Sunday, October 9, 2016

Greetings to a Soldier in Korea

Here's a tape which is a lot of fun, as well as touching at times, and just generally a snapshot of its time and place.

It seems to be a group of family and friends sending good wishes to a man (named John)who is stationed in Korea. As there's no date anywhere on the box or within the contents of the recording, it's not clear if this is during the "police action", or after it, but it does sound like the revelers had expected their friend John to be home by the date of this recording, and that this hadn't happened.

Reading between the lines, it seems at least possible that some of those involved thought John would be present at this gathering, and when John couldn't be there, they made a tape for him instead, even though it also sounds like he was still due back in a matter of days - at one point it sounds like he's only coming back on a brief leave.

The tape is boisterous at times - particularly the first several minutes, during which some reveling adults interact while, I'm guessing, enjoying some adult beverages. That's fun, but the most interesting part for me comes when some children start to talk to John at about 16:30, starting (briefly) with a very excited small child, and then an older child who talks for a few minutes.

After too few minutes of that, a more sedate adult follows with more narration about life and times. If the earlier speakers were a bit too sloshy, this guy is so dry as to appear to be reading his report, something he acknowledges and tries to correct at one point. Then there's about five sweet minutes of talk before and after a meal, with the kids chiming in here and there. I love the one kid trying to mimic everything that is said.

A couple of more serious (and older sounding) relatives follow - this section of the tape is marred by some damaged tape and a section which seems to have been edited out, via a splice (perhaps more damaged tape). And then, just as yet another person is coming in to speak, the tape runs out (although again, it's certainly possible that there was originally more tape here.

Please enjoy this little moment in time.

Download: Family and Friends: A Tape for a Soldier in Korea


  1. There's a wealth of clues in this recording. Just out of curiosity, I tried Googling some of them:
    1) Clint, Texas - This is about 30 minutes from Fort Bliss. Was the main speaker (John's father?) stationed there? It's a small town (current population less than 1000) so it's possible someone still living there remembers the family.
    2) KST (Korean Short Tour) Flannigan? - Is this John's family name. References to the Knights of Columbus and Irish dancing suggest a Irish Catholic family.
    3) Fred Steiner - Is this his obituary:
    4) Colonel Hoag(?) - Is this Merritt Eldred Hoag (May 25, 1909 – November 19, 1994):
    5) General Woolnough(?) - Is this James Karrick Woolnough (October 24, 1910 – May 30, 1996):
    6) Oldsmobile Celebrity - Various models using this name appear to have been sold from 1959 to 1966. (See

    So I'm guessing John (Flannigan?) came from an Irish Catholic military family, at one time stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. The main speaker (his father/uncle?) was presumably a high-ranking officer and friends with colonels and generals. John served at least one short-term posting in Korea, probably in the early 1960s.

    All of this is just conjecture (and not really that important anyway) but it illustrates the power of the World Wide Web.

  2. TH, that's some interesting data you turned up!

    Today's internet has become w the ancient Library of Alexandria: the world's secrets at your fingertips! Too bad the power of instant knowledge doesn't come with the wisdom for how to best apply that power. But I'm digressing...

    Thank you Bob for another exciting episode of "Where Are They Now?"