The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » Text Transcript

Interview with Harvey Steinberg [March 4, 2003]

Harvey Steinberg:

Good morning Dotty.

Dorothy Brault:

Harvey, we'll begin if you would tell us please what branch of the service you were in.

Harvey Steinberg:

The Marine Corps.

Dorothy Brault:

Marine Corps, okay. Semper Fidelis. And your rank?

Harvey Steinberg:

Was a sergeant.

Dorothy Brault:

A sergeant. And you served in Korea. What years were you there? What was your time period in Korea? If you know.

Harvey Steinberg:

Well, I landed in Inchon on September 15th, and I was wounded on December 7th. This is all 1950, so ...

Dorothy Brault:

1950?

Harvey Steinberg:

Short stay.

Dorothy Brault:

December 15?

Harvey Steinberg:

September 15th. Page.3

Dorothy Brault:

Oh, September.

Harvey Steinberg:

To December 7.

Dorothy Brault:

To December?

Harvey Steinberg:

Pearl Harbor Day.

Dorothy Brault:

Pearl Harbor --

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes.

Dorothy Brault:

Oh, okay. Well, I think what would interest everybody is to know exactly, well, how you joined the Marines. Can you tell us a little bit about your background, and your experiences in the Marine Corps in your early days?

Harvey Steinberg:

Well, my early days -- I actually signed up when I was 15. Two days before my 16th birthday. And then was sworn in -- my birthday was October 3rd, and I was sworn in October 5th. Then I was 16 at that point.

Dorothy Brault:

Sixteen?

Harvey Steinberg:

And I phoneyed up a birth certificate, and made it look like I was 17.

Dorothy Brault:

Oh.

Harvey Steinberg:

And had a consent from my father to go in. Actually before that I had to -- when World War II was on I tried to go into the Army, but they caught me.

Dorothy Brault:

(Laughter). Page.4

Harvey Steinberg:

And then by the time the Marine Corps found out about it I was already legal, and they sort of gave me the option, and I just stayed in. Signed up originally for four years. I had wanted to do radio repair. And I only had an 9th grade education, so I figured -- somebody who owned Belmont Radio told me how much money you could make. And you were suppose to have your choice of specialties, and so I thought I signed up for the radio repairman. And the clown who signed me up signed me up put down communications, and I ended up climbing telephone poles.

Dorothy Brault:

In the Marine Corps?

Harvey Steinberg:

In the Marine Corps. They made me a telephone lineman.

Dorothy Brault:

Oh, goodness. Well, where were you stationed? Where did you start?

Harvey Steinberg:

Well, I started out -- of course, telephone lineman school was Camp Pendleton. And after that I had a brief leave, and then went to China. Tsingtao, China. And I was in China, in '47. I was there for about ten months, and then was sent to Guam from there. And I was on Guam for the rest of the two year stay, and then back to Camp Pendleton. And then when Page.5 I was ready to be discharged -- actually I was suppose to be discharged October 5th, the Korean War broke out. And they called me in, in early September, and offered me platoon leader school, which is first -- second lieutenant. And I only had ninth grade, and you're suppose to have two years of college. But they said based on my I.Q. test (laughter) that they were waiving the requirement, and they were going to make me an officer. And I said; no, I think I'm going to get out. Well, I didn't get out because they froze me (laughter). I was sent to -- we landed September 15th, and that was like three weeks before my discharge date that we landed in Korea. The Inchon landing. Which, you know, made a lot of history. And then after that my station was Bethesda Naval Hospital. When I got wounded they sent me to Bethesda.

Dorothy Brault:

So you were at the -- I'm going to call it invasion at Inchon, that was --

Harvey Steinberg:

Call it a landing please.

Dorothy Brault:

The landing?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes.

Dorothy Brault:

The North Koreans had come into -- below the Page.6 Parallel?

Harvey Steinberg:

Right. Had come in below the Parallel. Actually the war had started a few months before that. It was the Pusan Perimeter. It's during the hot summer months, and I think that was July or August. And the Inchon landing was September.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

So we actually, the Marines landed a few months after the war had started.

Dorothy Brault:

Right. And won -- whatever you want to call it -- a landing, won -- won the battles?

Harvey Steinberg:

Right. We -- let's see, we took Seoul at that point, and then Kimpo Airfield, and then withdrew. And it was then turned over, I think the Army occupied it at that point.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

As I said, I was a telephone lineman, and that was sort of interesting time to get lines laid --

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

-- on that landing. Because we would lay down the wire, put in the switchboard. And then the next wave would come in and it would be (?am tracks?) (meter number 5:44), and they would cut the wire into little one foot pieces (laughter).

Dorothy Brault:

Oh, okay. Page.7

Harvey Steinberg:

So I would have to wake up my guys again, to re-lay it. And then tanks came in. And the third time they were saying; screw you Sergeant (laughter). They didn't want to get wakened up and go lay them again. But basically we laid telephone lines and installed switch boards.

Dorothy Brault:

So you were in the First Marine Division?

Harvey Steinberg:

Right.

Dorothy Brault:

11th Regiment?

Harvey Steinberg:

That's right. 11th Marines, which would be 11th Marine Regiment.

Dorothy Brault:

Did they have battalions, did the 11th have battalions like the others?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes, yes.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

You had -- well, the 11th had artillery, of course. That's what it primarily was. And then you had mortar battalions in there. And you had communications battalions. You had companies, also; Able, Baker, Charlie Company, and so on. But mine was communications. Which normally in the infantry squad it would be fire teams. It would be a BAR, and then supporting rifle and a team leader. Mine was a wire team, which would have been Page.8 three telephone lineman plus a wire team chief, which was what I was.

Dorothy Brault:

Was it called a platoon?

Harvey Steinberg:

A platoon is made up of -- no, no. You have squads within the platoon.

Dorothy Brault:

Okay.

Harvey Steinberg:

And then within the squads you have the teams. You would have three teams of four each, which was 12. And then you'd have a squad leader, which would be 13 in the squad. And my number may be vague on that, but I seem to recall that was the breakdown. And what we were attached to was -- as I recall, we were attached to the -- the Fifth, the artillery support of the Fifth, the Fifth Marines. And I was on a forward observer team. You would lay the lines up in front of the infantry, and be up on the high point with the switchboard there, where you could look down on where the shells were landing from the artillery, to make sure you're not shooting your own men.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

And give them instructions; raise it two degrees, or drop it. And that was called forward observer. Page.9

Dorothy Brault:

Forward observer?

Harvey Steinberg:

Right.

Dorothy Brault:

Okay. Were you -- did you go to the east, were you at the Chosan --

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes.

Dorothy Brault:

-- area?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes. After we secured the Kimpo Airfield in Seoul, we then pulled back and got on board ship again. And I'm trying to recall, I think we landed at Wonsan, which was a dry landing. It wasn't like Inchon. Inchon there was a sea all there, and you had to time it right with the tide. Wonsan we just drove up to the beach with DUKW's. And then we went up to Inchon, yes. It's funny, in September when we were down at -- I say we drove up to Inchon, we drove up through Chosan Reservoir. In September it was boiling hot, you know, it was 90-degrees. And then at the Inchon Reservoir winter had set in, and it was 14-degrees below zero. Now -- and we got up there, and sort of got stalled up there. And the Chinese were pouring in at that point, coming in over the Yalu River. And we had to pull out. We had Thanksgiving there actually. And Page.10 instead of C-rations they actually dropped in turkeys. They came over with helicopters and dropped in food for Thanksgiving dinner. And that hill was called turkey hill. Because when we pulled out there were turkeys all over the place. And they said; take everything you want because we're going to have to burn it, we don't want the enemy to be getting our food. And I was on the switchboard, and when I got off the only thing left was canned Cream of Celery soup, frozen (laughter). So that -- I picked up like ten cans of Cream of Celery soup, but I couldn't even eat it was like -- it was like celery ice cream, or something.

Dorothy Brault:

So you didn't get the turkey?

Harvey Steinberg:

I ate it on Thanksgiving Day, but I didn't get what they had left over afterword. And the guys were leaving with turkeys on their backs.

Dorothy Brault:

Oh, my goodness.

Harvey Steinberg:

No way to cook it or heat it, it was just -- they probably dumped it.

Dorothy Brault:

Well, I read -- I read in this book, Breakout, by Martin Luss, that the -- there was -- the harbor was mined, and the boats -- ships fulls of the Marines who were to land were just out in the ocean going up and down, and up and down. Were you part of Page.11 that, or did you just --

Harvey Steinberg:

We went right in, we went right in. Yeah --

Dorothy Brault:

You weren't stuck with that?

Harvey Steinberg:

No, no. And maybe that was later. And the communications people go in first. You have to get the lines laid so they'll be ready when they do land to set up.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

And then coming down from the reservoir is when I got shot. I was driving a Jeep -- which was pretty good in the snow, it was a four wheel drive vehicle. And we got behind an Army truck that was stopped. And the enemy was shooting across the road at us. And one shot came through the windshield. And I kicked my radio man out of the Jeep, I was driving. And he wanted to sit there because his feet were cold. And I said; they're shootin' at us, get out, return the fire. And he said; we'll be moving in a minute. And then something came through. And so I kicked him out of the Jeep. And then they threw a hand grenade under the floorboards, and it came up through the floorboard and hit my ankle. And then at that point I was afraid to get out. It was dark, it was night. And I picked up my Page.12 M1 and pointed it toward the door because there was somebody standing in the doorway, I couldn't tell. And I said; are you a Marine. And he giggled and shot, and shot me in the wrist, and then I shot him in the stomach. And it was a Chinese gentleman. And so at that point I was shot in the wrist and the ankle. And I rolled out rolled over into a ditch. And I didn't have my weapon with me, it was left in the Jeep. And they were shooting across the road in my direction. And I said pretty soon they're going to realize that I'm not returning the fire. But, the other Marine squad came up, it was a machine gun squad, and it returned their fire. And they pulled me out of the Jeep out of the ditch, and stopped the bleeding and a Jeep going by and got me on that, and drove me on down.

Dorothy Brault:

Where were you when this happened?

Harvey Steinberg:

What city was I in you mean?

Dorothy Brault:

Yeah, exactly on --

Harvey Steinberg:

Oh, it was above Koto-ri. I couldn't tell you. It was on the side of a mountain, and I'm not sure what province, or ...

Dorothy Brault:

But were you all -- were you all the way up the Chosan at that point?

Harvey Steinberg:

We were coming back down from Chosan. Page.13

Dorothy Brault:

Coming back?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah. We were pulling out of Chosan at that point.

Dorothy Brault:

Yes, right. Fighting backwards?

Harvey Steinberg:

Right.

Dorothy Brault:

Not retreating?

Harvey Steinberg:

Attacking in opposite direction.

Dorothy Brault:

That's right, that's the Marine way, isn't it?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes.

Dorothy Brault:

Yes. Well, you had not come back down to the -- I can't pronounce this, maybe you can. F-u-n-c-h-i-l -- this pass. Had you got down that?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes. Here's Koto-ri. No, no. Here's Hagaru. Yes. Okay. Yeah, Koto-ri is the aid station I went to -- no, I didn't go through Funchillin pass. I went to Koto-ri. And then they took me in a little Piper Cub, a little two man plane. And as I recall it was an Army captain that piloted the plane. I was in the aid station first, and all they did really was give me some morphine. And they didn't have to stop the bleeding from the foot because it had frozen, the blood was all frozen. And they said that may have saved the foot, as a matter of fact, because I didn't continue to bleed. And from there -- let's see, I went on a Page.14 hospital ship to Japan. And I think, as I recall, that was in Osaka. And they put a cast on there, and flew me back to Bethesda.

Dorothy Brault:

Were you evacuated on a helicopter from --

Harvey Steinberg:

No.

Dorothy Brault:

No? You were on --

Harvey Steinberg:

Piper Cub.

Dorothy Brault:

Piper Cub?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah.

Dorothy Brault:

To Osaka.

Harvey Steinberg:

The guy picked me up and carried me on his back, and I threw up all over him. He was a big guy, you know. I said; I'm sorry Cap, I haven't eaten anything, and they gave me that morphine. And he said; don't worry about that, it washes out.

Dorothy Brault:

Yes.

Harvey Steinberg:

And he got me into the seat, and that was that.

Dorothy Brault:

And what month, that was December?

Harvey Steinberg:

That was December.

Dorothy Brault:

December 7th you said?

Harvey Steinberg:

Well, probably -- flying out was probably the 8th, yeah. It started on the 7th.

Dorothy Brault:

Oh, my goodness. Well, did you like being a Marine? Did you enjoy the Marine Corps? Page.15

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes, I did. I actually had planned to stay in. But when I was at the Naval Hospital, and I already had five years in I was a sergeant, they had an opening for Staff Sergeant come up. You know, it's three up and one down. And they asked will I stay in, and I said yeah. So I thought -- And then they came back later, presuming they were going to give me the Staff Sergeant, and they said; there's no room for duty if you can't return to full duty you can't stay, so ...

Dorothy Brault:

Oh.

Harvey Steinberg:

And at that point with a 9th grade education I didn't know what I to do, but I had 48 months of G.I. Bill, so I went back and finished high school, and college, and law school. Not all with G.I. Bill, but as well as I -- but I worked so I could go to school.

Dorothy Brault:

That seems interesting that you were -- you were 15 when you joined the Marines.

Harvey Steinberg:

Actually 16 when I was sworn in.

Dorothy Brault:

Sixteen when you were sworn in?

Harvey Steinberg:

Right.

Dorothy Brault:

And your father okayed it, didn't say; son you need to get an education?

Harvey Steinberg:

No.

Dorothy Brault:

No. You went on your own? Page.16

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes.

Dorothy Brault:

And then afterwords what motivated you to go back to school?

Harvey Steinberg:

Well, I couldn't do telephones any more because my ankle had been shot up and I couldn't wear the gaffs to be a telephone lineman. And when I was at the Naval Hospital I was just thinking of what the options were, and I saw Perry Mason or something, I don't know (laughter), I just figured being a trial lawyer would be fun. And I could do it in less than seven years if I went summers. And so for a period of time I worked for the Central Intelligence Agency while I went to -- while I finished up high school. And then when I was in law school I worked for the Secret Service for the -- I worked midnight to 8:00 for the guard department at the Treasury and then went to law school during the day.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh. So you stayed in Washington --

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes.

Dorothy Brault:

-- after -- after you finished at Naval medical?

Harvey Steinberg:

Right, right.

Dorothy Brault:

And stayed in Washington. Well, that's -- And you where did you go, G.W.? Page.17

Harvey Steinberg:

G.W.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

The funny thing of it, after I finished the high school, which used up a year of the G.I. Bill, I found out G.W. didn't recognize it, the Anderson Institute. And they said -- they said you have to take a entrance examine. And I said; well suppose I didn't get it there. He said; it would be the same, you take the same entrance exam. So I just threw away a year of the G.I. Bill on night school, high school. And then -- yeah, my -- originally my office was in D.C. for the first year. But I was living in Maryland then, so ...

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

The next year somebody just said; why don't you take the Maryland bar, it's only 25 bucks. That's where I met Al Gobe (ph), as the matter of fact, at the Maryland bar.

Dorothy Brault:

At the Maryland bar. You mean you -- you and Al took the bar exam at the same time?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah, the Maryland bar. I had -- I was already in practice. I was in practice in D.C.

Dorothy Brault:

In D.C.?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah. Page.18

Dorothy Brault:

Well, I think he was too actually.

Harvey Steinberg:

I don't know.

Dorothy Brault:

Well, I think he started in D.C.?

Harvey Steinberg:

Well, okay.

Dorothy Brault:

And you did too?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah, yeah.

Dorothy Brault:

Okay.

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah, I was admitted in '58.

Dorothy Brault:

So what was the food like in the -- in the service?

Harvey Steinberg:

The food in the service was okay. I had a knack for making friends with the chef (laughter).

Dorothy Brault:

(laughter).

Harvey Steinberg:

I really did. You know, if you have a chef for a buddy, he'd go in and open the kitchen at 2:00 o'clock in the morning and scramble some eggs. The food was okay. But the food out in the field in Korea was nothing, that was, you know, all the canned food beef stew, and stuff like that.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

Other than that one Thanksgiving. The food was adequate.

Dorothy Brault:

Well, you mentioned China.

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes.

Dorothy Brault:

What were you doing in China, were there -- Page.19 that was your first trip overseas, was that?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes, yes.

Dorothy Brault:

To China?

Harvey Steinberg:

Right.

Dorothy Brault:

And --

Harvey Steinberg:

And that was when Chiang Kai-Shek was being driven out at that time, and the communists were coming down. I was in Tsingtao and they had already taken over Kingston, and we had a bunch of Chinese soldiers that were just been left to drift there. It was an interesting experience. They didn't have food, they didn't have clothing, they were killing dogs to eat. And we had a little mascot called Locker Box, a real ugly little red dog. But we couldn't let him off the base because they would have killed him and eat him. But it was -- it was fun. China was the best duty. Everything was inexpensive. And there was a lot to do there. And we didn't even clean our barracks, we had a house boy that everybody chipped in fifty-cents a month. We would pay Lee to come in and clean the clothes, and wash -- swab the floors, and so forth. And I once went to the barber shop down there, they had Chinese barbers. And to get a facial, a Page.20 shoe shine, a shave, a haircut it was like eight things, it cost a dollar five, for everything in the place. Yeah, China was good. China got very cold in the winter, but yeah that was the best duty.

Dorothy Brault:

You liked that?

Harvey Steinberg:

I liked it. I hated Guam.

Dorothy Brault:

Guam. Yeah. Well, but Guam is so small what do you do in Guam, in those days?

Harvey Steinberg:

The biggest thing was to go down -- there was an ice cream parlor down in the middle of the town. The Guamanians hated us, they looked down on us.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

And we went to the enlisted men's club and get beer.

Dorothy Brault:

Ice cream and beer?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah.

Dorothy Brault:

How about movies?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah, they had movies.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

They had movies.

Dorothy Brault:

Did people like Bob Hope, did he ever -- did he come over and entertain, or any groups like that, U.S.O.?

Harvey Steinberg:

No.

Dorothy Brault:

Not to Guam? Page.21

Harvey Steinberg:

Not to Guam.

Dorothy Brault:

How about --

Harvey Steinberg:

Not when I was there.

Dorothy Brault:

No.

Harvey Steinberg:

Not in China at all, no.

Dorothy Brault:

No.

Harvey Steinberg:

But we didn't need him in China, there was plenty to do there.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

There were good restaurants. There was a big outstanding -- a big Chinese theater. Very good beer. Tsingtao beer is still sold in this country, and it's expensive here. But that's where the brewery was in Tsingtao, China. And there were clubs with women. As a matter of fact, I had a steady girlfriend at that time. A Chinese girl.

Dorothy Brault:

In China?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah.

Dorothy Brault:

That's good. Okay. Well, let's see. Did you keep a diary, do you have any mementos?

Harvey Steinberg:

No.

Dorothy Brault:

Other than your wounds?

Harvey Steinberg:

No.

Dorothy Brault:

You don't have any of that? Page.22

Harvey Steinberg:

Didn't even save any pictures, no.

Dorothy Brault:

No pictures or letters from home, or letters to home, or -- that was -- that was it?

Harvey Steinberg:

I was gone, and I was glad to be gone. And the Naval Hospital was an interesting experience. There was a very mixed variety there. We had -- It was a Naval Hospital but we had a lot Army too because Walter Reed was full. And a lot of the people had frostbite in the toes, they went chasing in reservoirs.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

And they were amputating toes like mad because they turned gangrene. And then one day some guy was there looking at the black toes, and he reached down and pulled the shell off and there was a nice pink toe underneath. And they realized maybe they didn't have to amputate all those toes.

Dorothy Brault:

Oh, my goodness. So did they change their procedures --

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes, yes.

Dorothy Brault:

-- after that?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes, yes.

Dorothy Brault:

Well, that happens a lot in medicine. It's all --

Harvey Steinberg:

Trial and error. Page.23

Dorothy Brault:

Yes, early ambulation is a good example of -- of that.

Harvey Steinberg:

They said they learned more about frostbite in the Korean War than they ever knew before.

Dorothy Brault:

Really.

Harvey Steinberg:

Uh huh.

Dorothy Brault:

Even though more than, say, the Bulge, the Battle of the Bulge in World War II?

Harvey Steinberg:

Oh, yeah, yes.

Dorothy Brault:

Which was also a very cold place.

Harvey Steinberg:

But not like that.

Dorothy Brault:

Yeah. What did you wear? What --

Harvey Steinberg:

They had special outfits. And I don't remember what they were called. They were big bulky green things. We had special boots. But the biggest problem was keeping your feet dry.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

If you didn't change your socks -- and it was hard to do because your socks would freeze up when you took them off from sweating. That's when they stayed wet is when you got the frostbite.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

And I was just trying to -- they had a special name for these outfits, field suit and field glove, and so forth. But it wasn't field it was something Page.24 else.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

I'm 72, and I don't remember a lot of these things.

Dorothy Brault:

Well, you're doing fine. Okay. So did you have friends?

Harvey Steinberg:

Oh, sure, sure.

Dorothy Brault:

How did you -- how were you treated as -- first as a youngster of 16, and then --

Harvey Steinberg:

Well, most of my buddies were Italian. And one guy Martone (ph) and I, we actually went over the hill before we left for Korea. And the whole thing was restricted, the whole base was restricted because we were leaving on Monday for Korea. And Martone (ph) said to me -- we were at -- on the boxing team together which was -- All the Italians were on the boxing team. And he said; we may never come back, this could be the last chance we have to have some fun. We can't get -- get out of here this weekend. So I was a corporal at that time and I put on a duty belt and went in like I was in charge of quarters, and pulled out two cards, his and mine. And we left. And we went up to L.A., and stayed awake for the whole weekend. Page.25 And he got -- at that time you could get Benzedrine inhalers, and take the cotton out of them. They weren't phony, they were actually Benzedrine. You could take it out and chew it and stay awake for all night. And he got that from the sick bay, and we stayed awake. And then we drove back before the ship pulled out before they were pulling out, like 6:00 o'clock in the morning. And I just locked up my car with all my stuff in it and left it there on Camp Pendleton. And then we got on the bus and the captain came up to me and says; How'd you like your liberty Steinberg? And I said; we were over at the gift -- guest house using the movies Captain. And he said; you're full of crap. He said; I would have done the same thing. He said; as long as you made it back in time don't worry about it. So we got back in time to get on board ship. And then after that when we were in Korea, they split Martone (ph) and I -- they split Martone (ph) and me up. He was in a different outfit. But about every other week I'd hear Martone (ph) got killed, and then three weeks later I'd see him, you know, I got all these false reports. And I'm sure he made it through it all. Page.26

Dorothy Brault:

Did -- Did you keep in touch with him?

Harvey Steinberg:

No, no.

Dorothy Brault:

So you don't know?

Harvey Steinberg:

I don't keep -- I don't know where he is today. My best buddy Cistriano (ph), he was a good fighter. And they always wanted him to be on the Quantico team. And he said; I'm not getting my brains splattered for spent legs. If I do it, I'm going to do it professionally. And at the time -- I think men would pick fights with him for some reason, and he was the last guy you should pick a fight with. He was really tough. And maybe they were lookin' for tough. But then when Korea broke out he decided to go to Quantico and get on the boxing team instead.

Dorothy Brault:

Oh, really?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah.

Dorothy Brault:

Oh. So he stayed in the Marine Corps?

Harvey Steinberg:

He stayed in -- well, he stayed in -- yeah, when I was -- he didn't stay in. He stayed for a period of time on the boxing team. And then when I was at the Naval Hospital, he was up in Massachusetts. He was out and living in Massachusets but he came down here, down here to the Naval Hospital. I don't know whether he did anything Page.27 professional or not.

Dorothy Brault:

Do you -- Are there any organizations of former Marines that you belong to?

Harvey Steinberg:

No.

Dorothy Brault:

Have you -- have you heard about the -- something called the 38th Parallel? It's a little newsletter that comes out monthly.

Harvey Steinberg:

No. I get Semper Fi, I get the Marine Corps newsletter.

Dorothy Brault:

You get that?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh. And so do you --

Harvey Steinberg:

Because I'm retired. And technically, I guess, I'm still -- I still use the Naval Hospital.

Dorothy Brault:

Oh, okay.

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah. If you have more than a certain percentage of disability you get your time in there.

Dorothy Brault:

Yeah. What do you do now, are you retired now?

Harvey Steinberg:

I'm retired now.

Dorothy Brault:

From the practice of law?

Harvey Steinberg:

From the practice of law.

Dorothy Brault:

How many years were you a practicing attorney, a trial lawyer?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah. Page.28

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

Forty-three I guess. I went in, in '58. Fifty -- it would be forty-five years now. And I retired a few years ago, so 43 years.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh. And are you enjoying retirement?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah, yeah. I'm learning to -- I think -- I'm starting to do some mediation, but that's something you can pick and choose when you're going to be doing it.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

And I'm enjoying my granddaughters.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

I pick up my -- one of my granddaughters after school every day, and spend the afternoon with those two girls. And have dinner with them every night.

Dorothy Brault:

That's nice.

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah, that's great.

Dorothy Brault:

Yeah. How many children do you have?

Harvey Steinberg:

Four.

Dorothy Brault:

Four children?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah.

Dorothy Brault:

Oh, well, that's nice. That's good.

Harvey Steinberg:

On the subject of religion. I met one other Jew. One other Jewish Marine in five years. I was in the Naval Hospital, and had a cast on my arm, and Page.29 I had a pin through my ankle pulling my leg out, and weights on it. And the guy wheels up to me in a wheelchair and says; Steinberg, you a Jew? And I said; yeah. And he said; I thought Jews were too chicken to join the Marine Corps.

Dorothy Brault:

(laughter).

Harvey Steinberg:

(laughter). And I said; no, most of them were too smart. The guy that said it to me was the only other Jew from --

Dorothy Brault:

(laughter).

Harvey Steinberg:

(laughter) -- Bob Deleveve (ph). His father had -- And he never saw the action. He broke his leg on a motorcycle. He went to boot camp, then broke his leg on the motorcycle. That was the end of his Marine Corps career.

Dorothy Brault:

Oh, my goodness. What would -- I wonder what -- what would motivate somebody to join the Marine Corps, not -- not that Army, or Navy, or going to sea, or something. The Marine Corps has a special sort of aura almost to it. What --

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes. The first to fight.

Dorothy Brault:

Yes, yes. That's right.

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah. There is -- I was a kid, and it was sort of a tough guy image.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh. And that -- that seemed to satisfy Page.30 that imagine?

Harvey Steinberg:

That's right. Yeah. Like I said, I was on the boxing team, I was lousy, I couldn't fight worth a damn, but I was on the boxing team. But, yeah the religion, I didn't see a whole a lot of my tribe in the Marine Corps.

Dorothy Brault:

Yeah. What did you do about services? I mean, I don't know if you practice your religion.

Harvey Steinberg:

I didn't. At one point Captain called me and he said; Steinberg, Yom Kipper is coming up on such and such a date, you have a right to take the day off, if you have want to. But if you do, you don't hang around here, get off the base if you're going to be taking it off. And I said; Skipper -- that was only one year out of five where they said anything about taking the day off for Yom Kipper.

Dorothy Brault:

Well, why did he say to leave the base?

Harvey Steinberg:

He said he didn't want me to be laying around on the bed in the barracks, or anything like that.

Dorothy Brault:

Oh, oh, I see. Oh, so forget that. Well, that is interesting. All right. Well, we've had a nice talk. I've just interviewed Harvey Steinberg who was a Marine in the Korean War, served his country and was wounded. And Page.31 thank you very much.

Harvey Steinberg:

You're very welcome.

Dorothy Brault:

I hope that -- let me ask you this. Did anybody -- did you benefit, did you learn anything from your experiences that helped you later in life? Was there anything that you can think of?

Harvey Steinberg:

I -- I think it straightened me out a lot. Really. I was getting in a lot of trouble, you know, as I mentioned before my father signed for me. Because I was breaking bad. And -- and I've been straight ever since then. I don't want to go into all the problems I had as a juvenile, but I had quite -- the Marine Corps sort of taught me to follow the rules.

Dorothy Brault:

So discipline?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes.

Dorothy Brault:

Would you say that?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes, yes.

Dorothy Brault:

Yes. The military --

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes. Boot camp was brutal. Paris Island at that time, what they got away with they couldn't possible do today.

Dorothy Brault:

Yeah.

Harvey Steinberg:

And when I would tell people about what happened at Paris Island other Marines knew, but Page.32 civilians wouldn't believe me.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

But I'm not going to go into that either. As I say, it was bad. And you didn't -- you took a lot.

Dorothy Brault:

Well, yeah we've all heard stories over the years, but I don't -- you're right, people -- you have to be there sometimes to really believe. But -- but it did straighten you out as you said and --

Harvey Steinberg:

Right.

Dorothy Brault:

-- look at your life since then.

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah, yeah. I guess getting shot was the best thing that ever happened to me (laughter).

Dorothy Brault:

(laughter).

Harvey Steinberg:

You know, I had fun as a lawyer.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

I have no regrets about that.

Dorothy Brault:

Yeah.

Harvey Steinberg:

And if I hadn't done that I would have probably stayed in for 30 years, and it got me out as a master sergeant.

Dorothy Brault:

Wouldn't you have gone onto school -- would they have sent you to school to finish up in the Marine Corps?

Harvey Steinberg:

No. They had a Marine Corps Institute. They had something where you could take classes and Page.33 they -- you could take credit for high school. I took photography. It's called the Marine Corps Institute. And some of them were class credits for high school. But I was young and dumb, I didn't realize that I could have just taken the GED and gotten a high school diploma and gone to G.W. I wouldn't have had to waste a year of G.I. Bill.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

And then when I opened my law office I was still working midnight to 8:00 for the Treasury Department and going to the office during the day. And then when I started having trials, where I had to take time off, they said they were switching me from nights to days.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

I said; I can't do that. And they said; well, we can't keep you. So they started squeezing me out.

Dorothy Brault:

Something -- A question came across my mind a minute ago, and it's come and gone so -- well, I think that we will end this now.

Harvey Steinberg:

Okay. MS. BRAULT: We're going to add something else to this interview. Okay.

Harvey Steinberg:

We -- I was mentioning that when I was at the Page.34 Naval Hospital in Bethesda the doctor we had, his name as I recall was George Hyatt (ph). And he became very famous at that time because he started what was called a bone bank where he would save the bones from amputations and so on, and freeze them. And then later use them for graphs. They put something in my arm which they called bone burger, which was a bunch of chips of bone that then solidified in the wrist and gave it some stability. I think he went on from there and he was more interested in patients than he was in military regulations. He was more of a doctor than he was an officer. So I don't know whether he got out or not. At that time Bethesda was sort of considered Mecca for the Navy. It was considered the highest you could go in the medical profession in the States. BY MS. BRAULT:

Dorothy Brault:

Did it -- did it stabilize your wrist -- was it your wrist that was damaged.

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes, yes. Yeah.

Dorothy Brault:

Okay. And do you have full use of range of motion?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah. I have a little damage in the nerve where the little finger doesn't quite work right when I'm typing, but other than that, yes. Page.35

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

It's fully functional.

Dorothy Brault:

And your other injury was your?

Harvey Steinberg:

Ankle.

Dorothy Brault:

Ankle.

Harvey Steinberg:

Right.

Dorothy Brault:

And did the -- did the same doctor treat that?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yes, yes. But that did not require the bone burger.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh.

Harvey Steinberg:

There were some more complications. There was a lot of shrapnel in there, lots of tiny pieces. But anyway bone burger was not used for the ankle.

Dorothy Brault:

Uh huh. And you were at Naval medical for one year -- almost a year?

Harvey Steinberg:

Eleven months.

Dorothy Brault:

Eleven months?

Harvey Steinberg:

Yeah.

Dorothy Brault:

Okay. And then you left the service after that?

Harvey Steinberg:

That's correct. Actually I got booted out. They -- when I left I still had my arm in a cast and my leg in a walking cast.

Dorothy Brault:

And that was that?

Harvey Steinberg:

They needed the beds. Page.36

Dorothy Brault:

They needed the beds, oh my goodness. Okay. This concludes our interview on Tuesday, March 4, 2003. Dorothy Brault interviewing Harvey Steinberg. (Interview concluded)

 
Home » Text Transcript
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us