Memoir of Richard Barton
Transcript of a taped interview.
Narrator: Richard L. Barton
Tape # 65 a
Date: April 19,1988
Place of interview: Barton residence on Montgomery Street (29 Sharon Road)Interviewer: Paul Rebillard
Summary: Genealogy of Richard L. Barton, Barton’s apple cider, army career 1946-1968, postal worker for 20 years, his wife and sons.
Property of the oral History Project
Salisbury Association, Scoville Memorial Library, Salisbury, Connecticut 06068
Richard Barton Memoir
This is Paul Rebillard, speaking on the 19th of April, 1988. Today I am speaking with Richard L. Barton of Lakeville, Connecticut, Richard better known as Dick.
PR:Dick where were you born?
DB:I was born in Salisbury.
PR:In Salisbury, on your father’s farm?
DB:No, at the house on route 41.
PR:The house on route 41? Is that right in the village, or north of the village?
DB:It is east of the village.
PR:East of the village?
DB:On the old Ashman place. The old Willard farm.
PR:Oh, your father lived there at that time? On the old Willard farm. I didn’t know that. Well, then that was after he left the farm on Undermountain Road on route 41.
DB:Yes, that’s right
PR:What year were you born?
PR:1928 and the date of your birth?
DB:4th of March
PR:4th of March, 1928. Your father, whom I knew very well, your father’s name was George. Did he have a middle initial?
PR:GeorgeEdward Barton and your mother was Mary?
PR:Mary McLain, whom I knew also when I was a kid. How do you spell that McLain? There are a couple of McLain spellings in town. One is McLain, the other is McLean.
PR:McLain and she was the daughter of local people, who had lived here for some time?
DB:Yes, she was.
PR:She was. Where did she live before she married your father? Do you remember?
DB:She lived in Canaan.
PR:She lived in Canaan. And your father worked on the Willard farm?
DB:No, he worked, he was up on the farm in Undermountain Road.
PR:He never lived there then? On the Undermountain Road?
DB:Yes, he lived on the farm. He was born on the farm.
PR:He was born on the farm. That’s when I remember him. When I first met him, I was sure
he lived on that farm. What was his father’s name? In other words your grandfather.
DB:E.E. Edward E. Barton
PR:Edward E. Barton was he the first Barton to live on that farm?
DB:No, his father, Piney.
PR:Piney Barton was E.E. Barton’s father, that would be your great grandfather.
DB:He was born 1803.
PR:That’s what I thought that it went back a long, long time. Now was he the first Barton or
were there Bartons before him?
DB:There were more before that, but I don’t go back any farther than that.
PR:No, you don’t know whether they were in town, or where they came from?
DB:Great, great, great grandfather was on the farm, but I don’t know when, but before
PR:This was before Piney. Before 1803. So your family are one of the very earliest settlers in
the whole town, then, Dick. One of the early settlers. Where did they come from? Do
you know? Did they come from England? With the name Barton.
DB:Yes, they came from England.
PR:They came from England. Yes, so he came from England in the 1700’s…your forebear.
PR:The gentleman before Piney, as a matter of fact two generations before Piney.
PR:You don’t know what year they actually landed in Connecticut or…3.
DB:No, they go back to the Mayflower.
PR:They actually go back to the Mayflower. You’re telling me that a Barton came over onthe Mayflower.
PR:Well, you’re the first individual I have ever spoken with who told me, right out and out,
that they came over on the Mayflower.
PR:And I have to respect you and your family an awful lot more now, than I did before, and I
had a great respect for them. I remember your, as I say, I remember your father very,
very well. I also remember your grandfather. Do you happen to remember, your father
died in what year?
DB:He died in 1952.
PR:’52 and do you happento remember when his father died?
DB:No, I don’t know when he did.
PR:Are your parents, and your grandfather, and your great grandfather, are they all buried
in the Salisbury Cemetery?
DB:Yes, they are.
PR:The big cemetery
PR:Yes. That’s very, very interesting. Do you, what did your father; I know that your
Grandfather was a farmer, essentially. And I suppose that your great grandfather and as
far back as you can go, were they farmers?
DB:They were all farmers.
PR:They were all farmers. And that was the original farm that they lived on.
PR:And that goes back to, as far as you know, to the late 1700’s, or early 1800’s.
DB: When it was first built.
PR:That’s right; it would be the early 1800’s probably, when that house was built.5.
DB:It would be before that, my grandfather was born in 1803
PR:Then the house would have been built in the 1700’s. That would place it as one of the
oldest houses in town then. Is any original part of the house still standing?
PR:No. It was torn down and rebuilt, I suppose. Was it ever burned or a fire do you know?
PR:It was torn down and rebuilt. Now as I recall, when I was a youngster, out behind the
house was a barn, a fairly substantial barn, and the earliest recollection I have was that
your father and I believe it was your grandfather, used to make cider. Do you recall that
in your early days?
DB:Oh, yes. They made it and sold it.
PR:They made cider for years and years and years. People came for miles around to get
cider from your father and your grandfather.
DB:When they moved off the farm, they took the cider mill with them down on route 41,
the house on route 41.
PR:Oh, really. And did they continue to make cider there?
DB:I made cider. As a kid I can remember.
PR:Really, yes, yes.
DB:—the apples, picking them.
PR:Now Dick you have a brother, whom I remember as Buzz. What was his right name?
DB:George Edward Barton
PR:George Edward Barton, known as Buzz. Buzz, the last I knew was in the Washington area.
DB:He’s in Springfield, Virginia.
PR:In Springfield, Virginia, does he work in Washington?
DB:Yes, he works there.
PR:For the Post Office or the government?
DB:For the government.
PR:For the government, and he is still living there.
DB:He’s still living in Springfield.
PR:In Springfield, Virginia. Which isn’t too far out of Washington?
DB:It’s right on the outskirts.
PR:Right on the outskirts, yes.
DB:A fifteen minute drive.
PR:And you have, do you have more than one sister?
DB:I have two sisters.
PR:You have two sisters. Avis, I remember. What was your other sister’s name?
PR:Was Mary. I do remember Mary, very slim, slight girl as Avis was, too, of course, when
she was young. Avis is presently living in Lake, Salisbury.
PR:And Mary is living where?
PR:In Lakeville, is she?
DB:On Bostwick Street.
PR:She’s married to?
DB:To Reed Manning. Now it all comes clear. So your whole family then, is in Salisbury
DB:Except for Buzz.
PR:Does Buzz ever get up to visit you? Occasionally.
PR:You more often go down to visit him. When was the last time he was herein Salisbury?
DB:He was up for the ski jumps probably about 10 years ago.
PR:10 years ago, yes, yes. Buzz was the youngest of the family or was Mary?
DB:Mary was the youngest.
PR:Mary was the youngest. Are you the eldest?7.
DB:No, Avis was the oldest. Then Buzz, then me, and Mary.
PR:Well, that pretty well takes care of your family and your history, which isthe history of your family, which is certainly a very interesting one. I’m sure in the town records there is a great many references to the Barton name and the Barton family.
PR:There certainly must be. Now maybe we can get to something about Richard Lewis Barton, better known as Dick. I remember you as a kid. I think you went to the regional high school, did you not?
PR:You graduated from the regional high school. After graduating from high school, did you
immediately go into the Army? Or did you go to any other school after that?
DB:The day after graduation I entered the Army.
PR:You entered the Army.
DB:The day after.
PR:Not the marines, it was the regular Army. What did you do in the Army? What a…
DB:I took as a Gl the basic training in Alabama in June and July. August I…
PR:This was what year?
PR:1946 you entered the Army.
DB:August, 1946,1 sailed for Japan, and I stayed in Japan for three years. Came back to the United States, stationed in Georgia for a year, went to Camp Drum, New York. Then I was in several posts throughout the country. Went to Germany, from there I went to Germany.
PR:About what year did you go to Germany?
DB:1958 went to Korea.
PR:Korea was the biggest experience of your army career, was it not?
DB:One of them.
PR:One of them. Well, we’ll get to those later. You went to Korea in 1958.1 suppose you saw all kinds of action in Korea.
DB:Saw action, yes.
PR:What division or regiment were you with?
DB:It was 7th division, 7thinfantrydivision.
DB:The first time I came back to the United States in 1951, I stayed at Fort Devens. Then I went back to Korea for the second time in 1952.
PR:Now you saw action in Korea, I guess.
PR:Plenty of action. Now what was the first action you were in? What year?
PR:In 1950 you went to Korea for the first time. You had been to Japan previously. You went to Korea in 1950. Do you recall where you landed and what the circumstances were when you landed? Did you go immediately into action? Would you describe what…
DB:We —when the North Koreans were overrunning the South Koreans, and they nearly
annihilated them. We landed at Inchon.
PR:You landed at Inchon.
DB:We immediately wentinto action.
PR:Yes, yes. Could you describe, Dick, from your memory your landing in Inchon? Did you land under fire? Or had you created a perimeter by that time? Or did you actually land under fire?
DB:We landed under fire.
PR:You landed under fire. So you know what it was all about. So upon landing you established a foothold, a perimeter, and fought your way out of Inchon, northward.
PR:North. Your effort wasto force the North Koreans back.
PR:You were successful over a long period of time. The fighting as we heard it here was fierce. Could you describe the action, the fighting that took place? At what time of the year was this?
DB:It was the fall and winter of the first year of the…
PR:The winter was bitter, was it not?
DB:Very bitter, and we were ill equipped at first.
PR:III equipped. You were not properly clothed.
DB:We brought what clothes we had; summer clothes, fatigues, and they anticipated a very short end to the war.
DB:Eventually we got our winter equipment.
PR:After you had been there for some time. There was a lot of misery and frostbite, freezing, frozen feet and hands.
DB:A lot of it.
PR:As I recall. Another area of tremendous action, as I recall, was the Chosan dam area.
PR:Chosan River, didyou fight in that action?
DB:No we didn’t get up there. Not that far.
PR:You didn’t get upthere.
DB:Marines were on one side and the second division was up there.
PR:Yes, at the time you went into Inchon, which I believe, correct me if I am wrong, and was on the eastern coast of Korea.
PR:Perhaps the southeastern, or the eastern?
PR:Southeastern. At the time you went into Inchon, was there any activity or effort being made on the opposite shore of Korea to land and join forces with you? Or was the primary action, most of the action was in the Inchon area?
DB:Most of the action was in the Inchon area.
PR:So you had to land there, and establish a foot hold and gradually expand it.
PR:Now your weapons, your own personal weapons, were the rifle?
DB:At that time we had carbines, 30 caliber carbines.
PR:30 caliber, how many shots did these fire?
DB:They fired 15 round clips.
DB:We taped them together and made 30 rounds out of them. Just turn them around.
PR:Just turn them around. Did they automatically feed? The whole 30 rounds?
DB:No, the 15 and then you had to twist it around.
PR:Twist it around at the bottom. Now you were supported by machine gun fire.
PR:Naval bombardment first, right?
DB:To soften them up.
PR:To soften them up, and then you went in. And this was not a pretty sight.
DB:No, it wasn’t. They were pretty well dug in.
PR:They were dug in. They were loosened up by naval fire. Any support from the air?
DB:Air strikes and naval fire power.
PR:And naval fire. So that did loosen them up to the point where you were able to inch forward. They were very determined fighters, were they not?
DB:They were. Fanatical.
PR:They were fanatical. They would rather die than retreat, I guess, in a way. What number of men actually landed in the Inchon affair, would you guess?
DB:Well, all in all, I would say approximately 8,000.
PR:About 8,000 troops in that initial landing. Now you were reinforced gradually or sufficiently, would you say? Did reinforcements come in?
PR:Immediately. As soon as you created a space for them, more came in.
PR:Artillery and tanks. Weretanks effective in Korea?
DB:Yes, they were.
PR:And your artillery was effective also. What we’ve been given to understand.
PR:This Inchon invasion wasmasterminded by General Douglas MacArthur, is that true?
PR:What type of feelingdid your troops have for General MacArthur, Dick?
DB:At the time feelings,at that time feelings, we wereall for him, 100%.
PR:Yes, you looked up to him as a strong and capable leader.
DB:Yes, we did.
PR:You were ready to follow him, follow his orders. Was this a general feeling throughout the troops from your observation?
DB:It was, yes.
DB:Most of the troops.
PR:Good support. How long did the, did this, not the Inchon affair, but the actual fighting from the time you landed at Inchon. How long was it before you had pushed the North Koreans back to the DMZ that they now occupy?
DB:A good sixty seven months
PR:Sixty seven months during which the fighting was fierce. And many, many Americans died in that…
DB:Many of them.
PR:Many, many. I think…12.
DB:A big grave right there in Inchon.
PR:I think the figure that sticks in my mind is 50,000 troops fell.
PR:57,000 fell in Korea, Dick. You must have tremendous respect for those men who fought and died in Korea.
DB:I sure do. I knew a lot of them.
PR:You knew a lot of them.
DB:I didn’t know them for long, but…
PR:And there we are today, still anchored south of that DMZ.
DB:DMZ, that’s right.
PR:What is your feeling for the whole Korean affair now, long, long after it is over? Was it worth while? Did we do the right thing?
DB:I think that General MacArthur shouldn’t have been stopped. We should have went right… took care of the whole thing when we were already there. But politics got involved and everything else so we had to stop short of the end.
PR:So you had to stop short of a complete victory. You were denied a complete victory.
PR:If you had been allowed to go on, as General MacArthur wanted to do, would North Korea have been completely vanquished?
DB:We would have, yes.
PR:They would have been put out of the picture.
DB:We would have totally taken them out.
PR:And there would be one Korea today, in your opinion?
DB:There would have been.
PR:There would have been no communist control of North Korea?
PR:So you feel, honestly as a soldier and a patriot, that a mistake was made. That General
MacArthur should have been permitted to go on over the Yalloo River, bomb, to bomb and with aerial support cross the Yalloo River, and to make it possible for the troops to proceed on north, up through North Korea.
DB:Yes,I do, and everyone, the guys that I associated with, thought so also, at the time.
PR:Yes, and you think that it was feasible. It probably would have cost more lives, no doubt. But you think it was feasible to do that at that time.
DB:Yes, we had the equipment, we were prepared. We could have done it very easily.
PR:You were ready. Another 2-3 months, do you feel?
DB:I don’t know, I think it would have taken a little longer.
PR:Another 6 months. Yes. What a shame. There was a value there, boys were fighting there, and when General MacArthur was replaced, there was a, the feeling ran very, very high in this country too, mostly, I would say, for General MacArthur. But President Truman at that time decided that he was insubordinate, and he was not willing to obey his orders, so he replaced him. Is that essentially the…
DB:That’s what happened.
PR:That’s true. When General MacArthur was recalled, do you recall who replaced him? Was it General Ridgeway, or do you recall who…
DB:I don’t recall at this point.
PR:It might have been General Ridgeway?
DB:It could have been Ridgeway. I don’t know.
PR:But, at any rate, you came to a situation where the American troops and the South Korean troops arrived at a line called the DMZ, and a cease fire was called at that time.
PR:Then a great deal of talk went on as to what to do, and it was decided to stay there, to proceed no further and establish this DMZ, above which was the North Korea, and below which was the Republic of South Korea. What is…I don’t know if you ever got to know any of the Korean people at all, but what is your assessment, your feeling about the South Koreans?
DB:At the time the South Korean people were down and out, and they were ordinary people. They didn’t want to fight any more than the next guy. They were farmers.
PR:They were farmers. What they wanted was peace.
DB:Of course their land was devastated. We brought all of the big tanks and all this machinery and artillery in, and it ruined all their farmland, just about. What we didn’t ruin, the North Koreans did. They burned every village on their way back up. They just cleaned the area right out.
PR:So many of those poor North, er, South Korean people died, suffered, and starved, and they were displaced from their homes. A sorry sight. Well, so much for Korea, Dick. I think you’ve painted a very good picture of it. After Korea what happened to you in your military career?
DB:After Korea I came back to the United States, and I stayed home for about a year. Then I was reassigned over to Germany. I went to Germany in 1954 to 1956, 2 years in Germany. I was reassigned back to Waterbury where I was on recruiting duty. I stayed on recruiting duty for 2 years. Then I was assigned to Ethiopia. I went to Ethiopia and stayed there for a year, came back to the United States, then went to Viet Nam.
PR:Ethiopia, just for a moment, what was the situation in Ethiopia at that time? Were the Italians going into Ethiopia at that time?
DB:No, the Italians were all out of Ethiopia
PR:They were all out.
DB:Haile Selassie was Supreme Leader.
PR:He was the ruler at that time. When you left Ethiopia, it was still under Haile Selassie?
DB:It was still under Haile Selassie.
PR:What happened to Ethiopia later was a pretty cruel thing, was it not?
PR:OK, now we have gotten you out of Ethiopia, and you went to Viet Nam. In what year did you go to Viet Nam.
DB:I went to Viet Nam in 1962. When the build- up was just starting there, and was assigned to Cam Rahn Bay, on the peninsula of the central coast, on the Red Sea, right on the Red Sea. They established a supply base for all the troops in Viet Nam. It was an open port; supplies came into Cam Rahn Bay. They built an airstrip there, 2 mile-long air strips, and flew supplies in. I stayed there for a year, and then I came back to the United States. I was stationed down at Fort Lee, Virginia, and I stayed there 6 months.
I put in to go back to Viet Nam. I didn’t like State-side duty at the time. I went back to Viet Nam and was assigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Kontum, and I made it there just in time for the battle of Dak To where the 4th division lost quite a few members of the 1st Airborne, lost almost all their troops in that one operation up in the Central Highlands. I put in my year there, and decided that it was time to hang up my boots. I retired the first of July, 1968.
PR:Of 1968. Dick, this is a big, big question. I’d like your assessment of the whole Viet Nam picture, and after you have assessed that I’m going to ask you one question. What do you think of a full Viet Nam circumstance?
DB:I really don’t think we should have started in there.
PR:We shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
DB:No, that’s my feeling about that one. I guess as you grow older, you have different feelings about Korea, was definitely patriotic…
PR:Yes, yes, yes. It is an entirely different situation from Korea.
DB:We should have gone all the way…
PR:So you have a strong feeling that we never belonged in Viet Nam, at all.
DB:If we were there, we should have changed; we should have had the control over everything. The Vietnamese had the control over everything that was done over there. We had all the troops, and all the equipment, but they still gave the orders. I couldn’t see that.
PR:Now, my question is this. Having gotten ourselves into Viet Nam, do you think we were in a position to win that campaign?
DB:We definitely could have.
PR:We could have won.
DB:We had the man power. It is hard to fight a war with no lines established. They were back of you, beside you, in front of you, and you didn’t know where they were.
DB:There were Vietnamese people, peasants by day, by night they were Viet Cong, same as other people.
PR:And you didn’t knowwho was…
DB:And you didn’t knowwho youwere fighting or why.
PR:Do you think there was a time when we could have won the Viet Nam war?
DB:Well, we could have. It is hard to tell. We would have had to annihilate the whole race, actually to find out… to take it.
PR:I have read that had we bombed the northern area up around the reservoir and the lake area…
DB:Ty Phon (?)
PR:Ty Phon. Had we gone in there and bombed that, I mean a real, real intensive bombing that the whole northern part of North Viet Nam would have been helpless. There would have been flooding, uncontrollable flooding, and probably that would have knocked them out of the war. Do you think…
DB:That would have.
PR:It probably would have.
DB:It would kill a lot of innocent children, women, and old people, but…
PR:Yes, but somewhere along the line that decision was made not to do that.
PR:So in effect we were in another war that we were not allowed to win. Is this true in your
PR:Sorry thing. And it was a very unpopular war in this country, and it was even unpopular with the men who were over there fighting it. And when the men came back from Viet Nam, they got very, very little glory for what they did. Very small thanks and very little glory. They were very unfairly treated. Do you feel that this is true?
DB:I, myself, don’t. Many, many men do.
DB:I didn’t do anything to be praised and everything else, patriotic. I wasn’t doing anything. That was it. I have no bitter feelings. Quite a few other people I talked had no bitter feelings, for themselves. Before Korean veterans, you see parades at home and everything else, they are well dressed and neat, but the Viet Nam veterans still want to stick to their beards and their jungle fatigues, and they just can’t let go of this thing. I don’t know why, they just seem to think they are a special breed. I don’t believe it.
PR:That is a very interesting observation, Dick. It’s true that they became a bearded, long haired group, and maybe they were treated, maybe they got the type of treatment that they earned. I do not know, that is not for me to say, but I think you have the same feeling. OK, now, Dick, we’ve gotten you through 2 wars. We’ve gotten you through Germany, and Ethiopia, and now in 1968. What year did we get you back here.
DB:July of 1968.
PR:We got you back in the country in 1968. You were still in the Army?
DB:I retired the first of July, 1968.
PR: You retired from the Army. OK so I think you came back to Salisbury. Is that right?
DB:Right. I came back.17.
DB:To Lakeville, right here.
PR:To Lakeville, to this house. Incidentally, the house we are speaking of is on Montgomery Street, just below the Masonic Temple. The earliest remembrance I have of this place it was, the people who lived here were named Green. I think Mr. Green worked in the knife shop, I am not sure. I believe he did. So this house is quite an old house.
DB:The farthest I can date back is 1848.
PR:1848 so it’s approaching 150 years in age. You’ve made it very cozy and very solid here, Dick. You must be very happy here. Ok, now we’ve got you back to this country, and we’ve got you retired from the army. Now what took place in your life?
DB:I came back, and I started looking for a job. I got a job doing carpentry work for Nils Herring, a local contractor here. And I stayed there for a while, and found out that Skeet Morey was going to retire from the post office as custodian. So I spoke to the Postmaster and asked him if I could put in for the job. So he gave me the paper work, and I filled it out. I put in for the job. So in September of 1968 I started working for the post office.
PR:So you have been with the post office for 20 years, now.
DB:20 years, it will be 20 years in September.
PR:So it has been a good second career for you.
DB:It has, yes, here at home.
PR:Do you think, as you look back on your life, that your major career was your army service?
DB:I would, yes.
PR:This was a big, big part of your whole life, your army service.
DB:A big part of my life, 17 years old until I was 40.
PR:Yes, I have the feeling you’re very, very proud of your service in the armed forces.
DB:I am, yes.
PR:Well, you should be. Well, we should all be proud of you. Now you came back; you retired in 1968. When did you meet your wife Mary?
DB:I met my wife when I was on recruiting duty in Waterbury in 1961. We were married in 1963. January 1963, just before I went to Viet Nam.
PR:What was her feeling about you going back…
DB:She wasn’t happy at all.
PR:Did you tell her that you had to go?
DB:I thought that it was my duty to go. It was starting to build up over there, and I had some
experience. I figured somebody over there to take these young troops in hand, and more of them won’t have been killed.
PR:Now you went back to Viet Nam as a staff sergeant, or a sergeant?
PR:You went back as a sergeant.
DB:a tech sergeant
PR:a tech sergeant. Did you come out with a sergeant…?
DB:I came out first sergeant.
DB:Took over first sergeant.
PR:Yes, so you retired as a first sergeant. So when did you buy this house?
DB:I bought this house in 1962.
DB:Built of stone. (?)
PR:I didn’t realize it was stone. (?)
DB:field, at the time (?)
PR:So now your family Mary, your children. You have children?
DB:I have children.
PR:Tell us about your children.
DB:I have 2 sons; one was born in 1963,that’s Richard J. Barton the older son. He went to local
schools and then he went to Oliver Wolcott Technical School in Torrington for hishigh school years. He graduated from there. He’s an auto mechanic now, racing cars. He worked for Alfa Racing last year as chief mechanic. This year he is working at the Auto Shop in Salisbury. My younger son, George, was born in 1969, April of ’69. He attended local schools, and went to Salisbury School for his high school years. He’s now a freshman at the University of Connecticut.
PR:2 boys and they are both doing well, their names again were?
DB:Richard J. Barton and George Edward Barton.
PR:George Edward, George Edward is named for your father.
PR:Well, Dick, I want to thank you very much for this interview. It’s been…I think you have dug down pretty deep in your soul with some of the things you have told us today. I want to say personally that I have a tremendous amount of respect for you. The things that you have done were for your country. I’d like to end it on that note, unless there is something you would like to say to future citizens of the town of Salisbury. Would you like to make a statement to end this interview?
DB:No, I have nothing else to say.
PR:You have nothing else to say. Then I would simply say thank you very, very much, Dick. I’ve enjoyed it, and I am sure that this tape someday people will listen to it with a great amount of pride.
DB:I hope so. I think it is a great project we’ve got going here. I hope people will follow it soon.
PR:Thank you very much, Dick. I appreciate it.