Interview With Robert J. Bussey

From the interview with Robert J. Bussey of Fridley, MN conducted by Shelly Testerman Randall  at the Fort Worden History Center on March 19, 2002.  Mr. Bussey  served in the US Army Corps of Engineers 369th EBSR from 1950 to 1952.  Here he describes his experience in Korea at the Punchbowl:

“I wound up in the 1343rd Engineer Combat Battalion, right up in the Punchbowl.  There wasn’t a lot of space left to go north from that point.  Primarily we did road and bridge construction.  One of our major projects was purified water, the water served anybody and everybody who wanted it.  We did a lot of mine field work, mostly clearing mine fields, and we dug gun emplacements for artillery.  It was basic engineer field work, which I didn’t realize how important it was until I saw something on TV about combat engineering—we were just doing our job.  It was noisy, there was artillery fire going on virtually day and night.  I was only a couple of thousand yards from the front line, the main line of resistance.  But nothing ever came our way, and wasn’t that particularly dangerous; though we did lose guys, mostly to clearing mine fields either stepping on something or when they pulled the mine.  We had one blow up and kill one guy and injure six other guys.  Otherwise, it wasn’t that dangerous. Well, you remember it.  You remember the noise, you remember the artillery fire.  Depending on the way the wind blew, you either heard a lot of noise or you heard no noise.  It looked like a typical Midwestern summer thunderstorm with the flashes of lightning .  (We were) a couple of thousand yards from the main line, which is not very far; but in a hilly part of the world like Korea, it was far enough to be safe because they couldn’t see you.  There was no point in shooting at us, and we weren’t shooting at them.  We were just engineers.”

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