Edgar Lewis Grider Interview
Interview: Edgar Lewis Grider (EG) Medium: Audio Tape Date: Tuesday May 10, 2011 Place: Home of Kevin and Betty Grider Collected by: Madeleine Grider (MG)
MG: Please state your name and where we are.
EG: My name is Edgar Grider and I’m at Kevin and Betty and Mallie’s house.
MG: And the date?
EG: The date is May 10th, 2011.
MG: Do I have your permission to record you with audio tape?
EG: Yes. MG: Do I have your permission to submit this information to my history class at Marion High School and to the Marion Public Library?
MG: Will you please state your date of birth.
EG: March 24th, 1931.
MG: How old were you when you joined the military?
EG: Seventeen years old.
MG: Were you drafted or did you enlist?
EG: I enlisted.
MG: Why did you enlist in the military? Do you have other family or friends in the military? EG: Um I left school and didn’t have anything else to do and my brother was already in the service and my buddy and I both went in.
MG: Ok. What branch of service were you in and what was your rank?
EG: Uh I was in the in the army and my rank was a corporal.
MG: Why did you choose the army?
EG: Mainly because my brother was there I guess.
MG: Uh huh, where did you serve?
EG: Uh Camp Brackenridge Kentucky then to Fort Benning Georgia and then to Korea and then to Fort Custard Michigan.
MG: Ok How long did you serve in the military?
EG: Three years.
MG: Where was your boot camp?
EG: Camp Brackenridge Kentucky.
MG: Tell me about some of your boot camp experiences.
EG: Lots of exercising and running… MG: Ha ha EG: … cal esthetics and getting up at five in the morning and riffle range and so forth.
MG: So you learned how to do all the guns that you were gonna have to use while you were in the military?
EG: Uh no, just, just riffles. MG: Ok EG: And pistols. I learned, I learned what I was gonna do in Korea when I was in Fort Benning Georgia.
MG: Ok. So once you went to Fort Benning Georgia, you knew that you were gonna have to go to Korea?
EG: No I had already been there for a year, um a year, over a year before the war broke out. MG: Ok. EG: So then they shipped us right overseas.
MG: Ok. Do you remember your first day of service?
EG: No, I remember the first week but not the first day, specifically.
MG: What... Did anything significant happen in the first week?
EG: Eh um, Well we had to get new clothes, lots of shots, uh vaccinations, and and indoctrination and so forth.
MG: Ok. Um what war did you serve in?
EG: The Korean War.
MG: Where exactly were you stationed?
EG: In the war? MG: Yeah. EG: All the way from South Korea all the way to the Manchurian border and, and uh North Korea.
MG: Ok. What did it feel like arriving in a foreign country?
EG: Um, more scared than anything because there was a war going on.
MG: Uh huh, how old were you when you got there, to Korea?
EG: Uh nineteen, eighteen and a half.
MG: Ok, ok how many different states or countries were you stationed in?
EG: Just, just one, other than here.
MG: Ok, um what was your assignment in Korea?
EG: What did I do? MG: Uh huh. EG: I was a gunner on an artillery piece.
MG: Ok. So you worked all of the weapons mostly?
MG: Ok. Um were you involved in or did you fight in any battles? If so, please name the battles. EG: Yes. Uh Pusan Perimeter Battle, uh Taegu, Taejon, Seoul, those were in South Korea and then a lot of smaller battles and then all the way to Pyong Yang, North Korea and then all the way, almost all the way to the Manchurian border.
MG: Ok. Were there many casualties in your unit?
EG: Yes. Uh a few.
MG: Ok. Tell me about a couple of your most memorable experiences.
EG: Bad, bad, hot summers muggy and stink and cold, cold winters sleeping on the ground.
MG: So you always slept on the ground?
MG: Were you ever a prisoner of war or w, or were people from your unit ever prisoners of war?
EG: No, oh well, I wasn’t but um uh I don’t think anyone else was, that I know of.
MG: Were you awarded any medals? If so, how did you get them?
EG: Um I was awarded the uh Korean Service Medal, the Korean Combat Medal and with five major battle stars, and two presidential unit citations along with a good conduct medal.
MG: Ok. Were you ever injured or do you have any disabilities caused from your service?
EG: Yes I lost my hearing.
MG: Were you able to stay in touch with your family? If so, how?
EG: Uh yes and by writing letters.
MG: So how often did you get to write home to your family?
EG: As often as you wanted to. Whenever you had uh, uh, a lull in the fighting why you could right. Ya know?
MG: Yeah. What was the food like?
EG: Bad. Sea rations, in the winter time it was frozen you had to eat it, dig it out with a bayonet and it was frozen and uh the only time we had any good food was when we’d when we’d go in the rear for a couple of days. Eh ehh.
MG: Did you ever run out of supplies?
EG: Um yes.
MG: So then you just had to get in touch with…
EG: NO they, they, they we were when we went all the way to all the way north of almost to the Manchurian border uh they couldn’t supply us shells fast enough and we, we ran out and we had to turn around and come back.
MG: Ok. What was the weather like?
EG: Bad. Hot, hot, muggy and stink in the summer time and cold, cold in the winter time. Got down to 34 below zero.
MG: Wow. What kind of clothes did you have?
EG: Well, back then we had uh insulated, insulated boots and we had uh wool under garments and that was about it. That was the up-to-date thing at the time.
MG: So you had boots or… EG: Huh? MG: Did you have boots or tennis shoes or what kind of shoes did you have?
EG: Uh we had, we had boots that we blowed air in and it was air around your feet that that that kept your…
MG: Oh insulated your feet? EG: Yeah.
MG: Ok. Where did you have to sleep?
EG: We used to sleep in pairs and we’d put down a blanket and uh then we would we’d get like four guys, we had eight men in our in our squad, uh ten men actually, and we’d have half of ‘em lay down and we’d sleep on for half the night and the other guys would we’d get up and guard and the other guys would sleep and we’d use all their blankets then we had more blankets to cover up with.
MG: So you always had to have people on guard to make sure no one came up when you were sleeping?
EG: Yes. Yes.
MG: What happened if someone from your unit got sick? Were they able to receive care?
EG: Eh ehh. Yes they had sick call everyday and if anybody got sick, like I did one time they had to take me back to a rear hospital and I had a real high fever and a cold and I stayed there a day and then right back to the front line.
MG: Ok. So the rear is just away from the front line? It’s?
EG: Yeah, back about ten miles.
MG: Oh ok. So out of danger?
EG: Huh? MG: Out of danger? EG: Yup, yeah.
MG: Were you able to take showers? If so, how and how often?
EG: No showers, not on the front line, no. You just, you just wash your face and hands and that was it.
MG: Did you or your unit have any interactions with the native people?
EG: Uh yes, um some but not a lot because you didn’t know, you couldn’t tell who was the enemy from the other one they all looked alike and it was hard to tell ‘em, so uh they kept us away from them most of the time.
MG: So were the ones that ended up not being the enemy, were they nice or personable? Could you talk to them or they didn’t speak English?
EG: They, they didn’t speak English. MG: Yeah. EG: They, they tried but some time they did.
MG: Yeah. Did you have any interactions with wild animals?
EG: No we had a dog and we had a rabbit for a while and then they were gone.
MG: Did you feel pressure or stress? If so, was there anything you did to take your mind off of things?
EG: No I just I didn’t pay any attention to it. Didn’t have time to.
MG: Uh huh. How did you entertain yourself?
EG: You didn’t because you didn’t have time to
MG: You were always, constantly fighting?
EG: Yep, yeah. Or, or going to a battle one or the other.
MG: Yeah, Where were some of the places you went on leave and what did you do?
EG: I went one place to Kakora, Japan, eh ehh, and uh we just went around the restaurants, drank some of their, some of their liquid refreshments... MG: Uh huh. EG: …And uh we was just there five days and then we went back to Korea.
MG: So that was the only leave you got?
MG: …Was five days and the whole time? EG: Yes.
MG: Do you have any funny stories about friends or pranks that were pulled?
EG: Um not really, no.
MG: Ok. Do you have any photographs from the time you were in the service?
MG: So you, from you in your uniform or while you were in Korea?
EG: Yeah both, when I was in the states and also in Korea.
MG: Ok. Did you keep a diary or write anything down that you saw or anything that happened while you were in the service?
MG: Did you make friends with anyone you met while in the service?
MG: Are you still friends with any of the people you met?
MG: Were, where were you stationed last? EG: Fort Custard Michigan.
MG: Do you remember the day your service ended?
MG: Tell me how you felt on your last day.
EG: Really excited because I was done and I was leaving.
MG: Uh huh. Did they just let you know when you were done?
EG: Well you knew, you knew the, the date and then we had to be go through a process to be discharged and uh they give you for discharges one day prior to the day you entered. MG: Ok. EG: And so on that day then we were done.
MG: Okay what did you do when you got home or back to America? EG: For a short period of time I didn’t do anything then I got um I started an electrical apprenticeship and went back to school.
MG: Was your education supported by the G.I. Bill?
EG: Uh partly, not all the way but some of it.
MG: So you had to pay for the rest?
EG: No, no I didn’t have to pay anything because I worked while I was going to school.
MG: Ok. Do you think your time in the service helped you or hurt you to get a job? EG: It helped.
MG: Um, did you join a veteran’s organization? If so, are you still active in that organization today?
EG: Yes. MG: What activities does your post do?
EG: Well I belong to the VFW and also the Legion mainly the VFW, eh eh, and they take care of uh lots of things that concerning veterans service work uh we participate in funerals and Veterans Day parades and V.A. hospital work and so forth.
MG: So the funerals for veterans or just anybody?
EG: Yep. Yeah. Veterans.
MG: Ok. What did you do in the years following the war? Did you start a family or a career?
EG: Well yes that when I started my electrical apprenticeship… MG: Ok. EG: …And then I got married and started a family.
MG: Did your experiences change your views on the war or the military?
EG: No, not really.
MG: How did your service or experiences change your life?
EG: That’s pretty hard to say, um it made me realize that I think everybody if they’re not, if they’re physically able that they should serve some time, ya know?
MG: Uh huh. Would you recommend young people to join the military today? Why or why not?
MG: What branch? Ha hahahaha.
EG: It…No preference, whatever whichever one you like.
MG: Ok. Do you attend any military reunions?
MG: Do you connect with anyone at the reunions that you served with?
MG: Is there anything else you would like to add to the interview that we have not already covered?
EG: Not really. MG: Okay thank you.