Alvin “Leroy” Humphrey served his nation in the Korean War from 1951-1952.
Humphrey was drafted October 9, 1950 into the Army and was sent to San Antonio’s Fort Sam Houston at age 23.
“We arrived in Ft. Sam Houston and gave us our clothes and shots,” Humphrey said. “We were sent straight to Camp Polk, LA.”
Following 8 weeks in basic training, the regimen boarded a train to Ft. Bliss in El Paso. He was part of the 145th AAA for automatic weapons, with the regimen spending time arms training in the New Mexico desert.
“After El Paso we were put on a train,” Humphrey added. “We thought we were returning to Camp Polk, but we ended up in New Orleans. We boarded a ship, went through the Panama Canal, picked up more troops in San Francisco and headed to Hokkaido, Japan.”
Floors were built for the platoon tents in Japan, where the regimen would stay for that time.
“We landed in Japan the 26th of april and trained there until December,” Humphrey said. “We heard rumors that we were returning home. Instead, we boarded a ship which came through the Korean peninsula. We arrived on shore Christmas Day, 1951.”
The night the platoon arrived, the temperature was 22 degrees below zero. They were south of the 38th parallel and set up camp. They were responsible for relieving the 2nd division.
“We were camped out on the hillside,” Humphrey added. “We stayed there until the division could be outfitted again. The division had insufficient weapons. I was only one of two in the battalion that had a gun that would shoot.”
The platoon then crossed the 38th parallel into North Korea. Prior to their arrival, divisions were completely surrounded by the Chinese. They set up behind the infantry division to disrupt the Chinese. The platoon did a lot of damage and managed to push back the Chinese. Soon after, the armistice was signed. All told, Humphrey served in Korea from Dec. 21 to July 26.
“By July we had pushed back,” Humphrey said. “I boarded a plane to Japan and was sent home from there.”
Humphrey was behind a platoon in Korea that suffered a sixty percent casualty rate. He considers himself very lucky.
“When I first moved here (Carriage Inn) I would not talk to anyone about my service,” Humphrey added. “When I first returned home I had some trouble sleeping. I had some nightmares, which is rare for me. Luckily, I did not suffer any long term issues.”
Following the war, Humphrey resumed his career at Texaco, where he stayed for thirty years. After retiring from Texaco, Humphrey established a new office for Texas Oil and Gas in Tyler. He became the first certified petroleum landman in the US in the 1980’s.
“Before I left, I proposed to my wife,” Humphrey added. “When I came back, we continued dating because we did not know each other well enough. I made only $200 a month, but we purchased our first car. We’ve been married 66 years.”
Humphrey celebrated his 90th birthday in September. He has beaten cancer and overcame a heart attack, but is now fighting lupus as he continues to persevere.
The platoon made a pact that they would meet once a year. As they aged, it became too difficult. Humphrey and one other man are the only living members of the platoon.
“It’s been a great life,” Humphrey concluded.