In the aftermath of the Korean War many fighting men never got any counseling, got little acknowledgement, and were largely ignored. This did little to compensate them for the horrors they witnessed or the hardship they endured! A war that was fought like a mini World War II, Korea was the epitome of massive offensives, set piece battles, and a small theater in danger of transforming into a much wider conflagration of international conflict!
While the US had sacrificed greatly to aid the South Koreans so that they would remain a Democracy, few really appreciated just what US troops be they US Army or US Marine Corps and our fighting men were overlooked when it came to the public realizing what our boys had to endure. The North Koreans were now experimenting with mind control, possibly creating a Manchurian candidate, and the mental torture that the Communists subjected our POW's to!
I want to ask anyone who sits back and negatively analyzes our fighting men, why should any of them ever feel guilt? Why should they ever have to feel they have done anything wrong Yet, we have veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan being held at Leavenworth Prison when they shot terrorists who faked death and were carrying live grenades! Why wouldn't they be shot? Thanks to politicizing war time conditions and the rules of engagement many of our fighting men were unjustly charged with crimes they would never have been accounted for in any other conflict, but all you have to do is allow Democrats and the left to distort reality!
In the aftermath
Yet, why would my 86 year old father who served 2 tours in the Korea War have to feel guilty for finding 3 thousand Communist troops out in the open who would be automatically targeted for anti-personnel artillery shells and bombarded which would have wiped them out? However, American press, had oriented people and veterans toward being guilty for following their orders in time of war? Taking action against our enemies when they certainly would exterminate us after invading our allied partners. In his final living days, my father was forced to feel that his actions while following the orders of his superiors that he felt guilty for exercising his duties in war time defending the South Korean people who had been invaded by the Communists without provocation.
What an unfair way for a loyal patriot to have to suffer for performing his duties, suffering the loss of so many of his buddies during the war, and then there were the other damages my father suffered, the loss of his hearing and those terrible memories of combat that were so bad he never fully divulged them to his own family. In that John Wayne era of men and veterans in particular, they were men of action, not of words and excuses nor did they verbalize easily the horrors they experienced!
The aftermath of war even leaves men who acted according to their conscience questioning themselves and that is the true price of war our veterans must pay not to mention the terrible wounds many are forced to live with the rest of their lives. Thomas Jefferson once observed that the price of freedom would never be cheap. His word ring just as true today as they were when America fought the King George government of Great Britain for our independence. We live in a world full of potential conflict whether it be for the clandestine agenda of profiteers who will finance both sides in a war or selling ammunition and supplies to the nations waging war or be it ideological justification for atrocities.
The path to disaster
When American troops urged by General Mac Arthur advance through North Korea hoping they had destroyed North Korea's ability to wage war thus, were looking forward to celebrating Christmas at home with their families and girl friends they stumbled upon a terrible surprise. That surprise was 300,000 Chinese soldiers who poured across the Yalu River and stormed American and Allied forces. Suddenly, the liberators were overwhelmed by 30 to 1 odds. The potential to end the conflict evaporated thanks to Mao Zedong who had driven the Chiang Kai Chek and the Nationalist government out of mainland China!
Historic links to the present
Quite ironically, my former wife's father served as a Colonel in Chiang Kai Chek's army. He was appointed as part of a ten thousand man campaign to restructure a new Democratic China on the island of Formosa. On the backs of elephants when the Nationalists carried supplies and Chinese precious artifacts the Communists would have plundered and destroyed, once they ran low on trucks, the new nation was formed. As what was left of Chiang Kai Chek's army fought a retiring action to hold back the pursuing Red Chinese, the nation of Taiwan was erected from the ashes of what had been mainland China.
So, this is why I feel the connection I do for the Korean War, and it is not a fond reminder but I feel the pain of the Chinese, South Koreans, and our fighting men who sacrificed so dearly. Yet, so much of these significant events that impact us even today are easily overlooked by a public that has been poorly educated over history and indoctrinated into the leftist mindset. Those who would rather we forget the lessons of history, the ravages of Communism, and the corrupt idea that socialism could ever be adopted! This agenda is tantamount to using socialism in America as a necessary step in establishing a global government that would use the tyranny of socialism to oppress the masses under the aegis of humanitarian intent.
My father, promoted in record time to Staff Sergeant, received a commendation in a letter I read from the Commandant of the US Marines for rescuing a truck load of wounded men in the midst of a heavy bombardment. He drove them out of the range of Red Chinese artillery to safety. Dad, always joked about it saying he was just trying to get the hell out of there. Whenever the subject of Korea was mentioned, which wasn't often, he would brush it off saying, "we leveled the place."
The voice of experience
When I asked him about what happened in Vietnam, my Dad commented that you can't take troops from air conditioned barracks, load them onto helicopters, drop them into jungles where they are probably outnumbered and surrounded by seasoned guerrilla forces that use a vast network of underground tunnels, fight big battles, then leave that pacified real estate and allow the enemy to re-occupy it again with the blood of our fighting men fresh upon it. He observed that the war should have been prosecuted to take and hold territory that would force North Vietnam to capitulate rather than regroup and remain where they were to begin with to attack our soldiers and harass south Vietnamese citizens all over again.
During his two tours of duty my Dad was given command of his artillery unit which involved a company of personnel who would man 105 mm. howitzers in dug out parapets and munitions storage, and arrived wherever they were needed often just behind the front lines, and set up for their mission. One one occasion while awaiting being shipped out to Japan and then to Korea his unit was stranded on the island of Oahu. Through some administrative error they were left in on the rainy side of the island awaiting new transport orders. There was nothing for them to do as their supplies and weapons had been shipped off apart from their unit. This left his men with nothing to do but sitting at the base and with access to the non-commissioned officers bar. At the beginning of each day my Dad told me he would stand in front of his men dutifully lined up in orderly fashion each morning and he would announce, "orders for the day men. Let's hit the bar!" They would proceed to the US Marine watering hole and drink their butts off!
Desperate for good food
As terrible as war is there were the lighter moments that the men needed in order to hold onto their sanity. When the war finally ended in an uneasy armistice it was time for my father and his buddies to be shipped out. When arriving at Kyoto, Japan by US Navy Destroyer tired of powdered eggs cooked in metal helmets for breakfast on the battlefield his unit happened upon a Mom and Pop's Japanese Steakhouse. They locked the front door, gave the owners $300.00 dollars of their pay and got them to feed and drink until the closing time. For the first time in months they ate and drank like kings. Back then $300.00 dollars was a lot of money especially to the Japanese whose own currency was much less in value than the US dollar.
When they hurried onto the troop train the next day one of my Dad's buddies came running to jump onto the moving coal burner he was breathless and worried. My Dad asked him what had happened. As it turned out, many of the Japanese still hated Americans under the post war occupation of General Mac Arthur who had magnanimously decided to rebuild Japan as a society and a new industrial empire. Had the war gone the other way, Japan never would have allowed America to resurrect itself. A Japanese man, disgruntled over the war his nation had lost came at my Dad's buddy with a knife, who was forced to defend himself. The angry civilian was killed in the attack and the US Marine knowing there was little chance he would be treated fairly and probably face months in the Brig until the matter was resolved ran all the way to the US military troop train. These incidents were common back them and I will say when I personally visited Kyoto the Japanese were indeed very ambivalent toward Americans who were visiting even to this very day!
End in sight
Back stateside and stationed at Camp Pendleton once again my father and his men restlessly awaited their discharge papers. The base commander requested a visit from my Father offering him a way to promotion through the warrant officer's program to Captain's rank. That would have meant excellent pay and the virtual assurance that he would never have to face field combat again, but Dad had had his fill of the service. He rejected the offer even when his commanding officer told him that if discharged the offer still stood if he came back within a reasonable amount of time. When Dad finally got his discharge he packed up in his 1937 Ford Coupe and drove 70 miles an hour right through the base gates and left his discharge papers flying in the air behind him as he put the pedal to the metal leaving the US Marines and the Korean War behind him!
Tough times growing up
My Dad had been forced to help his mother raise his nine brothers and sisters quitting his education as a result in the midst of the Great Depression from where they lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His father had been a Captain in the US Army in World War I then after Pearl Harbor, enlisted in the US Marines having to lose his officer's commission and being forced to start over in becoming a tank sergeant in the Pacific theater of war. Dad, would raise his family of 6 boys along with my Mom as a route salesman for companies like Oscar Meyer and Coca Cola until he learned the food business in and out. He would soon become a National Sales Manager for a small company in the retail sandwich meat business by the name of "Leo's Meats" out of Los Angeles. He took over the Dallas, Texas branch from a salesman who ran the operation out of his bedroom and began an expansion program to all major markets through out the US! The first packaged deli sliced meats like turkey, chicken, spiced beef, and ham were so successful that Leo's Meat outsold the market giant Oscar Meyer where ever the two competed on the retail chain stores. A boy who was forced to give up his education at 9th Grade level became an acknowledged force in the food industry during the 1960's and early 70's before leaving corporate life to start his own food distributing company.
The later years were not kind
When we are so accustomed to hearing about PTSD and soldiers who couldn't assimilate to civilian life, suffered delusional battle flashbacks, alcoholism, drugs, and even terrorized their families, but in contrast, my father was a tough but fair parent who taught my brothers and I discipline and responsible conduct. It helped me to have this strength to raise 4 kids by myself for more than 10 years having been taught by my Dad to accept responsibility for my actions and do the right thing. In his final years life was not fair to my Dad who suffered business setbacks from dishonest business partners and lost his life savings when his wife, my Mom, to cancer during years of being ripped off by the medical profit racket of chemo and X-Ray treatment. Yet, he lived another 21 years rather than giving up after losing her. I tried to help him and remain close enough to have occasional lunches and holiday get togethers in the years after my kids left the house and my third marriage failed. I had not always been the good son. At one point I became a radical long haired rebel, but as I woke up having been self employed and a father. My Dad and I become close having shared the same political views. He was over joyed when President Trump was inaugurated. I miss having him to talk to to this very day.