.
Father -John Henry Kaiser
Mother - Maria Barbara Margaretha( Fink) Kaiser
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Last Up-Date 11/26/2007 05:39:46 PM