If Bill Ring’s two years in the Army could be summed up in one word that word would be LUCK. From the time he went in the service in 1949 until he got out in ’52 luck played a big part in his service career.
“Because I had six dependents, a mother and father and four siblings dependent on me my draft card was way down, like 5-A,” the 87-year-old Venice resident explained. Then my parents came off my dependent list and my draft status changed to 1-A and I was immediately drafted into the Army.
“I did basic at Camp Pickett, Va. I did 16 months of medical training there too,” he said. “I
came home on leave and was immediately shipped to Seattle, Wash. Three days later I
went to Fort Lewis, Wash. The rest of my division went to Korea.
“Meanwhile during those 30 days my neighbor and my wife’s cousin were drafted and sent to Korea. The neighbor got shot and my wife’s cousin was killed. Except for the grace of God I would have been sent to Korea and shot or killed.
“We arrived in Japan on May 1st, a big Communist holiday. They wouldn’t let our ship dock until May 2nd,” Ring said. We went ashore and I got to walk around downtown Tokyo a little bit. I was sent to Camp Fuji which is at the base of Fuji, the highest peak in Japan at 12,388 feet.
“While we were there our unit went out on a training mission. It was during this mission that my lieutenant went around looking for someone who could type, use the teletype machine, and do a little hand lettering. I was told to never volunteer, but I did anyway.
“I was transferred back to my headquarters company and I became the training NCO
for all the individuals I was training under—Luck. I did that for a couple of months then we got word we were going to Korea. We loaded up all our gear and went aboard
a C-119 (“Flying Boxcar”) and flew to Pusan, South Korea in the Southern part of the country.
Bill Ring stands in front of the hobby shop he ran at Camp Tongnae, South Korea. Photo provided
“We took over an old POW comp at Tongnae, South Korea. The camp was empty when we arrived. We were there six months and I was still training NCOs, but in the evening on my time off I spent a lot of time around the division hobby shop. As a consequence the sergeant who ran the hobby shop asked me if I would be interested in running it. I said sure and took over the operation because he was transferring back home. So I changed companies and ran it for the next five months for the 34th Regiment, 1st Division in Korea.
“Come April I had a chance to go to a hobby school in Japan. For the next 30 days I
attended that,” he said. “Unfortunately my travel time had not been included and
on the way back to Tongnae I was arrested for being AWOL. I got it all worked out and I went back to my regular company. When I got back my company had been transferred to the 38th Parallel (dividing the north and the south). I boarded a train to Seoul and was sent on to the 38th Parallel.
We sat on the side of the mountain and on the other side was a fighting unit taking the North Koreans on the other side of the hill. The next morning we were to swap sides with the fighting unit. At 10 the next morning the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed and the war was over—luck!
“I liked to go to the public beach that was located at the end of the runway at Pusan. At exactly 4 p.m. a squadron of B-26 “Black Marauders” would take off from the strip,” he said. “Ironically, in 1980 the Bradenton Country Club, which I was a member of, was having a gathering and I ran into a fellow who flew as a flight engineer on one of those B-26 jets. We met at the club gathering and talked about our time in Korea.
“When I got back to Pusan my hobby shop job was gone. So I became the manager of the PX,” Ring said. I ran the PX for the rest of my time in the service.
“When I left Korea to go home it was a 17-day trip from Inchon, South Korea to Seattle, Wash. I signed up to be the projectionist aboard ship. I was lucky because a lot of guys got latrine duty.
“I got my old job back in the parts department of the GM Plant in Defiance, Ohio. For the next seven years I worked there. Then I decided I wanted something better. My wife, Jacque, and I moved to Sarasota in 1957. From ’57 to ’59 I took the G.I. Bill and attended Ringling Art School in Sarasota.
“Then I went to work for the Los Angeles Art Center for the next four years. After that I took a job with Carey Ad Agency in Sarasota. It became Carey-Ring Advertising Agency and for the next five years it was Sager-Ring Advertising Agency and finally for the next 35 years it was the Ring Advertising Agency.