Monday, July 13, 2015

"In this world are tigers." Anniversary: The opening tragedies of the Korean War.

I gifted a fellow writer at the Alabama Gun Collectors Association show my copy of This Kind of War by T.R. Fehrenbach. I grew up with several Korean War veterans as neighbors and used to listen to their stories late at night as they swapped reminiscences at my old man's Saturday night beer parties that he would host on our carport. There was this storage place without a door that I used to hunker down in, out of sight, and just listen. It was there that I first heard about the Chaplain–Medic massacre and the Sunchon Tunnel Massacre.
Fehrenbach's book should be required reading for all Americans and there is one particular passage that is lodged in my memory:
None of them had been told why they were in Korea, or why the U.S. was fighting North Korean Communists. None of them cared. They only wanted to get back to Japan. Instead, they were headed for the Naktong River Line, there to make a final stand. There they would realize that their government had no intention of withdrawing them; if they wanted to live, they would have to fight. They were learning, in the harshest school there was, that it is a soldier's lot to suffer and that his destiny may be to die. They were learning something they had not been told: that in this world are tigers . . . They had been raised to believe the world was without tigers, then sent to face those tigers with a stick. On their society must fall the blame.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My ex's grandfather was a WWII and Korea vet, he was a chaplain. In one of his yearbooks about a unit he was with there was a photo of his boss, I think a colonel, also a chaplain, chatting with a GI in a foxhole in Korea. Grandpa had circled something in the photo that his boss was holding, and drawn an arrow to it and exclamation points. That something was an M2 carbine with a 30 round magazine.