Sergeant William Arnold, US Army, impressed me at once as a man with common sense. For one thing, he had his priorities straight. The first thing discussed was how to position ourselves for sleeping to make the most of our combined body heat. Head to toe with arms wrapped around one another's feet seemed best for keeping our feet from freezing. In a corner with one of us tight against the wall was the most sensible location. Since I was much more thinly clad than he, the against-the-wall position was accepted without feeling selfish.
My preparation required only removal of the cumbersome flying boots. Arnold's footgear consisted of rags wrapped around and held somewhat in place by a worn-out pair of canvas shoes previously used by some North Korean soldier. The shoes being much too small, he had separated the soles from the uppers, sandwiched his rag-wrapped feet in between and tied uppers and lowers in place with rag strips. Removal of the split shoes but leaving the rag wraps would better the chances that I could keep his feet warm.
Without the shoe tops and soles to hold them, the rags tended to unwind. As Arnold began trying to affix them in place I pulled one spare pair of boot socks from the leg pocket of my flight suit and handed them to him. Surprised, he took them eagerly but then was reluctant to use them saying I should put them on instead. Which led to our first "argument" in quick exchange:
"I'm wearing two pair under this waterproof suit." "You could wear these on the outside." "That'd only hold the cold in and keep your body heat out." "Yeah, but you can use 'em later. These rags'll do all right soon's I get 'em tied in place. " "The socks'll hold 'em in place." " "Yeah, but..." "How long you been wearin' those rags?" "About two months; ever since..." "How long since you had a bath?" "Well a little longer than that." "Then put those clean socks on over your dirty old rags if you expect me to keep your damn' feet warm." "Well, okay. But I'm givin' 'em back to you in the morning." "No need for that, I've got another spare pair." "You have? Where?" "In my other leg pocket." " "You really came prepared, didn't you?" "Semper peratus!"
Arnold's body cover consisted of several layers of worn and tattered summer clothing of North Korean soldiers, including four shirts and a light jacket. The light jacket and one shirt spread over the both of us would hold a little warmth in between us. Bedded down in that fashion, if not actually warm we were at least not shivering cold. It was time then to get a little bit acquainted.
Arnold had been prisoner since mid-December. The reason he had no shoes and no US Army clothing now was because he didn't have any on when he was taken prisoner. He wasn't captured by the enemy. He was kidnapped from his bunk at battalion HQ and sold to the enemy by two South Korean marines (or perhaps enemy agents dressed as such). They had hauled him to a pre-arranged exchange point in an American jeep.* Consequently, Arnold didn't think any South Koreans could be trusted
[ * In the subsequent 18 months during which Arnold and I were much of the time in close contact, I never suggested that his kidnappers may have been trained agents from the North masquerading as S Korean marines. That was partly because I knew his bitterness on the subject, but even more to avoid mentioning to him or anyone else my considerable knowledge of the problems with N Korean infiltrators, lest our captors might hear of it and thereby learn more than I wished them to know about myself.]
"The worst thing about it ," Arnold said, "all these bastards paid for me was five bucks MPC (military payment currency) and two cartons of cigarets. If I'm not worth more than that they shouldn't have bought me in the first place and oughtta send me back for a refund."
Having thus briefly described how he came to be there, Arnold wanted to know how come a Navy chief petty officer was at Pak's Palace. Was I a frogman? (He had recognized the swim suit.) Quite briefly, without including any details, it was explained that I was a helicopter pilot, had come in trying to pick up a downed Navy pilot, crashed and got captured.
Arnold mentioned then that for the first two weeks of his captivity he had been kept in a bunker near the front lines together with a Navy pilot and his crewman who had recently been shot down. What was the pilot's name?
"Ettinger," he said. "Lt Ettinger was the pilot. His crewman's name is Gilliland. All three of us were brought here about the end of December. Gilliland is still here but we don't know what's happened with Ettinger. We haven't seen anything of him for a couple of weeks now."
A summary report to Arnold of what had happened with Ettinger, brought from him some very commendatory comments about that Navy Lt and his crewman. The three of them had huddled for warmth in the bunker quite as he and I were now having to do. Then we slept.
We awakened on our own in the morning. We had both done some shifting and turning during the night, more due to hardness of the floor than to the chill. We had not needed to walk for warmth. Sunlight on the paper covering of the door was inviting. Arnold opened the door and called out, "Benjo," when the gate sentry looked our way. The sentry grunted permission but when we both started together indicated we must go one at a time. I sat in the doorway until Arnold returned and he sat down there when I left. I scooped up a handful of snow on my way back, sat down beside Arnold, fished a bar of soap from a leg pocket and using the snow for moisture began washing my hands and face. Arnold watched in amazement, wordlessly until I handed the soap towards him and asked if he would like to use it.
"Cripes yes!" He said, set to doing so enthusiastically, commenting the while on the variety of useful things that came out of those leg pockets. "...Like from a magician's hat."
"Sorry I didn't bring any shampoo or shaving cream," I apologized as he handed back the soap. "But if you'd like to brush your teeth ." I proffered toothpaste and brush. He accepted some of the paste on his finger. Four Eyes arrived momentarily and stood looking as the two of us seated in the door way unhurriedly finished scrubbing our teeth and scooped up snow for the rinsing.
A soldier accompanying Four Eyes escorted Arnold away but we were assured he would return that evening. Table and chairs were set up in the room and the soldier returned shortly to deliver a tolerable bowl of soup and rice for me. While I was eating it Four Eyes asked amiably if I had slept well, was Sgt Armold a pleasant companion, and a few other such things. A change of technique I decided it must be; still wondering as to the purpose.
After a while Four Eyes said, as though he had just learned of it, "You are a helicopter pilot." Although he said it in a questioning way, it seemed to require no answer. So I waited in silence, expecting he was leading into questioning about the mission. To that point nothing had ever been said or asked about that.
Rather testily then he said, "You are a helicopter pilot, aren't you?"
"Then why did you not answer the first time I asked?"
"You didn't ask a question the first time. You just said I was a helicopter pilot."
He pondered that for a while, then acknowledged it by saying, "Oh.." But next, instead of the expected discussion of what had happened during the failed rescue mission, he asked a few questions which seemed pointless and even nonsensical: Did I like to fly a helicopter? Was it fun? Was it interesting to look down from a helicopter at things on the ground? How long had I been flying helicopters? And several more of such.
My responses were kept minimal but even so were more than the questions really deserved. What reason could he have for that kind of questions? From the manner in which he asked them they were obviously pre-planned. His purpose was revealed shortly when he said as though he had suddenly thought of it:
"I have an idea You can write about helicopters!" He extracted pencil and paper from the packet he carried, and placed them on the table before me. "That is something you know about and like to talk about. You can describe how to fly a helicopter and how it feels and the things you can do with it...." He arose as he spoke, said he had other things to do and would leave me alone I could write whatever I wished and could think of.
So there it was again just write something, anything, about anything or nothing. Why? Again the thought occurred it was like a school teacher trying to interest a kid in writing; just for practice, an assignment. He had even presented the idea as one might to a child; and as if he was doing me a favor by giving me something to do. He had again left the door open when he departed so "some of the sunshine" could come in. It made sense to sit in the doorway while trying to figure things out. The gate sentry glanced over, unconcerned.
"Pretend to go along" if they start talking politics, was the modified instructions in case of capture, but refuse to give any significant military information to the enemy. Helicopters were not a political subject. But neither were the things Four Eyes had asked about vital military information. Could one successfully pretend to go along in discussion of politics after adamantly refusing to discuss anything at all else? On the other hand, if given just a little about helicopters, Four Eyes would no doubt then ask for more. There were some things about the machine it was best that enemy gunners not know. That was no problem, though, because Four Eyes wouldn't know what to ask, really, so that sort of information could be avoided.
After a time came the thought that it might be interesting to see Four Eyes' reaction to something facetious, done in such way that he wouldn't know that's what it was. It would be something to do for my own entertainment. Now well rested from a night of sleep, it was a bit boring just to sit idle. So pencil and paper were brought from the table and I scribbled a few lines:
"Flying a helicopter is a fun thing to do because you can lift yourself up in it and look at things from up there like a bird sees things. And it's easy to do but it keeps a person very busy with both hands and both feet. It has an up and down stick to hold with one hand for making the helicopter go up or down. And it has a tipping stick to hold with the other hand to tip it frontwards, backwards or sidewards depending on which way you want it to move. And there are two pedals to put your feet against and push one or the other to point the helicopter in the direction you want to look. There isn't much you can do besides just looking, though, because your hands and feet are always busy.
Four Eyes did not return until after midday. He picked up the paper at once, looking pleased that something had been written. His expression changed as he struggled to read the scribbling, having once to ask me to tell him one of the words. I pretended difficulty in reading it myself. When finished with reading his look was of disappointment. He said, "You have not written very much."
There was none of the previous threatening words and manner as he insisted I should be able to give more of detail and explanation. It was more of coaxing and urging me to try; again like a teacher with a slow or shy student. Whether it was just change of technique or acceptance of the idea I wasn't a very bright fellow was not possible to determine. I couldn't describe or explain how the controls worked because I wasn't a mechanic. All I needed to know to fly the helicopter was which ways to pull and push the sticks and pedals. After a time he wanted me to draw a picture of my helicopter. I couldn't do that because I wasn't an engineer or an artist.
That manner of dialogue took up more than an hour with increasingly long periods of silence as he thought what next to try. Then he asked: "Do you know what name the Korean people call your helicopter?"
"They call it 'yung.' That is the Korean name for the insect you call 'dragonfly.' But 'yung' also means 'stupid bug' in Korean ... [There was instant feeling he was lying about that.]. We call the dragonfly 'stupid bug' and that is also what we call your helicopter because it looks and acts like a dragon fly."
A smile in amusement was automatic. There were two reasons for it. The reminder of my own reaction upon first closeup view of an HO3S was one. That would certainly not be mentioned to Four Eyes. Equally or more amusing, he was obviously now trying a "psychological" approach; hoping I would be angered enough by the implication that I was stupid to start talking in effort to prove otherwise. But if he now thought I was stupid enough to be upset because he called me that, then my effort to give the impression I was not a very bright fellow must be succeeding.
"You smile about that." He appeared wondering as he said it. "Do you think it amusing that we call you and your helicopter 'stupid bug'?"
"Oh yes. Very amusing."
He didn't ask why verbally. But the look on his face as he waited certainly did. This time it would be useful to volunteer an explanation. So I continued, still naturally smiling:
"... I think it is very amusing that you call the dragonfly a stupid bug and me with my helicopter the same when both the dragonfly by himself and me with my helicopter can do things which you cannot do."
Quite clearly that comment struck him hard. Yet he had sufficient self-control to hold it within. Meanwhile it was important for myself not to gloat about it or otherwise display actual feelings of the moment. So we sat silently for several minutes while he sought a face-saving way out of his selfentrapment. He came up with a good one:
"Ahh then you think I am not intelligent enough to be able to fly a helicopter that you are smarter than I because you can fly one?"
"No, that's not it..." [It seemed a good idea to help him save face, now.] "One does not have to be very smart to fly a helicopter otherwise I couldn't do it. But it does require good physical coordination, and some quick physical reactions sometimes. I'm not sure you would have those."
Again Four Eyes had to think for a while. And again he came up with a good rejoinder, no matter that its basis was probably totally false. "Well, then," he said, "I am now going to tell you something; which perhaps I shouldn't because it is something of a secret of ours even a military secret. We have one of your helicopters in Pyongyang; one that was captured quite some time ago when our troops liberated Pyongyang. Suppose you and I would go there together, and you would show me how to fly a helicopter. Would you be willing then to try to teach me to fly it? to really try to teach me and see if I have the physical coordination to do it?"
It was most improbable that he was speaking the truth about the helicopter; at least that there would be one in good enough condition to fly. Yet it was impossible not to wish it were true and that he or someone would be foolish enough to arrange that I should show them how to fly it. For only as much gasoline as would be reasonably required for a short demonstration and instruction ride would also be enough to fly down the river to the offshore island of Cho-do. Once airborne a pistol held to my head would be no deterrent because the holder of the pistol would be committing suicide if he shot me.
Indulging that fantasy and the remote possibility that they actually had a flyable helicopter or one which could be made so it seemed important not to indicate doubt of his story yet at the same time to appear a bit reluctant to the idea of flying it for him. So we discussed for a time my concern that to do so might violate my responsibility while prisoner of war to do nothing for my captors which would be damaging or detrimental to my own side in the war. Finally, with Four Eyes mostly just listening, I convinced myself that since the helicopter was not equipped for combat, they had only the one, and it could not be flown very much without spare parts and mechanics to service it, it would be all right for me to try to teach him to fly it.
We agreed it would be a very interesting and even pleasant thing to do, now that we had come to "understand one another" so much better than in the beginning. There was a problem, however. Four Eyes would have to get permission of his commanding officer (which seemed to be Col Pak) and also of whoever it was in P'yang who had the captured helicopter. Apparently he was unable to make the arrangements because he never mentioned the matter to me again.
In fact, Four Eyes never even spoke to me again after that day (though I did see him several times while still at Pak's Palace). He departed immediately after that conversation. Two soldiers then came bringing Arnold to spend the night with me, and took away the table and chairs.
Arnold and I spent that night and most of the next day undisturbed. Anjimony brought food for the both of us in the morning. Idling in the sunlit area of the doorway, we saw no one during the day except the gate sentries and a few people entering and leaving the compound.
We spent the time getting acquainted, he providing further information about the overall situation at Pak's Palace and within the prisoner group. As had Lt Green, Arnold cautioned about the talkativeness of several of the prisoners and the need in any case to avoid open discussion of any personal information one wanted to keep from the enemy. His own personal situation had virtually no risk. He had rejoined the Army and volunteered for Korean assignment after losing his wife and son in a tragic car crash. He appreciated fully my reasons for withholding knowledge of my family from the enemy and therefor not discussing it at all.
Particularly dangerous, in Arnold's judgment, were the same three Air Force officers Green had warned against because of their talkativeness. Green was Air Force, also; how come such a difference in attitude? Arnold had a ready answer for that Green happened to be a graduate of West Point and became an Air Force officer because he was a pilot. Two men in the group he regarded as completely trustworthy Ettinger's ' crewman Gilliland, a lanky fellow from the Ozarks, and a young soldier named Rambo, also on the lanky side, who hailed from eastern Tennessee. Both men carried wounds, basically superficial but unhealing and infected. Arnold figured that since neither of us was being interrogated that day we would probably both soon be put with the others.
Anjimony brought our seaweed soup at about sundown. We went inside and closed the door to shut out the nighttime chill. Soon after dark the door opened and a new voice called in. A short, stocky Korean, quite well dressed, introduced himself and "invited" me to come with him for a talk. As we crossed the courtyard my host explained that the reason he wanted to talk with me was because the interrogators at this place had told him I was much more intelligent than most other of the Americans that were here. Since the only interrogator with whom I had talked was Four Eyes, and he didn't seem to rate me very high in IQ, I suspected this new fellow's real reason was quite the opposite. This must be the beginning 0f the political pitch with which the modified directive said one should "pretend to go along."
Seated then at a table in a small warm room, which even had a low wattage electric light, my host explained further: He had been a professor at Pyongyang University. But now because our bombers had destroyed the university. . . [he assured that he did not blame me for that].. .he worked at various other jobs to provide for his family. He said this often included helping with repair work after bombing raids. [I refrained from expressing the hope that he had other clothes to wear in those times, rather than the quite nice suit he was now wearing.]
Of course he didn't mind doing such things, as duty to his country because of the war. But he missed the intellectual stimulation of his job at the university.... "So when one of the interrogators here, who used to be colleague of mine at the university, told me about you and what an interesting fellow you are, I asked him to see if it might be possible for me to come talk with you. Fortunately for me he was able to arrange it...."
He went on to say he hoped that I didn't mind and even perhaps it would be something of a break for me. He "realized" I would have been talking about the war and military things with the interrogators, and perhaps would enjoy talking about something else. He assured me he wasn't at all interested in military things, or in the war except to wish it would soon end. Finally he asked if it was agreeable with me to spend some time with him "in friendly conversation about whatever we might find is of mutual interest."
"Of course it is," was my response. "My only regret is that I am not the host."
He seemed some surprised for a moment, then smiled quite naturally and said: "And you have a sense of humor. That is good. My former colleague here did not mention that when he told me of you. That is very good admirable in this circumstance; and I'm sure it will make our conversation the more enjoyable. But I must say I am glad that I am the host, rather than the other way around; though I'm sure you would be a good host if our situations were reversed."
"I certainly would try to be," I said. "And if I were the host I would right about now be offering you a cup of coffee and some cake or cookies." "
His reaction to that could not possibly have been faked. He smiled, nodding his head in amusement at himself. "Yes," he said, "I'm sure you would. And if I were a truly good host I would have thought of that myself. I know I cannot get coffee, but I think perhaps I can get some tea. Since I am really just a guest here myself it might not be possible. But I am going to see if I can get some tea and perhaps some rice cakes for us."
For someone who was "really just a guest," it did not take long at all. He was back very quickly with teapot, cups with saucers, and a plate of rice cakes on a nice tray. The tea would have to brew for a while. He offered a rice cake at once. I declined, saying it would be more enjoyable with the tea, and meanwhile enjoyed his appraising look in reaction.
Idling, get-acquainted talk filled the time the tea was brewing. There were inquiries as to academic and other interests but no prying, personal questions. And that worked both ways. He had said this was to be friendly conversation about things of mutual interest, so I inquired as to his. What kind of professor was he what were his subjects? He answered readily (if not necessarily truthfully) claiming several professorships, including literature and history.
So it continued as the cups were filled and sipped; including sincere comment by myself that the tea and rice cakes would have been quite acceptable refreshments in any circumstance. Then began inclusion by him of the subtle "comeons." Did I believe in the philosophy of "live and let live?" Of course. Then I must also believe in the rights of people to choose their own form of government? Of course, again. And all that was necessary to "pretend to go along" was to refrain from mentioning that the majority of people in a communist-ruled country didn't seem to have that right.
Less subtle and more difficult to pretend to go along with was the question: Do you not see that while communism is not something you would want or think best for your own country, it is the best for some other countries, including Korea? The best I could come up with on that was to say that while I had seen no evidence anywhere in the world that this was so, I also could see no way of proving that it wasn't or couldn't be.
"I hope you understand clearly," he said, "that I do not say communism is the best thing for your country for America. Yours is a rich country. So it does not need communism. It can take care of its people without communism. Only poor countries need communism like here in Korea. Ours is a poor country, so we need communism to take care of our people. Besides we know we could not sell communism to Americans for their own country, at least not now, because your living standards are too high."
"There's another reason you can't sell communism in America," I said.
"And why is that?"
"Because our level of education is also too high."
"I will tell you something young man," he said slowly and self-assured. "It does not matter how much education it only matters what kind!"
Score one for the out-of-a-job professor from P'yang U! I realized at once from things already observed that he was absolutely correct. I let silence serve as concession of the point.
Perhaps stimulated by the ease with which he scored on that one, the professor pushed more quickly for another. He recited a list of recent and current scandals and wrongdoings of prominent people in America, of course including some in government offices. Then he asked if I would deny that those things were true, or did I think them unimportant.
"Of course not," I replied. "There are bad people in every society crooks, thieves, liars and so on. The difference between our system and yours is that when some of them get into government offices in my country, we do have a way of getting them out."
Score one for the dumb sailor. This time the professor from P'yang U could find no comeback. To avoid clear concession of that score by silence, he quickly changed the subject; to one which he had initially said we wouldn't discuss the war. And on that subject the only thing he could quickly come up with was the ridiculous claim that South Korea and America had started the war. He reiterated the propaganda theme that South Korea had invaded the North with the backing and at the instigation of the United States.
He was sufficiently disrupted that he made the charges a bit personal: "It is your country that really started this war. The bad people in your government your President Truman your warmonger General MacArthur...." Which made easier to express the response which came to mind when he first began to repeat that oft-heard theme. When he ran out of words and paused I said, quietly in keeping with the tone of previous discussion:
"That is a total falsehood and you know it. If you did not know it otherwise, you would know it from the basic facts of the history of this war. Within a few weeks after they first attacked the South your forces were at Pusan trying to finish the job before help could get here from America. When help did get here from America, it took only a few weeks for them to not only drive your troops back out of South Korea but to go all the way up to the Yalu and liberate the people of North Korea. If as you now try to tell me my country had encouraged South Korea to invade the North, they would have had the necessary American help right here to begin with. How can you expect me to believe what you have just told me when you do not believe it yourself? You know full well yourself that it is not true."
He was stunned or at least he looked it, certainly as if much surprised. Speechless, he stared blankly with mouth slightly agape for probably as long as a minute or even more. Then he said slowly, "You are a very shrewd fellow," after which the open-mouthed blank look resumed.
It couldn't be taken as a compliment. It seemed not really to have been said to me, but to himself. It may have been an inadvertent expression of what he was thinking to himself at the time. He had in a sense (as the saying goes) "been had." His reason for taking me aside for a "friendly" discussion would not really have been, as he had said, because someone had told him I was an intelligent and interesting fellow. More likely Four Eyes would have told him that I seemed to be dumb enough and gullible enough that I might buy the line he was selling. And now after thinking he was making progress toward that end, he had suddenly been brought up short with his own pretense of intellectual objectivity turned against him.
He remained silent, staring blankly, for still some time. Then the feeling that he had been trying to figure some facesaving way out was confirmed. He looked at his wristwatch and said, "Oh! It is getting quite late and I must be up early in the morning to go to work. Time goes so fast when one becomes involved in stimulating conversation."
So this dumb American sailor had scored a victory of sorts in debate with an intellectual Korean "professor" from the University of Pyongyang. Shortly came the opportunity to score another and perhaps more important one. Preparing to leave, the "professor" reached and looked down beside his chair at a satchel he had with him. While his head was thus turned the sailor snatched two rice cakes from the several that were still on the plate.
We walked together in silence back across the courtyard, and paused in front of the door to the end room. "It has been an interesting evening," the professor said. "We have disagreed even argued and we are of course on opposite sides in this war. Even so I would say to you now most sincerely, it has been for me both interesting and educational."
"So it has been also for me," said the sailor.
And in that regard it seems safe to say that neither of us was at all pretending.
I thought to myself as he departed, "So much for that wonderful idea of pretending to go along and they might release me." More likely now he would inform his "former colleague from P'yang U" that the sailor wasn't quite as dumb as he might have appeared.
Sgt Arnold was glad to see me; though he barely could in the darkness of the room when I returned. He had begun to wonder if he was himself going to be alone that night and the chill was already uncomfortable. We bundled together at once and as we were settling in I gave him one of the rice cakes for his "bedtime snack." Some light banter ensued as to where and how I got it, followed by brief report to him of what had happened. Then some thinking had to be done before going to sleep. Some things about what had just happened needed "sorting out."
Any "joys of victory" which might otherwise have been felt for having so summarily bested the "professor" were dampened by concern if there might be some further ordeals for myself in consequence. One of the reasons for the "dumb enlisted man" act with Four Eyes had been toward the possibility of getting into the program the enemy supposedly had through which one might get himself released by just "pretending to go along" in political discussions. Well, I had made it into that program and quickly flunked the course because I didn't pretend as the curriculum required and didn't even want to.
Still, a little something had been learned. Whoever amongst the theoretical geniuses in the rear echelons had come up with the idea obviously didn't know what this part of the war was about. Telling a man to pretend to go along with this enemy in any regard fit right in with this enemy's plans and procedures in all other regards. "Pretense" was all they asked of a man in any case, at least in beginning. Just a show of willingness to cooperate in insignificant things. A little more of "pretense" might be required later to prove that willingness. But still only pretense. The enemy's ultimate purpose in that progressive process was by no means yet clear. But it was a damn' cinch that they had one.
The other reason for the "dumb enlisted man" act was to evade questions of military significance by denying knowledge rather than just refusing to answer. To some extent that seemed to have worked with Four Eyes, also, since he did never follow up in a line of questioning which could have become significant. But what now? Would my quite intelligent host of the evening now tell his "former colleague" from P' yang U, "that sailor you told me seemed dumb enough to buy our propaganda line isn't nearly so dumb as he led you to believe?" And if he did, would Four Eyes or another of the interrogators put me back in solitary and renew the demands for "cooperation" regarding significant things they could now be certain I would know something about?
Well, if so having learned that it would be self-defeating to pretend to go along in politics, so also would it be in the long run to pretend to go along in anything else. Having to that extent sorted out the possible ramifications of that evening's event, I joined the already slumbering sergeant in a good night's sleep.
Sgt Arnold and I breakfasted again next morning in the sunlit doorway. Our after breakfast conference was disrupted by arrival of most of the men who had been evicted from the end room on the morning after I had stomped the hole in the floor of the middle room. Conspicuous by his absence was AF Lt Green. No one knew where he might be. Conspicuous especially to Arnold by his continued presence was the S Korean prisoner, Kim. Arnold and I moved aside to let the men in, making clear that enough space for two in the back left corner was ours. To our relief, Kim reclaimed his previous space in the opposite front corner. The rest also arranged themselves quite much as they had been before.
AF Capt Kubicek returned to the doorway momentarily, eager to become acquainted. He was not a pilot but navigator and bombardier. The fact that both Green and Arnold had identified him as one of the carelessly talkative men did not mean that he should be avoided. To the contrary, in the close confines we would be sharing it was important to know as much as possible about the characteristics of all the others, at the same time not discussing with even the most trustworthy among them things which it was important that the enemy should not learn. So the best way to learn about others was to quietly listen and observe, rather than joining in random conversations.
Kubicek was indeed a talkative fellow. He would be regarded as a "smokestacker" in Navy terminology; meaning a fellow who talks a great deal about everything he knows and as much or more about things he doesn't know but pretends to. By no means was he the only smokestacker among the talkative ones. But he was much better at it than the others. Plus which he was actually much more knowledgeable than the others. Self-educated largely from books, he had a good store of useful knowledge and the ability to put it to use. He had somewhere obtained a flintstone and a piece of steel with which he had the patience to strike sparks into a cotton wad for lighting cigarets when someone might have one. Which he usually did after a session apart with one or another of the interrogators.
Capt Kubicek was the senior person in the group according to rank. Being basically a technician he had, in his own judgment, neither training nor experience which would enable him to fulfill responsibilities of his senior rank in the military sense. Early in our acquaintance he confided that feeling, which I could not but agree was well-founded. He regarded Sgt Arnold and myself to be the only men in the small group with the ability to effect proper leadership. The circumstance at the interrogation center was not such that internal organization would have been possible anyway.
The fact that Kubicek spent considerable time away during the day with one and another of the interrogators was troubling to Arnold and myself. Usually when he returned he would have a few "goodies" cigarets, rice cakes, even candies which he shared at least in some measure with others. These he said were given to him for various handyman services rendered to Col Pak and the interrogators. There was no doubt that he did such things for them, in the warmth of the east wing, and probably received more of the "goodies" than he brought back to the room to share. He also acquired various of useful items, a few small tools, leftover parts from his repair of a clock, a couple of flashlight batteries and bits of copper wire. One evening he proudly brought a bowl of bean oil with a wick plus permission that we could have it lighted at night until "sleep time."
As for talking freely with the interrogators, Kubicek said that was entirely in accord with instructions received from Air Force Intelligence in his preflight briefings. "Go ahead and answer their questions," was the way he said it was put. "There's nothing secret about our operations, and you don't know any top secret stuff..."
Considering the instructions I had received to pretend to go along if they started talking politics, there was no reason to doubt that such instructions as he described were being given to Air Force men. But would not that kind of basic instruction lead some to think it was also all right to freely answer questions from the enemy about other prisoners? I had myself learned that it was impossible to pretend to go along with the enemy in one regard without also pretending so in others. If a man following official instructions freely answered the enemy's questions about everything else he would be hard put not to at least pretend to do so if asked questions about his fellow prisoners.
Not only was it impossible under those circumstances to effect internal organization or discipline in the prisoner group, the development of closeness between two or a few would soon be known by the enemy. With the possible exception of Kim, there was no indication that any of the group were willful informers. But talkative people could provide useful information to the enemy without even realizing it; even during casual conversations within the prisoner group if the enemy happened to be listening.
Conversation was of course the only activity to relieve the boredom, (other than solitary meditation of which an increasing percentage of Americans seem incapable). Usually there would be several conversations going on, with but two or three men involved in each and quietly enough not to disturb or interfere with others. But Kubicek and several others who regularly talked with him often became loud enough that one could not avoid hearing what they were saying even if not interested in it.
There were only three of them at the outset. Air Force lieutenants Smith and Stahl together with Kubicek comprised that threesome. Smith, a navigator, liked to be called by his initials "CJ." He frequently talked of the unfairness in the fact that he had been recalled to active duty from a reserve unit because of the Korean war. Chuck Stahl was a young pilot, not very long out of flight school and still imbued with the idea that because he piloted a jet fighter he must be a cut above most others. Another Air force pilot, Lt Beers, was often with them in the discussions, but he was a quiet sort of fellow.
That their conversations were often about trivia was not at all a mark against them. So also were many other of the conversations since the main object was to dispel boredom. The difference was their loudness when the threesome became argumentative or otherwise excited in their discussions. That sometimes led to comments from others in the room; sometimes critical and sometimes humorous. One night while apparently discussing the kinds of food they liked which they had not had for a long time, Stahl asked loudly enough to draw attention of all others in the room: "Well what's the difference between field corn and sweet corn, anyway?
After a few moments when no one else had volunteered an answer, Kubicek decided it was safe for him to pretend that he knew. He said: The kernels of sweet corn are white when it matures and field corn is yellow."
That brought a reaction from Arnold. "Now Kube," he called good humoredly, "You've finally got around to talkin' about something that I know a great deal about. So you'd better change the subject so I don't have to let everyone know that you don't know a damn' thing about corn."
Kubicek smiled in response, chuckled a bit and said, "Oh Okay. Thanks Bill." Then he quietly resumed conversation with his small audience, no doubt on another subject. Arnold and I at the same time resumed ours on whatever of momentous or trivial matters we had been discussing.
Voices outside the door shortly after extinguishing of the bean oil lamp heralded arrival of another prisoner. The door was opened to usher him in and closed at once behind him. There were sighs and moans from the fellow as he crawled, groping in the darkness, and the words, "Ugh! It's been rough! It's been terrible!"
Kubicek and another moved apart and guided the newcomer in between them. After a few more words about how rough things had been for him, how long he'd been interrogated and so on the fellow said as though reassuring his unseen and unknown audience: "But I'll make it okay. I always have. This is the third time I've been captured twice by the Japanese but I got away from them both times. I'll make it all right this time, too."
"Wonder what we've got here now," Arnold whispered to me.
"I know exactly what we've got," I whispered back.
"The guy that came in with you?"
I had told Arnold a little bit about Naylor-Foote during the day we had spent together mostly undisturbed. By no means had I told him full details. He no doubt had enough things of his own to keep from the enemy's knowledge. There was no point in burdening him with some of mine. But he deserved to know to be wary of Naylor-Foote in case he might encounter the fellow. Now by his performance upon arrival Naylor-Foote had himself well confirmed what I had told Arnold about him. Only a faker or a psychopath would have said such things as he just had to a roomful of strangers whom he could not even see. It would be interesting to see his reaction in the morning when he realized I was present. Arnold would be watching for that along with me.
For several minutes after he awakened next morning Naylor-Foote did not notice my presence. He was busy at once telling Kubicek and others close by about himself. Then as he looked around to see if others in the room were listening he spotted me silently watching and stopped speaking in mid-sentence. He paused only for a moment, however, then resumed what he had been saying without speaking to me or otherwise acknowledging my presence. But his glances in my direction showed him troubled by my presence and he shortly stopped talking. He sat silent, head down then, no doubt thinking of what he should do about it.
"I see what you mean," Arnold whispered at the time. Later when it was safe to ask he wanted to know how come I'd let myself be taken in by such an obvious phony as that.
"I wasn't," I said, then explained that another Army officer, a captain, had "sold" Naylor-Foote to me as a very competent and much experienced behind-the-lines operative in World War 2. It was too complicated to readily explain and very important that the enemy not learn of it. Nor did I want any talk of it to get started which might get around to Naylor-Foote. "...Because I'll be going after both him and that captain when I get out of here. And now that he's here I may need your help to keep me from punching him out if he starts running his mouth, or from saying more than I should about it myself."
Several times during that morning I noticed Naylor-Foote looking at me as though he wanted to speak. He was discouraged from it by looking away and otherwise ignoring him. No useful purpose would be served by talking with him. If he remembered what I had last said to him in Pyongyang he should realize that was the way I felt about it.
Far more useful and pleasurable was to get acquainted with the two men Arnold had told me were completely trustworthy Gilliland and Rambo. The four of us were seated on the floor doing just that when Arnold flicked his eyes toward the opposite corner of the room and said, "I think your buddy's talking about you over there, chief."
Naylor-Foote and the four Air Force officers were standing in the opposite corner. All were looking at me and as I looked their way Naylor-Foote with a half smile on his face was saying: "...and as I was getting out of the helicopter I patted him on the shoulder and asked him if he'd forgotten his driver's license...."
He stopped short when I called to him: "Naylor-Foote! That's enough of that!"
He turned full towards me and with a gesture of innocence said: "What's wrong? I was only telling them about...."
"I know what you were telling them about. And I'm telling you to shut up about it now. I can't keep you from running your mouth to the enemy - or to anybody else when I'm not around. But if you say one more word about it in my presence I'll shut your damn' fool mouth for good."
I rose to my feet as he took a step towards me and said, still with a look of innocent puzzlement: "Well I don't see anything wrong in talking about it. It's . ..."
I interrupted again to say: "You don't seem to see much of anything about anything. The time to talk about that is after we get out of this mess. Then you can run your mouth all you want to, because I'll then have plenty to say about it myself."
His expression changed considerably as he said, "Well, that sounds as though you've got some things you intend to say about me. If so I'd like to hear them."
"I have," I responded. "And if we both make it out of here, you will. But I guarantee you won't like them."
Naylor-Foote stared at me rather dumbly for a few moments, then turned and took the step or two back to his, previous audience. As I rejoined my own previous companions on the floor I heard him say to those others that he guessed I didn't have a sense of humor. That coming from him was easy enough to ignore. And so would be any one of his audience who might be fool enough to regard Naylor-Foote as worth listening to.
Letting the four Air Force officers know my feelings about that turned out to be a simple matter. Naylor-Foote was taken to the east wing by one of the interrogators shortly thereafter. Kubicek, after brief exchange with "CJ," sought the opportunity to talk with me alone and asked, "What was that all about, chief?"
"Did you hear what I said to him?"
"Yeah That's what's got us wondering."
"You heard me tell him the time to talk about it was after we get out of here?"
"That's when I'll talk about it."
"Oh...(a thinking pause)...Oh okay."
We chatted for a bit then, Kubicek explaining that the considerable of talking that went on in his little group was mostly just for self-entertainment to dispel boredom. I had realized that. He wished I would join in sometimes; he was sure I had some interesting tales to tell. Perhaps later, but there were presently more important things to do. "Besides," I told him, "you've got a real good story-teller in the latest arrival. Naylor-Foote loves to talk. He can come up with some terrific stories about himself probably not true, but maybe entertaining. He'll likely also tell you some more about me when I'm not around."
"If he does, I'll let you know," Kubicek eagerly offered.
"Don't bother," I told him. "He's going to run his mouth about that and anything else to anyone who'll listen, including the enemy. All I care about is that he doesn't say anything about it in my presence. And I think maybe I got that message through to him this morning."
Kubicek could be counted on to promptly inform the other three Air Force officers of what he had just been told. Naylor-Foote that evening entertained them as predicted with stories of many forays into "Jap-held" areas of China during World War 2 to bring out downed American and Australian pilots. Ignoring Naylor-Foote and his stories was no problem for me. Arnold, on the other hand, kept one ear listening in on them even though he and I were discussing other things with Rambo and Gilliland. Next morning after breakfast (the usual bowl of seaweed soup) he joined me outside the room and said:
"Your special crewman went on a couple of missions without you last night."
Having no idea what he might be talking about, I waited for him to continue.
Into Jap-held territory after a couple more pilots, I guess. Last night I heard him say he'd made 32 parachute jumps into China. This morning he just said he's made 34."
There were frequent visits to the end room by one and another of the interrogators to call some one out for "further interview." Usually it would be one or another of the officers. Naylor-Foote spent quite a bit of daytime in Pak's room. Kubicek would be in and out 2 or 3 times in a day, it seemed more for handyman tasks than for interrogation. CJ and Stahl were usually out for just a short while and upon return would discuss what they were being asked about.
When I was myself summoned out one day at mid-morning, I wondered if it might be result of the "friendly conversation" a few nights previously. Not Four Eyes this time, but another of the regular interrogators whom we called The Professor, took me to the middle room. A change of interrogators, perhaps, to renew demands for "cooperation" because the "friendly" fellow of that previous night had reported that Four Eyes had misjudged the "dumb sailor" and used the wrong techniques.
It turned out to be otherwise. The Professor left me in the middle room for just a few minutes, then returned with a list of questions on a sheet paper. But these were not for me to write all I knew about. They were for himself to ask. And as he did so he would make note of my response on the paper:
"You were aboard the cruiser Rochester. A few days before you came into North Korea and were captured the Rochester was at Sasebo harbor in Japan. So you have yourself been in Sasebo harbor, haven't you?"
"Do you know what a torpedo looks like?"
"A torpedo? Oh, sure. It's long and round and kind of pointed on the front end and has a propeller on the back end to push it through the water."
"When you were in Sasebo harbor did you see any torpedoes?"
"I don't mean in the harbor in the water. I mean among the supplies on the docks in the harbor. Did you see any there?"
The Professor at that point seemed to have run out of the notes to himself on the paper. He said he realized I would not have been looking for torpedoes on the docks, but I should think back in my memory what sorts of things I may have noticed on the docks try to remember in my mind what the things on the docks looked like even if I wasn't particularly looking. Maybe I would remember seeing things which might be torpedoes. While I was thinking on that, he said he must return to his room for something but would be back very soon.
Through the small hole in the paper on the door I watched the Professor scurry to Pak's room. Just inside the door as he opened it sat a Russian naval officer. The Professor was interrogating me under the Russian's direction. This may have been because the Soviet officer didn't want me to see him, or because he did not himself speak english, or both. Possibly the Professor was having to translate from Russian to Korean to English in order to ask the questions, then reverse the order to tell the Russian my responses.
The instructions to think back of the docks in Sasebo harbor automatically caused me to do so. No torpedoes stood out in that recall but something else did which might be useful in bringing this interrogation to a prompt end. One of the docks near the small boat landing always had stacked on it a good supply of aircraft drop tanks in crates. If the Soviet naval officer was monitoring our Navy's supplies in Sasebo as indicators of pending naval activities, he would already know a great deal about the supplies on those docks; probably including photographs. And after all those drop tanks did resemble torpedoes at least a little bit.
But the Professor when he returned didn't ask any more about torpedoes, or even if I remembered anything while trying real hard to remember. He asked instead if I knew what a mine looked like.
"A mine? Oh, you mean those big round things with the horns on them to make them explode if a ship hits them?... (A pause until he nodded to indicate that's what he meant.)... "Oh sure, I know what they look like. One of the things I was supposed to do when flying around in my helicopter was keep watch for the ones that you people set adrift out at sea hoping one of our ships will hit them. Sure I know what they look like, even spotted some when I was flying. "
The Professor jotted down some notes in Korean, then asked if I had seen any of them stored on the docks in Sasebo harbor.
"Oh no! And I'd remember if I saw any of those because of the way they look, with those horns sticking out. . . (a pause as if a new thought occurred).. . Except ... (another pause)... I guess if they were just being stored someplace they wouldn't have those horns on them, would they? Because that'd be dangerous. That's what makes them explode."
The Professor agreed that the horns would not likely be on them when they were just stored, but would be put on just before they were set adrift. Then he watched expectantly, waiting for me to continue; which after a while more of "thinking" I did:
"Well I don't know that that's what they were don't really have any idea what they were but right at the entrance to Sasebo harbor on both sides of the entrance I remember seeing stacks of large round things two real big stacks, one on each side...."
The Professor indicated for me to pause as he began writing notes of what I had said. Then came questions: How big were the stacks? How many of the mines did I think were in each one? Were they stacked on docks there? Did I ever see ships loading or unloading? And so on. To each question, I would repeat that I didn't really pay any attention to such things, I only remembered seeing them there, wondering but not caring what they were. He was obviously quite excited about the matter. When he ran out of questions to ask he started to rise from his chair, no doubt anxious to report all this to the Soviet officer.
But I wanted him to report something more. When he started to rise I added in response to his last question that the only reason I remembered even seeing them was because he had asked me to try to remember how things looked on the docks. So this caused me to remember the stacks of round things at the harbor entrance as well as the long things that I now remembered seeing in crates on one of the docks.
"You saw long things in crates on one of the docks?" He sat down again as he excitedly asked, "Do you think they were torpedoes?"
"I don't think they were and I don't think they weren't," I replied. "I only remember because you caused me to think about it that there were a lot of long crates stacked on one of the docks we passed while in the ship's boat heading for shore. I didn't pay any attention to what might be in the crates because I didn't care. When a sailor gets into port and is allowed to go ashore, he doesn't look for torpedoes or mines or even think about them."
The Professor pondered that a few moments, then said "Oh" and jotted down a couple more notes to himself. He almost forgot as he was leaving to give an explanation of his departure. He turned at the door and very pleasantly said, "I must go to my room again for something. You wait here. I will be back soon. It may be that I will have a few more questions for you, or it may be that we will be finished for today."
The humor in the Professor's behavior was almost as satisfying as the fact that he had fallen for the ploy, "hook, line, and sinker." Remaining was to wonder how the Soviet naval officer would react. If as I suspected he was keeping watch on our Navy's supplies at Sasebo he would know at once that those long things in crates stacked on one of the docks were aircraft drop tanks, rather than torpedoes. He would also know that the round things stacked on either side of the harbor entrance were floats for the anti-submarine net which was stretched across the entrance at night.
The Professor neglected to close the door when he first entered Pak's room. There were a few brief exchanges with the Russian before he remembered to close it. When the door opened again several minutes later the Soviet officer emerged followed closely by the Professor for exchange of farewells. As the Russian walked toward the gate I wondered if he would have told the Professor that the information he had gotten from the American sailor was worthless.
Apparently he had not. When he had disappeared from view the Professor called something to the gate sentry, then came to the middle room and said to me: "There will be no more questioning today. You may return to your room. You have been very cooperative."
Four Eyes disrupted "socializing" shortly after dark one evening by calling for everyone to come out to unload a truck. The first several out (which included myself) were ordered into the truck to pass the contents out for others to deposit in a small room adjacent to the gate. We clambered in over the sideboard onto a slithering mass of stateside magazines and periodicals. They had been tossed into the truck loosely and filled the truck box to at least half its depth.
We had barely begun to pass handfuls of them over the side when the Professor came running from Pak's room calling excitedly to Four Eyes. After a brief exchange between the two of them in their own language, he said much more calmly to us in english:
"All prisoners go back to your room. Is mistake to have you unload truck. Our soldiers will unload the truck. "
Neither knowing nor caring what it might be I slipped one of the magazines up my sleeve before climbing out. When it became safe to examine, it was a copy of Newsweek no more than a couple of weeks old. Still in its mailing wrapper, with address in Chinese characters, it bore a Hongkong postmark. Judging by the number of stamps on that one wrapper, if the whole truckload was mailed from Hongkong it must have cost a small fortune in postage.
With Rambo at the door to warn if anyone approached, and Kubicek practically drooling over my shoulder, I skimmed through a few of the headlines in the magazine for benefit of all. Then to Kubicek's great surprise and greater delight I placed it in his custody.* The light from the bean oil lamp was not sufficient for easy reading. And much more important than its content was the significance of its arrival. That was the topic of conversation for the rest of the evening.
[ * There were several reasons for putting it in Kubicek's keeping: Because of his handyman services to Pak and company he had acquired a variety of things which he carried in his pockets and in a sort of duffel bag made from the leg of castoff trousers. If it was discovered in his possession he would say he found it in the yard or at the benjo and probably would be allowed to keep it. (That eventually all happened.) He could be counted on to read it thoroughly, share its contents, even let others read it yet guard it jealously. That he did, throughout the stay at Pak's and the Chinese POW camp, and may have brought it's battered remnants out with him as a souvenir. The mailing wrapper was adequate souvenir for myself. ]
The truck had contained a wide variety of publications, including some newspapers. Time, Saturday Evening Post, and Life were among the several recognized in the dim light while in the truck. Considering the newness of the one I had pilfered, I wondered how quickly someone at Pak's or in the Chinese POW camp HQ would have read the article in Life magazine titled "How We Fooled the Communists." The event behind that story was basis for the revised instruction to "pretend to go along" if they started talking politics.
What would the enemy be looking for in all those magazines? Commentary on the war would be useful to them, especially any that was critical of our side's actions. And certainly if they chanced upon mention by name of someone they now held prisoner,
the interrogators would be delighted. There was reason for concern if recent editions of "Stars and Stripes" were in that truck, or otherwise available to interrogators here at Pak's. It would be anything but beneficial to me if they became aware of my much publicized rescue only three weeks before; especially if any reports included mention of previous operations.
Publicity might be a great thing for politicians, movie idols and glory seekers. But it is not likely ever helpful to men who face the enemy in combat. In this situation it could be harmful and possibly fatal.
Voices outside the door late at night again heralded arrival of another prisoner. This time instead of instructions from the escort that he must not talk with the others, the new arrival was simply told that there were others in the room so he would be warm for sleeping and "we will talk some more tomorrow."
Quite clearly in response an American voice said with a heavy sigh: "Oh thank you, sir. Thank you very much. I really do appreciate this. You have been very kind, sir."
Probably most everyone in the room could understand that the newcomer must still be suffering the initial trauma of capture and uncertainties of what was in store for him. Thus he would be relieved indeed that he was being put with others, and in a sense appreciative of the fact. But this fellow's words and manner of speaking were as though he felt he didn't deserve it; that he was being spared by the enemy out of kindness.
Beyond merely embarrassing, it was hurtful to hear a fellow American so subservient to the enemy. Even if one was able to withhold from final judgment he could not but have a bad first impression upon hearing the fellow's words. Nor was that first impression improved when the newcomer entered the room. A quite large man to begin with it was evident despite the dim light that he was also grossly overweight. What a delightful feeling it must have been for whichever of the puny Korean interrogators brought him to the room to have that very large American virtually groveling at his feet.
When he had crawled in between Kubicek and CJ, the newcomer identified himself as Capt Dobbs, US Air Force. Sgt Arnold very quietly let out some of his feelings to Gilliland and myself:
"...Sounds as though he'll fit in very well with what we've already got."
Dobbs further identified himself as pilot of a B-26. That set CJ (who'd been in a B-26) to asking questions of him. What outfit ? Did he know one or another of pilots or navigators? And so on. Arnold put a stop to that by calling over: "CJ why the hell don't you shut up and let the man get some sleep? He sounds as though he needs it." CJ said nothing aloud in response. But Dobbs thanked his unseen and as yet unknown benefactor and acknowledged that he certainly did need some rest.
Shortly after our morning bowls of seaweed soup all of the enlisted men except myself were removed from the room. To where they were taken we could not see. Dobbs began telling the story of his shootdown and capture, including much preliminary detail which had no bearing on his behavior upon arrival at the room. Then he spoke of his feelings and worries from the moment he realized he was coming down in enemy territory. He had felt certain he would be killed if he was captured, and possibly tortured or brutalized in the process. He was instead treated quite decently by his immediate captors, including expressions of concern for his well being. He had then made the mistake (though he did not as he was telling about it yet realize it was a mistake) of telling the enemy what he had expected. One of them was quick to grasp the opportunity, and said to him along the following lines:
"Ahh yes! And you have been told many more lies about us. Including you have been told lies as to what this war is about, and as to how it actually started...."
From that beginning it was evident from his own telling of it that Dobbs had been easily led down the "primrose" path into actually believing that South Korea had started the war at the urging and with the backing of the United States. To that point there had been little of either question or comment from anyone as Dobbs told his story. Nor did any of the others say anything then. So I ventured: "And you actually believe that?"
He said that he certainly did because he had seen proof of it documentary proof! He had seen it with his own eyes during several days he'd been kept in Pyongyang before coming here. What was the proof? Documents they had captured at the US embassy. They had shown him a large book of copies of the documents. They had let him examine it thoroughly putting no pressure on him let him take his own time about it.
Did he not know that forgery of documents was a basic technique of communists? That they were masters at it? He'd heard that. But he had looked those documents over thoroughly and was certain they were authentic. Some bore letterheads of the US State Department, the White House, FBI, CIA and some members of Congress including his own congressman. He intended to ask that fellow some questions when he got back to the States....
Dobbs' emotional state was such that it seemed doubtful he would even consider the logical appraisal of the war's history which had so stymied the "friendly" purported professor from P'yang U. Indeed, the fact that he hadn't thought of those things himself, caused wonder if he was capable of understanding them anyway. Also I preferred to avoid that manner of discussion with the other Air Force officers and Naylor-Foote in particular listening in. More effective might be to examine those documents myself in hopes of finding some flaw to show him. I wanted to see them in any case. So I suggested he ask for a set of the documents to bring to the room for others to see.
"Do you think they'd have a set of them here?" he asked.
"Of course they'll have a set of them here," I replied (wondering just how naive the fellow might be). "They'll have a set of them, or several sets, anywhere they're trying to sell that phony line."
Next he wondered how he should go about asking for them.
"Just say you want to show them to others here in this room; to me, for that matter. Tell them most anything except why I want to see them. They'll give them to you in a hurry if they think it might help promote that line. If they knew someone was going to look for flaws in them they'd probably say they didn't have a copy."
The Professor called Dobbs out shortly after that, saying it was for interview. Not surprisingly, Dobbs returned within a few minutes with the book of documents.* He handed the book to me at once and stood watching for a while as I began some preliminary leafing through it. Kubicek, looking over my shoulder, asked what I would be looking for. He seemed to understand at once the response that I wouldn't know until I found it. I'm not sure that Dobbs ever understood that.
[ * Dobbs was allowed to keep the book throughout the stay at Pak's and the subsequent time in Chinese custody and also to bring it with him when he was repatriated.]
For a time I wondered if Dobbs might be wanting to point out some particular documents or was waiting for me to ask. It didn't really matter which of the documents he might consider to be the main proof that South Korea and the US started the war. His conclusion about that was wrong in any case; even though some of the documents which he felt supported it might not be forgeries. My quest was for some flaw to prove that any one of the documents was a forgery. Soon after I began examining the documents page by page, Dobbs turned away to resume conversation with the others.
Kubicek did not join in that conversation. He was very much interested in the documents. Not at all interfering, he watched as though hoping or even expecting that I might quickly find something questionable. Naylor-Foote also was watching, as he
had from the beginning of discussions regarding the documents. He would pretend disinterest if I happened to look his way, but had actually watched and listened with interest all the while. Shortly, both Kubicek and Naylor-Foote were taken out separately.
The continued conversation of the others did not interfere.
Perhaps 50 or more pages had been examined, through about one-third of the total, before the first one caught my eye. "Well here it is," I said to no one in particular, counting on just that to be a conversation stopper.
Dobbs came alongside to look, the other three peering from behind him. "This is purported to be from the US State Department," I said (It bore the State Departments letterhead.). "So take a look at this ." I pointed to the word "colour" in its text.
Dobbs shrugged and said, "Well that's just a 'typo' some secretary missed. That doesn't...." ...'
"No it's not a 'typo'," I interrupted. "It's British spelling. Whoever concocted this one learned his english from British texts; as most orientals do."
If Dobbs said anything further right then, it is not remembered. He may have mumbled something of no importance. He did in any case choose to avoid further discussion of the matter and move away. The sarcastic thought occurred, though I didn't speak it: "Don't bother me with facts, my mind's made up." Quite possibly he was embarrassed (as who wouldn't be) by the realization he had been taken in by the enemy's hoax and had so forcefully announced his belief in it to others.
The others resumed talking. I resumed reading; not in the hopes of finding something more to convince Dobbs, If he wanted to believe the enemy now, that was quite all right with me. But there was the feeling, since no one else seemed previously to have heard of it, that this set of phony documents may have only recently been completed. In case they started promoting it, it would be useful to have found in advance some additional flaws in it.* [ * A couple more were eventually found; their exact nature not now remembered.]
Kubicek returned to the room in late afternoon carrying a folding table, a chair and a portable typewriter. The table and chair were for his own convenience while he would try to repair the typewriter. Pleased as he definitely was to have another handyman task to do he quickly asked if I'd found anything in the documents. When I said that "I sure did," and showed what it was he quietly asked what Dobbs had to say about that.
In the brief discussion about it which followed, Kubicek agreed that embarrassment was probably the reason Dobbs had not readily conceded that my discovery proved the document was a fraud. The proof test would be whether or not Dobbs would still insist to the contrary. [He didn't. He just never mentioned it again.]
In further conversation apart from the others, some understanding was gained of Kubicek's rationale with regard to his dealings with the enemy. He felt that the handyman things he did were not something which could be regarded as helping the enemy's war effort. Or at least it was "quid pro quo" since he did get from the enemy in return a few things which were of benefit to the other prisoners as well as to himself. As for his cooperation in response to interrogation his official instructions in pre-flight briefings had been to freely answer questions. He had decided on his own to flood them with a lot of meaningless jargon and doubletalk.
The comment that I'd noted he did the same in conversations with other prisoners brought a smile and an explanation. That was a habit developed in bull sessions at the officer's club. He encountered there many "pseudo-sophisticated types" who thought
because they had been to college they must be smarter than one such as himself who hadn't. He enjoyed "snowing them" in discussions; sometimes with actual knowledge gained from reading and experience and otherwise by faking when he thought he could get away with it. He summarized on that point saying, "But I know better than to try it with guys like you and Arnold."
"Hey, chief I think I've got it!" Kubicek called. He was tapping on the typewriter with one finger.
"Better let me give it a proper test," I said. He wondered as I sat down to do so how come I knew how to type. A good sailor can do anything worth doing, I told him, "could've fixed it quicker than you, too, but figured you needed the experience."
The Professor opened the door while I was demonstrating my prowess with the machine, He called to Kubicek, happily, "Oh! You have fixed the typewriter! We must show to Col Pak!"
The fact that I was actually typing something on the machine, rather than just exercising the keys, was apparently not realized by the Professor until later. There was (and still remains) uncertainty if Kubicek may have mentioned it when he went with the Professor to show the machine to Pak. In any case, the Professor returned a short while later without Kubicek but with the typewriter, some paper and a sheaf of handwritten notes which he wanted me to type.
I refused politely, telling him it would be improper for me to do that sort of thing for him and that it was really improper for him to ask. He wanted to know why. I reminded that it was himself who decided prisoners should not be used to unload the truck (with its load of magazines) but his soldiers should do it. He said it wouldn't be a permanent job. A typist was being sent from Pyongyang but hadn't arrived yet and he needed these done right away. Told that I wasn't a good typist and made lots of mistakes, he said he had heard how fast I could type when Kubicek had fixed the machine, knew I would not make many mistakes and since I was typing then it was no different than what he was asking. But it was different, I argued; that was done for Kubicek to make sure he had fixed the machine right. Kubicek was an American officer so it was all right for me to do typing for him.
That problem seemed to be resolved when the Professor departed taking typewriter and papers with him. But about 30 minutes later Kubicek returned to the room with the typewriter, some paper, and a troubled look. He had been in Pak's room fixing something when the Professor returned there and reported my refusal to do any typing for him. He reported also that I had said I could do typing for Kubicek because he was an American officer. They then told Kubicek they wanted more details from him on something about which he had previously written. Only this time instead of writing, he should dictate it for me to type. He had told them that he could not order me to do it because he was an Air Force officer and I was a Navy enlisted man. He could only ask me to do it.
"So if you don't want to do it," he concluded, "I certainly won't try to talk you into it."
He had said previously that the stuff he had written for them was mostly technical jargon and doubletalk about old equipment. And he felt that the more he produced of it, the more time someone would spend reading the worthless stuff. In that case, helping him to add more worthless pages would not be aiding the enemy. A few questions were in order:
What would he be talking about? Early LORAN navigation equipment. Did he mean the real early stuff, with the squiggly lines that had to be measured and interpreted? Yes, and he wondered how come a helicopter pilot knew about that. He could keep on wondering while dictating whatever more of gobbledygook he wished now to add to what he had already written. He dictated many double-spaced pages of it in just two days, using up many sheets of the enemy's paper and providing whoever might take time to read it with a considerable volume of worthless reading material. So inspiring was Capt Kubicek's dictation of gobbledygook that the typist sometimes embellished it with some of his own.
The Professor (to give him due credit) came up with yet another way to make use of my typing services. He led me next day to a separate room to which he had already taken Dobbs. Chair, table and typewriter were also there. He would be questioning Dobbs, and I was to type the answers.
Dobbs had been briefed the same as Kubicek had described, to answer questions freely. He did not, however, adopt Kubicek's idea of using jargon and doubletalk. He just answered simply and let it go at that. And by doing so, I soon realized, he was unknowingly providing the interrogator with the little openings on things which he might later be asked to "explain in greater detail." That was especially the case when the Professor led into what was obviously the main purpose of this interrogation. Not a question, really, but an instruction: "Describe in detail everything you would do at your base to prepare for a flying mission, from the time you get out of bed until you actually take off on the mission."
Dobbs dutifully began his account at reveille. The Professor waited patiently through the taking of a shower, brushing of teeth, shaving and so on. He did inject a question during breakfast as to what Dobbs usually ate. (Which I suspected was not because he really cared). Once into such things as target assignment, weapons load the real preparation for a mission the Professor's attentiveness was keen. His purpose for this arrangement was now clear. He could listen and observe as Dobbs talked for the things he could make use of in later questioning and pressuring, and not be concerned about remembering them because the typed record would serve as reminder.
Unlike the gobbledygook typed for Kubicek, which would be worthless to the enemy and perhaps a waste of their time, the typing of Dobbs' statements would be useful to them. It might not be damaging in regard to our side's military activities. But it could be very useful to the enemy in further pressuring of Dobbs in the direction they already had gotten him started with the phony documents. Whether he accepted the flaws I had found as proof those documents were phony was still uncertain. The enemy would in any case pressure him for the same manner of "cooperation" they sought from everyone else (whatever the ultimate object of that might be).
The fact that Capt Dobbs was providing information the Professor asked for was of course itself fitting into the enemy's scheme. But that was not Dobbs' fault. He was following orders as to what he should do in this circumstance (quite as I had done in pretending to go along with the little P'yang U professor until I realized it was leading into a trap). My typing of a record of his statements was another matter. That record would be helpful to the enemy and injurious at least to Dobbs. The fact that I had been tricked or maneuvered into doing it might be excuse for having started. But having realized its purpose and potential consequences, there would be no excuse for continuing.
There was, however, good reason to consider how best to quit the job. To simply stop and refuse to do more would invite retaliation against myself; quite possibly return to solitary confinement with its accompanying personal risks. Not that such treatment would be in fact justified, but this enemy would not hesitate to use such precipitant action by me as "justification" for such punishment.
Much better it would be if the Professor could be induced to say or do something which I could claim was justification not to do any more typing. A possibility along that line had already been seen. He had shown some impatience over the fact that it was necessary for Dobbs to stop talking during changes of paper in the typewriter. He was even more so during the times when Dobbs had to wait for me to catch up with him, or to correct errors in what had just been typed. Making those times more frequent soon brought signs of irritation into the Professor's impatience.
A call for Dobb's to check if something already typed was what he had said very much bothered the Professor; especially because Dobbs' bulky body prevented himself from seeing the print that we were discussing. Shortly after that Dobbs' mentioned something which could have caused himself much intensive grilling later. Describing his gathering of necessary information for his flight planning he mentioned "the recall signal." * In typing what he had just said I added "which of course is changed every day" and called for Dobbs again to check if what had just been typed was correct. As he bent over my shoulder I pointed to those words then immediately typed over them to obliterate.
[ * A code word which would be used to recall all strike aircraft from their missions quickly in event there might be agreement in the armistice negotiations for a cease-fire. ]
Dobbs' reaction as he read the words showed that he realized he had left himself open for some intensive grilling about it. As I finished striking out that line I said, "Okay, give me that last one again." Realizing that the Professor would have picked up mention of a "recall signal," Dobbs included the words he had just been shown when he repeated his statement for me to type.
The Professor's eyes flicked back and forth at Dobbs and myself. He seemed to suspect something had passed between us, but not to realize just what. He moved to where he could keep an eye on the paper in the typewriter even if Dobbs leaned over to look. Shortly after that a badly botched up word required that I stop, strike over and retype it. It brought the kind of reaction from the Professor that was needed:
"You must stop making mistakes!" he exclaimed. "You must not make any more mistakes!"
I got up from the chair, indicated for him to sit down, and said, "Type it yourself, then."
Almost apologetically, with lowered voice he assured me he didn't really mean what he had said, realized I could not help making mistakes, that he shouldn't have let himself be so excited about it, and so on so I would please continue.
There was no reason to let him off that easy. It was an opportunity to safely be argumentative and a bit forceful. I reminded that I had told him yesterday I was not a good typist, nor a fast typist. I had also told him that I could not type for him. "So it is not for you I have been typing this, " I concluded. "It is only for Captain Dobbs that I have been doing this and so he is the only one who has the right to criticize how I do it!"
While the Professor was mulling that over, perhaps struggling with translations to figure out exactly what I had said, I turned to Dobbs and said, "Is there still some more you want me to type for you, captain?"
Dobbs picked up the cue and said there was just a little bit more. True to that word, he briefly described himself going to the flight line, inspecting his aircraft, testing engines after they were started and taking off on the mission. Finished with the typing, I told the Professor I was going to the benjo. When I returned he was gone. We would have some further dealings but he never sought more of typing services from me.
Dobbs had probably learned as much or more from that incident as had I. We both had much more to learn, and we both had our own problems still to deal with in contending against the enemy's unexpected schemes. Dobb's was soon to have a rather special one. Within a few days after that incident Four Eyes happily told us that US Air Force lieutenants John Quinn and Kenneth Enoch had confessed to dropping "germ bombs" from their B-26.
"Oh my god," Dobbs said very quietly after Four Eyes had gone. "They're from my outfit. Johnny Quinn was my roommate before he was shot down!"
Someone (probably Kubicek or Beers) had said to Dobbs after his revelation that he had been close to Quinn, "You'd better not let these bastards know that...." Otherwise there was little of conversation for a while. Each of us for a time seemed engrossed in our own thoughts. It was doubtful that any of the five Air Force officers believed it, and certainly I didn't. Naylor-Foote was not in the room at the time; which I felt might be a blessing for Dobbs. With his obsessive desire to be the focus of their attention Naylor-Foote might blab to the enemy about anything.
That had been vividly demonstrated one day when all seven of us were in the room. Four Eyes came in with a paper, showed it to Kubicek and asked him to explain what it was. "Oh that's Army stuff," Kubicek told him. "Something about Army organization. I wouldn't know anything about that. I'm Air Force."
Four Eyes then wanted to know if Kubicek though Sgt Arnold would know, since he was Army. Kubicek said he didn't know if Arnold would know anything about it. Naylor-Foote meanwhile had moved alongside and said to Four Eyes: "Oh, have you got an Army sergeant here? He's the one to ask about things like that. That's one of the things an Army sergeant would know about is Army organization."
A few days after announcement of the "germ war" confessions the seven of us who had remained in the end room were rejoined with the others in a new location. It seemed best not to tell Arnold that Naylor-Foote had recommended him to the enemy for interrogation. He was well aware by his own judgment of the dangers the psychopathic fellow posed for everyone. He had been asked to help me keep from punching the fool out. It would not improve the situation if he had to restrain himself from doing so as well.
Physical circumstances in the new location were slightly better than previously. The room was a little bit larger than the end room, yet still small enough for combined body heat to keep it tolerable for sleeping. The building was one of several which formed a separate courtyard adjacent to that of the main building. We were generally allowed to sit or ramble about in the yard during the day. Also, volunteers were sought for excursions outside (with armed escort, of course) to gather wood for the cooking fire. Arnold, Gilliland, Rambo and myself soon had monopoly on that because there were no other volunteers.
The enemy's promotion of their new "germ warfare" theme was mostly on an individual basis. How one answered the first question about it determined if it would be further mentioned. While Arnold and I were breaking firewood in front of the kitchen one day, Pak himself asked our feelings about it. Apparently our expressions thereof were fully convincing. No one of the interrogators ever asked either of us again.
A day or so later, when we arrived in the main courtyard with firewood, Gilliland and Rambo were separately invited into Pak's room. Gilliland was back out of the room very quickly, having expressed his feelings about the "germ war" pitch as convincingly as had Arnold and myself. Rambo remained in the room for several minutes. When he emerged he had a thoughtful look on his face, but said nothing as he resumed breaking up the firewood with the others of us.. As soon as we were away from there, however, and before rejoining the other prisoners he said:
"Pak's got a bar of soap in his room and I think I know how we can get it...."
In response to our puzzled and questioning looks, he explained that Pak had not mentioned the germ war pitch to him at all. He had asked Rambo if he would like to go to a hospital for treatment of his wounds. Also (as Pak had put it) he would be "allowed" to make a tape recording about it which would be broadcast on radio so his folks would know he was alive and being well taken care of by his captors. The hitch was that Rambo must make the recording before he would be sent to the hospital. There was little doubt that it would have to include mention of the "germ war" business, even though Pak had not specifically said so.
Rambo was not at all interested in accepting the offer. As he expressed it, the "admission fee" was too high. But having spotted the soap bar in a location from which he might be able to snitch it, he had led Pak to think he was interested in hopes of getting back into the room to do it. If Pak could be distracted while Rambo was in the room, he was sure he could manage it.
The four of us went out again next morning. It was a particularly eventful excursion. From the vantage of the high ridge on which we were gathering wood we watched as a US Marine jet fighter crash landed on the flatland about a mile away. The plane broke into two flaming parts when it hit, leaving little chance the pilot could have survived. Our lone soldier escort pointed at the scene laughing, and babbled something in Korean to add to our ill feelings.
Next, shortly after we started downhill, each carrying a sizable load on an A-frame backpack, Gilliland tripped, fell and opened his leg wound. It was bleeding quite badly. With additional strips torn from his own and Arnold's tattered garments, Rambo rebound the wound. Then with Gilliland back on his feet the three of us reloaded our back packs and indicated we were ready to go. But the soldier, speaking something in Korean, indicated that Gilliland should carry his pack, too.
"No way!" Arnold said to him, and with appropriate gestures, "He's wounded, bleeding and you expect him to carry the pack?"
The soldier persisted. So also did Arnold, through several exchanges in which neither understood the other's words. Then the soldier charged his weapon, holding it pointed somewhat low at Gilliland. He was standing much too close amongst us to safely make such move. We all three let our packs drop. Rambo
and myself moved to either side and somewhat behind him as Arnold said: "All right you son-uva-bitch, which one of us you gonna shoot? Because that's the last thing you'll ever do!"
No matter if he didn't understand the words, the soldier understood his situation. His face, understandably, showed fright as he let the rifle sag pointing to the ground and said "Okay okay." With his left hand showing three fingers he then indicated that we should pick up our packs again, but Gilliland would not have to carry his.
"Like hell it's okay!" Arnold held him in steady gaze. "Not until you unload that rifle!" He signaled unloading motions with his hands.
Somewhat sheepishly, it seemed, the Korean soldier complied. As we reshouldered our packs Arnold said, "Keep an eye on that bastard all of us. If he even looks like he's gonna charge that rifle again we take him. He can't get more than one of us, if even that. 'Cause we're not gonna let him escort us back to the 'palace.' We're gonna escort him!"
And that we did. Rambo walked ahead with Gilliland to keep an eye on the bandaged wound in case it started bleeding again. Arnold and I walked behind the Korean soldier, not threateningly but close enough and ready in an instant to drop the packs. In that manner we entered the courtyard, proceeding to drop our packs directly in front of Pak's room. Arnold quietly told Gilliland to sit down and Rambo rechecked the wrappings of his wound. The soldier tapped on Pak's door and called. When Pak appeared, he started to report to his colonel but Arnold interrupted him saying to Pak:
"Colonel your man threatened to shoot him ... (he pointed to Gilliland) ... when his wound started bleeding and he couldn't carry his pack. I don't know what kind of story your man might tell you, but I'm going to tell you exactly what happened....
He proceeded then to do so, saying in conclusion: "We could have killed your man up there in the woods. And you know he deserved it for threatening to shoot a wounded man. But we didn't. We brought him back to you alive. We brought him back, colonel. He didn't bring us back. We might not have gotten very far if we had killed him. But we could've done a lot of damage before anyone could've stopped us. We might even have decided to use his rifle on you!"
More than merely non-plussed, Pak appears some shaken. "All right," he said quite respectfully to Arnold, let me talk now with my man. . . ." It was evident from the nature of their exchanges that Pak was questioning his man, rather than inviting him to tell his version of what happened. Then after a manner of summation by Pak, his soldier saluted and turned away, avoiding even a glance at us as he departed. Then again to Arnold, Pak said, "He now understands that he made a serious mistake. It will not happen again. Now your wounded man should rest while the rest of you break up the wood for the fire.
Pak turned to re-enter his room. Rambo, concerned that the incident may have caused him to forget, called to him and asked if he wished now to know the decision on what they had discussed yesterday. "Oh yes," Pak said, and beckoned Rambo into the room with himself.
What Pak may have said to Rambo after closing the door was inaudible to us outside. But Rambo spoke loudly enough for us to hear and had now come up with a better reason for declining Pak's offer than he had planned to give: "Gilliland is the one should go to the hospital instead of me, colonel."
Pak's words were again inaudible to us. (Rambo reported Pak said that was an entirely separate matter which he might discuss with Gilliland, but the offer to Rambo was still open anyway.) Rambo's next words were: "But his wound is much worse than mine, sir. He should be sent to the hospital ahead of me."
"Sir" was the signal which was to let us know Rambo was in position to get the soap. It was time for distraction of Pak. Gilliland's bleeding allowed a sensible change of plan in that regard also. It had been intended that Arnold and I would fake an argument; loudly enough to cause Pak to come to look out. Now instead, Arnold moved closer to the door and called quite loudly, "Col Pak Col Pak!"
There were signs of irritation when Pak looked out. But before he could speak Arnold said, "I'm very sorry to bother you, sir. But Gilliland lost a lot of blood before we could get it stopped. He should have some water. Would you please tell Anjimonee. . .
When an Army sergeant is that polite to an Army colonel it is apparently difficult for the colonel to be angry with the sergeant even if they happen to be from opposing armies. Pak came out and walked the few steps to the kitchen and told the woman to get some water for Gilliland. "We all need some water, colonel," Arnold said. "We have been working. Working men need water...."
Pak probably felt need to reassert himself. He said, "The rest of you may have water when you have finished breaking the wood," and turned back towards his room. Rambo had come out by then and said to Pak, "I cannot go to the hospital, colonel, unless he (Gilliland) goes. But I thank you for the offer."
Before Pak could respond to that, Arnold drew his attention by saying: "The wounded man should have something more to eat, too. In fact we all should have more...."
"You have no reason to complain about that!" Pak interrupted. Thus began an extended exchange between them during which Rambo joined me in the breaking up of the sticks and dropped the soap beside my foot so it could be slipped into the top of my boot.
The exchange between the Army colonel and the Army sergeant became a bit heated on the colonel's part. The sergeant quite amusingly remained in charge of the situation, pretending some anger but in fact calm and calculating beneath it. Further amusing were parts of the exchange. Pak had said, "You have no right to complain because I eat the same food that you are given!"
"Sure you do," Arnold had responded. "But you eat a lot more of it and some other things besides. All we get is a few spoons of rice and a small bowl of something you call soup. It isn't soup. It's just warm water with a few bits of seaweed in it. But you call it soup."
"It is soup!" Pak retorted. "And very nutritious. Seaweed is a very nutritious food! Korean women eat much seaweed when they are pregnant because it is so nutritious."
Arnold ended the exchange with the comment: "Well then maybe the reason it doesn't do us much good is because none of us are pregnant."
We finished breaking up the firewood, stacked it in the kitchen and returned to the adjacent yard. The expected shakedown took place about an hour later, after Pak discovered that his soap was missing. All prisoners out in the yard while the room was searched, then individual searching with some special attention to the wood gathering crew. The soap had been stashed outside in expectation of the shakedown. We retrieved it afterwards and divided it into four pieces for safekeeping.
Some flimsy explanation had been given, of course, of why we all had to be searched. When others of the group expressed wonder as to the real reason for it, we just "wondered" along with them. There were enough blabbermouths in the group that just letting one of them know would be tantamount to telling Pak straight out that we had taken it.
So we had some soap again. (Mine had not lasted long.) But we had neither basin nor water in which to wash the rag strips for bandaging. Someone found a piece of broken crockery which would hold perhaps a pint. Snow melted by hand provided water. Washing and rinsing of a few rag bandages was a slow process. The cleansing of Gil's wound would be done at mealtime, when we were usually not bothered for about half an hour. When two men went next morning to fetch the rice and soup, we urged them to try to get an extra bowl of boiled water. They succeeded. We divided it into two of the serving bowls and Rambo began at once the cleansing of Gilliland's wound using one for the soapy water and the other for rinsing.
That brought an outcry from Lt Stahl, He called to Rambo saying that, being a medic, he should know better than to use food bowls for that. The young medic started to respond apologetically. I told him not to waste his time, but concentrate on what he was doing. Arnold and I would deal with the punk lieutenant. Which we did, with some quite profound words. Stahl asked where we got the soap. I said it was what was left of mine.
"I thought you said your soap was all gone, " he persisted.
"I did say that to you," I responded, "so you'd stop asking to use it. I was saving what was left of it for this."
Stahl backed off from further argument, turning to CJ and Naylor-Foote for sympathy. Rather loudly they discussed and agreed that it was improper for themselves to be confined with enlisted men and have to put up with such disrespectful and insubordinate behavior. Naylor-Foote said he was going to speak with the colonel about it "tomorrow," and "demand" that officer prisoners be provided quarters apart from enlisted men. Arnold called to him:
"You do that Naylor-Foote. I'm sure you've got a lot of drag with the colonel, as much time as you spend with him. And I sure hope you can make those arrangements. It'd be a helluva lot better if we didn't have to listen to your big mouth and to the whining and complaining of your buddies there."
Naylor-Foote said nothing to Arnold in return but assured his two companions that whenever this was over he was certainly going to see that Arnold, and probably some others, would be court-martialed for their insolence and insubordination.
Naylor-Foote did in fact spend a great deal of time with Pak. He also did a lot of talking in the room, having supplanted Kubicek as leader in that regard. He was especially talkative on the frequent occasions when he returned to the room still smelling of the liquor with which the enemy had plied him to further loosen his tongue. Sometimes then he would speak in sort of hushed tones of the problems he was having maintaining his "cover story" to keep the enemy from knowing about his activities in enemy territory during World War 2 as well as his "actual" duty assignments in the Korean theatre. Then again he would talk garrulously and in great detail about the very "exploits" during World War 2 which he had said he must keep the enemy from knowing about.
It was possible of course to be involved in quiet conversation with somebody else, and yet be aware of what was being discussed by the talkative group. Arnold often interjected comments into Naylor-Foote's monologues of the sort it was necessary for myself to refrain from saying. One evening as the fellow was beginning a story, Arnold called out:
"Hey Naylor-Foote! Last night you were telling about how you escaped from the Japs when they caught you rescuing downed pilots in China. Now here you are working with the French underground no more than a week later the way it figures. So I think you ought to include some mention of how you got from China to France that fast."
Naylor-Foote mumbled something to his intended audience about the impropriety of officers being quartered with enlisted men and said to Arnold that he didn't have to listen. Arnold responded that it was impossible in the small room to keep from hearing what came out of such a loud mouth and asked him to "please try to get the story straight because I think I saw the same movie myself that you're telling this one from."
My own attention was drawn to Naylor-Foote's narration one evening because he said at the beginning of it that he couldn't tell them about the mission here in Korea which ended with his capture, because I was in the room and objected to him talking about that. So he was going to tell them about his first attempt to rescue Lt Ettinger. Conversation with Arnold was suspended at that point and we both listened to the beginnings of that story. In essence as Naylor-Foote told it:
When he had verified a report from his agents in North Korea that they had a downed Navy pilot with them in hiding, Naylor-Foote reported it personally to Adm Martin, Commander of the Seventh Fleet, aboard the battleship Wisconsin. Upon hearing that report, Adm Martin had immediately offered to Naylor-Foote the use of his "personal" helicopter and pilot to fly into North Korea to bring Ettinger out. Naylor-Foote had worked up a detailed plan for the mission before reporting to the Admiral. So within but a few minutes he was on his way in the admiral's helicopter, piloted by a Navy lieutenant whose name he could not at the moment recall and accompanied by a Marine captain (whose name he also could not recall) who had volunteered to ride "shotgun" on the mission..
That was far enough into the story to realize it was a total fabrication. My disgusted few words in reaction caused Arnold to look questioningly, and I said to him, "It's a total damn' lie!" Arnold wanted to know how I could be so certain of that. The answer: "No HO3S pilot would take two men with him to pick up a third man because the machine isn't powerful enough to safely do it."
Arnold then asked if I wanted him to break into Naylor-Foote's story-telling to mention that fact. "Hell no!" I told him. "And please don't tell anyone else about it. I want that rotten sunuvabitch to repeat that same story after we get out of here. That's all I'll need to convince anyone that he's a pathological liar."
For future use, it seemed worthwhile to actually listen to the rest of Naylor-Foote's story. It was fantastic almost beyond belief that anyone would so fantasize. The essence of it was: He said they bucked headwinds of 70 to 80 knots on the flight into enemy territory. (He was unaware that maximum forward airspeed of the HO3S was about 90 knots.) Upon arrival at the house where his agents had said Ettinger was being kept, there was no one at all in sight. He decided to go down and look for him anyway, and "ordered" the pilot to descend and land. But they were unable to do that, though they tried six or seven times, because they could not descend through "unexpected heavy flak." Dwindling fuel supply forced abandonment of the effort, including that the fuel tank had been punctured though they didn't know that. They barely made it back to the ship as darkness set in and sort of crash landed aboard. They counted 63 (or perhaps 83 in that telling of it) bullet holes in the helicopter but fortunately no one of the three men in it was hit. The helicopter was a total loss. Naylor-Foote reported immediately to the admiral and the admiral offered to get another helicopter for him at once if he wanted to try again. But Naylor-Foote told Admiral Martin he wanted first to rethink and replan on a basis of things learned on the first mission, after which he would certainly want to try again.
[NOTE FOR REVIEWER OF THIS DRAFT: Declassified Army documents now in this writer's possession reveal that Naylor-Foote did tell that story to Army debriefers in Tokyo immediately after repatriation. Some at least of his colleagues in Tokyo apparently accepted that and other of his fantasies without question, challenging my report instead yet denying me the opportunity to prove it. So also in Army G2, Washington, the declassified documents indicate no serious effort to properly investigate or prosecute the issue. These aspects of the matter are to be fully developed later in the manuscript, in the chapter headed "Tokyo Disconnection." Bracketed mention is made here to assure the reviewer of this draft m/s at this point that the fantasies described in the previous paragraph are entirely those of Naylor-Foote and none at all of mine.]
After listening along with me through its entirety, Arnold understood fully my reason for wanting to keep Naylor-Foote from realizing that story could be his undoing when I made charges against him after repatriation. Arnold's repeated assurance that he would mention it to no one was good to have even though from him it was not really necessary.
A few evenings later Naylor-Foote asked me for a "private" conference. The liquor smell on his breath a bit stronger than usual suggested Pak's libations that day may have been sufficient to give him the courage to do so. He said he wanted to see if we could resolve our differences or at least put them aside and team up in an escape plan he had developed. By listening to what he had to say, his liquor-loosened tongue might provide more useful information to me than it had to Pak. No encouragement was necessary; he outlined his escape plan:
Pak was a sick man, or at least felt so, and wanted to get medicines of any kind that he could in any way that he could. Naylor-Foote had told Pak there were medicines in the supply caches he (Naylor-Foote) had positioned near Korea's east coast. (Yes, this was the same fellow who talked of having to keep the enemy from learning what his real assignment in Korea was.) Pak could arrange for a jeep to drive there and get the medicine from one or more of the caches. Naylor-Foote had told Pak that he needed me to locate the caches because I was an excellent map reader.
The scheme after we got there was to kill Pak and whoever else of the N Koreans was along by slipping some poisons which were in the cache into some whiskey that was also there. Then we would contact the island with the radio that would be in the cache and arrange to be picked up. It all sounded a bit too easy to be true, probably because it wasn't true. There was no way to know if such things had really been discussed with Pak, or if it was all made up just as a way of getting into conversation with me in effort to find out my intentions regarding himself. Considering the falsity of so many other things he and Ulatoski had spoken of before the mission, it was doubtful the supply caches even existed.
But that didn't matter. There was potential benefit either way in going along with what Naylor-Foote was saying. He would not get any information from me, if that was his game. But there was possibility I would get useful information from him. And if perchance he could actually make a deal with Pak that would get us near the east coast, there would be good chance to make my own breakway; with no obligation whatsoever to take him along.
Naylor-Foote felt otherwise about that of course. He emphasized that he would not take me along unless I accepted that he would be in "complete command" and gave oath to follow his orders without question. It was not difficult at all to give him that oath without feeling any obligation to abide by it.
That done, making us something of partners, he thought we needed to become better acquainted. We needed to understand one another better since we would be working together. That led to discussion of events immediately prior to the mission, and mention by me several times of things Captain Ulatoski had said during our meeting aboard Rochester. Naylor-Foote asked:
"Why do you keep calling him captain? He's only a first lieutenant same as me."
"Oh really," I said; in truth surprised. "Then I guess if the captain's bars were phony so were all those glory bars he was wearing."
Naylor-Foote looked stunned. He must have realized that by thus exposing Ulatoski's deceitfulness he had in a sense admitted his own. He sat silent for a while, then mumbled something about checking further with Pak tomorrow and that I must tell absolutely no one about our escape plan. Returned to the company of the other officers he allowed Kubicek to dominate the evening session there while himself seemed absorbed in meditation. Next evening he returned from Pak's with no smell of liquor. Asked if there were further developments on what we had discussed, he grunted something unintelligible and never spoke to me again.
After the cleansing and bandaging of Gilliland's still-raw leg wound, similar treatment had been given to the somewhat healed but persistently infected wound on Rambo's arm. A dozen of the "one-a-day" vitamin tablets quietly slipped from the seam of my flight suit had been "prescribed," six to each man. Just how much those tablets actually contributed is impossible to know. But by the end of those six days the infection of Rambo's wound had disappeared entirely and Gilliland's was healing with no signs of infection. Logically, the tablets had been just enough of a boost to enable natural healing. Arnold had marveled again at the magical properties of my flight suit, and urged (unnecessarily) that the others should know I had the tablets.
Arnold himself needed some a few days later. Severe intestinal pain accompanied by loss of blood indicated possibility of amoebic dysentery. Again a half dozen of the tablets seemed to swing the balance so his system could overcome whatever was the cause. There had been a problem in getting Arnold to accept them for himself. He insisted that I should take one each day along with him. I had to actually take one but managed to fake it for the other five. It was better to save them until I might actually need them.
The four of us had become quite much the permanent work detail from the small prisoner group. In addition to wood gathering there was "benjo" cleaning, during which we discovered an American soldier's dogtag with a bullet hole in it and a complete set of brass dishware plates bowls cups and spoons which pre-war occupants of the main house had probably put in the bottom of the pit in hopes of recovering them some day.
In addition to the physical and spiritual benefits of being busy at something useful, there was apparently something about the unity and attitude of our foursome which caused the enemy not to bother further trying to get other "cooperations" from us. After Rambo's polite rejection of Pak's hospital deal , none of us were offered the "opportunity" to make a tape recording. All the others were offered that, however, and some of them accepted.
The enemy did a magnificent job of tying the germ war pitch together with the opportunity to make a tape recording for broadcast to the "folks back home," without appearing to do so. If a man said he didn't believe the germ war thing, there was no effort to convince him or even argue about it. He might be asked if he thought it was possible (which he would almost have to agree that it was). But so far as is known no one at Pak's was ever asked why the two flyers would admit to having dropped germ bombs if it wasn't actually so.*
[ * The probable reason for that was the men at Pak's at the time would have realized that Quinn and Enoch would have been subjected to at least as much pressure and miserable circumstance as they had themselves experienced. It was not known to us until later but the two were at the time very close by to Pak's Palace. The announcement at Pak's that they had admitted dropping germ bombs preceded by possibly two weeks the public pronouncements of the false charges by Red China's Chou En Lai on radio and the Soviet delegate at the United Nations. ]
Neither, when offered the "opportunity" to make a tape recording to let his folks back home know he was alive and well, would a man be told he must include mention of the germ war charge. But if a fellow was considering doing a recording for that reason, it was obvious the enemy would more likely regard it as suitable for broadcast if it contained something which in some measure alluded to it. He might say, for example (as some actually did), that he was disturbed to hear "rumors" that some of our planes were dropping germ bombs. Which with but a little rationalizing would leave his conscience clear (at least for a while) because it wasn't at all the same as saying he believed it.
By no means did all who were offered the chance to make a recording accept it. And those who did had differing reasons or explanations and considerable variance in the sorts of things they recorded. Kubicek made one, explaining he felt it was a way of letting the families of others in his crew as well as himself know they were alive, because he doubted that the enemy was actually reporting such things. If he said anything in it about "germ war," he neglected to mention that he had done so. Lt Stahl made a recording, said little about it at the time, but included a clear condemnation of our side for "using" germ warfare. His we later learned was one of the first of such statements about it by any POWs which were broadcast. It was used by the enemy even before their announcement of the "confessions" by Quinn and Enoch.
A few of the young enlisted men at Pak's also made recordings. One or two of them were allowed to listen to a radio when their tapes were broadcast. Some who did make recordings were never certain if the tapes were used by the enemy. There were indications that some of the recordings were never used for broadcast.
The beginning realization from those developments of the shrewd purpose in the enemy's seemingly pointless questioning got me further into bad grace of the Professor. He happily invited all of the Air Force officers and myself (because I was a pilot) to a "party" in our old "home." " the end room of the south wing of the main building. The folding table surrounded by six chairs had been set up with cups, saucers and a plate of rice cakes. The Professor explained as he poured tea that after enjoying the refreshments we would fill out some questionnaires about our airplanes. But instead of each person just answering the question by filling out his copy, because all were doing it at the same time we could discuss each question and the differences in our airplanes. Finished with the pouring, he handed out the questionnaires so we might be thinking about them while drinking our tea.
After removing dishes from the table, the Professor started to read the first question. I shoved my copy toward the center of the table and said, "None of this stuff applies to me. I fly a helicopter, not an airplane."
"Oh . Yes ," the Professor said. "I didn't think about that . Well you may stay anyway and listen and perhaps enjoy to learn something about airplanes, too. You may even ask questions and join in the discussions"
The first few questions were insignificant. The Professor tried without much success to generate a little discussion of them. Then came one with a "hook" in it. "How many pounds of explosives, incendiaries, or chemicals can your airplane carry?"
"Now there's a real interesting one," " I commented. "If you answer that one at all they can then say you've admitted to chemical warfare like they're saying someone has admitted to bacteriological warfare."
Looks of surprise were unanimous. The Professor's changed quickly to one of anger. "You may leave!" He pointed a finger at me as he said it; so mindful of a flustered schoolteacher that it was difficult not to laugh aloud.
With an air of innocence as I rose from the chair I said, "But you said I could join in the discussion."
"Outside!" he ordered. "You must stand outside. And you must not talk. You must stand outside! And at attention! You must stand at attention and not say anything until we have finished!"
So I stood outside in the sun; feeling very good for having disrupted the Professor's tea party. His reaction suggested that my comment may have struck precisely on his purpose. For a while I listened to the continuance of goings on in the room. Then tensioning and relaxing for exercise seemed a much better use of the time; neither knowing nor particularly caring if any of the others refused to answer that one question because of what I had said.
The unique interrogation party dragged on for a surprisingly long time. Late in the afternoon a small truck stopped just outside the courtyard gate. The rider in it scurried to Pak's room. Four Eyes soon came out of that room, went to the other courtyard, returned quickly with Arnold, Gilliland and Rambo and directed them to get into the truck. Meanwhile the fellow who had arrived in the truck had come to the end room with some manner of message (probably from Pak) which he told to the Professor. The Professor came then to the door and with a dramatic sweep of his arm ordered me to get in the truck, also.
The truck began rolling as soon as the original passenger was back in its cab. None of us had the slightest idea of to where we were being taken. But we were at once agreed there were at least two good things about the changing situation. If any one of us had been given the choice of three others to take along with him, the resultant assembly would have been exactly the same. And Pak's Palace had been a miserable enough place that wherever we were going was more likely to be better than to be worse.
Table of Contents
©2002, 2003 by Lynn Waterman; used by permission of the author, Duane Thorin.