Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Met a Korean War Vet Today

I served in Korea for a year back in 2003. There's a lot to know about the 3-year "forgotten" war that took the lives of over 50,000 Americans. Living there, I was inundated with history and background as I should have been considering I was the heir to help carry on that legacy. But no year in a relatively, quiet time could ever illustrate to me what it was like to fight in the freezing, cold snow in barren valleys and mountains with cold k-rations to eat.

I know the Korean cold but under the blanket of a heated dorm room or thick layers of clothing that I wore only to walk from one building to the next. I also know the rainy season when you wear rain gear from head to toe, again to slosh from one building to the next. I do not know what it's like to carve a hole in the ground and have to sleep in the pond it creates during that cold, wet season.

I have seen the World's Most Dangerous Golf Course -- a one-hole, par 1 where if you lose your golf ball, you do not go after it for fear of anti-personnel mines. But I do not know what it is like to build a human chain down a mountain, through c-wire and over mine fields to be able to drag a buddy missing half his skull safely to a helo landing pad.

Today, I met the man who's platoon formed that human chain--up the snow-covered side of a mountain and one of the men in his platoon. Both originally from Oklahoma, their guard unit was paired with another from California and headed to Korea in December 1951. This was a year and a half before the armistice was signed and a year and a half after the war started. Joe Mac, the wounded man, was pulled from that valley and flown to Japan the day after his 19th birthday.

Veterans of all ages, no matter if they serve three years, 13 years or 30 years deserve all the respect we can give them. America seems to be split on patriotism these days. Some support the soldier and are scolded for believing in America. Others scorn the military man and everything he stands for because they disagree with how he's being used. Funny, America stands for liberty, freedom and God-given rights. Isn't that what the soldier stands for too?

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