The website of Florida Veterans Programs and Projects, Inc.

The website of Florida Veterans Programs and Projects, Inc.

The making of Korea: Forgotten War, Remembered Heros

Korean War History and References
Preparing for the documentary
Profiles of those interviewed:

Jack Wentz, Soldier in Korea

Jack Wentz - picture and bio

Service in Post-Armistice Korea

Jack Wentz arrived in Korea in January 1954, six months after the Armistice had been signed. The Army had sent him to radio operator technology school in Ft. Dix, New Jersey and chemical biological technology training in Japan. He had a secret security clearance. His first Korean station was the southern city of Pusan. He then went to Seoul for an assignment to Air Support Training at Inchon Air Force Base (AFB). Despite the Armistice, security at US bases was high. While on guard duty at Inchon AFB Jack heard a noise. He yelled, “Halt! Who goes there?” Hearing no response, he repeated the challenge while pulling the bolt back on his rifle. It was then that the Officer of the Day responded with the proper countersign. Although Wentz had followed his guard duties to the letter, the officer was nonetheless, “scared to death,” when he heard the bolt releasing the rifle. Both were very much relieved that Wentz was not forced to fire.

From Seoul he was assigned within a mile and a half from the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). He spent seven months in that area, near ‘Old Baldy’ and ‘Bloody Ridge’. Air Force pilots would fly along the DMZ for signs of hostile encroachment. The flight pattern was supposed to be in an east-west direction, but some pilots made a mistake and flew south-north, putting them across the DMZ. When that happened, North Korean troops would fire on them.

Wentz had to carry a weapon the entire time he was in Korea – on duty and off - when he was sleeping and when he went to church. There were a lot of “over the border” incursions, especially at night by the North Koreans. He and others found themselves shooting at flashes of light, and then picking up dead bodies in the morning. The winters in Korea were bitterly cold, especially since he was living in a tent. The summer smelled of rice paddies and “honey buckets” (buckets of latrine sewage).

Wentz was in charge of the motor pool, and was surrounded by International UN Troops. He had three different RR’s (Rest and Recreation) to Japan while in Korea, and also attended several USO shows in Korea. At one of the USO shows, when he was on TDY (Temporary Duty Assignment) to the Air Force, Marilyn Monroe visited the troops. She arrived in a helicopter, and the troops were lined up on the airstrip to greet her. Wentz was one of only a few soldiers among the many airmen present. His friend had a camera, and Wentz told him to be ready to get a picture of him with Marilyn Monroe. As she came by, he yelled out to her, “Hey Marilyn, how about a picture with the Army?” She said, “Sure,” and Wentz jumped put of the line and put his arm around her while his friend snapped the photo.

It is a little known fact that incursions and skirmishes between north and south were still common after the armistice. Jack Wentz was in Korea six months after it was signed, and he endured such hostilities. He was discharged at Ft. Dix, New Jersey on May 22, 1955. Despite serving his country for two difficult years, he received no fanfare upon returning home.

Jack Wentz with his photo of him and Marilyn Monroe

Jack Wentz with his photo of him and Marilyn Monroe