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New Korean War Collections Tell a Story

Byford and his wife, Jessie Reed.

Byford Lee Reed was born in 1929 in Lamar, Ind. He attended Dale High School and received his bachelor’s degree from Indiana State University. Reed was drafted into the U.S. Army at 23. He was stationed in Korea with the 15th Field Artillery Battalion during the Korean War from 1952 to 1953. 

“When I first arrived in Korea, I was put in a canvas-covered truck with other soldiers,” Byford remembers. “We proceeded up the mountains, and at each stop several soldiers would get out. This continued until I was the only one left. I was let out on the front lines and was soon assigned to setting up a gun on the top of the mountain with three South Koreans who, of course, could speak no English.”

Following the war, Reed attended graduate school at Indiana University, where he obtained his doctorate of dental surgery in 1960. After graduation, he opened a dental office in Greenwood. Reed was a member of the Rotary, the Police Merit Commission and involved in local politics. He was also an active participant in the Boy Scouts of America and was awarded the Silver Beaver Award in 1981. In his 70s, Reed resumed competitive running, competing in the Penn Relays in Philadelphia in 2008, where he was ranked fifth in the 80 to 84 age bracket with a time of 11.81 seconds for the 60-meter dash. He has competed in more than 70 races and won more than 50 medals. 

Byford and other soldiers with locals in Korea.

The Byford Lee Reed collection contains correspondence, photographs and ephemera from Reed’s participation in the Korean War, specifically with the 15th Field Artillery Battalion. The bulk of the photographs are of members of the 15th, including Byford Reed. Subjects include their camp, barracks, army vehicles, landscapes, U.S.O. performances, buildings in Korea and Japan, and Korean military and civilians. 

Byford is glad his collection found a home at the Indiana Historical Society. “I am pleased to be part of the Korean story,” he says. 

Selections from the Byford Lee Reed Collection are available to view in the new Korean War Digital Collection, featuring more than 200 letters, photographs and manuscript items from the collections of five different Korean War veterans from Indiana: Byford Lee Reed, Ralph A. Bond, Edward E. Gray, Harry W. Brooks Jr. and Donald F. Lawlis. This digital collection gives online researchers access to materials that will enhance their understanding of the experience of Hoosier soldiers and their families during the Korean War.