>> My name is Levinjel A. Banaje. I had joined the Army in 1948 and retired in 1986 as a lieutenant general. When I joined the Army, I had volunteered for parachute duties, and so I had the opportunity of joining 60 Parachute Field Ambulance as a lieutenant in 1950. This unit, 60 Parachute Field Ambulance, was India's contribution to the United Nations in the war against North Korea. North Korea had invaded South Korea, and the case was taken up, and as such, the United Nations send help to South Korea to fight the North Koreans. India's contribution to this was a field medical unit, and 60 Parachute Field Ambulance was selected. This unit sailed in a U.S. warship [INAUDIBLE] Johnson on 8th November '50 and landed at Pusan, the present Busan, on 20th November 1950. This unit proceeded to Daegu, and then as the war was supposed to be finishing, we were rushed to the front area to join the 8th Army, which was there at Pyongyang. So having spent a few days at Daegu, the unit moved to Pyongyang, and we landed in Pyongyang on 29th November 1950. We hardly stayed at Pyongyang for a few days when the Chinese troops moved in, and the whole 8th Army had to move back. So we went back south of Seoul in a train, as well as with our [INAUDIBLE], and we are told to join the headquarters of the 8th Army, the Yongsan as we called it, on 4th of December. Sixth of December, we came back to Seoul, and we were allotted to give medical cover to 27th British Brigade. This British Brigade was the second brigade with us counterrouted by the British Army. They had the 28th Brigade also. The 60 Field Ambulance, which was named 60 Indian Field Ambulance in Korea, was allotted to British Brigade, and throughout that in Europe and Korea, it remained with the British Brigade. The field ambulance provides medical cover to the fighting troops in the forward areas. It's mobile. So you can move back and forth, but the advantage of this parachute field ambulance is that it had two surgical teams, so we could do life-saving operations right at the forward areas. After moving back from Seoul, the war went as a ding-dong type, sometimes going up, sometimes down, and we had been looking after the British, American and Korean troops as well as some prisoners of war. The unit was not fully mobile in the sense that the vehicles which was with the unit could not move the whole unit at a stretch, so the unit divided into two parts. The forward section stayed with one surgical team, and the other rear went back to Daegu with the other surgical team. That happened sometime in January 1951. The forward unit became a part of 27th Brigade and moved on further from Seoul to a place called Uijeonbu. The rear detachment, which was the mediant supply stores for this medical unit, went back to Daegu. They also had a surgical team, and they started looking after the civil hospital at Daegu. So by 9th February '51, a fully functional civil hospital at Daegu was being done by the rear troops of the 60th Indian Field Ambulance. The forward detachment after that went on various movements, at times forward, at times retreat, giving support to the 27th British Brigade. Being a parachute unit, the commanding officer warranted the services of his surgical team to the 187 RCT, the Regimental Combat Team of the U.S. Army, for any operation which they desired, which took place on the 18th March in Operation Tomahawk at Munsan-ni, a surgical team of the England field ambulance took part in the same operation, along with 187 RCT, Regimental Combat Team, and did a good job there. The other detachment, the forward detachment, which was with the 27th Brigade, took part in the operation throughout their tenure in Korea. There have been few important operations, one at Kapyong in which a lot of casualties were looked after by the Indian Field Ambulance. By the middle of year 1951, the Commonwealth Division was formed, and the Indian Field Ambulance became a part of the Commonwealth Division, giving medical cover to the same 28th Brigade, instead of the 27th British Brigade. Commonwealth Division was formed on 28th July. The unit took part from Operation Tomahawk with various operations which was given to the British Brigade and the Division for which they were given the Meritorious Unit Citation by the U.S. Army. This took place on 17th August at Daegu, and the Meritorious Unit Citation was given to the 60 Indian Field Ambulance. On the 17th, similar citation was given by the Korean Army. I don't remember the name of the general who did it, but this happened there at Daegu in a parade, the citation by the Korean Army was given to this unit. After that, there has been various operations, one of them being Op Commando by the Commonwealth Division in October of '51 in which this Indian Field Ambulance took a major part and did a good job looking after two important battalions, the 3rd Royal Australian Regiment and the Northumberland Fusiliers. The rear detachment has been looking after the particular hospital and have treated more than about 40,000 patients, outpatients, looking after the civilians in this particular period.
>> Wow, 40,000?
>> Yeah, they were as outpatients.
>> That was ... After that, the war has been on a ding-dong type advance-and-retreat, and the forward detachment was involved in looking after this British Brigade. I was particularly lucky because I was all the time along with the forward detachment, and so I have been taking part in most of the operations which the Commonwealth Division and the British Brigade had to do.
>> So you were a surgeon?
>> No, as a general duty medical officer.
>> General duty medical.
>> There you go.
>> So as a general duty medical officer, what did that entail? What did you do?
>> It was more of a life-saving first aid which you do, bandaging wounds ...
>> ... splints and giving general surgeons [INAUDIBLE]
>> So immediate.
>> Immediate, and evacuating to the rear.
>> Why is it called a parachute, 60th Parachute?
>> Because all the troops are paratroopers.
>> Oh, really, everybody?
>> Even you?
>> Oh, I have it, see here. My son also joined the Army later, and he is also a paratrooper.
>> Really? So you are trained as a paratrooper ...
>> As a doctor.
>> ... and a doctor.
>> A doctor, yes, that is the advantage of the ...
>> You need to learn how to parachute.
>> You know, the paratroopers.
>> So right now the 60th Ambulance in Agra, they do ... They parachute ...
>> Yes, all are paratroopers. They all qualify.
>> Oh, but not medical?
>> Medical, yes.
>> Them, even now?
>> Not only there in the Korean War, even now?
>> No, they have because we have to fight ... and it has to stay. Anytime an operation ...
>> So they're paratroopers and medical officers even now?
>> Yes, yes, even now. They go on changing. They're all doctors, and they are trained. So if there is a requirement, straight away they are brought.
>> Wow. Did you know that?
>> That is how the commanding officer volunteered our services ...
>> Yes, I wanted to ask. So how many total went, and how many were wounded, and how many had died?
>> We had been there for nearly 3 years.
>> So I won't be able to give you all the figures, but we had our troops. I remember no one was killed during the war, but a driver lost his foot, blown up by a mine trying to evacuate divisions. Another driver lost his arm by a mortar, and there were a few other minor injuries, but these two major injuries I remember.
>> And how many, do you think, in total, Indians went to fight for Korea, at least in the field unit? You know?
>> In this, 317.
>> Three hundred seventeen.
>> Out of us, there were 17 officers, 10 JCOs and 304 other ranks. The JCOs is Junior Commissioned Officers.
>> And the rest are troops, various, as you call it in America, sergeants, corporals, lance corporals, that sort of thing.
>> And what was your rank when you went?
>> I was a captain.
>> You were a captain.
>> How old were you when you went?
>> I joined '46. I was, let's see, 26. We went in '50, so I was 24.
>> I was 24 at that time.
>> And you went in 1950. So you are now 91.
>> I'm 91 now.
>> Did the soldiers, did the military people who went to Korea, did they volunteer, or were they drafted?
>> Here we volunteered for parachute duties, and after that, when a unit moves, you move anywhere.
>> Okay, so the ...
>> You don't have to volunteer for parachute duties.
>> Okay, you volunteer for parachute, but the military sent you to Korea.
>> And then what anybody wants us to do, we are sent.
>> Okay. So most of the people that went to Korea, when they came back, they still served?
>> They went to different places.
>> But they all stayed in the military?
>> They stayed in the military. Yes, they are all regular troops.
>> So if you really think about it, the Indians that went to Korea were very experienced.
>> Yes, they had been in the Kashmir War before that.
>> The reason why I say that is I interviewed many veterans, right.
>> They were 16, 17. They volunteered. They didn't know anything about war, and they were just young soldiers sometimes seeking for adventure, but I think Indians were different. They sent serious, experienced ...
>> We had a part of the unit, and then you hold the unit.
>> Wow, that's amazing. So when you came back from Korea ...
>> After 1 year, right?
>> No, I stayed there 3 years.
>> You stayed there for 3 years?
>> Nearly 3 years.
>> The unit, this was what they do. All the units which went to Korea from the rest of the countries, they used to go back after 1 year, but this Indian Field Ambulance stayed for nearly 3 years.
>> Not everybody, the people went on coming back, some of them. I'm one of the longest, but there was some ...
>> Who decided for you to stay 3 years, you or the military?
>> Unless ...
>> So you were high-ranking?
>> No, not high-ranking. They decide who will come back.
>> Well, maybe they wanted you to stay because you are really good at ...
>> No, not particularly. Partly I will say that is correct because they have to get officers volunteering for doing parachute duties and going to Korea. When we went, our doctors ... I won't say the whole unit was, but about 60 to 70 percent of the troops, they're qualified paratroopers. The rest had joined, but they had not qualified so far.
>> It's incredible because I know, so for example, in America, 1.8 million went, okay? And 54,000 died. So, of course, it's a big war, but even in America, Korean War is called the Forgotten War. You know?
>> But in India, I know it was right after India was independent. Right? India gained independence, and then shortly after, you went to Korea.
>> But why do you think very, very, very, very, very, very few people know about India's contributions in the Korean War?
>> It's just a small unit. Actually, it depends on the number of troops given because apart from India, there were about 12 nations that took part.
>> Some of them also, as you said, Norway, Sweden, they got a hospital ship or a MASH ...
>> Yes, Jutlandia, Jutlandia, yes.
>> ... and the Philippines. There's so many other troops. They just sent a battalion. Battalion being about 600 or 700 troops, fighting troops, mind you.
>> Yes, except for ...
>> Who flew your plane?
>> The American ...
>> Oh, went we went to Korea?
>> No. We went by ship.
>> I know. I know, but you're paratroopers, right?
>> That was the Italian-American operation. One, as I told you, 187 RCT, the Regimental Combat Team. That's ...
>> So you flew with them and then jumped with the Americans?
>> Yes, the Amerns. We volunteered because we had a surgical team. The Regimental Combat Team had their own medical supply, but they didn't have a surgical team, so we volunteered. So our surgical team, one surgical team, went with them, and then ...
>> How many people in one?
>> Surgeon anesthetist and two doctors.
>> And ...
>> There's others helping him.
>> How often did you go with them in combat?
>> No, no. That was only operation [INAUDIBLE], Operation Munsan-ni.
>> So for 3 years, okay? Describe to me maybe your everyday, typical, average day. You stayed there for 3 years.
>> Three years.
>> Yeah, so, you didn't ... Did you have to take care of the patients every day? I mean ...
>> The patients are there. We had a small ward. The patients come here. You look after them. They may be outpatients. Just give them medical care, and they go back. Of if they had, sort of, to be kept as a patient, we had wards where the patients are kept and looked after. Or if they are still serious, we send them to go back to the MASH.
>> To the MASH?
>> And then the MASH sends some ...
>> MASH looked after ... Anyway ...
>> So you are even more urgent care than that?
>> Yes. We're the earlier care.
>> The first time ...
>> This is so interesting.
>> So it's a ...
>> So you were like the emergency room?
>> Yes. The first, what we look after ...
>> Yes, yes.
>> ... giving the life-saving treatment and evacuate ...
>> And then send to MASH?
>> As soon as possible because being a field unit, we had the bigger ambulance and the smaller Jeep ambulance, so we quickly second them back.
>> That drove to the MASH.
>> Okay. So you had American and British patients, but did you see other patients from other countries?
>> No. It was mainly British, British and Australian, New Zealanders, being a part of the Commonwealth Division.
>> Part of the Commonwealth ...
>> And some Americans, when we were part of the American operation, and also sometimes Koreans who had ... the South Koreans, not bad ...
>> Not civilians though?
>> Civilians? Yes.
>> Civilians also, if they are wounded. Villagers, they came. Civilians ... Now that is entirely different from the civilian hospital being done at Daegu. That was separate, running as a hospital. Half the unit was there at Daegu, and we used to alternate them. Same people used to go to the forward areas, and the others from the forward used to come back to the rear for a change and stay, and then we can go to the forward areas. So forward, so it changed all the time, wherever the ...
>> Yeah, wherever the troops ...
>> But you had a base at Daegu?
>> Base at Daegu.
>> Daegu. Oh, this is so interesting.
>> Our resources of field rations and others, which used to come from India, used to go to Daegu and then send forward.
>> Daegu, okay. So you ate Indian food?
>> Because I asked Ethiopia, because I came from Ethiopia here. I said, "What did you eat?"
>> They couldn't eat Ethiopian food.
>> No, no.
>> Yeah, they didn't.
>> Yeah, but ...
>> But you did?
>> No Korean food?
>> Korean food? No. Because ...
>> So you had cooks and everything there?
>> Cooks? Yes. The unit consisted of everything, all types, the tradesmen we called them. We had cooks. We had barbers. We had washermen washing clothes.
>> Because, you know, some, I think American, many other troops, they had Korean houseboys, Korean ...
>> Yes, right? But you didn't?
>> No, no. We didn't have any because we ... We had everything, including barbers. We had a dentist also. That was ...
>> You had dentists?
>> Dentists also. The 17 officers, we had two dental surgeons.
>> For both the wounded and for you?
>> Yeah, yeah. Dentist was there.
>> Looking after and also because they ... And a field ambulance has this dental officer also.
>> Yes, yes. Oh.
>> And nurses?
>> No women? Nothing else?
>> We used to call nursing orderly. They used to do the nursing jobs. They're specially trained, like operation groom assistants, physiotherapies, laboratory technicians. We have all these things, but they've all been trained as paratroopers.
>> So were you married before you went to Korea?
>> No, I was not married.
>> So you married after?
>> We had married persons also there. I'm not.
>> Well, good, because you stayed there for 3 years. If you were married, that would have been difficult. So you came back and you got married and you had ...
>> Yes, and your son is also a paratrooper?
>> My son is also a paratrooper. He's in the Army.
>> Really? Even now?
>> Yes. He's a brigadier in Lucknow.
>> In ... Where?
>> At Lucknow, in the UP.
>> But not in the 60th Field Unit.
>> No. He served in 60 Field Unit.
>> Oh, he did?
>> He was a part of 60 for quite some time.
>> Wow, wow! So do you have other children that are also ...
>> No, just one son. [FOREIGN LANGUAGE] Left side [FOREIGN LANGUAGE].
>> [FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> [FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> Do you have ... Did you ever go back to Korea?
>> You did?
>> I did.
>> I have been ... I went ... The first batch of revisit to Korea took place in 1991.
>> And I was the only chap from India that went there.
>>Because I had been there.
>> What did you think when you went to ...
>> [FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> [FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> [FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> [FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> This is, of course ...
>> Of course, [INAUDIBLE]
>> This is ...
>> Your son?
>> That's my son.
>> And my wife.
>> Okay, and you?
>> And me.
>> This was while I was serving, and this is when I returned. That was my family, but unfortunately ...
>> A little higher? Okay. Thanks.
>> This is ... And unfortunately I lost my wife and my grandson.
>> Oh. I'm so sorry to hear that.
>> So that is ...
>> Well, I know you lost your grandson, but we have ... You have a new, one more Korean granddaughter. I say ... I call all the Korean War veterans around the world my grandpas because ...
>> This is lovely.
>> Yes, because I say if you didn't go there in Korea and fight for Korea, I wouldn't be here.
>> So nice of you.
>> And I really mean it, and that's why ... You know, I used to work for the United States Congress for 7 years. I was chief of staff to a member of Congress. He represents [INAUDIBLE]. He was a Congressman for 46 years, and he decided to retire when President Obama retired. And before I start a new career with a new Congressman, I said, "You know what? God has been so good to me. I've been living the American Dream, you know? How many child, women, young person of an immigrant family in America were in politics?" As you know it's still white-dominated, men, and here I was, and I said, "Wow. I'm so grateful." So I said, "I am going to take a break, and I am going to visit all my grandpas all over the world."
>> So nice of you.
>> All over the world and say thank you because many of you are very old now. You're not young anymore, and I wanted to say thank you, but also I wanted you to remember that me, not only me but my friends, my family, even Koreans in Korea and all over the world, we don't forget.
>> You know? Right? We don't forget.
>> So nice of you. So nice.
>> Yes, yes, and I know when you visited Korea in 1991, I'm sure they said thank you.
>> Very happy now. They're happy too.
>> And maybe the Korean embassy here, right?
>> Yeah, no. They have been looking after ... given so many sort of citations and others. It is very, very rewarding, and it is another thing.
>> Yeah, so, I said ...
>> And the best part is, having seen the country that time in 1950, '51 and '52, '53 and visiting Korea now: What a difference!
>> You must be so proud!
>> Yes, proud! How can a country which was in that state at that time, within these few years, come up to this height?
>> It was in rubbles, nothing.
>> There was one bridge over the river in Seoul those days.
>> Yes, the Han River.
>> Han River.
>> Yes. I think now ...
>> Unfortunately I have donated recently my personal album to the museum. It's the Korean Embassy at Lucknow, and these are all there. There's all the pictures of the Korean thing.
>> What I did was, they wanted my father, when he was here. He kept all the paper cuttings of the period.
>> Of the ...
>> Oh, when you were in Korea.
>> When we were in Korea.
>> All the paper.
>> In the newspaper, and he wrote down even the announcements on India Radio.
>> And when I came back after 3 years from Korea, he gave it to me as a booklet.
>> And that, along with my own personal album ...
>> That is ...
>> ... which I had from Korea taken, I hand it over to the Korean Embassy.
>> It's there now in Seoul in their national museum.
>> Museum, War Museum!
>> War Museum in Seoul, it is there.
>> You know, after my last, final destination is Seoul. I go to, first, Busan, where the cemetery is.
>> And then I go to Seoul, where the War Museum is. I will go and find your ...
>> Yes, you'll see!
>> Wow, that's so amazing!
>> I have been to Korea three times.
>> The last time of course was the year 2000 when it was the 50th anniversary.
>> Yes, yes. It was huge.
>> So the 50th anniversary.
>> So my boss, he's a congressman, but he also was a Korean War veteran. And he went to the 50th anniversary too.
>> That's really ...
>> That's the last time I went. That was in 2000.
>> Well, thank you, so I think I saw some pictures over there of you when you were a soldier. Can you show? Can we go and see?
>> Yeah. Unfortunately ...