Korean War

Petty Officer First Class
Joe Bouchard

U.S. Navy - Bonner, Montana

soldier engraving

"I grew up out in Bonner; my dad was a truck driver for Anaconda out there...I can remember my dad being very proud of his Indian heritage... predominantly Pend d' Orielle. My dad was in World War I...he was very proud of his military service...When (World War II) started I went down and joined the Navy as soon as ~ could. I got out in 1946 and I started college, and it only took me a week to find out I knew a hell of a lot more than the professors did, so I quit...I got to thinking how great the Navy was and I reenlisted; told them I wanted to get into aviation.

I got to see part of the Inchon landing. Dropped some people off at a little strip on the perimeter after they were ashore...We flew some senior Navy people; this was probably the third day...I don't remember the name of the town, it was south of Inchon and quite a beach area; evidently it was some sort of Korean resort area.

Only wild experience I had in Korea was one night, I think it had to have been...in winter of '51. We were in Osan and they said there were some Marines in bad condition; they were retreating then. And they wanted to try and medevac them out...we were the only plane available, so we (flew) up and found a...2500-foot dirt strip in the bottom of a valley along a stream. About 20 above and frozen solid...there were field ambulances waiting for us. So we loaded the Marines on the plane, and this little dirt strip we were on, we needed everything we could get on that airplane to get out, we were loaded pretty heavily. We pulled out and fired it up...the number 3 engine blew a cylinder...fire was shooting everywhere. Well, we got it shut down. No way we were going to get off that strip with three engines.

We called down to Osan, and they had, just a freak, an engine...they said they'd have it up in daylight, in the morning...about five 0' clock this Flying Boxcar comes up and dropped this engine off...and we took all the Marines we had and put them on the Flying Boxcar...We were within seven or eight miles of the Chinese coming down this canyon, in fact, we could see the fire on the hills back there. By this time some more ambulances pulled in...so we put 17 more Marines on and a couple of Navy corpsmen...we g9t on the end of the runway...cranked it up stood on the end of a' wing tip coming up off the end of the runway.. .we got back then, changed all four engines. We'd blown all four engines."

Joe Bouchard lives today in Missoula County, Montana.

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