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My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.
|My father served in Korea. For the first time in my lifetime, he opened up just a little bit about this experience to me yesterday.|
He "volunteered" for the Army after completing his second (?) year in the seminary--he knew he would get drafted, so by volunteering he could control which branch he went into, which meant he had a little control over how long he would be in.
After basic and NCO school (not OCS--he didn't want the five-year commitment), he got on a boat and crossed to Pacific Ocean to serve nineteen months in theater as a First Sargeant.
Life was tough for the Infantry in Korea--when they weren't moving from one place to another (an almost constant condition), they were deployed to hold one sector. What that meant for them was a grim task: ten hours in a foxhole, watching one field of fire, followed by ten hours to the rear to get some sleep, followed by ten more in the trench. When you consider that Korea is generally both wetter and muggier than we're used to in much of the States, that makes for some unpleasant conditions.
But it wasn't always trench warfare--every six rotations, Dad had to lead a squad out on patrol. A squad consisted of ten men: the leader, two men manning the large machine gun, and seven rifle men. Their task was usually fairly specific, and mostly involved great secrecy--they were never allowed to break radio silence. When they achieved their objective, they would signal to the base their completion, and return.
How many of you knew that? How many of you know that "patrol" probably involved more mountain climbing than a Normal Miller film? Korea, you see, has very few flat spots. And helicopters for transportation? Hardly--nowhere to land. Limited almost exclusively to Med Evac.
I knew none of that about Korea. Everything I knew about Korea was basically from M*A*S*H, and it turns out I knew nothing.
But 36,500 Americans died on what looks like the appendix of Asia, to accomplish essentially very little except repel the Communists back across the 38th parallel, which still requires a commitment of 37,500 Americans to keep the North at bay . . .
and very few Americans know much about this.
Which is probably true of the VAST majority of the efforts of Americans all around the world.
So on this day in which cities and banks celebrate our Veterans, please take a moment to think not just of the 3800 who have died in Iraq, and all of those from WWII and Vietnam who we tend to think about so easily, but take a moment to consider the lesser-known heroes who have done some amazing hard work around the world that never get memorialized properly.
And thank all of them for their service.
And, by the way--thank you John, and thank you Dad, and thank you Uncle Bill and Uncle Dick, and thank you Bob, and . . . .