Part 1 -I WANTED YOU TO KNOW-

Written by: Leith Cunningham during year of 2016


My friend Larry Lelito, a combat Marine sniper veteran out of the Vietnam war; has asked a certain number of other combat veterans from different wars to write down some of their experiences for a book he is planning on producing; and has already got it going in its beginning, infant stages. I am in the process of submitting some of my own experiences from the Korean War. Once I got started my mind became flooded with one more, one more and one more episode that I wanted to reveal and get off my chest, and also to pass it on to others. 

However, it is sort of like picking at an old sore somewhere on your body until you’ve ripped the scab off and it begins to bleed and gets sore all over again, sometimes you wish you had just left it alone, because of the old memories it brings back. It also reminds me of being a kid back home on the farm. You find out really quick to leave fresh cow paddy’s alone because of their horribly rotten smell. But when left alone for a few minutes the sun, wind and weather will glaze it over and seal it off from stinking. However as curious boys you find out too, if you get a stick and start stirring it up, that same rotten smell begins stinking worse than it did in the first place. Then just like picking at a scab, you wish you had just left it alone. That is somewhat like the feeling I get in opening up old wounds of the Korean War.

-Pandora’s Box-

However, on the positive side, it can also be compared to a good bowel movement or puking up a bad meal after a night on the town and drinking too much, in one being able symbolically to get some of that built up mind bending rot-gut filth of blood, guts and gore, kill or be killed experiences expelled from your stomach and out of your insides for the moment, a purging of a source of lingering emotional pain to flush from memory for a little season. I have listed some of my experiences and connections with the insane act of war, down in no particular order for the most part. As they came to mind I just wrote them down. 

So as I bounce back and forth a little I hope you’ll be able to follow along and get the picture I will be trying to present to you. Once I got started it was like opening up “Pandora’s Box”, out came the good, bad and the ugly side of life during war time on this earth. My problem is not in what to write but where do I stop and how much do I reveal? I will also tell you a little about my life and times otherwise as well. I have elected to be quite vivid and descriptive in portraying what really happens during war time on the battlefield as well as the behind the lines that serve those at the front. I will explore our interactions with the host country that we have come to help and to support.

-Let the games begin-

Like every other person that will have a hand in writing things for this book; There will be certain things, at least in my case, that we will never reveal to another living soul, each of us will have our own personal reasons. Along with this I will occasionally make a fleeting comment or a connection between the rule of man on our earth that brings on war; as well as the eventual return of Jesus Christ that will put an end to all wars. It is what I have come to believe the final solution of the fate of man will have to be. We as a nation and even as individuals seem to be turning our backs on the God and creator of all that exists. Just as I feel about what is taking place within our cities, towns and villages. By taking the pledge of allegiance of the flag and "Under God"mention, out of our schools for example, it becomes a slow and subtle attempt at turning our backs on God and against His Word. That if left alone to do as they please (the powers to be) will eventually remove Him from our minds and hearts.

There should be someone to let us know what the plan of God is, was and always has been. Those that tell us they have it all covered, they know how to run the world without God being in the equation. We live in modern day times that don't really require or need the direction of a God to lean on; Man has learned to fend very well for himself, consequently there doesn't seem to be reason anymore to keep bothering God. Never mind the fact that mankind on his own has had six thousand years to do that and has instead brought our planet to the brink of cosmocide. (final and total destruction of planet earth) We are going to have to go beyond what others tell us the truth of the matter is. Since God tells us,"My Word is truth" It make good sense then, to find out what He says in His Word.

-My mind on the matter-

I remind you that what I have to say here is my belief according to how I understand the Word of God. You are not required to accept and believe that which I believe to be true. That without a shadow of doubt is between yourself and God. I believe it is my duty however to let you know what I consider to be some good news along with all of the horrors of war. To know and to maybe realize that there will be a decent earth to live on for our kids and grandchildren that follow after us; when God stops the insanity of warring mankind and puts an end to conquest, envy, jealously, lust and greed in our attempt at eventually polluting and destroying everything that carnal man has put his hand upon; which includes the insanity of the fighting of never ending wars. 

We need to face our situation and be putting our trust and confidence back into God Almighty as opposed to our materialism, technology and those government officials at the top that have time and time again already proven; they just do not know how to govern correctly in a Godly way.That being said I am not trying to convert you to my way of thinking or believing; we as individuals are all going to be accountable to God in the grand finale of things to come. In this way; I don’t believe we as believing individuals of the power and scope of God should gag ourselves, any more than we should just fold our hands and agree to let others remove God from our minds and hearts and from our schools. This writing is my attempt at speaking my own mind on this matter.

-What about war then?

War is a whole different kind of animal so to speak; normal law and order within a nation at war is somewhat suspended as it attempts to defend itself against the invader. Being in Korea during war time reminded me a lot about the old west and the one with the fastest gun and most accurate, ruled the roost. In Korea at least; even the South Korean people that we were sent there to defend; were subject to the law of the gun during war time, not according to our military law; but it still was prevalent and we enlisted men were the ones that were carrying the gun, therefore, we in a fashion made the rules to abide by as we went along and needed too. That is just the way that it was anyway, during my tour of duty in Korea. An American soldier, the lowest and youngest of privates in certain circumstances and positions outranked the highest rank of anyone in the Korean nation, as well as anyone else on planet earth. How would you like to have an eighteen year old kid with a ninth grade education dictate what you could or couldn't do?

Before I had been transferred as a machine gunner to front-line duty on the battlefields of Korea, I was assigned as a security guard on the docks of Inchon, Korea. As an eighteen-year-old private in the U.S. Army it became my job along with others like myself to see that law and order be kept in our area of responsibility. That is military law as the brass in command deemed necessary. To see to it the best that we could that North Koreans were not infiltrating within the South Korean stevedores that were unloading the ships. It meant preventing the problem of sabotage to the degree that we were able too, as well as the prevention of stealing food, materials and other supplies ear marked for our own troop, fighting and dying on the front-lines in combat with the enemy. We had been given the no nonsense order of, “Shoot to Kill” when and if necessary. We were programmed and trained U.S. government killers, stamped with a serial number and as GI's (government issue) we had no other identification; we belonged to our government and at that time and age had no qualms in doing that which we had been trained and ordered to do.  

-A little about me-

Most all of my life I have pushed the limits of the law and law enforcement. I am not proud of it; I am just stating a fact; it is the way I grew up. Myself and my family for example grew up on illegal venison. We called it government or jump beef and ate it year around, as we looked back over our shoulder for the game warden, it was a game of sorts. Our neighbors were most all violators as well, we had to be, to substantiate our food sources. I grew up with a bad attitude against authority. I seem to have been born that way for some reason; probably because like everyone else born on this earth, I am a carnal human being. People that really know me well; know the best way to get me to do something, is to tell me I can’t do it. My mind immediately begins thinking and looking for ways to do it, and bring it about. 

I personally think we all have that trait to some degree or another, and it may not all be bad. But my eighty-four years of life has been slowly showing me the value of being a law keeper as opposed to being a law breaker. Being in a war zone and seeing first-hand the staggering effects of anarchy against humanity and those too old, too young, too weak, too sickly and without any protection against it, is heartbreaking. With time I have been able to see this clearly. Since the Word of God tells us that sin is the transgression of the law and I claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ; then it behooves me to be a law keeper. I believe as I continue on working toward this end, as I fall short again and again, stumble and fall. I need then to get back up, dust myself off and keep at it. I wanted you to know this.

-Who is in command?

I was on gate guard at the docks of Inchon, Korea in the fall of 1950. Late one evening during the dark of night someone walking at a brisk pace was coming toward me and approaching my guard post as I gave him the proper military order to halt, to advance and to be recognized. He never changed his pace at all; just kept on walking while announcing he was Colonel so and so. My second order was much bolder and distinct as I racked a live round into the carbine rifle I was carrying at the time, and announced in a firm loud voice, “Colonel so and so, this is private Cunningham, and if you don’t halt and be recognized immediately, you’re going to be picking about 30 rounds of carbine ammunition out of your ass”. There is something about hearing the sound of live ammunition being locked and loaded in a weapon that is being aimed at you; that gets the attention of every one no matter what their rank is.

Like any colonel with good sense would do, he complied immediately. He being well aware of my guard duty orders to follow through as stated if he didn’t, left him no choice. Then to rub salt in his wounded pride, I made him follow through with all the other guard orders for the day that existed. I wanted him to know, that we both knew; that on these few square feet of earth he was standing on; no greater rank or authority on earth beyond myself as the appointed and authorized guard existed here, short of God Himself, I was in command here. He wasn’t a happy camper, I hoped never to end up on his turf; subject to his command to allow him to get even with a lowly private. I knew as an officer that he knew the guard orders that all military personnel must memorize and learn by heart before ever going on guard duty.

-Beat them at their own game-

Had the purpose and intent of this colonel been to test me on proper military procedure for guard duty; I would have been in way more trouble in letting him get away with not obeying my command, than I ever would by allowing him to make up his own rules as he had decided to do; and I knew it. I found out early on that the army or the military in general is hell bent on rules and regulations. They are meant for one and all; rank supposedly has nothing at all to do with it. I spent a lot of time asking questions and seeking out what they were on many different levels and subjects. It paid great dividends in helping me to know how to deal with military authority. 

During my three and a half years in the army I managed to embarrass and humiliate certain gung ho officers that I thought needed it for a little come up-ence in their looking down on us dummy privates that some had tried to grind down under their superior feet, and treated us like none of us had the brains to come in out of the rain. In the grand finale of things, I have learned over time to communicate and interact pretty well with those of higher education and standing within our community; which includes not becoming someone else’s rug to be walked upon.

-Going on guard duty-

On duty at the gate guard shack during shift changes; the Korean dock workers coming off their twelve hour shifts would line up at the gate waiting until they all got there before the guards would open the gate to let them walk through. We didn’t attempt to frisk or pat them down every day because it wasn’t required and was time consuming. We instead would do surprise inspections at random when not being expected. For that reason, the dock workers had developed a system to try and take advantage of us. 

The first several workers never had anything stolen on them; and we caught onto that. So we would let a dozen or so come on through before we would stop the line, pat down and frisk one. As soon as we did that we could hear clunkity clunk, clunk all the way back down the line where they would be getting rid of their stolen goods. We would make them all step a few feet to one side and the ground would be covered with things they had stolen.

-A new lesson learned-

I caught a dock worker at one point that had something on him of question; I can’t remember now what it was. I made the decision to take him to the Korean police station a short distance away and let them deal with it. They didn’t waste any time running him through the mill as they began knocking hell out of him. The oriental race knows about every harsh and severe torture tactic known to mankind, they are probably the ones that invented it. At one point they put him on his knees with his hands tied behind his back. His interrogator put the handle of a sledge hammer back of his knees in the crook of his legs. Then he would jump up and down on it as hard as he could, while at the same time beating him in the facial area with a hard rubber hose. 

There would be moans and groans and screams of extreme pain and torture, with slobbers coming out of his mouth and nostril area such as I had never heard of or witnessed before or since. I had, had about all I could handle of the animalistic brutality and wished I had taken care of it myself. I returned to my post and made the decision I would never take anyone else there; I would handle the discipline myself. I have often wondered what had happened to the man. If they had found him to have been a north Korean, I am quite certain they would have beaten him to death. The Koreans, both North and South were brutal and animalistic against the other, as well as with those of their own nation. As I will show you below copied off the internet.

-Massacres by the thousands-

Syngman Rhee, the South Korean president was responsible for ordering the execution of at least 100,000 Koreans suspected of having sympathy with North Korea. (See report below)

Charles J. Hanley & Jae-Soon Chang

This is the first of a multi-part article on the South Korean massacres of 1950, the US direct and indirect involvement in those massacres, and the subsequent cover up of the events in South Korea and the United States. Grave by mass grave, South Korea is unearthing the skeletons and buried truths of a cold-blooded slaughter from early in the Korean War, when this nation's U.S.-backed regime killed untold thousands of leftists and hapless peasants in a summer of terror in 1950.(I was in Pusan during that time, but it was all unknown to us rank and file soldiers, at the time)

With U.S. military officers sometimes present, and as North Korean invaders pushed down the peninsula, the southern army and police emptied South Korean prisons, lined up detainees and shot them in the head, dumping the bodies into hastily dug trenches. Others were thrown into abandoned mines or into the sea. Women and children were among those killed. Many victims never faced charges or trial. The mass executions — intended to keep possible southern leftists from reinforcing the northerners — were carried out over mere weeks and were largely hidden from history for a half-century. They were "the most tragic and brutal chapter of the Korean War," said historian Kim Dong-choon, a member of a 2-year-old government commission investigating the killings.

Hundreds of sets of remains have been uncovered so far, but researchers say they are only a tiny fraction of the deaths. The commission estimates at least 100,000 people were executed, in a South Korean population of 20 million. That estimate is based on projections from local surveys and is "very conservative," said Kim. The true toll may be twice that or more, he told The Associated Press. (end quote)

-I learned to make my own rules-

Although I had personally seen their capability of unleashing such unbelievable pain and torture upon one of their own, on the man I had taken to them, I had not realized at the time how really corrupt they were. From that time on I went through with my promise to myself; I would mete out discipline in accordance as the situation called for it in my own opinion. They had given us a lot of leeway in these things. No matter how harsh it might seem to be, it would come up real short of what they would have gotten at their own police station. For the most part I believe I used reasonable judgment with the personal punishment I had issued out. However, there was a couple cases that lay troubling on my mind from back then yet today. 

-Their brutality was rubbing off, and unto me-

They have come back and visited me during the night on many occasions. I have experienced it through and through in my minds eye on both cases again and again; wishing it would not have happened or I would be able to get it out of my mind and leave it alone. I had no right to treat another human being in such a manner. For whatever reason I am not sure, maybe it was just too much to be expected from an eighteen-year-old kid like myself; or I had taken on the brutality that was existing all around us at the time. But I had crossed the line and went too far on a couple of Korean dock workers that had fallen under my authority as a guard. The only thing I can do at this point is to recognize and acknowledge it as something that should not have happened and to be sorry for going too far, and that I am.

-As time moved on-

More than a few of the Koreans working on the Inchon docks during that time frame lost their lives attempting to steal from our supplies. Going to work on their afternoon twelve hour shift on the docks, being paid fifty cents a shift, eating their fish heads and rice, then never again to return alive to their wives and families. Within their already impossible task raising their kids and surviving the war. Which I know for sure and for certain, that many didn't. 

As security guards we were barracked across the railroad tracks from the dock area in one of the few buildings left standing after the bombardment of MacArthur’s amphibious landing there. I was off duty one day and relaxing in the building with other guards when we heard automatic weapons fire and a commotion coming from outside the building. I ran outside with several other guards to investigate the problem. 

A Korean dock worker came running toward us from the dock area, all humped over and out of breath as he dropped down on his face and chest right by my feet. The guard that had shot him, by that time had arrived too. As we all stood around waiting to see what would happen next. It seems if I am right in my recollections, we all stood around, lit up a cigarette and made small talk about the weather or whatever. The point I am trying to make here is, it was no big thing, it had become common place. Our being programmed and trained to kill was doing the intended military purpose of taking it all in stride and allowing our minds to be seared over and becoming immune to it all. How else would we have been able to cope with the many worse things up ahead during combat that we would to soon find ourselves in?

-Time can change a mind-

The Korean dock worker lay there on the right side of his face, cheek and head; with blood gushing out of his mouth in a puddle. I knew he had been hit in the lungs by the bubbles in his blood and he wouldn’t live very long. I don’t remember any emotions either by myself or anyone else at the time; rather it was more or less another ho hum moment; he was just a Korean; north or south who cares? It never even crossed my mind at that time, that he could have been a poor dock worker; working for fifty cents for a twelve-hour day; having a wife and family at home to feed and to care for; maybe stealing some little amount of food such as a can of Spam. But he also could just as well have been a North Korean up to no good. 

In either case, his life at that moment of time meant nothing at all to me or the others as he lay there and suffocated in a puddle of his own blood.We all finally just turned and walked away, leaving him lay there on the ground where he fell. No report, no nothing, just another day in the life. He was however a human being like ourselves. Since that time I have wished a thousand times that I had, had the maturity and presence of mind to have exercised some empathy, sympathy and humane compassion. To have said to hell with how my fellow guards may have perceived it as a weakness or what-ever, and knelt down and allowed him to die with at least a pat on the back or a comforting hand on his shoulder; that he not have to die alone. He lay there dead on the ground for a long time before anyone came along and removed him. That in itself could have been an indication that he was a north Korean.(However, one also made in the image and likeness of God)

-Not combat, but bloody just the same-

The following night I was walking night guard on the inside of this same Inchon dock area that had been fenced in with wire about 8 or 10 feet high. Pallets and supplies were being stacked up and stored about level with the top of the fence; with a path about three feet wide between the fence and the pallets to keep a watch on things. I was completely familiar with the walk area and was making my first round for the night. I had a flash light but I didn’t have it on; I was looking up at the skyline and tops of the pallets and supplies stacked up and stored overhead there. Being on guard and looking for another notorious Korean thief I could catch in the act of stealing and attempting to make off with things earmarked mostly for our comrades fighting and dying on the front-lines to secure the freedom for those doing the stealing. 

It was almost like hunting deer on a runway back home; where the dock workers wanting to steal things would take something and hide it on themselves, then at the right moment, slip away from the others and run across the pallet tops with their loot and then jump the surrounding fence and get away free as a bird. As I walked slowly along looking up to detect any movement from the skyline above; I suddenly stumbled over something in the pathway and fell down. It startled me because I instinctively knew there should not have been anything there. I quickly got up and shined my flashlight on what had caused me to stumble and fall.

-A name I cannot forget-

The guard on duty before me by the name of Cantrell had shot a Korean attempting to escape in the way described above; and no one had bothered to tell me or to have the body removed. Rigor mortise had already set in and the body was quite ridged, I could tell that he had been gut shot and it had taken him a while to die; because he was all humped up on his knees with his arms around his belly area in an attempt to ease the pain. This guy Cantrell bothered me in that he was so blood thirsty he would volunteer to walk guard for others just to be able to shoot Koreans. If I remember right, I believe he even carved notches on his rifle stock. 

Being so emotionally cold and seemingly without any conscience, I have often wondered if he had been related to an Indiana grave robber named Cantrell that I had read about that dug up corpses and sold them to be dissected by would be doctors. The Indiana Cantrell, according to historian and former Indiana State Museum researcher Joan Hostetler, would later admit that he preached his niece’s funeral in an afternoon and that night dug up her corpse and sold it. The Cantrell that I am talking about here had that kind of a mental and emotional make up. These things I am revealing to you here is just a tiny, tiny part of what happens both on the battlefield and all through the war zones. Do we need any more reason to pray as God instructs us to? “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”.

-Forgive Us God-

While I am here now in the same time frame of something else of a horrendous nature almost too horrible to remember or to report happened. I would like to tell you about it here; to again illuminate life in a war zone of any kind. As security guards we were expected to keep our appearance up and look like the professional law keepers that our superiors in the army expected us to be. We looked like MPs with an arm band and a helmet liner with SG for Security Guard on them. We walked a regular beat both in the dock area and in a little section of the city of Inchon.

A pregnant Korean woman several months along came into our barracks on a regular basis to pick up our dirty laundry and deliver back our clean laundry. She did by far the best job on our clothing that I have ever seen before or since. She was a kind and pleasant lady that smiled easily and seemed to enjoy visiting with us at times. She had to use a small cast iron skillet with hot coals in it for an iron; I cannot even try to imagine how many grueling hours she would have spent on our clothing; or how her hands and arms must have hurt her, after also being on her feet all day long, in her present condition. She came in this one day to pick up and deliver our laundry; and for whatever reason that I’ll never know. One of our guards sitting on his bunk cleaning his army issue 45 automatic side arm, pulled it up and shot her through her stomach, killing her and the baby inside, dead on the spot.

-We all need to learn to have empathy for others-

Because we had known her, respected her work ethic, liked her and appreciated her diligent service to us, we were saddened and grieved beyond what we would have been for other Koreans. Things like this are difficult to admit but it was true at that time. We lumped all Koreans together, we didn't much care for any of them. To us they all became an ungrateful bunch of worthless liars and thieves. This behavior however, cannot in any way be excused or justified; it is wrong on every level of human reasoning; yet sometimes it may require a person to symbolically walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before we are too quick to judge or condemn. 

By saying this I am not trying to justify what my fellow guard did; he needed to pay a very heavy penalty for what he did. Within a few days after this incident the overwhelming numbers in the Communist Chinese Army ran us out of Inchon and we had to retreat all the way back to Pusan. It was the longest retreat in US military history. (the Marines called it an advance to the rear) We never heard anything about what happened to the guard. He was taken away and dealt with by the MPs. Even though it was during war time that these things happen; I hope that her close family members that survived the war, were in some manner apologized to for this evil action. They needed to be compensated by our government for their painful horrendous loss.

-One cannot take back stupid-

A few days later after the above had happened; we heard another commotion coming from outside our guard house facility and again we went to investigate. A parade of 40 or 50 Korean men, women and children came marching and dancing down the street; singing and making all kinds of weird noises. Shaking sticks with ribbons tied on the ends as they came. We were getting a kick out of it and began to chime in with our own hollering and yelling and dancing as if to mock or to help them to celebrate the occasion that we didn’t have the foggiest notion on what it might be. 

Right in the midst of it all; someone among us had sense enough to recognize that it was the funeral procession and the taking of the dead body of the laundry woman to her final resting place of burial. I don’t dare think about this too much yet today; Our being stupid was caused by not understanding the culture of the Korean people the way that someone should have taught us too, or the fact that at the age most of us were being programmed and trained to kill and destroy; didn’t leave much room for such non-essentials as empathy, sympathy, love or compassion. The army and our drill instructors were not big on teaching us such things as that. Love thy neighbor, doesn't seem to fit to well with having to kill them.

-The suffering little kids- 

Again in this same general area but in the edges of the city of Inchon as darkness was settling in one evening. My friend, good buddy and fellow guard member by the name of Bronson was walking patrol on our way to the dock for our night duty, when we heard a low but high pitched whine or cry coming from the doorway of a business place. We investigated the area with our flashlights and found a little 4 to 6-year-old Korean boy war orphan. He was stark naked but for the GI shirt that some soldier must have given him. His teeth were chattering and he was shivering uncontrollably; sitting on his haunches as is the Korean practice and tradition. It looked to me as if in his mind he was just preparing himself to die there during the night.

He lacked any personal determination, ability or power to do anything else to save himself. It was a common image we faced daily in the war torn city of Inchon during that time frame. It was and still is a sad indelible sight and image burned into my conscience mind and heart. One more little boy or girl among many others to be remembered and pitied, that most likely never made it into living to be an adult, because men have learned to make war on their own kind. Bronson and I picked him up and took him along with us looking for some dwelling place with light coming out thru the cracks. Inchon had been bombed out and the whole area was built up of make do rubble, cardboard and whatever they could find to get in out of the weather. We came upon such a place that even had a door on it yet. I knocked on the door and an old mama-san came to the door and as soon as she seen the little boy in Bronson’s arms, she began flailing her hands and arms and yelling domi, domi. Which I knew by that time, it meant no!

-Does the end, justify the means?

Looking past her we could see the place was already overloaded with kids and adults trying to survive. I got more firm with her and she in turn got more firm with me, as she continued chattering away and saying domi, domi. There were no options left open to us at that point, we were due to be at our guard post. I racked a live round in my weapon and aimed it at her head. Bronson pushed the little boy past her into the dwelling as I went through the hand and body motions indicating the dead body on her doorstep that she would become if we came back and seen the little boy on the street again. 

We had done a temporary fix the best that we knew to do by symbolically putting a band aid on a gut shot person. Never knowing what the final outcome for the little boy or any of the rest of them would be. Within a couple weeks after this incident the Communist Chinese Forces entered the war against us with overwhelming numbers of combat forces by the hundreds of thousands and ran us out of Inchon back down to Pusan. Things could have only gotten worse for all of those pitiful, destitute and war weary residents of Inchon once the Chinese and brutal North Korean military horde got to them.

-Let’s look at religion-

None of us will ever be able to know only within our individual imaginations or having been there to see and experience it personally; the degree of beatings, pain, suffering, misuse, starvation, and/or abuse leading to death that these poor Korean people that were in no position to protect themselves from or against anything, were forced to have to endure. Nor any of the others around the world that have had to endure likewise, because some power hungry egomaniac mad man, with the means to do so, would like to exercise his own rule on the hearts, mind and property of others who have worked their fingers to the bone in sweat, blood and tears to acquire it for themselves. I have to tell you something here that has suddenly come to my mind, that I believe has its own part in most all wars.

-Religion in its hypocrisy, an excuse to kill-

I don’t even like to hear the word religion. Even the thought of religion invading my mind and just lying there causes me to almost want to vomit, I would like to puke it all out of my system. I have had religion in my life up to my neck and beyond; I have felt in the past that I was being drowned in religion. I don’t know the statistics but the truth be known there probably have been more people up until today that have suffered severely and have died at the hand of religion than most any other cause. Belfast Ireland, is a prime example of religion gone bad and its negative effects upon mankind, where two supposed religions of the very same Christian faith were going at each other tooth and claw, judging, condemning, pointing fingers and killing each other.

Even Hitler and the swastika was a representation of religion. He was in his own mind and heart and according to his own conscience as well as those of many others of their race, supposedly be doing God a favor; ridding the world of those that had crucified Jesus Christ, Gods Own Son. 

-1950 conditions in Pusan, Korea-

Prior to being transferred up to Inchon as a security guard, I was in charge of working crews of Korean dock workers at the port of Pusan, Korea. I had been trained in all aspects of transportation, by rail, by truck, by air, by ship and by finger-print. We organized and supervised X number of Koreans per crew to be doing the grunt work of what was called the finger printing, by hand work. Although I wasn’t required to, I liked also especially, to operate the ship winches to bring things up out of the hold and place it upon the dock. 

We would compete to see who could bring up a tank or tank retriever or some other big item from the bottom hold and have it sitting on the dock in the least amount of time. If I had a good signalman to guide me once it got out of sight over the ship railing, I could do it with the good Navy ship winches in substantially less than minute. Our group had at one point received a unit citation for unloading 26 million pounds of war materials and supplies within a 30-day period of time.

-Man’s inhumanity to mankind-

During this period of time in Pusan, the city was being overwhelmed and flooded with the thousands of South Korean refugees driven ahead of the invading North Korean Army. Having everything they could carry strapped to their back or on what they called an A-Frame. All of them milling around with a hollow eyed helpless look of despair upon their faces, in a last ditch effort to escape a grizzly and painful death at the hands of their enemy. No one to turn to, no place of safety, without food, elbow to elbow humanity just wanting to live one more day. 

In every direction you looked you could see these poor and defenseless women, children, and little babies with pregnant mothers, for the next child to be brought into hell on earth. Old men and displaced people of every description. The absolute saddest and most disturbing of all to me, was by-far the image that still remains embedded as cast iron within my heart and soul. It has never left me and it never will, it remains a constant, unshakable companion at different times in my life as my mind is once again taken back to it.

The pregnant mothers with little, often crying babies strapped to their backs. Many, several months along with their next child as they moved along zombie like, or sat emotionless on their haunches without any expression. All of them naked from the waist up, exposing their dirty and crusty bellies with their bulging breasts oozing out milk because of no way to bathe or keep themselves clean. Their bulging milk filled breasts oozing out liquid that made snake trails down across their bellies, as the air filled with flies that kept pace trying to compete with the babies for another meal. 

The young and older mothers alike, to used up, spent and exhausted to bother even brushing them away. One more example of how pitiful, shameful and demeaning human life has become, under the rule of man in his feeble attempt to govern our world, that brings it slowly but surely now to the brink of complete and total destruction. Please God, send your Son Jesus Christ back quickly to end our suffering and to restore your kingdom here upon this war weary world. I ask this in His name, Amen!

I will never forget the starving little kids that would end up at our garbage cans, fighting tooth and nail for a little scrap of food that one of us would throw away. Or how insensitive we as kids ourselves were, in laughing and betting on which one would win. We all should have had our asses kicked around the block, and back again. It is hard to look back at it now and try and figure out what happens to a mind that has been taught to kill, maim and destroy. Its as if you didn't ever want the other guy to see any weakness, sympathy or compassion being exercised. While in many and maybe most cases, the others had the same feeling down deep inside, as we did as well. 

-My own tear jerking experience-

One summer day in Pusan, Korea, during 1950, myself and two or three other buddies were walking down a dirt road in the outskirts, enjoying a little time away from our duties as U.S. Army longshoremen on the docks there. We received and shipped out war equipment, supplies and materials to the front-lines that were closing in on us day by day by a brutal and superior force and number of well-equipped, battle hardened North Korean enemy. As we walked along a group of little Korean girl war orphans ran and caught up with us, begging us for whatever we had to give, as well as wanting a little attention from us. Walking along together a smaller little girl kept falling further and further behind and began crying her eyes out in anguish and frustration of being left behind. Tanks, trucks and other traffic was clanging, chugging and clanking along on the way to the front-lines to supply our exhausted and outnumbered comrades, attempting to hold the enemy back from getting into and occupying Pusan and the surrounding areas.

I had noticed the little girl having trouble keeping up and felt sorry for her predicament and the trauma it was causing her. I went back and picked her up and carried her along and gave her a stick of gum or something to pacify her for the moment. She cheered right up like all the rest of them and was having fun being carried along as it became a pleasant moment in time that I’ll never forget. I believe I can truthfully say it was the most memorable, touching and heartwarming experience of my whole tour of duty in Korea, and quite possibly so also for my entire enlistment in the service. 

We walked along for only a few short moments together on that dusty road on the edge of a war torn city thousands of miles away from home and family before one of our company trucks came by, stopped and picked us up. I gave the little girl an extra lingering and warm hug, talking gently to her as I sit her back down on the roadway. As the truck began pulling away it caused a sight that still tugs at my heart strings. As I looked back through the swirling dust the little girl came running as fast as her little legs would carry her, with tears running down her face, and her outstretched arms reaching out in hope of receiving continued recognition, love, care and concern from even a stranger. In her despair she was crying out loudly, Obahgy, Obahgy, Obahgy. As soon as we got back to our outfit I looked up a Korean interpreter and asked him what the word Obahgy meant? “He said it meant daddy”.

-Things get even worse-

During the first few months of the Korean War, our forces were severely outnumbered by the brutal, animalistic North Korean Army. They had superior T-34 Russian tanks and other weapons superior to ours. Beyond that their troops were battle hardened, combat ready, experienced, well trained and eager to fight and bring South Korea back under their own control in the north, with Russia standing in the background to supply and give them everything they needed to do the job. It became a wholesale slaughter of our units that had been stationed in Japan, doing occupation duty after WW11. They were not at all battle ready and were just thrown in front of the invading North Korean Army in an attempt to slow their invasion with overwhelming numbers down until more well equipped combat ready troops could be brought in from home. The North Koreans had us with our back to the wall on all fronts. It looked as if we would be thrown out into the Sea of Japan. We would be driven off Korean soil altogether. In fear of that happening a decision had to be made by the powers to be.

-Not meant for the squeamish of heart-

We already had lost way too many lives of young, soft rear echelon, in-experienced kids that spilled their blood out and fell in front of their vicious, blood thirsty, well organized and well thought out brutal onslaught. The decision was made to immediately dig up the bodies of those that had been killed and buried in Korean soil, along with those still being killed. Reasoning rightly so, if they had been able to drive us out of Korea, we may never have had the chance to get our dead back. To this date there are still 7000 lost in Korea that have not been returned or accounted for. It was in the hot autumn sun when box cars loaded with these mangled and broken bodies came rolling into Pusan. 

The bodies that still had enough flesh to be recognized as a man were wrapped in shelter halves or a poncho. With a wire wrapped around the neck with the dog tags, one around the waist and one around the ankles. Where there wasn’t enough left of a body to be wrapped, they would along with whatever flesh, or body parts that could be found, scrape them up and wrap them up with the cross inside and dog tags on the outside to identify it as a dead soldier. They came in from the battlefield in boxcars with the dead bodies loaded on top of each other, as the weight, one upon another left blood and body fluids trailing along behind on the rails.

They came into Pusan being stacked up like cord wood one body on top of another. There are not enough descriptive words in my vocabulary to properly relay the grizzly imagery that meets the eye on such a scene, nor the awful smell of death and dismemberment of so many rotting human bodies to be shipped back home to their families. This was one duty our military refused to allow the Korean dock workers to be involved in. They couldn’t even touch them if I remember right. We military stevedores and longshoremen had been ordered to handle each one separately and by hand. We would remove a body and put it on a pallet four to a layer. The 2nd layer of bodies would be laid out cross ways, the third layer as same as the first, the final layer as same as the 2nd layer.

Loaded in this manner onto pallets four deep that could be moved by fork-lift to a waiting ship that loaded them by winch, that would take them to Japan to be processed and then to be returned home. The entire dock area from one end to the other, including the U.S. Navy and merchant ships coming in and going out was being permeated with this awful sickening smell of human death, unlike any other that I have ever smelled. When the detail was finally finished, we had to throw our boots and clothing away because the odor could not be washed out of them completely. With the help of God and a heavy helping of Japanese whiskey and sake (rice wine) we accomplished our mission, thanking God for our being able to miss out being on this particular ship and cargo on its way back home. It had been a sad and humbling experience that will never leave your side. But it was as well a duty I am grateful and thankful for having had the opportunity to serve my fellowman, my fellow comrade in so doing. It gives one the ability to recognize and realize how very fleeting life can be.

-When is it time to bring up religion?

Now I would like to tell you something else. You may like it or lump it or toss it aside in file 13 under the heading of disbelief or gobbly goop; it just doesn’t make much difference or matter to me at all; those having not had to experience these things, find it hard sometimes to accept and to believe it as the truth. That is why being in an organized group of combat veterans to exchange experiences is so important in helping to decrease the effects of PTSD. Having been there and having done that themselves, and to be able to talk about it to others that understand, is a great release of stress.

However, I am presenting the truth as I experienced it here and I promise I won’t be offended, if you reject it. But I would hope you might give it a chance to take root and maybe grow in your mind and heart. I am doing something here in an effort to inform others about the good news beyond religion. The good news beyond the insanity of wars. The good news beyond the multiple hundreds of thousands of churches that claim they have the answers; that claim they have the truth; while they all at the same time believe and teach something different than the other one on the same block down the street.

I am telling you here about war and its effects upon mankind. I want to in the same breath give you the good news of things to come; where mankind will learn the right and proper way to live among ourselves without killing and/or destroying others. Hitler (religiously and sincerely) believed the final solution was to commit genocide, to do away with a complete race of people; the Jews. He tried his best to complete that job, but it didn’t work. There is however a final solution that has been in effect from before the world began. God put it in place knowing it would require His Son coming to earth as a regular flesh and blood human being that would never sin; that it would qualify His shed blood as full payment for all sin for all time, for all people, at His death and resurrection.

-It is real, it is true and it is certain; and it will work. It will work because God is the author and finisher of it-

The real final solution can be found within the prayer that Jesus Christ told us, to pray in this manner. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. That is when the government of God, the kingdom of God will be exercised here on earth. It will replace the government or misguided rule of man on earth. It is when the will of God will be the law. It will be upheld and adhered to everywhere. It will be here on earth as stated. It could be sooner than we think. His elect, those who believe He is whom He claims to be; the Savior of all, those who turn from following after the Babylon of confusion. (which I believe and teach is this worlds religious system of a false teaching among other things) When we one and all stop being wrapped up in following after custom, ritual and tradition as opposed to the Word and the way of God. Those turning away from celebrating pagan times and seasons that have used the name of God in vain by attaching it to pagan mythology, gods that existed centuries before Christ was born here on earth.

-Attaching the name of God to paganism, to make it holy-

Those turning away from accepting and believing as truth, that blatant paganism has been made holy and pleasing to God after they (Religion) have attached the name of His Son to it. Somehow, hocus pocus and Christ-mass and Easter to mention a couple pagan originated times and seasons, becomes their most sacred times of the year. Those turning away from these practices and following after the will and way of God are to be the ones known as the elect to rule here on earth with Jesus Christ for a thousand years during the millennium. 

After the thousand years have passed and during the second resurrection, also called the great white throne judgment. That is when the great mass of humanity of all of mankind; past, present and future will be resurrected to learn the will and the way of God. To each in their own turn having accepted and have come to believe that in fact and in truth; Jesus Christ is who He has claimed to be all along. The Savior of all of mankind and all of creation, without even one exception. I am not ashamed of believing and teaching others what I believe is the truth of our Almighty God. I do not believe that I should write all about the evils of people killing people in wars. Without telling you also the good news of what I believe is the truth about the return of Jesus Christ to end all wars.

Realizing as I do that war seems to be inevitable in this world in which we live, where the rule of man (The Babylonian system) has decided kill, maim, destroy and take that which belongs to someone else at whatever cost of human life it may require. Nations never satisfied with the amount of land allotted to them; are always hell bent on figuring out ways to expand their own borders; while at the same time blaming it on the aggression of the neighbor that they plan on attacking. So as long as this Babylonian system of governments and religion exist; it behooves all of mankind to be prepared at all times to go to war if necessary to protect that which we have worked for, earned, paid dearly for in lost lives of those that have fought and died to gain it. 

But while we are in the process of going to war; before we decide to send our young men and women into the chaos of combat and the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wreckage of mind, body and soul; we should seriously reflect upon what it is that really happens during the act of war. It is my hope that I will be able to show you some of the normal practices that can and will happen during war time. I have had a unique and unusual experience in having been both in rear echelon service behind the lines to witness what goes on there; as well as front-line, battlefield experience to know what goes on there too.

-It happened in Korea-

My own experience of war that I am most knowledgeable of was the Korean War. I have told you of some of the personal things I was involved in to help others that may never be involved themselves; to be able to grasp the gravity, pain, misery and death that so many others including whole families; old men, women, children and even babies; through no fault of their own have had to live in; during long periods of time before finally having to die a horrible death in it without one second of relief. 

During the first segments of combat in the Korean War; the North Korean soldiers infiltrated within the ranks of the flood of South Korean refugees attempting to flee from a certain death at the hands of the brutal North Korean Army. Consequently, early on our own Infantry Officers gave the orders to fire upon refugees that appeared on the front lines where they didn’t belong. Shoot first and ask questions later if one expected to stay alive. The bridge at No Gun Ri Korea was and still is a prime example of what can happen when soldiers are faced with possible death or dismemberment when the shooting begins. I am including a documentation off the Internet below.

The squat, twin-arched concrete bridge at No Gun Ri was built to span a small creek. But for a terrifying three days in late July 1950, it spanned a killing field. A U.S. Army unit had killed as many as 300 civilians at No Gun Ri in the opening weeks of the Korean War. Accounts of what happened at No Gun Ri, a hamlet some 160 k southeast of Seoul, are hazy and conflicting. But taken together, they paint a picture of panic, fear, vague military orders and, finally, individual G.I.s struggling with the dictates of conscience. The Koreans under the bridge were part of a wave fleeing the North Korean army as it plunged southward in a month-old invasion of the South. 

North Korean infiltrators in civilian garb had been slipping through U.S. lines, guiding in artillery strikes and sniping at the retreating Americans. Days earlier, units of the 1st Cavalry Division had issued a chilling order. No refugees to cross the front line. Fire at everyone trying to cross lines, it said. Use discretion in case of women and children. G.I.s say a throng--including many women, children and old men--had sought protection under the No Gun Ri bridge from an earlier, perhaps errant, U.S. air raid. They had been pinned down for three days. U.S. forces at the bridge came under repeated enemy attack. The G.I.s regularly fired bursts over the heads of the cowering civilians. But then we were ordered to kill them all, Edward Daily of Clarksville, Tenn., then a corporal in the 7th Cavalry Regiment's 2nd Battalion, told Time. So I lowered the barrel and kept firing. (end quote)

A horribly disturbing incident under that bridge has since that time been documented and substantiated by a South Korean grandfather along with other survivors. The grandfather that had been holding his little infant grandson and trying to keep him quiet to avoid being shot at anymore. Not being successful in keeping the toddler quiet he submerged the baby’s head under water and in the emotions of the moment, inadvertently left him there too long and he drowned him. This my friends are the reality of war; the locations may change from one nation to another but the reality remains the same. There are still today many people; both American soldiers and South Korean families suffering greatly because somewhere on earth thousands of miles away in plush rooms of safety and plenty, men of higher position had sat around a big conference table at an earlier time in a warm comfortable war room drinking champagne and ordering in steak and all the trimmings, along with the dancing girls; as their big gun exalted leader stuck pins in a world map to decide where to start the next war. Sorry Korea; this time it was just your turn.

-MacArthur, a perceived god within himself-

Later on as the war had escalated after MacArthur had made a successful amphibious landing of troops at Inchon and cut off the supply lines of the North Korean Army as they melted in with the South Korean population; feeling all puffed up and riding high on his horse of pride and distinction; General MacArthur with his command of U.N. Troops pushed forward to drive the North Koreans out of Korea altogether. There-by reuniting all of Korea under the control of South Korea and the U.N. Disregarding his own intelligence sources that, “Mao Zedong the Communists Chinese Dictator”; had been massing thousands of Chinese troops at the Yalu River; waiting for the right time to surprise attack with a vengeance.

On November 25-26 1950 the human wave of Chinese soldiers swarmed into North Korea wreaking havoc upon our military all across Korea. Killing, maiming and destroying everything in their sight. My outfit the 2nd Inf. Div. had been caught in their cross hairs at a six mile pass south of Kunuri, Korea and suffered over three thousand causalities in one afternoon. See further account from internet below, during this time frame and later on during the Korean War.

During these early months of 1951, General MacArthur wrestled with the fallout of his failed offensive. Characteristically, he did not accept any of the responsibility for what had happened. He blamed Washington for his situation, and he simply couldn’t accept that his career would end in this way. He wanted to finish the job of unifying the Korean peninsula, which meant taking the war directly to China. He believed that the decision of whether or not to use atomic weapons should be his, not the President’s. 

In Tokyo, he began to give regular interviews to the press in which he advocated for such a policy. But the Truman administration and America’s UN allies saw too many pitfalls to expanding the war. For one thing, there weren’t enough men to fight a larger war and still meet NATO commitments. International opinion was turning against the Korean mission, and there loomed the specter of direct Soviet intervention and nuclear war. Time and again MacArthur would ask permission to bomb China. He would be told no, and that he was not to make any statements regarding America’s foreign policy. MacArthur would then fire off a series of angry protests. Omar Bradley, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, later wrote:

His legendary pride had been hurt. The Red Chinese had made a fool of the infallible ‘military genius’… the only possible means left to MacArthur to regain his lost pride and military reputation was now to inflict an overwhelming defeat on those Red Chinese generals who had made a fool of him. In order to do this, he was perfectly willing to propel us into all-out war with Red China, and possibly with the Soviet Union, igniting World War III and a nuclear holocaust. (end quote)

-Anxious to grow up, get away and learn-

I didn’t join the army to learn how to handle a weapon or to fight a war. I simply wanted to get out from under the strict rule and authority of my father. Although my father was a combat infantryman veteran of the 3rd Inf. Div. during WW1 and fought in trench warfare against the Germans in 1918. It was my mother that taught us four boys how to hunt, fish and to look after ourselves, out in the woods and away from home. All of my brothers were in the military too. My oldest brother Ted was the last living man of the 101st Glider Infantry of WW11. He said the gliders never landed, they all just crashed, he ended up in two crashes himself. He died this past July 5, 2015. 

One brother Marcel was in the 25th Inf. Div. My brother Glade was in the famed 8th Air force. My mother was the oldest sibling in a family of twelve. Her father was a hunter, trapper and lumber jack on the banks of the Manistee river where she grew up learning how to live off the land and become a survivor. She taught us kids that a Porcupine was called, “A lost man’s friend”. She would take us into the woods when we were young and show us how to climb a tree and get a porcupine out, kill it, clean it and build a fire to cook and eat it. She wouldn’t let us go into the woods without our dog a gun a knife a needle and thread and a water proof kit with dry farmer matches in it.

I credit my mother in a large part that I was able to survive Korea. She had bought us 22 rifles at about 10 or 12 years old and taught us how to use them safely. She taught us about Kentucky wind-age; taking into account the direction and intensity of where the wind was coming from. And whether to be up-wind or down-wind while hunting. We all in differing degrees became skillful at hunting. I have always been a good shot, I knew where the particular gun I was shooting and hunting with shot. Whether high, low, left or right, I kept it that way on purpose that no one else would be able to shoot it as well as myself. One day I was standing with my youngest brother in his early twenties; getting ready to shoot at a little bird about 75 or 100 yards away. He said, “Let me try it”. I handed him the rifle and told him at that distance to shoot about 4 inches to the left and he did, he hit the little bird not much bigger than a quarter dead center. We were all quite competitive and hated to miss the mark. I had been awarded the expert marksmanship badge during basic training in Fort Riley Kansas.

-Higher education with a license to kill-

During the moment; while being a young person with little or no understanding of how life should be lived out here on earth, our vision is severely impaired, because we have little or nothing much to compare it too yet. Looking back on life often gives us 20/20 vision, to discern, to reflect upon, to read between the lines and to give us a better understanding of how life works and how others can often influence our young minds and lead us into their own desired actions. Without knowing or realizing it, we can and often do become as they are. 

During the spring of 1950 at the tender age of seventeen; I had finished my training as a longshoreman along with three other Transportation Port Companies in Fort Eustis, Virginia. We loaded up as a complete unit on a troop train and traveled all the way across our nation to Fort Lawton, Washington. We were to be deployed to Alaska, when suddenly the war in Korea broke out. We immediately changed directions and headed straight to Pusan, Korea. Our whole outfit consisting of three full strength longshoreman companies was now on our way to Pusan, Korea. Our very first contact with the Korean nation and its inhabitants was nearly impossible for me to grasp and believe it was happening as our transport ship pulled in long side the docks that we were being sent there to control and work crews of Korean dock workers on. Unloading food, supply’s, weapons, machinery, and everything needed to fight a war with.

-Watch me, and do as I do-

The gang plank to exit the troop ship had been put into place as we on board were gawking and looking over our new home to be. The dock area with large holding warehouses were constructed in rows up and down the line as Korean dock workers on break sat resting on their haunches as their custom is. As we tried to take it all in because of the culture changes we were looking at, and things to follow. It is embedded in my mind, heart and psyche, still today as if seared there into my being with a red hot iron. We were being led off the ship by a large non commission officer that had evidently been serving in Korea and wanted to give us all an object lesson on how to get our Korean work crews to work and produce results. 

This big, loud and boisterous Sargent started down the ship walkway toward the dock, raving and swinging his arms and cursing, frothing at the mouth and kicking the sides of the walk area as he worked himself into frenzied lather like one gone mad. It didn’t stop there, as soon as his feet hit the dock area, he made a bee-line for the resting Korean dock workers along the warehouse sitting on their haunches. He went down the line cursing, swearing and kicking and punching anyone and everyone who couldn’t get out of his way fast enough. That was the lesson that everyone on the ship was able to see. Now we knew how to treat those that we supposedly came to help and to protect and to put to work.

-Check your conscience at the door-

Having been indoctrinated and systematically programmed as government hunters to hate, to search and seek out, to kill maim and destroy, to look down upon and despise these north Korean people; whose south Korean counterparts were of the same blood, we went right to work. We were barracked in a large Japanese building they had used while occupying Korea. It held all three companies. We were feeding several hundred military U.S. Army longshoremen around the clock. Outside of the building they had facilities set up to wash and rinse our mess kits in. And at the beginning of these lines they had garbage cans set up to scrape off food we didn’t eat, it all meshed in together to make a sloppy mess. 

All the little war orphan kids, mostly boys in the neighborhood, of which they were many, from about 4,5,6 or 7 years old, knew well when chow time began. They would be there for the scraps of food they could grab before the next kid got it. They knew they would have to fight for everything they got, and were willing to do it. The really sad part for myself to have to admit to was, it became sort of fun time, a carnival atmosphere or a circus act to applaud and to be entertained by. To make bets on who would hold their own, who would get right into the garbage can if they needed to.

-Forget about such foolishness as empathy, sympathy or compassion-

It was something to laugh and cheer at. It is only after years of contemplation and soul searching and examining my conscience that I deeply regret letting others influence and control my heart, mind and actions and am sorry right down to my core being. I am ashamed of myself, I have always liked little kids. This was no game or sport to these little kids; it was a dead serious attempt to survive what grown-ups had brought to their lives, to their city. The only other option awaiting them would have been starvation or death by their enemy or the brutal weather conditions that would come upon them a few weeks or months later.

Remember this is war we’re describing here. The location and the reasons for war may stem from different causes, but multiple millions of innocent little children, pregnant women, old people, women and defenseless human beings have had to suffer and die under such ghastly and perverse conditions as these and worse; that none of the languages of this world have developed the vocabulary to aptly or properly describe. This before you ever get up to front-line combat. No one, not officer nor enlisted man that I know of ever spoke out against these things. However, after I had returned home from Korea one day I was listening to the radio. An individual they were interviewing had obviously been to Korea; I knew it by his telling about some of these atrocities that I also knew were true; and had been witness to myself. In the middle of the broadcast, they stopped him and took him off the air, and branded him as a communist. Truth has no place in war it seems.

-A blessing from God-

I do have to tell you here that our military superiors did allow us to take in a few “house boys”, to be our own “step and fetch it,” boys to run errands for us. It allowed for us to feed, clothe and to house a few for this purpose. They were treated very well and became close to us, even to the point of us spoiling them rotten. We gave them things and made them feel comfortable and wanted. We would have tailor made army uniforms made for them to wear and sew Sergeant, Corporal or other rank on their shoulders. They became our personal aides with a certain amount of military discipline issued to them. How to stand erect, to salute and to obey commands. We protected them from being hassled by our own comrades in the other stevedore companies living in the same barrack, and they did the same with their house boys.

We treated them as if they were one of us, we even took them to the dance hall, beer joints and honky tonk clubs that had popped up to accommodate our soldiers.

They were an absolute riot and fun to take with us. They would stagger around and get all pie eyed on sake or beer and we would end up carrying them back to the barracks to sober up and be ready for duty in the morning. Good back rubbing must be a natural Korean instinct. All of these kids had the ability to give a top of the line hour long back rub for a pack of cigarettes. They could speak good English and now sorry to say they had taken on all of our vices by this time too. I understand, this is not nice to hear now, it wasn’t nice to do then, but it is the way that war is, has always been and most likely always will be, like it or not.

In hindsight we probably did them more harm than we did good. When the brutal North Korean army and the Communist Chinese Forces ran us out of north Korea by attacking us with the overwhelming force of everything they had, causing the longest retreat in American military warfare, everything in Korea changed. Once the invading armies arrived in the respective cities occupied now by what once was, our little house boys, I shudder to think of what they most certainly would have been subjected to, after having been treated as decent human beings by our guys, and developing an independent nature would not have gone over well by the invading enemy. Going by what we now know about north Korea’s brutality against their southern neighbor, they all most likely would have suffered abuse and misuse unmercifully before wholesale slaughter, starvation or death by the severe 30, 40 and 50 below zero weather elements of the coldest Korean winter in a hundred years, that was to follow.

-Life on the front in combat-

During this one segment of combat time while serving on the frontlines in Korea, I was carrying a light 30 caliber automatic carbine with two banana clips taped back to back; each one holding 30 rounds. As one emptied you popped it out, turned the other end up and slid the clip into the rifle; where you then had 30 more rounds of ammunition to fire. On this certain day we had the Chinese enemy on the run in fairly open hilly country. They were dog tired from running and we were dog tired from chasing them. I cannot remember how much air or artillery support that we had dumped in on them to chase them off this high ridge as we made our way up without much resistance. I remember being exhausted as one of the first that crested the ridge. Looking over the top I spotted three Chinese soldiers plugging along nearly up to the next ridge, within a few feet and in wide open range. I took my time and squared away on them and opened fire; expecting them all to drop stone cold dead in their tracks; it never even made them flinch as they slogged on out of sight over the next ridge.

I wasn’t fit to live with myself for the rest of the day being so aggravated at myself for not being able to kill them all. Maybe it would be one of them that would kill me or my fellow soldier tomorrow. Later on that day or the next day; a comrade hit by an enemy bullet dropped dead without a twitch or movement of any kind right next to me, he was carrying a regular M-1 30-06 type rifle. I put my carbine down by his body and took his along with the ammunition. I never used a carbine after that. I hated not having killed those three enemy soldiers so much it continued to fester and caused me a lot of grief. I was ashamed of myself and felt like I had let my fellow soldiers down. As I write these things down and think about it today; it makes me feel like the biggest moron/idiot combination on earth. Getting so screwed up in the head for not being able to kill other human beings. But it is one more thing that happens to a mind that has been programmed and trained to kill. To obediently and blindly go forward as commanded. Against others with the exact same motivation as yourself.

I learned later on that it wasn’t an isolated problem; company commanders had later on given orders to those carrying carbines to shoot for the head. The smaller carbine bullet often didn’t have the penetrating power to go through back packs or the heavy padded clothing like the Chinese soldiers wore. Then one day many years later still, I was thinking back about that day and finally received some badly needed relief in my heart and mind. Realizing those Chinese soldiers were no different than any one of us; they too were mostly young kids doing what was being demanded of them by their own country. Praying to their god to give them victory and to save their lives just as same as we were doing. It made me feel good then to suppose that somewhere in China now, three old veteran soldiers may have made it back home alive to their own mothers and families; thanking their god and telling their grand kids stories about their own experiences of war.

-The worth of water-

It was extremely cold during this one segment of time with no snow to melt for drinking. We were either being chased by the Chinese enemy or we were chasing them. With never enough to eat, no decent clothing, never getting inside to warm up, constantly on the move, with everything being sucked out of our body and nothing going back in it; left us drained dry of energy and running on an empty tank. We were close to exhaustion as we stumbled and staggered along without having any water since forever ago it seemed. 

The thirstier I became the more I remembered Sgt. Johnson our drill instructor during basic training at Fort Riley, Kansas. He had been in WW11 and told us he had given $40.00 one time while on the front-line for a drink of water. Thinking to ourselves, “Yeah Sarge, we understand, and if we believe that you also have some ocean side property to sell us in Arizona”. Now all of a sudden I believed him. I would have given all the money I had for a drink of water. At this moment in time money was absolutely worthless, water would have been priceless; far more precious than all of the gold or silver in the world; water was life.

We were on the low lands and rice paddies at the time slogging along, grateful for not being under attack. I saw where an oxen had crossed through the rice paddy a few hours before and had broken through the ice into the paddy. I could see the ice had formed over his foot track again where he had stepped. I could see through the ice that was nice and clear with water standing in the oxen track where the sediment had all settled down and looked to be clear too. I very carefully cracked the ice, i

I got out my canteen cup, dipped out the coolest best tasting, most appreciated and desperately needed drink of water that I had ever had in my life, it didn’t kill me and I’m still here to tell you about it. Living life in a war zone or on the battlefield will cause one to do things they no way in hell would even think of doing otherwise. I am reminded of a battlefield reporter asking a combat infantryman in Korea the question, “If you could have anything you wanted to wish for, what would it be”? The man had simply a one-word answer, he said, “Tomorrow”.

-Haunting memories of Korea-

Quite late one afternoon in the Wonju area we came under heavy mortar, machine gun and a small arms fire, of a full blown attack from the Chinese. It was unexpected and caught us somewhat off guard as we called in artillery upon their positions and returned heavy mortar, machine gun and small arms fire against them that lasted well into the darkness of night. After a tense night of hoping we would get some sort of sleep or rest; while knowing that it wasn’t going to happen; we had expected them to come at us at night, but they didn’t. 

We pushed off in the morning in the direction that the attack had come from the night before. Within a few hundred feet we came upon a low marshy area covered with a few inches to a foot or so of what had been standing water, now turned into ice. It was littered with the bodies of dead Chinese soldiers that were evidently unable to escape our fire against them the night before; their comrades had just withdrawn and left them there. All were by now frozen stiff in the ice covered marsh, an eerie quietness seemed to hover over what had become their final resting place. Some had dropped down face first with only their backs exposed, many just lay humped over where they had dropped while others that had not died immediately when they were hit; were frozen in a sitting up position in hopes of somehow being able to survive.

They remained there motionless and still, in their blood stained uniforms, their sightless eyes now peering into outer space; their bodies frozen in time while their spirit had returned to God who had given it. All of them becoming an indelible image embedded upon the mind and heart of those witnessing the grotesque vision that cannot easily be forgotten; it has played and replayed through my mind thousands of times. Not one of them will ever kill another American soldier; that was a good thing. They were our enemies and we wished them all that same fate. On the other hand, they were also fellow human beings with families at home just like all of us. Given time to reflect upon things like this and beyond, I have come to realize that mankind can be easily programmed and trained to kill those that someone else will tell us are our enemies.

-Who should we serve?

Look at how many Muslims in this world will crawl over the top of one another for the chance to kill others they have been programmed and trained to believe are their enemies; to get in line to strap a bomb on themselves to please Allah; to blow themselves into a million little pieces of bone, flesh, blood and guts. Their reward then being destined to wake up in the midst and arms of 72 virgins. Sipping fine wines from the soft, tender hands of the fair maidens at their every whim, beckon and call. 

Being fanned and fed grapes by them as the hero’s they all in their distorted minds believe they have become. Can we see here how religion enters into the picture again? May God hasten the return of Jesus Christ to set our world and the entire universe on a true path of “Love Thy Neighbor”. This has been my prayer now for many years whether spoken or not; the end of all wars and the killing of others made in the image and likeness of our Almighty God and His Son Jesus Christ. After all prayer works; I have never had an unanswered prayer. Many times, it will be no, not at this time.

-My shortest, sincere and most intense prayer-

Here I have to jump ahead twenty-six years. I had, had a spiritual awakening by this time and knew that God answered our prayers. I was driving a propane tanker loaded with 10,000 gallons of product, south on I-75 on Easter Sunday 1977. It was bumper to bumper traffic traveling around seventy miles per hour. I was in the left lane when suddenly we hit black ice on the X-way down by Flint, Michigan. A station wagon in the right lane a car link or so ahead of me began to spin out and lose control and head into my lane. I could see several occupants within the vehicle and knew if they got in front of me; it most likely meant certain death for all of them.

I most likely would have smashed them underneath the tanker in the ditch I ended up in. I put the pedal to the metal and held the hammer down to keep that from happening. In doing so I had put myself in a vulnerable position, with being half on the X-way and with all the other wheels on the shoulder of the roadway. It left me tilted over at a bad angle. The station wagon hit me in the right front steering axle tire and I knew immediately I was going to roll over. My best bet was to keep the hammer down and keep pulling in hopes of not jack knifing; and that’s what I did. At that moment in time I don’t remember of anything in front-line combat that had caused more fear in my mind and heart.

Hence; my shortest, sincere and most intense prayer. I said out-loud, “God save my life, I ask this in the name of Christ’  I could hear steel snapping and breaking and the sounds of everything coming apart, as the rig kept moving down through the muddy ditch. When it finally stopped twisting and grinding and came to a stop; the windshield was gone and I was buried with mud and dirt.

All eight driver wheels had broken off from the tractor and traveled on down the X-way. I dug my way out and stepped out thru the missing windshield hole it had left. I could hardly believe it; I wasn’t hurt at all. I had made it in front of the station wagon and because of that the grandpa, grandma and their little ten-year-old granddaughter wasn’t hurt either. The state police came and closed off the X-way until the next day to transfer the propane to another tanker. I hitch hiked back north to Kalkaska and got the next first load of propane as soon as I could. 

I had known several propane drivers that had rolled over and it had ended their propane hauling careers. I didn’t want that to happen to me, I continued on hauling propane for a long time afterward. My philosophy became, “If it don’t unload thru a hose, it don’t have to be hauled”. I do not believe that this was the only time that God saved my life. I believe most all of us military combat people, including myself, have God to thank that we made it home alive. In The name of Christ, I thank you, our God for that. Amen

-Rules of War-

The Geneva Convention has set down some “Rules of War”. Think and reflect upon that statement for a minute, war is the fine art of killing, maiming and destroying others in an attempt to gain whatever it is the other guy has worked for, earned, and has a right to keep it, use it, and should be left alone to do it. The idiotic sound coming out of someone’s mouth saying “The Rules of War” causes me to want to puke. It all sounds so logical to think and assume that those on the battlefield that have to do the dirty work of those way back in the rear have ordered them to do; will diligently be consulting their rule book to discern what to do in every combat situation. 

It doesn’t take too long to learn the truth of the matter. In any individual battle; once the first bullet is fired, the first bomb has been dropped or the order to attack has been commanded. It requires minute by minute changes to fit the present situation. It then requires individual commanders and men with the right stuff, those that have the balls to make those often extremely difficult choices and decisions that fit the present situation they are faced with and in at the moment. Often, the rules of war are the last thing on a persons mind or in their heart. It is just a matter of, "Lets kill the bastards, before they kill us". 

-Leaders with the right stuff-

They don’t have the time to consult Washington; get out the weegee board or the rule book; they are faced with a problem that requires immediate action and attention. To hesitate at times could cost the lives of those under their command. I am reminded of an incident during the Korean War that perfectly illustrates the principles we will look at when the 1st Marines and 7th Army Div. were cut off and surrounded by the Chinese enemy in the mountains of North Korea, during November 1950. The enemy had blown a crucial bridge at Funchilin Pass that had trapped 15,000 men and equipment of the First Marine Division and the 7th Army Division. Preventing these units from escaping south out of the wholesale slaughter the Chinese had planned for them. Someone had to make a lot of different decisions and give commands to be carried out by those in their respective positions to do so. Then from there on to be praised and commended for solving the problem and saving the day; having it all written down and recorded in the annals of military history. Or on the other hand should it go contrary to public opinion; to then have the commander making that tough decision, even if it worked, to be judged and condemned forever.

It requires me here to pass on a memorable comment made by a legendary Marine General named Chesty Puller. Beyond any doubt the most highly decorated and well thought of commander of the United States Marine Corp at the time; and maybe still yet today. Marine Corp General Chesty Puller was in command in this operation as well. With 120.000 Chinese soldiers ordered by Mao Zedong their exalted leader back home; living the good life, while basking in comfort and plenty. To attack, kill and to annihilate the 15,000 Marine and Army units they had trapped there, with supposedly no way of escape. What did Marine Corp General Chesty Puller have to say about that?

Probably anyone who has ever served in The Marine Corp would be able to tell you that. He said, “We have been looking for them a long time, and now we have found them, we are surrounded, we have them right where we want them”. How’s that for a little positive thinking?

The level headedness and quick thinking by the engineers and the Marine commanders to which this responsibility for the most part fell upon; paid dividends almost beyond belief. No one thought that they would be able to do it. A United States Air Force commander had volunteered to fly them all out of the area but it would have meant they leave their dead, all of their weapons, equipment and supplies behind. O.P. Smith the Marine General in command refused by telling them, “they had come in as a fighting unit; and they were damn well going to leave as one too”. (Maybe not verbatim, but words to this effect) It was a deadly minute by minute struggle to meet and find a solution for the endless problems that needed to be handled and dealt with to make things work.

The Air Force had flown in and successfully dropped six lengths of bridge, allowing for some to be damaged beyond any usefulness; they only needed four to span the gap blown out by the enemy. They made do and met the challenges one by one as they existed. It is not widely known nor acknowledged by most; but I have read accounts from behind the scenes that do acknowledge a part of the problem worked out and solved to get all of those men and equipment out to safety to fight another day. The ground at the pass being frozen to hard and deep to allow for the movement of soil and rock to be used, was solved by using the timbers left over by the earlier Japanese army occupation of Korea. Along with the timbers they used dead enemy bodies as landfill to anchor and stabilize the bridge. War is not meant to be something to contemplate and think on by the faint of heart, but it is real. War is Hell!

One might be inclined to demonize, criticize, and/or condemn the commander that has become saddled with the responsibility of making such outrageous and demanding decisions as we have read about here. The American mother, wife, sibling or children of the veteran that because of the commander’s decision received their own loved one home alive; will obviously feel differently about things than the Chinese family at home; should they ever learn the final fate of their loved one still left there as fill dirt to anchor a bridge somewhere in a mountain pass in north Korean soil. I am assuming that Marine General O.P. Smith had the final say in the matter at the pass. His superior military strategic leadership above other commanders in Korea, saved thousands of American lives, along with his weapons and equipment to continue on fighting after the longest retreat in American military warfare.

He also was able to bring out his dead and wounded; a feat some other units were unable to do. Because of General O.P. Smith’s slow methodical with drawl against the orders of one above him that bordered on insubordination, it allowed for him to have an airfield made and a backup weapons and supply stash along the way, it caused the quick recovery of his forces and the ability to fight against the crippled up Chinese much sooner than it otherwise would have, had he rushed headlong in the with drawl as ordered by his superior officer. Thank God for those given the ability to think and to act for themselves as need be; as General O.P. Smith had to do with his superior battlefield knowledge that saved the lives of so many men under his command. Along with the equipment and supplies needed to keep up the fire against the Communist Chinese Forces that was essential in bringing them eventually to the peace table.

-General Patton, a blessing or a curse?

War is such a mind bending, grotesque act of horror, never ending pain and suffering and then death for many, that requires commanders of unusual strength and resolve to go forward at all costs.

It is not for the weak, squeamish, feeble nor faint of heart, it takes a special breed of man or any individual to bury their own conscience deep within themselves and take on a position of leadership and authority of the programming, training and the motivating of others to kill and destroy any and all considered enemies of our nation. To illustrate and make this clear I am reminded of “Old Blood and Guts Patton”, a legendary general of WW II. According to other’s George S. Patton was crude, vulgar, arrogant and non-apologetic for his actions, as well as being a tough no nonsense military leader. 

His philosophy was that a good soldier needed to die in his last battle. I served in the military with a sergeant that had served under Patton during WW11. He told me that he had attended a rally assembly prior to being shipped into combat overseas, given by General Patton. Telling me how Patton had worked himself into a motivational lather to get the troops excited and looking forward to their going to war against the Germans. Building up the crescendo to his stirring climax before slamming his fist down hard on the speaking platform and declaring to his wide eyed, enthusiastic audience, “We’re going over there to f—k their women, and kill the men.”

Beyond any doubt he kept his promise to his men. One WW II veteran soldier serving under Patton told me, if they ever had another war with Germany, all he would have to do would be to send his uniform back, he had left some sons and daughters over there that could do his fighting this time. General Patton was a strong and efficient military commander that left his mark on world history. Under his command our fighting men did the necessary and needed job of stopping the “Master Race” of the Hitler war machine from eventually taking control over every other nation on earth. This is what the reality of war looks like. 

Sometimes it may require we ask ourselves the question, which would we prefer? To give our thanks and show appreciation for a less than perfect individual that gets the job done, or in the case of WW11 be pledging allegiance to Germany and saying “Heil Hitler”, being required to speak their language and pay homage to Germany while being under bondage and sending our food, goods and our materials to the “Father Land”? We need to remember that King David was a bloody man of war, and yet found favor in the eyes of God, calling him a man after his own heart, and establishing his house, throne and kingdom forever. (2 Samuel 7:16)"Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever."

-Freedom is not free-

I have tried to paint a word picture in my writings so that others may better see and understand what the reality of war looks and feels like. As well as being in and having to live in a war zone attempting to stay alive with little or no means; in front of an invading, brutal, animalistic army, intent only on the mass killings of innocent civilian citizens of men, women and children of south Korea. It beyond any doubt has through time caused human beings made in the image and likeness of God; to have to endure some of the most bitter, painful, mind-bending, inhumane and ghastly treatment beyond what the mind and soul is capable of receiving and then to continue on living or to remain sane. 

There are not enough descriptive words in our language to properly convey to others what so many have had to go thru at the hand of their fellow man or woman. Mankind’s inability to live in peace and prosperity with their brothers and sisters on this planet earth; should give us all cause to ponder the problem and commit ourselves personally to work harder at being a part of the solution as best we each know to do; by making a determination to, “love our neighbor as ourself”.

-Traitor; Jane Fonda-

Speaking on behalf of the military veterans and their own individual struggles after witnessing and being required to take part in the insanity that we have learned to call war; let me remind you of things that I know to be true.We are experiencing a wave of patriotism these days with more folks flying their American flags and veterans wearing their caps identifying themselves as one being proud of their service to their country and fellowman. Instead of having to come home hanging their heads in shame, being spit upon and called “baby killers” because traitors like Hanoi Jane in their lives of comfort and plenty, don’t have the mental capacity or brains enough to appreciate, or to be thankful and grateful for the freedoms we have the privilege and opportunity to live in because the men and women she has judged and condemned have fought and died to achieve it.

-Between night time and daylight-

We meet them now and greet them with a sincere friendly hand shake; a pat on the back, as we say welcome home and a thank you for your service to our country, as we should have been doing all along. They are strangers or they are our friends and neighbors. We laugh together, we joke and have fun together; we see smiles and we see the happy carefree face of daylight. What is often being hidden from us is the nightmares and tears that follow for many after bed time. Nancy, my own dear wife had to suffer segments of time during the night of being grabbed around her legs and dragged out of bed during one of my returning episodes. I kept a loaded double barrel 12 gage shot-gun under my bed at all times back then. One night during a severe thunder and lightning storm I sensed someone in close proximity to us in our room. I opened my eyes as I woke up during a flash of light to see a silhouette figure leaning over Nancy with his hands on her shoulders.

I sprang over the top of her and grabbed the individual by the throat. Before I had time to clamp down good, he yelled out. “Dad, dad it’s me, it’s me”. Our sixteen-year-old son had come in to wake us up and let us know about the storm. Soon after that we had to quit sleeping together for that and other reasons, to get any sleep. I haven’t seen my shotgun now for many years. I think our son who is now 62 years old, probably took it away a long time ago. It’s just as well too, because there was an individual terrorist type individual drunk, in our neighborhood; he had been bothering us in different ways now for many years. He at one time along with a friend of his; had attempted to lure me into a local cemetery at night to waylay me. My brother Ted had unexpectedly been with me and it foiled his plan. He was treacherous and underhanded to the point that it wasn’t wise to turn your back on him.

-A person to keep your eye on-

I had actually gone to school with him and his brothers, and knew well how treacherous, back-stabbing and evil he could be. I had been trained and programmed to kill, maim and destroy others to insure our country remain in freedom from those that wanted to take it away. Other folks that I never even knew or had anything against them personally at all. I thought to myself if anyone needed killing, this guy deserved it, he was working toward it, and had it coming to him. This individual had two sides to him; on the one hand he was a good worker, he came from a large German family with several brothers and sisters that were decent people for the most part. But after knowing him personally for many years, and knowing some of the things he was capable of; to me he himself would come right near the top of the list as being the worst of the worst that I have known personally in my lifetime, he simply could not be trusted in anything. 

Since I wasn’t too long out of the Korean kill zone, and since this was also before I had, had a spiritual awakening; these thoughts were going through my mind, if you know what I mean? It may require a little reading between the lines here. But for the mercy and grace of God, it wouldn’t have taken too much at that time where I could have made a life changing mistake, and almost did. Requiring me still to be on the inside looking out. I remain grateful and thankful always for the spiritual awakening and the eventual influence of God in my life.

I need to mention something here before I go on, about the individual I told you about above. During April 1951 I was recovering from my emaciated condition and frozen feet from the extreme weather conditions being thrust upon us during the Korean War. Having to operate in weather conditions that animals were having a tough time surviving in. No proper cold weather clothing, never enough to eat, either shivering uncontrollable or being on the move. Fighting off attacks against us coming from the North Korean and/or Communist Chinese Army, or being on the attack against them. In 30, 40 and 50 below zero howling winter snow storms where spit would turn to ice a few inches in front of our eyes. Our weapons would malfunction and refuse to operate, often at the exact wrong time. 

I had ended up here now a few weeks later in Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan. On my way to the chow hall dining room one day I looked off to the side and saw this certain individual sitting with others with a bandaged up leg and foot. I assumed he had also returned from Korea after being wounded there. That wasn’t the case however; it was the individual I talked about in the last paragraph. He had received orders to go to Korea, but rather than the fear of ending up as a dead hero, he elected instead just to be a live coward. He took his father’s 30/30 deer rifle and shot thru his foot.

-Later on, life beyond Korea-

Myself, my teenage granddaughter and a friend was sitting in a booth at the Big Boy restaurant in Cadillac, Michigan one morning about 25 or 30 years ago eating breakfast when Bill, a Korean War combat veteran friend that I knew from Fife Lake, came over and wanted to talk. I had written a piece about combat and the situation that existed in Korea during the war. He wanted to thank me and told me he had copied off that piece and had been handing it out to others, and it should have been required reading for everyone in our country. 

He had been in combat with the 25th Inf. Div. in Korea that had experienced more than their share of the horrors of war. Before he even got started good in our conversation, I could see he was having trouble and was close to a meltdown. He finally more or less collapsed and just dropped down on his knees on the floor and began sobbing uncontrollably because of the things that were coming back into his mind. How is it possible we might wonder and ask ourselves; that those battlefield experiences of so many years earlier that Bill was still suffering from, had not been addressed by others that our government had supposedly set up to take care of things like this?

-What about the veteran’s administration?

Where was the VA system of help when needed by my friend and others in all of this? Where was the VA doctors in all of this? Did they all have their heads shoved to far up their own wazoos that they couldn’t see and recognize that some kind of problem existed with Bill? It should not have taken a rocket scientist or an Einstein to be able to figure out that he was suffering a great deal amount of mental, physical and emotional pain and stress from the “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” of combat. 

We all tried to comfort him what we could and were able too a little, as we helped him back to where his wife was sitting in another booth. Bill was about two thirds deaf and extremely hard of hearing from the never ending artillery and mortar barrages along with the bombing and strafing by our own Marine and Airforce pilots against the enemy, but wasn’t receiving one penny of compensation from the VA. They had once again just turned their collective backs on a veteran crying for help.

I later on wrote a letter for him to the VA. Documenting some of the problems I had noticed as we had interacted together; with his anxiety along with his inability to converse about his combat experiences without falling to pieces. He in due time received full benefits and treated myself and Nancy to dinner out in thanks and appreciation for helping him out. The last I knew, Bill had been put in a long term care facility somewhere down around Cadillac, Michigan.

His wife Burl of many years, died several years ago; as he awaits the next segment of forever that we are all eventually waiting for. Back to life in Korea now.

-A killing trip into frozen hell-

As General Mac Arthur for reasons of his own refused to believe his own intelligence sources that the Communists Chinese Forces were massing in force at the Yalu River, getting in position to surprise attack our military at the appropriate time when least expected. Then it happened, they did so with a swift and bloody vengeance. Our armed forces were getting brutally massacred and annihilated by the thousands all over North Korea. A drastic and immediate change of tactics needed to be implemented, and soon. The military powers to be began taking troops from different outfits serving in the rear, to bring the fighting divisions back up to strength again.

-It became my turn-

We, rear echelon military units were in the process of quickly being rounded up at Pusan, Korea and trucked to the railroad station there to be loaded onto dilapidated old passenger cars as a detachment of MPs herded us on board at gun point with 45 caliber automatic military issue grease guns. Their guns locked and loaded as they stood at a ready with fingers on the triggers and ready to fire upon anyone attempting to do anything they determined to be foolish. As they forcefully begin herding us into the old broken down and falling apart rail cars that had the broken windows boarded up and nailed down tight; leaving only enough room to peak thru the cracks. I remember those MPs standing at a ready with their hands on their weapons looking way more like they belonged to the WW11 German Gestapo than our own army. A few minutes prior to this as we had left our respective units, they had mustered the rest of our old outfit together to present arms, play a stirring bugle piece and salute the flag as our trucks loaded with warm and expendable bodies pulled out and headed to the rail yard, to soon be in actual combat with our enemy.

-Much different than imagined-

The rail cars were being pulled along by the old style steam engines and whenever we came into the mountains and tunnel areas, they would bog down, puff and wheeze and barely make the grade. Inside those closed up rail cars the smoke and fumes with nowhere else to go would come seeping in thru the cracks of the boarded up windows. I had wanted to go and get in the up-front action, to be able to send as many of those animalistic brutal North Korean bastards to never, never land as possible. But inside these rail cars now feeling like rats caught in a trap by our own military and on our way to suffocation or extinction; my patriotism begins to wane. 

Maybe leaving the safety of the farm back home in Fife Lake under the rule of my task master father wasn’t such a bright idea after all. It wasn’t looking to good at this point in time, but it only got worse later on as we entered the combat zone, much worse. The 24/7 struggle to survive not only the overwhelming number of combat ready enemy forces hitting us with everything they had, but equally as bad if not worse was the conditions we had to fight or die in. Without any proper food, clothing or weapons in bone numbing 30, 40 and 50 below zero weather. No my friends as my combat comrades, and buddies can all attest too. Freedom is not free!

We got to the end of our railroad excursion, and were off loaded and transferred onto a couple army 6x6 troop carrying trucks. Driven for X number of miles out into no man’s land and dumped off in a staging area at the edge of a corn field in the middle of nowhere. Then ordered to stay there until we were to be picked up by other trucks that would be transporting us to the respective units of the 2nd Inf. Div. that we were intended to be installed in as replacements.

They left us alone there with no one in charge, evidently this was too far north and too close to the front lines for the MPs to be seen in; to guard us with their government issue automatic 45 caliber grease guns. It was bitter, bitter cold as we all stood around stomping our feet and slapping our arms around ourselves in trying to generate a little heat in the light work clothing they had sent us in, waiting on someone to pick us up. Chalk it up to, the old military SNAFU, hurry up and wait game.

Nothing was working, we only got all the colder. I had at this point finally reunited with my good buddy and my best friend Ernie; I tried to talk him into going with me to rip apart some corn shocks a few yards away to try and lay down and cover over us for a little relief. That didn’t work either, I can almost yet today as I write about it, experience the misery of never ending bone numbing cold, and still no truck within sight or hearing. It was a moon lit night sky and I had noticed a traditional Korean country home, more like a mud hut with a rice straw roof; that was about a quarter of a mile away with a little smoke swirling out of the chimney. 

I tried to talk Ernie into going along with me and see if the occupants would let us in to warm up, but he wouldn’t go and tried to talk me out of it, we had no way of knowing whether they were north or south Koreans. Somehow it didn’t make any sense to me to sit there on our haunches and either freeze or starve to death in a Korean corn field without doing something about it when I can clearly see smoke in the distance. It doesn’t take all that long for even an eighteen-year-old Michigan farm kid to figure out, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire’, and along with it some heat.

-Not the sharpest tool in the shed-

I took off alone across the snow covered field to the home where the heat was coming from. I blanked out any thoughts of stopping or turning back from my mission; I had only one thing on my mind, and that was to survive. I was willing to suffer any consequences that would go along with it. I would like to think that my mother didn’t raise any idiots in this decision; but I’ll let you be the judge of that. I sort of look at it now as proof that God really does protect some of us without the sense to look after ourselves at times. Even yet today I still believe there is a good reason why God gave us all a mind to think and reason with for ourselves.

It is the one thing that religion taught me well; in not turning my heart and mind over to some individual telling me he represents God. Then later on to find out there are multiple thousands of churches, denominations, and preachers all believing and teaching different truth than the others, that tell us the same thing. Anyway here I am 65 years later; I am alive, I survived all that Korea had thrown at me; I am thankful and grateful for all of my experiences; good, bad and indifferent. I have had an interesting life. Now back to the mud hut in the corn field.

I took a deep breath and knocked on the door, an old Mama-san came to the door. By this time, they had issued us a carbine rifle and ammunition. I held it in front of me as I quickly tried to look past her into the dim lit room behind her. It was wall to wall people with men, women and little kids crowded together attempting to survive as a group. Knowing we were close to the front; I had no way of knowing for sure whether they were North or South Korean; or a mixture of both. I made the normal hand and body motions of hunching my shoulders up and doing a shivering imitation while rubbing my hands together to indicate I wanted to come in and warm up. 

She laid down a patch of unfriendly speech that I didn’t much understand but it was sprinkled with guttural sounds along with grunts and a lot of domi, domi’s and I knew domi domi meant no. All of the scowling and unfriendly eyes of the men, women and kids in the room were on me to see what my next move would be. So at eighteen years old I have a serious decision to make by myself. I was unable to look over my shoulder and ask anyone in charge, because there wasn’t anybody there. Since the reason I am here at all is to defend the sovereignty of South Korea. To defend the rights of these people within this mud-hut to remain a free people. It didn’t seem like much of a problem in solving my dilemma.

-Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread-

I sized the room up for a good spot to sit as I pushed in past her and went to where the wall was at my back and sit down there between two 10 or 12-year-old boys. I tried not to look threatening but kept my rifle in front of me with both hands. (For obvious reasons I elected not to take my shoes off which is the Korean custom) I felt uneasy and the hair on the back of my neck began to raise up and feel funny. I knew well that they would have been able to overpower me if they had decided too. They would have been able to make plans right in front of me and I would not have known it for not understanding their language. 

I spoke a few words in their language that I knew, making them wonder how much I might have known, they all kept quiet at this point. I felt my best chance was to be seated by their flesh and blood kids. I never felt more like a fish in a bowl before or since; every eye in the place was on me. I attempted to be kind and to show friendliness as I smiled at them; as they all sat there looking back at me in surprise like an empty hole, without any facial expressions at all. I shudder to think about what might have happened about that time if one of our Air force jets had gone over and broke the sound barrier. There might have been some soiled garments in the group, including mine.

I had already learned by this time in dealing with a whole race of people that I couldn’t understand and that couldn’t understand me; that a sincere smile and kind caring gestures are a universal language symbol of friendliness that can be understood by all. It can be a great disarming tool that brings on a soothing calm at times when needed. I remembered I had two C-ration can chocolate wafers, I pulled them out and gave one to each boy by my side which made them smile and get happy, but not for long. 

The old Mama-san laid down another patch of strict sounding speech and both boys handed the chocolate wafers back to me. I knew then I was in a somewhat hostile situation. From that point on we all sat in a tense silence. About a half hour later I was getting warmed up somewhat and my nerve begin to run out so I got up thanked them, left and headed back to the staging area, within a few minutes the trucks had come and picked us up as we begin hearing our own artillery shells going over our heads; I knew then we were pretty close to our front-line destination. Even hearing the sound of artillery shells going over our heads the first time surprised me; it didn’t sound at all like they portray it in the movies. It sounded as if they were going end over end with a flopping and wobbling noise.

-A porky brings a moment of relief from blood and gore-

It’s not funny in the ha, ha sense; but it is funny in an unusual way. That in the darkest of moments and worst of times things can happen that remind one of another time and place that brings back pleasant thoughts and good memories. We were in the process of running the enemy off the ground that they occupied this one day when I came upon an enemy soldier that lay dead beside his foxhole; his head had been blown open like a watermelon about 18 inches in width and exposing the whole inside brain, blood and bone matter. For the strangest reasons it brought back fun and pleasant memories of hunting with my mother back home, which was always a fun and enjoyable experience; something we all did often. We had been hunting most all day and was getting tired and hungry. We had been hunting down in and alongside of Butlers swamp, and hadn’t had much luck; or anything to show for all the effort we had been spending.

My mother was an extremely positive person but never liked to go home empty handed without some sort of game. Seeing a porcupine up in the branches of a tall tree, she raised up her 30/30 model 94 Winchester and shot the porky. It fell out of the top of the tree into a hole down by the base of the trunk. Her shot hadn’t killed it and it was slowly crawling out of the hole. My mother that had never allowed an animal to suffer any longer than necessary, put the end of the rifle about six inches away from the head of the porky and pulled the trigger.

The Porky’s head exploded, opening up and exposing the whole inside of its head, the brain matter, flesh, fragments of bone and the eyes. The dead enemy by his fox hole with his head blown open and exposed; brought back good memories of an earlier time. Something in that moment made me reminisce to myself and long to be back home again.

-Stunned in shock and awe-

Earlier in my first experiences of combat; we again were in the process of taking a hill. I had not been briefed in any manner at all, of what was being expected of me or to receive any combat procedures at all. Just given some basic tools of the trade and ordered forward. I felt like a duck out of water among others that didn't trust or care about me as a replacement. And in turn I had no way of knowing who to look for as a leader beyond a squad leader that seemed like he needed someone, anyone to turn to himself for direction. It's not a good spot to find yourself in, I more or less put my head in limbo and confusion putting one foot ahead of the other, and do what I could see others around me doing. 

As I looked up ahead and to the right an enemy soldier, a young man or a boy, had evidently been wounded; he was partly raised up out of his foxhole trying to surrender. The American soldier on my right and between me and the wounded Chinese soldier was closer than myself. I did not know, and had not been acquainted with my fellow soldier as I hesitated for a second to see what he was going to do. Since I was fairly new I really didn’t know what to do. There was no hesitation on his part at all, he just leveled his M-1 rifle at the young soldier and shot him as he fell back into his hole. By that time, we were both up standing beside the now dead man in the foxhole. My fellow soldier now aimed his rifle down at the dead Chinese soldier in his hole, and begin firing into the body until his clip ran out of Ammo.

It was a ghastly sight that I had not been prepared to see; even though I believed at the time they all needed killing. But this wasn’t the way the movies showed that good guys do it. As he kept on shooting the body would lift up from the concussion, twist, convulse, twitch, jerk and change positions a little with each shot. With the blood, brains and pieces of flesh and bone splattering the side of his hole. Nobody said anything as we moved on with the assault that we were in the middle of; as my mind remained somewhat numb from witnessing something that was totally foreign to me; and would take a little getting used too. 

I had to think and reason it out in my own mind, that this guy had been in combat a lot longer than me. His automatic knee jerk reaction may have been the reason that he was still alive. I don’t know what I would have done at that time if I had been alone, but I know at the time, I would not have shot the man. By the same token I might not be alive yet either. I filed that incident away in the back of my mind for my own survival tactics; being thankful and grateful that I never had to make the decision to use it myself. As I bring these front-line combat images back to mind, it is still bothersome and when I quit writing them down and decide to go to bed, they continue to play out over and over in my mind as I toss and turn for hours sometimes. Still, in the long run I feel it is therapeutic in helping me deal with it.

-Was that a twinge of conscience I feel?

Before going on to something else here I would like to tell you one more battlefield experience that remains embedded indelibly in my mind. It was the first time I had gone through an area that had been napalm bombed before our assault. To begin with the oriental race has a distinct smell to them. If the wind is in the right direction you can smell them a long time before you can see them. Probably because of the amount of garlic and other foreign stuff to us, that they were eating for health reasons and the lack of anything else, I suppose. First we began to smell them as we approached the blackened out areas of ground where the napalm bomb had been dropped; along with it the distinct odor of the napalm which is jelly gas.

The combination of the two smells together, along with the not knowing what more to expect up ahead leaves one with the hair sort of raising up on the back of your neck. The first dead enemy soldier I saw in the midst of the ground zero blast reminded me of shish-ka-bob on a stick. What was left of his black charred body was mostly drawn up in the middle in a burned up glob of flesh about the size of a big watermelon. Causing me to be thankful and grateful as far I knew, the enemy didn’t have any napalm to drop on us. Our pilots would drop the napalm on the top of a mountain or a hill and as it exploded it would burn and destroy everything in its path as far down the grade as it would slide.

-Seeing is believing-

Since I, am trying to paint a picture of true reality in the mind of the reader; I need to tell you something here that really surprised me the first time I was witness to it. It is not something I remember of anyone ever telling me about, I have never heard it discussed by anyone of my many military friends, relatives or acquaintances they were in combat with.  . But it is one more aspect of combat and the different things that exist during time spent in a war zone or on the battlefield.

While there are an endless number of heroic acts performed on a regular basis by our combat comrades that deserve to be recognized, documented and acknowledged; it will surprise some as it did me to find out there are also acts of cowardice on the front-line that jerk your bobber down in amazement when they happen. I remember being in a spot where we were able to dig in. We had been pinned down for quite some time by heavy mortar and machine gun fire; when I learned to hate and be totally disgusted while even hearing the name of a fellow soldier named Stoner, being used, it would set my teeth on edge and cause me to clinch my hands into fist, just having to hear him whine and cry out in shivering and cowardly fear.

I never once seen him up close enough to know what he looked like yet to this day, but he lives on in my mind and heart as the chief of all cowards. He was dug in on an up slope from where I was dug in; at about thirty or forty feet or so away. He lay in his hole whining and crying for someone to bring him a drink of water. It went on and on and on without ceasing. I knew he had to be a regular in the outfit for some period of time by the number of different guys that kept yelling out, “Shut up Stoner”; but it had no effect, he kept it up. 

This was no picnic to any of us in the exact same position as he was. It was demoralizing to others and sickening to the point that the thought crossed my mind of pulling the pin on a grenade and chunking it into his hole to put him out of his misery. Before that became a serious thought turned into any action, a voice from the rear yelled out and asked if anyone would like to go to the rear for a shower and to get cleaned up. Stoner jumped out of his hole and left the area faster than a rat shot in the ass. He never returned!

I cannot tell you how many times down through the years that have gone by; that Stoners name has come back into my mind. I couldn’t seem to quit thinking about it or to shake it off, how it was even possible for anyone to exhibit such blatant cowardice in front of God and others that he had known and served with as a fellow soldier. After more than fifty years later, after I had read about all that the 2nd Division had gone through in Korea by that time; prior to my being there, such as the incident called “The River and The Gauntlet” where the Chinese Army had set up an ambush and were shooting them down like fish in a barrel. At a six mile pass at Kunuri where the Chinese had set a trap of intense mortar and machine gun cross fire upon them. The place where the Chinese enemy had inflicted 3000 casualties upon the division in one afternoon. After having the time to reflect upon the possibility that Stoner having been with the outfit for a while, might have been one that had survived the gauntlet. In which case he might have had the right to have been scared shitless. In any case it doesn’t bother me like it used too, now that I have learned to maybe cut him a little slack. After all, as time went by I had gotten a little taste of being in pretty heavy duty fear myself.

-Is this what they call growing up?

Equally surprising to me was a man that I knew quite well and I liked him. He had been one like myself that was transferred from the T Port Company into the 2nd Division to go into immediate combat without one ounce of preparation; just like myself and the others whom had been selected for that purpose and service. I won’t tell you his last name; I’ll just refer to him as Jim. Jim was a quiet and a likeable individual, that always seemed to be doing his job as best he knew how.

He was a steady plodder that kept himself on an even keel. He would be going at about the same pace in the evening that he had started off with in the morning. Jim was good natured and I never remember him complaining or getting into any fights like the rest of us would on occasion. I don’t recall of ever hearing him even argue with anybody. If given the opportunity or choice of someone I would have guard my back; I would not have hesitated to have picked Jim.

He was with me when we met up with Company B of the 9th Inf. Regt. of the 2nd Inf. Division. As a black man came walking toward us out of the woods with a machine gun on his shoulder, he asked, “Do any of you guys know how to operate a machine gun”? I couldn’t get my hand in the air quick enough to volunteer as our machine gunner. We went into immediate action without the slightest bit of any instructions. It was just going to be trial and error from the get go it seems. Within a couple of hours, we ran smack dab into a Chinese attack. Before the second mortar round had hit the area, I looked over in time to see old Jim’s hind end going down through the trees to the rear just as fast as he could put one foot in front of the other one. I never seen him after that again. I always wondered if one of our own officers might have shot him themselves to save the military a Court Martial for cowardice or desertion. I list these couple of incidents of cowardice down so that you may be able to see the whole complete picture of some of the different things that happen during war time and especially so in combat.

-And I volunteered for this?

When we replacements were heading through Wonju, Korea on our way to the front; we mostly were all strangers to one another. I don’t recall even seeing my buddy Ernie or others I had known at that point from the Port Transportation Company we had come from. There were troops from many different rear echelon outfits; coming along to replace the great losses of front-line causalities that the Chinese had inflicted upon our military. Whenever we were without supervision or someone in charge the group looked more like people you would take out of the stockade as a prison chaser than a disciplined cohesive army unit. It was just a hodge podge mixture of a bunch of uniformed men in army clothing that didn’t make you feel secure in any way or as if anyone in charge knew anything at all about what was going on. The immediate future at the time didn’t look to good for any of us, as chaos seemed to exist in every direction you cared to look in..

-I didn’t feel like taking any group pictures-

Reflecting back on that time leaves a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach as I write these words here today. I felt as though I had just joined up with some kind of undisciplined mob, they all sort of reminded me of a union goon squad wanting to create havoc on someone. It was here in this chaotic, unruly mess of an atmosphere where I witnessed another act of cowardice hard to believe if you had not seen it with your own eyes. 

I had noticed two soldier as we rested a spell in Wonju, Korea, that were talking about the fear of being in battle on the front-lines. The next thing I noticed; one had put his hand up on a window sill and the other one had hit it with an entrenching tool as hard as he could. I don’t remember what happened to him after that. Obviously it would have kept him from any service on the front-lines. I don’t remember if it was his right hand or not, but I’ll bet it was, a soldier without the use of his trigger finger would be about as useless as tits on a boar hog. Sixty-five years later now he most likely is still telling Korean War stories and collecting his compensation as a disabled American veteran.

I will close off this segment with one more example of cowardice mixed with a little bit of courage and a lot of hocus pocus. I know this one really well because I grew up with him and went to school with the guy. Earl was a neighbor kid that knew how to play the angles. Their family of twelve was extremely poor and a nest of liars, cheats and thieves; they were in a perpetual game among themselves to see who could walk out of the local store with the most groceries and other goods without paying for them or getting caught. They were in agreement that the oldest brother Elmer held the record as the ultimate chief of thieves; he had put the old man’s overcoat on one day and walked out of the store with a fifty-pound bag of flour under it; Earl was a close second. Earl had been drafted during the Korean War and being over six-foot-tall, with square shoulders and standing erect and all dressed up in his brand new army uniform, with sweet smelling greasy hair dressing running down the back of his neck; he turned a lot of heads.

He had been through basic training and was home for a few days prior to being shipped out to Korea. Elmer and Earl devised a plan to keep Earl out of the war and just maybe; along the way feather Earls nest for the rest of his life. It required having some guts and to be able to endure a little pain; well-maybe quite a lot of pain. No high tech tools required, all it would take is an ax and a block of wood. With tools in position, Earl put his hand on the block of wood and let the ax man brother Elmer; chop off three of his fingers on his right hand; making sure and for certain that the trigger finger would be one among those; that got the ax. And as Paul Harvey would have said in his rest of the story segment. Earl got a medical discharge and has been a disabled American veteran now for sixty-five years receiving compensation for wounds received during the Korean War. Just because Earl was a little dumb; didn’t necessarily mean he was stupid. He evidently reasoned it would be better to be a live coward then a dead hero.

On the night of March 6th 1950 after a long hard day of attack and retreat again and again, we all dropped down in our frozen ice and snow bed. Because sleep was not an option due to the weather condition and the lack of any warm clothing, we just lay there in a zombie state of mind. The only warmth was being made possible by my shivering and chattering teeth. I learned later on that a person will lose more fat in fifteen minutes of shivering, than they will in one hour of exercise. Taking this into consideration and knowing we were always doing one or the other, along with the lack of food on the front, accounted for the fact that I weighed just barely over one hundred pounds when I was evacuated off the front. 

We lay there that night hoping the Chinese would not mount up a night attack. Our sleeping bags and warm clothing had been taken away from us beforehand specifically because the Chinese had earlier in a surprise attack, caught one of our units in their sleeping bags, had overrun and killed them all. The military answer was to take all warm clothing away to keep us awake. No one ever bothered to ask anything about what it was doing to our body and fitness to fight. Everything was being drained out of us and nothing much was being put back in, the inevitable was bound to happen.

The next morning on March 7th the squad leader as was his custom, kicked me in the ribs and told me to saddle up. I tried to get up but couldn’t because my feet were giving me a problem and hurting bad. I took my shoe packs off and noticed my toenails were slipping and sliding back and forth on my toes. My assistant machine gunner had served in WW11 and immediately recognized my feet as being frozen. He helped me get in touch with the company commander to get me sent to the rear for medical aid. He (the company commander)   reluctantly authorized for me to go, but in the same breath glared at me as he said,” Ok, you go, but then get your f—king ass right back up here”. There wasn’t any such thing as empathy, sympathy, compassion or appreciation offered up for my service to that point. It took me a lot of years to come to terms with that attitude. I finally realized we were always shorthanded and needed all the warm bodies possible to hold onto or to gain ground from the enemy, and the responsibility to do that fell upon his shoulders.

-A different kind of fear-

They couldn’t spare anyone to help me, so they made me leave my weapons behind and pointed in the direction I was supposed to go. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground and in my condition it became more and more painful and difficult. After some time struggling and plodding along, not making much headway, suddenly a fear that I had not known before began to creep over me. For the first time here I was out in no man’s land without the armed unit I had been fighting and surviving with, anywhere in sight or hearing. I didn’t have any weapons or anything else. How would I know if I crossed the line into enemy territory? 

My mind began to work on me about what my chances was of running into the enemy, and what to do if I did? About this time, I begin hearing what sounded like a tank and other sounds. Then I hear all kinds of yelling and shouting in the oriental language. My heart begins to race and the fear grips me even more. I look around for a place to hide and that wasn’t a possibility. I knew I couldn’t run and began to accept the fact that I might become a dead duck. Then one of the best sights I ever hope to see, came into view. An M-24 US Army tank loaded with wounded men and pulling a south Korean truck loaded with wounded Korean soldiers. It was rough terrain and the tank had dumped the wounded soldiers out on the ground, that had caused all of the foreign language commotion

-Going back home again-

I had been evacuated off the front lines of Korea and within about six weeks or so I was back receiving ongoing treatment in Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan. I was receiving treatment for my feet that had been frozen in Korea. Along with that I had two other operations dealing with internal organs that were effecting my ability to function in a normal way. Caused by the negative effects of the extreme cold, lack of any decent sleep, and going without the necessary food to keep a body able to function properly. Nearly everything making me human had been taken out of me, I was skin stretched over a rack of bones. I still remember how surprised I was one day on my way to the chow hall when I looked over to my left and saw a bunch of wounded patients sitting there talking among themselves. I couldn’t believe my eyes; Earl was one of them; he was all bandaged up and I assumed that he had also just returned from Korea himself.

Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, Earl was a notorious liar but I always liked him and we got along well and had had a lot of good times together; he made no attempt to lie to me at all. He told me the whole story of how he had had brother Elmer chop off three of his fingers. It was good to see him again and I don’t remember but as the tradition at the time was, being old buddies from back home we probably went out and got drunk as soon as we were able to make arrangements to do so. I had come home from Korea with a pretty good sized chip on my shoulder; I couldn’t handle anyone getting up close in my face without reacting firmly and quickly. I had developed a self-medication problem to keep my mind in a somewhat state of numbness that caused me much grief.

After about a year in Army hospitals I got married with another year to finish out in my enlistment; while Nancy had stayed home with her folks, I had gone to Camp Rucker Alabama to finish my enlistment. Being discharged in October 1952 after three and a half years of service; it was party time on my way back home. I had bought a whole new outfit of civilian clothing to celebrate the occasion and to be looking good when I arrived home. Myself and a couple army buddies stopped into a VFW club in Montgomery, Alabama to have a couple drinks and maybe even dance a little bit.

Everything was going great until I had asked a young lady to dance with me that I had already danced with several times before. A redneck southern hillbilly sitting with her told me she didn’t want to dance. I said, “I didn’t ask you if she would like to dance, I asked her”. The guy anticipating a possible problem had a knife (which they all refer to as a hillbilly boxing glove) hidden in his hand under the table; he came up swinging at me with it. He cut me quite deep on a finger and I bled like a stuck hog. I had taken him down under the table but he had grabbed my new shirt, ripping most all the buttons off on his way onto his back. He evidently was a hot head trouble maker and the VFW management threw him out as we continued to enjoy ourselves. I had to go on home with a hung head, a bloody shirt with the buttons most all gone and ask Nancy if she could fix it, she couldn’t!

-Live hard, die young and leave a beautiful memory-

This type of hell raising, smash mouth, honky tonk behavior, continued on at random; at the drop of a hat when anyone would rattle my cage or show aggression against me in the slightest fashion, I would refuse to be rubbed the wrong way or treated as some subhuman skid row bum, shit would hit the fan. Military rule may have required a different response, but now I was learning to exercise my own God given right to defend myself whenever I felt put upon by those in close proximity to me. I was breaking the habit of turning my mind and body over to be used and/or misused by Uncle Sam or anybody else. I was in the process of developing assertiveness within my character that had been programmed and trained out of me at home and during my enlistment in the U.S. Army at age 17 years old. A few years later on I had gotten married and we had brought two other little human beings into existence. I had been working at one time on a Canadian freight dock in Detroit, Michigan when our macho Canadian terminal manager confronted me about an axe he wanted to grind, reading me the riot act of correction while thumping his extended fingers into my chest.

He had just violated Cunningham response code # 101. I hit him and knocked him back thru a plate glass window behind him, into his office. I can still hear the screaming and commotion of the secretaries as he crashed thru the window in front of them. He got cut up pretty bad going through the window and ended up taking me to court and suing me for five thousand dollars; which was a lot of money at that time. Because he had laid his hands on me first and at the time I had belonged to Jimmy Hoffa’s 299 teamsters’ union, he didn’t get anything for all his troubles and was lucky at the time he hadn’t gotten a visit at night by some teamster union goon squad. But this type of anti-establishment rebellion against authority was causing me continued problems as time went by. I will list down just one more where it all came to an abrupt end.

-The beat goes on-

I had an overnight stay in a hotel in Reed City Michigan. I worked for a commercial laundry rental company. After my days’ work I had gone to the hotel, cleaned up and went across the street to Henry's Bar to have a drink. I met a couple of my customers in there and we began drinking together. The boss was a black man that I liked and was really fun to be around. I had been in his home many times and knew his wife and two of the cutest little girls I have ever seen. One of his guys was an Ex-con, just out of Jackson Prison, I didn’t like him at all. He had wanted me to order him new uniforms with the name “Lover Boy” on the shirt, and I refused to do it. We begin to bicker back and forth and both of us were getting uglier by the minute, something was bound to happen soon.

The bartender’s son had poured him a double shot of whiskey. Before he had the chance to drink it; just for aggravation I suppose and the effect of getting his goat and bringing it to a conclusion, I reached over in front of him, picked it up and gulped it down in one motion. It was at this time that you know ahead of time what was about to hit the fan, he didn’t disappoint me. We were going to it full bore when the bartender’s son came out from behind the bar and began working on me along with the Ex-con. I remember waking up in my bed in the hotel the next morning looking as if I had been in a hatchet fight, and the other guy had been the one holding the hatchet. I was black and blue here and there and a piece of my ear was still hurting as it dangled down the side of my neck and was still bleeding yet; my bed sheets looked as if someone had tried to slit my throat.

-Facing the music-

My route took me thru Fife Lake that day and I had already ahead of time made arrangements to meet Nancy in town for lunch that day. Nancy and my two little kids, at the time 5 or 6 years old were already seated when I walked into the restaurant. I remember their astonished wide eyes looking at me in wonderment and concern as one of them asked me, “Daddy, what happened to your ear”? That’s all it took finally to make an immediate decision, this was all going to have to stop right here. I had to quit playing smash mouth in every honky tonk joint in town and quit taking offence whenever anyone looked cross eyed at me. The self-medication needed to be left in the past where it belonged. I was able to keep that commitment and went the next seven years without one drink of alcohol in any form. I had been receiving a nudge from God I believe, which led me into a spiritual awaking. I have been able for some time now to have a drink if I desire one, without having to worry or be concerned that it will start all over again. I will be eternally grateful and thankful for the divine intervention of God in my life. A lot more could be said about a lot of things, but I think I’ll stop here and catch my breath. I hope I have helped you a little in your understanding of what war and its after effects are all about. How it can have different effects on different individuals that will need to be dealt with.

In Kind Regards

Leith Cunningham

7044 West Sharon Road

Fife Lake, MI 49633

leithcunningham2@hotmail.com


More can be found on our website, just Google my name, Leith Lyman Cunningham. It will lead you into other things I have written about as well as war experiences. For those of you now viewing this writing online, simply go back to the top of this page and see other selections to peruse and examine for yourself.

P.S. I would like to leave you the reader with some of the things that have helped me to overcome my “War Demons” and be able to move on to being a somewhat balanced out productive citizen operating conscientiously within the spot on this earth where our God has placed me. Doing the best that I know to do within each day as I live it. I am compelled to list down as the number one most constant positive influence upon my being able to see things and to accept things through a different set of eyes and a different heart that God has given me; to feel with and too see with more clearly. 

I came home with a mixed up boggled mind; I didn’t like whom I had become. I didn’t much like anybody else either. I spent a lot of time back then dreaming about how awesome and peaceful it would be to live alone on some deserted island; never having to see another human being. Then to snap back to the reality of getting up and going to work among others you couldn’t learn to trust. There were just too many dark corners within my past experiences of war and operating in a war zone, that I couldn’t wash out of my inner being. But by the same token, I wasn’t ready at the time to bother doing anything about it either. Thankfully, God knows exactly how to deal with His rebellious children, it would take a few more lumps, a few more years, a little more time to get my undivided attention.

-I was a glutton for punishment-

Hence, I went to work on a program of self-medication which I was also to learn included self-destruction, for about a twenty-year episode of “Hell Raising 101”. Sitting in some bottom of the barrel; redneck honky tonk joint, playing smash mouth with a bunch of others just like myself. Taking my share of lumps while at the same time getting in my own licks too. Always looking over my shoulder for repercussions heading my way because of the lifestyle I was living. I took a certain amount of personal pride in knowing and believing I had stepped up when needed and did for the most part what was being expected of me during my tour of duty in the service. But in the same breath even though I was working steady and applying myself as best as I could with the load of baggage that I had built up for myself that seemed to stick with me like snot on a door knob; I had the feeling that I was slowly spiraling out of control as a husband, a person and a father. I wondered at what point might I reach the bottom, and become beyond the point of no return?

-A heart of stone-

I came back from Korea with a mind and a heart that had been seared over like a steak on a smoking hot grill or cast iron frying pan. A part of me almost seemed to have died; the empathy, sympathy, compassion and the ability to feel emotions had left me, if I ever had any of them at all in the first place. In a way it served me well at that time in dealing with life. I was glad of the cold German logic blood I had running thru my veins that I had inherited from my mother and father. I had seen my share of what life and death was all about; being in a nation during war time; I had been able to endure it all and like Timex; I had "taken a licken and kept on ticken". Seeing way too many dead and dying human beings made in the image and likeness of God; stacking their broken and mangled bodies on top of each other and feeling the grating of crushed and broken bones as we piled them up; to be sent home to their families. Or later on having to drag their frozen stiff dead body off a hill where they had given up their last breath of life; so that others could go on living in freedom and plenty. I felt that it was a good thing now that it has happened and is over with, it will allow me to deal with others that I will have to be around the rest of my life, as family and friends die. I felt I was immune now to death and dying. But do you know what? It doesn't work that way at all. Just about time you think you've got it all figured out, reality sets in. 

-My early years-

My oldest brother Glade was a year and eight months older than me. We were always really close, being the oldest he always looked after me all the while we were growing up. We didn't have any secrets from each other; we could communicate our closest and most important secrets to one another. He made life on the farm enjoyable in being able to play and work together. Our father was a good man but a taskmaster; we spent a lot of our time in planning how to avoid all of his strict rules and regulations. That all abruptly stopped when he (My brother Glade) turned sixteen years old and left home. Then as soon as he turned seventeen he joined what was then, The Army Air Corp. I didn't see him much after that because I had joined the Army as soon as I could too. When I came back from Korea and was sent to Percy Jones Army Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan. He had gotten in touch with me and told me he was coming home on a furlough from Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, where he was serving as an Air-Force MP. He had come thru Battle Creek on his way up home to see if I could get a pass to go home too. 

-What rules?

Major Traxler; a commander in the hospital had denied my request for a leave; and since it had been a couple years since we had seen each other; I told my brother not to worry, I would go with him anyway. I desperately wanted, and needed to spend some time together; to reminisce, to find out how his life had been going. I took him out on the hospital grounds and showed him where I would go over the fence to go with him after it had gotten dark. I knew most of the MPs because I had been in their lock up in the hospital basement a couple times for misdemeanors of some sort, usually probably just getting away with anything that happened to cross my mind. I felt like after surviving Korea, there was nothing at all they could do to me, that could even come close to comparing to that frozen Korean hell on planet earth.  

As we were crossing the grounds where I would go over the fence; we met a couple of MPs patrolling the area that I knew; and one asked me the question, “When are you coming down and visiting us again Cunningham", meaning being locked up again. I told them it wouldn't be too long. I would be down and see them as soon as they could catch me, I would be jumping the fence as soon as it got dark. They just laughed and moved on. I did jump the fence and go home that night with my brother which I have never regretted for even a moment. I stayed home even after my brother had to go back to duty in Arizona. The military authorities sent my mother a letter encouraging her into seeing that I got back before it was desertion, I intercepted the letter and showed it to her twenty years later, she got a kick out of it, and called me a couple of names in jesting. 

-Fond memories of yesteryear-

I had bought a top of the line Ford convertible and was having too much fun to go back right away. I had to carry a big stick to keep the girls out of it. But it all came to an end when another soldier home from Germany had also gotten a new convertible and we were leaving to many black patches around town. The Local cop that we both knew finally picked both of us up and took us to the Traverse City jail. But he felt so guilty about it that he would bring his daughter Rachel over to visit me almost every day, to go to a ball game or just to hang out. The sheriff at that time was a WW11 Vet having served in the same outfit in WW11 that I had in Korea. He had a soft spot in his heart for me and more or less gave me the run of the jail.

 Since I didn't have a driver’s license, he gave me one and paid for it himself. But he had notified the military and they had sent two MPs up from Percy Jones to pick me up and take me back. It was the same two MPs that I had met on the hospital grounds before I had left. We all actually had a good laugh about it. A lot of slack was being extended to returning combat personnel at that time. I reminded them of the fact, that I had told them I was going to jump the fence as soon as it got dark, they were somewhat to blame themselves for my leaving, because they had not believed me and could have stopped me. But in hind sight after these sixty-five years later. "A good time was had by all". But then life moves on and hands us different things to be occupied with as we are raising our families. We need to learn to count it all as a blessing from God; good, bad or indifferent, because it is all intended for our own good, and the eventual good of all mankind. 

-God puts my feet to the fire-

Then about thirty years go by and everyone is busy going to work, making a living, raising their kids along with all the struggles of life, then one afternoon I got a phone call from my brother Glade living in Atlanta, Georgia. He was now in the Veteran hospital in Durham North Carolina. They had diagnosed him with a brain tumor and were preparing to operate on him. I asked them to wait and give me a chance to be there, which they did do. I flew out there and we got to visit and reminisce about the fun old times together for a couple days before they operated on his tumor. They finished the operation and had transfused him with thirty-two units of blood before finally throwing in the towel and letting him bleed to death. They told me that I could go in to see him in intensive care, which I did do. They also told me that the only part of his brain that was working was the part that causes one to breathe. I stood by his bed and held his hand and talked to him. I knew they had lied to me, the tears began to run down his face as he gurgled and choked out his last breaths of life but was unable to say anything.

-I am human after all-

I learned that I was in no way immune to death as I thought I was; especially so when it is your closest blood brother. Then having to go to Atlanta and tell his three little kids that daddy wouldn't be coming home anymore and being in that mix of emotions of hurt, sorrow and ongoing suffering was heart wrenching to say the least. One thing that was exceptionally difficult for me and still so many years later was such a mental and emotional shock that sticks with me yet. After having seeing him alive and being able to have fun one day, then being instructed to go pick up his belongings the next day. The sight and the feelings remains firm and clear in my mind; of having someone reach into a pigeon hole and bring up a cardboard box full of his clothing and personal things, and the having to sign for them. Yesterday he was a living breathing flesh and blood human being, my brother. Today they slide what is left of him across the top of the counter in a cardboard box. This was the initial step on the part of God I believe to start my spiritual awakening.

In an odd sort of way my closest brother had a part in my accepting and believing the Word and the way of God. I believe Jesus Christ is whom He claims to be; The Savior of all mankind. All of mankind without even one exception. Still it took a couple more years before I could even cry one tear over his death. My mind and heart had become so programmed and seared up too tight to show any open grief or emotions at that time. A mutual friend, a combat infantryman, Dale Westcott, in the 82nd Airborne in Korea, serving in the same time frame as myself, had come over to our place for a visit one day; he had been more like a brother to both Glade and myself. We went out and got a snoot full and got to reminiscing about all of the good times and the playing tricks on one another that we had enjoyed together growing up, and I couldn't quit crying, I thought it would never stop. I eventually pulled myself together and got my emotions in check and moved on with life. Then it all went back inside and I elected to deal with it alone and by myself. The coming to terms with the death of my brother Glade was by all means the second hardest mind numbing and emotional suffering that I have had to go through so far in life. I got back in the bottle of self-medication and hell raising. Everything I tried to use to numb the pain only seemed to make things worse. What kind of life was this that I was trying to live and be happy in? 

-Then God steps in-

I began to feel like a great big slimy rat that had become a bottom feeder in this society that for the most part continues thumbing their collective noses at the way and will of God and the premises that our nation had been built upon, myself included. A system and mind set built upon get, take, grab and receive as opposed to one of give, build integrity, care about and help your fellowman. There I was feeding and being in lock step with others of the same kind, crawling around in the muck and mire of our society which in my opinion included this worlds religious persuasions of following after custom, ritual and traditions as opposed to the Word and way of God. In a word it was as if God had decided to give me a hand up and out of these worldly perversions. He symbolically rolled up His sleeves and reached all the way down through the filth and corruption of years of accumulation of this worlds Babylonian system of thinking and administering the misguided rule and way of carnal mankind, as opposed to the will and way of our God.

-I began to feel His presence-

I imagined that I could feel His hand as it rested on my back as I tried to wiggle, squirm and slither away from any kind of a connection between myself and my maker. He then it seems grasped me around the nape of my neck and slowly and methodically at first began bringing me up and out of the gutter of this world to strip away the layers of the built-up filth of following the path of least resistance but fitting in very well with the direction our society and nation were heading into. God has had to knock a lot of rough edges off me through the years, and there will be more to come. Going through the fire, pain and suffering of war and all that goes with it in Korea is but one of them. He is the potter and we are the clay, he is up to the job. He has the ability, the knowledge, and everything else it will take to put us individually onto His potter’s wheel; to mold and shape us into the exact image that suits His own purpose and plan since before the world began. At times it may require He smash and pound us down and start all over again to achieve His avowed and promised purpose. To make us all in His likeness and in His image. (Genesis 1:26)

-A reward for our earthly toil-

As I believe the Word of God to be true, let us look at another gift that He has given me that has been of the greatest value in my growth in being a thankful and grateful husband to my wife, it can be found in Ecclesiastes 9:9 “Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaning-less days of life that God has given you in this world. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil.” Nancy has always been instrumental in giving me the right help at the right time. Having patience, love affection and caring about helping me with the problems life had laid upon myself and her as well, as she and I have suffered the after effects that we are discussing here. I remember well; the nights that Nancy would have to hold my head in her lap, caressing me and taking the time and effort to love, support, care and give me some relief by talking softly and in a pleasant manner. Attempting to comfort me from the long lasting mental and emotional pain that would suddenly creep up on me without notice. She was instrumental in helping to keep me from losing my mind. And she would continue on as long as it would take for me to get enough relief to finally be able to get some worried and broken sleep, before having to go to work in the morning.

I do dearly love and appreciate Nancy, the wife of our youth, we having been joined together as one on November 10th 1951. On November 10th 2016 our marriage, and becoming one; will have stood the test of time for 65 years. Since all good gifts come from God, my wife, along with our God is and always has been my motivation to rise above the carnal nature that has been created and placed inside every single one of us human beings. Many interpreters have offered suggestions about the symbolism implied in woman coming from the rib of Adam. For example, Matthew Henry wrote, “Woman is not made of a man’s head to climb over him, she is not made of his feet to be trampled on, but from his rib to be by his side as an equal, under his arm to be protected and close to his heart to be loved.” No matter how appealing this symbolism is, it cannot be proven that this was the original intent. Having said that however, this quite accurately describes how I feel about my wife Nancy.

-Thank God for His forgiveness-

It is a nature within that we all have to war against and bring into subjection to the will and the way of God. Since Nancy is the greatest gift as a wife that God will be giving me for all my earthly toil, I need to appreciate, be thankful for and do the best job that I can to honor, respect and take good care of that relationship. I accept and recognize her as such and may God continue to bless our marriage and relationship during the sunset of our years together here on planet earth. Since I believe it is God who is in control of all things and all of the time; I give Him alone all of the credit for not only bringing myself and Nancy to that which has happened and shaped our character during our lifetime; but He is the One that has brought us (and will you too) through all of the trials, traumas, and hardships as well. God will use and call upon many diverse sources to achieve His purpose for all of mankind. The wife of my youth that He has given me I count as one of the greatest.

-My own future foretold-

About seventy years ago my closest brother Glade and myself were down town in Fife Lake, Michigan. As we walked along having fun like any young boys might; I noticed a girl jumping rope with other girls. Even though I was only thirteen or fourteen years old, I had, had my eyes on her for a while now. She was probably about eleven or twelve at the time. I pointed her out to my brother and told him, “that is the girl I am going to marry someday”. I had noticed and liked everything about her, I felt that she would be the exact person I would need to build a life with. One fly in the ointment was; that she didn’t like me at all. I looked upon that as a small and minor bump in the road to our future of being together as husband and wife till death do us part.

I would need to begin right away to make it become a reality. Looking back now all these years later; I have come to believe that it was all of God. I firmly believe that God had singled her out to be my wife, knowing she was the type mate that I would need to always be there and help me as I in turn helped her along with our combined trials and traumas of life. To stick it out when things got rough and demanding. I believe God was giving us to each other just some minor details had to be worked out. God is working in the lives of all His children whether we believe it or not. He knew us before we were ever born, He knew us all in our mother’s womb, He knows exactly how many days we are going to live, and we’ll not live one instant beyond it. He knows the exact day we’ll die and we’ll not live one instant longer. Now back to being age fourteen and making plans for life together with the one that I am going to marry.

-Plan (a) is put into effect-

First requirement by necessity is that she first would have to like me somewhat. Not a problem! That was the easy part as I put plan (a) into effect immediately. I knew even back then that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I knew as well that all girls at that time were goo, goo eyed over anybody in a uniform, and the mystique of actually knowing and communicating with one such person, would be a big feather in Nancy’s hat. I talked my mother into signing the papers allowing me to join the Army as soon as I turned seventeen years old. Now that plan (a) had been put into motion, I immediately embarked upon plan (b) as soon as I reached my first duty station at Fort Riley, Kansas.

I wrote Nancy a letter and suggested we communicate with each other by mail. We did that and it quickly developed into a super fun and enjoyable time within our early moments and times of sharing and building a relationship together; I remember how enjoyable, how great and awesome it was to look forward to getting a letter from her and hearing my name being called at mail-call, or to see her on those occasions when I would be able to get a furlough to come home for a visit. Along with an occasional phone call to get our individual batteries recharged and to stay in contact. She was always my focus and we spent most all of our time together on those occasions.

-A will and a reason to prevail-

It helped me a lot overseas in Korea during times of struggle and strife, I had something to look forward to back home. The relationship that began back there in the summer of 1949 has of date stood the test of time. Don’t let me fool you into believing that it has all been peaches and cream, it has been filled with peaks and valleys. It has not ever been easy It is not even supposed to be, it is solving family problems, it is dealing with all of life’s issues, it is the hardships, the trials and traumas of raising a family and keeping things afloat, that builds strong and lasting character, the dealing with and meshing two minds and two hearts into one. It is never going to be easy, but it is worthwhile and the way that God intended it to be. Therefore, I accept Nancy as my gift from God, as my greatest reward for all of my earthly toil. Unbeknownst to Nancy, her goose had already been cooked way back there in the summer of 1949 and before.

-Fast forward-

Here it is now over sixty-five years later after coming back home from Korea, as I sit in our comfortable home in Fife Lake, Michigan with the love of my life; the woman that I married, love and appreciate. God has blessed us greatly over the years in leading us to prepare financially for our old age, to be able to enjoy it apart from debt worries. Our child rearing days are over for the most part as quietness permeates our surroundings; how sweet it is! Quite often you will be able to find me laid back in my Lazy boy chair, relaxing with my hands behind my head surfing the channels for a good cowboy movie. Googling up something of interest on the internet, or picking a tune on my guitar and attempting to sing some old country tunes or other favorite beer drinking song of days gone by. Maybe playing euchre with our family members as we sip our favorite champagne, and see who can tell the biggest tallest tale to get our card playing opponents off guard, having good clean fun and enjoying life together, as it was meant to be.

-Rewards at the end of the tunnel-

Our attached garage made over into a family room is my domain, everything in it or on the walls represent things I like and enjoy seeing and being surrounded by. American flags scattered here and there through-out. Walls covered with pictures of great meaning and importance to me, pictures of myself and three other brothers for example, in our uniforms, only my younger brother still living. It is for others to enjoy too if they so choose. Our home has become a memorial to me in grateful appreciation and thanks giving for all veterans, and especially so for all of those many that gave up all of their tomorrows so that we can remain free to enjoy all of our todays. Our yard and out buildings are decorated to the Max with American flags whipping in the wind. We keep them lit up at night time as well. I am an American patriot that takes great pains to show my friends, my neighbors and all passers-by; that I love and appreciate this still wonderful country that our God has placed us in.

With all of this in place, I am a happy man. Looking back at what God has so lavishly given and bestowed upon us through His guidance and direction. The things that are causing our lives together to be fulfilling and peaceful, that Nancy, myself and our family have diligently worked for and created for ourselves, with the guidance always being supplied to us by our God and Savior Jesus Christ. It gives me a feeling of personal worth, gratefulness, thankfulness, our own tenacity, diligence and accomplishment has given to us. What more on this earth could one ever ask for? Our work ethic and struggles of life to arrive here today as it is, are paying great dividends. We have been given everything we need to enjoy our declining years. It has all been a wonderful gift from God. All of the blood and gore and misery of war in Korea is a thing of the past, it is as if it never happened in the first place.

-Then in a moment-

Then in a moment, something happens, a certain smell, for me it could be garlic or the smell of frost in the air, a certain arrangement of the clouds,the sound of empty brass shells tinkling as they fall to the ground, the sound of running water, a squeaky door hinge, a sudden sound or noise, the way different words are spoken, a certain look in the eyes of some other person that mirrors that of someone that is no longer with us, the sound of a rifle bolt being slammed shut, hearing bugle Taps being played in the distance, sometimes I don’t even know what is causing the change, for everyone it can be something different. Then suddenly the bandage of time and the scab has been ripped off and the wound begins to open up and bleed all over again. It can start again without any notice, just requiring the right trigger to reopen that which I may be trying to forget, then a change begins of comes over me.

-My world begins to change-

I can actually feel the change inside creeping into a personality adjustment, I will begin to feel and think differently about things in general, the pendulum swings from a positive to a negative, an anti-social cloud seems to hover over me, but I never know how long it is going to last. It is like my body is getting ready to shut itself down a certain amount. I begin to look at things and feel in an altogether different way. My overall regular approach to life in general is to be uplifting, positive and sociable. Extending positive reinforcement to those in close proximity. Using humor to avoid taking on the weight of the world and its insurmountable and endless problems. I like to be around others, to enjoy give and take conversation with, to lift others up, to lighten the mood, to look for the positive. To be around friends and acquaintances and mix in well with others. I don’t believe everyone is looking at me to judge or to condemn me, or laughing behind my back. But when I begin to slip into this type mode, I recognize something out of the blue is busy inside my being somewhere doing the changing.

-I am losing my grip on life-

I don’t know how long it will last, or on what level of anxiety it will hit. Sometimes a couple days of duration, a couple weeks or up to several months. I never get any decent sleep during these episodes. A few minutes at a time and then jerked awake without any noticeable reason, then back to tossing and turning and being unable to turn my mind off. I set my jaw, clinch my teeth and fists in frustration, I finally just have to get up in a pissed off condition at myself for not being able to get any sleep. Then find something to do, although I am exhausted and worn out from lack of sleep. People in general just become an aggravation to me, it becomes a struggle in my mind to tolerate being in close proximity with others. I want to avoid any personal contact that requires reaching down and pulling myself up by the boot straps, to be someone I don’t feel like being in the moment.

-Putting my mind in limbo is the only thing that helps-

I don’t want to be around anyone, I don’t want to allow myself to be in a situation that requires or demands that I communicate with others. For the most part I just want to be left alone with my feelings and thoughts and not have to explain them to anyone. I am short tempered and ugly natured during these times to my wife whom I love dearly and feel like a dog for mistreating her in that way. However, it doesn’t change anything, I insist on being left alone. No amount of kindness, sympathy, empathy, touching or caring about my situation makes any difference at all, except to make it worse. It has caused a lot of problems and strife in our relationship as one might expect. Yet we hold it all together and get by; with myself being thankful and grateful to God for His helping Nancy to show love, kindness and understanding as we together ride out one more non-explainable reoccurring episode of excess and built up mind garbage.

It’s not just my wife during these episodes that I want to isolate myself from, it is most everyone. My primary care doctor suggests he write a script for one of the drugs that is supposed to take care of these things, I am not anxious to start that because I am already taking a hand full of pills morning and night for other things. If push comes to shove at some point I will probably have to reconsider that. The VA has to often in the past in my opinion been part of the problem instead of part of the solution. They for whatever reason have refused to acknowledge the after effects of war on the body, mind and spirit of those returning from combat. I remember well and shall never forget one more attempt at the time about forty years ago, to get some relief from a service connected and severe problem that was causing me great physical, mental and emotional woes.

-To whom do I turn to for help?

I had just related it to one old WW11-VA doctor Foley up in Gaylord, Michigan. It was a sensitive issue and difficult to open myself up to ridicule and/or shame in discussing it with anyone. But decided to take one more chance in revealing it to a VA doctor. He had an immediate and simple solution. He looked me in the eye with a certain disgust, unbelief and a holier than thou expression on his face, as he announced his VA doctor diagnoses by saying, “Your only problem is, you’re just too damn fat”. End of story, no follow-up, just letting me know where the VA stood on all of this foolishness. It took me another thirty-five years or so and many more visits to the VA to finally come into contact with a lady VA doctor in Traverse City, Michigan. A doctor with the ability to empathize, sympathize and have compassion for veterans and their problems. She immediately diagnosed me with PTSD, (post-traumatic stress disorder) I will be eternally grateful to Dr. Reye in this finding, that is now helping me to cope with life.

Concerning Dr. Reye, I would like to make an observation about our interaction together, one with the other. My wife and I would see her together on my visits, because some of my physical, mental and emotional problems had an effect upon her, (my wife). During this one visit while I felt comfortable with Dr. Reye, I instinctively felt the sincere and caring nature emanating from her as a person. I more or less spilled my guts out to her in revealing the damage of the never being inside off the battlefield, the extreme cold weather, lack of food and decent cold weather clothing and very little to no sleep, yet being required to fight and die if necessary according to military procedure. Being kicked in the rib cage in the morning and told to “saddle up” while running on an empty tank, never mind what the extreme weather conditions and the lack of food was doing to my system.

She didn’t hurry me up or interrupt me, just her listening patiently was unusual to me as a VA doctor. In the midst of my allotted time with her, she began to tear up and had to excuse herself and leave the examination room. She came back in after about ten minutes, after she had time to compose herself. Her eyes were red and we could tell she had been crying. The VA as I understand it now recognizes and acknowledges to some degree, something called second hand PTSD. It has occurred to me that Dr. Reye may be suffering from second hand PTSD, due to the number of front-line, combat and battlefield experiences she has been required as a VA doctor to listen to. I am sorry if I added grief to her sensitive and caring nature, but will value and treasure her diagnoses of PTSD forever, dealing with it has changed my life. But what about Dr. Reye and other VA counselors that have to deal with these thing on a regular basis, who do they go to or seek to get help from? Are any provisions being made to address this issue? Has anything been taken up at this point by the VA?

-A wake up call to the VA-

After many years of following after the normal tradition of sitting on their hands and looking the other way; the VA has changed some of its practices from making veterans with all sorts of service caused problems, to come and grovel at their feet and beg to be looked after and then to be put on the back burner and forgotten about until some caring veteran or someone else decides to put their feet to the fire and speaks out on the behalf of their selves and/or others. After a few to many shocking cases of VA neglect and abuse such as that which happened and was exposed in the recent crackdown in Arizona and the southwest VA. I feel the VA has done a lot better job in helping myself and some other veterans in dealing with our service connected problems of late, after myself having waited on them to do so for well over a half century. The VA however has been very good in keeping up to date doctor appointments and supplying all medications needed for my different health issues.

-What about Jane Fonda?

I now meet with a group of combat veterans at the VA every two weeks, that are battling the effects of PTSD. (post-traumatic stress disorder) This experience has been of great value to me, and I applaud the efforts of the VA in bringing it about and allowing me to be a part of it. I feel less alone and am finding a voice to speak up for myself. Hearing the plight of others having been in combat is therapeutic in itself; knowing others have been there and done that too. Having fellow combat veterans tell of their own experiences that curl up your toes and cause one to feel the shock and awe coming from their gut wrenching insides, after having them hidden and carrying a guilt complex for so long, partly because of traitors like the back stabbing, treasonous, “Hanoi Jane”. I hope in the grand finale of things to come, that Jane Fonda will get her own spot in American history, by being branded the treasonous traitor that she was.

Treason: the crime of betraying one's country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government. "they were convicted of treason"

synonyms: treachery, disloyalty, betrayal, faithlessness; More the action of betraying someone or something. plural noun: treasons "doubt is the ultimate treason against faith"

synonyms: treachery, disloyalty, betrayal, faithlessness;

Here is what 18 U.S. Code 18 has to say about Treason.

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)

Under the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration of earlier years, some think that Jane Fonda most likely would have and maybe should have been tried for treason and if found guilty executed as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg had been on June 19, 1953

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a married couple convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage in 1951, are put to death in the electric chair. The execution marked the dramatic finale of the most controversial espionage case of the Cold War.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke for many Americans when he issued a statement declining to invoke executive clemency for the pair. He stated, “I can only say that, by immeasurably increasing the chances of atomic war, the Rosenbergs may have condemned to death tens of millions of innocent people all over the world.

The execution of two human beings is a grave matter. But even graver is the thought of the millions of dead whose deaths may be directly attributable to what these spies have done.”

How many of us have even the foggiest notion or understanding of the number of Vietnam veterans and their extended families that had to suffer pain and misery immeasurably? How many Vietnam veterans most probably ended up paying the ultimate cost of death or extreme abuse handed down to them in essence by a Hollywood once was, has been sex goddess turned traitor? We can chalk up their final ending experiences of torture and suffering lives; directly attributable to the traitor Jane Fonda and her act of treason in Vietnam? Her debt had been passed on to our men and women fighting there for the freedom of our nation and others. They had to die, that others may live. Including Jane Fonda, the one who had passed the death sentence upon many of them, after symbolically jumping into bed with their captors, our nations enemy.

After our Vietnam veterans finally returned home after faithful, long suffering service to our country to insure freedom for others, not as some did that ran off to Canada to avoid their own hands getting dirty by doing their fair share of securing freedom for themselves and others. Again making the decision to become a live coward as opposed to a dead hero. And then for the veterans who had paid the price, to be spit upon and among other things being called “Baby Killer’s”, such as so many Vietnam veterans had to endure and were welcomed home to deal with. It will be a wonder to me until the day that I die; under such conditions as these, why have there not been more veteran suicides than the already astronomical numbers we now read about, such as these figures below in the piece I copied off the internet below.

In 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were committing suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes. Some sources suggest that this rate may be under - counting suicides. (End Quote)

-Put ourselves in the shoes of others-

Nobody on earth has the ability to look inside of the man or woman that we meet on the street, or at the grocery store, or the overall veteran society that we meet and greet and rub elbows with every day. We cannot know how many ticking time bombs with missing limbs and boggled minds we look at in disgust as we witness one more homeless bum on the street begging for a hand out or asking for and hoping for a little compassion and sympathy from the passersby. He or she could have been the soldier that last year or a decade ago, willingly left their home and family to go fight and die if necessary to protect our freedom in some place thousands of miles away from home and family. I do not believe it is too far-fetched for any one of us combat veterans having served in war and in all of the filth, hate, blood and guts gore that goes on there in the kill or be killed situation of witnessing the death, dying, screaming pain and agony of a comrade or buddy in his last suffering moments on this earth, to be able to say at least to ourselves, “There but for the grace of God, go I”.

With this in mind it behooves each one of us individually to suppose and to elect ourselves to be an army of one in assisting other veterans and all others that may have fallen on hard times. It doesn’t cost a dime to extend a kind and helping hand to another human being, made too in the image and likeness of God. The proper sincere and appropriate pat on the back, shaking someone’s hand and wishing them well, and most of all if it feels needed in the moment, a warm embrace. Nothing much quite says we care about another person better than a heartfelt hug of positive reinforcement. Human touch is important, we are able to send our fellowman/woman a message of love, a message of caring, a healing gesture.

As we each contribute in writing this book, we have made a collective decision among ourselves to let others get acquainted with some of the behind the scenes rigors of war by relating a part of our own experiences. I feel if it really is truth that we are attempting to point out and show to our audience in the book we are writing, we would be derelict in our duty, not to include the letter that Daniel Somers wrote to his family prior to taking his own life on June 10, 2013. It is just one more aspect of life that all veterans have to cope and deal with after returning home an altogether different person than the one that left a few weeks, months or years ago. Feeling alone, let down and discarded, used up, spent on the battlefields of this world, then forgotten, many reaching out for a helping hand, only to find out there is no one reaching back to grab onto or help them out, and too often that has been the case especially so; from those organizations and individuals put specifically in place to be doing that, and being paid well, to do it.

-Thank you Daniel Somers-

I personally believe the letter below may have had a positive effect upon myself getting finally the help I needed after over a half century in attempts to get the VA compensation department, to grant my request for my service connected disabilities to be compensated for. Maybe it woke up the mind of a certain individual at the right time that was dealing with my application for benefits. It may be too late for Daniel to hear these words, but I would like his wife and family to know, that I consider Daniel Somers and his letter to be held in the highest honor, respect and love for his fellow veteran and fellow man/woman. To me the letter that Daniel wrote was a God send, as I am certain it is and will continue to be to all veterans in their continued efforts to get the promised care that the VA is being paid to deliver, to all that have suffered service connected wounds of the body, mind and spirit. I will forever appreciate and be thankful and grateful for this letter below written by my fellow military comrade and friend Daniel Somers.

Leith Cunningham

7044 West Sharon Road

Fife Lake, MI 49633

leithcunningham2@hotmail.com

Daniel Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was part of Task Force Lightning, an intelligence unit. In 2004-2005, he was mainly assigned to a Tactical Human-Intelligence Team (THT) in Baghdad, Iraq, where he ran more than 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee, interviewed countless Iraqis ranging from concerned citizens to community leaders and government officials, and interrogated dozens of insurgents and terrorist suspects. In 2006-2007, Daniel worked with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) through his former unit in Mosul where he ran the Northern Iraq Intelligence Center. His official role was as a senior analyst for the Levant (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and part of Turkey). Daniel suffered greatly from PTSD and had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and several other war-related conditions. On June 10, 2013, Daniel wrote the following letter to his family before taking his life. Daniel was 30 years old. His wife and family have given permission to publish it below.

Daniel writes:

I am sorry that it has come to this.

The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term.

You will perhaps be sad for a time, but over time you will forget and begin to carry on. Far better that than to inflict my growing misery upon you for years and decades to come, dragging you down with me. It is because I love you that I can not do this to you. You will come to see that it is a far better thing as one day after another passes during which you do not have to worry about me or even give me a second thought. You will find that your world is better without me in it. I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you. In truth, I was nothing more than a prop, filling space so that my absence would not be noted. In truth, I have already been absent for a long, long time.

My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I can not laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.

You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of. To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing cover-up is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.

Beyond that, there are the host of physical illnesses that have struck me down again and again, for which they also offer no help. There might be some progress by now if they had not spent nearly twenty years denying the illness that I and so many others were exposed to. Further complicating matters is the repeated and severe brain injuries to which I was subjected, which they also seem to be expending no effort into understanding. What is known is that each of these should have been cause enough for immediate medical attention, which was not rendered.

Lastly, the DEA enters the picture again as they have now managed to create such a culture of fear in the medical community that doctors are too scared to even take the necessary steps to control the symptoms. All under the guise of a completely manufactured “overprescribing epidemic,” which stands in stark relief to all of the legitimate research, which shows the opposite to be true. Perhaps, with the right medication at the right doses, I could have bought a couple of decent years, but even that is too much to ask from a regime built upon the idea that suffering is noble and relief is just for the weak.

However, when the challenges facing a person are already so great that all but the weakest would give up, these extra factors are enough to push a person over the edge. Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives?

Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference. It leaves us to where all we have to look forward to is constant pain, misery, poverty, and dishonor. I assure you that, when the numbers do finally drop, it will merely be because those who were pushed the farthest are all already dead. And for what? Bush’s religious lunacy? Cheney’s ever growing fortune and that of his corporate friends? Is this what we destroy lives for

Since then, I have tried everything to fill the void. I tried to move into a position of greater power and influence to try and right some of the wrongs. I deployed again, where I put a huge emphasis on saving lives. The fact of the matter, though, is that any new lives saved do not replace those who were murdered. It is an exercise in futility. Then, I pursued replacing destruction with creation. For a time this provided a distraction, but it could not last. The fact is that any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand. How can I possibly go around like everyone else while the widows and orphans I created continue to struggle? If they could see me sitting here in suburbia, in my comfortable home working on some music project they would be outraged, and rightfully so.

I thought perhaps I could make some headway with this film project, maybe even directly appealing to those I had wronged and exposing a greater truth, but that is also now being taken away from me. I fear that, just as with everything else that requires the involvement of people who can not understand by virtue of never having been there, it is going to fall apart as careers get in the way. The last thought that has occurred to me is one of some kind of final mission. It is true that I have found that I am capable of finding some kind of reprieve by doing things that are worthwhile on the scale of life and death. While it is a nice thought to consider doing some good with my skills, experience, and killer instinct, the truth is that it isn’t realistic. First, there are the logistics of financing and equipping my own operation, then there is the near certainty of a grisly death, international incidents, and being branded a terrorist in the media that would follow. What is really stopping me, though, is that I simply am too sick to be effective in the field anymore. That, too, has been taken from me.

Thus, I am left with basically nothing. Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war. Abandoned by those who would take the easy route, and a liability to those who stick it out—and thus deserve better. So you see, not only am I better off dead, but the world is better without me in it

This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing. I know how to kill, and I know how to do it so that there is no pain whatsoever. It was quick, and I did not suffer. And above all, now I am free. I feel no more pain. I have no more nightmares or flashbacks or hallucinations.

I am no longer constantly depressed or afraid or worried I am free.

I ask that you be happy for me for that. It is perhaps the best break I could have hoped for. Please accept this and be glad for me. 

Daniel Somers - (end quote)


P.S. Three weeks after her husband's death, Angel Somers was notified by the Phoenix VA that her husband's claim for full disability benefits had been approved retroactively to 2008. Musicians in the Phoenix area organized a tribute concert for him on August 24, 2013.

Why had it taken so long? Was this approval finally because the VA noticed something that they had not seen before in the records during the life and times of Daniel Somers service to our country? That they then jumped right on it after recognizing their feet dragging error and a desire to do the right thing? Well I doubt that; most likely their feet being held to the fire, had caused someone in authority to get their head out of their wazoo and begin to earn the paychecks they had been given. Or was it instead intended to be hush money to be held over the head of family members and to quiet down the up-roar across the nation in the hope that it would all die down and go away? Allowing the local system to look good for a season and to quiet public opinion down to be able eventually to return back to same O, same O? 

Letting our chopped to pieces, busted up and mangled body, mind and soul soldiers coming home after life on the battlefield, in great need of care and real assistance; to again once more having to come crawling in on their crippled knees and broken bodies begging and groveling at the feet of the uncaring VA individual occupying the seat of final authority to put his stamp of denial on a piece of paper that would represent another failed government promise leading to a broken spirit and a ruined life? Or was it one more lingering VA road block to stall off any earned compensation that a needy veteran qualified for; like the approach they seemingly had traditionally been using to discourage veterans from applying? Then reaching again into the basket to draw out the next VA victims name to meet the same fate?

I have to add something here that bothers me a lot. I have sat and listened to veterans piss and moan about not being able to get their earned compensation from the stalled VA tactics. They have much to say about how unfair they have been or are being treated by the VA. Then suddenly their own VA ship comes in and they have nothing but praise and thank-fullness for the VA, and then even get their dander up when someone else voices their disdain and distrust against the VA for making them wait for years and still no compensation. Now they don't want to hear a word of negativism or criticism against the VA. It causes me to wonder about their reasoning of "I got mine, now to hell with you". Well I got that off my chest! 

Thanks be to Daniel Somers for his letter documenting his war experiences and the aftermath of dealing with our governmental agencies put in place to supposedly give help and aid to those being effected by their service connected wounds of body, mind and spirit; being caused by such things that we find in all combat situations as he so elegantly found the need to expound upon before taking his own life that eventually became so hopeless waiting on any kindness, care, concern or aid from the powers to be. Many thanks to his letter and to his family in allowing for it to be made public. Hopefully; it has changed and will continue to change for the better, countless other veterans finding themselves held hostage and being stuck in limbo within the same like manner as he wrote about.

I hope it will be a continued wake-up call for the veteran’s administration and for those in positions to monitor and make certain that their (The VA) feet are being held to the fire to make it so. Too many folks in positions of authority have been found guilty of falling asleep at the switch. It has caused way too many veterans to be in grave need; after fighting for your freedom and my freedom, and in too many cases coming back home all shot to hell as a basket case, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, then left hanging out to dry in some VA waiting room. Being let down one more time by a broken system that still needs fixing.

Leith Lyman Cunningham

leithcunningham2@hotmail.com


All 56 pages of the above were written down as my part in Larry’s book. Then I continued to run into different points of interest that some others might enjoy or appreciate reading; so I will follow up  with more in another paper identified as Part 2 on this same site.Then too, if you would like to see what other dedicated Christians are writing about... Peruse our site "Helpful Websites" at the top of the page.

See Part 2 of - I wanted you to know-