Veteran Stories:
Romuald “Ron” Bourgon

Army

"I got one kid out of hell."

Transcript

My mother detested the thought of my going to Korea, being in a war, being in the army.  She hated it.  She didn't want to have anything to do with it.  She cried all the time and wrote to me and told me to be careful and make sure I said my prayers, which, sometimes I did.

I was in charge of the officer's mess and I could buy whiskey for the officer's mess for 60 dollars for a bottle of Canadian Club or gin or whatever.  And the officers would indulge in these things.  We couldn't get any of that.  But when I went down to buy it for the officers, I would buy it for myself.

And on the way back, one time the, I burnt the motor out of the jeep or and it wasn't working so I stopped near this engineering group, American engineering group.  And I asked them if they could help me to repair the jeep.  The sergeant come out and he says, “Let's look - well that jeep is finished.”  He says, “You're going to have to leave it here and hitchhike back to Chipyong-ni” – where we were I believe.  And so I can't do that.  They're going to have my butt for this.  “What have you got in the truck?  What have you got in the back there?”  I said, “Whiskey.”  And he said, “What?”  I says, “Whiskey.”  He says, “Is it possible to sell us a bottle?”  And I said, “Well,” I says, “fix my jeep and I'll give you a bottle.”   So he went and got another jeep.  They brought another corporal out and he painted the same numbers on it.  And he gave me a brand new jeep to take back to camp for a bottle of Canadian Club. So I went back to the camp and [Lieutenant Brian] Munro says, “Did you wash the jeep?”  I said, “No, I got a new one.”  And I told him what the story was.  And he says, “Oh, okay, that's fine.”  And that was a story with the booze.

And every time I went down there, I got extra whiskey and they wouldn't let me put the money in my paybook because you only get paid $104 a month.  I was putting in four, five hundred dollars in there and you couldn't do it.   And I couldn't ship it through the mail because they wouldn't let us do it.  So I used to go to the American PX [Post Exchange] and send the money home.  I sent home $6,800.

One patrol I did I remember very well.  I found a young boy about, he'd be 9 years old and he'd stepped on a mine or he'd been wounded.  I never could find out because he spoke no English.  And the bone in his leg here had healed but it was sticking out about three inches.  And it was like a blade almost.  Dry but healed and outside of his leg.

And I says to my officer Brian Munro, I said, “Brian,” I says, “we got, sir, we got to get this kid a doctor - get him some help.  He'll be crippled all his life.”  And he said, “Well I'm not going to carry him.  And you can't carry him, you got the radio.   And I can't ask these guys to do it.”  And then I remembered we'd gone into one of the shanties, it wasn't a village it was just a few houses.  And there was a Korean there.  I guess he might have been a deserter. But he was the biggest Korean I've ever seen.  He was about 5’11” and he weighed about 250 pounds.  He was a monster.  And I had questioned him because we had this young Korean boy with us we called Jeff.  And he was like an interpreter and at the same time he carried extra ammunition for my carbine, being for the pistol that Brian had.

So we told the guy, I said, “We want you to carry this.” “Oh I can't, I've been wounded.  My back is sore,” and so on.  I persuaded him with my .45 [carbine], I said, “You're going to try or you're going stay here permanently.”  I wasn't going to do anything, but I threatened him.  And he obliged.  He carried him all the way back about 12 miles. And we took him and put him with the medical officer and they shipped him to Seoul and eventually they repaired his leg. I don't know what happened to the kid.  I don't know his name.  But that, one of the most important things as far as I'm concerned that happened from these patrols.  I got one kid out of hell.

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