Howard served in the US. Army during the Korean War, from 1951 to 1953, achieving the rank of sergeant. As a soldier and as a missionary, he has shared the gospel with those around him throughout his entire lifetime. He has also served as a stake patriarch.
As I landed in Korea I was sent to Inchon, then south on a tram to Pusan, arriving approximately December 15, 1951.
My first Sunday in Korea I found the Latter-day Saints meeting in an old building in a small room in downtown Pusan. There were present that day seven American servicemen (GIs) and Dr. Ho Jik Kim. During the holidays Dr. Kim said he had a student he would like to bring to the services. We invited him to bring his friend. As the time passed, many more Koreans began to come to our meetings. At that time Elder Ralph Erickson from Delta, Utah, was the group leader. He chose me and Elder Kay Buchanan from San Jose, California, as his assistants. Later Brother Erickson went home and I became the group leader. Beginning in early 1952, I suggested there was a good friend in my company, Edward Solle from Grand Rapids, Michigan, (not a member of the Church) who could teach the Koreans English. He was a college graduate.
Edward did agree to teach English to the Koreans that would come to the meetings each Tuesday night for our Mutual. After teaching English lessons we taught them the gospel. With the teaching of English and the gospel we had many join the Church. The Spirit of our Heavenly Father was really strong in these meetings.
The attendance of the Mormon servicemen increased also at this time. We soon had to have a larger room and then we corresponded with the Japanese mission president, President Hansen. We were sent supplies and literature at that time.
Some of the Americans questioned whether we should be teaching the Koreans the gospel, but as the Spirit and the success of the work bore witness to them, they all knew it was to be so. Not only did we have success among the Koreans, but several servicemen were baptized and became great Latter-day Saints. My friend Edward Solle never joined the Church, but he really loved the Church and was a strong Christian, and he did a wonderful job teaching English to those Koreans.
Dr. Kim was our interpreter for the gospel, and as we taught the Spirit bore testimony of the truth of this great work. Teaching English to the Koreans was really a great tool in teaching the gospel.
Dr. Kim’s two children did join the Church early but I do not recall the day or when Mrs. Kim joined the Church or if she ever did while I was in Korea.
It is recorded on my pictures that August 3, 1952, was the date of the first Korean baptism in Pusan, Korea. Each baptism service was really special as we would go to the China Sea for the baptisms. We were so grateful when the chaplains would come to our area and we would have special meetings; also when President Hansen came to visit we had him the center of attraction.
Easter Sunday, April 5, 1953, was a most glorious day when many were baptized in the China Sea. This was the last baptismal day for me in Korea as I was to leave for home on April 26. With these many baptisms, it was a very happy time to be together on such a beautiful day. We did rejoice in the pouring out of the Spirit of the Lord as we sang, “The Spirit of God.”
In the words that are on the back of my pictures, I recorded that I was able to baptize thirty Koreans with the help of the Lord. Many others were also baptized during this time.
Before leaving for home, Dr. Kim and his wife took me out to dinner, to one of the best cafes in Pusan. He paid tribute to me for the great work accomplished. We talked of the future and wondered if someday there would be a temple in Korea. He seemed to know of a place in Seoul that would be a great place. His family had fled into Pusan during the war, and he knew they had been blessed. His wife was so sweet; I had a difficulty with chopsticks so she had the waitress bring me a spoon. They said they had never taken an American to dinner until then. I left approximately April 26, 1953, for home and my family.
Later my wife and I sponsored a Korean girl, Yoon Chung Kim, to come to the United States for schooling in Salt Lake City, Utah. Later on, one of Dr. Kim’s sons came and visited with us here in Beaver, Utah.
We love the Korean Saints, and I am so grateful for the opportunity I had in playing a small part in the Church being established in Korea. I thank the Lord for that opportunity and consider my stay in Korea my second mission. It was sad to be away from my wife, son, and family, but the work of the Lord helped me with happiness in the Korean work.