Korean War Veteran Allen Schoofs, 85, of Kewaskum will be one of more than a dozen veterans from Washington County on Saturday’s Stars & Stripes Honor Flight.
“I was 21 years old when I was drafted,” said Schoofs, his deep, gravely voice sounding loud yet somber while he talked at the kitchen table at his home on Prospect Street.
“I was living on the farm on Highway 28,” he said. “I got drafted in 1951; you had no choice.”
Schoofs went to Fort Riley Kansas for Army infantry basic training; it lasted 16 weeks. “I learned all the different weapons,” said Schoofs. “Then they sent us to Korea – actually we went to Japan first and then to Korea. It took 17 days by ship and we hit two storms on the way over.”
Once in Korea, Schoofs was put on the front lines. The year was 1952.
“There were three of us guys who took basic training together who were in the same unit in Korea,” Schoofs said.
“We were in King Company; 22nd Division, 23rd Regimen.”
Schoofs recalled he didn’t get into any hand-to-hand contact with the enemy but they were pinned down twice. Schoofs said he was trained in the 60mm mortar. “That was a gun with a 2-inch barrel and you had to drop the round down the barrel,” he said.
The next 10-and-a-half months Schoofs spent in Korea. “We had a couple close calls,” he said. “We were supposed to take this one hill and when we came walking down around this hill on the road the enemy spotted us and they started dropping shells. There was a ravine ahead of us and there were some trees ahead of us and we ducked in there and waited for two hours until our own tanks came along.”
“They supposedly blew the enemy out of the bunker and then they called us back,” he said.
Discharged in March 1953, Schoofs returned to the farm in Kewaskum. “I was 23 years old and I worked the farm for my mother,” he said.
Married in 1955, Schoofs purchased the farm in 1961. “I had 80 acres but it wasn’t big enough; it was hard to make an income so I got a job on the assembly line at the Gehl Company.”
Working at the Gehls from 1965 – 1982, Schoofs family grew to seven kids; he held down a number of other jobs at the same time including school bus driver and milk man.
Schoofs was laid off from Gehl in 1982. He was unemployed for 15 months before getting a job in the industrial park in Germantown. “It was a tool and die shop and I ran press for 18 years,” he said.
This Saturday Schoofs is looking forward to returning to Washington D.C. He wants to see the Korean War Memorial in particular. “I lost a couple buddies over there and I’d like to find their names,” he said.
Schoofs guardian is his daughter Debbie Keller.