From 1950 to 1953, they were shipped to a part of the world where most had never been. And they were expected to engage North Koreans in combat, send them back over the 38th Parallel.
They endured sub-zero weather, frozen feet, shoddy equipment left over from World War II, and an abrupt change in their commanding officer whom many respected.
If they were captured, they were massacred or starved by persons whose language they didn’t understand. And when it was all over, they learned that they had been engaged in a conflict and not a war. Some of these Korean War veterans have said to me, “It sure as hell felt like a war.”
And when the Korean War was over, the country was still divided with no peace treaty — North Korea and South Korea. Although North Korea calls itself the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country is anything but democratic with restrictions on virtually every aspect of the lives of many unfortunate enough to live there.
Miami Valley men who served in that war have much to say about North Korea’s recent missile testing and declaration that the country will “react to any mode of war decided by the U.S.”
These Korean War men find themselves being queried after having been largely forgotten, relegated to a paragraph or two in high school American history books.
• Attorney Ben Hiser of Piqua, Ohio, served as a medic in Korea and says, “Any nuclear weapon unleashed will have ramifications beyond North Korea into China, Japan, South Korea. With global winds across the Pacific, the nuclear fallout will reach Alaska, Canada, the U.S. It’s an impossible scenario for global warfare. A land war would also be an apocalypse. I believe it is close to beyond solution without a change in the leadership of North Korea, and that must come about by the people of North Korea.”
• Weldon Oakley of Sidney, Ohio, a combat engineer, was trapped by the Chinese in the Chosen Reservoir for two weeks in 1950, not knowing whether he would live or die. Oakley says, “I think the only way that Kim Jong Un can be stopped is through the Chinese. I admire President Trump for bringing the president of China here. I feel sure their discussion involved what to do about North Korea. The North Koreans depend on China for supplies and natural resources. If North Korea keeps this up and hits Japan or South Korea, I believe the United Nations will get behind us and clear out that regime in North Korea. Personally, I don’t see why some of his own people haven’t assassinated, surprised he is still alive. The South Korean are so prosperous, and I hope I live to see the two countries united.”
• Fred Shively, originally from Bradford, Ohio, who operated 60 millimeter mortars on the front line in Korea says, “With the U.S. military exercises going on in South Korea, I could see that as an excuse for Kim Jong Un to start a war, to restart the old war. If we put nuclear weapons in South Korea as a defensive posture, he would also use that as an excuse. The ramifications — I hate to even think about what might happen, the consequences this opens the door for the possibility of it happening again.”
• Dale Snyder of Piqua, Ohio, says, “Very dangerous. The boy Kim Jong Un is about as crazy as his dad and his grandpa. They run that country — all the peasants honor him. They’re afraid not to, afraid they’d be killed.”
• Donald Motter, also of Piqua, reports, “ I served in the U.S. Navy in Korea in 1952. I am very upset with the leader of North Korea. He is trying to get the U.S. angry enough to start another war. I feel we fought that war once and don’t need to do this again.”
• John Laws of Sidney, Ohio, a Naval Air Force navigator who suffered a permanent eye injury with a change in altitude when his plane dropped 500 feet, says, “There will really be no peace in South or North Korean until the dictator in the north is removed. We need someone in that country who will respect the lives of the people. I don’t have a big fear with South
Korea because they still have a government and are thankful to the Allied forces that saved their country Kim Jong Un wants war. This nuclear missile worries me. If an idiot is running the government, there will be an idiot running the missiles. My oldest son, John Edward Laws from Mason, Ohio, got me aboard a nuclear sub at Kings Bay, Ga., and, believe me, we’re ready for anyone — even the idiot. I was so impressed with the green and the blue crews on the sub: they know their jobs, they know they’re being watched by foreign countries, and they are ready.”
• President of the Western Ohio Korean War Veterans Association, Bob Montgomery, recently returned from Apache Junction, Ariz., says, “Kim Jong Un is a wannabe, and you have to be concerned about wannabes because they’re not concerned about anyone but themselves. At times, it doesn’t take much for this type of person to hit their panic button. Consequently, he will try to show his strength by destroying something, Japan, the Philippines or wherever his mine takes him. He can be very unpredictable or predictable. We cannot take his threats lightly. We must maintain a strong military.”
In conclusion, I have studied enough history to know more than one Kim Jong Un is out there, ready to wreak havoc, to destroy the lives of others, to drive them from their homes into places where they have no food, water or shelter for their precious families. The rules of warfare established by the Geneva Conventions mean nothing to them. I have found a term for those who think as I do: we are “reluctant warriors.” We believe in the sanctity of human life, but we realize others don’t and must be contained.
The writer is a consultant for the Training Solutions Group Inc. who teaches courses in writing and literature for major telecom company employees. Reach her at (937) 778-3815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.