INTERVIEW WITH ROY MANRING

BY

KIM CHURCHMAN


Start of tape 1, Side A

Kim Churchman:We're here with Mr. Manring and we're going to do an interview on the Korean War.I'm going to start out by asking what branch of the military did you serve in?

Roy Manring:I was in the Army.I was with the first camp division, H company Fifth regiment.

KC:Wow it sounds like you really got around in there.Which branch were you in when you actually went over to Korea?

Manring:That's where I was at.I went from my basic training in Fort Knox, KY and right after basic training I went home for thirty days.Then I went to Japan.I was at camp MacGil in Japan for thirty-one days and then the Korean War broke out.We were one of the first ones sent over there.I went over with H company.There was the Eighty-First mortar and I was the ammo bearer.The whole company went.Everybody that I took basic training with went over there for replacements.

KC:So what was your basic training like?What did that involve?

Manring:To get used to the military.[Laughter] It was where you learn your weapons.You learn how to fire and you learn how to take care of them.You learn how to prepare yourself for combat.

KC:So did they get you ready for over there?

Manring:A little bit.

KC: A little? [Laughter]What did you say your role was over there in Korea?


Manring:I was with the Eighty-first mortar platoon.I was an ammo bearer.This was the H company.They had four mortars for a company.What we did was, we threw mortar rounds over the hills when they would want it.When infantry wanted fire power they would call us back and they would tell us where and when.We would support the ground troops, the infantry, and the rifle companies.
KC:Could you tell me what an average day was like over there.Tell me what is was like from the time that you woke up until the time you went to bed, if you even went to sleep. [Laughter]

Manring:Well, we slept in shifts.What we would do is we would wait until we got orders for fire power and then we would give ()mission.They asked for volunteers and they would say you, you, you go back and get more mortar rounds for small arms.We were also using these snipers that had got through other patrols.The North Korean patrols that would break through our lines.We were busy day and night.

KC:It sounds like it.Did you ever come into contact with any of the local people over there?


Manring:Oh yes.The North Koreans would use the South Koreans.They would bunch up amongst the South Koreans and get behind our lines.We saw a bunch of them.We fired on a bunch of them.One day we were going back after ammunition and our tank convoy went across a road and we had to stop until they passed.There were a bunch of refugees coming down the hillside.I got the binoculars from the jeep driver and I looked and I watched real close.There was a little girl that was about ten or twelve years old.She had a hand grenade in each hand.I picked up my Ml and I sighted in on her and shot her between the eyes.When she went down the grenades went off.Her intentions, the Korean’s intentions, were to blow us up.

KC:So they used little girls as young as ten to do that?

Manring:Yeah, little boys and girls.But like I said I watched her real close and when I saw she was close enough that I could see she had the hand grenades in both hands walking, something just told me, hey this is going to be bad.

KC:Did you run into many children or was she it?

Manring: Well, there were a lot of children, but that was the first one and the last one that I shot.She haunts me.She comes and sees me every now and then.She asks me "Why, why did you do this to me?" I told her I'm sorry honey, but I had to.

KC:That's terrible that they would just use someone that young.

Manring:Well they sure do.See the people here in the United States don't know nothing about what's going on over there.Maybe that's one of the reasons that the good Lord let me live through it.So I can talk about it.

KC:I understand that you were a POW.

Manring: Yeah

KC:Would you like to talk about that?

Manring:I can talk about it.We were up on Hill 303.That's one of the main strong supports across the Naktong River.During the middle of the night there was two machine gun companies on our right and left flank.They pulled out during the middle of the night and they didn't tell us nothing about it.At dawn they started coming heavy., our-company commander told us over the radio that they were South Koreans that had been sent to help us hold that position.When they came up we noticed that half of the uniforms were Russian uniforms.Half of them were not so we started firing at them.Our company commander told us to cease fire that they were South Koreans, not North Koreans.It ended up that they were North Koreans and we did what we were told because our commanding officer told us that the next man that fired a shot, he'd put a bullet in our head.Now that was an OCS officer.

KC:What is OCS?Does that stand for something?

Manring:In military it does.See you have OCS officers that go to school and they go by the book.Then you have battlefield commission officers that know what's going on.Our lieutenant was an OCS officer, so we were nothing but a bunch of young kids.That's the first time that we'd ever been in combat.We were taught to do what we were told and that he was responsible, so we ceased fire.

KC:So it was North Koreans that come down?




Manring:Yeah it was North Koreans that came down on us and they captured what was left of our company.There was twenty-six of us that were still living, that they captured.They took us down to an apple orchard.They stripped our clothes down and took our dog tags and our clothes away from us.They told us if we behaved ourselves they wouldn't harm us.They were going to take us back across the Naktong River to a concentration camp.They had us for three days and four nights.They lined us up like they were going to move us out again and they started machine gunning us down.I got hit.They had us with our hands tied behind our back, tied in groups of five.They had a total of fifty-six prisoners because they had picked up other prisoners within that time.The first time they shot me I went down.I heard them come back so I wiggled my body underneath a man that was next to me.He was dead.He got the whole top of his head blown off.I smeared blood on my head and I acted like I was dead.They stuck me with a bayonet.It went through the boy on top of me and went into me and I made a groaning sound.He thought it was the boy on top of me so they shot him again but the bullets went through him into my stomach, my side and my leg.They left again, so I hollered out and asked anybody if they were still living.Somebody told me to keep quiet because they might come back again.That's what they did because they didn't want to leave any survivors.Because the Geneva Convention says that you don't shoot people like that, they were afraid that they would get in trouble.I was bleeding real bad.My grandfather, who had been dead for four years, came and put his hand on my shoulder. He said, "Junior, I want you to get up." At that time my hands were still tied behind my back but when I fell it broke me loose from the boy that was in front of me and behind me. I told him I said “GrandpaI can't.I'm shot and I’m hurt.”He said "You're going to bleed to death if you don't get out of here now, I said go right now." I told him I said “Grandpa, I don't know where to go.”He pointed up to the top of the hill and he said, "Get your butt over the top of that hill, and you will run into a patrol.There's an American patrol up there, now go." I started to run up the hill and I looked back and I saw a white cloud that just disappeared and that was Grandpa.I got about halfway up the hill and then I got shot again.I got shot five times in the back.That just kept me going.When I got up close to the top of the hill I got shot again.I got shot across the top of the head.That was an American.[He started crying] He hollered and he was real excited and he jumped up and down and he said "I got my first mmm, mmm, mmm gook.I told him I said no you old lying son of a so and so. I'm an American.They told me if I was American then put my hands over my head and advance to be recognized.I told them I couldn't because my hands were tied behind my back.When he saw I was American he went to pieces.I told the lieutenant that was in charge what had happened.He got on the radio and he called for a jeep and he radioed ahead down to the bottom of the hill and told them what was going on down there.He told them there was a bunch of Americans that were in the gully that had been massacred.They put me in the jeep.They ran out of first aid packets so they told me to take my finger and stick one in my belly and one in my side because that would hold the blood in there.They took me back to the first aid station and took care of me.I had lost so much blood that they had to give me a direct blood transfusion from a nurse.Your body has got to have so much whole blood to mix with the blood plasma.Here I am sitting in front of you, telling you about it.
KC:Wow that sounds like some experience.

Manring:I've got some literature here.I was hit so bad that I had to lay in the field hospital until I was well enough that they could transfer me back to Yokohama.Then I went to Yokohama hospital and off the record if any of you people out there are MASH fans on television, that's true.That's the most realistic story that I've ever seen, except there's no Klinger over there.I didn't see no Klinger. [Laughter]

KC:So what is your literature that you have?


Manring:It's the North Korean War Atrocities that Senator MacArthur had in Washington D.C.My story has been verified, it's in there.For forty-three years I was told that I was the sole survivor.[His granddaughter, Zoe, entered]I got a phone call four years ago from Melvin Rudd down in Salyersville, Kentucky.I told him I said “look”, I said,“ don't mess with me.”I said “Melvin is dead” and he said "No this is me." I told him “no, they told me that everyone of you were dead except I was the sole survivor.”
KC:Now are these the POW's that you were with?So he was one of those.

Manring:Yeah and he said "O.K. the night before we went to Korea we did something that we shouldn't have done." He told me what we did and where we went.It had to be him.So I told my wife to pack a bag and the next day we were going to Salyersville.

KC:You said that was four years ago?

Manring:That was four years ago.He told me that there was five of us that survived.Today there is three of us alive.Freddy Ryan in Cincinnati, Ohio.He was still living.So I called him from Melvin's house and it was him.So we've been seeing each other on and off for a while.I found out that there were other fellows that are still living that I knew before we got captured.There's about eight of us now.

KC:Do you keep in touch with all of them?

Manring: Yeah.

KC. Are any of them close around here?

Manring:No, they're scattered all over.They're down in Texas, California, Florida, Wisconsin and further down in Ohio.All of us meet at a reunion every May.

KC:Where's that going to be at?

Manning:That's going to be the Fifth Cav.Association reunion. I never could talk about this.I had throat cancer, that's why I talk the way I talk.Right after I had my throat cancer operation, arthritis set in.I've got 


time on my hands now.So I've had a lot more stress now.I started getting real bad.Then I went up to Cincinnati for a stress program.They told me I was just like a pressure cooker.If you don't let all that steam off, you're going to blow up yourself.So I can talk about it.
KC:How long ago did you go to Cincinnati?Has it been recent or did you do that when you came back from the war?

Manring:I went to Cincinnati two years ago from Thanks­giving.I went for six weeks.They taught me how to cope with it. It helps a whole lot.If it wasn't for that I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you.

KC:I understand.I could understand that.So I guess your experience as a POW, that sort of decided for you that you were going to be leaving the military.

Manring: No, I went to re-enlist but they wouldn't take me. I was on light duty.I was in the hospital for about eighteen months healing.They wanted to cut my right arm off because I was shot thirteen times and bayoneted twice.My leg gives in every now and then.They sent me back to Fort Knox to finish my three years up because I enlisted for three years.They said that I was better off because I couldn't fulfill the obligations in the military because of my disability.

KC:So they sent you back to Fort Knox?

Manring:Yeah, I went back to Fort Knox and I finished my enlistment.That's where I met my wife.When I got discharged in 1953, well I got married.

KC:So where are you originally from then?

Manring:Chicago.I was born and raised in Chicago.

KC: So how long did you spend in Fort Knox after they sent you back there?

Manring:Let's see, it was about a year.


KC:And the eighteen months that you were in the hospital, was that overseas in a hospital or did they send you back here?
Manring:Well, I was in the hospital in Puson for a while.Then they sent me to Yokohama to a five station hospital in Yokohama, Japan.Then they sent me to Walter Reed hospital.

KC:What was that?

Manring:Walter Reed.

KC:Walter Reed?

Manring: Yeah, that's the big one where the big shots up North go.That’s a nice hospital. [Laughter] Then I was in and out of the Potomac hospital in Fort Knox.It ain't there 

no more.But the barracks that I took basic training in it's still there, they haven't torn it down.

KC:So you said you wanted to reenlist, "re you sort of sad that they wouldn't let you or did you just accept and go on?

Manring:Well they told me I'd be better off because I couldn't perform my duty no more.I was on light duty.They made me a mail clerk for the rest of my enlistment.All I had to do was give out mail so I went ahead and accepted it.

KC:After you were out of the military how did your experiences in the war, being transferred from one area to another, how did that affect you after you were out?

Manring:Well I had nightmares.I had nightmares about Korea and I missed all the fellows I was with.I couldn't go to reunions because I didn't know anybody.Everybody that I knew I was told was dead.All the guys that I took basic training with, they're all dead, as far as I know, because I've never heard from any of them.


KC:So the ones that you know are alive you didn't take basic training with?You just knew them from serving with them?
Manring:Yeah.They took basic training a year before I did.When I went over to Japan they were already over there.One of them was there for about a year and the other was there for about six months.Like I said, I got this literature here and I'm going to you some of it to take home with you to read.

KC:That would be great.

Manring:If you want to.

KC:Oh sure.Yeah.That would be great.

Manring: OK.

KC:Do you have any other experience you would like to talk about?One that sticks out in your mind.

Manring:Well there's two experiences that the psychiatrists say it shouldn't matter to me but it does.That's hearing my fellow brothers screaming as they were dying.They come and visit me.Sometimes when I'm sleeping they wake me up.They ask me, "Why you, you weren't married and you didn't have kids.Why you, why not one of us?" I tried to explain it to them.It was the good Lord's doing,it wasn't mine.Then there was an old man.We got in front of a rice patty and this old man kept on working in this rice patty.Mortars would start coming in on us.I took the binoculars and watched him.He had a radio strapped between his legs.He was a ( ). He was calling back where the mortar round were falling.After the third mortar round came and started getting closer I picked up my gun and I shot him.He visits me.There's a reason for him and that little girl.(His granddaughter entered) That was my granddaughter that just ran through here.


KC:What was her name?

Manring:Zoe.

KC:Zoe?

Manring:Her daddy is Korean.My daughter got tangled up. They were dating for about three years and he tried to kill my daughter, when she was seven and a half months pregnant.They weren't married.He came home drunk and all doped up.The police found him before I did because I would have killed him.I'm glad I didn't because I would have to explain to Zoe when she got old enough that it was grandpa that killed her daddy.So I thank the good Lord that the police found him first.And Zoe, she's something else.

KC:Those grandkids usually are, aren't they?Well I'm going to stop there unless you have anything else that you would like to talk about.

Manring:No. I read the article in the paper.They were asking for volunteers.I was glad, real glad because there's not that much out there on Korea.As a matter of fact,-My I grandson's history class did this.He decided he was going to do a report on the Korean War.My son, his daddy, told him to talk to grandpa, he can give you a few pointers.He came down and he did just about what you're doing.He turned it in and his teacher said that she couldn't give him a grade because she didn't know how to grade it.So I went up there to school and had a talk with the principal.The principal told her to go to the library and study what she could study.That was an A+ for my grandson.

KC:So that worked out good.

Manring: Yeah, it worked out real good.

KC:Well we're doing this to try and learn more on it.


Manring:Well like I said I've got some literature I'm going to give you to keep.
KC:That would be great.

Manring:As a rule I don't let this go out, but I'm going to trust you with it.

KC:That would be great.

Manring:This here is about the whole Korean War atrocities and I'm listed in a few places.Maybe it can help your class some.

KC:I'm sure it will.

Manring:I can't get another set of these.If they get lost then that's it.I've been trying to get another set but I can't.This is the official government operation from the United States Senate.It's got pictures in here that I identified the men that shot me.The American patrol that I went into captured them.This part here is about me.This is a priest giving last rights to the men here.

KC:That's amazing.

Manring:It's got a whole bunch of different pictures.That's me there.[He is referring to the enclosed articles]

KC:Oh that's you right there.

Manring:This is me right here.

KC:What page is that on?I want to write it down so I don't forget it.

Manring:This is the officer that was in charge that gave the fire order to fire, This is his men here.There's the rest of my company.They're dead.See their hands are still tied behind their backs.Now in this testaments they didn't get the correct times.They've got that I was shot four times but it was four different times that made the total.


KC:I see and you said that it was a total of thirteen?
Manring:A total of thirteen and bayoneted twice.I've got scars in spots to prove it.I was shot in the head once.

KC:And you said that was by an American that did it in the head?But he didn't know.

Manring:Well over there you shoot anything in front of you whether it's supposed to be.I don't blame him for shooting a bit.Because like me shooting the old man and the little girl, when you're in war your instinct takes over.There I was running up the hill side in enemy territory, they didn't know we were down the hill.I don't blame him a bit.I don't hold no grudge.I just thank the good Lord that the man wasn't a good shooter.He took about a quarter inch chunk out of the top of my skull.

KC: Oh yeah.

Manring:That's what it done right there.

KC:Did it go through or did it stay in?It just braised the top.

Manring:Well I've got two of them that stayed in me.One here and one here.The chiropractor saw one of them and he got it out of me.

KC:So do you still have one in you then?

Manring:I'm supposed to.Freddy and I are going back to Korea.Both of us has wanted to go back but we couldn't afford it.There's an organization, the POW/MIA organization, that's going to pay for our way back to Korea this Fall.So we can see the spot where they executed us.

KC:Now, Freddy, is he the one from Kentucky?


Manring:No he's the one from Cincinnati.See the one from Kentucky is an alcoholic.His wife said that she knows he would love to go, but don't take him.Because he will disgrace you.If there's an alcohol beverage around he'll find it.She says I'm afraid he will disgrace you.My wife won't go because she won't get on airplanes.The twentieth of June until the second of July we will be in Korea.

KC: I don't know if I could do that or not. 

Manring: The main reason that I want to go back is to talk to the boys.I know they're out there.I want to go back to the site where I shot that little girl.The psychiatrists tell me that it will help.I know that they're not there but they say it will help.

KC:I hope it does.

Manring: I hope so too.

END OF INTERVIEW