Thursday, February 14, 2008


In Korea, I interviewed hundreds of GIs back from all over the front, wounded or crazy—sending them back to front if they had completely recovered. I got a better picture of the war than those in combat, because I heard stories from all over the front. Perhaps the saddest story was this:

A young, rangy Appalachian farm-boy showed up, ready to return to the front. He had enlisted even before he finished HighSchool. He was so brave and skilled, they made him a sergeant on the front line.

He said, “You’ll notice that now I’m just a private.” (I hadn’t wanted to mention this.)

“We were going up an awful hill, with Chinese waiting for us at the top. We outnumbered them, so it wasn’t quite a death-trap.

“One guy was seized with terror. I drove him up the hill with the others. He dropped dead of a heart-attack. After the battle, I got reprimanded.
“But jeez, many others died that day; driving him forward was a small risk I felt I had to take.

"So I demanded that they break me back to Private; I was not going to take the extra responsibility if they wouldn’t back me up.”

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