Don York of Columbia City stopped by The Post & Mail office to show us an invitation he received in 1952 while serving in Osan, Korea for a Thanksgiving dinner more than 6,000 miles from home.
The artwork was done by one of his comrades in arms, D. W. Bennett, showing the emblem of the 840th Engineering Aviation Battalion and their location “K55” which is today the Osan AB Airport.
“Osan Air Base is one of two major airfields operated by the U.S. Air Force in the Republic of Korea,” states the U.S. Air Force fact sheet on Osan, “and the only base on the peninsula entirely planned and built by the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War.”
York was 21 years old when he was drafted and served from 1951 to 1953 in Korea.
He remembers the Thanksgiving dinner in 1952, and has a copy of the invitation which includes a picture of his battalion and a list of the food on the menu.
“Thanksgiving menu: Shrimp cocktail, crackers, stuffed celery sticks, olives, pickles, roast young tom turkey, poultry dressing, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, snowflake potatoes, buttered peas, cold (sic) slaw, hot parker house rolls, oleo, pumpkin pie, fruit cake, apples, tangerines, oranges, assorted candy, mixed nuts, coffee, milk, cigarettes (and) cigars.”
York says the snowflake potatoes were not like the instant potatoes found on grocery store shelves today.
“It was more like wallpaper paste,” remembered York.
He remembers with pride the building of the Osan Air Base’s concrete runway, 9,000 feet long and 8 inches thick.
“We worked 24-7 for 4 months,” he said, and the Air Force credits them with getting the runway completed in 2 1/2 months.
York’s job was to maintain the machinery, working with seven other mechanics to keep 150 trucks running.
Upon his return to the states, York worked 24 years on sewing machines and then 17 years at Essex “working on their trucks.”