My story, told by Thomas Francione, began in West Phila in Philadelphia, PA. On July 1, 1948, five other guys and myself joined the Army. We were truly the United Nations, George Koskinis, KIA July 12, 1950 was Greek, Bernard Nemitz wounded twice was Jewish, Harry Shappell wounded was Franch-Irish, Pal McCullough was Irish, and Guy Cellucci was Italian. We were sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey and had eight weeks of basic training. After Basic I was sent to leadership school for another eight weeks of training. After a ten-day leave, I was sent to Fort Lawton in the state of Washington. I was then shipped out to Japan on a troop ship, arriving at camp Zama, Japan some time in October, 1948.
After arriving in Japan I was assigned to the 15 Quartermaster at Camp Drake, Japan. I stayed in the Quartermaster until the start of the Korean War and then was transferred to the 99th Field Artillery as a forward observer. I then went to Korea and we made the first amphibious landing of the war at Phang-dong on July 16, 1950. I was assigned as a radio operator in support of the 8th Cav. Reg. 1st Cav. Div.
After 3-1/2 months of combat we were at the small town of Unsan, North Korea on November 1, 1950 when the Chinese attacked the 8th Cav. Regt. After four days of being surrounded we broke out of the perimeter and crossed the river and made our way into the mountains and thought we had made our escape. But on November 5, 1950 my whole life changed as I was taken prisoner. I spent the next 33-1/2 months as a POW. On August 12, 1953 I was finally a free man again.
Returning to San Francisco on a two-week voyage, I was flown home to Upper Darby, PA, as my parents had moved while I was a POW. After 30 days at home I was discharged at Fort Meade, Maryland on October 7, 1953.
I married my wife, Eileen Lane on February 19, 1955. We have four children, Dana, Denise, Thomas and Lori and 13 grandchildren.