Veteran Stories:
Austin Bradley

Army

  • A 1951 newspaper clipping from a Winnipeg, Manitoba paper with a list of recent casualties from the Korean War. Austin Bradley was among those injured.

    Austin Bradley
  • Austin Bradley's discharge papers showing his release from the army on 3 June 1954.

    Austin Bradley
  • Letter to Austin Bradley's mother dated 10 December 1951, informing her that he had been injured but in good condition.

    Austin Bradley
  • Letter from Lee Sang-Hoon, president of the Veterans Association in South Korea, declaring that Austin Bradley is an Ambassador for Peace, 5 October 2000.

    Austin Bradley
  • Letter of thanks from the South Korean Embassy for Mr. Bradley's service during the Korean War, 18 September 2000 18, 2000.

    Austin Bradley
  • Letter of thanks from the South Korean government for Mr. Bradley's service during the Korean War, 25 June 2000.

    Austin Bradley
Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"When I got back, as a lot of us did, we had gone into kind of a depression, "My God, what have I just done?" kind of thing. When you're 17 or 18, it was quite an experience."

Transcript

Good morning, my name is Austin Bradley, and back in 1950 I had the occasion to enroll in the Korean Special Force that Canada had recruited to go over there, as part of the United Nations contingent. It was quite an eye opening experience, and I met a lot of really nice people.

But when we got there, the North Koreans had invaded South Korea and the United Nations troops were on the push, pushing the North Koreans back into North Korea and across the 38th Parallel, which is the line that separates North Korea from South Korea. When we got them up and across the line, the head of the United Nations told us to back up and stay on the south side of the line – that imaginary line of the 38th Parallel – and that's where we stayed. We were locked in there for the rest of our tour of duty.

I was wounded in Korea, and I was evacuated by a helicopter. I was evacuated to an American MASH [mobile army surgical hospital], and then sent over to Japan to the 29th British Commonwealth General Hospital. When I got out of there, I went to a convalescent – getting the body back into shape. They told me, when I reported back to the unit in Japan, that I had a ticket home if I wanted to go. The group that I went over to the Far East with, we only had about four or five months to go on the tour and we'd all come home together, and I asked if I could go back to Korea to the unit. They obliged me, and I went back to Korea and was there for the rest of my journey.

When I got back, as a lot of us did, we had gone into kind of a depression, "My God, what have I just done?" kind of thing. When you're 17 or 18, it was quite an experience to have killed a man, and you start thinking about this. It wasn't a very pleasant homecoming for me. I had a lot of issues to deal with. I had a record of about twenty-eight that I had killed, or wounded. Anyway, I had shot at them and seen them fall. Who am I to have taken a life like that? It really played on my mind. But with time, I was able to deal with it, and to bring it down to the idea that it was me or him.

 

Follow us