The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

US Veteran Monte Geddes, Shares Thoughts On Military Life In The Korean Conflict

(five part series by Monte Geddes, Mediapolis, Iowa formerly of La Harpe)


My first taste of the military was in Carthage, IL with the Illinois National Guard, as a member of A Battery, 233rd Field Artillery Battalion.

We met on Monday evenings. We had two weeks of camp each summer in Camp Ripley, MN. Our drills each week were held in the skating Rink with equipment storage in building behind the rink. The 233rd was part of the 44th Infantry Division, one of two National Guard Division then assigned to Illinois. The other was the 33rd

The North Koreans had attacked South Korea on June 25, 1950. In the fall of 1951 the 44th Division was told that they would be taken into Federal Service on Feb. 15, 1952.

We were mustered into service that day and four days later were on our way to Camp Cooke, California where we went into basic training. Camp Cooke is near Lompoc, CA and I might note that in 1955 the Air Force replaced the Army here and it is now Vandenberg Air Force Base.

“A” Battery was at about 55% strength with Hancock County men.

The 44th Division had about 8500 men where 16000 was full strength.

After basic training we were brought up to strength with replacement mainly from the south. Many nights the Civil War was a heated discussion.

Military Occupational Speciality “MOS” training followed basic and this took us several timing to Camp Hunter Liggett a couple of hundred miles north for combat training.

Here our 105 howitzers were fired and we learned to live in the field under very warm conditions.

I loved California and I think I got to see more of the state on my army pay of seventy eight dollars a month on time off than many.

Santa Barbara was one of my favorite places but I also got to Los Angles and watched several Rams and UCLA football games.

I always said if I ever left Illinois I would not stop until I was in California. I left Illinois in 1958 and just got across the river and stopped.

By early summer many of our men left for Korea or FECOM “Far East Command.” There were a couple that got orders to Europe but not too many.

Two of us had signed up to go to OCS but orders never came.

Finally, with most of our Hancock men gone we got tired of the wait for orders.

We went to our Commanding Officer and told him to take us off OCS orders. Six hours late I got a call to clear the post as I was going to Korea.

Monte Geddes showing off an armored vest which each gun section had a couple assigned. While offering some protection, they weighed about 40 lbs, too much to work with.

This is the 4th gun section of C Battery, 780th Field Artillery Battalion in Korea.  We called her Dagmar, The Big Bust!

 On the left almost out of sight is the bunker where the powder canisters are kept.  On the upper right is the projectile bunker where fuzes were kept also.  Note just below that is the ready line with a projectile already on the loading tray.  In front of the howitzer is the parapet made out of powder canisters full of sand for protection from incoming artillery rounds.