Ralph Dael served with Belgian United Nations Command during the Korean War. As a machine gunner in a heavy weapons platoon, Dael supported patrols and guarded against enemy night attacks.
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My military duty was – I was selected to go to the heavy weapons platoon. And I became a second gunner to a machine gun operator. It was a water-cooled machine gun and an air-cooled machine gun.
And we went to the line. I went to the line as a second gunner. After when I came off the line I was first gunner because the first gunner had gone back to Belgium. I was a machine gunner. That was my main duty down there.
We have to realize, that 1952 it was a trench war. And we got visits during the night, always during the night, by the enemy. But we had to make sure that they didn’t get into our lines.
So they usually know where – taken back. But we mostly endured the shelling from – some lines were very quiet. Although they were very close, like the Chorwon Valley. They were very close to the – even no man's land was not very large. And we were sitting in the valley.
The enemy was sitting on a 400 or 500-foot mountain and just looking down on us. But it was very quiet.
Our casualties were not that great, not in the trench war, because we had good protection. And the only casualties were like when patrols went out and they encounter fire from the enemy. That’s when you have casualties.
But we did have casualties. A good friend of mine was killed on the White Horse Line. I went to school with him, technical school, before he left.
It's funny, you know, because they tell us, “Oh so-and-so got killed.” And so we had a fellow, he was known as the grandpa. And he was a little older than most of us.
And he was a linesman, because he was stringing lines from the telephone lines and he got killed. They saw him working. It was an everyday occurrence. Somebody got killed. But not every day, but I mean there was mostly a daily occurrence that somebody got killed or wounded.
It was something that they had to realize that you could get wounded very badly or you get killed.
There was a sergeant with one of his Korean fellas, doing – on guard duty, and he had been very, very – because we had been on 100 percent, pretty well. And, so he was standing staring out in the dark. There was no lights, and so he was standing out there in the dark.
And – this Korean fellow was kind of dozing, sitting in the corner dozing, and so the Korean fellow got up and looked out and said, “Hey Sarge look over there, Chinese.” And they were only about 50 feet away from him.
And he noticed them, even hard to see in the dark. It was really something. So they told us, you know, you keep your eyes open and don’t trust – because in the dark everything moves. You look at a piece – that’s why you have to observe during the day what's there.
A tree stump or something like that, because at night that tree stump will move when you look at it.