Elroy Slavick, of Minot, recalls Christmas in Korea where he served during the Korean War.
"I'm sure we worked that day," said Slavick, who was with Company A of the U.S. Army's 51st Signal Battalion.
"We had a tree in our tent. We harvested a pine from the hills, but I don't know what we used for decorations," he said.
This page from the newletter of the battalion that Elroy Slavick, of Minot, served with during the Korean War includes a Christmas letter a mother wrote to her soldier son. The Christmas letter meant a great deal to Slavick when he first read it 60 years ago, as it still does today.
Elroy Slavick, of Minot, is on the left of this photo with other soldiers, taken when he was serving with the U.S. Army’s 51st Signal Battalion during the Korean War in Korea, including the winter of 1952-53. The photo was taken in February 1953.
Elroy Slavick’s unit in Korea during the Korean War helped build this chapel for his unit, Company A, shown in this 1952 photo. They also built an orderly room.
Elroy Slavick, of Minot, is shown in this photo shaving in his tent in Korea during the Korean War. The photo was taken in March 1953.
Slavick especially remembers a Christmas letter from a mother to her soldier son and how much it meant to him when he first read it while in Korea. He said the letter, from a mother praying for her son's safety and that he would be home again, meant a great deal to others there who also read it. The letter continues to mean a great deal to Slavick.
Slavick went to Korea in late May or early June 1952. A ship took the troops over, leaving from Seattle. They also made the return trip home by ship.
Slavick was in Korea for a year and a half.
"We built telephone lines," Slavick said. He said they'd go into rice paddies, pull up some rice, make a dam and dipped out the water so they had a dry hole to dig it. "We set new poles and cable," he said.
Slavick recalled they used to bathe at the North Creek but it froze over about Nov. 1. He and the others never had a bath again until Feb. 14. He said all of them were in the same condition of not having a bath for several weeks.
Every day, he remembers the company's mess hall brought out lunch and every day they had frozen grapefruit. "To this day, I wouldn't eat grapefruit sections on a bet now," he said.
He said it was cold there and very similar to a North Dakota winter.
He said when they ran out of diesel fuel for the pot-bellied stoves that heated their tents they had to double up the people in the tents. "I think the tents normally were designed for 12," he said. "My bunk was by the wall. I had a big frost spot there where I breathed," he said.
Throughout his time in Korea, he said his mother very faithfully wrote to him.
Slavick got out of the service in the fall of 1953 and returned to Minot, first working with the Burlington Northern Telegraph Crew and then at Sweetheart Bakeries, where he worked before going into the Army. He then was a lineman with Northern States Power Co., where he retired from after 32 years.
Slavick said what he learned in the Army helped him in his civilian work.