Skip Navigation and Jump to Page Content    The Library of Congress >> American Folklife Center  
Veterans History Project (Library of Congress) ABOUT  
SEARCH/BROWSE  
HELP  
COPYRIGHT  
Home » Text Transcript

Interview with Loren Altaffer [4/29/2002]

Samantha Gill:

This is Samantha Gill and I'm interviewing Loren Altaffer on April 29, 2002 at the Moorcroft High School Library. I'll just ask you a few questions. If you don't feel comfortable answering any of 'em, that's just fine. Were you drafted or did you enlist?

Loren Altaffer:

I was drafted.

Samantha Gill:

What war were you in?

Loren Altaffer:

Korean.

Samantha Gill:

Were you living at home at the time?

Loren Altaffer:

Yes.

Samantha Gill:

And have you always lived in (Warpoo)

Loren Altaffer:

Right.

Samantha Gill:

Why -- what branch of service were you in?

Loren Altaffer:

The Army Engineers.

Samantha Gill:

Why did you pick that?

Loren Altaffer:

Well, that was my -- after I got through basic training, that's what I showed up in, was Engineers. That's what I -- well, I served as Engineers over in Korea, is what I done. We'd go through basic training. You know, they'd get you MOS there and decide what -- what category you fit into.

Samantha Gill:

Do you recall your first days in service?

Loren Altaffer:

Yeah.

Samantha Gill:

What did it feel like when you got drafted?

Loren Altaffer:

Well, first time I was away from home. It wasn't much fun. I took eight weeks basic training in Fort Riley, Kansas and then eight weeks in (?Fort Leonard Wood?), Missouri.

Samantha Gill:

Did you -- was boot camp training hard?

Loren Altaffer:

Not necessarily. They weren't nice to you, but they not supposed to be.

Samantha Gill:

Yeah. Do you remember your instructors?

Loren Altaffer:

No, I don't. I don't remember the name of any of 'em.

Samantha Gill:

How did you get through it? Did you write a lot of letters home?

Loren Altaffer:

Yeah, I wrote letters home and received a lot of letters from my cousins and my mom and sister.

Samantha Gill:

Where exactly did you go? Did you actually go to Korea?

Loren Altaffer:

Yeah. When I left -- left Fort Leonard Wood, they shipped me to Fort Lewis, Washington, and then we got on a boat, and oh, I think it was 30 days on the boat before we got there. We went to Camp Sasebo, Japan, and then they processed there and then sent us over to _____________+ deal across to _______________+ Korea.

Samantha Gill:

Do you remember arriving and what it was like?

Loren Altaffer:

Remember what?

Samantha Gill:

Arriving and what it was like?

Loren Altaffer:

Well, not really. It was -- wasn't anything unusual. I mean, they just boot you along through, process you on out, get you going in your right company when you get over there in Korea. I was in the 1343rd Engineers for I don't remember how many months, and then that outfit shipped home, so they transferred us to 14th Engineers up next to the DMZ. You know what the DMZ is?

Samantha Gill:

Not exactly.

Loren Altaffer:

Demilitarized zone. That was right up next to North and South Korea, and we was pretty close to the northern edge of South Korea.

Samantha Gill:

Okay. What was your job or assignment?

Loren Altaffer:

Well, I drove truck. You know, after they got things situated, I drove a truck over there in Korea, 8,000 miles. Then after they shipped out, then I drove Jeep for about that many miles. I'd drive the company commander around. I had it pretty easy then.

Samantha Gill:

Did you see a lot of combat?

Loren Altaffer:

No. They signed a peace treaty on the way over to Korea, so, therefore, I didn't see any combat. And I was able to have a camera with me and take pictures while I was over there. I took 640 slides while I was over there.

Samantha Gill:

Really? Do you -- could you tell me a couple of your most memorable experiences of being there?

Loren Altaffer:

I can't think of anything outstanding.

Samantha Gill:

Okay.

Loren Altaffer:

You know, I just drove truck and we hauled materials and done a lot of roadwork. I done a lot of hauling gravel and working on the roads and stuff.

Samantha Gill:

Were you awarded any medals?

Loren Altaffer:

No.

Samantha Gill:

How did you stay in touch with your family?

Loren Altaffer:

Just with letters.

Samantha Gill:

What was the food like?

Loren Altaffer:

Food?

Samantha Gill:

Yeah.

Loren Altaffer:

Well, you know, as long as you feed me, I'm happy. I can -- you know, it wasn't the best food, but there's no use sitting there griping about it. It wasn't bad.

Samantha Gill:

Did you eat, like, a lot of fish and stuff?

Loren Altaffer:

No. It was pretty well prepared meals. Of course, like over in Korea they eat a lot of rice theirselves, the Koreans do, but no, we had -- had good food as far as I was concerned. I didn't starve to death, anyway.

Samantha Gill:

Were there any special -- something that you had that was special to you that you kept for good luck?

Loren Altaffer:

No.

Samantha Gill:

How did you guys entertain yourselves?

Loren Altaffer:

Well, they had -- well, of course, after I got -- become corporal they had non-NCO, _________+ but anyhow, this club, you know. You go down and they had -- well, you can play basketball or listen to radio or whatever. That's about all -- all you had. I didn't -- I didn't particularly care to go to the bar every night, so I didn't do that. But I went to the NCO club and had their beer.

Samantha Gill:

Did you see any famous people over there, like when they had, like, famous --

Loren Altaffer:

No.

Samantha Gill:

-- singers or anybody?

Loren Altaffer:

They didn't have -- we didn't have any special entertainers there while I was there. They do for a long time and they just -- in my time frame, there weren't any there.

Samantha Gill:

What did you do when you were on leave?

Loren Altaffer:

Well, we had two different times. I went -- they called it R and R and had a week off to go to Japan to see that country, I guess what you'd say.

Samantha Gill:

Was that fun?

Loren Altaffer:

Yeah, it was -- you know, it was different, you know, and I done some sight-seeing while I was over there. I was in Fukuoka City, and then there's in Tokyo the second time. That's kind of a big town.

Samantha Gill:

Yeah, I bet. Oh, my gosh. Do you recall any particular humorous or unusual events?

Loren Altaffer:

Oh, no.

Samantha Gill:

What were some of the pranks that you or others were pulled?

Loren Altaffer:

No, I was a good boy. No, I didn't -- you know, I didn't get out and do any problem or anybody.

Samantha Gill:

Do you have any photographs of your trip?

Loren Altaffer:

Not particularly of the trip, but I've got photos while I was over there, 640 slides while I was over there in Korea. A lot of the guys over there thought this -- all this is is a hellhole and that's all they could see. Well, I got 640 slides to show you how I saw it.

Samantha Gill:

Who are the people in the photographs; just people in your unit?

Loren Altaffer:

I didn't take so many pictures of people I knew over there, because, you know, after a time frame, who's that guy, you know. I just -- I just took scenery shots.

Samantha Gill:

What did you think of officers or fellow soldiers?

Loren Altaffer:

Well, there's one or two of 'em I could have thumped around a little bit, but rest of the time I was treated pretty good.

Samantha Gill:

Did you keep a personal diary?

Loren Altaffer:

No, I didn't.

Samantha Gill:

Do you recall the day your service ended?

Loren Altaffer:

Yeah, sort of. They -- see, you're supposed to spend 16 months overseas, and the way it turned out, the ships was coming along at such time. I got out of there at, oh, I think in 14 months of service over there, so then when I come home, of course, they tried to get you to sign up and do some more time, and I couldn't get out of there quick enough. So then they shipped us home. Got out to Fort Lewis, Washington, oh, what was it? Third of July. But they made sure we docked out in the water so we couldn't get off and celebrate. That was -- that was a good -- what I was looking forward to was getting home.

Samantha Gill:

What did you do in the days and weeks afterwards?

Loren Altaffer:

When I -- after I got home?

Samantha Gill:

Yeah.

Loren Altaffer:

Hit the hayfield. Dad was in haying pretty heavy. Well, you know, Fourth of July, July is a good time to be haying, so I didn't have much time to spend other than the haying field.

Samantha Gill:

Did you go to work or did you go back to school?

Loren Altaffer:

I went back to work on the farm.

Samantha Gill:

Was it -- was it supported by the GI Bill?

Loren Altaffer:

No.

Samantha Gill:

Did you make any close friendships while you were in the service?

Loren Altaffer:

Yeah. I had some buddies and I (essentially) quit writing to 'em. I wrote to some of 'em for, oh, I suppose five or six years after I got home. Things happened. I haven't heard from 'em in -- probably been quite a while.

Samantha Gill:

Did you join a veteran's organization?

Loren Altaffer:

Yeah, I belong to the VFW club.

Samantha Gill:

What did you go on to do as a career after the war?

Loren Altaffer:

Farming and ranching. All I knew.

Samantha Gill:

Did your military experience influence your thinking about war or about the military in general?

Loren Altaffer:

No. It was just, per se, a job that we all have to do if you're called upon to do it, you know. It didn't influence me that I wanted to stay there, by no means. I'm a country boy.

Samantha Gill:

Yeah. If in a veteran's organization, what kinds of activities does your post or association have?

Loren Altaffer:

Oh, I can't say that much to that. I mean, it's just a normal procedure that they have, you know. I'm not that active in the VFW. After I got home, I joined the VFW and then -- well, I was a commander down here for one year. And, of course, now, I think you probably are familiar with, they do the Voice of Democracy --

Samantha Gill:

Yeah.

Loren Altaffer:

-- contest down here ___________+.

Samantha Gill:

Do you attend any reunions?

Loren Altaffer:

No. We haven't -- well, they've never notified me of any, so, you know, I've never -- you mean, of the Army career?

Samantha Gill:

Yeah.

Loren Altaffer:

No, I haven't gone to any of them.

Samantha Gill:

How did your service and experiences affected your life? [Interview interrupted by intercom announcement.]

Loren Altaffer:

Too much noise. [Tape shut off briefly.]

Loren Altaffer:

Now what's your last question?

Samantha Gill:

How did your service and experiences affect your life?

Loren Altaffer:

Well, I can't say it affected my life. I was -- I enjoyed while I was over there, took in -- advantage of being overseas, because I wasn't gonna be able to afford to go over there on my own, you know. So I was over there, may as well take advantage of what was there. No use being ugly about it.

Samantha Gill:

Is there anything you'd like to add that we haven't covered in this interview? [Interview interrupted by intercom announcement.]

Loren Altaffer:

What was that last question?

Samantha Gill:

Is there anything you'd like to add that we haven't covered in this interview? Do you have any, like, interesting stories that....

Loren Altaffer:

Get me off guard. I can't think of anything right off. No. You know, it -- overall, it was a good experience, you know. I'm sure it'd been -- I'd have a different view of it if I had been in combat over there. I had -- as I told you earlier, I had drove truck and taking pictures. If I seen a mountain or a rice paddy or something I want to take a picture of, I just stopped and took a picture of it. I guess another highlight, you might would say, is I'd driving the -- they called him the old man, but the company commander around. He said you don't have to worry about any (?BR's?) because if I done something wrong, he just take care of it and throw it in the wastebasket. I wouldn't have to answer to anybody.

Samantha Gill:

Okay. Do you think that you could send me some of the slides and I can make copies of 'em and....

Loren Altaffer:

Yeah, I probably could. You know, I got -- they're in slides.

Samantha Gill:

Okay.

Loren Altaffer:

I suppose you could copy something off of 'em.

Samantha Gill:

Yeah.

Loren Altaffer:

Like I say, I've got 640 of 'em.

Samantha Gill:

Okay.

Loren Altaffer:

I keep thinking, well, one of these times I'm gonna get set up with the school or down at the cafe somewhere in the evening and show some slides from over in Korea. You know, their different modes of transportation, and all the women that carry big old baskets on their head. They had a little cup thing you set over here and then a basket on top of that. The old (papasans) had their A-frames. You heard of an A-frame? They would -- they got a strap, it goes over here, and then it was forked stick kind of like this, and they could pile stuff on that. They packed in wood with that and you can -- I couldn't pick one of 'em up, and I'm not little.

Samantha Gill:

Yeah.

Loren Altaffer:

And them guys, you know, they're not very tall. They can take and put a 55-gallon drum of oil on them and walk off with 'em. That's how strong they were.

Samantha Gill:

Okay. Well, thank you for letting me interview you. This means a lot and I really appreciate it.

Loren Altaffer:

Yeah. Well, how soon do you want these pictures _____________+?

Samantha Gill:

It's no big hurry. Whenever you get the chance to send 'em in.

Loren Altaffer:

Yeah. I -- I can start filing -- you know, I've got 'em in file cabinets, or little file drawers and I've kept 'em dark over the years, and here all, I don't know, two or three years ago I took a sneak peek to 'em and they're still showing good, you know, and I've had 'em since, like, '54 and '55. It's pretty good pictures in there.

Samantha Gill:

Okay. I forgot a couple questions. What years did you serve?

Loren Altaffer:

Well, I was inducted in '50 -- September '53 and got out July 3rd of '55, and I served over in Korea just, you know, for 14 months, about 14 months over there.

Samantha Gill:

Do you consider yourself a hero for being called to war?

Loren Altaffer:

Not necessarily. I won't say anything else.

Samantha Gill:

Okay. Thank you so very much.

Loren Altaffer:

Okay. Now this. What do you want to do with this? [TAPE SHUT OFF BRIEFLY.]

Loren Altaffer:

Ha Na, Dul, Set, Net, Da Seot. That's one, two, three, four, five in Korean.

Samantha Gill:

Okay. Thank you. [END OF TAPE]

 
Home » Text Transcript
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us