Bill R. Hill

As Interviewed by Robin S., March 14, 2015

Bill R. Hill: In His Own Words

We were trained specifically for the jungles and the things they discovered in Vietnam. When I came to be trained, they had already set up Vietnam villages for us to train in so that we would get used to the environment. I didnít care one way or another when they told me that I was to be a light infantry soldier -- which is the worst position to have in a war. Thatís what I wanted to be anyway. I was happy.

During the time I was training, after we left Fort Hope for advanced training, they sent us home for a month. We were to go to Seattle, Washington after that, and from there to South Vietnam. While we were there, which was January 1,1967, something had happened in Korea, so they diverted 2000 combat troops to Korea. In the end, instead of landing in a humid, warm weather, we got off when it was about twenty degrees. There was snow on the ground and it was totally different from what we were expecting. That, basically, is where I ended up.

For many years, I was really sad that I couldnít go to Vietnam. When I was in Korea I put in a transfer to go to Vietnam three different times -- and was rejected all three times. They needed combat troops of which I was one. For years I thought about it, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that God was protecting me. Who knows what would have happened to an infantry soldier in Vietnam? So Iím happy I was in Korea.

We never really came in contact with the North. Usually the only time we saw them was when they were on the ground, dead. We never talked with them. We had an instance back in January of Ď68 where these North Koreans, which had crossed the river in a submarine, convinced these twelve guys that the South loved them and they would be happy to see them. They said that they were being mistreated by not only the Americans but also the South Korean government. They all came in and were primarily trying to assassinate the South Korean president. They got as far as the Royal Palace, and most all of them were killed. We even captured the submarine. One or two of them managed to get away and we were on alert a few days after this. We finally hunted and killed the two guys. One of them had South Koreans with him and we tried to get him to surrender but he wouldnít. He kept trying to pull the pin on the grenade but he couldnít because his hands were frozen so we killed him. Those in the North were misled to what was going on in the South.

I knew who the North dictator was. The information that we were getting was they were all Communists and they were being supplied by Soviet Russia and China. The people there were starving and mistreated. I think when I was there, they werenít starving as much, but in the years to come they were very hard off -- on food, medicine, and things like that. South Korea was more prosperous and had a lot of food to eat. I didnít really even think about the dictator. I focused on the job that I had to do. The politics of it didnít really matter to me. All I knew was that the dictator was insane, in my opinion.

We had several different levels of patrols. We had some daytime patrols, which involved companies. We would spread out in a certain section and go through as a scrimmage line. It wasnít very effective, but it worked. This patrol was called a hunt and kill. That was all daytime. Then we had ambush patrols which were set up periodically across our sector. We had four guard posts that were strategically placed on mountains. A lot of our patrols ran out of those guard posts to different grid coordinates across the DMZ. Most of the time we were set up on trails, places that we knew the infiltrators would cross on. We were ready for them. The only thing we wanted to do with them was kill them because they were coming across to do damage to us and to gather information for their benefit.

In a squad, you have two riflemen who have 30-caliber machine guns, a grenade man, two automatic riflemen, and the rest are single shot. This squad is set up in the shape of an ďL.Ē When they fell in our ambush, we would use claymore mines to kill them. Claymore mines are curved, boomerang shaped mines that would send out ball bearings at a forty five degree angle. Everything at chest high would be cut apart by ball bearings. It was a devastating, wicked weapon. Those were the things we did. Everyone had a place to shoot. We practiced those things in training. We never knew if we killed them because they were notorious for picking up their dead people. They always fought at night.

We were always doing guerrilla fighting in Korea even though it wasnít in jungles. It was very thick forest-like terrain or overgrown rice paddies. The villagers still had paddies and monsoons, and it was nasty to fight in. We used traps which we learned from training. It sometimes worked and sometimes didnít. Our biggest fear was we had to go through a lot of minefields either put there by Koreans or Americans. You wouldnít know if you were in one because the monsoons moved those things.

We werenít supposed to say about anything we did. There were times where the line between the North and the South was a barbed wire fence. A lot of the times we were in the North running our patrol. Sometimes we didnít know where we were. We were told to be at a specific place at a specific time. Of course, if I say this, any officer would deny it, but thatís what we were told. So if we were caught up there, it was our fault not theirs.

Where we were, because the fight was between North and South Korea, we were stationed at the river that separates the North from the South. The war is still a war. It was only a ceasefire that happened. The reason for the Korean War was that the North wanted control over the whole peninsula of Korea. The North were obviously Communist while the South was Democratic. Historically I canít even remember how this war happened. Initially, in the war, there were the North Koreans, the Americans, the South Koreans, the English and some Australians. Itís just us and North Korea now. After I got out, I didnít want anything to do with Korea. I had enough of the cold, wet weather.

There were no civilians in our area. There were only Korean and American combat troops near us. The dimensions of our area were probably fifteen miles wide and seventy-five miles long. That was part of the area that we controlled. This area was part of the Demilitarized Zone otherwise known as the DMZ. Thatís why we saw no civilians unless we were given a pass to go down South. I was there for at least eight or nine months before I ever went back South. The only civilians we saw were villagers coming to cut wood for their village, and we would guard them until they finished cutting wood.

Each of our guard posts have listening devices near them in case the enemy is near. All of the guard posts are underground and have a gate thatís twelve-feet high. The whole place is surrounded by barbed wire. All the guard posts are similar. One time a jeep was coming to our guard post and it hit an anti-tank mine. The jeep went fifty feet in the air, turned over, exploded and killed everybody. Another time, a track, kind of like a tank, hit a mine and it broke someoneís leg. Everyone else on the track was safe, but the track was disabled. The names of the guard posts were Lucy, Barbara, Katy -- and for the love of my life, I cannot remember the name of the fourth post. Barbara was where I was stationed. Even the North had guard posts, and we could see one from our guard post. One day, we could see sixty of them coming from a tunnel in that guard post. We never knew where they went.

My uncle, on my wifeís side, was involved in this war as well. I donít know which unit he was in, but he survived many human-wave assaults by the Chinese earlier in Ď51. He rarely talked about it. It was a very cold and ill-equipped time when he was in the war. He was in very severe fighting. Thatís the only person that I knew that had been to Korea.

It would be nice for everybody to ďcoexist,Ē but itís never going to happen. Thereís always going to be wars. If we want our way of life, we have to fight wars. We have to be careful in who we fight and what we fight and whether itís truly something that we have to combat in. So there are wars that will always be fought. Until Christ returns, thatís how itís going to be, unfortunately.

It was not at all necessary for the North to attack the South. They wanted their way and thatís the way with Communism. They think they know the truth, and even though their people are starving to death and donít have the basic necessities of life, theyíre still encased in their belief system. If theyíre doing something wrong for thirty to forty years and the people are getting worse, something needs to change, but thatís not the way it works for them.

Was your church involved with you in this?

I wasnít even involved in church at this time. I have no clue about my church. I know that my parents were praying for me. I know my wife, Patricia, was praying for sure. We had been married just two weeks before I was drafted to Korea.