Korean War Oral History interview
Date: September 15, 2006
Veteran: Angelo Cinquegrana
US Army HQ Co. 7th Cavalry Regt. 1st Cavalry Div.
Interviewer: Carol Fowler
Summarizer: Josh Gilbert
Angelo “Bud” Cinquegrana was born in Jersey City, NJ in December, 1927. He attended Dickinson High School, where he was still a student as World War II was ending. Cinquegrana dropped out of high school at age 17 and joined the US Merchant Marine, because he wanted to “do his part for his country.” He described his time with the Merchant Marine as a “great experience and a chance to see the world.” As an able seaman, he travelled to Europe and Asia and sailed the world’s sea lanes, including those in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. Cinquegrana recalled that he used his free time to take as many pictures as he could, and “really soak up the experiences, while most of the crew spent their spare time getting drunk.”
In 1950 Cinquegrana left the Merchant Marine and returned to Jersey City, where he got a job as a truckdriver. That October, however, he was drafted by the US Army. He reported to Fort Dix for induction and was then sent to Camp Atterbury, near Edinburgh, Indiana, for training. In April, 1951, after seventeen weeks at Atterbury, Cinquegrana was ordered to Korea. He remembered the trip as a long journey, which began with a train ride from Indiana to Seattle, Washington, followed by two weeks of travel aboard a troopship to Japan. Another troopship brought him to Pusan Korea, where he boarded a train to Seoul.
In Seoul, Cinquegrana was assigned to Headquarters Company of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, a unit of the 1st Cavalry Division. His unit was responsible for reconnaissance missions and intelligence gathering. He recalled that the fighting at the time of his arrival was mainly small unit skirmishes rather than large battles. Cinquegrana described the Chinese soldiers his unit fought as being “relentless and having a never-ending line of people.” His unit captured many prisoners; but, there was, he said, a problem with Chinese prisoners faking surrender and then attacking their captors once behind American lines. He recalled the Chinese also playing loud music and shining bright lights in an attempt to scare the American and allied United Nations soldiers.
The UN forces attached to the 1st Cavalry Division were very diverse, and included units from all over the world. The Greek, Australian, and Turkish soldiers stood out in Cinquegrana’s mind. He described them as excellent soldiers and great to be around, because they gave him the sense that American forces were “not alone.”
For some of his time in Korea, Cinquegrana was part of a special services group that showed movies to reserve troops behind the front lines. He got the job because he was one of the few men in his unit who had experience with film projectors. He enjoyed doing this work because it was uplifting to provide at least some recreation for soldiers during such a bloody and dangerous time. A perk of the job was that he was able to meet Bob Hope when the iconic entertainer came to Korea with his USO troupe.
A more dangerous task Cinquegrana performed in Korea was outpost and patrolling duty. Many of the patrols he went on were in conjunction with a K-9 unit. He really liked working with the dogs and was amazed at how highly trained they were. If enemy soldiers were in the vicinity, the dogs would let out a low growl. They would also wake their handlers and other soldiers up should they begin to fall asleep.
Cinquegrana left Korea in December 1951. He spent six weeks in Japan for skeet shooting and ski training, which he thought “unnecessary and pointless,” although the skeet shooting probably had something to do with training for taking a proper lead in anti-aircraft marksmanship, and the ski training was probably an experiment in possible winter warfare tactics. Cinquegrana’s major recollection of the training, though, was of soldiers falling on skis and missing clay birds. Still, he was very happy to be out of Korea.
After his training in Japan, Cinquegrana returned to the United States. He remembered the reception he and other soldiers received in Seattle as a pleasant and welcome one. He was honorably discharged on November 22, 1952. During his time in the military, Angelo Cinquegrana was awarded the Japan Army of Occupation Medal, Korean Service Medal, four Bronze Service Stars, the Combat Infantry Badge, and the UN Service Medal.
In the 1960’s Cinquegrana joined the American Legion but allowed his membership to lapse. He rejoined in the 1980’s and became more involved. Through the auspices of the Legion, he and other veterans have talked with and aided police officers, fire fighters and war veterans in dealing with personal tragedies and PTSD. Today he also is involved in giving talks at schools, especially around Veterans’ and Memorial Day.