Laverne Lentz, of Aurora, IA, was born on March 6th of 1933. He grew up on a small family farm in Northeast Iowa.
He was drafted on March 2nd of 1953. After basic training, he was able to go home to Iowa. While back home, he proposed to his girlfriend, Phyllis, and got engaged. He would write many letters to Phyllis while he was over in Korea. One time, he was even able to call her on the phone. It cost him $16 and he had to plan the phone call weeks ahead of time. In order for the phone call to happen, he had to write Phyllis a letter that contained where to be and when to receive the call. Many homes did not have the technology to support a call from another country.
Laverne left for Korea on July 27th of 1953 and arrived sometime in August. He served in a couple of different places in Korea but most of his time was spent in Daegu. He was originally assigned to the 24th division as a part of the Fire Direction Center. However, when he arrived they were full in that position so they assigned him to a personnel position. During his tour, he advanced to a personnel sergeant.
Laverne had many different administrative responsibilities in his job in personnel. They included keeping track of people’s roles in the war and making sure that they were being rotated into different positions. Ordering, sorting and issuing clothing was a lighter task that he was assigned. He was also responsible for assigning dates for when people were able to come home.
Laverne also had the task of giving soldiers their money, also known as Military Pay Certificates. He was very good with numbers and organized so this task fit him well. One time, the black market for the MPCs was getting so out of hand that he was assigned to a team that had to attempt to fix the problem. Many ordinary people had gotten their hands on the MPCs and it no longer had the value it originally did. The American soldiers had to come in to exchange their MPCs and Laverne would issue them new ones. One night, they stayed up for 24 hours to count all of the old MPCs that had come in.
For some soldiers, including Laverne, the black market also provided some easy income. As a part of his basic necessities, Laverne was issued cigarettes once a week from the army. However, Laverne wasn’t a smoker. He quickly found out that if he put his cigarettes at the end of his bed, other soldiers would leave him MPCs in return.MPCs were a very valuable commodity for soldiers.
Laverne Lentz was originally scheduled for a 2-year tour but was sent home in December of 1953 after honorably serving 5 months. Soldiers were usually able to go home early when they served during times of war.
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Korean War - Key Events
January 12, 1950
In a speech to the National Press Club, U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson outlines a U.S. Pacific defense posture that includes Japan and the Philippines but does not explicitly include Korea. In fact, he states that, “so far as the military security of other areas in the Pacific is concerned, it must be clear that no person can guarantee these areas against military attack.”
These events are taken from the Encyclopedia Britannica