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|An up close and personal interview with U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and Togetherweserved.com Member:|
GySgt Eugene Dixon U.S. Marine Corps (Ret) (1946-1966)
WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE MILITARY?
Having grown up during the years of the great depression of 1929 and then the horrors of World War II, would have a big influence on the rest of my life.
As I look back today, I feel that God has blessed me and my family beyond all measure
The 1940s were critical years in our nation's history with World War II taking place. My older brother Myrl joined the Marine Corps and participated in the Guam and Iwo Jima battle campaigns. He returned to the States at the end of World War II and was discharged December 1945. Most people during that time period were touched by World War II. With Myrl in the South Pacific, our family followed the war news mostly via radio and newspapers. I can also very vividly recall those years when trains and buses were crowded with servicemen and women on leave or transferring around the nation--in fact, around the world. I remember how I admired each one of them in their uniforms and dreamed often of being one of them. The military appealed to me as a way of life that I wanted to follow, so much so that on December 20, 1946, I quit high school and joined the U.S. Marine Corps. However, I was given 2 credits for military service and was able to receive my diploma.
I had hoped to enlist on my birthday December 10, 1946, but when I was examined at the Marine Corps Recruiting Sub-Station at Tulsa, OK, I had a decayed tooth that had to be filled before I could enlist. This delayed my enlistment to December 20, 1946.
I joined at the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in Oklahoma City. Traveling to Oklahoma City (alone) for enlistment started a whole new experience for me and I wasn't quite sure about what lay ahead. Up until then, I had never been that far from home. I was the only one who enlisted that day, so it was even more scary when I discovered that I had to travel all the way to the Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, by myself. Being young and never having been away from the security of my home, family and friends brought about a little anxiety.
The two-day trip to San Diego, California, was the longest trip I had made to date, but a few years later I would make an even longer one as I traveled to Korea.
WHAT WAS YOUR SERVICE CAREER PATH?
After boot camp I was assigned to Field Telephone School at Camp Delmar, CA. Upon graduation I was transferred to base communication at Camp LeJeune, NC. Later I would go to Marine Corps Institute, Washington, DC as instructor in the Air Pilot's course. Over the next 20 years I would serve at McAlester, OK, Korean War, Recruiting duty at Stockton, CA and again at Traverse City, MI. Korea with 1st Bn 5th Marines - July 1950-June 1951. A couple of tours with the 2nd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Division, Inspector-Instructor Staff in Rochester, NY where I would retire on July 1, 1966.
DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN COMBAT OPERATIONS? IF SO, COULD YOU DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE SIGNIFICANT TO YOU?
Final Reflections on Korea: I arrived in South Korea August 2, 1950 and would participate the following combat operations: Pusan Perimeter, Inchon-Seoul, Wonsan-Chosin, Guerrilla Hunt, Operations Killer and Ripper. I would be rotated back to the States in July 1951 and promoted to Staff Sergeant.
I have not discussed my time in Korea, particularly that at the Chosin Reservoir, with anyone except in passing. First, I don't know if they could or would believe my account. It sounds so incredible. I have not discussed it with my kids because they are in a different world and don't seem interested.
If North Korea ever opens the Chosin area to foreign visitors, I would like to go back there just to see what it really looks like without all the snow and combat and death. In the meantime, I sometimes think back on the Chosin I experienced in November/December of 1950. Thoughts about it are triggered when I hear folks today complaining about how hard things are for them and what they have to endure. The people living today should thank God that a few Marines a half century ago fought and died so that they might have what they have today.
Serving in the Korean War definitely had an impact on my life. It made me realize that we have a precious liberty in this country, and that we should do everything we can to protect and preserve our way of life, even if it means going to war when necessary. It made me realize how fragile our life is and that it can be taken from us at any time. I further realized that we have a God who will see us through this life on earth. As I mentioned earlier, in 1957, I committed my life to Jesus Christ and I have tried to do His will as best as I can. I admit that I don't measure up at times, but I know that I have a loving and forgiving God.
I definitely think that the United States was right in sending troops to Korea in the first place. When I saw and came to know the Korean people, I knew that they were important in God's eyes. If we had the means, it was right that we help them overcome the communist North. I also think that it was right for MacArthur to have gone north of the 38th parallel. This was the only way that the North Korean People's Army could be defeated If they had not been defeated, they would have been more of a problem than they are today. The biggest mistake that our government and the United Nations made with regards to the Korean War was to let politicians have a say in the way it was waged. War is to be fought by armies, not politicians. When politics get in the way, the military is handcuffed and unable to perform its tasks.
I would like to see the places I was during the war, but I have never gone back to Korea. A friend of mine did visit and shared his photos with me. I now have them up for others to see on the internet. Did any good come out of the Korean War? Seeing how the South Korean nation and people have thrived in freedom, and comparing that to North Korea, the difference is obvious. I think that at some point in time, the South Koreans should be able to protect themselves. Until then, they need our support, especially now that it has been discovered that North Korea has nuclear capabilities. I am troubled by the recent crisis regarding the threat of atomic weapons because I know what their previous intentions were, as well as their present ones. Seoul is very close to North Korea's "million man army."
The Korean War has been sort of downgraded because its returning veterans didn't make a big fuss. But that particular war has an important place in American/World History. America responded to a friendly nation's crisis, even at the risk of losing American lives in order to help Korea's people remain FREE.
The training that I received as a Marine enabled me to appreciate being the best that I can be. It taught me to do my job--whatever it was or is--to the best of my ability. Being a Marine made me more disciplined, and a better and more mature person with the ability to be thankful for what I have. I remain interested in the Marine Corps, but now I am on the sidelines as new Marines carry on the Marine Corps traditions. Since I retired from the Marine Corps, many changes have taken place and I doubt if I would recognized the Marine Corps today. But I know the discipline, respect and military bearing of the Marine will never change. A new breed is serving today and they are the best-trained, best-equipped Marines ever.
I guess there will always be a little of Marine in my blood. I am retired yes, but still a Marine!
WHICH, OF THE DUTY STATIONS OR LOCATIONS YOU WERE ASSIGNED OR DEPLOYED TO, DO YOU HAVE THE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY?
Recruiting duty at Stockton, CA and again in Traverse City, MI. Also Inspector-Instructor duty at Rochester, NY.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE SERVICE CAREER WHAT PARTICULAR MEMORY STANDS OUT?
I would have to say that my experiences in the Korean War takes top billing. There is no other event that would have influenced by future in the Marine Corps and later in civilian life. Only those that have experienced actual combat would understand the affect it can have on you. When you know that there is another human being out there that his sole purpose is to take your life or at least put you out of commission. This can have a profound affect on you at the time and in the future. I only emphasizes just how fragile our life here on earth is, and you can only hope and pray that you will come out on top.
OF THE MEDALS, AWARDS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES OR DEVICES YOU RECEIVED, WHAT IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
Our unit received 4 Presidential Citations during my time in Korea August 1950 to June 1951.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL PERSON FROM YOUR SERVICE STANDS OUT AS THE ONE WHO HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
I don't think any one person stands out, however our 3 drill instructors at boot camp would have to among those that had an impact on me.
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE THAT WAS FUNNY AT THE TIME AND STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
None that I can remember. Of course there were numerous times that things would happen that would cause one to smile about, but nothing serious.
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER THE SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT JOB?
After retiring from the Marines in July 1966, I worked for a year for a local finance company, then 8 months at the Traverse City, MI post office, then the Grand Traverse County Road Commission as Clerk of the Board and retired after 20 years on January 1, 1988.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
I am a life member of the 1st Marine Division Association, Chosin Few, Marine Corps Association, and Marine Corps League, Yagle Brothers Detachment 165, Traverse City, Michigan. I am also a member of the Korean War Veterans Association, Northwest Michigan Chapter 38, in Traverse City, Michigan.
HOW HAS MILITARY SERVICE INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND CAREER?
Probably taught me to be responsible for those under my authority. Having to make sure those under my authority were served honorable and that it was up to me to insure their well being. I was there not only lead, but to care for each and every one.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR THOSE THAT ARE STILL SERVING?
Since our nation was founded, America has called upon its men and later women to answer the call to defend and protect our country. Millions have answered that call to arms and have made the sacrifices necessary to keep our nation free. Many have paid the ultimate price, "their lives." Our country can never repay them for what they have done, but we can honor them and their memories by preserving their stories so that future generations may know.
These heroic individuals are called VETERANS, and many of them never tell their experiences to anyone. As they disappear with age, a valuable national treasure is lost. They serve their country, come home and lead productive and useful lives raising families and serving their respective communities in various ways. Yet their stories remain untold and a secret known only to them. How sad that future generations are deprived of this part of history. History books in our schools and libraries cannot and do not reveal the intimate feelings of these veterans.
To the future generations, I hope that you will never be called upon to make the sacrifices our veterans have made, but should it become necessary for you to do so, please remember that you must uphold the standards that the past generations so nobly set. Today's veterans wish you well and hope that you can enjoy our precious liberty and freedom; this is what we fought for and now hand the mantle to you.
MY COUNTRY, MY FLAG
There are those in the world that would like to see this flag fade away forever. There are also those in this country that would like to remove it from our way of life. They burn it, they trample on it and desecrate it in many other ways. They call it "Freedom of Speech". To those that have this attitude, I would remind them that in some countries they would be "done away with" in short order. Their "Freedom of Speech" would be over!
A tear of pride falls down my cheek when I recall the battles of the past but within memory of many of us today: The many battles of WWII: The Korean Conflict; Pusan Perimeter; Naktong; Inchon; and of course the Chosin. In more recent memory: Vietnam; first Gulf War; War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq, today. These are but a few, there are other skirmishes that bear remembering. In all of these, our brave men, and now our brave women answered their country's call and fought for our country and yes for our FLAG. Yes, the FLAG for them is precious and something to be respected, and I know it hurts each one of them when they see our national flag desecrated in any way in the name of "Freedom of Speech".
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU MAINTAIN A BOND WITH YOUR SERVICE AND THOSE YOU SERVED WITH?
I have made contact with several Marines and have enjoyed hearing from them. I also have invited others to join so that they can enjoy the benefits of this unique website for Marines.
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