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"So the war was never over as far as I was concerned." (Video Interview, 22:26)

   Raymond A. Kasten
Collection image
Raymond Kasten [2006]
War: Korean War, 1950-1953
Branch: Army
Unit: 3rd Infantry Division
Service Location: Korea
Rank: Sergeant First Class
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Drafted in 1952 to serve in the Korean War, Raymond Kasten was trained as a medic. But once he arrived in Korea, he was ordered to drive a troop truck. For 12 days, Kasten transported soldiers to what seemed to him like certain death at the front, where the North Korean and Chinese armies were making a big push. When South Korean President Syngman Rhee unilaterally released over 25,000 North Korean POWs in the spring of 1953, Kasten felt it was a betrayal of what he and his fellow soldiers had been fighting for. Though he was reassigned to duty as a bodyguard as a medical officer, the horrors of his early days never left him, and since 1991, he has been treated for symptoms of PTSD. Kasten sees his interview as a chance to reconnect with his children; their relationship has been strained by his problems.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (53 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Basic training; sergeants had served in Korea and imparted how tough the experience was; intense physical regimen bulked him up; at times, it seemed like torture. (04:19) Arriving in Korea; took train to Seoul and on to HQ of 3rd Infantry Division; being a newbie, assigned to drive a truck, though he was trained as a medic; hauling fog oil; under fire while driving; taking troops to front; did this for 12 days; division overrun; President of South Korea, Syngman Rhee, released thousands of POWS, which made him feel betrayed; equipment was old and obsolete, left over from WWII; felt he was delivering troops to their “deathbed;” has had counseling since 1991 for PTSD. (08:01) Saw about 2,000 casualties coming in to their aid station every month; did get to use some of his medical training; assigned to guard duty, which was dangerous; black market thieves were after supplies, especially medicine, and would kill a guard if necessary; postwar conditions drove Koreans to desperate measures; some MPs were involved in thefts. (03:44)
Observations about the rife prostitution he saw in Korea and Japan; R&R in Japan was renamed by the GIs “I&I" -- Intoxication & Intercourse; using young women as a front to buy material goods; woman he met in Japan saved his life twice; he almost suffocated from unventilated stove, and he almost drowned when he passed out in a bath; his brothers both died from heart ailments he thinks were connected to serving in combat; discussing his PTSD; cannot be approached from the rear, even 52 years after coming home; sees this interview as part of healing process. (06:47) How his family was uprooted by the Korean War; not angry about it; paid a big price but got help from the Disabled American Veterans in obtaining disability money; his PTSD compromised his professional life; treatment has helped him recover; relationship with his son strained because of his affliction; hoping to use this interview to reach out to him and his 3 daughters; how he was diagnosed; still has anxiety attacks; early treatment would have made a big difference; healthier now than he was 10 years ago. (07:26) How brain chemistry changes under influence of PTSD; no cure for it; learn to recognize it and control yourself. (00:36)

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  October 26, 2011
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