Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Category: Battle of Osan

Talking Points

Next week I am scheduled to take part in this Internet radio program, Positively Pittsburgh Live to talk about War Remains with other MWSA (Military Writers Society of America) Korean War Book Award nominees.
It’s an hour-long show and I am looking forward to the chance to talk about my novel. It’s an honor to be nominated the first year this award is being offered.

I am supposed to come up with some “talking points.” Not really sure what kind of “talking points” I could come up with other than, how I’ve discovered this so-called “forgotten war” with the writing that I have done. To be sure, how I learned about the Korean War is not that much different than what Michael learns about the war as he tries to find out what happened to his grandfather, Bobby.

And it all goes back to February 2000, when I was standing in the Kyobo Centre in Seoul with that copy of Retrieving Bones in my hand. If it hadn’t been for that book, I probably would have never written about the Korean War commemorations from 2000-2003. Who knows, right? And if I had never covered any of those commemorative events, I would have never learned as much as I would about the war, and meet Korean War veterans like Raymond Davis, Philip Day (Task Force Smith) Ed Fernandez, Lou Jurado, and Oscar Cortez.

I guess I have some talking points after all.

Task Force Smith Memorial — Osan, South Korea

Ahead of the 61st anniversary of Task Force Smith on July 5th, I went to Osan today to visit the memorial dedicated to the US task force, which was sent from Japan to stop the North Korean juggernaut in the opening days of the Korean War.
The first time I visited the memorial was on July 5, 2000 for the 50th anniversary of Task Force Smith, which I wrote about for The Korea Times.

This was my first trip back.

This is one of the inscriptions on the monument:

As the vicious troops of the North Korean Army crossed the 38th Parallel, U.S. troops were ready to fight to preserve freedom of world. Determined to punish the aggressors, Lt. Colonel Smith’s special task force stood on Jukmi Pass. Supported by the 17th of the Republic of Korean Army, the first Korean and UN forces joint operation commenced. Blood formed a stream after over six hours of fierce struggle. Firing lines stretched as far as the Naktong River. While forlorn souls sleep on this hill, how can we forget our friendship with allied nations created in blood?

Approximately 181 Americans out of the 540 men in the task force were either killed, wounded or captured during the seven hours of battle against over 20,000 North Koreans and over 30 Russian T-34 tanks.

In Chapter 7 of War Remains, I write about the battle. In Chapter 9, I write about Bobby’s first time in battle, which is based on a short story about the aftermath of The Battle of Osan.

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