Read Hal McEwan text version

Eric Walz History 300 Collection

Hal McEwan ­ Life during The Korean War

By Hal McEwan February 1, 2003

Box 2 Folder 10

Oral Interview conducted by Erica McEwan Transcript copied by John Bauman November 2005

Brigham Young University ­ Idaho

2 EM: Today is February 1st 2003. I'm Erica McEwan, I'm interviewing my Grandpa Hal McEwan...and how old are you? HM: 72. EM: 72 years old, were going to talk about the Korean War and his experience there. Where were you when the war started? HM: Well, I was actually on an LDS mission in England when the war broke out. EM: What did you hear about it? HM: In 1951 we kind of followed it in the British press and on the B.B.C. It heated up and got pretty bad while I was in England. EM: What were your feelings about it? Did you know what America's goals were, or did you agree with them? HM: Well, I kind of had mixed feelings at first, but then I realized that something had to be done to stop the flow of the communist party from China through North Korea in to South Korea. They came way down on the peninsula before the U.S. forces really took a foothold and started pushing it back. I didn't know how long it would last; nobody did at the time. EM: Did you hear America's opinions about the war, if there was a lot of opposition? Did you agree with the opposition? HM: There was certain amount of opposition, but not near like there was during the Vietnamese war. EM: When did you personally get involved? HM: Well when I returned from Europe, from England in the summer of 52, I enrolled at BYU and was in the air force R.O.T.C. program and was scheduled to complete that program and go to flight school. After 2 years in the R.O.T.C. program at BYU, I received a physical up at hill Air Force Base and was diagnosed with flat feet. They didn't want to commission me in the Air Force Base and didn't want to send me to Air Force training, pilot training school, so I dropped out of the Air Force program, and was drafted in the summer of '54 and went to basic training at Fort Ord, California, and went on to the second eight weeks of basic in clerk typist school and then was scheduled to go to the far east. I didn't know where I was going to go in the Far East at that point. EM: When they did assign you to go to your position, how did that work out? What were the circumstances around that?

3 HM: I was sent to camp Lewis up in Seattle for over seas assignments, and at that time they determined what personnel they need at different locations, and they fill the personnel needs for Korea and Japan simultaneously and they fill the ones first for Korea, and then the ones the they don't need in Korea, they send to different assignments in Japan. I was kind of at the end of the line and when I got up to where they were making the assignments; I was assigned to a headquarters outfit in southern Japan at camp Kokura in the island of Kyushu. There was a large repot depot where they process soldiers into Korea and out of Korea. It was on the peninsula just adjacent to Pusan, Korea. There was a big port there. Moji Port, and the troops ships came in and out of Moji Port from Pusan. EM: What did you do as a clerk? What where your duties? HM: We had several companies there, it was a large base, and I was in the headquarters and was a personnel records specialist and did clerical office work for the first year I was in Japan. We were processing troops in and out of Korea and taking care of all their personnel records. We had a large army hospital in the city Fukuoka, which was the largest city on the southern Island of Japan. It was about a 350-bed hospital, and this was where all the injured were coming into this hospital out of Korea. We had an American graves registration unit there also where they processed all the dead soldiers that were brought back out of Korea into Japan. They processed them there before they were shipped back to United States. EM: Did you like your position as a clerk? HM: I had good duty. I really had a good assignment. It was probably one of the best assignments I could have had, and I did enjoy what I was doing. After I had been there about a year, a position came open at the Hospital in Fukuoka, we supplied the personnel for the hospital, and it was the slot for the Chaplain's assistant so I put in for that, and orders were cut and I was sent over to the Hospital in Fukuoka, I spent the last, biggest part of a year, serving in that position, as a Chaplain's assistant in the hospital, which was really a good assignment, I really enjoyed that. There was a large air force base there, the Hedazuki Air Force Base. While I was at Camp Kokura, we organized an LDS service men's group, I was put in as the group leader there, and then later, when I was at the hospital and out at the air base I was later put in as the LDS group leader out at the airbase. We had quite a number of LDS families and personnel at the air base. I was the only LDS person at the hospital however. EM: What is a Chaplain's assistant? What did you do? HM: Well a Chaplain's assistant makes rounds on the wards daily, assists the Chaplain in visiting the wounded personnel as they... anybody that comes into the hospital had to clear different offices, they have to clear personnel, the Chaplain's office, the post office, different things like that. We made rounds on the hospital, and visited the injured people and there was a Red Cross office there in the hospital and we coordinated activities with the Red Cross for the service men that were there at the hospital. We also conducted the

4 Protestant services, and also coordinated the Catholic services. There were Catholic priests that lived in Japan that we scheduled in for the Catholic services. So I was involved in of the interesting assignments I had was that we took care of all the donation, all the money that was donated in the services, both the Catholic and the Protestant services, we made large donation to the local Salvation Army and to orphanages, this allowed me to get out in to the country side and visit several of the orphanages and make these financial donations which helped considerably in these little villages and fishing towns along the coasts of Japan. EM: You talked about a lot of religions. Were religion and church services very popular and helpful for soldiers, or were soldiers pretty religious? Did they really need that support? Or was it, probably, the minority that attended? HM: Yeah, pretty much. Most the soldiers weren't very religious minded. But we did have quite a good following; we had a lot of married personnel, families, that were there, there was billeting, there's living quarters that were in Korea, a lot of their families lived in Japan and if they got leave from Korea, they'd come to Japan and visit their families, so we did have a lot of the wives and the children that attended the services. The LDS service men seemed to be a little more dedicated and attended the services more of a regular basis, when their assignments allowed them to. EM: How did your religious beliefs help you in the military experience, did it help you cope? HM: Well, one of my biggest concerns in being sent overseas wasn't really where I went but was whether we had an LDS group there where I could attend church, it meant a lot to me. At camp Kokura, there wasn't an organized branch or group when we got there, when I was assigned there, but being in personnel, I went through a lot of the records, and found a lot of the LDS people that were there, contacted them and then contacted the mission office in Tokyo and they put me in touch with the LDS service men's coordinator and when we got a hold of them they came down and we organized the service men's group there at camp Kokura, and that's when I was put in as the first group leader there at camp Kokura. EM: While you were there serving, did you meet anybody that you'd already known? HM: Yeah, I had one friend that I was with at BYU and were inducted the same way at Fort Douglas at Salt Lake, we went to Fort Ord together, we through basic training together, went to Seattle together, we were shipped over together to Japan, and he was stationed just a few miles from where I was, when we returned we came home together, we came back to Salt Lake together, an ended back up at BYU together. Over the years our offices were just across the street from each other and I still see him at a lot of the BYU football games and basket ball games. But I did run into a lot of people I knew in Japan and met a lot of great friends there that I'm still close friends with today.

5 EM: How closely did you follow the fighting that was happening on Korea? How were you kept in touch? HM: Well, we had a military radio station and then we had a newspaper at camp Kokura and we had postings on the bulletin board daily. We kept pretty close track of the War, the activities, where we were processing the injured as well as the casualties, we were pretty close to it. We had real hands on experience with what was going on daily. We were also of course shipping medicine and supplies; we were shipping that on a daily basis to Korea, from where I was stationed. EM: Did you know soldiers personally that were in the war, or in the fighting? HM: Yes, in the hospital, I got to know several that were injured that we visited with on a daily basis. By that association I did have pretty close contact with actually what was going on in Korea. EM: Is there anything in particular that you can remember? Something that is vivid still that made an impression on you during the fighting? HM: Well we had a helicopter squadron that was stationed right there by the hospital also, and the ones that were critically injured that need to be airlifted rather than coming over in the Red Cross ships, they were brought in almost on a daily basis to the hospital there. They were treated temporarily at the M.A.S.H. units in Korea, then they were airlifted back to the hospital where I was assigned there in Japan. So it was a pretty close relationship with these injured soldiers as well as that graves units that was processing the ones that didn't make it. EM: How did the soldiers treat the native population? HM: Probably not as well as they should have. The occupation was a good occupation. As a whole the military was pretty well respected, but there was always those few that would give the GIs a bad name, but on the whole, I think the Japanese people pretty well respected the service men. We had a pretty good relationship because we hired so many of the Japanese people to work on the base and do so much of the work that had to be done. We hired them actually to do our security as well, we hired Japanese security officers. All the military vehicles were driven by Japanese that were hired by the military, and so it really bolstered their economy and it really helped them that way. EM: What was going on at home in your family? How were they affected by the war? HM: Well, I had 3 brothers in World War II and of course my father had passed away, but my mother was still alive and I was corresponding with her, and corresponding with Arlene, who I latter married when I got home. It seemed like I was there a long time. It didn't... the time didn't go at all fast. Two years seemed like a long time after I'd been on my mission for two years, got home for two years, and then was in Japan for two years, so I was away for quite a while.

6 EM: Did you have any relatives that were also drafted, or sent to fight? HM: Not in the Korean conflict, but in the Second World War, I had the three brothers that were involved in the service. EM: What did they do? Were they able to come home and live productive lives and get on with their goals? HM: Yes, they all were very well adjusted, and didn't have much of a problem adjusting to civilian life again and getting on with their lives. My brother Taylor was in the battle of the bulge, and on the Rhine River, and also my brother Willard was in combat in Germany. They both survived that and returned safely. My brother Douglas was in the Navy and he was at Guam Si Pan at the end of World War II. He was a photographer in the Navy, and ended up pursuing that in his civilian life. EM: While you were in Korea and you were corresponding with your family, and your mom, and Arlene, how did you correspond? Were you writing letters mostly? Could you use a telephone? HM: Yea, it was pre-computers, so it was all by correspondence, it was all writing, couple of phone calls but that was pretty expensive so it was all corresponding. Actually I wasn't stationed in Korea; I was just stationed in southern Japan... EM: Or in southern Japan, right. HM: The military was a good experience, looking back at it. I think it makes one a lot more patriotic and appreciate our nation and the history of our country. I don't think it would be a bad thing to have a mandatory time that everybody had to serve six months or so on active duty or in a reserve situation. I think it would be good experience, I think it makes people better citizens and I think they appreciate their country more if they've served. It's hard for people to understand when they're not associated with it. I wasn't anxious to go in at the time, but I soon realized that it was something that had to be done and I adjusted to it and made the best of it. In the military, it's a real Class-conscious organization, between the enlisted men and the officers. Also there's classifications within classifications and if you were regular Army, or making it a career or if you volunteered, even the designation on your ID number was different. The regular Army their serial number was prefaced by RA, and if you were drafted you number was prefaced by US, separating whether you were drafted or whether you volunteered, so that also made a class distinction. Any rank that came down always went to the RA's, it didn't go to the US because they were just serving what they had to and were probably getting out of the service at the end of their obligation. EM: Can you describe the events just prior to when you went home? Had the war ended when you were able to leave?

7 HM: Yes. It had pretty much ended, the truce had been signed between North and South Korea and there was still a police action going on and there were still people being injured and being killed along the line, the demilitarized line, so there were still some conflicts going on, as there are today. But, I was very much looking forward to coming home. We were processed going over, we were on a troop ship, and it took 14 days to get to Yokohama, and coming home was once again on a troop ship and it took another 14 days to come from Yokohama back to San Francisco. EM: Did you feel that the military was engaging in the best possible strategy to bring the war to an end? HM: Well there was a lot of mixed feelings about that at the time. General Douglas Macarthur wanted to go into China, he wanted to press all the way in when they were in North Korea, and President Truman didn't want to do this, he wanted to stop, and not go into China, so this is when there was a conflict and real mixed feelings among the people, the military people as well as the civilians about that. I feel the right decision was made. EM: What did the other soldiers and personnel that you were with, how were their feelings, was there a feeling of happiness, or more relief? Was there...were people sad? What was their moral? HM: I think everybody was very happy to see the fighting wind down and come to an end where they could return home. We had a lot of the enlisted men, a lot of the military people that had reenlisted for service the Far East. They enjoyed living in Japan. A lot of them married Japanese girls and so they...a lot of them wanted to reenlist and stay over there which a lot of them did and felt where they were in the regular Army, put in their 20 years and whatever, and they retired. A lot of them brought their families back to the United States. But, every one was glad to see the war end and return to civilian life. EM: Do you know what the sentiment was in America? Were they all very happy to see it over, were they pleased with the ending? HM: Well, there were so many troops, up to 50,000 personnel that were killed in Korea, that it had a real negative affect on the families of those that were killed and involved there, so there were a lot of feelings there. There wasn't a big fanfare when the soldiers and the military people came home from Korea because it happened over a period of time, and they were rotated in and out over a period of time so there wasn't a big celebration like there was at the end of World War II. A lot of the G.I.'s kind of felt that maybe they weren't appreciated in what they did, as they also felt at the end of the Vietnamese war, but more was made of it at the end of the Vietnamese war than there wasn't as much opposition as there was in the Vietnamese war. The Vietnamese war was very unpopular, where as the Korean War had a lot more support. EM: What did you think the feelings were in Korea? How were the natives affected by the war, what happened to their country?

8 HM: Well they were very...the South Koreans were very appreciated, and very happy to have military there and to support them and to help save their country and their lifestyle. They were received quite well in South Korea and very appreciative at the time. As time goes on, people forget and so we see some opposition now in South Korea, even to the troops that are still stationed there. They forget what we did to help them. EM: Do you think there are any lasting effects, anything that's caused, maybe the situation that were in with them now? HM: Well yea, I think so because we liberated South Korea and their economy. Through the support of the United States is a very healthy, booming economy, one of the best economies in the Far East, one of the best economies in the world. North Korea has no economy at all. Their totally depressed and they have not much going for them. Their people are freezing to death and starving to death, and it's just a difference between a communist society and a democracy. It's very obvious; people can see the difference in a free society and a communist society. HM: One of the experiences I had in basic training is that we were crawling out in the dirt all the time, and then the next morning they'd want to have an inspection, and your rifle had to be perfectly clean, no dust in the barrel or anything, and so every day when we'd get through and go back to the barracks, we'd have to break our rifle down and clean it , and so a lot of the guys started taking them in the shower with them and so we would take our rifles in the showers with us and clean it. And get the water as hot as we could and put it down the barrel and everything and we'd clean our rifles in the shower and then we'd polish them up and clean them up. But there was a lot of thing going on in basic, little groups who were always together and this type of thing, and I kind of was staying by myself a little. There was a group of guys always swarming around this one guy talking to him. He was a good looking guy, pretty good sized guy and I didn't know who he was, I didn't pay attention to him. One day we'd been there four of five weeks and we ended up sitting next door to each other in the mess hall and we were just kind of talking normal, and finally he said to me "You don't know who I am do you?" and I says, "No", I says, "You don't know who I am either," and he says "Well I'm Rudy Bukage," and I says "Well I'm Hall McEwan" he says "You still don't know who I am do you?" and I says "No should I?" and he says "Well, I'm the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers" and I says, "Oh yea, I knew I'd heard that name before." So we got to be pretty good friends after that. I think he was more impressed with me because I didn't know who he was. He didn't know who I was but, that was just one of the things that happened. One day in the infiltration coarse, one of the guys that was crawling through it, it was one of the times that they were shooting live ammunition, you could see the tracer bullets hitting in the ground up ahead of us. One of the kids wondered how high they were shooting, how high above our heads they were shooting, and so he held the butt of his rifle up and it got shot off, so he got in trouble over that. One day we were crawling the infiltration course at night with live ammunition and this Rudy Bukage froze up, and he kind of panicked and couldn't go any further, so some of us went and told the officers that there was fellow out there on the course that

9 froze up that he couldn't go any further, so they had to shut it down and he said that all the times he'd played football and pro-football, he'd never been so scared in his life as he was that day in the infiltration coarse, and he says he froze up. This happens once in a while. Even the one you don't think it's going to happen to, the big macho guys, the big athletes, sometimes they have more trouble than the average ordinary, little scrawny guy that's trying to do his job, but these things happen, and that was all part of it. Part of the...during basic, you couldn't get leave for four weeks, and after the fourth week they'd give you a weekend pass, and of course some of the guys they can't wait to buy beer and go chase around, but some of the LDS guys we went over to Pacific Grove, and Monterey and went to church over there. So that was kind of a thing that we looked forward to on the weekends was getting off base and going over to church and meeting some of the people over there in Pacific Grove. EM: And that was during Basic? HM: Yea it was during basic. You couldn't have any civilian clothes during basic, but I had a friend that was a MP that was at Fort Ord, so I kept my civilian clothes in his locker. I'd go and get my civilian clothes on and go to church, not many of the guys had that. But then after the first eight weeks we could have civilian clothes. So when we went on leave we could put on our civilian clothes. EM: What was an MP? HM: Military Police. EM: What was his rank above you? HM: I don't remember at the time, he was a corporal or something and I was a private. He played football at BYU, he was a friend of mine. We were in England on our missions together. He married an old girlfriend of mine. She was there with him. He was in permanent party. He was stationed at Fort Ord. He went into the MP's and stayed state side. But most the people I went through basic with either went to Germany or went to Korea or Japan. I had two friends in basic that I grew up with, and they were sent to Germany when I was sent to the Far East. EM: How did they assign basic? Was it mostly people from an area that went together, or was it random? HM: Didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason. It just as they got a big group of people in that were inducted or drafted of volunteered and they'd come in different groups, and at different times, and they'd fill up the different companies. They'd just assign you to one company until it's full, and then they'd fill another company then they'd fill another company. It's not alphabetical or anything. The military was integrated under President Truman, up until President Truman...during his tenure is when the military was integrated. Prior to that, during World War II, it was all segregated, as far as the blacks

10 and the whites. But President Truman integrated the service, which was a good thing. So, we were all mixed up. EM: While you were serving in Japan, what did you do in your spare time? What kind of entertainment did you participate in? HM: Well, I was very active in the church. As a result of that I spent a lot of my free time with other church members, and some were married and I spent time at their home, and we would go on kind of picnics down to the beach, and we'd build bon fires, and swim at the beach and barbeque, I traveled quite a bit. When I'd get a pass or time off I traveled up to Tokyo several times and spent some time there, up in to the mountains of Japan. It was very beautiful country. I spent some time up at the resorts and they had a LDS service men's retreat, while I was there in Tokyo and Joseph Fielding Smith came over. One of my good friends at the air bade was a pilot. An F-86 pilot, and he was flying patrols over Korea almost on a daily basis. When he was free, he and I did a lot of things together, and traveled together. We went up to Koyota 2 or 3 times during the cherry blossom festivals and it was very beautiful, visited a lot of the national landmarks and monuments, the temples and the shrines. We both went up to the LDS service men's retreat, he checked out a Jet T-33 trainer, and we both flew up to that conference together and flew around Japan and had a great weekend. 3 or 4 days together on that trip where we had our own private jet we were flying around. So we did have a lot of fun times too. They had a couple of new movie theaters there in Fukuoka and we went to a few shows. I had a very good friend, Mitsuo Kawasaki, that was a member of the church there in Fukuoka, he and I took some trips together, he had a business where he manufactured women's apparel and clothing and kimonos and he would travel up to Kobe and Osaka and buy material, fabrics for his business, I went with him on a couple trips up to Kobe and Osaka, and up to Hiroshima. I bought material there for Arlene's wedding dress that I shipped back to her, and she made her own wedding dress. I had kind of planned to get married when I got home. We were corresponding on a regular basis... couple times a weeks. We did phone each other a couple of times too, but I was really looking forward to getting home. On one trip with Mitsuro, I was going to buy some pearls while I was over there. They have a lot of beautiful pearls, and a lot of little shops...pearl shops. He always used to tell me, "Don't buy pearls here, don't buy pearls here." He said, "Wait and we'll buy them when we get to Kobe." So I went with him on a trip to Kobe, he knew some people there that owned a pearl farm and we pulled into the train station, he made a phone call and a chauffeur driven Cadillac pulled up and we hopped in it and we went up to his beautiful home overlooking this bay where this man owned this pearl farm. He and his son just brought in trays of pearls. I'd never seen so many pearls in my life, and they were just beautiful. So I told them what I'd like, and they didn't speak English, and I didn't speak much Japanese, so Mitsuro kind of translated a little for us and we made a beautiful purchase of a couple sets of pearls that I brought home, and gave the one set of pearls to my mother, and the other set to Arlene on our wedding day, at our wedding breakfast, I gave her this beautiful set of pearls, and she didn't know I had them, and she was very surprised. She doesn't wear them very often; don't know what she is going to do with them. She says they don't go very good with Levis.

11 Anyway, I traveled quite a bit, and this is what I did mainly when I had some free time, because Japan is a beautiful country. Of course at that time, the roads were very primitive, after the war they're economy was really bad; there wasn't any freeways; there wasn't any bullet trains; it took us 24 hours to go to Tokyo on a train. The roads were full of chuckholes. The roads were really bad. EM: Going back to when you were at basic training, and in the R.O.T.C. at BYU, how do you feel like the military trained you? Do you think they were kind of harsh, or brutal, do you think that they were very realistic? Do you think they taught you things that were very applicable? How do you feel about that experience? HM: Well I thought that the air force R.O.T.C. program was run very well, I thought our... what training there was at BYU, as far as military training, was very lacking, and of course most of it there was class room instruction. They had some very good instructors and very good classes, some of the best classes I had in college were the R.O.T.C. classes, they taught world political geography, and I found that very interesting and enjoyed those classes, of course. Their main thing was preparing you to go to flight school. When that didn't materialize, and I was drafted into the infantry, it was quite a shock, and going through basic training, I felt that the basic training was pretty rough. That first 8 weeks they beat you down pretty good then tried to build you back up. We had a lot of field exercises, we had a lot of training in combat courses, infiltration courses, we had a whole lot of weapons training, live machine gun training, we had to crawl through infiltration courses with live ammunition firing over your head, we had hand grenade training, in the field we did a lot of overnight biv whacking, and had night exercises. So, the basic training was pretty rigid training, strictly regular Army, it was a tough 8 weeks, those first 8 weeks, but it was probably training you needed if your going to go into a combat situation, which I was glad I didn't ever have to go into a combat situation. We had some additional training in Japan, but those that were assigned permanent party at the head quarters didn't really get involved in the field training like those that assigned in the infantry did. EM: How did you think the other soldiers who were in basic training... did they feel the same way you did? Were there some that handled it no as well? Were there people who... What happened if they couldn't handle it? HM: Well, there were a lot of people in the military that were trying to get out and they were trying to get out on almost any means they could. I think they refer to it as a section 8 if you weren't mentally capable of handling it. Some of them tried just about anything to get out on a section 8. In the most part, it was handled very well, there was a few that just shouldn't have been in the military. Their I.Q.'s were so low they made it dangerous for everybody else, and we all had to keep our eyes on those guys. In the most part, people handled it very well. EM: Do you feel like, well, I guess according to what you know now; has basic training changed a lot since then? Do you know if it is similar?

12 HM: I don't think it's changed an awful lot. As far as the Special Forces and the Infantry training, the air born guys train pretty much the same way; the Special Forces might have more ridged field training than what we did. The Marines might have a lot more ridged training, but the GI's, the Army, I think they pretty well have the same type of training that we had then. They might have more weapons training, and they might have mote exposure to what might happen in the event of a chemical warfare that we didn't have. We had a little bit of exposure to us, take us through barracks's where they had tear gas in there, and we had to experience the tear gas without gas masks and things. And then we had gas masks; occasionally in the field exercise they might throw a few tear gas grenades, and we'd have to put on our gas masks and things. I think there's a lot more of that today then what there was then. EM: Do you think that basic training does a good job to prepare men to be real soldiers to be... to go out and fight? And do you think after they do fight and have all of this training that they can come back to leading ordinary lives as citizens? HM: Obviously today the United States has the strongest and the best equipped military than anybody in the world and this has evolved over the different wars and conflicts we've been involved in. But I think they do, in the most part, a real good job of training. We are trying to minimize the loss of life as much as possible. Whereas in previous wars there was a lot more hand-to-hand type fighting than there is today. EM: Do most soldiers come home what extent does their experience affect their lives? HM: I think that on the big percentage adjust very well. The one we hear about are those exceptions that don't and lots of times individuals use that as an excuse to not to get on with their lives and succeed in civilian life or family life. It seems like we hear about the exception rather than the rule. All and all though, I felt that it was a good experience and I'm glad that I had it. It made me a better person and it made me appreciate my country more, and also my family more. EM: Do you often talk about your experiences? HM: No. I don't, unless you get with someone you shared them with, [then] you might talk about some of the things that happened. We had an officer, a Major, which was an LDS man that was in Japan. I got to know him and his wife pretty well. He was one of the officers in charge of this graves registration unit. Most of the personnel at this graves registration unit were what they call D.A.C.'s ­ they were Department of Army Civiliansthey were pathologists that were contracted by the government to process the dead soldiers. They tried to limit the exposure of that to the GI's as much as they could and put it in the hands of civilian contractors. He shared a little of that with me and took me through the facility one day. It was just like a total big morgue it was just a row of Quonset huts, buildings that were set up as morgues and things like that. But like I say I wasn't directly involved with that at all.

13 EM: Were your children familiar with what your duties were, or what kind of a role you played? HM: I don't think so. I don't think so. EM: Do you wish that they would have known? Do you wish that you would have told them more? HM: Well I don't know. They didn't seem to be too interested in what old dad did. I don't know about that. Unless they have exposure to that, and they really came along when it was pretty much peacetime and you don't re-hash things like that, you know, just don't... it's not something you're trying to impress somebody with. But there was good duty and duty that wasn't quite so good, but I was fortunate, I did have good duty all the time I was there, in the head quarters and at the hospital, it was real good duty, so I really didn't suffer very much. There was officers at the hospital, that the commanding officer over the hospital was a bird colonel, he was really a good guy, he was an M.D., and I got to know a lot of the doctors and nurses there, working with them on a daily basis, but the people in the company, the personnel that ran the hospital, I didn't get to know those guys too well or the officer over the company was a captain, and he didn't like me very good because I was out at the airbase all the time because I had a class A pass, and so I was in civilian clothes every night and out at the airbase, and several of my friends at the airbase, and the LDS group were officers, and so I was with these guys all the time, and I was at the officers club, and then these officers would come in from the hospital and see me, this lowly PFC, at the officers club and so they didn't like that. I probably had better duty than they did, and so I don't think they liked me too well. There was a girl there from Idaho, an LDS girl that was in the special units, special services, and she and I became good friends, it was just a good association. She and I would go to the officers club, she had officer status, and so she and I'd go to the officers club for dinner and go to shows there and things. Some of the officers in the hospital would see me and wonder what was going on. This one company commander there, he didn't like it, me being at the officers club all the time out at the airbase. He always looked at me kind of crossed eyed all the time. He didn't quite know what to do with me. They had rotated the Chaplain from the hospital, he had finished his duty there, he was a major and a protestant Chaplain. When he first interviewed me for the job, he was really cool, he didn't know if he wanted me or not, and I couldn't figure out why he was being so cool. So finally I asked him, I says, "Chaplain, there seems to be something bothering you here, what's the problem?" and he says, "Well, I've looked at your personnel file," and he says, "you're a Mormon, and you been to BYU, and you been on a mission," and he says, "I don't know whether I can work with you or not." He says, "I don't want you trying to convert my congregation." And I says, "Well, I don't think I'd do that," I says, "I don't think we'd have any problem there." I says, "We'd get along fine." And so he finally agreed to have me as his assistant, and we did get along fine. He said to me several times, "You know McEwan, if you'd just smoke pipe, we'd have something in common." And I'd get after him because he didn't preach any morality to

14 the troops, he says, "oh, I can't do that, I can't do that, I'd lose my congregation!" He was just kind of a middle of the road guy, teach the good life, he was a typical military Chaplain. He was rotated back, he was sent back to the states. So I was left there for about 6 months where they didn't replace the Chaplain, so I just moved into his office and took over the assignments of the Chaplain. I was conducting all the services for the Protestants and the Catholics, and working with the Jewish fellows, and then the group leader out at the airbase with the LDS guys. It gave me a lot of freedom, and I did have a lot of contact with local people as a result of that, because I was scheduling in local Protestant ministers, I was scheduling in Catholic priests, I was working with rabbis, and several of the doctors there at the hospital were Jewish. I got to know a lot of people and different beliefs and had a lot of interesting conversations, I'd give the Catholic priests a bad time for infant baptism, things like that, and they didn't really have an answer for it. EM: You did some Bible bashing? HM: Yeah, just a little. But anyway, that's about it, all the other things that went on. EM: Well thank you very much. HM: You're welcome dear; I hope it was somewhat what you had in mind. EM: Yeah, it was excellent. I appreciate it. Thank you.


Hal McEwan

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