Veteran Stories:
Clarence Ruttan

Army

  • The New Testament that Mr. Rutan used to carry with him in Korea.

    Clarence Rutan
  • Shell fragment.

    Clarence Rutan
  • Pin commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong.

    Clarence Rutan
  • Pin commemoration the Battle of Kapyong.

    Clarence Rutan
  • Mr. Clarence Rutan, September 2011.

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"And we carried him out. It was, he was heavy. I don’t know how many times we dropped him, because all we had was a ground sheet to take him out. But eventually we got him out and that’s what bothered me over the years."

Transcript

The day before the battle, we would stop, we dug in for the night and we were digging in. And the major standing behind us. All of a sudden, we heard a shot and just one shot. He come up, took a shot and went down. I don’t know who he was shooting at but he missed the three of us. And before the night was out, we moved. So we went to ... And it was a wet night, foggy, we went to dug in. We didn’t know where we were. So we looked down, we see movement, so we sent up a flare. Two or three times during the night, that happened. When we woke up in the morning, got up, we were looking at a graveyard and the fog going past the stones made it look as though there was no one. And that’s what it was, a graveyard.

And then before that, we were on a patrol, that would be about the seventh of April, it was a platoon. So we went into North Korea with a patrol. So we got to the 38th parallel out, there was a fence so they cut it and I don’t know there must have been about 60 of them, all the way up to the ... And whenever hit them, it must have been heavy machine gun because there were less pieces. So we got through the fence and walked gingerly through the bodies because there was mined all around. So we got through, we walked through the fence and went a few feet between, there was a soldier on the south side, on the north side, shot through the head. And we kept going. We come to a clearing and we looked up on the hillside which was the bunker.

So this is my first day on the Bren [type of light machine gun], so the lieutenant, he had the setting, and came up, he said, “Okay, go to it.” So I almost emptied the magazine into it because you could see it, see the tracers [bullet that has a small pyrotechnic charge at its base, which, when it burns, show the trajectory of the bullet], they were hitting. And anyways that was … because my aim must have been pretty good. So we started back, back through the bends. In the meantime, it had rained and that cut down the smell of the bodies. That’s something I remember today. It stayed with me.

[After an enemy raid conducted around 1 May 1951] We were, Baker Company was hit first. In fact, [the enemy] come in once and then they came back in and six platoon was overrun. And it fell back on their positions. And they, the corporal wanted it to be left behind, that was Corporal Evans, he said, these people were wounded that were coming out. So early in the morning, just before daybreak, they asked for volunteers to go up and try and get the corporal out. And there was six of us. I was still on the Bren, I volunteered and there was four, five more, Bill Whalen was one, I remember. The other four I don’t. Anyway, I had to leave the Bren behind, that was an order, so I could go. But then I took a rifle. The reason I never questioned nor did I ask afterwards why.

And we went up, started up the hill and we heard a shot and the corporal was gone. We got up on the hill, they went to the corporal and there was still two [enemy soldiers] just on the top of the hill. And one was running down the spur. Now, I had a rifle, by the time I got it to my shoulder, they were gone. And I often wondered if I had have taken the Bren up, I probably would have got two. So one of those three killed the corporal. They shot him into the cap badge, directly in and just stand right over him and shot him through the hat badge. And we carried him out. It was, he was heavy. I don’t know how many times we dropped him, because all we had was a ground sheet to take him out. But eventually we got him out and that’s what bothered me over the years.

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