Posted by: Bob Ringma | September 20, 2011

THE FLOOD

Korea is a land of weather extremes.  Spring and fall can be very pleasant, but summers are hot and winters are very cold.  It’s no wonder GI’s nicknamed the country “the frozen Chosen.”  In addition, the hot months bring monsoons.  During the summer of 1951 we moved the MLBU frequently.  On one occasion, we were located beside a small stream.  With more experience, I might have realized that, although there was not a big flow of water, there was a reason why the streambed was so much wider than the creek.  I would soon find out – the hard way.

 

While I usually spent my nights with the unit, one rainy Saturday I decided to stay overnight at the OFP to socialize with the guys there.  The next morning my CO yelled at me, “Wake up, Bob, your unit has been flooded out.”  I got dressed quickly and went to our site where I found that the stream had become a river.  In a matter of hours, the water level had risen five feet, flooding all our equipment, sleeping quarters and exchange clothing supplies. The men had been able to get their personal gear to higher ground but everything else was swamped.  I learned that the heavy monsoon rains fill all the rice paddies at the same time.  The paddies, in turn, overflow simultaneously, sending torrents of water to the streambeds below.

C rations

Our men didn’t seem to mind the upset.  I found them cheerfully packing C rations across the river to replace the fresh rations lost in the downpour.  Perhaps they realized that they were going to get an unexpected holiday while the unit got on its feet again.  Much of our stocks of clothing had been swept away, although some of it was being salvaged by an enterprising Korean standing downstream and feeling for clothes floating by in the muddy waters.  That laundry trailer was no longer serviceable and was towed back to a field workshop for repairs.  In fact, the overhaul was so slow that WO2 Reid and Corporal Laviolette, our fitter, tired of waiting to get the laundry operational, finally got the trailer from the workshop and did the repairs themselves.


Korean salvager


post flood uniform

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