Vet did best to boost morale

Editor’s note: This is part of a weekly series published each Monday between Memorial Day and Veterans Day honoring local veterans.

LORDSTOWN – During the Korean War, Lordstown resident James Cash made sure the soldiers saw movies each night and also made sure photos of the soldiers and military personnel were sent to their hometown newspapers and families.

Cash, who served as a photo lab technician in the U.S. Army, said when the Korean War came along, he signed up and soon was attending basic training in Breckinridge, Ky.

In 1951, Cash was shipped to Korea and placed in the Signal Corps, where they asked him what skills he had.

He said while others from the group were made mechanics, Cash mentioned how his brother was in the Battle of Iwo Jima, was injured and came home to open a photo studio. Cash said he helped his brother every once in a while at the studio.

”When I told them that, they said, ‘Good, because we need a photo lab technician,”’ Cash said.

His responsibilities were developing the photos taken by five or six photographers out in the field who would be gone for weeks at a time.

”They would bring back a bunch of film, which we would develop and print out. The pictures we would then send to the hometown newspapers of where the soldiers came from. The photographers would give us the names of the soldiers and we looked up where they were from,” Cash said.

The photos usually showed the soldiers posed on a bridge, somewhere holding a rifle or working, he said. The hundreds of photos also included scenes of deaths, which were kept for records.

One photographer was in an airplane with a camera mounted on the outside.

”He was able to get a lot of battle scenes. One picture we found was of an American soldier tied up in front of a cave. We sent the photo to the infantry and showed them how to get to him, and they were able to rescue him,” Cash said.

He said another time a photographer found 10 American soldiers tied up and stuck in a ditch; each had been shot in the back of the head.

”We developed both good and bad photos,” he said.

Everything wasn’t as grim, though: Cash also was tasked with showing movies each night to the troops.

”We had over 100 guys coming in truckloads to watch the movies. It could be raining and they stayed outside and watched the movies. One of the movies I remembered and liked was ‘I Climbed the Highest Mountain,’ which was about a preacher. We showed some Gene Autry movies,” Cash said.

To show the movies, a screen was tied between the trees and then Cash would set up the projector.

There was concern the enemy would see the light from the projector, making soldiers there an easy target, but the air corps patrol always flew nearby, watching, he said.

In the summer of 1952, Cash left the Army and went into the Army Reserves at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., and later in Cleveland to finish his tour of duty, where he showed training movies to the new recruits.

While the training movies were OK, they were not like the movies he showed the soldiers in Korea, he said.

”One of the things that made me the happiest was being selected to show the movies and seeing how watching the movies made the day for the soldiers each night. I tried to show good movies. Those soldiers may not remember me, but I guarantee if you ask, them they would remember those movies,” Cash said.