Sixty five years ago as Japan surrendered chaos reigned in China, Manchuria and Korea. Russian soldiers swept through Manchuria as Japanese soldiers surrendered while in the South American troops landed to assume control of the country. Russian and Army commanders agreed to halt their armies at the 38th parallel in order to avoid confusion. This accidental decision resulted in formation of a Communist government in North Korea and a pro-American government in South Korea. Sixty years ago this month, North Korean soldiers invaded South Korea in what would be named, the Korean War. After three years of fighting, both sides agreed on a temporary truce, but this “temporary truce” has lasted over a half a century leaving the peninsula divided. We who served in the US armed forces during this war are the forgotten veterans of American history. Few films have been made, and few high school teachers give other than a passing mention to the first limited war in our history. It was the first war in which military leaders recognized the full power of America could not be employed in order to avoid plunging the world into a terrible world war. We held back in hope eventually the Soviet Union would end communism and China would moderate its brand of communism.
We forgotten soldiers never returned to celebration or to hatred, we simply were ignored by our contemporaries and future generations. However, it was during our watch the American armed forces were integrated, it was during our service massive war was avoided, and we helped create the nation of South Korea and ensured Japan could continue its economic and political revival.
I sometimes wish Vietnam soldiers had met our indifference. Of course, the slogan of American soldiers during the Korean War was symbolic: “that’s the way the ball bounces, sometimes she goes up, sometimes she goes down.”
“Goodbye Maria, I’m Off To KOHREA!”