By Major Van Harl USAF Ret
Wisconsin –-(Ammoland.com)- When I arrived in Korea in January 1983, it had been after a very long flight from San Francisco, CA. I had spent the past five and a half months at Ft. Benning Georgia, attending Army Infantry School.
When I got to Ft. Benning I was told I was being trained to kill and lead others to kill, because that was what an Infantry officer does. I was an Air Force security policeman being trained to do what most Airmen never do, fight a ground war. The Army had us absolutely convinced that the US was headed for war. There were a number of major weapons procurement programs on line that would bring these new destructive devices into service by 1986. 1986 was the year the US military was going to be ready to take on the Soviet military.
In retrospect this was where President Reagan guided the US, in out-spending the Soviet Union, finally allowing the Berlin Wall to come down. His actions drove the collapse of the Soviet system of occupying the nations surrounding Russia.
However in 1983 when I headed to Korea the Army had me believing that the shooting war could start anytime. Also I was taking my wife, the Air Force Nurse, with me into a potential war zone. As we landed at Osan Air Base you could see from the air that the entire base was ringed by concrete fighting positions. There were Korean soldiers on the perimeter with .50 caliber machine guns and anti-aircraft missiles.
As my wife and I looked out the window I commented that the airbase looked pretty darn scary. We had both volunteered for this posting in Korea and now we were wondering what we had got ourselves into. We agreed it was intimidating and this was during peace time operations in Korea.
Lieutenant James Brady, US Marine Corps, was sent to Korea in 1951 as the bullets were flying and the artillery was exploding all around. He took over a rifle platoon while under fire and spent most of his tour in Korea living and fighting on the line, facing North Korean and Chinese soldiers. James Brady (1928-2009) was a columnist from Parade Magazine but in 1951 he was a young Marine officer fresh out of college headed to a shooting war. He wrote the book titled “The Scariest Place in the World” (www.StMartins.com 2005).
I arrived in Korea in January and it was sub zero outside. Summers were miserably hot. I also thought Korea was an absolutely lousy place to fight a war and I never had to fire a shot. Lieutenant Brady got to fight his war dealing with the freezing weather, living in a sandbag bunker. Summertime war in Korea brings on all the smells that the winter campaign hides from you.
Over fifty years after Lieutenant Brady’s war, columnist Brady went back to Korea and climbed up the mountains on the DMZ taking himself too the very spot where his sandbag fighting position had been. In the book he remembers combat patrols he led and the men who did and did not make it back from those fights. Brady trained to be a Marine officer with some of the nation’s finest young men. Men who after their war, went on to be Senators, congressmen, nationally known religious figures and even famous ballplayers, but in 1951 they were all just young Marines headed to combat.
Brady’s book gives you short insights into the lives and contributions to the Korean War effort these Marines demonstrated. Brady’s book does an excellent job of capturing at least some of the stories of these Korean War veteran / heroes who fought in what unfortunately is now known as our “forgotten war.”
Lieutenant Brady however, never forgot the war or the Marines who fought there. Korea is yet again heating up with lots of communist saber rattling. I truly believe that North Korea will not be satisfied until it pits Koreans against Koreans in what will be a very bloody and distractive war and yes, a very destructive war. Of course Koreans will suffer the most.
Watch out for the wild card known as Japan. Do not delude yourself into believing that Japan does not already have nukes and the obvious missile systems to deliver them. Both North and South Korea hate the Japanese. Asians killing Asians is not a new concept. My suggestion to Americans of Korean decent is be prepared. Korea is continually claiming and then reclaiming the title of Scariest Place in the World.
There are a lot of U.S. troops already on that “rock” and more are poised to deploy there in time of conflict. I am sorry but we just do not need more Americans coming home in body-bags because of another “Crazy Asian War.”Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.:
Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret. , is a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. Now retired, these days he enjoys camping, traveling, volunteering with the Girl Scouts and writing. [email protected]