A Squaddys Tale: Memories of the Korean WAR

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The Russians occupied the area north of the line and the United States occupied the area to its south. By the end of the decade, two new states had formed on the peninsula. In the south, the anti-communist dictator Syngman Rhee enjoyed the reluctant support of the American government; in the north, the communist dictator Kim Il Sung enjoyed the slightly more enthusiastic support of the Soviets.


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Neither dictator was content to remain on his side of the 38th parallel, however, and border skirmishes were common. Nearly 10, North and South Korean soldiers were killed in battle before the war even began. Even so, the North Korean invasion came as an alarming surprise to American officials. As far as they were concerned, this was not simply a border dispute between two unstable dictatorships on the other side of the globe.

A Squaddy's Tale

Instead, many feared it was the first step in a communist campaign to take over the world. For this reason, nonintervention was not considered an option by many top decision makers. As the North Korean army pushed into Seoul, the South Korean capital, the United States readied its troops for a war against communism itself. At first, the war was a defensive one—a war to get the communists out of South Korea—and it went badly for the Allies. Also, it was one of the hottest and driest summers on record, and desperately thirsty American soldiers were often forced to drink water from rice paddies that had been fertilized with human waste.

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As a result, dangerous intestinal diseases and other illnesses were a constant threat. By the end of the summer, President Truman and General Douglas MacArthur , the commander in charge of the Asian theater, had decided on a new set of war aims. Initially, this new strategy was a success. An amphibious assault at Inchon pushed the North Koreans out of Seoul and back to their side of the 38th parallel. This was something that President Truman and his advisers decidedly did not want: They were sure that such a war would lead to Soviet aggression in Europe, the deployment of atomic weapons and millions of senseless deaths.

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As President Truman looked for a way to prevent war with the Chinese, MacArthur did all he could to provoke it. For Truman, this letter was the last straw. On April 11, the president fired the general for insubordination. In July , President Truman and his new military commanders started peace talks at Panmunjom.

Still, the fighting continued along the 38th parallel as negotiations stalled. Finally, after more than two years of negotiations, the adversaries signed an armistice on July 27, The Korean War was relatively short but exceptionally bloody. Nearly 5 million people died.


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    Overview The noted author and literary scholar, Samuel Hynes, has remarked that there has been no great book on the Korean War, a significant gap in American military letters. It may be hoped that this account will help to meet at least part of that challenge.

    Much of it reads like a journal, but it also includes the experiences of a half-dozen other Marine lieutenants fighting through the fog-shrouded mountains of the East-Central front during the year the war turned around. Individually, their heroism marked some of the top combat events of that time.

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    Taken together, these accounts tell the story of fighting that year when the last Chinese offensive was stopped cold and the UN forces slugged their way back over the 38th parallel to the final line that exists today, more than a half century later. As Marine rifle platoon leaders, they were all wounded, some several times, and abundantly decorated.

    And since Korea, their lives have spanned a broad range of experience. John Nolan has practiced law in Washington, D. John Nolan has written a magnificent account of the Marines in action during the Korean War. It is a story about the Marine spirit and ethos.


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    6. Every American should read this with pride in the Corps of Marines. Every Marine should read it. You will laugh.

      A Squaddy's Tale Memories of the Korean War

      You will cry. What they accomplished in those battles would be reflected later in their lives — those who kept them — as many would become highly successful in the Marine Corps and in other careers. He is modest, honest and tough. And his memoir is a compelling read. The Run-Up to the Punch Bowl is a clear-eyed, gritty, rich day-by-day account of what makes Marines go up the hill. Product Details.

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