Joe H. Elgin
U. S. Army
Korean War
Dates of Service: 11/24/1951 - 09/22/1953
Infantryman, Counter Fire Platoon, 279th Inf Reg, 45th Div

Joe was born in Duncan, Oklahoma to Julian Harold Elgin and Thelma Mae Magness Elgin. Joe has one younger brother, Billy Floyd. His father, Julian, worked for Halliburton Services in the oilfields and in the 1930's. Joe remembers the family gathering around the radio listening to popular radio shows of the day such as Amos `n Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack Benny and Bob Hope. His family lived in Duncan until 1944 when his father was transferred to Lafayette, Louisiana. There they had a garden and raised chickens in order to supplement their diet because so much food was rationed during the war. During Joe's senior year the family moved to New Orleans and after graduation in 1948 Joe went to work for a shipyard. He joined the Army in 1951 and was sent to Fort Ord, California for Infantry Training. Leaving from Camp Stoneman onboard the USS Mann, he and other replacement troops, landed at Incheon, Korea. As replacement troops they were sent to the 45th Division Replacement Center before being transferred to a rifle company in the 279th Infantry Regiment. Joe was then assigned to a Counter Fire Platoon, outpost consisting of four or five people and equipped with sound ranging equipment designed to listen for artillery fire and locate its source. This information was then immediately sent to the Air Force or the Navy who would return fire. The men lived in tents most of the time but occasionally in Quonset huts. Most of the time they ate C rations but would get a warm meal when fresh supplies arrived. Usually the men were on duty for one or two months and then sent back to the reserve area for one to three weeks. He learned not to retrieve dog tags from deceased soldiers because of possible booby-traps and to never travel alone since it was impossible tell the North from the South Koreans. Korean civilians working with the unit, carried supplies and there were field showers and some clean clothes but in November and December those were usually frozen. In the summer, they would go in the river and soap their clothes, take them off to let them dry and put them back on. The best outpost was when they were attached to a Filipino company. Joe worked guard duty at Koje,where they put them to work cleaning and painting. There were both North Koreans and Chinese POWs. Joe said that many of the North Koreans did not want to go home because they were living in Quonset huts with showers and hot food - a vast improvement in living conditions! His duty was fourteen months, each man rotating home on a point system. However, since no replacements arrived the men were sent back on the battle line until the cease fire was signed on July 27th, 1953 at 10 o'clock in the morning with hostilities scheduled to cease at 10 o'clock at night. At noon, there was almost continuous artillery and mortar fire from both sides. Joe thought they did this so they would not have to transport all the explosives back home! American POWs were sent back first by air or ship and it was late August or the first of September before Joe left. Joe saw one USO Show in Korea and also took an R&R leave to Japan for five nights and four days. He made the rank of Sergeant while he was there. Upon discharge Joe was to inactive reserve status. He returned to his job at Halliburton in Beeville, Texas and he stayed with Halliburton for 39 years, moving to Shreveport in 1978 and retiring in 1988. He, and his wife Jean, have three children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.