Korea veteran Belter has no regrets
Arthur Belter was at Beaver Dam High School when President Eisenhower announced that the United States had taken “police action” against Korea.
“Nobody in high school knew where Korea was,” said Belter. “We had to go and look on a map.”
Two years later, he would be serving in the Korean War. In 1952, when he was 20 years old, he was drafted into the Army and sent to boot camp in Little Rock, Ark.
Several months later he found himself on a ship departing Seattle and spent two weeks crossing the Pacific Ocean until the ship arrived in Tokyo.
There he was sent to a little island off Hiroshima, where he was trained for chemical, biological and radiological warfare.
“CBR they called it,” he said. “We were at a beautiful camp on a Japanese naval base, and the people were very friendly.”
After his training was complete, he was sent to Korea and joined the 40th Division Artillery in an area called Smoky Valley.
“They kept the smoke going to keep us hidden from the Koreans,” he said. There he exchanged gunfire with the Koreans but never saw a battle.
It was February 1953 and an armistice was being negotiated. His division was moved to Pork Chop Hill with the California National Guard.
“On the day of the armistice you could hear the artillery firing early, and then as the day went on a rifle would pop,” he said. “By midnight it was silent … all peace and quiet.”
Before he was shipped back to the United States, his division went to Seoul where he saw poverty for the first time.
“People were living in shacks … they had nothing,” he said. “What you see on MASH (the television show) is not exaggerated.”
Belter returned to United States and was discharged as a corporal after his two years of service. He went on to have a career in the food service business, operating the IGA in Kewaunee for 12 years.
Today, two of his five children live in Kewaunee and he is surrounded by grandchildren and great-grandchildren who call him “Grandpa Arty.”
“It was a great experience that I would never have again,” he said. “I got to see half the world and make some good friends.”
He retired at 81 and today lives at the Paradise assisted living center in Kewaunee.
“The veterans services have taken good care of me,” he said. “I have no regrets about my service.”
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Korea veteran Belter has no regrets