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"You never were in one place very long." (Video Interview, 11:31)

   Raymond Primm
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Raymond Primm [1999]
War: Korean War, 1950-1953; Cold War
Branch: Army; Air Force
Unit: G Company, 2nd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division; 4928th Test Squadron, 4925th Test Group (Atomic)
Service Location: Camp Funston, Kansas; Fort Riley, Kansas; Chosin Reservoir, Korea; also: Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi; Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico; Enewetak Atoll (Marshall Islands)
Rank: Corporal; Staff Sergeant
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Raymond Primm finished his Army basic training just prior to the outbreak of the Korean War. He was eager to fight, having enlisted at 16 with his head full of heroic imagery from World War II movies and newsreels. On the voyage to Korea in the fall of 1950, he was disappointed to hear predictions that the fighting would be over by Christmas. He became a rifleman whose unit seemed always to be on the move. During one operation, they would take a hill, retreat from it at night to allow artillery shells to fall harmlessly on it, and take it back the next day. He survived two instances of friendly fire from U.S. planes, and was wounded in an explosion that led to his being wrongly listed back home as killed in action. Primm's tour in Korea ended prematurely when it was discovered he had lied about his age to enlist.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (7 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (45 min.)
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»Korean War
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (7 items)
Had finished basic training just before the Korean War started; enlisted at 16, inspired by WWII movies and the uniformed men he saw coming home from that war; knew little about Korea before he shipped out; heard on ship MacArthur's prediction the troops would be home for Christmas and was disappointed he would miss the fighting (02:10) Was a replacement; went in as a rifleman, eventually working with recoilless weapon; soldiers did not want to be near him because the weapon would leave a big footprint and draw heavy return fire; sharing information on targets with other riflemen; concentrating on heavy weapon targets like machine guns; aiming for a small hole in a bunker; case of lucky misfire: a sock was left in the breech of his gun and had it not misfired, the blockage would have cause it to explode, killing Primm. (05:24) Little recall of first month in Korea; most vivid memory is Thanksgiving dinner; hot food served to the troops; got a big turkey leg and didn't like dark meat; hot coffee had chilled by the time he tried to drink it; always on the move; compares first year of Korea to WWII, the second and third years to WWI in terms of action and movement; digging in the Kansas line near the Hwachon Reservoir; most of his time on east coast of Korea; wore same clothes from November to March. (04:35)
Going into Operation Killer, which was "demoralizing;" didn't know its name or understand what they were doing; take a hill and after dark would retreat, let enemy expend firepower on it, and take it again the next morning; frostbite affecting his mobility; had to walk on his toes; in one retreat, he stayed behind, calculating he would catch the unit when they came back the next day; reprimanded for missing the roll call. (03:24) Chinese trapped, probing for ROK (Republic of Korea) troops, then overrunning them; U.N. troops having to plug the gap; two incidents of friendly fire aircraft from aircraft, strafing and napalm bombs; major relieved of duty because of first one; caught in ambush; idea was to stay down until support arrived, though a few men panicked and tried to escape without success; getting cover fire and running downhill, his helmet off and strap choking him; finding refuge under a buddy's poncho and chain smoking to get warm; buddy hears his name called and finds he's going home; gives Primm his poncho and field jacket. (11:46) In a foxhole with another soldier; wakes up to find they're been hit and his ears are bleeding; back to aid station; refuses to sign form for Purple Heart because he knows the notification would worry his parents; aid station evacuated when it comes under fire; National Guardsman from his home state tells him he had been mistakenly listed as killed in action; took several weeks to straighten out the story. (05:26)
Leaving Korea in July 1951 when it was discovered he was underage when he enlisted; in rest area in Japan before going back to the States; having trouble sleeping in a soft bed; given more than enough to eat, food going to waste; in the field he would irritate his buddies by talking about comfort food; signing log book at camp and noting that his brother had signed in two hours earlier, on his way in to Korea; could not locate him. (04:37)  

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  October 26, 2011
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