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"We got our first smell of cordite; the perfume of the military. With that first salvo, I had seen enough of war already." (Video Interview, 2:54)

   William Joseph Didycz
Collection image
William Didycz [2004]
War: Korean War, 1950-1953
Branch: Army
Unit: 176th Armored Field Artillery (AFA) Battalion
Service Location: Korea
Rank: Corporal
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William Didycz did not arrive in Korea until the final months of the war. Reading from a memoir he wrote in 1996, he describes the holding pattern the conflict settled into for many soldiers. He had trained to repair tanks, but when he arrived at his duty post, an artillery battery, he was offered a job as a forward observer. He turned that down in favor of his safer specialty. His life wasn't without danger, thanks to North Korean artillery shells, which soon had his unit on the run. Didycz stayed in country for a year after the armistice was signed. He participated in a massive victory parade that fell a little short of what the victorious soldiers of World War II marched in.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
» Part 1 
Download: video (40 min.)
 Official Documents
»General orders, number 690 - Award of the Distinguished Unit Citation
More like this
»Korean War
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
First impressions on arriving at the front; sights, sounds, and smells; arriving at the battery; offered a position as a forward observer but declined and went to work as a mechanic and radio telephone operator. (05:16) His duties as a telephone operator; relaying directions and coordinates of artillery; because of multiple gunners, there was sometimes confusion and occasionally South Korean soldiers in front of their battery were hit by friendly fire. (01:31) Wanting to sleep in the better protected motor pool bunker; too timid to request the move; bunker was hit by an armor-piercing shell that ripped through the bunk he had wanted; "orderly withdrawal" from their position; on the move constantly, sleeping in foxholes; worried about being run over by tanks or hit by friendly fire bombing; retreating over a river swollen with abandoned vehicles; winding up with nothing but rifles and clothes on their back; re-equipped and back into the fight; continued skirmishes until the cease fire was announced; hearing about a buddy killed one month before the cease fire on Pork Chop Hill. (09:54)
Still had a year of his hitch to go; dangers of peacetime: landmines, hemorrhagic fever; what they did: guard duty, shining up equipment, physical exercise, training; firing off practice rounds, accidentally killing a civilian. (02:43) Ordered to march in a victory parade; visions of cheering and grateful civilians replaced by reality of marching around an oval in a stadium in front of Korean and U.S. dignitaries, including Syngman Rhee, Matthew Ridgway, and Richard Nixon. (04:00) 

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  October 26, 2011
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