OUR KOREAN WAR STORY: Monkeys, rats, body bags and mail

Ethel Walsh

California Legionnaire Tony Zummo, 92, remembers the muddy streets, spies saying to be road personnel, freezing chilly temperatures, rats that would gnaw into entire body luggage, holiday getaway mail for troopers investing Christmas 1951 at war and monkeys that were experienced to toss minor cherry bombs at Americans to blind them.

Zummo served in the Army Grave Registration Assistance immediately after turning 21 in basic schooling at Fort Ord, Calif. Drafted into the Korean War, he did not encounter overcome, but he noticed its grim consequences. His mission was to transportation bagged bodies in from the subject.

“We experienced bodies all the time, a few or four at a time,” Zummo not too long ago explained to The American Legion. “They would place them in rubberized baggage.” At evening, he additional, “if we didn’t rotate the bodies, the rats would arrive to take in the petroleum baggage and chew the bodies.”

He vividly remembers his wartime expertise.

He remembers the explanation for copy pet tags – a person to deliver residence to grieving families, the other to help discover the fallen inside the bags. Zummo’s task commonly integrated two critical objectives: transportation the dead from the industry and return to the battlefield models with their mail.

“It rained most of the time and snowed rather seriously, down to minus 28 degrees, and I experienced to drive by means of that. If I didn’t get the bodies turned in, the rats would get them. And finding up the mail was crucial mainly because it was the holiday seasons.”

In 2010, Zummo was highlighted in the Inland Valley Day-to-day Bulletin and informed of shipping out to Korea on the USS Thomas Jefferson wherever the soldiers slept “in the bottom of the ship on bunks about 12 inches concerning every single bunk.”

At the time in Korea, as a truck driver, he served around the Headquarters Services Compound as other folks from his southern California neighborhood were sent to the front-line preventing, some of whom by no means created it dwelling alive. Now that his sergeant in the war, “Smitty,” recently handed absent, Zummo suggests he is about “the only one particular remaining.”

His grim purpose in the war, he explained, has hardly ever still left his memory. One particular officer, he described, was burned to dying and experienced to be recovered with a helicopter. When the body was transferred to Zummo’s truck, the scent was almost unbearable. He reported an MP stopped him on the road for driving much too fast and soon found why. “The truck smelled of useless overall body for about a 7 days.”

And then there were the monkeys. “The Chinese educated them, and we would in some cases capture them,” Zummo claimed. “They were very welcoming. They would hop all over and arrive in your foxhole and on a sure command, they would have these small cherry bombs they would toss, and they could blind you.”

Amongst his photos from the war are photographs of other troopers with captured monkeys, Sgt. Smitty crossing a swollen river in a jeep and scenes from the 38th Parallel. “I recall every thing quite clearly,” he claims.

He served two years for the duration of the Korean War and, the moment he was discharged, returned to his old career at Sears, the place he worked one more 40 years, and was energetic in group company, significantly youth courses, along with participation in The American Legion and Veterans of International Wars.




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