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LESSONS FROM WARRIORS PAST — 11 Comments

  1. I read it a few years back. Anything that could go wrong did.. To many young lives lost. The price of freedom was never and will never be free.

  2. I never tire of reading tales about the fight at Chosin Reservoir. It still amazes me today at age 69 of how those Marines could fight two deadly foes at the same time – the weather and the Chinese. Though they had to withdraw to the port of Hungnam, they made the Chinese pay every step of the way – as did the Chinese to them. Any lesser fighting corp than the US Marines would have been overrun and wiped out, which was exactly the goal of the Chinese. That had to be at least one of Marine Corp’s finest hours if not the finest hour.

  3. Perhaps the finest book about the Korean war – at least on its face. It’s actually a meditation on the role of the military in a democracy, and it’s probably the finest book of the 20th century on both subjects.

    “This Kind of War” by T. R. Fehrenbach

    His other histories (on Texas, Mexico and other topics) are also excellent, but TKOW is his masterpiece.

    The Real Kurt

  4. My dad’s brother, my uncle, was a lifer in the U.S. Army, and he was in both Korea and Vietnam. He was a communications guy, and in Vietnam did not see any fighting, but in Korea, he was involved in several firefights, when the Chinese came over the hill at his position. He told me about the time when he was shooting at a Chinese soldier, with his M1 carbine, and seeing the dust fly off the soldier’s quilted vest from 100 yards away, and the soldier kept right on coming.
    He eventually fell, but my uncle was really shook up at that one. He has passed away now, but I am still in contact with my cousins, a couple of whom are still in Kansas, near Ft. Riley, where he was last stationed. I am in Michigan, and so I keep in touch via the internet. My uncle also had gone into the Yalu river, I believe, in mid winter, and nearly froze his feet. We would go deer hunting in Michigan, in November, and he could not sit for much longer than an hour or two, without having to get up and move around, due to getting cold feet.
    I met a Korean war vet when I was working at a trailer park, as a maintenance man. He was sent to Korea as an MP, but was given the job of a machine gunner. He was a really nice man, and told me about how the Chinese would come and they just kept shooting them, and the ended up with stacks of dead Chinese soldiers in front of their position.
    He did that for perhaps 6 months, and then got to go back to his MP job of kicking GI’s our of the brothels. I have not seen him for probably 2 years now, he was about 88 or so when I left that job. He was emotionally solid, but he still had a look in his eyes when talking about his time as a machine gunner, that the things he had seen would never leave him.
    I don’t think that our leaders of today quite realize just how much war affects the men and women who fight it. When I consider a president, it always has been more meaningful to me knowing that they had been a military veteran. That doesn’t make a person a better president, but it makes them at least able to relate a bit to our soldier who they might have to send to defend our country. Jimmy Carter, George HW Bush, DW Eisenhower, George W Bush, who was at least a member of the National Guard. All of them were not great presidents, by a damn sight. I think of Jimmy Carter, and while I don’t think he was a good president, when he sent soldiers into harms way, like in the aborted rescue attempt of our hostages in Iran, you at least knew that he understood just how great of an impact it was having on not only the political and national affairs of America, but also the personal and familial concerns of the military members themselves.

  5. We all grew up with men who would not talk about their wartime experiences. One time my Dad’s uncle began to speak but his wife hushed him up. I am VERY thankful for men who have told us what combat is really like. I have learned a lot from them, about death, service, loyalty, compassion, endurance, what feats humans are capable of, and suffering. These are necessary lessons for people like me who grew up in a comfortable, push-button world. What is hunger? I have to push food away from me, or else I’ll have to buy bigger clothes.

    The people who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq are my heroes, even though they are younger than me.

    America is always at war, on the other side of the world, and sometimes in Honduras and Nicaragua. Some warriors have a lot of combat experience from all this fighting. I wish we could be military isolationists and bring all our troops home from foreign bases. I also realize that would allow our enemies to strengthen themselves, like Al Qaeda did in Afghanistan before they attacked us.

    Hopefully Silicon Valley and Picatinny are designing robots to replace soldiers. Why do we still have human pilots? Can’t airplanes fly themselves now?

    • Even our most advanced drones are controlled by pilots on the ground. An aircraft’s automatic pilot only flies a plane at a predetermined course and is not suitable for combat purposes. Artificial intelligence has not progressed to the point where machines can think for themselves. That’s why in the movies, RoboCop always beats the purely mechanical robot villains.

      • Thanks, Tom606. AI sounds like techies getting a little too carried away with their machine worship. I know that simple living things are more complex than our most complex machines. But I’m not qualified to discuss technology, especially future tech. So when the techies talk, I keep my mouth shut.

  6. Thanks for the book recommendation and your insightful comments. Joseph Owen’s “Colder than Hell” is next on my list. I just finished “The Last Stand of Fox Company,” by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin. Incredibly detailed, fast paced and entirely factual account of a single, under manned Marine rifle company holding off many thousands of Chinese. Five days, subzero conditions, impossible odds. One of the most gruesome battles of The Korean War. The necessity of staying in the fight is an important lesson that’s almost continually brought home in these stories.

  7. Last year I met a Marine Korean War veteran who had been at the “Frozen Chosin.” He was almost old enough to forget he had been there, but not quite!
    The Heinz 57 ethnic background of our Medal of Honor winners, for example, including a large percentage of especially self-sacrificing individuals with posthumous awards, needs to be recognized and appreciated by everyone. Anyone planning to do evil with a weapon for whatever imagined reason needs to look at the Medal of Honor list first to see what heroic efforts and sacrifices they are planning to betray, and may the histories inspire them to seek help before it is too late.