Memories of Christmas: Christmas spent in a war zone far from home
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Bill Sigmund remembers Christmas as a 21-year-old infantryman serving overseas in the Korean War. File photo.
Editor's note - Writer Margaret Plevak has found some of the magic of the season, from the carols on the radio and the twinkling lights throughout the neighborhood to the pageants held on elementary school stages.
Each day this week on WalworthCountyToday.com, we'll publish a favorite Christmas Memory from a Walworth County resident. Read all the memories in Walworth County Sunday HERE.
William Sigmund, Elkhorn resident and Korean War veteran: I was in Korea from 1952 to ’53. I was in the infantry, single and 21 at the time.
We were along the 38th parallel (a highly defended border) most of the time, and it’s very cold over there in winter, I’ll say that. We were trying to stay warm. There were no heated motels and hotels — all we had were tents, if possible, and sleeping bags to help keep the cold out, but you were still cold as all heck.
You were always looking for mail, cards and letters. They didn’t fly packages over to you then; they came by ship and they got bounced around pretty badly. I got a cake from home once, but by the time I got it, it was more like a box of crumbs.
There was a distinct feeling of being away from home at Christmas — some 12,000 miles away. You always think more about home at Christmas because the feeling is more prevalent then. You can’t forget holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you just had to live through them.
The Army did the best it could. We normally had C-rations — everything out of one small can. They were nutritious. At Christmas, they’d rotate you back (to base) and give you a turkey dinner. I think we had a makeshift Christmas tree. Of course, there were no lights on it, but we decorated it with whatever we could find.
The next Christmas, I was back home. You’re safe, warm, with a tummy full of good food, but I kept thinking about the people who were still over there.
Read other memories of Christmas from local residents in the Dec. 19, 2010 e-edition of Walworth County Sunday, HERE.