The atomic bomb saved us!WWII Kilroy Was Here  Ben Benedetto

Korea in 1945!

PFC Mario "Ben" Benedetto's Story

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We were on Okinawa waiting for the invasion of Japan. The Atom bomb was dropped and instead of us invading Japan we were sent to Korea for the liberation and to occupy it.

My name is former PFC Mario "Ben" Benedetto, I was one of the many GIs who landed in Korea on September, 8, 1945 but I can never find anything about it on any web page. We were members of the 7th Infantry Division. We disarmed the Japanese and shipped them back to Japan. We spent a lot of time there before the Korean war started

WWII Kilroy Was Here  Jensin, Korea
2. 7th arrives in Jensin, Korea, 1945. Joe Massimiano and I are
the second ones in line I don't remember the others.

When the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor, I was a freshman in high school and the impact of the attack was not as much as it would be for the rest of my life. I was drafted in my senior year. I had a choice of which branch of the service I would be inducted into. At that time, like most young men, it didn't make any difference to me so I was put into the Army. I was thrilled to be able to do my part in the war effort.

By this time the war in Europe was winding down. I trained as an infantry man in Camp Wheeler, Georgia. I was to be a replacement

in Europe after 15 weeks. We were all shocked when President Roosevelt died. The war in Europe ended shortly after that.

We were given 10 days after training to get to Fort Mead, Maryland. From there, for some reason, I was separated from most of my buddies and sent to the west coast. After a short time there, I was off to Oahu, Hawaii for jungle training. After two weeks we were shipped out in a large convoy . . . having no idea where we were going. We finally landed at Okinawa where I joined the 17th Infantry, 7th Division {The Hourglass}.

Most of us felt we missed out because the battle of Okinawa had ended before we were able to participate in it. I'm sure you realize how we felt. At that time most young men were eager to get a crack at the Germans and Japanese, it was a different time than now.

While on Okinawa, preparations were being made for the invasion of Japan but in August, the Atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and a few days later on Nagasaki. With the war coming to a close we thought we would be on our way home, but, after most of the older veterans were discharged because of the point system, we received new orders.

WWII Kilroy Was Here  Japanese giving up weapons
4. Japanese are giving up their weapons.
We were told we were going to a strange, exotic place called Korea. Believe it or not I never heard of the place. When we got there, it was sort of an invasion but instead of a battle, the shores were lined with Jap soldiers surrendering their weapons to us. The Japs had occupied Korea for more than 40 years and were very cruel to the Korean people. We were told of

many atrocities. The first day a flier from some Korean organization was passed out to all of us asking us to kill and behead the Japs. The Koreans really hated them. Of course we didn't do it. We disarmed the hundreds of soldiers and marched them to ships to be loaded and sent back to Japan. (Can you imagine if the tables were turned what would happen to us?)

When President Harry S. Truman ordered the dropping os the atom bombs, he made a decision that I think was a good one. Most of the people at that time praised his decision. As time has gone by, some

WWII Kilroy Was Here  Actual Appeal Flyer
Actual Appeal Flyer

The time we spent in Korea prior to the Korean war was no fun. We very seldom received fresh food as my company was always on the move. We went from town to town all through the south up to the 38th parallel. The Korean people were very good to us when we arrived. We helped them to read and learn our language, we fed them when they begged for food, we sheltered some of them and helped them in many other ways.

Today they are a great country, a far cry from the muddy dirt roads, the oxen driven wagons and the ditches at the side of the road which were used for latrines. We helped them a great deal and slowly, as they progressed, we were less appreciated. I don't know if it was worth going there but I guess it had to be done.

Some of my buddies that were there with me are: Joe Massimiano from Philadelphia, Clellen "chubby" Roger from Tennessee, John "lefty" Beairsto from New York, Marty Reckinger from Chicago, Illinois. Roy Mickleson from Minnesota and Paul Doyno from Texas only Joe, Martyand Roy are still alive at this time. I had many more friends that I met who fought with our division throughout the war. They were older then we were and I think they are all gone, but not forgotten.

WWII Kilroy Was Here  Japanese Prisoners
3. This is a photo of us marching Japanese prisoners after they
were disarmed for their return to Japan. Willard Smith from Mississippi is the one up front and Joe Massimiano is the next one in line.

WWII Kilroy Was Here  Andong, Korea
1. L to R Ben Benedetto, Joe Massimiano, John Beairsto In Andong ,Korea in 1945. Joe and I have kept in touch since then. He lived in Philadelphia, Pa. John "Lefty" Beairsto was from Middletown N.Y. He died a few years ago. We had some good times together. While we were in Andong Joe who was a great organizer started a band called the Moosheads. It wasn't really a band at all we had only a few G.I.'s left in our outpost at the time and so we wouldn't go nuts we made fake instruments and had a record player behind us. The officers would beg us to come in our room but we told them it was off limits to them. Joe has been a great friend for many years .




Note! Some of our buddies who haven't been heard from are listed below if any of you are out there it would be nice to hear from any of you.

Martin Reckinger, Roland Rehm, Gasper Guttilla, "Beef" Wisneiski, Oscar Irwin, Robert Sharp, Francis Kelley, Willard Smith, John L. Kelley, Nick Polechronus, Mernon Larson, Melvin Gartner, Roy Mickleson. Richard Lally, Virgil Jefts, and any other who were with our outfit in Korea.

WWII Kilroy Was Here Benedetto Going Home
Going home to Seattle

See Milo Smith's addition to this story . . .

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