Back to "Memoirs" Index page

(Click picture for a larger view)

Joseph Alfred Crivello, Jr.

Bel Air, Maryland-
Korean War Veteran of the United States Marine Corps

"During the first full week in boot camp, recruits study Marine Corps history.  For me, that meant from Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, to the end of World War II.  To the recruit now in boot camp, it probably covers Tun Tavern to Desert Storm.  I sometimes think they are studying our exploits in Pusan, Seoul, and the Reservoir.  So, we are the Marines they talk about.  They will be the Marines that future recruits will study.  Each Marine--past, present, future--is and will be part of that heritage.  Once a Marine, always a Marine. - Semper Fi, Brothers!"

- Joseph A. Crivello, Jr.

[The following memoir is the result of an online interview between Joe Crivello and Lynnita (Sommer) Brown that took place in 1999. Joe Crivello died on October 15, 2005.]

Memoir Contents:

Back to Memoir Contents


My name is Joseph Alfred Crivello, Jr.  I was born on August 25, 1931 in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Joseph A. and Elizabeth Ethel Gray Crivello.  My father was a police officer and my mother was a homemaker.  I had one younger sister, Angela Vera.  I attended school in Baltimore, graduating in June of 1949. 

I grew up during World War II.  Three of my dad's brothers were in the military--two in the Navy and one in the Army.  I remember collecting aluminum and other scrap for war drives. 

I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on August 17, 1949.  A friend I graduated with (Hugh McGuire) and I decided that the Marines were the most respected, so he and I joined together.  My parents signed for me because I was only 17 and that was what I wanted to do.  Hugh and I traveled by train together for boot camp training at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Back to Memoir Contents

Boot Camp

We got off the train and boarded a military bus to Parris Island.  There we discarded our civilian clothes, drew some of our clothing issue, and got haircuts, physicals, shots, etc.  We essentially gave up our individuality so we could look and act and be a unit.  There were lots of platoons in Parris Island, including a black platoon and a women Marine platoon.  All were separated, each training as individual platoons.

I thought I had made a terrible mistake on my first night in boot camp.  I was hot and sweaty--even after my shower--completely bald (no hair--zero), and ready to leave my bunk and heat out over the swamps.  I talked it over with Hugh, my school mate I enlisted with, and we eventually decided it was a punk idea.  We realized that thousands and thousands of recruit made it before we got there and they were no stronger than we were.  So by early morning wake up call, we no longer felt sorry for ourselves.  Now as I look back on the whole boot camp experience, missing firing expert on the rifle range was actually the hardest thing for me emotionally.  Although I shot sharpshooter, which was next best, it still was a let down.

Boot camp lasted for 13 weeks, and during that time my senior DI was Corporal Slozaric, who was a World War II veteran.  My junior DI was PFC Belanger.  We had classroom and non-classroom training.  In the classroom, we learned military courtesy, discipline, guard duty general orders, special orders, first aid, weapons, and Marine Corps history.  Our instructor was Staff Sergeant Ernest Umbaugh, who received the Navy Cross and was killed in action at the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War.  Our non-classroom training included guard duty, close order drill (marching), weapons, mess duty, rifle range (two weeks), gas chamber, field marches, guard duty inside (fire watch), and guard duty outside (walking post day or night).

Our days were regimented beginning when we got off the bus.  We marched everywhere and studied our "Guide Book for Marines" manual.  We asked permission to do everything, whether it be getting a drink of water, head call, etc.  When lights went on, everyone had to get out of their "sack."  Each day we followed a strict time schedule--toilet, shave, dress, make up our sack (and don't be caught sitting or leaning on it!) until Taps--lights out.  We marched or ran everywhere.  Waiting to get into mess hall at meal times, we studied our Guide Book.  There was no talking unless we were told to talk.  When it was time to clean the barracks and heads, every man had a job and alternated tasks.  At the end of the day, we could sit on our foot locker.  We could only get in bed after lights out.

The DIs were strict in order to instill discipline in each and every man.  An order or assignment was given for the sole purpose of driving home discipline.  We drank water from the scuttlebutt (water cooler) only when given permission.  We only smoked when given permission.  The same applied for talking, head calls (toilet relief), relaxing, writing home, etc.  Our DI was establishing a Marine habit that was paramount in trying to change 70 individuals into a smooth functioning unit able to follow orders no matter what and have total confidence in the Marine on each side of us.

Any friction between a boot and the DI was usually eliminated after a few moments standing nose to nose with a screaming, snarling, regular Marine.  We sometimes wished the ground would swallow us right then.  Friction between boots was usually settled and/or eliminated on Sunday afternoon boxing matches.  Visualize 60 plus Marines in a circle, two Marines in the center with oversized boxing gloves trying to pummel his foe into the grass.  With victors established and differences resolved, Monday usually saw signs of 70 plus individuals slowly becoming a well-trained, smooth-functioning unit.

As I recall, I was personally disciplined once.  On one hot day during the early weeks of our training, we had been marched to a Quonset building where we were to draw our 782 gear (packs, web belts, cartridge belts, canteens, etc).  Because other platoons of recruits were there, we were told there would be no talking.  after a period of time, I tried whispering to see if there were any other Marines from Baltimore in the platoon next to us.  Needless to say, I was verbally pounced on from behind by our senior D.I  He ordered me out of line and took me to the wall of the building.  With his pencil, he put a large dot on the wall about five feet off the floor.  He then had me stand about two feet from the dot on the wall, lean forward, and place my forehead just above the dot so that I might stare at it.  After perhaps 10 to 15 minutes, perspiration was dripping off my nose.  A short time later he relieved me from this position and ordered me back to my platoon.  Needless to say, there was a lesson to be learned.  I can't say for sure, but I think that was the only time I disobeyed an order.

During barracks field days (cleaning), one recruit was seen smoking without permission.  That evening before lights out, he had to smoke four or more cigarettes all at once with his scrub bucket over his head.  Another time, a member of our platoon was given a scrub brush and soap shower because he would go for days without showering.  The threat of more such showers made him a regular bather. I don't recall the whole platoon having to be disciplined because of one recruit, and I don't recall a habitual troublemaker.  Anyone causing problems was usually squared away by fellow recruits.  Discipline was usually the collective type due to the nature of the problem, i.e., poor showing during inspections in the field, minor problems during clothing inspections or inspections of barracks cleaning.

As I recall, we were usually well-fed with balanced meals and a variety of items.  However, we could most always expect the same meal on certain days.  For instance, Sunday noon meal was the big meal, whereas the evening meal consisted of cold cut sandwiches.  Another sure bet, and I think this was on Saturday, was cornbread and beans.

I think there were misfits in all platoons, but there were usually only one or two and these poor guys couldn't march in cadence, do physical condition marches, runs, or close order drill.  They just couldn't keep in step.  They were usually dropped from their original platoon to another platoon two weeks behind.  After a certain period of time, I think they were branded as "unfit for military service" and then mustered out with a lesser grade of discharge (general discharge, I think). 

Church services were offered and attendance was encouraged.  Most boots attended services because Sunday was the least hectic day of the week.  Church services were held by Chaplain John Craven (who was later in the Chosin campaign).  If memory serves me correctly, a member of our platoon marched us to church, not a DI  Church services were held by Chaplain John Craven.  I met him again at Taktong Pass during the Chosin Reservoir campaign.

Parris Island, I believe, was surrounded by swamps.  Access was provided by a bridge to the mainland.  The island was totally flat.  P.I. was also in the path of east coast hurricanes.  One such hurricane hit P.I. during my boot camp tour.  It was memorable in that we were allowed to straggle (walk) to meals.  I recall that winds were so strong we walked at an almost 45 degree angle into the wind.

Most every Marine going through P.I. boot camp has been accused of murder--murdering the lowly sand flea, that is.  I also heard of the presence of alligators or crocodiles in the surround swamps.  Personally, I never saw any.

Each and every boot going through P.I. had to become proficient with the M-1 rifle.  We also had to fire, for familiarization, various other weapons (BAR, machinegun, grenades).  Additional tests covering many fields were given.  The reason for these tests was to establish a field where we were going to work during our tour in the Corps.  On a Morse Code test, they used three letters I, N, T (.., -., -) sent through a headset, and whichever letter was sent in code, you penciled in one of the three boxes provided on a test paper.  Another recruit (Dick Healy) and I passed the test with the most correct letters shaded in.  Keep in mind, in the Marine Corps everyone is a rifleman first and a specialist second.  After graduation, Dick and I were sent to radio school in California.

(Click picture for a larger view)

Sunday was fun day--a little (but only slightly) more relaxed.  We went to church, wrote letters, pressed clothes, washed clothes.  Oh, and talking of washing clothes brings this to mind.... When we were issued clothing, weapons, etc., we also received a galvanized scrub bucket.  In this pail was a scrub brush and a packet of string pieces (around 40-plus) measuring four to six inches in length.  These "clothes pins" were called "tie-ties."  Ask any Marine from this era and I am most certain they will remember them.  They were used to tie washed clothes to a clothes line.  We tied one on the left waist band and one on the right waist band of our skivvies drawers and then tied them to the clothes line (see sketch).  After several weeks in boot camp at the outside wash racks, we guarded our "tie-ties" with our life.  This also reminds me that a very important guard post we walked was known as the "clothesline watch."

Another fun time in boot camp was movie night.  There was an open air theater on Parris Island, and we all looked forward to going to the movies.  There was great anticipation on movie night because it was a real chance to relax, maybe smoke, and eat some cookies or candy sent from home in a care package.  Some of the movies we watched were educational in nature and part of our classroom training.  "The Late Company D" was a movie made for boot camps.  It singled out several goof-offs.  One guy didn't carry much ammunition because it was heavy.  Another kept soda in his canteen.  Another kept "poegie-bait" (Marine-ese for candy and cookies) in his pack.  Needless to say, each contributed to the inevitable downfall of their company.  Another film was about the young lady who wore black and white saddle shoes and white socks, was very trim and proper, but ultimately infected X-number of servicemen.  One portion of another film on health and cleanliness showed the proper way to brush your teeth for best results.  Well, believe it or not, I still brush my teeth the way they recommended in 1949.

On graduation day, we had our parade as Marines.  No longer were we recruits.  We were promoted from Privates to Private First Class (PFC).  When we passed in review of the commanding officers of P.I., we felt that we had earned the title of United States Marine.  After the parade, our DIs stood in front of us and called us Marines.  We came to "The Island" as a herd of teenagers and we left for home as members of the United States Marine Corps.  From now until eternity we live by "Semper Fi"--always faithful.  I was a member of a team.  I was no longer an individual.  I was a member who could be counted on.  I was trustworthy.

Boot camp is like combat.  One cannot explain the experience.  Once can talk hours about each and write paragraph after paragraph and not explain or identify the experiences.  You must understand this if you sit with a former Marine--a Marine who has been shot at, a Marine who has seen a Marine fall in his tracks, mortally wounded.  You must understand the saying, "You had to be there."  Our DI said, "If you all have discipline, you can depend on the Marine next to you, and you will survive!"

After boot camp, we had ten days of leave and I had four days travel time extra because my next duty station was Oceanside, California.  While on leave, I wore my uniform everywhere.  Most everyone commented that I had changed.  I had gained a few pounds, I stoop a little taller, and I was proud to be a Marine.

Back to Memoir Contents

Camp Del Mar

After a short leave home, I took the Express Greyhound bus to Los Angeles, California.  It was a three-day, uneventful trip.  After arrival at Camp Del Mar, I started radio school.  Sometime in January, school moved to San Diego, California.

Schooling was for a total of 19 weeks.  The instructors were experts in their M.O.S. fields.  We went to class five days per week from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.  We learned Morse code, teletype operation, and message center operations.  We had field problems where we carried our radios and generators on our backs and sent and received coded messages (Morse code).  For teletype operation, we first had to learn to type, then we learned message center operation using code machines for use in transmitting messages by Morse code ("c.w." = continuous wave transmission).

We had liberty at night and weekends.  Every Saturday morning we had a parade (sometimes in dress blues).  Liberty around San Diego was good.  We went to Mission Beach, Va Volla, Tijuana, etc.  After 19 weeks, we were tested, given our military occupation specialty (M.O.S.) number, and graduated.  I was given a radio operator low speed M.O.S. 2531, a Message Center Man M.O.S. 2543, and a Teletype Operator M.O.S. 2541.  We were scheduled to go home on leave, but all leaves were cancelled when North Korea invaded South Korea.  We were sent to Camp Pendleton instead, to be assigned to the various units requiring radio operators.

Back to Memoir Contents

War Breaks Out

As I recall, my reaction to the news of the North Korean invasion was hardly any reaction at all.  When leaves were cancelled and we were told we were going to Pendleton, the idea of crossing the Pacific was not on many people's minds.  I thought we were preparing for any eventuality.  I called home and told my parents all I knew about the situation, which was next to nothing.  After all I felt, I joined the Marines for three years and didn't plan on any war or even leaving the country.

I remember when we got to Camp Pendleton and were given a bunk and sheets and blankets, it (going to war) hadn't entered the worry stage yet.  But after we settled in, we took our sea bags containing all of our uniforms, had stencils made, and had unit designations painted on them.  I figured everything would be shipped with us or stored.  We were also told (I'm speaking about the communicators) what regiment (11th) and what company (Headquarters) we would belong to.  We carried a 60-pound radio on our backs and should have been issued .45 caliber automatic pistol, but they were out of pistols at this time, so we were issued .30 caliber M2 automatic carbine.  After a number of days we moved from Camp Pendleton to San Diego harbor.

Let me explain the make-of of this Marine force.  We were the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, Reinforced.  A Marine Division consists of three infantry regiments.  Each regiment consists of three battalions.  Each battalion consists of three companies.  Also, there is one artillery regiment consisting of three 105mm Howitzer battalion.  Each battalion consists of three batteries, with six guns in each battery. There were also tanks, air support, etc.  The 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, Reinforced, consisted of one infantry regiment (5th) (3 Btn), one artillery battalion (1st Battalion, 11th Marines), plus tanks and support weapons as well as Air Wing.  We were to sail on July 14th.

Back to Memoir Contents

Trip to Korea

I was onboard the U.S.S. Henrico ready to sail when we were suddenly told that all heavy weapons (machineguns, etc.) and all communications were to be transferred to the U.S.S. Pickaway because the Henrico had blown a boiler,  It had to be repaired and she would then catch up to our convoy later.  Because the convoy was prepared to leave, we had to climb down the side of the Henrico on cargo nets.  We climbed into landing craft and were finally transferred to the Pickaway.

I got sea sick in the bobbing landing craft, and remained that way for days.  To make matters worse, we were given hammock-type bunks to sleep in, along with our gear, in an already crowded troop ship.  The only Marines I knew onboard were radio operators from my class in Radio School: R.O.C. 63.  We left San Diego aboard U.S.S. Pickaway APA 222 on 14 July 1950. 

This was the first ship I had ever been on. Every night I was able, I slept above decks.  At our bunks below deck, I thought I was going to die!  The mess tables had a raised edge around them so that trays or coffee cups would not slide off as the ship rolled and/or pitched.  We had to stand at the tables to eat.  When we were top side, we had to be careful where we stood.  Anyone at the front of the ship who threw up over the side often had the wind blow it back onto the ship where it would spray anyone nearby.  It was a living hell until we could manage our food intake and died.

We didn't have any really bad weather.  On one occasion when all the ships in our convoy had formed a straight line so that various weapons could be test fired, the ocean was so smooth it looked as if we could have walked on it.

For entertainment on the ship, we had a boxing match, but I can't remember if they showed any movies.  There was also a Marine on board who was a hypnotist.  Maybe he did it for a living.  He was terrific.  One thing he did was hypnotize several Marines at once.  He told one Marine that after he was awakened, his utility jacket would be on fire after the magician made a certain statement.  To several others, he told them that they were armed with flintlock rifles and that Indians were attacking them, so start firing.  After they fired, they went through the motions to add powder to the barrel, then the lead ball, then tamp it down and fire.  They did this several times.  But then they were told more and more Indians were attacking and they kept loading faster and faster until he brought them out of it.  Then after awhile, he made the statement that set the jacket of the other Marine on fire.  It was a sight to behold to see him tear at his jacket in an attempt to get it off.  It was a fantastic show.

As for duties on board, I had fire watch in the head (toilet) on several occasions.  Fortunately, I didn't have any mess duty.  (There was worse sea sickness below decks.)  I remember that a sailor stationed on board was working in the laundry and someone his arm was caught in some equipment.  The end result was that he had part of his arm amputated.  We saw him some time later during his recuperation at one of the boxing matches.  He was in hospital clothing sitting with some Navy personnel.

Back to Memoir Contents

Arriving in Korea

I image that those who fought in World War II had more to worry about than most of the guys on the USS Pickaway who had no idea what it would be like.  The vast majority on board were likely twenty years of age and younger.  I thought we would be making a fighting landing of some sort.  Little did we know!  We were heading straight to Korea.  The original destination of the Brigade was Japan.  When we finally got close, the complexion of the war must have worsened because a helicopter brought someone to our convoy and lowered him to the ship.  After that, we changed course to head to Korea.  The time required for us to sail from San Diego to Pusan was 19 days.

The ship reached the port of Pusan on 2 August 1950. We got off the ship on 3 August 1950. It was daylight when we arrived and disembarked.  When we docked on August 2nd, we were met by a band on the docks playing the Marine Corps hymn, not rifle fire like many of us imagined.  There were Koreans, young and old, waving to us like on a holiday.  We felt much better to see no evidence whatsoever of any fighting.  It was four days before I saw a North Korean soldier.  His hands were tied behind his back and he was being escorted by an Army sergeant and a South Korean (R.O.K.) soldier.

"Sketchy sketch"
(Click picture for a larger view)

As stated earlier, I had been assigned to the Communications Section, Headquarters Battery (in the artillery, they say battery, not company), 1st Battalion (in a brigade, there is only one battalion, not three or four as in a division), 11th Marine Regiment.  See this "sketchy sketch" to show brigade make up. "A" Battery provided three forward observer (FO) teams, as did B and C.  The F.O. teams consisted of one Lieutenant F.O. officer, one Scout Sergeant, and one to three communicators (radio operators/wiremen).  Forward observer teams were attached to infantry companies  When artillery fire was needed against enemy troops, tanks, etc., the F.O. officer radioed map locations to the artillery fire direction center (F.D.C.). Information such as type of shell, how many, etc., was relayed to the Howitzer batteries, then the battery fired at the target.

When we arrived in Korea, we stayed in the port of Pusan for two or three days getting organized.  On the 5th or 6th of August, we boarded trains and headed for the front lines (we thought).  We got off the trains just before nighttime and moved on foot through a village, I guess, because there were old men and women squatted along the road just silently watching our movements.  After some time we moved off the road and up a hill.  (In Marine vernacular, a hill could be 120 feet high or 1,200 feet high.)

We were told to bed down for the night.  Well, there we were.  It was dark as our inside pocket with mosquitoes that bit through our helmet netting becoming more vicious when repellants were applied.  We had no idea where the enemy or the front line was.  Somebody probably wandered off to relieve himself and was challenged by a guard.  Before we knew it, a shot was fired.  Bushes looked like crouching enemy, so more shots were fired until the firing tempo built.  Officers or NCOs shouted, "Cease fire, Goddamit."  Finally the firing slacked off and stopped.  The next morning, there were no casualties and no dead gooks.  We were still some distance from the front.

My commanding officer was Captain Pearce.  Thinking back, he was a quiet, confident, and experienced leader.  He deserved and received our best efforts, no matter what.  I believe he had served in several of the island campaigns during World War II in the Pacific.  By the end of 7 August 1950, the Marines were in combat in our first offensive action against the North Korea on the anniversary of the USMC invasion of Guadalcanal, the first defensive action against Japan.  There were many old salts from World War II serving in Korea.  We knew that if we listened to them, observed their actions and reactions, and remembered our own training, we were in good company.

I recall that one mid-day I was on perimeter guard for Baker Battery near a small schoolhouse with a stone wall around it when an incoming round landed inside the school wall.  It was the first friendly 105 shell that was fired at us, and it scared the hell out of me because I wasn't expecting it.  I thought it was incoming. I saw it explode and we hit the ground.  Thereafter, two or more shells followed closely after the first. A short time later after things quieted down, we got word that a 105 Howitzer took a direct hit in Baker Battery.  These were probably the shells that hit it.  When we were able, we walked to where the guns were that got hit.  When we arrived, the casualties had been evacuated (I think they suffered two killed and three wounded), but we couldn't miss the blood and flesh on the wheel, shield plate, and trails of the 105.  There were shrapnel gouges around the bloodied metal parts of the cannon.  It was very sobering to realize that it was over for them--Korea, suffering, life.  Just like that.  18 or 20 years of age.  Gone.  Wasted.  No more standing on drug store corners or going to rec dances.  Over.  Snuffed out.  Just as though you never existed.

Back to Memoir Contents

Pusan Perimeter

As I recall, August was hot and rainy.  In addition, there was a problem of dust being kicked up by any and all vehicles.  I had heard, probably after the war, that dust pneumonia became a problem in Korea.

The Brigade was attached to the U.S. Army's 24th Infantry Division. We fought where there was--or was about to be--a front line crisis.  We were a "fire brigade" that was shifted back and forth to three major areas during our attachment to the Army.  I don't think there was any display of animosity between the Marines and the Army.  "Let's face it" was our approach.  We knew we were more disciplined, better fighters, better trained, and, above all, better led.  They tried to disguise us to look like soldiers by not allowing us to wear our camouflaged helmet covers.  After about a month of combat, prisoners reported they feared the "yellow legs."  We all wore World War II leggings (canvas material that laced up the sides).  The Army wore leather boots with a wide leather top that had buckle straps.  Everyone's helmet looked alike, but the truth will out.  (And did!)

I recall what is now labeled the Battle of Naktong 1 and Naktong 2 and the battle in between them.  Naktong 1 was the battle when the North Korean army units tried to cross the Naktong River and were soundly beaten by Marine air, infantry, and artillery.  The captured area was turned over to the Army because we were ordered to another threatened town.  After this "brush fire" was put out in a few days, we were relieved from this sector to go back to the Naktong River and retake the same positions we had turned over to the Army.

I celebrated my 19th birthday (August 25, 1950) in a gravelly stream bed and on the side of a hill in a small pagoda.  Six of us (communicator buddies) had dammed a shallow pool in the stream that soon got deep enough for us to bathe and paddle around in.  We were in sight of some of our 105s, so we felt reasonably secure.  We each took turns as a security guard so we could relax.  After splashing around for a while, two Army officers approached our pool after visiting our battery.  They told us that we didn't mind them joining us, right?  One was a captain in fatigues and we figured he was an aide for the other officer.  We saw emblems on the other officer's fatigues, but we weren't sure if he was a Lieutenant Colonel or a one star general.  I guess they felt secure with our armed guard and our battery close by. 

Well, the captain spread out an Army poncho, and added soap, towel, skivvies, etc. for the other officer who bathed with us.  Needless to say, we were a lot less rowdy and more well-behaved than we had planned.  By the time we all shaved and bathed (we Marines, that is), the officer had dressed and left with his aide.  Later that day (nightfall), I was back up the hill in the pagoda.  I had just gone to sleep when I heard a communications sergeant calling me as softly as he could, but as loud as he dared.  I pretended I didn't hear him because he must have wanted me for a radio watch or patrol or something, and I was determined I wasn't going to get shot or killed on my birthday.  I imagined a headline like: "Hometown Boy Killed on His Birthday."

On the day after my birthday, nothing more eventful than finding one dead Korean took place.  (At least I didn't get killed on my birthday!)  The captain had sent me with a patrol through an abandoned village, searching for any signs of life or infiltrators.  We found one body--that of an aged old lady--partially eaten by dogs or rats.  I had seen death before back in the States.  At home I had seen a teen who had drowned.  At Pendleton when we were coming back from Tijuana liberty, I had seen a motorcycle rider lying in the road with no head.  In Korea we were once riding along the dirt road during a gun battery displacement.  (A portion of the guns displace, set up, and register fire so that remaining guns can move and the continuity of fire missions can be maintained.)  We passed recently killed enemy soldiers and jeeps carrying dead and wounded Marines.  We didn't know the Marines, but the sight of their poncho-covered bodies brought us to realize how fragile and fleeting life is.

Because most of the flat land we fought on was rice paddies, most tank wars were fought on the roads.  Our Corsairs played hell with enemy tanks caught on narrow dirt roads with rice paddies on each side.  With respect to artillery support, there were always guns set in position to fire missions, even during displacement from one position to another.  One half of each battery, more or less, changed its location to maintain close contact with the infantry while the other remaining portion was able to fire continuously if needed.   When the first contingent set up its fire base and registered its guns, then the remaining group pulled up stakes and moved out.  Air support was almost always available when needed.  They fired machineguns and rockets, and dropped bombs and napalm.  On strafing and rocket runs, we tried to guess which pilot was single or married by how low to the ground he dived.

There were occasions when we saw refugees fleeing from areas where there were air strikes or artillery fire.  We were constantly on the alert for infiltrators in these groups.  We saw the females washing clothes in the streams with some children nearby.  Most of the males we saw appeared to be well up in age.  I presume most young men were fighting for the north or south.

Most of the enemy I saw were either prisoners, wounded, or dead.  They, for the most part, appeared to me to be of our age groups--teens through the thirties.  They were probably good fighters, well-armed with some artillery and tanks.  But that needs men who are disciplined.  It's difficult to face a trained infantry led by seasoned officers and non-coms.  Artillery fire and the threat of air strikes by our Corsairs at times led the enemy to believe that we had "automatic artillery."

As for our South Korean allies, my experience with them proved that they were not dependable.  When I was placed on a radio outpost with another Marine and six or eight ROKs, during the night the other Marine and I had to keep checking their foxholes all night to keep them awake.  I am thankful that I only had the watch that one night.

During the Brigade's presence in the Pusan Perimeter, two of my radio school classmates became casualties.  John Parisena was wounded by mortar shell while taking cover under his radio jeep.  Phil Petterson was killed by machinegun fire while assaulting an enemy-held hill as a mortar F.O.  Because the Brigade was involved in three major engagements between 7 August and the end or August or first of September, I am reasonably certain that other batteries had casualties during that time.  Nothing stands out in my mind, however.  When our batteries were leapfrogging to stay close to the infantry, we were held up by heavy fighting and were eye witnesses to artillery rounds impacting dug-in enemy, as well as to heavy air strikes with rockets and napalm.  We saw Marine dead covered with ponchos, and wounded waiting to be attended to.

By the time we left the Pusan Perimeter, we had enough experience in combat to determine whether or not it was "just like in the movies."  It definitely was not.  Movies last ninety minutes plus.  Being fired at by enemy tanks, counter battery fire, mortar fire, etc., made actually being in a war a very sobering experience.  We could be killed in a blink, and death is forever.  To this day, I wonder why I was spared.  Sometimes I will look at a happening and think, "Maybe this is why."

When we had first approached Pusan on August 2nd, I honestly thought that we would be shot at almost every day.  But fortunately, that was not so.  I discovered (and was amazed) that in some cases of Marines being wounded, one or two small penetration holes proved fatal; whereas in other cases, men who looked like a horrible, bloody mess survived.

Back to Memoir Contents

On to Inchon

When we were relieved to join and become part of the 1st Marine Division, we were trucked back to Pusan where we stayed near the docks in storage buildings close to some of our Navy ships.  When we finally joined the division, we sat in on briefings of where we were to make our amphibious landing.  Inchon was never mentioned.  We discovered later that all the maps we looked at and all other meetings we attended were designed to mislead infiltrators who had access to our open air meetings.  We boarded the LST Q052, which was manned by Japanese seamen.  Only after going out to sea did we learn that our destination was Inchon and that we were to land on Wolmi-do island.

Just prior to the invasion, our convoy was following the tail end of a typhoon.  The skies were partly cloudy and there were large waves and deep troughs.  An LST (landing ship tank) is a flat-bottomed boat, so it can get close to shore.  There it opens up its front and discharges its cargo of tanks or landing craft.  Well, on this night I had the radio watch on the bridge of the ship.  The ship was rolling and pitching.  The moon was to the left of our ship when it rolled right and to the right of our ship when it rolled left.  Radio traffic was light until suddenly there was a man overboard call.  The ship involved requested permission to slow and search for the missing man.  After a lot of radio traffic back and forth, it was decided the ship should maintain its place in the convoy and a destroyer would be left behind to see if they could find him when the sun came up.

We were not in the amphibious assault.  We landed after the invasion was successful and the island was secure, but we watched the action from our LST.  In the water off Inchon, there were large ships (battle ships, cruisers, etc.), destroyers, rocket ships, and LSTs.  There were possibly eight to ten or more of these types of ships.  We could see and hear the large cannons of the bigger vessels.  We could see hundreds of rockets being fired from the rocket ships.  I was particularly interested in watching Marine Corsairs and the Australian P51s.  They were dive-bombing, strafing, firing rockets, and dropping napalm canisters.  On one particular diving run, a Corsair swooped in low and dropped a canister of napalm, but it did not ignite.  A P51 suddenly dived in the same path, firing machineguns and rockets, and that ignited the jellied napalm that hadn't caught fire.

Back to Memoir Contents

Inchon to Seoul

I think all three infantry division infantry regiments (the 1st, 5th, and 7th) landed on various beaches.  The receding tide left our LST high and dry.  We went ashore on Wolmi-do the next day.  Since Wolmi was secured the night before, we were not fired on and no one I was working with became a casualty at Inchon.  We loaded our vehicles with items destined for our battery and regiment and then moved each day to keep artillery support always available as well as close to the infantry regiments.

Our engaging the enemy during those first few days was at cannon range.  There was minimal sniper fire.  Four of us were sent to bring back a reported crew-serviced heavy machinegun that had been hidden in a drainage culvert.  When we finally located it, we decided to find some rope or communication wire so we could tie it around the weapon and pull it from a distance because we felt it might be booby trapped.  Well, as it worked out, it wasn't.  So we dragged it out of the culvert and brought it back to where we were set up.  This was the day we saw General Douglas MacArthur from about ten feet away.  He was in a jeep near us when we saw him.  He wore a leather jacket, sun glasses, pipe, etc., etc., etc.

Very shortly thereafter, we were on our way towards Seoul.  We moved toward the vicinity of Kimpo because wherever the 5th Marine Regiment went, the 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment also went.  In most instances, we went by truck.  I'm not sure how long it took us to get to Kimpo--two or three days at most.  We constantly fired support for the 5th Marine Regiment.  I am most certain the 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines supported either the 1st Marine Regiment or the 7th Marine Regiment.  Therefore, the 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines supported one or the other.  I also think there was a 4th Battalion, 11th Marines, which consisted of 155 millimeter cannons.  These had a longer range on their shells and could concentrate their fire for the 1st, 5th, and 7th Marines if need be.

Most of the enemy engaging us activity was by incoming.  We were fired on at any time during a 24-hour day.  I think the vast majority of incoming fire was from various sized mortars.  Mortars were easy to hide and very accurate when the enemy had enough time to bracket their targets.  They could be brought up at night, fired, and then be quickly hidden.

I remember once instance when it was made very clear just how mobile they were.  We were on a hill some distance in front of our artillery while fighting our way to the outskirts of Seoul.  At the base of our hill, there arrived between four and six USMC rocket-firing Jeeps.  There was a flurry of activity as they prepared to fire their rockets.  One of our older salts said we had better get the hell away from there because they kicked up plenty of dust and dirt and the cloud of dirt was a give-away of their locations.  Hardly had they finished firing and started to drive away when the first incoming rounds started falling near us.  Fortunately, we didn't take any casualties, but I thought it would be our "kiss of death."

We had several days where we could relax.  I met my cousin Gil, who was in the 1st Marine Regiment under Chester Puller--a Marine legend.  We went into Inchon, found a photographer, and had our picture taken.  When we got back to base, we got a beer ration (two cans each) and took a walk to talk about home.  We found a well, tied our four cans of beer together with communication wire, and lowered them into the water for about 30 minutes.  All totaled, we sat for two or three hours telling war stories and nursing our beer.  I had more stories because I was with the brigade and had joined the 1st Division for the Inchon Landing.  When we got back, we found that we had missed a service held for those killed and buried in Inchon.

There were other services during times of relaxation, too.  Church was not necessarily held on Sunday.  Instead, it was whenever a clergyman set up his alter, etc.  One time we were attending church service and were probably one-third to three-fourths finished when mortar rounds started bracketing our location in a little ravine.  It didn't take more than two rounds when church was over and we were high-tailing it for cover.  I was told a good mortar crew might expend two rounds before they dropped the third round in our foxhole.

Back to Memoir Contents

Operation Yo Yo

We left Inchon on 15 October 1950 and arrived in Wonsan harbor on 26 October.  We were on an LST, the exact same type of ship as when we landed on Wolmi at Inchon.  Its number was Q055.  It, too, had a Japanese crew.  Our ship was in the convoy carrying the 1st Marine Division to the east coast of North Korea.  I don't know for sure, but I imagine that it was similar in size to the Inchon landing force.

If memory serves me correctly, we got to the Wonsan area in five days' travel from Inchon.  For the next five days, we sailed north during the day and south during the night.  We found out some time later that the harbor had been heavily mined with a type of mine that allowed a ship to pass over it several times before rising to the surface and striking a ship.  I heard that the British lost a mine sweeper during the operation.  Each day when we headed south, rumors flew that we were going to Japan, then home.  When we found we had turned around heading north again, there was plenty of bitching.

It seems to me that we had some heavy seas because I remember when the ship nosed down into a deep swell.  The stern of the ship came out of the water and we could hear the propeller screws race until the ship dipped back into the water.  We ran out of galley-cooked food in a few days and for the remainder of the trip we ate rice, combat rations, and anything else they could rustle up to fill our bellies. We had no duty on the ship as I recall.  We just laid around and were miserable and hungry.  I could be wrong, but I don't remember any training exercises.  Nothing eventful happened.  It was just dullsville and hunger.

We weren't combat loaded.  That is, no tanks, landing vehicles, etc. were backed into the ship for the voyage north.  Being combat loaded enabled a front to the beach landing of all vehicles stored in the ship.  I believe our landing was supposed to be un-opposed.  (Maybe Bob Hope scared the enemy away.  We heard he had already been there before we landed.)

Even though many happenings in Korea are not very vivid in my mind, this one is.  When we finally got into the harbor and started exiting Q055, I was in a DUK--an amphibious vehicle with four wheels that is propelled in the water by a motor-driven propeller.  My DUK was about 1500 feet to 2000 feet offshore while we were circling in the water.  When we finally broke for shore, we discovered that we were taking in water below the water line.  We had a hand pump on board that we took turns pumping, but we were taking on more water than we pumped out.  By this time I was getting a little panicky.  We were lucky enough to flag an "M" boat to come to our aid.  An "M" boat rushes to shore loaded with men and then drops its hinged front to allow the men to wade ashore into combat.  When the "M" boat pulled to our side, each craft was rising and falling and pulling apart and together.

My problem was that I had my pack, rifle, helmet, and radio, and I had to time my jump into the "M" boat so I didn't break a leg or miss entirely and go to the bottom of Wonsan harbor.  After one false start I jumped and everything came together.  I landed in the boat and on my feet.  When we got to shore, we waded into the beach where a fire had been built for warmth and drying.  While huddled at the fire, someone called my name.  I had lettered "Crivello" on my camouflaged helmet cover.  When I looked up, it was Hugh McGuire, my high school buddy that I had gone through boot camp with.  Small world!

Back to Memoir Contents

Chosin Reservoir Campaign

As best as I can remember, we went to Hamhung or Hungnam and stayed seven to ten days.  The days were cool and the nights were cooler.  I guess in about two weeks it started to get colder.  There was only one road available heading north into the reservoir area, and traveled on it in a truck convoy.

On the morning of November 27th, the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, with the support of the 7th and 11th Regiments, attacked westward along the road from the town of Yudam-ni following artillery fire and air strikes.  About mid-afternoon, we were slowed and eventually stopped by heavy fire from large concentrations of Chinese troops in the mountainous terrain to our front, left, and right.  I was on the right hand side of the road huddled against an embankment.  We could hear the bullets whining over our heads.

I recall looking back down the road and seeing several Marines (probably officers and NCOs) shouting orders and pointing in various directions.  One officer was hit and went down (leg wound, I think).  But he kept pointing where he wanted people to go and return fire.  As a radio operator with no infantry training, I was amazed to see riflemen moving in groups and in different directions oblivious to the fire we were encountering.

We eventually took up defensive positions in the surrounding hills as night approached.  On that night, November 27th, our company, as well as all other companies involved, was attacked by numerically superior Chinese forces.  ("Hordes of Chinese" is the term most often used.)  These attacks took place most of the night.  The foxhole I inherited was in a draw or saddle between the hilltop positions of F-5 and H-7.  We were about two miles from Yudam-ni.  We later found out that the temperature was between -20 degrees and -30 degrees.  During lulls in the fighting, men were allowed to go to a warming tent that had been set up.  After a period of 15 to 45 minutes passed, they had to go back to their positions.

I was back in my hole around 10:30 p.m.  About 150 to 200 yards to the north and east up the draw that E-2-5 was defending was a farmhouse that caught fire from an illumination mortar round or tracers from Marine machineguns.  This blaze behind the attacking Chinese silhouetted them for the Fox and Easy Company infantrymen and machine gunners.  At first light, the remaining Chinese withdraw toward their lines.  Many were shot my Marines and Corsairs who had been waiting for daylight and inflicted many casualties on the fleeing Chinese.

Later that morning, around 7 o'clock, I went to one of our corpsmen and told him my fingers and feet were numb and I was in great pain.  I felt as though I was walking on my ankles.  When he pulled one of my shoepacks off, my socks had frozen to the inner soles of my boots.  My toes, heels, and fingers were white or grayish in color. As a result of this, I was tagged by the corpsman as suffering from frostbite hands and feet and I was to be sent to the rear.  Unfortunately, there was no rear.  We were completely surrounded by Chinese divisions.  In later years, the odds were established as being 10 to 1, them to us.

I went to our aid station where there were other casualties.  Wounded were sitting, standing, or on stretchers waiting to be tended to.  The dead Marines were lined up together and covered with ponchos.  While I was there, they took a Marine into the operating tent.  I could see his face was ashen in color and he certainly didn't appear to be alive.  One wounded Marine who was sitting up on his stretcher was showing a Thompson submachine gun to us that he took from a dead Chinese.  He said at the first opportunity they had, they left their positions to spread out the Chinese bodies that had stacked up in front of their position.

Most of almost all of the Chinese I saw, dead or alive, had on quilted uniforms and tennis type shoes.  They were suffering more than we were.  As for weapons used against us, they had rifles, pistols, submachine guns (Thompsons and Russian-made), machineguns, concussion grenades, and probably fragmentation grenades.  From all reports they were good fighters, but they expended many men with their human wave attacks (designed to overpower as well as cause panic).  They signaled their troop movements and tactics with bugles and whistles.

The realization of the overwhelming odds caused the decision to be made to withdraw from the Chosin Reservoir area.  We were facing ten to twelve enemy divisions, with more available.  We were one division on a two-lane (sometimes less) dirt mountain road.  We were about 80 miles from the sea, being supplied by air.  The decision to withdraw may have been decided by November 29 or 30.  The unit I was with when the withdrawal began was E Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines.  They were approximately 2 1/2 miles north of Yudam-ni.  Other units further north than E-2-5 were D-2-5 (about 800 yards) and F-2-5 (about 400 yards).  Supplies were air-dropped to us before we formed the column on the road to Hagaru from Yudam-ni.  The supplies I saw were rations, medical supplies, and various ammunition.  The majority of the supplies I came in contact with were in good condition.

Just after Thanksgiving, there was a cold spell from November 26 to December 4.  Temperatures were 15 degrees to -30 degrees, plus or minus five or ten degrees.  Wind speed was any place between 0 to 60/70 miles per hour.  There was mostly dry snow, and it eventually became very deep.  And shelter.  No water (melted snow only).  And no food.  The only way we could eat our C-rations was to open a can, hold it over a fire, and eat the unburned food from the outside toward the frozen lump in the middle.  In the C-rations were cigarettes, a dry unit (crackers and a cookie), candy wafer, instant coffee, hot chocolate, water purification tablets, and a wad of toilet paper.  (Toilet paper is not needed when there was no food to eat.)  We couldn't sleep too comfortably or we could be killed or freeze to death.

There were roadblocks at most bends in the road, so any sharp or blind curve in the road could present a problem--day or night.  Infantry assigned to lead the convoy had to contend with whatever problem presented itself.  Air support was controlled by weather (snow and fog), proximity to friendly troops, and darkness.  I think I only saw one tank before we arrived at Hagaru, and it was disabled.  We had to keep vehicles running.  There was no oil on the weapons and it took five minutes to reset the recoil of the 105s.  At times I felt like a zombie.  Others did too, I guess.  I honestly hoped that if I were shot, it would be squarely between the eyes.  I was with the walking wounded and we stayed beside the vehicles, firing if fired on and trying to comfort the wounded inside the trucks. My only relief from the cold was to sit on the front bumper of a truck with my sleeping bag pulled up to my waist or to try to get a spot next to a fire.  Sometimes when it was dark and freezing cold, fire discipline was forgotten.  A warming fire was started and a crowd quickly formed.

During one time period when the column was halted because of a road block, the vehicles in my immediate location started to take rifle and automatic weapons fire.  Where I was standing, I wasn't sure if it was coming from above or below us.  I could see snow and dirt being kicked up on the uphill side of the trucks, but on closer observation it appeared to be kicking up only between trucks, which meant it must have been coming up from a location lower than we were. We started returning fire but the loud report of our weapons being fired reverberated off the tailgates of the trucks.  The litter wounded who were stacked inside of the trucks thought the trucks were being fired on.  When the fire slackened off in our area, the trucks actually had been fired on.  I found I had unconsciously moved to stand by a rear wheel so I wouldn't get hit in the legs.  During that same time period, one of the casualties in the truck passed his canteen cup to me.  He told me he had to urinate, but the cup was dry and empty.  Evidently he relieved himself, but it was so cold and numb he didn't realize what he had done.

When writing about events that took place and naming the locations where they occurred, you must remember that the names were supplied years or decades later.  At the time, most of us didn't know the names of towns, units involved, or the extent of the peril that faced each of us.  We did what we had been trained to do: live, fight, and survive as a unit. I saw things in Korea I can never explain.  They were things that were relative to that moment and never again.

I think there are Chosin veterans alive today simply because of our officers and NCOs.  I remember one day we stopped and a crew hurriedly readied a recoilless rifle.  An officer was quickly sighting through binoculars at a not-so-distant target area.  He had them fire one round and we saw the impact.  He fired another and it hit inside a tree line.  Then we saw several Marines rise out of the snow, firing as they walked.  One fell forward, motionless.  The others kept firing until they disappeared into the trees.  We didn't see them any more.

I remember that on one occasion I was walking beside the right front fender of a weapons carrier.  For no reason I can remember, I moved across the fender of the vehicle to the left front fender.  As  I looked to my right, the Marine who had moved to my former position pitched over to the side of the road.  I moved towards the back of the vehicle and to that side of the road and I found that he had been shot in the lower stomach.  I went back to my left fender position thinking what a bad break that had been for the wounded Marine.  Then I saw a Marine walking toward me.  I recognized who it was after he said to me that he needed volunteers to help carry his wounded boys off of the hill.  It was Chaplain Craven of the 7th Marines.  I remembered him as the Protestant chaplain at Parris Island boot camp the year before.  He told us at that time that we could always remember his name as "Ravin' Craven," the chaplain from P.I.  Needless to say, several others and I volunteered and made our way up the hill to where we saw stretchers lined up containing the casualties.  The Marine I carried down was lying on his right side with a wallet-sized picture next to him that was slowly being covered by falling snow.  I don't remember carrying him down the hill to the vehicles.  I also remember the scores of Chinese bodies we walked through to get the wounded.  This was the famous Toktong Pass and "Fox Hill" (F-2-7).

We fought our way from Yudam-ni to Hagaru.  Hours later, maybe two or three o'clock in the morning, I remember seeing Hagaru and East Mountain in the distance.  At times it looked like daylight from the illumination flares, and I remember the machinegun tracers--hundreds and hundreds of them, green tracers from the Chinese machineguns, and red tracers from the American machineguns.  What an eerie, spine-tingling sight.  And we expected a "safe haven"?

An air strip had been constructed at Hagaru, as well as at Koto-ri.  Only casualties with certain types of head wounds and stomach wounds were air-evaced out of Koto-ri.  The dead were transported if at all possible, but way was made for litter casualties.  When we arrived at Hagaru (14 miles south of Yudam-ni) on December 3, I saw some Army survivors of Task Force Faith that was surrounded on the east side of the Chosin.

Each of us who was at the Chosin Reservoir suffered--some more than others.  Those men who were wounded early suffered the most.  They lay immobile for several days until the vehicle train was formed.  Then they were stacked in various vehicles and laid for more days while the convoy moved a total of 14 miles from Yudam-ni to Hagaru.  Some of those men were wounded one or more additional times when we were fired on by the Chinese.  Some froze to death.  Some died of wounds.  To me, every rifleman, NCO, staff NCO, and officer was my hero.  They, en masse, saved our lives.  I can see them today still in my mind's eye.

Back to Memoir Contents

Wrinkled and Black

We communicators all classified our assignments out of radio school as worse draw (line companies) to best draw (division headquarters).  I'm sure they didn't envy me going to Baker Battery and then on to Artillery as a Forward Observer.  As it turns out, I was home for Christmas 1950.  They mostly went to the Pusan area after the "trip to the sea."  I was spared the ordeal of Hagaru to the sea.  I was air evacuated out of Hagaru on December 4.

When the corpsman put a tag on my parka at the Chosin Reservoir, I wasn't sure what was in store for me.  I kept the tag in my parka pocket for seven days.  We walking wounded were told where to gather for the plane ride out.  Planes were coming back to Hagaru carrying replacements, were emptied, and we were herded inside.  I was flown to a hospital in Japan on December 5, 1950.  From the direction the plane headed on take-off, we thought we would be shot down for sure.

The seats on the plane were bench-type seats down both sides of the aircraft. I remember sitting in a two-engine airplane, anticipating my flight out of Hagaru-ri.  The Marine sitting next to me could not write his name, rank, and serial number on a clipboard paper because his hands were frozen, so I filled it out for him.  As fate would have it, Eddie Janckiewicz (I'm not sure of the spelling) was from my home town of Baltimore, Maryland.  Small world.

I don't know where they took us (there was no snow and it felt much warmer), but when we landed and got off the plane, there were airmen or pilots who told us to stand by to board another plane because we were headed to Japan.  When we landed in Japan, the ambulatory patients were taken by bus and the litter patients were taken by ambulance to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Yokosuka.  I think this is where we disrobed (parkas, shoe packs, etc.) and showered.  We were given hospital garb and I think we ate, but I don't actually remember.

What I do remember to this day about our first encounter with Navy medical staff is that our ward was packed with frostbite cases as well as with those who were wounded and wounded with frostbite.  Some patients had black fingers, hands, toes, and feet--in any combination.  Across the center aisle from my bed, a seaman was having Purple Heart papers filled out for each wounded man.  At that date, frost bite qualified for the medal.  Two beds from mine, a Marine was being examined by a Navy doctor when all within earshot heard the doctor explain, "They shouldn't be giving them Purple Hearts.  They should be tried for negligence!"  I honestly do not remember being examined by the doctor.  I do remember looking him in the eyes, thinking, "You wouldn't have survived what we have just gone through."  Later--I'm not sure how long--probably hours, I saw wounded with frostbite, possibly Marine and Army.  At this early stage of our hospital experience, these patients' legs appeared swollen, with fluid just one or two layers beneath the surface, and they had drains stuck in them that appeared to be draining the fluid from this sack on their legs.  Some had hands that appeared to have five prunes in place of fingers.  That's how wrinkled and black they were.

As regarding our mood, I would have to say that most of us were quiet.  Some were just coming to the realization that it was over for us.  Others appeared dazed by the severity of their combination of wounds.  Some were wounded one or more times after the initial wound and now found themselves facing two, three, or four amputations.

When we became somewhat settled in our surroundings, the Red Cross visited us and we were able to send a telegram of sorts to our families.  It said we were out of Korea and would be headed home soon.  We were in the first hospital two to four days, plus.  It seemed that the staff was anxious for us to leave as soon as possible, possibly for needed space or to get us home before Christmas.

Back to Memoir Contents


The 9th or 10th plus, we were taken by bus and ambulance to an airfield where we were put aboard a four-engine commercial airliner.  we landed on either Guam or Wake island, then went on to Hawaii and then to California.  There we went to Mare Island Naval Base for a day or two.  I (we) flew from California to Massachusetts, then to an airport in Washington, D.C.  We had a mix of Army and Marine casualties.  When the ambulances and buses arrived, all Army men went to Walter Reed Hospital and Marines went to Bethesda Naval Hospital.  By this time, Army and Marine amputees were calling one another Stumpy, and making light of their black fingers, hands, or feet.

I was admitted to Bethesda Naval Hospital on December 11 or 12.  I was in the hospital from December 12 to December 21. Treatment consisted of no caffeine, no nicotine, and for what seemed like hours each day, I laid on a table nude with my bare butt on a ht pad, covered with a sheet.  I was told that large veins or arteries in the buttocks were heated to increase the flow of blood to my extremities.

I was given leave from December 22 to January 2, 1951.  From January 3 to February 13 I was in Bethesda for treatment, with liberty nights and weekends.  On February 14, I was assigned to Marine Barracks, Naval Gun Factory, Washington, D.C., until March 8, 1951.  I was then transferred to school troops as part of an artillery demonstration unit, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, Virginia.  We put on artillery demonstrations for visiting dignitaries from Washington, D.C., high ranking military officers from other countries, and for Marines in the Platoon Leaders Course who were to eventually become officers in the USMC.  I stayed at Quantico from March 9, 1951, until November 28, 1952.

When I was stationed at Quantico, I was only 60 miles from my home in Baltimore, Maryland.  I married my childhood sweetheart (Rosina Mary Provini) on Easter Sunday, March 25, 1951, at St. Bernard's Catholic Church.  While I was stationed at Quantico, I had to take instructions in the Catholic faith.  We have been together ever since.  From my marriage on, I did not follow the progress of the war.  Well, not hardly at all. I had liberty almost every weekend except for an occasional duty NCO weekend.  I had no need or desire to run wild.  My wife Rosina saw to that. My three-year enlistment was extended by 3 1/2 months, then I was discharged on November 28, 1952.  I had no trouble adjusting to civilian life.  I had more than enough to keep me occupied.

As far as keeping track of my buddies, my intentions were good but life moved on.  Over the years I made contact with some, especially after the Chosin Few was born.  But adversity, alcohol, death, etc., claimed most who were about my age.  Some I heard from several times over the years, but that contact soon trailed off.  I did not try to contact the families of buddies who were killed in Korea to open up the sorrowful details.

Back to Memoir Contents


After discharge, I started working for the consulting engineering firm Rummel, Klepper and Kahl in Baltimore.  I started as a rod man on a field surveying party.  I took several civil engineering-related classes under the G.I. Bill, attending night school at the University of Maryland and McCoy College (a night school at Johns Hopkins University).  I went to school in my mid to late twenties, so I didn't much are about the opinions of the younger students.  I worked at R.K. & K. from 1952 to 1993, when I retired.  I do volunteer work with the D.A.V. at Perry Point Veterans Hospital.  Rose and I work on projects inside and outside our home.  Rose crochets blankets for "Project Linus" for abused or terminally ill children, while I play with our computer or play golf when I can.

Rosina and I have two children, Joseph A. Crivello III and Rose Ann Crivello.  Joe was born on February 13, 1953 and Rose Ann was born February 19, 1955.  Both are now married.

In 1957, I got in touch with Eddie Janckiewicz to substantiate my compensation claim.  I was eventually awarded 10 percent compensation.  In 1998, I filed for a re-evaluation of "cold injuries" (new term for same condition, hands and feet).  I was re-examined and was eventually rated at 50 percent disabled due to cold injuries to my hands and feet.  I had no difficulties to speak of in getting this compensation.  Others, I know, weren't so lucky.  Much depends on the doctor.  Many are dedicated while others go through the motions, not understanding--or caring--about the background.

Back to Memoir Contents

Final Reflections

I think that going to Korea made me more mature and as I grew older and observed the younger generation, I became--and still am--a staunch believer in universal military training.  I am a surviving example of Marine Corps training and dedication, not only mine, but that of everyone who served before me and with me.

I also thought then (1950) that the United States was right to send troops to Korea.  I think the same now (2000).  As events have proven, the United States had to tangle with our former allies (Russia/China) sooner or later.  Our troops proved to be better fighters and our pilots and aircraft proved superior to communist counterparts.  All of our encounters with communism have led us to today's political standing world-wide.  Communism is not what free people choose.  To understand the good that came out of the Korean War, think of the main countries involved in the Korean War--the United States, South Korea, North Korea, China.  Exclude the other United Nations countries and include Russia.  Just compare.  Enough said.  The "Korean Conflict" has become the "Korean War", but nothing has changed.  The World War II veterans and the Korean War veterans preserved our peace as only Americans can appreciate it.  I think that the United States is right to still have troops in South Korea as well as recent hot spots.  It shows the world that we really care and will prove it.

I have not revisited Korea.  If I ever had the opportunity to visit North Korea, I would like to walk the 14 to 16 miles from west of Yudam-ni to Hagaru-ri.  The walk would have to be in the spring, armed with a camera to try and recognize the countryside and re-live that time in my life in a more serene atmosphere.

I think the search for our missing in action is insurmountable.  A body lying dead on the frozen reservoir.  First thaw, body to the bottom.  Gone forever.  An artillery round lands in a foxhole, body disappears.  Enough said.

If a student someday finds a copy of my store, I hope they will understand what bearing the Korean War had on world history.  If that student doesn't understand, I'm sure the next one might and succeeding others will.  For me, Korea was a learning experience that made me appreciate "the good old U.S. of A."

During the first full week in boot camp, recruits study Marine Corps history.  For me, that meant from Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, to the end of World War II.  To the recruit now in boot camp, it probably covers Tun Tavern to Desert Storm.  I sometimes think they are studying our exploits in Pusan, Seoul, and the Reservoir.  So, we are the Marines they talk about.  They will be the Marines that future recruits will study.  Each Marine--past, present, future--is and will be part of that heritage.  Once a Marine, always a Marine. - Semper Fi, Brothers!

Back to Memoir Contents

Obituary - Joseph Alfred Crivello, Jr

On October 15, 2005 Joseph A. Crivello Jr., of Bel Air, MD, beloved husband of Rose Crivello (nee Provini) devoted father of Joseph A. Crivello III, his wife Debbie, Rose Ann Sabaka, her husband Terry, and loving owner of K.C. the family pet. The Funeral Liturgy will be held on Tuesday at 10 A.M. at St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Hickory, MD. A graveside service will follow on Tuesday at 12 P.M. at Gardens of Faith. Arrangements handled by Evans Funeral Chapel-Bel Air. In lieu of flowers, donations, in his name, to the American Lung Association of Maryland, 1840 York Rd. Timonium, MD, 21093-9986, will be appreciated.

Published in the Baltimore Sun on 10/17/2005


Back to "Memoirs" Index page back to top

| Contact | What's New | About Us | Korean War Topics | Support | Links | Memoirs | Buddy Search |

2002-2012 Korean War Educator. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use of material is prohibited.

- Contact Webmaster with questions or comments related to web site layout.
- Contact Lynnita for Korean War questions or similar informational issues.
- Website address:

Hit Counter