Denham

(The following story was shared by 90-year-old Jack Denham of Wadley to salute all veterans on Veteran's Day.)

I went into the army on July 8, 1952. My first stop was Fort Jackson, where I took 16 weeks of infantry basic. I got sent home for seven days and was then flown to Seattle, Wash. On the 23rd day of December, we loaded on a ship. When we left out, I can remember the Army Band was playing "So Long, It's Been Good to Know You."

We got out into the Pacific Ocean, and we hit a storm and we had to turn south and go directly into the storm because it was a small ship, just 31 feet long. We eventually made it to Japan and stayed there about a week. From there we went on to Korea. I remember they throwed a rope ladder off the side of the ship, and that's how we went ashore.

When I went up, they put me in the 7th Infantry Division. I met some boys from Indiana, one named Jack Digman. That night we was eating chow, and he was going on patrol. First, second and third platoon were the ones that pulled patrols, and 4th Platoon was heavy artillery. I remember he told me, "Jack, if we can make it through one month, they say we have a good chance of getting to go home." That night he got in a hand-to-hand fight and got a bayonet stuck in his head. I stayed in touch with his mother and daddy for several years, and then I just quit hearing from them. I kinda figured that eventually he died.

I was on top of Pork Chop Ridge during the ceasefire. I was in the 32nd Regiment, and we were trying to get to the top to relieve another regiment because they had got shot up so bad that they had to have some help. On July 27 when the ceasefire was set up, it was 10 in the morning. At 10:10 we started moving back. The only thing that really happened to me was my feet froze and I got a scar on one of my fingers where a piece of shrapnel hit me.

My feet froze and they got in a bad mess. One time we got pinned down while on patrol in a creek that was froze. We laid there for about three hours before they quit shelling us. When they quit, the sergeant hollered for us to get up and let's go. I was trying to get up, and they thought I was asleep. I told them I wasn't asleep, I just can't move. I was just about froze to death.

My platoon sergeant was a kid from Indiana, and we got surrounded by a Chinese patrol, and he said, "Boys, we going to have to fight our way out of here." I was the new man and had the BAR automatic weapon. We got out, but some of the boys lost their lives. My sergeant got put in for a battlefield commission, and I got put in for a Bronze Star. I never heard anything else about it, and finally after I had been out for several years, I got my medals and my two Bronze Stars.

After the ceasefire, they transferred some of the older ones out of the infantry, and they put me in the 7th Division Military Police Company. They started having some USO shows over there, and so I got some real good duty as the division commander's bodyguard. Among those were some generals and majors. I remember they came down one night and told me to pack my duffle bag and rotate out.

I left there and went back to Japan for three or four days and loaded back on a ship headed to Okinawa. We loaded up some cars and some Air Force guys and came through the islands of Hawaii and came into San Francisco. If we had come through the Suez Canal, I would have been completely around the world. I made it back home in February. I stayed in Korea 11 months and two weeks. In California we got on a troop train to head home.

I remember when we stopped for a break, two boys got off to get some whiskey and got left. As we were crossing the Rocky Mountains and into Kansas City, those boys somehow got back on the train and were never missed. They said they could see the troop train ahead of them while going across the Rocky Mountains.

I finally got 30 days at home, then went back to Arkansas for about six weeks and then got released.

Jack said he had a real experience, but there were a lot of things he does not want to relive.

Denham said, "I salute all the veterans and may God bless those that are serving now."

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.