CHAPTER CHATTER

The Official Newsletter of the
Shenandoah Valley Chapter #313
Korean War Veterans Association
Lewis M. Ewing, Editor
February 2016
MEMBER PROFILE - C. HOAK (cont)

    In January 1953, we finally arrived one evening at Inchon. We were fed, given winter clothing with insulated boots, issued M-1 rifles with ammo and put on an unheated troop train. We rode all night, northeast, until we got to an area known as the Punch Bowl, 40 miles north of the 38th, not too far from Bloody Ridge and Heart Break Ridge. There we were taken by truck to Charlie Company, 1343rd Engineer Combat Battalion. We were both assigned to the motor pool of the headquarters platoon, Roy as a mechanic, and I as a dispatcher. Charlie Company's primary mission was road and bridge construction. Road building was done by carving hillsides of rock along river banks using tons of dynamite and bull dozers. Bailey bridges were erected across waterways. It was hard work for the boys, seven days a week, non-stop, in snow and rain. Roy would alternate every other week near the front lines as a stand-by mechanic. I would stay in the company area dispatching trucks, air compressors and various other construction tools and equipment. In a couple of months we were given PFC stripes. It wasn't soon after that our company clerk rotated home. The 1st Sgt. said I was the only one in the company that could type. Would I take the job? He said he would waive my time-in-grade for Cpl. and I could still sleep in the motor pool at nights with my brother. Thank God for that typing course I took at JWHS. It turned out to be a peachy job. All it entailed at that time was completion of the morning report, driving it down five miles to battalion headquarters, bringing the mail back and answering the phone (walkie talkie), during daytime in the CP. Our only big scares were when the "Chinks" tried to break through a couple times. The line was held by ROK troops. At the beginning of the war the ROK's had a bad reputation of running. We would spend our nights in our fox holes while a piper cub above would continuously drop flares where one could read a newspaper if you had one. With the assistance of our nearby artillery units the ROK's hel their ground.

    On July 27, 1953, a truce was signed which required our battalion to move back across the 38th near Uijongbu, north of Seoul. There our missions was to improve and maintain roads. We did build an elementary school at a nearby village. Roy and I remained in the 1st Corps sector until we were transferred back to the U.S. The last three months of our tour, I was promoted to 1st Sgt. and Roy was made Motor Pool Sgt of Charlie Company.

    Upon our discharge, Roy went back to the George Washington Garage, got married, and started a family. He eventually started his own business, operating a service station at Sunnyside for 25 years before going with the Frederick Couny School System. We co-owned a peach orchard before turning it into a Christmas tree farm. Roy died of prostate cancer at the age of 68 in 1999.

    I went back to VDOT and got transferred to Fairfax County. I stayed there for six months and signed on with Fairfax County on a two year $20,000,000 sewer project as an inspector. I attended evening classes at the George Washington University. I also joined an Army Reserve unit, the 2070th ARASU DC USAR School at Ft. Meyer, VA, as an Operations Sgt. At the termination of the sewer project, I took a position with Chesterfield County to implement a property and street naming program. There I changed 45,000 property numbers and 300 street names, in conjunction with the City of Richmond and Henrico County to improve mailing, fire and rescue services of the metropolitan area. While there, I attended the Richmond Professional Institute, (now Virginia Commonwealth University). Upon the completion of the property numbering and street naming program, I accepted a six-month engineering position with the Office of Public Affairs of the Federal Aviation Agency, preparing plans and coordinating various activities with VDOT, Police, Armed Services and Secret Service for the Open House and Dedication ceremony of the newly built Dulles Airport. There were three ex-presidents and