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Oral history interview of John Thomas Derrick. Interview conducted by Chris Burns at Melbourne, Florida.


0:23 Introduction Credits; 0:23-2:37 Beginning of interview - Introduction of Mr. Derrick - discusses family - biographical questions; 2:38-5:37 Reasons for enlisting in military - details and timeline of enlistment; 5:38-7:55 Discusses first tour of duty in Korea, 1952-53 - first assignments - began by cleaning weapons - location in Korea; 7:56-8:43 Training in Oklahoma for 10 weeks - state-side duty for 3 months in Colorado, Camp Carson; 8:44-10:39 Remembering instructors - transition from civilian life to military life - basic training - academic training; 10:40-12:10 Reaction to news of going to Korea - application of training - details training operations - duty rotations; 12:11-12:49 Specific duties in Korea; 12:50-16:28 Training for specific jobs - building bunkers - sedentary lifestyle - fired on by Chinese and North Korean during 'chow time' - logistic of Battery Unit; 16:29-17:57 First day in Korea - assignments made based on their interests; 17:58-19:24 Weather; extreme cold in winter, heavy rain in summer - put snorkels on trucks to get through flooded rivers; 19:25-21:22 Humorous event - prank played on a fellow soldier - collecting 'muzzle blasts;' 21:33-22:20 Second tour of Korea - living conditions on base; 22:21-23:58 Nuclear capability - weapon storage - protection of weaponry with K-9 dogs - dogs reaction to other soldiers that were not K-9 handlers; 23:59-28:13 Overall reaction to and method for being chosen for second tour of Korea, 1966-67 - why Korea and not Vietnam - difference between two tours - remembrance of General J. Lawton Collins - thoughts on troops still in Korea; 28:14-30:30 Troop morale 1st tour - feelings amongst fellow soldiers was apathetic - troops turned to drugs and alcohol - trial council for soldier found with marijuana; 30:31-34:26 Troop morale 2nd tour - difference between 1st and 2nd - problems with local villages, 'boom towns' - problems between soldiers and women in the villages - orders from General about behavior with women - 'donut dollies' and R&R; 34:27-39:00 Remembering his last days of both tours - 1st tour, on a train heading south and saw another train full of prisoners passing them, heading north - 2nd tour, Korean orphan education program - emotional goodbye; 39:01-39:57 Lasting friendships after the war - Korean street language - language barrier; 39:58-42:17 Details of point system rotations - pros and cons of point system - troops' feelings about point system; 42:18-44:12 Being in the center of the line - experience with combat in the 1st tour - discusses brother-in-law who fought in 'pork chop hill;' 44:13-44:57 H&I fire, 'harrassing and interdiction' - effectiveness of H&I fire; 44:58-48:26 Transition coming back home - demoralizing memory of General Motors - low supply of artillery shells due to strike - explaining different types of shells - feeling the country wasn't behind the war; 48:27-49:52 Life between two tours - Guided Missiles School - involved in Missile Test Unit in Washington D.C., time at Fort Mead in Maryland - assignments in Germany; 49:53-50:53 Transition after coming home in 1967 - chose next assignment - moved the family from Michigan to Alaska - worked in combat developments for cold weather; 50:53-54:06 Explains how war has changed his outlook on war in general - opintions about today's military; 50:07[54:07]-55:41 Talks about Veterans organizations he has joined - volunteer activities - National and State Park works - relations with other veterans today; 55:41-56:40 Final thoughts about his own military service - end of interview.

Date of Birth


Place of Birth

El Paso (Tex.)




White - Non Hispanic

Home State


War or Conflict

Korean Conflict



Begin/End date of Service - 1st



Video; MovingImage


Entrance into Service


Branch of Service

U.S. Army

Unit of Service

300th Armored Field Artillery Battalion

Location of Service

Korea (South)

Highest Rank

First Lieutenant; 1LT

Prisoner of War


Service Related Injury







Battery Forward Observer & Battery Offiocer Liasion Officer - 6th ROK Inf. Div Ass't S-3, Fire Direction Ctr, 300th AFA Bn Battery Commander, Btry B, 300th AFA Bn - 4 months


Unit was in defensive position training ROK units while in direct support of 6th ROK Division, II ROK Corps. Served again in Korea along the DMZ from Sept. 1966-October 1967. Part of I Corps Arty - 8" cannon artillery(Nuclear capable). At this time I was battalion executive officer(eleven months) & battalion commander(grade of major) for two months./ - Unit was 2/76th FA, I Corps Arty, 8th Army. Served in Central Front N. of Hwacheon Reservoir near Kumhwa - II ROK Corps.

City of Birth

El Paso

Country of Birth

United States


Burns, Chris

Interview Date


Location of Interview

Melbourne, FL.


Derrick, John T.; Korean War, 1950-1953 -- Personal Narratives; United States. Army

Collection Description

Contains logs, audio and video recordings of interviews with Central Florida's veterans as part of a history class project for the students at the University of Central Florida (UCF). The UCF Community Veterans History Project(CVHP) started in fall 2010. It collects, preserves, and makes accessible to the public the experiences of Central Florida's veterans so that future generations will better understand the realities of conflict. It is a collaborative endeavor supported by multiple departments and offices at UCF. The veterans' histories are archived and made digitally available through the UCF library and selected materials are contributed to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.

Contributor Affiliation / Organization

RICHES; University of Central Florida


Burns, Chris

Length of Interview

65 minutes


Department of History, University of Central Florida




All rights are held by the respective holding institution. This material is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. For permission to reproduce and/or for copyright information contact Special Collections and University Archives, University of Central Florida Libraries, (407) 823-2576. http://library.ucf.edu/about/departments/special-collections-university-archives/


University of Central Florida Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives

Contributing Project

UCF Community Veterans History Project

Document Type