Theodore “Tex” Malcolm was born in Arkansas in 1929. He attended school in Arkansas and Texas. He enlisted in the Navy Reserve in 1947, after he completed school. In about a year, he switched over to the Marine Corps. Tex Malcolm was stationed in Wanju, Masan, and Pusan during the war. He served as a Telephone Lineman and a rifleman. During his service, he witnessed a fellow soldiers get wounded and die from their wounds. Tex Malcolm never revisited Korea, but would love to return there. He believes that preserving the legacy of the Korean War is best done through the work of the Korean War Legacy Foundation and their subsidized trips to Korea for veterans.
Shallow Graves in Wonju
Tex Malcom discusses his experience in the push off offensive against the Chinese and North Koreans in Wonju. He had an "unsettling" experience as they dug into the hills, and realized they were digging into shallow graves where the North Koreans had buried their dead. During this offensive, supplies were air dropped into a valley.
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Arriving to Korea in Dec. 1950
Tex Malcolm was shipped to Korea on Nov. 1950 after stopping in Japan. All the different US branches were on one ship and the conditions were packed with multiple soldiers getting seasick. He landed at Pusan on Dec. 12, 1950 on his 21st birthday.
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Arriving at Masan
Tex Malcolm arrived at Masan by train and he assisted other Marine Reserves out of their LST, but they looked terrible. In the city, he only saw fox holes and no buildings. After being assigned to Baker Company, 7th Marines, Tex Malcolm volunteered to shoot the 3.5 guns to protect the command staff.
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April 1951 Attacks From the Chinese
On April 23, 1951, Tex Malcolm was protecting another hill when the Chinese were trying to take Charlie Company out. By 2am, the Chinese started to attack his hill and the US Marines were running out of ammunition. Sadly, a Marine right next to Tex Malcolm was shot and killed.
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T: Uh my name is Theodore Malcolm. I was born December 12th, 1929. Um, I went to various schools. I started uh in Texarkana Tech in Arkansas at Fairview. That was uh elementary and I went to other elementary schools. There’s Longview in Kilgore Texas.
I guess Kilgore’s when uh Kilgore was when I first growing up. I had two cousins there. And us we played baseball. Our baseball was a uh, uh, a little radiator house about that, about that long. And we hit that and according to how long we hit that is whether we got one base hit, two base it, or three base hit.
T: Uh it was really, a fun time and I enjoyed that time of my life very much. Uh we moved back to Texarkana. The job market was given out and my dad went to the work the bus company there in Texarkana. Uh I went to school at uh Texarkana Arkansas. Graduated in 1947.
I: Mh hm
T: Uh joined the Navy Reserve
And I went on one summer cruise and that was down to Pennsylvya, Pensacola and we went out on the USS Wright which uh is a baby flat top. It still had the wooden uh decks for them to land on. And by the way the Wright was in the active duty in Korea that time.
I: But to join the Navy Reserve, I, I don’t know anything about it
Do you have did you have to go through training?
T: No, no.
I: What do you do then?
T: You’re just, your just in it. Uh Naval Reserve inactive. You don’t, you havd to go to the summer um camp which I did.
I: Were you paid?
I: How much?
T: Oh gosh. I don’t know- it was very little, very little, and I think about that time they had the Marine Corps Reserve
Come to Texerkana. And there’s no problem getting my naval enlistment over to Marine Corps because they’re all one big happy family.
I: Mh hm
T:Uh there I did have to take weekend, a weekend a month and uh go out and we trained, trained in the 155 Hallister. And I was a lineman. And I
do believe that my paycheck there was around $25 and that would be in 1948-49
I: So $20 per month?
I: What could you do with the $20 a month at the time
T: Well, I could go to the movies. I could go and get a malt
I: How much did you pay for the movie?
T: Uh, I think it was 10 cents.
I: 10 cents.
T: And I got a telegram that told me I was to be active
I: Uh huh
T: And I had to report to Camp Pendleton. Uh uh, I think it was September of 1950. So my wife traveled out to California with me, well not with me, but she came out there and we had uh time together before I shipped out and we shipped out in November,
I: To where?
T: Uh we shipped out of San Diego and we went to uh Japan. The USS Collins
I: Hm hm
T: I think is the name of the ship if I remember correctly. Uh we had Marines and we had Air Force personnel and Army personnel and all that on there.
I: All together
I: Uh huh. Can you tell me about the conditions
In the ship while you were transferred to
T: They were very crowded.
T: LAUGHTER. Uh we had four bunks, one on top of the other. And if you got seasick you didn’t want to be on the bottom so that’s the whole story there.
T: Uh just so happens I had to pull guard duty while we were going over and there was two of the, two of the sailors were caught uh robbing or stealing from
Somebody. I don’t know who but they were put in the brig. And I had to go, my brig duty was to go back there and sit and guard them. And make sure, I don’t know where they would go if they got out, but anyway I had to guard them. INAUDIBLE guard duty there. There in the stern. And anytime that stern went up the propellers would really, you know the props would really go spinning and then boom back down
It was very uncomfortable. It was loud. My gosh it was noisy back there. But going past before that I uh, we went to Japan. We made two stops in Japan and the last stop was at, uh we stopped at um Kobe and went inland to Atsu Japan. And that’s where we drew our cold weather gear
going across uh
I: So you arrived in Japan at the end of 1950, right?
T: Mh hm
T: And as we’re going across the news coming back at the war was going to be over for we got there you know at everybody by the fact we might even turn around and go back home hmm but we went on and
then there’s about half way mark, well everything just went to pot. and we, rumor had it that we were going to divide up and we’re going to be a company formation and go in to Hungnam and form a line to let the division come through us but that didn’t pan out so uh when we went to Atsu drew my gear and uh
and they put, put us all out in the parade field. The lined us up open ranks they went down one right down the other and officer went out in front and said “you’re all now 0311s” which is a basic rifleman. And I went from 2511 which was a telephone lineman to a 0311 and we got back on the ship and when we went over to Pusan.
T: I landed in Pusan December the 12th 1950 on my birthday. I was 21 years old at that time.
I: How did you feel? You are in the battleground on the bay of…
T: Yea, Yea I… I didn’t pay that much to it. it they put us on a train and the train uh was like uh one of the old western trains. I don’t know.
Wood. Uh you’d pull up the windows, all wood, all that. And they gave us a clip of ammunition each. They said, “y’all be ready because sometimes there’s a guerrilla action
I: Um hm.
T: between here and Masan City. That’s where we went.
I: So you went to Masan?
I: Yea everybody say Mason, and it’s uh its uh Masan.
T: we all went over there we went into a tent camp
over there and we were waiting for the division to come back from up north and the division uh came in, uh on LSTs. We had to go on the beach and help unload it and uh I never will forget to seeing the Marines that came off the ships they look like they look like, they look, terrible. They were beat. And it’s just the impression on my mind they just all look like
in a state of shock. So they had to unload them. it looked like they had put all the gear on the beach and then just pushed it in with a bulldozer. and we had to help unload the ships and get all the, all the supplies on land. And I remember uh going back up to the tent and then we got into
the tent with some regulars, with some other Marines in there.
and I told him I said you know y’all sure do intimidate me. He said I don’t know why we’re all reserves just like you so (LAUGHTER)
T: and that eased my mind. And..
I: How was the city of Masan was? how how was it was it completely destroyed
or how was it?
Uh out of my out of my company street there I didn’t see anything.
We did go out in the, I guess, there’s some dunes or little hills there and we did see some foxholes and things like that out there but that’s all I could tell you. I didn’t see any building so
I: you didn’t see any building left, no?
T: We, we didn’t go into town.
I: Oh ok.
T: I don’t know where we were but we were, had the whole division just right there in tents.
I: Uh hm.
T: So we had left, we got assigned, I was assigned to Baker company uh 7th Marines, And uh we had, to had to pack all of our gear and stand inspection. Well I couldn’t put all my gear in what they had for me to stand inspection so I had a pack board and I strapped that thing on there and it oh my gosh it looked like a
33 gallon plastic bag full of something. But no one ever said to how to pack a gear or how to pack your pack how do all, get all your flags not flying and all that and so we formed in a company formation and they came around and they said well we’re we’re taking volunteers now says uh they need artillery Amtrak’s
or something else. I forgot now what it was and said we need someone that would, knows how to fire a 3.5 rocket. Well the fellow next to me here he punched me. He said let’s on there for that. Yeah why? Well they’re in headquarters platoon and says that’d. that’d be good. I said okay we’ll volunteer. so we volunteered for the 3.5
And that’s uh that’s about all remember there. and then we went to around to Pohang and there was uh the North Korean Tenth division was supposedly had some people over there.
I: so how was that battle?
T: we couldn’t find them. No, not not in our company
I: okay but you told me that there was a
machine gun fire at you and you just left right?
I: So those are the North Korean soldiers
T: but we didn’t go back to get them
T: we were trying to get an air strike on them
T: and uh we could never get anybody had enough gas to come, to come take care of them
I: so what happened to you after that? Were you relocated to any other region?
T: yeah from there uh
we took a truck convoy and went up to Wonju?
I: Could you describe the typical day in Wonju? What did you do? Where you are assigned to it and what was your mission?
T: Well the mission was, uh we the Fifth and the First Marine regiments and the Seventh were going to push off and go on the offensive against Chinese or Koreans.
but our convoy going up was late getting there because we ran out of gas
T: and they had to get some gas to us where we could get in there. Uh we went up in the hills around Wonju and we dug in and uh when we dug in I found that we were digging into some shallow graves that the North Koreans had left there and it’s where they buried their dead so uh
That was unsettling but they had to have a airdrop to resupply the top and we had to go down in the Valley well I guess it was a valley and help unload it. And I can’,t from there I guess we went up to what was Chu, Chu-won?
T: Yeah, yeah.
I: So Wonju to Chorwon? A little bit west, right?
T: Hm-hmm. Yea.
I: Is that correct?
T: It was supposed to be a hotbed of
T: of North Korean
I: Yes Chorwon, yes
T: And we went through there and there wasn’t much left of that town and we didn’t have any combat action there at all, so. Uh we went on up…
Names are not really with me of cities but somehow we got up around the Hatchanreservoir and I think that it was Hatchan reservoir was when they uh Chinese had their Spring Offensive.
T: so that was April the 23rd when that started
and it seemed like all the time I was over there I was involved in moving from one hill to another, and uh we went up on this ridgeline and uh there’s a valley. And on the other ridge line over here at night, early evening the uh
Chinese or Kor, North Koreans were trying to take I thought of Charlie Company over there they’re trying to take Charlie Company out. And uh that went on and on and on finally that all cut, ceased. and we were over on this other ridge line and uh the main ridge going down to the valley and there was a finger going out of that and I was on this finger
going down and about two o’clock in the morning someone’s hollered who
T: I saw a big, big white like a illuminating grenade or something down there.
I: Uhm hm.
T: and someone got up ran it was running back by us and they said they’re coming. So we went went back with them to on the main line of resistance there.
When I left there I uh.. the guy in front of me, uh was what was his ? Maddie? Maddie. John Maddie. he was shot in front of me and I reached up and grabbed him and uh helped him back to the line. And when, well he died
I: Right there?
T: no There, the corpsman was working on him worked on him all night long trying to keep him ,but he died about daylight I think when they said he passed away. It was nip-and-tuck I don’t know how many times they charged our line, but they were there were worrying about uh ammunition and I think we were running low
on machine gun. Um they had just a few lines a few on the belt and uh
T: Anyway we we held them until daylight and then we just went back down off the hill and got into the truck. And uh we went back to uh, we went over a river thing there
and we had to stand as rearguard action there and we waited there until they said we could come on back. Uh there was a tank there with us and uh all our communication was through the tank. Annd they told the tank they could we could leave we all got on the back of the tank and when it was cold
and that heat from the motor felt real good.
T: I remember that. Uh after that we went… well we just went from one hill to the other
I: Tell me about the Korean mountains, you are sick and tired of it, right?
T: Yes, yes. they were tall they were hard. Sometimes you get to a point
where you can’t get up by yourself- they have to keep you get up there. And we’d always have to. They’d always tell us don’t get off the ridgeline because that’s where we spent most of the time. If you get on the ridgeline they see you. and we got back in some place they had, had had the laborers come in and prepare our trenches and
That uh they already had those all prepared for us when we walked up to, got to that mountain but there wasn’t anybody there. I remember one day and one night when you’re up there on the hills you spend half and half, hour on hour off when you sleep. And I remember I was on duty and I had. We al, you always set up and you get your hand grenades up there where you want them and, and all
that is where you can do it. And you always look up make sure there’s no limbs or anything when you throw it. When they told me I was going home I had to take off my field jacket , I had to take off everything I had, but my, my dungarees as you call ‘em. And they took us down to a beach… and this is about one or two o’clock in the afternoon which is fine and we, they
would come in take a load of, out to the ship, come in take a load out to the ship. Well dark came and no we hadn’t been picked up yet and there was still taking people out and we found a tire and we set that tire on fire. Cold, oh my gosh, it was cold on that beach. Mmm
I: it was Incheon
I: Was it Incheon?
T: No, no. It was someplace east of uh
INAUDIBLE or over in that part.
I: Oh ok. Kangnam?
T: I have no
I: Yeah maybe around in the East Coast you were there. Okay.
T: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And finally they come, coming got us and we got on this landing craft and went out to the APA out there, ship. And we had to climb that rope ladder up and got on board and a navy personnel there
Says, “well what do you want to eat? most of all what would you want?” I said “well I want a steak.” Well I went into the re-, to the to the head and uh I look at myself and I had that tire, all the smoke all over me. I was black as that coffee pot over there.
I: How come? I’m sorry. How come?
T: Well we were burning the tire
T: Black smoke from the tire and you’re trying to stay warm.
I: Right, right, right, right. Okay so did you have your steak?
T: Yeah good, it was good You asked me what I had mainly to eat… rice when I was out in the field, we’d find some rice and I’d boil it in my helmet and that’s what I had. I liked that. I’d get sugar and mix in with it and that was good stuff.
I didn’t eat a whole lot of C-Ration. Whenever we was going to break camp our break or reserve, and go back in the hills, if they had bread they would want us to take these loaves of bread.
I: Have you been back to Korea?
T: I have not. I would love to go.
I: You’d love to go?
T: Uh my. my wife didn’t want to
and then she couldn’t go, so uh I’d love to go back. But I don’t, from what I understand everything has changed over there quite a bit
I: Quite a bit.
T: Yeah it, uh, you got trees now.
T: I’m proud y’all did and I’ve got to say this- all the Korean people that I meet here are most appreciative to what we did. we came over there and that has impressed me quite a bit.
I: Since you have your own granddaughter here, who was very successful getting PhD in chemistry. Um how do you think we can continue on this legacy? what is the best way to do it to let people know about your legacy? how can we do it?
Well I think what you’re doing is great. I think to let us come over, invite us back over I know you’re limited
On as far as what you can go up to see but I would love to come back over and see for myself what it is. And I think that’s a great plan you all have.
I: Would you introduce yourself?
H: Uh my name is Hannah Malcolm. I’m uh Ted’s granddaughter.
I: So I heard that you got the Ph.D. What, what did you study?
H: Um I have a PhD in chemistry and I currently do research at UT southwestern um in the physiology department.
I: That’s great isn’t it? You did a nice job,
I: And as we talked about and your grandfather mentioned I think we need to get this legacy going by involving someone like you or the descendants of Korean War veterans on the Korean War Veteran Digital Memorial right?
H: Hm hm.
I: So what, what would you do to to to pass on this legacy to your generation and younger generations
H: So much
um so now with the digital age we record everything, there’s always a record, and there are so many things where there isn’t a record, you know. I think I asked for the letters at one point I was like well they’ve all been shredded. and that was the answer for a lot of things where we don’t know where they went or whatever. So now you know I know, my mom has a journal when her parents talked about the different things that they did, so she’ll write them down because I remember the Rocket Man story just because I heard that one in the last three or four years
but other than that most of the stories when your kid, like small, you don’t know what they are you don’t understand the significance. Whereas now it’s like, oh I should write that down. We’re always in the car or at a restaurant so I don’t have time, but if we can write them down to where you can look back later and say, hey remember this happened and our family was a part of this or you know… To remember.
I: Twenty motivated granddaughters and sons
H: Hm hm
I: or great-grandchildrens
and invite them to the next meeting of sixty years anniversary of armistice.
I: July 27th of 2013 there will be a big ceremony in, in Washington DC. I hope that you can be connected with me, think about it and let other, your friends know about this thingy.
I: And check out the website there are many, many menus and especially in the participate at the bottom KWV Grandchildren Legacy Project.
H: Okay yea, I’ll definitely have to look at it.
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