One Hellish Experience
By Harry Iredale
At the beginning of Hell Week, just after breakfast, four men from another room were moved into room 13, which already held 8 men. All our bunks were crowded together along both walls with no space between them. Soon a duty officer came into the room and called the name of one of my roommates, then returned and called another Ö until my name was called. I was taken down the hall to what had been a 4 man room, which contained an office desk with its back to the windows, four chairs behind it, a single chair facing it and a round table. Soon Possum, our room daddy, came in followed by three duty officers and a guard. I was told to sit in the chair.
Possum proceeded to tell about their humane treatment translated through a duty officer and then asked , "Why are you not sincere?", "Who is the CIA agent?", Who are the instigators?" and "Who made you try you fool us?" When I said I did not understand, to his repeated questions, all the officers left and the guard began beating me to make me understand. Later that day, the same entourage returned and I was asked the same questions as I now stood at attention in front of the desk. When I replied "I donít understand what you want" an enraged duty officer grabbed and punched me on my lips which were already raw from the earlier beating. A wave of fear suddenly flashed through my mind as this officer seemed to be panicking; it was the first time I had been struck by a duty officer. I was told I had better write my confession and tell all that I knew about the CIA agent and our plots, or else. The remainder of that day and night I sat at the round table writing what I had written before, an abbreviated autobiography, periodically interrupted when a guard would rush in to try to catch me sleeping.
My "confession" was taken from me the next morning. After a few hours the guard who had worked me over the day before returned and began punching me when I was standing and kicking me when I was on the floor. Once during this session, I went flying out the door into the hallway and saw Chuck Law walking by.
That afternoon, I was taken down the hall to a larger room with covered windows where the Bear and three other guards were waiting. The Bear proceeded to yell at me to confess. He had me kneel on the floor while two guards placed 2" diameter pole behind my knees and other guards jumped on each end of it several times. Then the Bear picked up a hammer handle and proceeded to smash it onto my head, completely encircling my head with lumps as I screamed, in pain, but also hoping to convince him he was hitting me hard enough. He yelled at me the entire time in Korean. In between screams I yelled back I donít understand.
My head looked like a pumpkin. My lower lip was curled downward, swollen three times its normal size, and severely lacerated, my left upper lip paper thin. My left eye was swollen shut and completely bloodshot and the right eye had a red halo around the pupil. There was a contusion on right side of my head between ear and temple and lumps around entire circumference of my head. My shins were cut and bruised, and the flesh over my ribs, hips, and knees were also bruised and aching.
Back in my temporary room I drafted another version of "my confession", and I included that I had sailed on BANNER in 1966 to show that I was sincere and hopefully make the KORCOMs believe I knew nothing about any plots. Near dusk the duty officer came in and pointed to the bucket of water and rag and indicated that I was to clean my blood off the floor and three walls with it. I had to stand on a chair so I could reach all the blood.
About 0400 the next morning I was taken upstairs by a duty officer to a small room containing four bunk beds, in which three of my roommates Berens, Bland and Scarborough were sleeping. The worst of Hell Week was over for us.
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