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Oral history interview with Cornelius A. Hill, 2004.

Author: Cornelius A Hill; Mik Derks; Wisconsin Veterans Museum.; Wisconsin Public Television.
Edition/Format:   Archival material : VHS tape : English
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Cornelius A. Hill, a member of the Oneida tribe, discusses his Korean War service with the 5th Regimental Combat Team.
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Details

Genre/Form: Personal narratives, American
Biography
Named Person: Cornelius A Hill; Mitchell Red Cloud; Bob Hope
Material Type: Videorecording
Document Type: Archival Material
All Authors / Contributors: Cornelius A Hill; Mik Derks; Wisconsin Veterans Museum.; Wisconsin Public Television.
OCLC Number: 680064828
Notes: Raw footage interview filmed by Wisconsin Public Television for its documentary series, "Wisconsin Korean War Stories."
Previously known as WCKOR001 and WCKOR002.
Event notes: Interviewed by Mik Derks on May 6, 2004 in Oneida, Wisconsin.
Description: Videorecording : 2 videocassettes (ca. 55 min.); sd., col. ; 1/2 in. Transcript : 19 p. Military papers : 0.1 linear ft. (1 folder)
Details: VHS-C format.
Other Titles: Wisconsin Korean War stories.

Abstract:

Cornelius A. Hill, a member of the Oneida tribe, discusses his Korean War service with the 5th Regimental Combat Team.

Hill touches on the deaths of his parents when he was young, being a wild teenager, and being given a choice by his guardian in Green Bay (Wisconsin) between a reformatory or enlistment in the service. He talks about entering the Army in 1950 at age sixteen, basic training at Fort Riley (Kansas), mobile laundry maintenance school at Fort Lee (Virginia), and landing in Korea on Christmas Eve of 1950. Hill recalls soldiers burning gasoline to keep warm and seeing one young soldier accidentally light himself on fire. Assigned to the 5th Regimental Combat Team attached to the 24th Division, he states he rode north on the back of an ammunition truck until the Chinese attacked, causing the American troops to retreat. Hill recalls witnessing a general call in an air strike from his jeep and reflects that the jets were instrumental in helping the troops break out of there. He provides a sketch of the long, chaotic retreat: taking turns providing rear guard with other units, being constantly surrounded by enemy, American units getting mixed up, and suffering the loss of men and vehicles. He declares that if it hadn't been for their South Korean allies, the American troops would not have made it though certain areas. Hill discusses the loss of his unit's supplies and being reduced to eating just rice for over a month; he claims, "That's why I don't eat rice no more." He recalls spending one night at a river and the next morning discovering the entire area was laced with shoebox mines that had been frozen into inoperability. Hill reflects on losing buddies and states that it "wasn't a good idea to make friends because you lost them too fast." He portrays the cold climate and seeing other people get frostbite from not knowing how to handle it. He describes his duty in the Ammunition and Pioneer Platoon, hauling ammunition and learning demolition. Hill portrays the Ethiopian unit he fought beside, comments on their skills at hunting enemy soldiers with knives, and recalls being invited to eat the food cooked by the Ethiopian troops' wives, who travelled with them. He speaks of finding a brewery and tells of troops scooping beer out of the vats with their helmets. Hill states he was touched when South Korean civilians helped carry the troop's supplies, and he highlights blowing up a bridge to help cover the retreat. Hill recalls waking up one morning to discover the three soldiers sleeping next to him had been stabbed during the night. He tells of seeing Mitchell Red Cloud, a member of the Ho-Chunk tribe and a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, make his stand to provide rear guard, recovering Red Cloud's body a few days later, and feeling outrage that Red Cloud's minister wouldn't bury him because he considered Red Cloud to have committed suicide. He portrays another American Indian who went out alone at night to scout enemy positions. Hill recalls Chinese kids dressed as Korean refugees sneaking behind the lines and attacking with hand grenades. He talks about a week of R&R in Japan and seeing Bob Hope perform in a USO show. He discusses getting enough points to rotate out, heading to Seoul on foot with twelve other homeward-bound soldiers, and seeing three of them get killed by snipers. Hill mentions "Bed Check Charlie," a small enemy plane that bombed Seoul every night. He describes the boat ride back, including going through a typhoon, being put in a noisy berth next to the anchor, and seeing dolphins. While home on his thirty day leave, he recalls sleeping on the floor rather than the bed, but states that overall he did not have trouble readjusting. Hill touches on being sent to Camp Cooke (California) to "play hen mother" setting up beds for the 33rd Infantry Division of the Illinois National Guard and learning to drive automatic truck on Pike's Peak. He says there was "no big hullabaloo" when he got back, which he took for granted as the usual reception for veterans. As post commander for his local VFW, Hill states he now has the honor of presenting a returning Iraq veteran with an eagle feather.

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