from The Hood County News, VETERANS DAY
• SUNDAY, 11 NOV 2007.
on ice: a veteran’s story
Courtesy photo Courtesy photo
Johnny Green in Korea in early 1950s in early 1950s
longtime Granbury resident,
reflects on Korean War
by PETE KENDALL
Every day is Veterans Day to Johnny Green. Every day
the longtime Granbury resident takes a step, he’s reminded of frostbite he
suffered in the Korean War. Green was a member of the 52-man
8221st Army Unit, whose duties included the
topographic and meteorological survey of North Korean hills controlled by Red
“We surveyed everything in the world, where they
wanted to put the guns, where the forward observer wanted to be. I was with the
topographical survey.” When Green arrived in North Korea in the summer of 1951, the weather was hot and
dusty. Not so by January of 1952, with the temperature minus-22 degrees. That
was only part of a three-day nightmare.” We got in the middle of the Chinese
army, and we couldn’t build fires in our helmets because that would give away
location,” Green said.” We stayed one night, all day
one day, then the next day. Then the Marines broke through and got us out. I
was glad to be out, but that was such an embarrassment to be rescued by the
The event is remembered by participants as The Battle
of the Punchbowl.“ The punchbowl was a huge valley, and there were three or
four hills inside the punchbowl. We surveyed those hills,” Green said.
“We tried to dig into the hill and keep warm, but that
was hard to do in the ice and snow. We had on our long-johns and fatigues. I
never did get warm.
“The reason I had so much trouble with my feet is that
they sweat. As cold as it was,(the sweat) would deep-freeze my feet. I was taken to a M*A*S*H*
hospital. As my feet thawed out, they started to bleed and some of the skin
came off .“Frostbite hurts when you’re
coming back (thawing). Toes will turn black. Some guys lost their toes, noses
Danger lurked behind every hill in North Korea, Green
said. He was never directly hit. “A mortar round landed on top of our bunker,”
he said. “Three were three of us in there. The two others got concussions. That
was the closest call I had. I didn’t have to shoot my rifle at all.” During the
Battle of the Punchbowl, he was shot at frequently.“ The Chinese were all over.
We had the radio, so we knew what was going on with them,” Green said. “They
got within half a mile of us.
“Our “My duties were to go out with the survey
crew,” Green said. “All the information went back to the artillery and the Air
Force so they could drop the napalm.
“Also, I would lay out the parameters, so if infantry
wanted to take a hill, they would tell us what they wanted and when they were
going to do it. Then we’d survey it.”
He was back home in approximately nine months.
“I was wanting out,” Green said. “My feet had cleared
up except for huge blisters on the bottoms. I got arthritis later.“ I would say
the frostbite weakened the bone structure50 percent. I go to the Veterans
Hospital in Dallas now. They check my feet for circulation.“ I get cold real
easy now. Some people are wanting the air-conditioner when I’m wanting the
When asked about
war in general, Green answers bluntly. “I hate war, and I do not understand how
one man I do not know can try to kill me while I’m trying to kill him. I see no
sense in it.”
He witnessed death with enough frequency to know he’s
against it.“ They died because of somebody’s foolishness.” Green achieved the
rank of corporal during the war. He could have made sergeant, he was told.
“I was scheduled to put in for sergeant,” he said,
“but before it went through, the 45thNational Guard came over, and you could
only have so many sergeants.
“My commanding officer said, ‘Johnny, you’re fixing to
go home. I can’t get that (sergeant) rating for you. But if you stay about 30
days, I will.’
“I said, ‘Sir, if you send me home today, I’ll give
you these two stripes right here.’ He grinned and said okay.”
Pete Kendall can be reached at (817) 573-7066, ext. 254,