Weldon Frey was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1952 at Jefferson Barracks and from there was sent to Camp Crowder for his in-processing. The young soldier was then transferred to Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he completed his basic training and tanker school.
Shortly following the completion of his training at Ft. Knox, Frey found himself on a troop train bound for Camp Stoneman, California, where he then boarded a troop ship—the USS General E.T. Collins—with the company of approximately 5,200 other soldiers bound for their Korean assignments. Once in Korea, he was assigned as an ammo bearer for a .30 caliber Browning Automatic Rifle. Eventually one of the loaders serving on board an M24 tank rotated back to the states and Frey was assigned to take his position. His primary duty included loading 75 mm cannon shells in the main gun of the tank. After serving a month in this capacity, he was promoted to the gunner for the 75 mm cannon after another stateside rotation occurred. Following additional troop rotations, Frey was assigned as the commander for two tanks and placed in charge of eight soldiers.
“Most of my time was spent back and forth along the MLR (main line of resistance) in places like the ‘Punchbowl,’ ‘Bloody Ridge’ and ‘Heartbreak Bridge.’ The tanks were pretty much useless up in the mountains,” recalled Frey, “but we ended up using them as artillery.”
Soldiers were assigned to the tanks both day and night and there were many times when Frey and his men were required to participate in ambush patrols. His service kept him in Korea throughout the end of the war and he vividly recalls the night that the truce was signed.
“I never heard such a barrage of ammunition going off. I think that everyone wanted to get rid of it so they wouldn’t have to bring it back with them.”
Frey returned to the United States in September 1953 and discharged from Ft. Riley, Kansas, on January 2, 1954.
Jeremy P. Amick is a military historian and author dedicated to preserving our nation's military legacies.