Airfield in Japan, 1952.Clyde Koehne
Hospital plane carrying wounded in Korea, 1953.Clyde Koehne
Air field in Osaka, Japan.Clyde Koehne
United States commemorative stamp for the Korean War to honour the signing of the armistice on 27 July 1953.Clyde Koehne
"We got bombed, I think, twice by small planes with very, very small bombs. Did a little damage, no one was killed."
My name is Clyde Koehne. I live in Waco, Texas. I was in the United States Air Force from January 1948 until October 1953 on active duty.
I spent a tour in Alaska. Came back to the States briefly and then after the Korean War started I was stationed in Nagoya, Japan for six months. I could have stayed there my entire 36 months but I wanted to go to Korea. I just couldn't be that close and not go.
My dad had been in World War I and gotten a couple of Purple Hearts, my brother, in World War II, on a B-17 crew, and I just felt I had to go. Of course, I knew I would not be in combat. I was an administrative personnel with the Air Weather Service.
I went from Osaka, Japan, where I'd been for six months, to Taegu, Korea, in June of 1951. The Korean War had started in June of 1950. We went into Taegu. I spent about two weeks there with the Headquarters, 30th Weather Squadron. Seoul had changed hands for the fourth time in March of 1951 and in early July, 1951, our headquarters moved to Seoul, Korea.
The biggest part of Seoul had been destroyed during the various takings and re-takings. We lived on the outskirts in what had been a medical school. And our quarters were in what had been a hospital, which really wasn't too terribly bad. I served in an administrative... I was a clerk typist, basically.
At this time, the frontline was about 30 miles north of us and it didn't change much during the rest of the war. Conditions for us were really not all that bad, as I said. We lived in what had been a hospital. We did have some steam heat. Our working conditions was in what had been a medical school, which was not bad. Food was not terribly good. We had a lot of powdered milk, powdered potatoes, powdered eggs, a lot of Spam. Of course, on occasions there would be fresh meat, turkey, this type of thing. The day I left Korea I swore I would never eat Spam again, which I haven't, or powdered milk or powdered eggs or powdered potatoes, because I got my fill of them.
While I was in Korea, I went to Japan on five different occasions, from three to eight days, on what we call an R and R, rest and relaxation. But anyway, I went back to Nagoya and Osaka and Tokyo. The air force had different regulations for R and R from the army. The army, I think, just got one R and R during their entire tour. The tours were based, both by air force and army, on a point system. You got one point a month in Japan, it took 36 months to come home. Two points a month, I think in Okinawa. Three points a month in Korea in what was not considered the combat zone. Four points a month in what was the combat zone. Seoul was considered the combat zone. So we got four points a month. That's why I just spent ten months there, roughly.
We got bombed, I think, twice by small planes with very, very small bombs. Did a little damage, no one was killed. I think my impressions of Korea... I think back and look at the condition of people that were still in Seoul were living in. Streetcars were running by the time we got in. Some rubble in the streets had been cleared out. I really never got to know any Koreans other than what worked in our headquarters. I feel guilty, when I look back, that I did not go out and do something to help the orphans or so forth. Carrying food or this type of thing.