Sunday, October 4, 2009

SNGF--My Dad's Homecoming from Korea

This Saturday's challenge from Randy Seaver over at Gena-Musings is to write about a childhood memory. I have many. Some are probably triggered more from old family photos than from actual memory, however, my Dad's homecoming from Korea is definately part of my childhood memory bank.

In 1949, my Dad, George VanGilder Hughes, signed up as a Captain in the Medical Corps of the National Guard for the additional income. He had already served with the U.S. Army in local hospitals as his payback for medical school tuition. In 1950-51 he was setting up his medical practice in the North Hills of Pittsburgh. In the fall of 1951 he received a letter from the U.S. Army stating that he was to report to the U.S. Army Medical Hosptial at Camp Carson, Colorado. Family life and his new practice suddenly were put on hold.

After my Mother's birthday on December 4, 1951, she and I traveled by train to Camp Carson to live on the Army post with my Dad and to await the arrival of my brother, Ken. We lived on post until sometime in May of 1952 and returned to our house in Pittsburgh. Dad followed a few weeks later and stayed at home for a couple of months before he was shipped to Korea.

He served as the head of an aid station on the front line for several months. He took and passed his medical boards and was immediately moved to the 121 Evacuation Hospital in Seoul, Korea as the Chief of Medical SVC. His actual time in Korea was not that long....less than one year...but for me, at age five, it seemed like an eternity.

We would wait anxiously for a letter from Dad. I always knew when they came as the envelopes had red, white and blue around the outside. Dad would always have a little drawing at the end of each letter for Ken and I. The three of us would sit together on the living room couch and Mom would read the words to us.

Dad's discharge and homecoming was cause for great celebration. Our friend and neighbor, Dr. Joseph Arthur, made a large sign which stretched across the front yard. My maternal grandmother made me a new dress and the family drove out to the airport to greet Dad upon his arrival.

Dad never spoke of Korea. There are many photos, Army documentation and only one of his letters that remain. When I interviewed him for the Veterans History Project, he had only sketchy memories of his service.

Memories faded for Dad....but his time away and his homecoming have not for me. Thanks Randy for presenting this challenge. It was good to reminisce.


  1. Many men never spoke of their times in service. How hard it must have been for them. Perhaps that leaves us with better memories of the times.

  2. Thanks Linda. I did not even know of his Korean service until last year so this is all new information. -George

  3. That was lovely. Thank you for sharing. What a great group of memories. While you were in Colorado I was in Fort Polk Louisiana. I remember so much of Dad's army days.

  4. Wow, I don't know what I would have done if my Dad had had to go away when he was in the Air Force. I remember how excited we were when Uncle Bill came home from serving in the Navy.