The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » Gerald Ketcher
 

“I had more freedom in the service than I did at home.” (Video interview, 2:30)

   Gerald Ketcher
Collection image
Gerald Ketcher at time of interview
War: Korean War, 1950-1953
Branch: Navy
Service Location: Great Lakes, Illinois
View Full Description

Hailing from northeast Oklahoma, Gerald Ketcher joined the Navy in the early 1950s in search of better opportunities than he could find at home. He graduated from self-described "deck ape" to trained teletypist before landing tanks and evacuating Marines at the Battle of Inchon Bay during the Korean War. Then, upon his return stateside, a newly discharged Navy contact offered him a factory job in his hometown. The Navy had taken him out of Oklahoma only to lead him back to his roots.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (43 min.)
More like this
»Legacies of Service: Celebrating Native Veterans
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
Assignment as a “deck ape”; shipmates calling one another ethnic pejoratives. (01:46) Korean War declared; sailing from Virginia to San Diego; transporting tanks and Marines to Japan, then to Inchon, Korea in September 1950; USS Missouri shelling Inchon shore; landing tanks in second wave of invasion; retrieving undersupplied Marines on Christmas Day 1950. (06:15) Danger of floating basket mines; minesweeping; firing at mines without knowing whether he’d hit one. (02:07)
Leaving the ship for an on-shore post; unable to say goodbye to a good friend scrubbing the ship as punishment for an infraction; mental illness was unknown and overlooked. (01:53) Thinking he would never return to his hometown; passing civil service test; leery of heading back out to sea; an officer from southwest Missouri offers to find him a job at B.F. Goodrich should he return home; returning to Oklahoma and landing the job. (03:49) 
  
 

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