Voices of Veterans

Francis J. Brennan, Jr., Rutgers College '51, U.S. Army, Korean War

-On his first combat patrol as a platoon leader in Korea:
It was one of those things where you think, at least, "Here's the inevitable; you're going there," and the rifle platoon leader, in those days, was living on-line. We were on-line; we were living in a hooch. I have pictures, if you ever want to see them, of a sandbag hooch, three guys in a hooch, platoon leader, assistant platoon leader, who's a sergeant, and his assistant, radio, that's it.

… The first thing you could see out of the hooch, over the top of the hill, would be barbed wire, on a minefield, and paths through the minefield, and that's the way it looked. … There wasn't much time to worry about it, I mean, waiting for your first assignment, your first patrol. The mission, in those days, was to recon and get a prisoner. That was the main mission, and so, when you were sent out, that's what you were going to do. You're going to recon the area in front of your platoon and, if possible, bring back a prisoner, alive, dead, didn't make any difference, but alive is better. So, that was where we were at that time.

... [The first] patrol [was] about maybe eight or ten guys, radio operator and a dog. In those days, there were scout dogs and very, very, sensitive, particularly to the smell of the enemy. So, I was real happy I have a dog and not as happy to have the radio operator, because I always kept the radio operator well away from me, because, if the Chinese were shooting, they were shooting at a radio antenna. So nothing against him, but I didn't want to be in the same vicinity. … We spent my birthday, I remember, in July of '52 it was, out on patrol.