Lifelong Bristol resident Earl Dube, 89, died at home on March 19, 2020. He was a family man, retired owner-operator of Walter’s Auto Parts and a Korean War veteran who was active in the veterans community, more so in recent years with the Korean War Veterans Association in Bristol.
A few years ago, he wrote about some of his war experiences and I thought I’d share this with readers.
The following is part one of two segments:
“I enlisted in the Army in the autumn of 1949 after graduating from high school. The job market was pretty tight, and I was ready for a little travel and some adventure. I took my basic training at Fort Devens, as well as some infantry training. In February of 1950, I reported to the 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington. The Division was brought up to strength, and I was one of thousands of recruits from all over the country who were arriving on daily troops trains. Hundreds of us were assembled in a field and our names and assignments were called out, the assignment was ‘infantry.’ ‘Infantry, infantry’ was all I was hearing. My name came up next and then the word ‘infantry.’ Why? I will never know. The next day another train pulled in and on it was my friend Walt Departa from Bristol, CT. Walt was also assigned to artillery. Walt went to a firing battery and I went to the headquarters’ battery.
“Again, I knew absolutely nothing about being an artilleryman. I really didn’t know what to do, but they put me in a radar section. You know what? I got pretty good with the radar and I learned to distinguish little things like the difference between a tank and a truck.
“On June 25, 1950, the Korean War broke out and things started to happen. I got orders to the Far East. No one else in the battery got any orders. Just me! It was with a bunch of (immunization) shots and a 30-day leave. I was one unhappy guy because I was leaving my unit, my friends and heading off to only God knows where as a replacement. Just as I was getting ready to leave for home, all military leaves were cancelled.
“The entire 2nd had been alerted and was shipping out to Korea. Boy, I was sure happy I was going to stay with my division and buddies. Within three days we were loaded onto some ships and then sailed west across the Pacific. It took 16 days to get to Korea and I was sick as a dog almost every day.
“We were originally supposed to stop off in Japan for further training and combat preparation, but the situation in Korea was very bleak and reinforcements were desperately needed. UN Forces had their backs to the seas and were dug in around the Pusan Perimeter. The thought of going to war didn’t bother us, because we were young and naive. We felt that we would have no problem kicking their butts.
“On Aug. 4, 1950, we arrived in Pusan. What a shock it was when we disembarked. I had never seen such poverty and the smell was absolutely overwhelming. It is hard to describe, a combination of garbage and human excrement. After we formed up, we got into trucks and headed up to the front. I carried an M-1 carbine. All of us were issued live ammunition for our weapons and we were sent to the perimeter defense. Our battery was going to augment a section of the 24th Division’s line. They had been the very first U.S. force sent into Korea about a month before us and the division has been badly mauled.
“My first night was a scary experience. Three of us were in a foxhole. We divided up the night so that one guy would stay awake for two hours while the other two would sleep. Sometime in the middle of the night one of the other guys heard something moving around and opened up with his M-1. We were all awake and now shook up.
“It seemed to take forever until dawn and light enough to see what happened. Well, guess what? The guy had riddled a goat. The U.S. Army was going to have to pay some farmer forty dollars for damage.”
(Part 2 of 2 to follow next week.)