Interview Outline- Korean War

Introductory Information: Interviewers should state the following at the beginning of each interview:

  • Your name (as interviewer)
  • Date and place of the interview
  • Name of the person being interviewed
  • “This interview is part of the Korean War National Museum Oral History project”

Interviewee Background:

  • When & where were you born?
  • Where you grew up?
    • What did your parents do for work?
    • Do you remember growing up during the Depression?
  • Any early interest in the military?
    • Do you remember Pearl Harbor?
    • What was it like growing up during WW II?
    • How closely did your parents follow the events in Europe? Pacific?
  • Please talk about being drafted/inducted into the service?
    • Were you married at the time? Girlfriend?
    • Your parents’ reaction?

Initial Service & Training:

  • Tell us about your boot camp/training experience(s).
    • Do you remember your instructors?
    • How thorough and effective was your training?
    • What helped you cope with the experience?
  • What was your military specialty & special training you received?
  • Did you get leave before shipping to Korea?

Wartime Experiences:

  • When did you deploy to Korea, and how were you shipped overseas?
  • Do you remember arriving in theater, where you debarked, and what it was like?
    • Initial impression of Korea? Visually, sounds & smells?
  • What was your unit of assignment? Your specific job/assignment/MOS?
  • Impressions of your first day on the line?
  • (Please include questions specific to veteran’s own experiences, developed after your pre-interview session)


  • The experience of COMBAT:
    • Can you describe your emotions during your baptism of fire in combat?
    • What motivated you to keep going, of doing your duty?
  • Are there any other memorable combat experiences we’ve not already covered?
  • Were you injured? When, Where & How of injury?
  • Were you awarded any medals or citations? If so, for what?
  • The toughest part about your service in Korea?
  • Impressions of the (segregated / integrated) military?
  • Did any Korean soldiers serve with your unit? If so, your impression of them?
  • Your impression of other UN forces you encountered?
  • Your impressions/thoughts about the enemy you faced?
  • Did you have an opportunity to see or work with Korean civilians?
    • Work with an orphanage?
    • Adopt (formally or informally) any Korean children?

Military Life: Ask questions about life in the service and/or at the front or under fire.

  • How did you stay in touch with your family?
  • What was the food like? What was your favorite C or K ration?
  • Did you have plenty of supplies?
  • What did you do when you/your unit was not in combat?
    • Were there entertainers?
    • What did you do when on leave? R & R?
  • Do you recall any particularly humorous or unusual event?
    • What were some of the pranks that you or others would pull?
  • Were you on the point system? A rotation policy?
  • Describe your rotation home: When?   How?
  • Can you describe your reunion with your family when you came back home?
  • Do you have photographs? Letters?  Personal diary?

Life After Service: Appropriateness of questions will vary if the veteran had a military career.

  • Tell us a little about the friends you made while in the service.
  • Discuss your release from service, where it was, what you experienced, and what you were feeling?
  • What did you do in the days and weeks afterward?
  • Did you work or go back to school?
    • Was your education supported by the G.I. Bill?
    • What was your career/professions after the war?
  • Did you continue any of the relationships you formed while in the service?
    • For how long?
    • Did you join a veterans’ organization?
    • Do you attend reunions?

Later Years and Closing:

  • Do you think your sacrifice during the war was justified? If so, why?
  • How did your experience change you / your outlook on life?
  • Did your military experience influence your thinking about life; about our current situation?
  • What do you think people today should know about what you went through? Or “What lessons could we today learn from your experiences?”
  • What advice or wisdom would you pass on to future generations?

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