Conducted by Logan Wilson
October 4, 2011
Mr. Wilson: October the 4th, I’m in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Al Dvorak for the purposes of the oral history that he might give. The next voice you hear will be that of Mr. Dvorak.
Mr. Dvorak: Well I guess it’s working now anyway?
Mr. Wilson: It looks like it is, I hope it is!
Mr. Dvorak: Okay, I don’t have too much to say about the past because it has been too long ago. I graduated from high school in 1949 in Chicago, Illinois and went to work on a stone quarry. Well that was not very good work and I couldn’t see much future, so I joined the army and served 11 years and got discharged in August of 1959. In ‘49 when I joined in, I was told I was going to a school in Fort Benning, Georgia. Well I must have gotten on the wrong train or something because I went to Colorado Springs and was told the first unit I would join was the 35th Quartermaster Packet, which was a mule outfit left over from the 1800’s. Well that didn’t work too good, so requested transfer and in June of 1950 I got my transfer to Korea. While in Korea, I made the Inchon invasion with General MacArthur and wound up in the 7th Division, 32nd Regiment. We landed at Inchon and in the middle of night we had to move to the Han River. Over looking the Han River main highway where the North Koreans were all retreating at that time. Well from there we moved into the mountains in Eastern Korea and one particular mountain was 902. We had numbers for them, we didn’t have names. I think 902 was Old Baldy. Anyway, now Old Baldy, 902, was where I got hit the first time with a hand grenade and we stayed there for 2 days where we broke the back of a North Korean regiment when they attacked us. They left after 2 days of fighting, they just pulled out and decided they had enough. From there, I went to another mountain called 1088 and I’m not sure which one that was, it was in the Towan Valley I know. Towan Valley was the one where the North Koreans were, McArthur said they were done and we would be home by Christmas; well that was a mistake, and I got hit again with a mortar round. The funny part of it is, I never spent any time in the hospital. I’d go back to the aid station, and they’d poke around a little bit and give me a cup of coffee and the next morning I’d go back up on line ‘cause we were short of people so that was all right. Well from there we went on Task Force Kingston to the Yalu River. We left the Iwan on the east coast and vehicles, jeeps, trucks, tanks, everything, we made it to the Yalu River. It was, I think in December. I’m not sure if it was the day before Christmas or Christmas Day. But over looking the Yalu River was a bridge, it was where we could see this bridge and the second day we were there, the Chinese came across that bridge; 9 abreast, about half a mile deep. We knew we had to get out of there fast, so we did. On the way back to Hamhung, we made our departure when the Navy picked us up and brought us back to Pusan. We stayed in Pusan just about a week and went back up on the line and we stayed there on the east coast for oh maybe 4 or 5 months going back and forth with the Chinese. On Thanksgiving day, we got pulled back and they brought hot chow, which we hadn’t had for months. Turkey, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy and everything like that. We’re standing on the road, lining up, waiting to get our turkey, and on a hillside, must be at least a half a mile away, there was a sniper we didn’t know about, it was one of the left-overs. He fired one shot and I’ll be darned if he didn’t hit me in the knee. Well, there went my turkey dinner. I wound up with C-rations instead of turkey. But that was over with, and about a month later I rotated back to the States and thought I was safe. Well I was sent to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. And if you’ve ever been to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, you know what they say. I put in for a transfer again , and I got my transfer-back to Korea. Of course, the fighting was over by then. The Armistice had been signed. And after another 10 months in Korea, the occupation was just another DMZ. When I got sent back to the States again, I got sent to Louisiana. And I forgot the name of that post, but it was right in the middle of the swamps, so I requested transfer again, and this time I got sent to Fort Meyers, Virginia, which is just outside Washington, D.C. and that was not the place for me. It was all spit and polish. And there’s an honor guard and everything else so. They came around and my enlistment was up about that time and this recruiting lieutenant said, “if you sign up another 3 years, we’ll make you a master sergeant. I said, “I don’t know.” I thought to myself and said “na, that’s no good. They’re going to Vietnam and I don’t want to go with them.” I don’t mind the mountains, but I’ll be darned if I want to fight in the jungles. So I got a discharge, took my discharge and got out, and came back to Chicago. Well my family had moved to Wisconsin by that time so I went to Wisconsin. And I thought Korea was cold, but Wisconsin was 30 below 0. And this is not-everything stacked against me, so I took my wife, my kids, and said “we’re going south, and we’re not gonna stop until we run out of snow and the temperature is 80 degrees.” We did, we wound up in Houston, Texas, where I was working for Sears at the time, and I just got transferred down to Sears in Houston. I worked for them for another 18 years and took my retirement at 30 years with the company. And then a hurricane came in. It wasn’t snow, cold, it was a hurricane. Hurricane Karla came in. After one time in the hurricane area, and we moved again; to Teague, Texas. Well, in Teague, time went on, I lived there for about 10 years, and I went to work for the school district, and retired after 10 years, and did my time; one more retirement. My wife died, and I met my current wife in Mexia. And the thing about it is, the funny part, her brother-in-law and sister went to the same church that I went to, and his name was Jesse, Jesse Zempel. And one day he asked me “do you wanna go for dinner with us?” It was on a Sunday, and I had nothing else planned so I said “okay.” He said “we’ll stop and pick up my sister-in-law.” I asked “Where’s that at?” He said “I’ll show ya.” So we came here, 724 Alice St. and he said “Just blow the horn, she’ll come out.” I said “I don’t think that’s the way you’re supposed to do it.” He said “Just do it!” I blew the horn, sure enough, she came out. Well that was 7 years ago, and I’m still blowing the horn for her to come out, but she always so slow. And that’s about it.
Mr. Wilson: Thank you Al. I appreciate that sir. Thank you very much.