Korean Conflict - Time served in Korea was one year, four months, 25 days
Medals & Awards - United Nations Korean Service Medal (5 Bronze Stars), National Defense, Meritorious Service Medal, Good Conduct, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, New York State Medal for Merit, New York State Conspicuous Star Medal , Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal
Bartlett Mark Adams, U.S. Army
Orders - (FECCOM) Far East-Japan Korea
TAOR (tactical area of responsibility) - Korea DMZ 38th parallel, Won Ju, Musan Ni Korea
Married: Patricia (Corwin) June 1954 at the First Presbyterian Church in Silver Creek
Children: Cathy (Stanley) Lisowski, Lakeview and Mark (Lisa Anandolina) Adams, Sheridan
Grandchildren: Derek (Catelyn Diggle) Banner, Cumberland, R.I., Kelly Lisowski, Lakeview and Sarah Adams, Sheridan
Great-grandchildren: Amber Lynn Banner, Cumberland, R.I.
Second marriage: Kim (Hall) Higbee Aug. 9, 1985, at the First Presbyterian Church in Silver Creek.
Stepchildren: Steven (Joy Goodman) Higbee, Allenhurst, Ga.; Vicki (Jason Seiberg), Mayville.
Stepgrandchildren: Jackson Seiberg and Amelia Seiberg
Bartlett Mark Adams was born on Aug. 9, 1930, at Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk. He was the son of Ruppert and Dorothy Adams. The family resided at 31 Eagle St. in Fredonia. The family owned Leworthy Motors, a local garage in Silver Creek.
Adams attended the elementary school at Fredonia Normal School until his ninth birthday when the family decided to move to Stewart Street in Silver Creek. School. He attended Silver Creek Babcock School where he completed his education to the eighth grade before attending Silver Creek High School.
While in high school, he excelled in track and football. His graduation day was June 26, 1950, the very day the Korean Conflict started.
When he wasn't in school he worked around the family business at the garage either cleaning the floors or working on cars doing minor oil changes, or car cleaning which included washing and even detailing.
One of his favorite jobs starting at the age of 14 was helping trucks make the Oak Hill climb in Silver Creek. The Route 5 cut off on Howard Street had not been constructed as a bypass for Oak Hill yet. The trucks had to use Route 20 and make the climb up Oak Hill. He recalled that some made it halfway and others wouldn't even try until he brought the family wrecker. Adams recalled receiving $5 for each tow from the middle of the hill and $3 from the bottom of the hill. When I asked him why it was cheaper from the bottom, a longer tow, he said it was easier picking up speed from the bottom rather than trying to pull dead weight from the middle.
Friends included John Christy, Jack Bartlett, Joe Valvo, Jack Neidrauer and Ron Link. The group always was looking for fun things to do and enjoyed lives as teenagers without getting into any serious trouble.
He recalled hanging out at Foster's Ice Cream Parlor and still remembers playing the jukebox for 5 cents. Valvo's Candy was also another favorite hangout that the group went to on weekend nights. The kids would meet to see a movie or just hang out. Those were the days when kids could just go out and have fun without getting into any trouble or causing any damage. Everyone just had fun being together. When basketball season came, trips to Buffalo would be on the agenda, when good teams and tickets could be found.
When high school was over he decided that a college education would help him when it was time to join the military. In 1950, Adams enrolled in Thiel College in Greenville, Pa. in the accounting field. He attended classes for a year and everything was going well with his college education until the day in 1951 when he went to the mailbox and received a notice from Uncle Sam.
He was off to Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga. for eight weeks of basic Army boot camp training. While at boot camp, he was selected to the military police battalion which was also at Fort Gordon on the other side of the base. This training consisted of eight weeks of military police training. Here Adams was trained in military police procedures, basic military law, prisoners rights and prisoner procedures. Military police school classes also included write-ups for off limits , curfew and basic write-ups.
After military police school orders came for Korea, a country that in those days a lot of people had heard of, but not many people knew much of.
After his first official 30-day-leave was over he headed for Fort Lewis, Wash. to report to Camp Drake, where he knew someone on that base would have orders for him to report to his first overseas duty. His orders read report to Depot Barracks in Inchon, South Korea. When Adams arrived at the Depot Barracks in Inchon he then was assigned to Won Ju to meet his new unit company, B 519th military police battalion. Won Ju was a city of more than 600,000 people and Korea's third largest city. Arriving at this destination, he received his new duties as a military policeman.
The duties included convoy escorts, ammunition runs, police areas including monitoring curfew areas and traffic control. As his tour of duty advanced he had the duties of moving enemy prisoners to different camps after interrogation. As time passed so did his rank. Before he knew it he went from PFC-E-1 to Corporal E-4.
Word was often received that the war was going to end with countless ending dates. Rumors were starting to take shape when the troops heard of a prisoner exchange. When this exchange did come it was in April, Adams said, and lasted to the first week in May.
The first exchange was only for the sick, wounded and extremely hurt. With the exchange date set, he received his orders and was advised that he would be taking part of this exchange of North Korean prisoners and United Nation forces. The location of this exchange was at a place named Freedom Gate Point near Panmujom. The military operation was called Operation Little Switch. Here he participated in the exchange of 100 North Korean soldiers and 100 United Nations soldiers in the Thia area near Panmujom.
The United Nations received for its 100 North Korean - 12 Britons, 30 Americans, 50 South Koreans, four Turks, one Canadian, one South African, one Greek and one Phillipino. Adams still recalled the POWs were dressed in blue, padded Chinese style uniforms and Russian-style caps. He took the U.N. exchanged prisoners to a reception area where the Red Cross distributed cigarettes and toiletries. This is a day that Adams will never forget.
In August, the final exchange of prisoners was set. Cease-fire talks had been going on between the communist and U.N. forces since 1951 and one of the main stumbling blocks was the Communist insistence that all prisoners be returned home.
The United Nations insisted that prisoners who wished to remain where they were be allowed to do so; talks dragged on for two years before the Chinese and North Koreans relented on this point. The Korean Armistice was signed on July 27, 1953.
With the armistice signed, Adams' new assignment was to participate in Operation Big Switch which began in August 1953 and lasted until December. More than 75,823 Communist, 70,183 North Koreans and 5,640 Chinese prisoners were exchanged for all U.N. prisoners of war.
Since Adams had experience with Operation Little Switch he was selected to escort a lot of top brass who worked with the North Koreans. He recalled the generals, colonels, and majors all walking around with all the top brass from the North Korean and Chinese armies. During his participation in Operation Big Switch he witnessed many loaded jeeps and trucks filled with POW's passing from the north to the south and vice versa.
The war was over and Adams, without enough points to return home, still remained in Korea until the day finally came to say goodbye, which was easy for this Army corporal from Silver Creek. He was honorably discharged. With tons of memories from his duties in Korea, he came home and worked at the family garage.
He is an active member of the community and holds memberships in the Huntley Hose Co. 1 Silver Creek, Chautauqua County volunteer fire police response team, Silver Lodge 575 F&AM, American Legion Post 62 and Veterans of Foreign Wars 15033.
Adams was fortunate to have all his letters that he wrote home saved and retyped to be clear about all the dates and places he served while serving our country in Korea. I had the opportunity to read these letters and was amazed at the things this young soldier had seen, done and participated in. The last letter Adams wrote home from Korea was on Sept. 17, 1953, from Musan-Ni.
He wrote: "I'm on my way home, I am so tired of seeing all those prisoners of war, I will be glad to never see one again. This was quite an experience and I am so glad this is over."
What stories this man now has, stories that will never go away. Not a day will go by without him going back to Korea even for a second to relive a moment he never will forget. They call it the Forgotten War. (They being the ones who were never there.)
Bartlett Mark Adams you are our Hero of the Week.