Korean War Legacy Project

Denis John Earp


Denis John Earp always knew he wanted to fly, and this led him to apply for the very competitive enlistment process under the South African Air Force. He went through a very intense training program before going to Korea, a place about which he had never heard. He successfully flew many missions in the P-51 Mustang aircraft before being shot down and captured. He was considered a “reactionary” because he would refuse to cooperate with interrogations in both the North Korean and Chinese camps where he was imprisoned for twenty-three months. He is very proud of his service in the war and was able to revisit Korea, in the 1986, where he received a lot of appreciation from the people he met.

Video Clips

Always Wanted to Fly

Denis John Earp always knew he wanted to fly but understood the only way to afford learning would be to go through the military. He describes the competitive selection process. He explains the courses and exams he had to take over the course of two years.

Tags: Basic training

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The Moment of Capture

Denis John Earp explains the moment when he was captured. He shares that up to that point, he had never been hit. He recalls how his plane was hit three times and describes the emergency procedures he took as his plane lost altitude.

Tags: Chinese,Fear,North Koreans,POW

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"Lenient Policy"

Denis John Earp remembers that, upon capture, he was interrogated by Chinese soldiers. Knowing his rights under the Geneva Convention, he shares he knew his rights under the Geneva Convention and explains how he refused to answer some questions. He recalls how he was quickly informed by the Chinese about their “lenient policy” and soon was placed in a scary situation that was meant to force him to change his mind.

Tags: Chinese,Communists,Fear,Living conditions,POW

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Always Being Watched

Denis John Earp explains what it was like being transferred to a Chinese Camp from the North Korean Camp known as “Park’s Palace." He recalls how the prisoners, himself included, were constantly watched and how there were daily propaganda lectures. He details the unfortunate circumstances that occurred in the winter months for those who were injured.

Tags: Chinese,Communists,Living conditions,North Koreans,POW

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Park's Palace

Denis John Earp describes the conditions at Park’s Palace, a Prisoner of War (POW) camp in North Korea. He describes a cruel game they would play for the guards’ entertainment. He explains the interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, that were used to gather information.

Tags: Chinese,Communists,Fear,Living conditions,POW

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of recorded material]

D:        My name is Dennis.  I’ll spell it.  D E N I S, John, J O H N Earp, E A R P. I retired as a Lieutenant enrolled in the South African Air Force in 1998.

I:          What is the ethnic origin of your last name, Earp?


D:        I don’t rightly know.  But I suspect it could be Scottish.

I:          Scottish. So you have, uh, some Scottish blood in your DNA.

D:        Right.

I:          And what was your birthday?  What is your birthday?

D:        Seventh of June, 1930.

I:          1930.  So you are today 80.

D:        Eighty-eight.

I:          Eighty-eight.  So you haven’t had your birthday yet.

D:        No.

I:          No.


You look great, sir.

D:        Thank you.

I:          Yeah.  And tell me about where were you born actually?

D:        I was born in Bloemfantein which was a capital city of the Orange Free State, now just known as the Free State and, uh, I grew up there.

I:          Um hm.  Tell me about your parents and your sibling, your brothers and sister when you were growing up.


D:        My father and my mother were schoolteachers.

I:          School teacher?  What do they teach?

D:        Uh, my father, English, Latin, and my mother English.  I have, uh, one brother and one sister.  My sister is now deceased.

I:          Oh.  So since your parents were both teacher and English literature,


you must been really well educated.

D:        I was well educated. But, uh, again, I think it’s not what your school teaches you, it’s what your attitude is in absorbing that information.

I:          That’s absolute true right point.  So what was your attitude about knowledge and history and so on?

D:        Well, to start with history, I


had to give that up in my metric years because I wanted to take Pure Physics and Pure Chemistry as subjects.  And that meant I had to drop History.  So ever since metric, I’ve had to study History on my own and to the, in more interesting way of studying it if you look at more than television.  But whether it’s accurate or not, that is debatable.


I:          So how did you build up your history for knowledge.  There was no, not much tv information at the time, right?

D:        None.

I:          So how did you do it?

D:        Well, books.  I’ve always had a great love of books and reading.  And so the knowledge is out there for everybody if you want to get it.

I:          Did you like history?

D:        I enjoy history.


I:          Um.

D:        I find that many things that happen in the world have no explanation unless you read books about what happened before, what brought people to this stage that they think they’ve got answers, and it’s not always obvious.

I:          This is great interview.  I already like it. And so you told me your father taught English and Latin.


Were you able to read and write Latin?
D:        Yes.  I studied it as a subject at school, uh.  It was one of the reasons that I had to give up history.  And, uh, it’s a so-called dead language.  But if you look at any of the romance languages, I have the roots in Latin.

I:          Yes.

D:        All of your legal judgements in the wisdom world


are based on Latin terms.  So when you hear an American thriller and they want, they claim Habeas Corpus

I:          Um hm.

D:        show me the person that’s Latin.

I:          Yes.  And it’s either Latin or Greek.  So these are the world languages.  So you must be really knowledgeable in history, and let me ask this question.  Did you learn anything about Korea from your school,


or did you read anything about Korean history by yourself?

D:        Not before the Korean War.  I knew nothing about Korea.  I didn’t even know where it was.  I had t o look it up in the, in the, in the Atlas.  And, uh, I realized it’s a, it’s far away.  But that was of academic interest at the time because my interest, at that time,


was flying.

I:          Flying.  You wanted to fly.

D:        I wanted to fly.

I:          Sir, I want to tell you my father was pilot, too, and I’m from Air, I taught the Cadet at the Air Force Academy in Korea.  So we are all Air Force family.

D:        Yeah, wonderful.  You got the Air Force background.  You must be good.

I:          Yes.  So you didn’t know where it was, and you didn’t learn anything about Korea.


D:        Not at that time.

I:          Um.  When did you graduate from high school?

D:        In 1947.

I:          And after that, what did you do?

D:        Well, I wanted to fly.  But we didn’t have money so that I couldn’t go and just learn to fly privately.  That cost money.  I could, however, if I was selected


I could go via the military, uh, line.  The South African Permanent Force Cadet course had a possible entry.  But I knew the competition would be very, very strict.  And if I could go that route, it wouldn’t cost money because remember, schoolteachers are not normally very well paid.


And that was what my interest was.

I:          So what school did you apply?

D:        Well, I applied through the military to be selected for the, uh, permanent Force Cadet course.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And, uh, in about February of 19, uh, 48, I came up to Pretoria and selection process commenced.


And to my surprise, out of some 600 applicants, 42 were selected, and I was among them.

I:          Oh.

D:        As a matter of interest, General Muller was also selected on the same course.


I:          He mentioned about you, that he met you at there, and you began to talk each other.

D:        Yes.

I:          Um hm.

D:        At the railway station in Bloemfantein on the way to come up here.  And, uh, we’ve been friends ever since.

I:          Did you take the exam?

D:        We took many, many exams and many, many tests including psychological tests and, of course, very strict medical tests.


So it was a great relief that I was selected.  But the next question was would I survive the course because in those days, it was a two-year course.  It covered up to Captain’s level

I:          Um hm.

D:        uh.  The Infantry, Artillery, Armour, Engineers, and, uh, subjects like Equestrian which we had to look up in the dictionary to discover that was horse riding.


I:          Horse riding?

D:        Yes.

I:          So you haven’t

D:        That was still a Cavalry tradition in the South African Defense Force in those days.

I:          So even though you wanted to be a pilot but you have to go through all this Artillery and everything else including horse riding.

D:        Yeah.  And including, uh,


some university subjects, up to, not necessarily up to, uh, top level but Physics and Chemistry, among others, had to be studied, and military history.

I:          So obviously you survived.

D:        I survived.

S:         So you went to 1948, then you graduate from 1950, right?
D:        That’s right.

I:          When was it?

D:        I graduated on the first of April


I:          Um hm.

D:        1950.

I:          So that was right before the breakout of the Korean War.

D:        Just before.  And, uh, as an interesting side, at the college, the Commanding Officer said to me if you have graduated among the top 10, you may select which arm of the service you would like to serve in.


And at that time, the cream of the service was Artillery. If you wanted to go anywhere in the Defense Force, you had to be Artillery.  And I said Air Force.  The Captain said, uh, you sure, and wouldn’t you like to go to the Artillery?  I mean, you’re in the top 10.


I:          So you were in the top 10.

D:        I was in the top 10.

I:          Oh.

D:        And he was quite shocked that I wanted to go to the Air Force.  But I did go to the Air Force which is where I wanted to b.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And after two years, this was the first chance to really get close to where I wanted to be.

I:          So where did you go from there then?

D:        From there, I went to Dunnottar


which is just close to Springs in the Eastern part of Francois.

I:          Could you spell it?

D:        D U N N O T T A R.  Dunottar.

I:          Dunnottar.  Um hm.

D:        That’s where Central Flying School was in those days.

I:          So until 1950, you didn’t have any train for flying.

D:        No.

I:          No.  We went and to, uh,


some of the training schools and saw airplanes and flew as passengers in them.  But we were not being trained as Air Force.

I:          Got it.  So what kind of training did you go through there, Dunnottar.

D:        Well, at Dunnottar I started in Tiger Moths and, uh, just about the time that I completed the Tiger Moth training, the war in Korea broke out.


And within a month, the South African government had, uh, expressed the intention to send a fighter squadron to Korea.

I:          Um.

D:        So now one of the stumbling blocks mentally was I wanted to fly, and I was quite happy to volunteer to fly in Korea.


As in the side, remember that, uh, all South Africans had to volunteer to go outside of the country.  And the problem now was as the progress of the Korean War happened in the beginning, we didn’t think there would still be a Korean War within a few months.

I:          You thought it would be very short.

D:        Well, I thought, uh,


at that stage, the Korean forces were down at, uh, Busan perimeter and, uh,

I:          Oh.  So you thought that

D:        We thought   Korean War would be over. But we didn’t want it to be over.  However, in December, 1950, I got wings.  Now that didn’t make me


anything except a very, very junior pilot.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And there was still a long way to go to be trained as a fighter pilot.  But by December, you made a call.  The, uh, United Nations Forces had, uh, sent an amphibious assault at Incheon, and they rolled up the North Korean Forces


and advanced northwards up to nearly the Yalu River

I:          Um hm.

D:        when the Chinese decided to intervene.  So in December, having wings, the Chinese again were going South, and out next question was how long will the Korean War last?  In January,


I did the Spitfire Conversion.  The Spitfire is a fighter airplane

I:          Um hm.

D:        And, uh, a weapons course   and, uh, by May, we had finished, and the end of May, we left for Korea.

I:          Did you wanted to go, did you want to go to Korea?  Did you wanna go to war?

D:        Yes.  I volunteered.

I:          You an idiot.


D:        No, that is so.  But remember, I had gone through a military channel to get my wings.  This made me a professional Air Force officer, rank of Second Lieutenant which is

I:          But you were risking your life.  You could be dead there.

D:        You could.  But surely your duty is to follow your professional commitment.


I:          But the, you didn’t know anything about country.  You said that you didn’t know where it was, and you were willing to go and fight for that country.  Maybe you could be killed there.

D:        True.  When you’re young, you’re not always very brilliant mentally.

I:          Thank God that you are not brilliant.

D:        And you, uh, young men have a view bad things can only happen to other people, not to you.


And, uh, I think that that was the attitude of most of us, that being eventually commissioned

I:          Um hm.

D:        which there were 16.  During training, one was killed, and one had to resign because he wanted to get married.

I:          Married

D:        And in those days, you had to be 25 years or older and have your perspective bride checked out by your Commanding Officer,


and if all went well, you could then marry.  But before 25, no.

I:          So that person was 25?
D:        No, not yet.

I:          No?  Well, how could he marry then?

D:        He resigned.

I:          Oh.  We understand, right?

D:        We understand.

I:          So you flew from here, right, to Tok, I mean, to Japan.

D:        Yes.

I:          Tell me about those.  How, where did you go through?


D:        Well, at that, it was a really nice way of traveling in those days.  It took five days to get to Japan.

I:          Only five days?
D:        Five days.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Because we didn’t fly at night.  We stopped over.  And, uh, we stopped over at various places like Rome.

I:          Did you stop at Rome?

D:        We stopped at Rome.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        We had a night stop.


We stopped at various routes on the way out and, uh, in those days, there was no first class and second class, tourist class.  It was only one class, first class.

I:          So when you stopped at Rome, did you ever imagine that you could meet your future wife when you returning from there?
D:        That was a long in the future.

I:          You didn’t have any idea.

D:        No, and I wasn’t thinking in those directions.


I was thinking of Korea, combat, flying.  My interest was totally in that direction at that time.

I:          But you already destined to meet your future wife in Rome.

D:        Uh, right.  But that was not my planning.  That was something else.

I:          Something else.  But God was planning on you.

D:        I guess so.

I:          Um.  So when you, where did you arrive for the first time in Korea, and where?


D:        We, uh, went to K10 which was, uh, uh, Chinhae is the closest town, uh, just opposite Masan and, uh, that’s a little bit west of Pusan.

I:          Yes.  How was it when you first landed there?  Just be honest with me, okay?


What was your first impression of Korea?

D:        The first impression was that it was a shambles because there was lots of activity, tents, nothing very well prepared, people moving around, and it, but it was interesting.  This was an adventure.  Remember, I was 20 years old,


and this was some thing new, and I was in a fighter squadron.  And the fighter squadron was attached to an American Wing

I:          Eighteen.

D:        which had already three fighter squadrons attached to it.  That was now the 12th, uh, 39th and the 67th.  And now Two Squadron SAAF, South African Air Force formed the 4th squadron in the wing.


And this was interesting because this was a new experience.  I speak a different language in America.  It’s a different way of flying.  But it was interesting.
I:          Any other country other than South Africa there with the Americans 18th Fighter and Bomb, Bomber Wings?

D:        Sorry, I didn’t get that.

I:          Any other country other than South, South Africa in Chinhae?


D:        No.

I:          So.

D:        Just the 18th Fighter Wing.

I:          U.S. and South Africa.

D:        Yes.

I:          Only two countries.  And how many pilots were there, uh, in South Africa, how many?  Fourteen, right?

D:        Sorry, I

I:          How many, how many pilots from South Africa were in Chinhae?

D:        Well, at that time there must have been about 30.


I:          Thirty?

D:        About 30.

I:          It’s all South African?

D:        Yes.

I:          Okay.

D:        But, you see.  The, the composition would be this way.  A squadron consisted of four flights.  And there was a squadron commander and a second in command, and each flight had, uh, an equal number of pilots which were altogether


came to about 30.

I:          Um hm.  And so you never flew F51 before.

D:        No.

I:          So how did it happen?  Did you get some training, or did you have some fun or

D:        No, we had, we were well trained.  They gave us a book to read, and we sat in the cockpit, and we checked memory.


Close your eyes.  Put your hands on that switch and on that switch,  you know.  A blindfold cockpit check.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Start the engine, and taxi the aircraft around, and when you’ve done that completely and successfully, you’re ready to go.

I:          Ready to go fly.

D:        Next flight, flight familiarization and, uh, with the spins


and, uh, shortly after that, they loaded up weapons, bombs, or, uh, light bomb, rockets, guns and on their little islands offshore of Chinhae, we did, uh, attacks to get the correct feel of the aircraft, and the flight after that was what they called a nursery sweep


where we flew up to the bomb run which is the line beyond which you cannot expect to be controlled.  And, uh, that’s the enemy’s side and, uh, experienced being shot at by anti-aircraft fire, and that completed the Mustang conversion at which stage I, uh,


had about, uh, 265 hours total flying time which in modern days is nothing.

I:          But you never flew that airplane, and how, when you trained for the Mustang, did you fly it by yourself or there were any other person or instructor with you?  How did it happen?


D:        Solo.

I:          It’s a solo, right,

D:        A solo.

I:          because there is only one seat.

D:        Just one seat.

I:          So you did it by yourself.

D:        I did.

I:          And was it difficult?

D:        No.  Interesting point.  A Mustang was built by the North American Company.  The North American Company also built the Harvard Trainer.  So the two cockpits were very similar and, uh, it made it easier because it was nothing strange about it.


The few additional switches for armament and a gun site in front of you.  But, uh,

I:          Otherwise it’s almost

D:        felt at home.  There was about, uh, there was a big difference in the feel because you had a lot of horsepower, uh, to the point that they always stressed if your speed is low and you open the throttle too fast,


you will roll.  And if it happens close to the ground, it will kill you.

I:          Hm.  Did you like that Mustang?
D:        Very much.  I loved it.

I:          So were confident to, to have a real fight.

D:        Yes. I was young.  Anything bad couldn’t happen to me.  To other people yes, but not to me.  So I didn’t have any problem in going into action.


It was exciting.

I:          Do you remember your first solo action?  When was it, and what was it for?

D:        It was, I think, on the 7th of June, but I could be wrong because we’d arrived at the end of May

I:          Right.

D:        And, uh,

I:          So almost like a one-week training, and you’re ready already.

D:        We were ready.

I:          And June 7th, what happened to you?


Where did you go, and what did you do?

D:        Well, I was uh, assigned to, uh, to join the flight, to, uh, attack some bridges up in the north of Korea and, uh, went to do a road reconnaissance as I remember and attack any targets of opportunity.  We did that and, uh, it was interesting.


I wasn’t very confident of my ability.  But I didn’t do anything grossly wrong, and the flight commander said to me good show and, uh, I was very satisfied with the flight.

I:          How accurate the weapon system at the time?  Napalm, rocket and guns.  How accurate was it ?

D:        Well, I think as you got more proficient at flying the Mustang,


it was reasonably accurate.  Bombing, not so much.  Napalm, remember, was release very low and, uh, you knew you could hit a tank every time with a Napalm.

I:          Um.

D:        Guns depended on yourself.  I had my guns, uh, excuse me

I:          So overall,


how many [SORTIES] did you have, uh, before you were captured?

D:        I was shot down on the 65th [SORTIE]

I:          Sixty

D:        Sixty-five.

I:          Five.  When was it?  Do you remember?

D:        Twenty-seven September, 1951.

I:          Um.  How did it happen, and just give us very detail, what was your mission, and how was it, and where and so on please?


D:        Alright.  We were flying out of, uh, K16 which was [THEUNGSON] City Airport.

I:          Yeah.

D:        And the mission was, uh, early morning.  Targets of opportunity, and we were given the route.  I was the flight leader.  Shortly after getting airborne,


my number, uh, two man complained that his engine was running a bit rough.  So I took him back to the bomb line and sent him home.  So that left three of us.

I:          Um.

D:        And, uh, we continued with our mission, flying up north, looking for targets of opportunity.


And I spotted a bridge close to a river and, uh, a mountain on one side.  And I thought it would be a good idea if we could hit that bridge at the base of the mountain.  That should close it.  And we did that. But while I was attacking the bridge, I saw anti-aircraft,


uh, .50 Browning multiple, quadruple Brownings firing at me, and I could see their position.   Because it was early in the morning, you could see the tracer.

I:          Um.

D:        So I told the flight that they should arm guns, and let’s hit the fleck.  Now when I turned in on the first gun position,


I could see the tracer passing above my canopy.  But I steadied down, got the sites on the, uh, on the gun pit and selected rockets and fired.  And then I pulled up.  I got hit three times.  I’d like to mention at this stage


that up until then, I’d never been hit, uh.  People flying with me had been hit many times.  But I had never been touched which just reinforced my opinion that it could never happen to me.  Now when I was hit, I did look back, and I saw that I had destroyed the gun.


I:          Um.

D:        The flight was forming up.  I told them I’d been hit, and I said I was going to head south.  I saw that immediately I was losing coolant.  Temperature of the engine was going up, and presently a small fire started in the cockpit at my feet.  Now that worried me because previously


one of my friends had been hit under similar circumstances, and he’d opened the canopy to bail out, and it sucked the flames into the canopy and killed him.

I:          That’s Muller.

D:        What?

I:          Muller, General Muller had the same experience.  That his coolant was low so that the temperature was high, way up.

D:        Yes.

I:          Yeah.

D:        But now my, I was losing all my coolant

I:          Oh.

D:        Immediately.


So I did my emergency actions.  I opened the, uh, shutter for the coolant and, uh, I reduced speed a little, and I knew I was gonna lose height.  But I had time to call control and alert the helicopter.  And I alerted my flight.  I told one of them to stay up,


and he would act as a radio transmitter, and the other was to stay with me and watch me to get me on the ground

I:          Um.

D:        to keep troops away from me.  Well, I finally lost height and, uh, unfortunately the coolant and the oil had now covered the sides of the canopy.  So I could only see out the top.


I:          Ah.

D:        In fact, I flew over some very heavy anti-aircraft fire.  But I think they were aiming at a Mustang that was flying fast because they were shooting well in front of me.  Eventually control said to me that, uh, helicopter was on standby, but I must now change course because I was heading into the Kaesong neutral zone


which is where they negotiations were taking place at that time.

I:          Um.

D:        Well, I, uh, was not going to listen to them because if I did I would lose more height, and I thought if I go into neutral zone, an, that’s fine.  But I realized I was not going to make it.  I was too low.

I:          Uh huh.


D:        And it was in the mountainous area, so I didn’t see my chances of burying him good.  And the fire had now, at my feet, had gone down a bit.  So I called out that I was bailing, opened the canopy and jumped.

I:          What happened?

D:        Well, normally when you jump, you get an oscillation from your parachute.


And we’d been trained if you had the oscillation, you chinned yourself on the parachute risers.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And I chinned myself, and I stopped the oscillation at which stage I, at ground base .50 machine gun opened up and started shooting holes in the canopy.  So I now tried to get myself back into oscillation


at which stage I hit the ground.

I:          With the airplane?

D:        I was out from the parachute.

I:          Okay.

D:        The airplane had peeled off and crashed after I left it.

I:          And then, who came to you?

D:        Well, the landing was a bit of a disaster.  It was on a very steep hillside.  And


when you land by parachute, you do a, a roll to spread the shock of the landing.  And I did the roll and then went rounding down the hillside.  Now, I knew I had to stop myself, so I spread eagled, spread myself out and, uh, unfortunately my right foot stock in the crotch off a tree


while I was still rolling which didn’t do my right knee any good.  But it stopped my roll.  Now, that made it really awkward because the moment this happens, you realize your mobility is reduced.  And shortly after I had spread my parachute out and


seen what I could do to the knee which was nothing, some troops appeared on the other side of this little valley and started shooting at me which again made things difficult because if I could maintain my position, I could signal my number two to stop the enemy and keep them away from me

I:          Um hm.

D:        So the helicopter could come and fetch me.


But in the event, I now had to abandon my position.  That again changed my options.   Now I could not remain where I was, and I had to decide where and what I would do.  And my initial assumption was I would head west and try and find one of the bigger


rivers, maybe the Imjin

I:          Yeah.

D:        and fly, and then at night swim down the river because at the mouth of the river, there were some highlands which were in friendly hands.  So that was my initial plan.  But again, circumstances didn’t help me.  These soldiers must have been told horrible stories about United Nations pilots


I:          Um.

D:        because as soon as they got to a thick patch of brush, I would fire a Burp gun in or toss a grenade.  My options again released.  That means I must avoid thick bush


I:          Um.

D:        which is my primary cover.  I must pick thinner bush so that I don’t get shot without being seen.  Now I avoided several lines of soldiers for quite a long time, about six or seven hours.  But I couldn’t move fast, and I was moving in pain.  Eventually I was in a little ditch, and a line of troops came past, and I thought they’re cone when a young trooper, very young man,


fell in the ditch next to me.  Now I must explain that we carried a vest as an escape invasion vest with equipment for signaling, purifying water, and a shoulder holster for my pistol.

I:          Um hm.

D:        But in my fright, as this soldier, I could see his thumb trying to get


the safety catch off, I grabbed my pistol and didn’t undo the strap.

I:          Um.

D:        So I was tugging at my pistol, and he was feeling for his safety catch.  He got his safety catch off first.  So that was when I was captured.

I:          It was North Korean soldier.

D:        Chinese.

I:          Chinese?


D:        But I didn’t know that at the time.

I:          Um.

D:        They were just troops.

I:          What were you thinking at the time?

D:        I was thinking I’d had a run of bad luck to be captured.

I:          Did they hit you or, in the beginning?

D:        In the beginning, no.  But now, at this stage I must mention that my number two


who was to stay with me during the bail out, lost me.  He was a pilot, an experienced pilot, but he’d only just come to Korea.  And so he wasn’t very [INAUDIBLE] with the situation.  And he lost sight of me, and so he was not able to give me any close cover.  But at this stage, lots of airplanes flying around, looking for me.


And the troops, the soldiers, had, uh, taken branches and put them in their belts at the back so that when an airplane came close, they would just bend down, squat and they would then be virtually invisible.

I:          Camouflage.

D:        And they were very, very nervous.


So they kept saying to me indicating I must move faster.  But I couldn’t move faster.  And, uh, one of the soldiers took my pistol and was shooting at my feet to make me go faster

I:          Oh.

D:        which annoyed me.   And I fell.


And when I got up, he was still saying go faster, and I made mistake number one:  I hit him.  And I knocked him flat.  But naturally that provoked retaliation.

I:          Obviously.

D:        Uh, with rifle butts, they beat me up.  And I didn’t recover consciousness


until I was somewhere in the dark in a hut.  So that’s the story of my initial part of my capture.

I:          So from that, uh, September 27, where were you dragged into?  Where did you go?

D:        Well, on this, we are now on the 28th.

I:          Right.

D:        Some early hours of the morning,


excuse me, I was, uh, pretty beat up.  I was injured and, uh, of course I’d been con, concussed.  So I had a very violent headache, felt nauseous, and I didn’t have any idea of where I was except I had thought by the number of troops, I must be very close to a brigade headquarters


because otherwise they wouldn’t be that number of, of troops.

I:          Still Chinese.

D:        Still Chinese.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And somewhere, probably north, northeast of Kaesong.  And that’s where the, the journey as a prisoner of war began.

I:          Did they interrogate first?
D:        In the beginning, not much.


They wanted to know my name and my number which I didn’t have.  And they weren’t serious about an interrogation.  They obviously wanted me to first be moved away from that area.

I:          So where did you go then from there?

D:        From there, I moved, first of all, on horseback.

I:          Horseback?

D:        Horseback


cause I, I had difficulty with walking.  And the interrogation started off number, rank, name, and it went, was not a good interrogation because I didn’t have the number.

I:          Um hm.  What do you mean you didn’t have a number?

D:        Uh, I didn’t have a number.

I:          What number are you talking?

D:        Your serial number

I:          Oh.

D:        which all soldiers are supposed to have.

I:          But the pilot didn’t have?


D:        I didn’t have.

I:          You didn’t have.
D:        No.

I:          That’s, uh, strange.  Why?

D:        Well, they didn’t believe me either.

I:          I understand Chinese soldier who was frustrated by you.

D:        No, he wasn’t frustrated, but he was very annoyed.

I:          Right.

D:        And in the process of now trying to discover me, what’s ordering, what airplane, how many,


uh, just the nonsense.  He said right.  What is your father’s name?  And I said, uh, I don’t have to answer that.  The Geneva Convention says I don’t. And then he went into quite a tirade

I:          Um.

D:        that the Geneva Convention was a Western plot.  They have something far better.  They have the lenient policy which in essence says we


will not kill you yet.  But you must realize you’ve been fighting against the people, the Democratic people Republic of Korea and the Democratic people’s, uh, people of China.  And if you’ve been fighting against them, you are a war criminal.


And as a war criminal, you can be executed.  But we have a lenient policy.  So if you cooperate, and if you answer correctly, then you will not be killed which was a bit of a problem for me.  In any case, I refused to answer.

I:          And you were, you thought that you going to die?  You were to be killed.


D:        Well, I didn’t initially.  But then when he got really annoyed and he called on some guards and he marched me off and put me up against tree, I realized he was serious.  And he lined up the guards and they asked if I wanted a blindfold and I said no. And he raised his pistol, and he aimed it at my head,


and he pulled the trigger, and it went click.

I:          Wow.

D:        That was a morale buster.

I:          Was it intention that he didn’t have a bullet inside?
D:        I’m sure.

I:          Yeah.

D:        So he marched me back again, and he said I think you need time to think.  And he put me in a hole in the ground


which was covered with a slatted wooden cover, and he left me there.

I:          Were you ready to die being killed?

D:        I didn’t want to die, no.

I:          But you didn’t answer.

D:        I didn’t feel like it.

I:          But you, it was clear that Chinese soldier would kill you if you don’t answer.

D:        I didn’t feel that it was my job


to answer

I:          Um.

D:        because our code of ethics was you had the Geneva Convention, and if the enemy didn’t follow it, that was their problem, not mine.  My ethics said you hold out.  But in the event after a, a length period in the hole without food

I:          For how many days?


D:        Or any water, and it was fairly warm.  So by the second day, I realized I’m gonna have to say something.  And when he came to see, to ask me had I thought carefully, I said yes, I’ve thought, and I will give you my father’s name.  So the


interrogation went very slowly because I resisted each point that he asked.

I:          Did you give your father’s name, real name?

D:        Yes.

I:          Okay.  And was it still near to Kaesong?

D:        Yes.  But now luckily this interrogator wasn’t a master of English.  He could speak English but not all that good.  And, uh, he was not


very intelligent.  So I thought I am cleverer than he is, and I gave stupid answers, forgetting that everything you say gets written down, and if you ever get interrogated again, your answer better be the same as the previous one.

I:          Exactly.

D:        But I hadn’t learned that yet.  I was still a, a rookie prisoner of war.


D:        And I learned that the Chinese system doesn’t acknowledge anything of the truth as we see it.  In other words, we had started the war in Korea.

I:          Um.

D:        Not North Korea.

I:          Um.

D:        It was a part of the Americans


and the Wall Street war mongers and the British running dogs. etc.  And I think they really believed that.  So I was slowly learning a new set of rules where you could provoke anger by merely telling the truth.


And that was how it started and continued for the best part of the next two years.

I:          Next two years.  So from Kaesong, where were you moved to?

D:        Well, the, first place we moved to was the, uh, Chinese Air Force Headquarters in, uh, Pyongyang.


And there, the interrogation continued to other prisoners there.  And I made my first escape attempt from that camp.

I:          Tell me about it.

D:        Well, I was placed in a little cell with a guard outside, and the back of the cell had wooden slatted,


uh, cover which led into another cell.  So in other words, the cells were back to back.

I:          Yeah.

D:        And I felt that slatted wooden block and I thought I’m sure I could pull this loose.  So at periods when the guard was not watching in the evening, I worked on that slat until I got it loose.

I:          Um


D:        And the following night as soon as I could, soon as the guard’s attention was elsewhere, I removed the slats and made a break.  The sad part, and this is, again, circumstances.  A very good friend of mine who’d been shot down before me had been placed in that same cell, and he had had the exactly the same thought.


And he had opened that slat, and he made a break for it.
I:          At the same time?

D:        No, before.

I:          Before.

D:        Before me.  So they knew exactly what to do to recapture me.  And they did.  And they were pretty angry.  So food and water got cut and, uh,


interrogation got intensified, and the threats intensified.

I:          Did they torture you?
D:        No.

I:          No.

D:        Not then.

I:          Well, how, how, how was the food situation?  How many meals did you have after that, you were recaptured?

D:        The same food as the Chinese had, rice.  Essentially rice.


But from that camp, I was moved to a North Korean camp, uh, run by a Major Puck.

I:          Yeah.

D:        Now Major Park was a sadist.

I:          Yes.

D:        He, uh, enjoyed torturing people.  So my stay at Park’s Place was not a happy one.


And there were no holds barred.  It was most unpleasant.

I:          Um.

D:        And of the, Pete Purdue was there when I arrived.  One third had died within two weeks.
I:          Because of the torture?

D:        Torture, starvation, uh, illness.  I think you, you should realize that particularly among Americans,


you eat very, very well.  Now it is my belief that while you eat well,

I:          Um hm.

D:        the body adapts.  It doesn’t need to take extra vitamins because it’s getting it, the food.

I:          Yes.

D:        So after a few weeks, the people who used to get food got weaker and weaker and weaker.


And if you had a sip of water that was not boiled anywhere in North Korea, you would get dysentery, an d if you had dysentery and you were not getting the good food, you wouldn’t last long.  So the people died easily. relatively easily.


And interestingly enough, at the end of six or seven months, survivors on that diet were able to do hard labor and load barges, cut wood, do the things you never thought you would on that diet.  So from Park’s Palace, things were really bad.  In fact,


uh, I said to my own shame that one day we had to bury one of our prisoners who died.  But, uh, the ground was very hard.

I:          Um.

D:        And, uh, we’d only dug about three or four feet when I said, I said let’s stop.  Let’s really, that, that’s enough for a grave.

I:          Um.

D:        My friends, they said no.  You’ve gotta dig it deeper.


And it’s only because I was at that stage very weak.

I:          Um.

D:        But luckily we dug the grave deeper, and we covered it.  Then one night a group of us was moved closer into Pyongyang to, uh, a camp they called the mining camp which had also been really rough on prisoners.


And, uh, from there, we eventually marched up to the Yalu River.

I:          And did you go to, were you assigned to the Chinese camp?

D:        Yes.

I:          What was it?  What’s the name of it?

D:        That was called [Pinchuni].

I:          Say that again.

D:        [Pinchuni].

I:          [Inchumni] And was, how was it different?


D:        Well, it was a, a Chinese camp so the treatment was in general not too bad, not compared to the North Koreans.  But at that camp was propaganda.
I:          Um hm.

D:        Every day lectures.  A system under the Chines was that everybody was watched all the time.


And anybody who had been brought inside by them, he would have to report on all the other prisoners.  But there wasn’t just one informer.  There were many.  And none knew who the others were.  So the Chinese had total control of what happened and who was talking to who.

I:          Um hm.

and who was walking around the


parade ground and who was maybe plotting to escape.  So it wasn’t a free camp in the sense that people think a prisoner of war camp was in World War II.  There was no freedom.  And initially after capture, the, uh, winter started, and the snow came.


So on our march to the north, things were not real easy.  And the prisoners who could not walk were put on an ox cart which was a favor in one way.  But having spent the day riding on an ox cart, they could freeze.

I:          Yeah.

D:        And of the prisoners who started on the ox cart, eventually only one survived.


I:          So you was lucky that you were able to walk.

D:        Yeah.  The system was quite simple.  If you couldn’t walk, then, uh, you would be left behind.  And a bit further down the road, you’d perhaps get shot.

I:          Tell me about this, um.  At Park’s Palace, how many people lived in where,


and how was the condition?  How many meals did you get?  What kind of meal did you get?  Did you get any medical care?  Tell me about those details please.

D:        Alright.  During the whole time that I was incarcerated, there was never any medical care.

I:          In Park’s Pa, Palace.

D:        Park’s Palace or anywhere else.

I:          Chinese, okay.

D:        Not for people who were termed reactionaries.  Now in their jargon, people were either, uh,


reactionary, and they were, they got nothing

I:          Um hm.

D:        or they would cooperate, and then they could have a couple of extras.

I:          Um.

D:        But medical in Park’s Palace, zero.  Food was, uh, rice, two bowls a day.  But the treatment there was rough.  Initially, I remember they played a lovely game.


In the courtyard, they drew a big circle, and they put me in the circle.

I:          Um.

D:        And they said write.  f you can get out of this circle, then we will stop hitting you.  The game starts now.  And then they started beating.  And if you made it out of the circle and they stopped beating you, then


they put you back in the circle, and then the game continues.  So that was just for amusement.  And, uh, the treatment, if you did not answer questions, was a lot more brutal.  Uh, physical beatings and, uh, one that they quite enjoyed was they tied you up on a chair,


tipped the chair over backwards, put a towel over your face and poured water on the towel which made it very difficult to breathe until eventually you’d

I:          Waterboarding.

D:        could lose consciousness, but, then they tipped the chair back upright again and, uh, you’d recover.  They we can go back to the interrogation because you know what’s gonna happen if you don’t answer.


I:          You could answer and get away from those tortures, right?

D:        Yes.

I:          And you refused it.

D:        Eventually you answer something.  And particularly among the Chinese, they had a system where they said we want you to writ e your cognition.  We want you to write the story.  Tell us about your childhood.  Tell us about your school.


Tell us about your military.  Tell us everything.  Write it.  Again, you should learn quickly the next time they would say write your cognition, the same answer had to appear on both which meant you could do it.
I:          Um hm.

D:        You could lie.  But you now have to make your lies simpler because you had to remember what you had lied about the previous time.


But this took time to learn. It meant that you suffered during the learning process.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And you tried to be clever, and you’re only clever if you can remember what you said.

I:          I had a chance to interview, I had a chances to interview more than 50 POW from the United States and out of country, and I saw, I know,


the Chinese camp versus North Korean camp.  How do you compare this to?  Which one is more difficult to you?

D:        The difference was that the North Korean camp, like Park’s Palace, was physical.  It was not so subtle.  The Chinese camp was a psychological, in-depth attempt to indoctrinate.


And it had lectures day and, all day in the beginning, all about Communism and how good it was, and you had to follow this day in and day out, uh, and the attempt was always to turn you, to make you not a reactionary but to progressive because as a progressive, there would be better food. There might be medical treatment, uh.


There were various pluses.  But as a reactionary, you didn’t get anything special, and, uh, you could quite easily end up, every time you made a mistake, in a hole, in the ground with your arms tied behind your back which you might think is not a torture.  But in


due course, you are going to soil yourself

I:          Yeah.

D:        which psychologically is a negative.

I:          Absolutely.

D:        And food irregular times and sometimes not at all.  And the water the same.  So the torture you  might say but that, that’s not big torture.  But over a week at a time, you can feel


your mind starting to go.

I:          Um.

D:        And we knew that they were very good at psychological torture.  In fact, two pilots from my wing were produced for the price and the world to see on television how they were found guilty of germ warfare.

I:          Um.


And they, in front of their press and the television, stood and confessed to germ warfare.  And I knew, and they knew, they’d never committed germ warfare.  But with brain washing, which was a new word that was coined in the Korean War, that could be done in less and less time, depending on how you did it.


And, uh, I made a study of this, and I found out that if you read, uh, a professor from, uh, McGill University in Canada, how, by putting people in isolation with a, within a sound proof room with no light, and they were not able to touch anything


I:          Um hm.

D:        within a very few hours, they started to lose themselves, and the mind then seizes on any input it can get.  So if you feed it incorrect facts, it would believe those facts.  Now this is what the Chinese were doing in a more primitive fashion, long isolation and feeding in facts.


Their facts.

I:          They were really cutting you all.  So when you see those two of your clique, you know, making false confession, what were you thinking?

D:        Well, we knew it was false.

I:          Um hm.  Did you feel betrayed, or what did you think about it?

D:        We just felt that we didn’t know what they’d gone through,


but we knew that they’d been, their minds hadn’t been bent.  So we had a fair idea of the truth probably done by isolation.  And we

I:          Yeah.  I mean they must have been going through terrible, terrible stages of sufferings.

D:        Yes.

I:          And they had no option other than just doing something.

D:        They believed what they said.

I:          Oh, they believed.

D:        Yes.  Because as I said,



with brain washing, you break down the mind.  And then you feed it what you want it to believe.

I:          Wow.

D:        And once it believes it, it’s not permanent.  It only lasts a little while unless you keep putting it again.  That was what happened brain washing.

I:          What do you think that


you were able to refuse and survive during those two years of imprisonment?
D:        Yeah, it was actually a little less than two years was

I:          But

D:        twenty-three months and three days.  I resisted everything I could.  But I knew I had to give somethings.  And I lied where I could and where I could get away with it.


So I remained a reactionary.  And, uh, everybody in the reactionary camp didn’t live all that well.  But we were left with a little bit of our own pride.  So perhaps the answer is pride.  And I know that after the Korean War, the Americans had a big rethink because there were too many people


that got court martialed for cooperating with the enemy.  And after this session

I:          That’s not fair actually.

D:        they changed the rules so that by the Viet Nam War, they said you resist as far as you can, and then talk if you have to and you will not be court martialed which was a step in the direction of realism


because if I work on you hard enough, you’re gonna crack.  I was lucky perhaps.  I was a Second Lieutenant who is not normally the person who carries great secrets or has a [INAUDIBLE] importance.  So perhaps I was worked on more leniently.  But periodically, I would make a mistake.


I would argue with an interrogator, do something wrong, back in the hole.  Solitary.

I:          How difficult was it being in solitary in the hole?

D:        It was difficult.  That’s not nice.  For an hour, you can bear it.  But after a week, it, you realize


the mind starts to go.  And if you had like Col. Kahn of the Glosters 19 months of solitary

I:          Nineteen months?
D:        Nineteen months.  He realized that he was a very strong personality to survive.
I:          How long was the longest for you to be in the hole?

D:        Two weeks.

I:          Two weeks.


You never got out of there until two weeks, the end of two weeks?

D:        Yeah.

I:          Then you have to have all the human waste there and, and urinating there.  This is unbelievable.

D:        Yeah.  But it’s not torture as people think.

I:          Not torture by literal definition.  But it’s more than torture.

D:        But there were other forms of torture.
I:          Yeah.

D:        Particularly, they wanted


when somebody escaped, who helped them because they have to have a scapegoat.

I:          Um.

D:        Now, one of the things that, uh, I didn’t like, in the winter, they’d take you outside. You’re tied up, your arms, elbows together, until you are just short of frostbite.


And then they’d take you into a warm room

I:          Um.

D:        because as you thaw, it’s the most excruciating pain.  And of course, it can be continued on and on as long as you wish.  We think that’s one of the reasons that my hands look like that.

I:          Show it to your chin.


That’s really black, almost black there.

D:        Now, the skin is very thin there.

I:          Uh.

D:        And we think that was when this began.  It’s possible.

I:          Were you pray to God?

D:        I beg pardon?

I:          Were you praying to God?  Were you blaming to God?

D:        Sorry, I’m not

I:          Were you praying to God, pray to God?  Did you pray?

D:        Yeah.  I prayed.


I:          How did you, do you remember you praying to God?
D:        Yes.  When you’re in desperation, you will do anything and say anything to yourself in the hope that it will stop.  But you must remember that the frame of mind of a prisoner is there is no end to this story.  It’s not like a


prison sentence, even if you’ve got 10 years. At the end of 10 years, you’ve been made a free man.  But a prisoner of war, he’s dependent on, we hoped, the talks at Panmunjom

I:          Um hm.  Did you know that there was a peace talk around Panmunjom?
D:        Yeah.  It has

I:          How did you know?
D:        It had been going on since before I was shot down.  It carried on all the time, and the


typical problem was that the Communists used talks only to achieve an objective, and that objective is not peace.

I:          Um hm.

D:        The Americans didn’t understand it.  That’s why the discussions didn’t go too well.

I:          Did you think that, did you hope that you’d be free someday soon?


D:        I hoped someday.  But the soon didn’t come into it.  Because they’d say yes, you can write letters.

I:          So you, you did?

D:        Yeah, I’d write a letter, and it disappears.  Then sometimes you’d get a letter, months later.  But there was no rule, and you had to be careful.  You couldn’t say what you wanted

I:          Exactly.

D:        because every letter was censored.


I:          So did your family know that you are, you are the prisoner of war?
D:        Yes.  They learned in about December, I think.

I:          Um.  So you were captured on 27th of September, and they knew around December.  Must be so hard for your parents.

D:        It was because everything worked on a propaganda basis.


They had to write letters care of the Chinese People Volunteers

I:          Um.

D:        and the Committee for World Peace.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And they sent my parents propaganda books which showed how the prisoners were well treated, beautiful hospital treatment.

I:          So they have to lie to, to get their letter into your hands.


D:        Everything with, that they sent was lies.  And it is still today.  You cannot believe when, uh, the North Koreans tell you they want peace.  You should understand some fundamental on Communism.  They hammered the interpreter


and said he will say it again.  And he explained again. [INAUDIBLE]

I:          Um.

D:        which gave us great satisfaction.  But in our camp, the Red Cross were not allowed.   No Red Cross parcels were allowed, and they moved us out quickly northwards to, uh,


catch the train and go down by train to the, uh, neutral zone.

I:          What were you thinking?

D:        And all the way, I was thinking as long as we’re going south, I can try again for an escape.

I:          Escape, escape, escape.

D:        Escape.  Because they could change their mind at any time.  And I, of course, had made a mistake early on in my prison career, uh,


I was, uh, sentenced to death for, uh, sabotage.

I:          Um.

D:        And they reminded me frequently well, we don’t have to release you because you had a death sentence.  So all the time we were getting closer to Kaesong, I was thinking don’t trust the Communists.


Don’t trust the Chinese.  We’ll see when we get to Kaesong what happens.  If we can get out, we go.  And we stayed there a little while until, uh, August of, uh, ’53 when we were released.

I:          What’s the date that you were released?  What’s the date you were released?

D:        I think it was on the 3rd.


I could be wrong.  I’d have to look it up.

I:          August 3rd.  And did you have a lice problem so that your DDT was spread to you?

D:        We were always sprayed with DDT, but we didn’t have lice by the time we came out there.

I:          Um.

D:        But, uh, during our prisoner time, we got used to lice.

I:          Um.  What was the first food did you eat after you crossed the bridge of no return?


D:        Well, I thought it’d be nice to have steak and eggs.  But unfortunately, I got sick on the steak and eggs.  My stomach just wasn’t used to it.

I:          Right.  So you tried it, but because of that, you, you sick.

D:        I got sick.

I:          This is amazing story.  Um, what would you say to China, Chinese and, and North Korean government


if I arranged a meeting right now?   What would you say to them?

D:        I have nothing to say to them because they haven’t changed.  You know, everybody thinks China is now really world power.  Uh, I don’t know if people realize how the Chinese discipline system works.  There are camps over in the west of China where people are incarcerated


to be reeducated like we were because of their religion.  They’re still there.  And they always will be.  If you get a death sentence in China, and they still have them, you can appeal, and they said right.  Now, uh,


follow me, and there will be somebody with you.  We are going to go and listen to the appeal.  Pistol behind the head, and they charged the family for the bullet.  That’s today.  But the west doesn’t quite believe this.  North Korea is worse.  It’s terrible.


The millions of Koreans that died starvation due to their government’s importance placed on known food things like nuclear weapons.

I:          Um hm.

D:        So I wouldn’t trust them one inch.  And I wouldn’t believe them no matter what they said.


Perhaps I’m wrong.  But I don’t think so.
I:          Um.  After you were released, where did you go, General Earp?

D:        Well, first of all, we went to the, uh, uh, British camp in Japan,

I:          Uh huh.

D:        JRBD for, uh, debrief.  Because you now know if you’d been taken prisoner,


you have to prove that it was not by virtue of your surrender.  So you’re technically under arrest until you’re cleared.

I:          Yeah.

D:        And we spent some time there debriefing and telling our stories.  And then from there, we were flown home.

I:          Home.  But on the way to home, you met


somebody and that’s why we have, uh, two persons right now.  And would you please introduce yourself, your, what is your name?

E:        Elizabeth.

I:          And obviously last name Earp.

E:        Earp, yes.

I:          Yes.

D:        Now it’s Earp.

E:        Yes.

I:          And tell me.  How did you meet your husband and where?  No.  Elizabeth, you say.

E:        I met him in Rome.


I:          What.

E:        In Rome.

I:          In Italy?

E:        In Italy.

I:          How?  Tell me detail.

D:        Well, perhaps I’d better tell you the, as I mentioned, when we went to Korea

I:          Um hm.

D:        it took five days.  Now coming back, it was gonna take five days also.

I:          Um hm.

D:        But we left Japan as a, a Captain


and Mrs., uh, uh Captain and four other officers.

I:          Um.

D:        When we got to Rome, somehow we had transposed into a Mr. and Mrs. and three children.  So they couldn’t find us on the records.  And we had to wait there till we got sorted out.  We did for five days. In fact, I had to go


to see our Ambassador to borrow some money because I didn’t have much left. Any case, in Rome, our, our crew used to sleep

I:          Yeah.

D:        spend a day extra.  And Beth was an air hostess on her way to London, and she was sleeping in Rome.  And we had met the crew


in town, had a few drinks together, and they said to her there are some prisoners who are going to be going with you, with Beth, to South Africa.

I:          Um.

D:        So you better call them and meet them.

I:          Hm.

D:        And she did.  She phoned us, made a date and, uh, I met her in a bar


in Rome, and she was sipping her Gin Fizz.  The rest before which has disappeared.

I:          And then, there was a spark going on between the two of you?

D:        Spark, there was a spark.  We had food together. We went and, uh, visited the Borghese Gardens


E:        Yeah, we went to the Borghese Gardens

D:        and, uh, it was three of us, three prisoners and two air hostesses.

I:          Um.

D:        And, uh, we danced in a little placed called the Piccolo Slam where before  your time, [Kingford Look] and, uh, Errol Flynn


used to sit and drink and play cards and, uh, we danced.  We danced until the dawn right through the night.  And I took her back to her hotel, and I said please, may I kiss you goodnight?  And she said yes.

I:          Uh hm.


D:        And, uh, it wasn’t very long after that in, uh, April of the following year, we were married.

I:          Why did you marry him?  You didn’t know anything about him.  Why did you marry him?

E:        I liked him.

I:          What did you like about him?
E:        Uh, no.  You know, he may have been [INAUDIBLE] and, uh, trying to get recovered


from being a prisoner.

I:          Um.

E:        But I liked him.  He was very intelligent.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        You mean you liked me like when you get a new puppy dog, you like him?

I:          So did you have a happy marriage?
E:        I think so.

I:          God.

D:        After 64 years, it has to be happy.  Otherwise, you’d have left.

I:          Yeah, right.

E:        Ah.  We had two children


I:          Um.

E:        Um.  But my son got killed in Angola.

I:          Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that.

E:        He was shot down and

I:          Was he a soldier?
D:        Airman.

E:        Airman.

I:          Airman.

D:        Again fighting Communists.

I:          Yeah, oh.  Again.

E:        Yeah.  But our daughter is still a, alive, and she’s now given us great children [INAUDIBLE]


We’re really happy.

I:          Good.  General, have you been back to Korea since then?
D:        Yes.

I:          When?

D:        1996.

I:          Who invited you?

D:        Well, I was doing an official visit in Taiwan.  And, uh, our man there, our attache, asked North Korea the, uh, the Minister in Charge of, uh,


Veteran Affairs was Mr. [Kep Chung Chi.]

I:          [Chigot Chong.]  You, you mean South Korea.  You at South Korea.

D:        South Korea.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And, uh, he said yes, come.  Officially South Africa at that time was, uh, not, not very much cared for.  But being


a veteran and a prisoner, the Chief of the Air Force welcomed me.  All of it, not official, but, uh, I was treated like royalty.

I:          I know [Chgot Chong].  I did interview him.

D:        Ah, okay.

I:          So when did you see Korea in 1985?  What did you think about it?

D:        86.

I:          86.  What did you think about it?

D:        It was a different country.  You must remember when I left, it was a ruin.


Seoul City was just ruins.  The, uh, the end of the runway that we flew off in K16 was now a 65 story building.  So it was a totally different country.  The original houses that you saw


out in the rural areas, they duplicated in the folk village, south of Seoul.

I:          Yes, yes.

D:        And that’s where I could show Beth

I:          Um.

D:        what they used to be like cause that’s the only place you saw them.  Holy, the houses have changed.  Everything had changed, even the people’s clothing because during the Korean War, they just wore white.


But now they were wearing colorful clothing, their normal national dress.

I:          You told me in the beginning of this interview that you didn’t know anything about Korea.  You had to live like Hell for 23 months and three days.  Now you back to Korea.  What were you thinking?  How do you link this up, huh?  What would you say to your life?


D:        Well, uh, the nice part of it was she was with me

I:          Um.

D:        on that visit.  And I could explain to her

E:        Yeah.

D:        We went to Freedom Village

E:        Yeah.

D:        and, uh, normally they don’t allow this.  But I was allowed t o get off and go onto the bridge and look at the North Korean soldier on the other side in the same way when we went to, uh,


the, the negotiating area

I:          Yes.

D:        where I showed her the buildings on the other side are just a façade.  It looks like a tree story building, but it isn’t.  It’s just a, a front wall.

I:          Yeah.

D:        And, uh, I could look there at the distance that I am from you

I:          Um.

D:        I could look at that guard, and I could think you


poor son of a bitch.

I:          Um.
D:        You’ve got to live here.  I don’t

I:          Um.  What is your legacy as a Korean War veteran?  What is your legacy?

D:        If you’ve gotta fight, fight to win.  Don’t give in.

I:          Are you regretting that you were in Korea?


D:        No.

I:          After those

D:        At the time, I wasn’t happy as a prisoner.  But remember, I had had a great deal of experience for 65 missions during which time I had some very successful missions.  In fact, I wrote in my book with a purpose of convincing my granddaughter that I’m not just a killer.


If you have to kill, you kill.  So I never bragged about how many men I’ve killed or how many bridges I’ve burned and how many tanks I destroyed.  There were part of the job.  And I did the job the best I could.  The fact that I got shot down and not picked up was just an accident.

I:          Um hm.

D:        General Muller, he got picked up with very little trouble.


I:          Exactly.

D:        And when many guys, I kept who had been shot down.  I kept until they were retrieved.  So one did what one had to do.

I:          Yes.

D:        And we hoped always do it well.

I:          Um hm.  Beth, what would you say to Korean people you saw Korea that he, your husband, fought for in 1986?


Did you like it?  Did you like the Korea you saw?

E:        I liked the, I liked them because they were, I don’t know.  Soft.  They were kind.  They were kind.

I:          Um.

E:        Nobody tried to hurt me.

I:          No, no, no.  Um.

D:        But she remembers that Mr. [INAUDIBLE]


I:          Yeah

D:        at one stage, we were in a lift, and he said to the people this man is a Korean War veteran.  [INAUDIBLE] And he was a prisoner for nearly two years.  They were so enthusiastic.

E:        Yeah.  They wouldn’t let us go.  They, they just wanted us there.

I:          Um.


General, I know I can do more interview.  I can come back, and we can do a whole night as long as you can stand, and I know you can stand, but we gotta go.  What would you say to the Korean people at the moment that we are trying to prepare the 70th anniversary of the Korean War?  What would you say to Korean people?

D:        I would say keep trying.


But don’t trust the North Koreans.

I:          But without trusting them, how can we keep trying, and what, what’s the end of it?

D:        I think what has to go is in very small steps.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And let, let their leader prove each step at the time.  It’s easy for him to say we’ll stop building


nuclear weapons.  Let him prove it.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Let him, when he says he’s not going to shoot any missiles, let him prove it.  Take small steps at a time.  He won’t last forever.  If he goes, you have a chance.
I:          Got it.

D:        Because it, the whole of North Korea is built on a lie.  So he’s not stable.

I:          Um.


Now you retired as a three-star General, two-star General?
D:        Three star.

I:          Three-star General.  And you have a wonderful career in the Air Force in South Africa.

D:        Yes.

I:          Um.  Sir,

D:        I didn’t stop fighting with Korea because after that, we got into the Bush War.  So from 1968 till 1998, I was busy with another war.


I:          Um hm.

E:        But the worse was having to give up a son for it.

I:          Yeah.  How old was he?
D:        Uh, 20, it was in 1982, 1992

E:        Yeah.

D:        And he was born in 1955.

E:        Okay.


I:          So 15,

D:        26.

E:        He was about 26.

I:          Yeah.  26.

E:        But he wasn’t married.

I:          Oh.

D:        Luckily.

I:          Luckily.

E:        For which I am forever grateful.

I:          Um.  I am so sorry to hear of your big loss, and it was more so against Communism.

D:        Thank you.

I:          So your whole life has demonstrated


that you had a real brave fight against Communism.

D:        Yes.

I:          Um.  On behalf of Korean nation, I am so sorry about your 23 month in hell.  But because you went through, you won that battle, and you given us inspiration.  So I want to thank you.


D:        Thank you.  We’ll always be grateful of the fact that the Korean people have never ceased to say thank you.

E:        Yeah.

D:        And we appreciate that.


[End of Recorded Material]