Salvatore R. Conte
Salvatore Conte was a POW during the Korean War. After participating in the Incheon and Wonsan Landings, he was sent out to clear towns north of Punman. He became a POW there after his vehicle was hit by the Chinese. Since Salvatore Conte was forced to listen to Chinese propaganda about America, he became an activist for the POWs within Geoje POW Camp. When he was switched to Changsong Camp I, he was placed in a small box to live for eight months since he was considered a leader within the camp. After being released from his box, he was sent to another camp where he was released August 27, 1953. Will power and determination is what kept Salvatore Conte alive throughout his whole POW experience.
Salvatore Conte participated in the Inchon Landing on September 16, 1950 in the second wave of soldiers. The Marines had already cleared the beaches, so it was a lot easier than what he thought it was going to be. After he participated in the Wonsan Landing in October of 1950, he was able to see Bob Hope and the USO tour perform for the soldiers in a large stadium.
Capture and Traveling to the POW Camp
Salvatore Conte remembers traveling toward Hagalwoori when his vehicle was hit and the men went into a ditch. All three of the soldiers were injured in his group and then they were taken by the Chinese. Salvatore Conte recalls being taken to Geojedo POW camp in January 1951. He gives a thorough account of what it was like in the camps.
Propaganda Lectures from the Chinese
Salvatore Conte explains his struggles with his faith and beliefs. He and the other POWs had to listen to Chinese propaganda lectures stating that they were fools for believing in Wall Street and America. He explains that they were also told that they should sign a petition to be released, but they all refused. Salvatore Conte became a political activist for the soldiers which led to him being isolated from the rest of the POWs.
Salvatore Conte explains that he was placed in an isolation box for eight months since he was considered a leader among the POWs. He remembers being in the box from May through December 1952 and was only let out twice a day to use the bathroom. One time he was marched over to a hillside to be killed by the Chinese, but they allowed him to live and he was placed back into the box.
Salvatore Conte recalls his transfer to another camp where he was placed with 21 other soldiers who were considered the most dangerous POWs. On May 1, 1953, he was transferred out of this section with the rest of the soldiers and he was given better food. On Aug. 27, 1953, he remembers he was released at Panmunjom where he told his story to newspaper reporters who published his story across America.