Veteran Stories:
Earl Wilkenson

Army

  • The Imjin River in winter. 1954.

    Earl Wilkenson
  • 38th Parallel marker, Korea. Earl Wilkenson is on right. January 1954.

    Earl Wilkenson
  • Earl Wilkenson (on right) with Korean houseboys, Song and Kim. 1954.

    Earl Wilkenson
  • Earl Wilkenson (second from right) with Australian friends at bar in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. September 1953.

    Earl Wilkenson
  • Canadian Army field ambulance, Korea. Christmas 1954.

    Earl Wilkenson
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"If you look at a "MASH" outfit and our outfit, it almost – you'd say they took it off of us, because we had a fellow they called “Radar” there."

Transcript

We had terrible winters, because we weren't far from Manchuria, you know, where, up in North Korea, actually.  And, of course the summers were as bad as the winters because of the mosquitoes like you've never seen in your life, you know.  And, like I say, in our jobs, I was with, like a MASH [Mobile Army Surgical Hospital] outfit, only we call them field ambulance.  The same thing, you know, you've got your doctors and ambulances, drivers, and all that.  So I liked that, all that part of it.

Well, so if somebody got hurt or sick or, or anything, we would, we had an MIR [Medical Inspection Room], you know.   We were a FDS, Forward Dressing Station.  And, if they were bad, we'd take them down to a place called Uijongbu, which is –where a dressing station [was located].  And if they were too bad, then they'd go to Inchon, an American base, hospital.

I was mostly ambulance.  I drove to – picked people up.  The choppers would bring them in and we'd put them in our – look after them there and if they were serious, then we'd drive them down to a place called Uijongbu and that's where the field hospital was.  And, we comprised of medics and [Royal Canadian Army] Service Corps.  We did all the transport for the medics, like.

And, that MASH outfit, or field ambulance, it was just, almost – if you look at a MASH [television show] outfit and our outfit, it almost – you'd say they took it off of us, because we had a fellow they called “Radar” there, and we had – and, you know, we had an awful lot of fellows from Newfoundland and they can be very, very funny.  And, when you need morale, you know, they'd do things that would really cheer you up a bit, I guess.

Compared to the amount of allies who were there, there was millions of – from China as well, Chinese and Koreans.  There were – I forget the amount.  Well, I think there was 50,000 Americans killed there, so you can imagine the amount of Chinese would be triple that, you know, or – I forget.

See, the war ended in July of 1953, the shooting stopped, but still people were getting hurt, you know.  There was mines all over the place, wherever you walked, you know.  Mines if you were down the Imjin River there, there was mines floating, you know, after they have their typhoons and everything would disrupt.  So you could be down there by the Imjin River and mines floating by.

It was just a, it was a temporary thing and it's still going on to this day.  You know, the truce commission in Panmunjom [Republic of Korea] is still, you know, Americans and North Koreans facing each other continuously.

So we...  In a sense you had to be very, very careful, you know, on the roads.  For instance, our colonel, Colonel Slack,* got killed.  He went over a mine.  And, things – even the Koreans that were very, very nice, there were some, like in every country, you'd have bad ones.  So, when the colonel – the vehicle blew up, his driver was in the back seat of the vehicle and didn't get hurt – when we went to pick them up, the Koreans had them stripped of all their clothes, and ring or watch or anything, monies or anything.  They were just stripped when we got them.

*Lieutenant-Colonel William Robert Ian Slack, officer commanding 3rd Canadian Field Ambulance Corps, was killed on 4 February 1956 in Korea, when his jeep overturned

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