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50th Anniversary Commemorative Web Site | Korean War 1950-1953  2000-2003
Heartland Heroes - presented by the Kansas Adjutant General's Department
Honoring Kansans' Contributions in the Korean War
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Personal Stories

Coming Home from Korea
by Robert J. Roberts

Robert J. Roberts served as a sergeant first class as a Survey Chief of Party with the 937th Field Artillery Battalion from January 1951-April 1952

A troop ship is not the ideal way to travel:

Smelly bodies stacked six high
On canvas beds just high enough
To get in while lying down;

Two meals a day at stand-up tables
Where you were lucky if your mess-mate
(That’s sailor talk, they told us)
Doesn’t throw up in his tray
From seasickness (we’re not sailors);

Feeling your own gorge rise
And running up the stairs (called, strangely, ladders)
To get out on deck for fresh air;

Pulling KP, washing trays in steamy GI cans
While your buddies threw up in the can next to you
(A lot of throwing-up went on)
While you laughed at them
You HAD to laugh or join them;

But the worst thing was the boredom
Read until your eyes hurt,
Walk the deck, nap,
Play poker, canasta, cribbage,
Walk the deck, etc., etc.
Did you ever spend fifteen days doing
Absolutely nothing?

But then, we were near San Francisco.
We saw the cloudlike shoreline,
Then the coast itself,
Then San Francisco, and finally
The Golden Gate Bridge.

Everyone was on deck
When we went under the bridge
And a cheer erupted spontaneously
From a thousand throats.

We suddenly knew
We had survived the war
And we were home.

Sergeant First Class Robert J. Roberts
Headquarters Battery
937th Field Artillery Battalion
Unites States Army

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