MEMOIRS OF JERRY AND RUDOLPH’S KOREAN WAR EXPERIENCES 1952 TO 1953
“One was killed in combat and the other was wounded trying to hold a hill at all costs”.
August 1952, Fort Jackson, South Carolina Army Reception Station
There were many young men being processed through the reception station. Some had volunteered to join the armed forces and some were drafted into the armed forces. Once they passed their required physical examinations and Armed Forces battery tests, they were sworn into their branch of military service. After their swearing in, they were issued the required military uniforms and a twenty-dollar bill, which was called a flying twenty. With this twenty-dollar bill, they would have to pay the on-site barber for a haircut and the tailor to sew their nametags on all four sets of their military fatigue uniforms. They also had to purchase toiletry articles, defined as “An article or cosmetic used in dressing or grooming oneself.” Once they had gone through those long lines and purchased all required items, their twenty-dollar bills were almost gone. At that time all young men who enter the armed forces voluntarily was identified with a letter (RA) In front of their serial number (Regular Army) soldiers. A draftee soldiers was identified with a letter (US) In front of his serial number.
Waiting in the in-processing line, were two young (RA’s) African American soldiers, Jerry Cunningham, born February 8, 1934; and Rudolph M. Randall, born August 18, 1934.
I am Jerry Cunningham, and while standing in the in-processing line on that August day, I started talking to Rudolph. Rudolph’s hometown was Tampa, Florida and my hometown was Fort Lawn, South Carolina. That day we befriended each other. That was the first time either of us had been away from our homes, families, and friends. We were assigned to the same in-processing company. At every company formation, we would seek each other out and stand beside one another in formation. I missed being around my sisters and brothers and so did Rudolph.
After we had completed all of our in-processing, it was time to start out-processing. That’s when everyone is shipped out to different Army Installations across the United States for Basic Training. Early one morning around 4:30 am, while still at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, the in-processing company First Sergeant arrived. He had to stand on top of a painted, fifty five gallon, metal barrel, because he was only four feet tall; and he looked to be about twenty years old. The First Sergeant started calling out the names of those who would be shipped out that morning. Randolph said to me, “I guess this is where we will separate from each other.” Our names were not called at that formation. Again, around 13:00 hours, our First Sergeant held another company formation. I said to Rudolph, “This might be the time we will say good-bye to each other.” The First Sergeant started calling out the names of those who would ship out that afternoon. First, he called my name, and then Rudolph’s, and then the names of many other soldiers, for assignment to India Town Gap, Pennsylvania. I said, “WOW! We both are still together.” That afternoon around 16:00 hours, we boarded Army buses. Our destination was the train station in Columbia, South Carolina.
Later that evening, we boarded a troop train with lots of Army troop movement personnel in charge of getting us to our final destinations. Again, Rudolph and I were placed in the same sleeping section on the train. After all the in-processing, we had about five dollars left from our flying twenty. I said to Rudolph, “You better hide your money.” So, we took our money out of our pockets and placed it in our socks, which we wore while sleeping. It was after midnight and everyone was asleep except me. I was not too sleepy, thinking about my mom. All of a sudden someone came into our sleeping cabin, and started going through our wallets and pants pockets. With the train rocking and shaking, I opened my eyes slightly to see who that person was. It was the train’s porter. I never said anything to anyone about what I had seen that night, except to Rudolph. What a wise decision I had made to put our money in our socks.
The next day around 5:00 pm, the train arrived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Army buses were waiting to pick us up. We all loaded onto the buses headed for the Army Post at India Town Gap. After arriving at the barracks, everyone was placed in a large formation. The Sergeant in charge of the formation assigned us to our company and barracks. The barracks had two floors. Rudolph and I were still together and were assigned to the first floor, first platoon. As we put our bags down, I said to Rudolph, “God must have meant it to be this way.” His reply, “Yes, it has to be the Lord’s will for us to still be together.” We began twelve long weeks of rough Basic Training.
The War in Korea was not going too well for the United Nations Forces. Many American GIs were losing their lives every day fighting in the hills of North and South Korea. Replacement soldiers like us were badly needed, and we were rushed through basic training, sometimes training all day and part of the night, mostly on the rifle ranges. As basic trainees, we didn’t get much news about the Police Action (as it was called) in Korea.
Basic Training Graduation Day came. How proud we both were to have pulled more than our share of (KP) Guard Duty and to have successfully completed the Infantry Basic Training course. The Graduation Ceremony was the first time we had a chance to dress up in our Army khaki uniform and look like proud soldiers. For me, this was a dream come true. The time came for every graduate to receive their next assignment orders paper. When Rudolph and I received our next assignment orders, guess what? We said to each other, “Looks like we both are headed for Korea.” I said to Rudolph, “I have a brother in Korea already. He is in the Air Force.” We both agreed not to tell our mothers, but decided to tell them we would be stationed in Japan. I told my mom our story, but I don’t think she believed me; however she let on like she did. She said, “I’ll still be praying for you and your friends.” Rudolph’s mother wrote letters to me and my mom wrote letters to him. We stayed in close contact with each other. That closeness helped us to make it through Basic Training without getting too homesick.
With our next duty assignment orders, we had seven days delay in route before we had to report to the main train terminal in Chicago, Illinois. Rudolph and I departed Indian Town Gap, Pennsylvania headed for home. After completing our stay at home, we met up at the main train terminal in Chicago. We were glad to see each other, which helped to relieve some of the homesickness we both had. Our departure from Chicago was on a very long troop train with about three or four thousand soldiers headed for Seattle, Washington. We traveled over the mountains, through tunnels, across the plains of Iowa, through Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon, finally arriving at the Seattle, Washington train depot. Army buses were ready to transport us to the Debarkation Building and Transport Ship Docks.
Once at the barracks, we were put on lock down for our stay and were told to remain in the building at all times. We stayed at that location for about four days. One day during those four days, our barracks Sergeant and some MPs marched us to a chapel for “spirits guiding”. Once in the chapel, we held a group funeral service. The Chaplain said many of us would not be returning home alive and Rudolph and I took those words in stride.
Early one morning around 3:00 am, everyone was awakened by Military Police telling us to get dressed and get all of our personal belongings. We were to move outside and board the waiting buses. Once on the buses, we pulled up along side of a huge ship. We were ordered to unload with all of our equipment, taking ramps onto the ship while following directions from the posted guards. Once we were on board, the loading ramps were removed from the ship, and we were escorted to a pre-assigned ship compartment. That’s where we lived for twenty-one days. Some days they would let us go up on the top deck for fresh air, but most of the time as the low ranking, we would be pulling (KP) or other duties on the ship, sometimes for twelve hours straight. I was placed in sickbay for seven days for seasickness. I don’t know if Rudolph got seasick or not. The ship stopped in Yokohoma, Japan and we all unloaded for three or four days. During that time, we were taken to a rifle range for training. Once the ship was refueled, we set sail again, this time headed for Korea. After about three or four days, the ship arrived in Pusan, South Korea.
Everyone was transported by military trucks to a Korean troop train. The train had bullet holes in every window and door. We were told bands of enemy gorillas ambushed the train at times. When I first saw all those bullet holes in the train, I thought, “Is this how my first cousin got killed?” He was killed within two days of arriving in Korea. (Many years later I found out how he died. He fell off a truck headed for the front line.) Once the Korean Train reached its destination, we were loaded onto more Army trucks headed for a large replacement station. This is where all US Army replacement soldiers arrive for reassignment to different Army Divisions in Korea.
Once we arrived at this location, the Sergeant in charge held a company formation and called out each soldier’s name and serial number, telling him which Division he would be assigned to. I told Rudolph, “Well buddy, this looks like where we might have to depart from each other.” With tears in our eyes, we listened to all those soldiers’ names being called for assignment to all those different divisions. It didn’t seem like we had a chance to stay together this time. All of a sudden, the sergeant said, “The following two soldiers move over here to my right, you’re assigned to the Third Infantry Division, Jerry Cunningham and Rudolph M. Randall.” We both looked at each other and broke down crying and holding on to each other. I said to Rudolph, “God has heard our mothers’ prayers, asking God to keep us together. And he did.” At that time, a soldier came up to us and said, “Both of you come with me.”
He put us in a Jeep and drove us to the 3rd Infantry Division, G-3 Section. We went inside and were greeted by a Captain. He told us we would stay there for the night and to get some rest. We were to be ready to move out the next day and join our unit on the line. I don’t think we got too much sleep that night, with all those big guns blasting away in the distance. It seemed like all night long. The next morning we got up, still shaking from our past day’s experience at the replacement station. I don’t remember if we ate anything or not. We sat in our tent that day waiting for darkness and the ration truck to pick us up. Also, we were thinking about our loved ones back home, but felt some comfort knowing that our best buddies we were still together. Late that evening, the Captain sent for us. He told us we both were assigned to Easy Company, 15th Infantry Regiment. We were to be prepared to get on a five-ton ration truck that night headed for the front line. So we did.
After arriving in the rear of the front line, we turned our duffel bags in with all our clothing to the supply Sergeant. We stayed in this location for a day or so. One morning, on waking, I was unable to open either of my eyes. Rudolph got the medic to come and take a look. The medic put some cream around my eyes and told me to go and lay down in my sleeping bag. In the mean time, Rudolph was put on detail rolling up communication wire around the location. We stayed at that area for one or two days until my eyes got okay.
They issued Rudolph and me our basic weapons, a new (Bar) Browning automatic rife and a new (45 Cal) pistol. During Basic Training, both of us scored real high as experts with these weapons. We were escorted to Easy Company to meet our platoon leaders - the platoon Sergeant and Squad leader, and the rest of the team. They assigned me to the second Platoon and Rudolph to the third Platoon. Soon after that, I was introduced to my (Bar) Barman Assistant.
A few days later, my platoon was tasked for night patrol on the west side of Outpost Harry. Normally, two squad patrols go out at separate times, with the first squad patrol going out at dusk, and the second squad patrol going out around midnight. I was in the second squad patrol and went out around midnight that night to relieve the first squad. In front of our patrol, were our Lieutenant platoon leader and the point man. As our patrol got near the first patrol location, which was set up in a horseshoe shaped ambush, a soldier in the center of the first patrol started firing at us. Our Platoon leader ordered us to return the fire. He thought the Chinese had captured the first patrol and they were ambushing our patrol. Both patrol leaders made contact with each other and we ceased fire. Three soldiers were killed during that incident; one was my squad leader Corporal Frank Loiacono, of New Jersey. While everyone was grouped together crying and yelling at each other, the Chinese fired a large artillery shell in our area. If it had exploded, it would have killed all of us. But the shell went down real deep in a wet, muddy rice paddy and did not explode. The Company Headquarters ordered both patrols to return to the MLR.
Another incident happened to me after that patrol. One night, a (Katusa) South Korean soldier, PFC Kim Chull Kyu, and I were sent out to a listening post which consisted of a two-man foxhole with a telephone line running back to Easy Company Headquarters. The foxhole had been dug about three or four feet from a trail leading down from Star Hill, which was held by the Chinese. While Kim and I were in the foxhole, we would rotate positions, taking turns kneeling down while the other one was standing and observing all around our position. About 2:00 am that morning, Kim was standing up observing around the area when he told me he smelled Chinese coming. I told him, “No, you don’t”. I thought he was trying to trick me to stand up before my turn. After about five minutes, I saw a large patrol of Chinese coming down that trail directly toward our position. I crouched down in the foxhole peeking from the top of the hole, while the Chinese patrol came so close to the foxhole I could look them straight in the face, and if one of them had made a misstep off the trail he would have fallen in our foxhole. After the patrol had gotten a distance from us, I got on the phone and reported it to the CP. I gave the person at the CP the exact location of the Chinese. I could see them real well because of the moonlight. We were told to lay low because we would be receiving artillery rounds near our location. The third or fourth round hit near the Chinese. The rest fell directly on the Chinese patrol. I did not see any Chinese escaping from that location. We were ordered to come back to the MLR. Kim and I were shaking so bad, that they gave us hot coffee and told us to sleep the rest of the morning. We were never told what a good or bad job we did, nor did anyone say anything to us about our encounter with the Chinese patrol that night.
During the month of April 1953, the cold weather started warming up and the Chinese started to get more active. They were building their forces to our front in great numbers and firing at our position more often than they did during the 40 below weather. One night they attacked the Outpost with four or five human waves and got into the trenches with Company L. When hand-to-hand combat erupted, Easy Company had been relieved from the Outpost no more than two weeks prior to the attack.
My Platoon Leader approached me one night and told me get all my personal belongings together because I had been selected to attend the Non-Commissioned Officers Academy (NCOA). That was great news for me, but I was reluctant to leave my buddy, Rudolph. I was gone from the front line for three or four weeks. When I returned to my Company, Rudolph and I had a lot to talk about. After I returned to Company E, 2nd, 15th Inf. Regiment, we were on the front line for over a hundred days without any rest. At one time, we did go behind the front line for a shower and clean clothing. Easy Company had its turn on Outpost Harry more than three or four times, pulling night patrols quite often all around Outpost Harry.
Around the end of May 1953, the 2nd Battalion including my Company was relieved from the front line to go into rear blocking position for R&R and training. We remained in the rear for about two weeks. Rudolph and I never did miss a day without seeing each other while on the front line or while we were in the rear blocking position. One day Rudolph and I were talking AND MADE A PROMISE to each other. The promise was, if either one of us didn’t make it back home alive, the survivor would place some flowers on the deceased’s grave. After two weeks in the rear blocking position had ended, our Battalion was ordered to move to the immediate rear of the front line.
On the night of June 10, 1953, around 6:00 pm all kinds of enemy shells started falling around our position. On or about 9:30 that night, everyone was told, “Outpost Harry is being hit hard. Grab your weapons and ammo only and leave all your others equipment and get on those tanks”. All the infantry soldiers jumped on the backside of the tanks headed for the front line to defend Outpost Harry. At times, we would get off of the tanks and run along side them while the enemy shells were landing all around us. Once we reached the rear side of Outpost Harry, my squad and another squad, along with two tanks, were ordered to move to the southeast of Outpost Harry. The task for both squads was to protect the tanks from ground enemy forces while the tanks secured the east side of Outpost Harry. From our location, the complete east side and part of the northwest side of Outpost Harry was in full view. The early part of that year, the American Army Combat Engineers Team had implanted fifty-five gallon drums of Napalm five feet apart around the entire hill with a detonating switch located inside the Command Bunker on Outpost Harry.
The Chinese attacked the hill with two human waves of their troops, with about four hundred of their troops in each wave, supported by their own mortars and artillery shells. From our position, we could observe and hear soldiers from both forces, screaming, hollering, crying, and dying. Some of the Chinese troops had gotten in the trenches with our troops, Company K, 15th Infantry Regiment. Hand-to-hand combat was occurring at that time. Our forces with the support of our mortars and artillery fire power did beat, back both human waves of the Chinese forces, and Company K, held the hill for a short period of time until.
Again, about 3:00 am on the morning of June 11, 1953, the Chinese launched another large human wave of their troops. This wave was the largest of them all, with Chinese troops crawling all over the hill like ants. We could see them well, with the help of mortars, artillery and American airplanes flying above and over Outpost Harry dropping flares all night long. While the Chinese were crawling up the side of Outpost Harry, those fifty-five gallon drums of Napalm went off, spreading fire all over those Chinese soldiers. The hill lit up like a Christmas tree. We could see the enemy soldiers burning like paper. The smell of smoke and human flesh was all over and around Outpost Harry. I was praying the whole time, and saying to myself, “Dear Lord, there are many souls departing this earth this morning. Please give them a better home in your Kingdom.” We stayed in the defensive position on the southeast side of Outpost Harry with the tanks until about daylight that morning. We were then ordered to report to the back side of Outpost Harry, near the Aid Station.
Once at that location, we were ordered by Colonel Akers to go up on Harry and clear the hill from the Chinese. My platoon started preparing themselves to go up on Outpost Harry to clear the hill. I started preparing myself to go up the hill with my (BAR) and my assisting gunner, knowing good and well that we would be seeing many dead and wounded soldiers from both sides. In my mind I was repeating Psalm 23, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Those were my thoughts. My assisting gunner’s nerve had failed him. He froze up before we even got started up the hill, and I had to leave without him. The last time I saw him, he was in a crouched position with his head between his knees, crying. That was the last time I saw him. I took all his ammo and started moving up the hill without him.
While I was advancing through the trenches, over the dead and wounded G I’s and Chinese, three live Chinese came around the corner on the west front side of Harry. I had my (BAR) Browning automatic rifle in the ready position. I told them to halt! The two Chinese in the front bent forward toward me and the one in the rear threw a hand grenade toward me. At that same time, I mowed all three of them down. Lucky for me, the hand grenade did not go off. We continued up the hill, checking to see if any more Chinese were alive on the hill. We received word to move off the hill, and to bring a wounded soldier with us. I brought a wounded Comrade down off the hill and took him to the Aid station. He was still breathing, but in lots of pain. I was told to go to a lookout location along a ridge on the southeast side of Harry and keep a close watch for any movement of Chinese.
After being at that location for about an hour, a Chinese artillery shell hit about 20 yards from my position. I heard the shell explode but did not pay it any attention to it. I did not notice or feel anything until Rudolph came to my location we started talking about what had happened up on Harry. I told him about the three Chinese I shot while on the hill. As we were talking, he noticed blood coming from one of my boots. I looked down and saw my left boot full of blood and a hole was all the way through my left leg. I started to get weak and thirsty. I asked Rudolph to give me some water, which he did. Then he picked me up and placed my arm around his neck and carried me to the aid station. I was in and out of consciousness due to the amount of loss blood. After they had stopped the bleeding of my leg, I remember the medics putting me in the right front seat of a medic aid Jeep. They were loading the Jeep from the rear with wounded soldiers with the jeep facing down the hill. All of a sudden the jeep started rolling down the hill toward a branch, and I could not stop it due to the wounds on my left leg. I clearly remember Rudolph running along side of the Jeep, grasping the steering wheel and turning the Jeep into a dirt bank. After that he told me to take care. He said, “You have a stateside wound and I will see you in the states.” That was the last time I heard from Rudolph.
I was taken to a hospital in Japan and when I was well enough to write, I wrote Rudolph a letter and sent it to our company address in Korea. About a week later my letter came back. About two years later, after my discharge from the Army, I sent a letter to the Department of the Army inquiring about Rudolph and how I could get in touch with him. They sent me a letter back, informing me that Rudolph was killed on the 14th of June 1953.
After fifty-three years and after many requests directed to the Department of the Army asking for Rudolph’s burial location, I finally received a package from the U.S. Army Human Resources Command on June 26th 2006 with all of Rudolph M. Randall’s burial location information, along with lots of information about how he died. On June 28, 2006, I called the Rest Haven Cemetery director asking him if he could give me Rudolph’s burial location from his computer database. He said he had to check his complete system all the way back to 1953. And that would take about two or three days, and if I would call him back, he will let me know the outcome of his finding. After two days, I call Mr. James McEwen’s back and he told me he had checked his complete computer system without any success in finding a Rudolph M. Randall bury location in the Rest Haven Cemetery located in Tampa, Florida. My next task was to go down to Tampa, Florida and do a search of the whole cemetery myself. I wanted to bring this subject to a close, and full fill my promise we made to each others, so Rudolph could rest in peace in my memory and mind. However; I will never forget him and what he did to save my life two times in one day, but some how, I have to accept his death. I will continue to keep the Outpost Harry Survivors Association active in remembrance of him and all the others soldiers who died on a hill in North Korea named Outpost Harry.
On July 28, 2006, my wife and I departed Columbia, South Carolina in route to Tampa, Florida with one goal in mind, to search the Rest Haven Cemetery for the resting place of Rudolph M. Randall. On Saturday morning, July 29, 2006, my wife and I went to the Stones Funeral Home which was the Thompson funeral home during the death of Rudolph to meet up with Ms. Wonder, Which was so kind and helpful to us in our search. Ms. Wonder asked us to follow her to the Rest Haven Cemetery in her car. Arriving at the Rest Haven Cemetery, we all got out of our cars and proceeded to searching the cemetery in different directions. With the weather in the upper eighties, we searched the cemetery for more than two hours without finding Rudolph’s grave. Two or three funeral services were being conducted during our search. Mr. James McEwen, the Rest Haven Cemetery director, noticed our determination to find Rudolph’s gravesite and drove his vehicle to our location and offered his services. Mr. McEwen asked us to follow him to his office and gave us some cold water to drink and did some more research on his computer, looking for those that died during the 50s. He found the location but none of the headstones had Rudolph’s name on them. I chose a location where Mr. McEwen pointed out to us where he and I thought Rudolph might have been buried and placed a flower I purchased from Ms. Wonder’s funeral home at that location. I said a prayer and gave a hand salute to my buddy, Rudolph M. Randall. After some fifty-three years, the promise we made had been completed. “REST IN PEACE MY BUDDY.”
REPORT OF BATTLE CASUALTY, AFFE Form 241 Rev.
In accordance to the report of battle casualty dated 15 June 1953, Cpl Rudolph M. Randall RA 14474439 was killed in action while moving to a reserve position. EM was struck by harassing enemy mortar fire causing penetrating wounds of the right thigh, killing him instantly. Subject was killed in action at approximately 2245 hour 14 June 1953, near Surang-ni, North Korea. Remains recovered and positively identified by individuals named: Smith Philip 1st Lt, Company E 15th Inf. Regiment and Cass Charles B. 2nd Lt Company E 15th Inf. Regiment.
Remains were released to Grave Registration Officer, 15th Infantry Regiment APO 468
15th June 1953.
Personal items found on Rudolph at time of death. One Bible, One Address Book, One Pencil and a fountain pen, also his 45Cal. Pistol.
Rudolph M. Randall CPL RA 14474439 Army Funeral was held at 14:00 hours September 6, 1953, at Shady Grove Cemetery (Now Rest Haven Cemetery) Tampa, FLA. A burial Honors Guard was provided by 809th Supply Spd. McDill Air Force Base, Tampa, FLA. The American Flag was presented to his mother. Mrs. Helen R. Dryer by Body Escort SFC John Wright.
Rudolph died as a Corporal (CPL) E-4, in the United States Army. He served Ten (10) Months in the U. S. Army and advanced to the rank of Corporal, showing that Rudolph had to be an outstanding soldier with great perseverance at facing all the odds against him during those post segregation days.
I, Jerry Cunningham, was medic evacuated to a Military Hospital in Southern Japan for six months, soon after my arrival in Japan. I was still in lots of pain and discomfort. Early one morning the head hospital nurse escorted my brother Willie Cunningham (WC) to my bedside. I took a long look at him and thought I was dreaming or the pain medication I was taking had me in a state of shock. The nurse stated, “Yes, this is real. It’s your brother Airman Willie.” It is hard for me to describe my feelings after realizing this was my brother, WC, in person.
The Air Force and the American Red Cross had rushed him from Korea to Japan soon after they received word of my being wounded in action (WIA). My brother’s visit lasted over a week at the hospital in Japan and really boosted my morale and played a major role in my recovery. Not long after my brother returned to Korea, I had a major setback.
It was an August morning and I was still in the hospital, unable to walk. After the doctors had made their rounds visiting all the patients on my ward, the hospital Chaplain came to my bed, with a curious look on his face and a wheelchair in his hand. He asked my name and I told him. Then he asked me how I rested last night. I told him I had a bad night’s sleep. He said to me, “I came to take you for a ride in this wheelchair.” After he said that, all these thoughts started running through my mind. I said to myself, “Here I am only a private first class, and a Chaplain Captain has come to take me for a ride in a wheelchair! Is it my medication, or are nightmares playing tricks with me again, like when I thought my brother, WC, came to visit me a few months back?” The Chaplain said, “Let me help you get up.” I rose up and put on my hospital robe. He helped me get into the wheelchair. I was still in shock. He began to push me down and across the hospital ramps and he said to me, “Let’s go in the Hospital Chapel. I need to talk with you.” So, I entered the chapel with these weary thoughts still running through my mind.
The Chaplain stopped along side of the front row of seats and he began to talk about my family. Finally he asked me some question about my mother. I don’t fully remember the question. All I remembering is asking him, “Is my mother all right?” His reply was, “Yes, she is all right. She is now in Heaven.” She deceased on the 23rd of June 1953, soon after you were wounded on June 11, 1953. The reason you were not told of your mother’s death was because of your medical condition and because you were not able to go home.” I broke down and started weeping. The chaplain brought me back to my ward with deep emotional sadness and sorrow. She was all I had to live for. Why me? Many times I wished it could have been me instead of Rudolph. As time went on, I had to accept living my life without a mother. I still often say, “TO THE ONE WHO BEARS THE SWEETEST NAME, AND ADD A LIST TO THE SAME, WHO CHEERS ME UP WHEN I WAS SAD, THE GREATEST FRIEND I EVER HAD. TO HER, FOR THERE IS NO ONE CAN TAKE THE PLACE OF MY DEAR MOTHER.”
Time moved on and the time came for my discharge from the hospital and back to Active duty. Even though so many pleasant and unpleasant things had happened to me during my hospital stay, I still have fond memories after some fifty-three years. I was reassigned to Kokura Army Depot, Japan, as a wheel vehicle supply parts specialist for 18 months. Then I returned to the United States and was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division (again) at Fort Benning, Georgia until August 1955. After being discharged from the Active Army, I was immediately assigned to an active ready reserve unit in South Carolina. At that time, I was not aware segregation still existed in all Southern Army Reserve units. Black soldiers could not attend weekend and summer camp training, however they received their required accredit annual retirement points.
While serving in that status for two years in South Carolina, I met my lovely wife, Lillie. We moved to Washington, DC, and had two lovely daughters. I am now blessed with three grandsons and one granddaughter. And, often thinking about my buddy Rudolph M. Randall never had the chance to raise a family. “HIS DEATH WAS NOT IN VAIN.” He died so my family and your family can enjoy the freedom we have today. While residing in the DC area, I joined a ready reserve unit and served nine years. My reserve unit was called to active duty for three months during the Cuban Missile Crisis, then came 1965, and the Vietnam War.
Beginning of Outpost Harry Survivors Association
On December 1991, I started searching for those Veterans who had served on Outpost Harry during the siege of June 1953. I placed ads in many Military magazines and newspapers. Also, Mr. Daniel Brauchers who was George Company Commander prior to the siege of Outpost Harry, June 10th to June 18th 1953, gave me a list with the names of fourteen veterans who had responded to his ad in the Graybeards magazine and the Third Infantry Division newspaper The Watch on the Rhine. I consolidated both lists and came up with a total of twenty-six names that were in responded to our ads. I mailed each one of them a personal invitation for a get-together in Willowbrook, Illinois.
For thirty-eight years, I had not met or talked to anyone who was involved in any battle on or near Outpost Harry. The reunion location had changed from Willowbrook, Illinois to Fort Stewart, Georgia, since this was the same unit we helped to save at all costs; the15th Infantry Regiment 3rd Infantry Division. Wow! Out of those twenty-six names, only eleven came to our first reunion held June 18 to June 21, 1992. Most of them brought their families along. Everyone who attended our first reunion was so glad to see each other again. They just couldn’t wait to embrace them. What combat stories each of us told about those awful days and nights on or around Outpost Harry. Each one of us relived our lives all over again. During the reunion everyone awakened those long ago dreadful war memories which we never will forget. It seemed like yesterday.
For some fifteen years now, our reunion has grown in membership to a size well over two hundred. Sadly to say, a great number of our members are now resting along life’s trail. They have joined those who gave their all for our freedom and country. As the reunion chairman and planner for our group for so many years, I have taken these guys all across the United States of American. Some of the places many of us have never been or never would have gone, including myself, if it was not for the Outpost Harry Survivors Association. Every one of us gets to see this great country of ours and why we fought so diligently to keep it free. GOD BLESS AMERICA.
©Copyright 2007, Jerry Cunningham. All rights reserved