Art Jones (Turtle Clan) was drafted into the Army in 1948 at 18 years old. Serving between 1948 and 1950, Art was too late for World War II and too early for the Korean conflict. However, his stint in the Army was in Korea during a very tense pre-conflict period.
Stationed at an outpost on the 38th parallel between North and South Korea, Art was a medal-winning sharp shooter, putting his time in on guard duty.
“There were 1,000 North Koreans along the border and there were 12 of us guys at the outpost with one round of ammo each,” said Art. “There were also a few South Korean troops, but it’s a good thing the North Koreans didn’t attack.”
Conditions at the outpost were far from optimal. During the monsoon season, which was 40 days of rain, no provisions were able to be transported to the outpost. All the roads were washed out, said Art. The only food the soldiers had for this period was toast with black coffee.
“The winter was bad, too,” said Art. “We would train in the snow at 40 below zero. We stopped that when the sergeant froze his hands.”
But Art said he was used to tough conditions and that even boot camp didn’t faze him. From the time he was a young boy he would run across the Onondaga Reservation where he grew up. He said he would run home from school at lunchtime – run to bring his dad his noon meal – and then gulp down his food, returning to school. After school hours would find him chopping wood, sometimes in deep snow.
“So, boot camp didn’t bother me,” said Art, who was a construction worker until his retirement at 62. “But when I was discharged, the first thing I did was get rid of my uniform.”
A version of this story first appeared in The Oneida, Issue 9, Vol. 8 in November 2005 and was edited for the web.