In this excerpt, Bryson Liberty talks about being in the marines for training and later in the army during the Korean War.
Bio: Bryson Liberty is a tribal elder of the CTUIR. Liberty has a military background and is a published author, as well as working as a health administrator and actor. His article about fishing at Celilo titled “On the Rock” was published in Cowboys and Indians magazine in 2011. He was on “The Cellar,” “Northern Exposure,” and “Little House on the Prairie”.
If you take a big long test, do good, they give you your diploma. So I, in the interim before that I went to somewhere, I went to Joseph Rodeo and I was coming home in my model A and I thought jeez I can go home this way, Lewiston is only 60 some miles.
So I turned off to the right instead of going right home. So one thing led to another, my car broke down, I had to go back home and get someone to get my car fixed, I had to go back to Lewiston. I was in Lewiston waiting for my car to get fixed, I was walking around, didn’t know anybody. I went by this post office, big sign “We want you. The United States of Marines.” [laughs] Oh God. I walked in and I joined the Marines. So I got joining the marines and I didn’t even tell my folks nothing. Of course my folks didn’t have a telephone. So I joined the marines. I was in the marines, I just got through bootcamp in San Diego and they called me up and said “Liberty, we’re going to discharge you, give you medical discharge.” I said “what’s the matter?. Jeez I went through bootcamp and everything, did everything you wanted. I’m in good health.”
“No, you’re not, you’ve got a spot on your lungs.”
I said, “I do?”
And I said “Oh I bet it’s from pneumonia, I got real bad pneumonia last winter.”
“Well whatever it is you’ve got a spot in your lungs, going to discharge you.”
So I got discharged, went home, went back to school, that’s when I decided to take this SAT test. So I went and took that, got my diploma, piddled around for a couple of years and got this letter in the mail. It says you got to show up for an induction, take a physical to go in the army. And I knew a little bit about because my cousin Gailerd he’d just gone through it. So he said yeah, you got to. So I went into the army for a couple of years. Went to Fort Lewis and this was during Korea. Korean war. I went through basic up there and I got put in the artillery. With these big cannons. We used to pull those, or they pulled them by trucks when I got into them. And when I got through with my training they got these new tanks. They had these guns on them only they were all self propelled. You didn’t have to hook them up to a truck or anything. But you had six guys to a tank– they call them tanks but they weren’t tanks, cause the gun was right here and they had no top on them. But they had armor all the way around them. So we got to use them for two weeks and they said ‘okay you guys are shipping out, going to Korea’. I said okay, I guess I’m ready to go.