Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Category: Korean War (page 2 of 19)

Why you should read this book

detail of a statue at the Korean War Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C.There are still over 7,900 Americans listed as missing in action from the Korean War.

This is the story of one of those Americans.

Is that a good enough reason for you?

 

War Remains, A Korean War Novel (eBook)

Military Demarcation Line — Panmunjom

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This year marks the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War armistice on July 27, 1953 which ended the three-year conflict. For over 60 years, the two Koreas have remained technically at war with numerous incidents to remind the world of the fragile peace which has existed on the peninsula.

My first book, War Remains, A Korean War Novel was more than a novel about the war and one its battles; it was also about the aftermath of the conflict and the ongoing search for the remains of more than 7, 900 Americans still listed as missing in action. The book I am working on now is about the aftermath of the Korean War and the vestiges of the conflict which remain to this day.

Additionally, I am preparing for a new history class at SolBridge this coming spring. The class is similar to the one I have co-taught with Dr. John Endicott in the past about Asian politics, but this year we are going to spend half the class talking about the two Koreas before looking at other countries in the region.

Welcome Home Army Pfc. Glenn S. Schoenmann

chosinjpg-2349805_p9Today, there is one less service member missing from the Korean War.

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Pfc. Glenn S. Schoenmann, 20, of Tracy City, Tenn., will be buried Jan. 12, in Palmer, Tenn. In late November 1950, Schoenmann and elements of the 31st Regimental Combat Team were deployed along the eastern banks of the Chosin Reservoir, in North Korea. Schoenmann was reported missing in action on Dec. 12, 1950, after his unit and U.S. positions were encircled and attacked by the Chinese People’s Volunteer Forces.

In 1950, a returning American who had survived the attack reported that Schoenmann had been killed in action on Nov. 28, 1950, as a result of sniper wounds. In 1953, that conclusion was amended when an American, who was held as a prisoner of war, told U.S. officials that Schoenmann was wounded by a sniper but not mortally, held captive by the Chinese on Dec. 2, 1950, and died shortly thereafter from malnutrition and lack of medical care.

Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the United States 208 boxes of remains believed to contain the remains of 200-400 U.S. service members. North Korean documents, turned over with some of the boxes, indicated that some of the human remains were recovered from the area where Schoenmann was last seen.

In the identification of the remains, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, such as radiograph and mitochondrial DNA–which matched Schoenmann’s sister and brother.

Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials. Today, more than 7,900 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War on July 27, 1953. With more than 7,900 Americans still unaccounted for from the conflict, with each one that comes home, brings hope for those families still waiting for their loved ones to come home.

Every time I read about another American coming home, I get choked up when I think that someone’s father, uncle, brother, or other family member is coming home from the war.

It also makes me honored and proud that my first novel, War Remains, was about the Korean War and the ongoing search for MIAs.

War Remains, A Korean War Novel

I hope you will check it out. It’s a good story.

The Chosin Few: General Raymond Davis and Henry Danilowski

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General Raymond Davis, Hartell House, November 2000

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Henry Danilowski, Knight Field, November 2000

Just finished reading a superb book on the Korean War and the fighting which took place at the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea: The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of US Marines in Combat.

I’ve read a number of books about the fighting at the Chosin Reservoir such as Eric Hammel’s, Chosin: Heroic Ordeal of the Korean War and Joseph Owen’s, Colder Than Hell and like any account of the war, it is hard for readers to imagine what it must have been like for the Marines and soldiers who found themselves at places like Chosin and Kunu-ri in the autumn of 1950. Bob Drury and Tom Clavin get as close as two authors can to describing the horrors of battle and the heroic stand the men of Fox Company made:

Of all the accounts of specific battles of the Korean War, none are more vivid, riveting, and intense as the one described in The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of US Marines in Combat. The authors place you right there with the Marines on Fox Hill in one of the most gallant, heroic stands of the Korean War. Although there have been numerous firsthand accounts of the war, specifically Martin Russ’s The Last Parallel: A Marine’s War Journal and Joe Owen’s Colder than Hell, The Last Stand of Fox Company: A True Story of US Marines in Combat deserves a place among these classic accounts of the conflict.

To be sure, the authors describe the horrors of those days and nights on Fox Hill from the perspective of the men who fought, survived, and died there. You shiver when you read how cold it was for the men; you almost can hear the bullets whizzing overhead, smell the cordite in the air and breathe a sigh of relief when the men of Fox Company survive another night. The authors excel in their detailed accounts of battle that allows readers to have some basic understanding of what it was like for the Marines on the hill as they fought to stay alive, surviving one attack after another, until help arrived.

In 2000, as a feature writer for the Korea Times, the oldest English language newspaper in Korea, I had the honor to meet two of the men who survived that ordeal: General (ret.) Raymond Davis, who led the rescue mission from Yudam-ni, and Henry Danilowski, who was a member of Fox Company. I was covering one of the Korean War commemorative events, which just happened to fall on a frigid Veteran’s Day, in the Yongsan Garrison in Seoul. Davis talked about how treacherous it was for him to lead his men, the ridgerunners, over those frozen, craggy ridges to rescue Fox Company. The soft-spoken Davis, stopped a few times as he recalled that mission and that night, his voice filled with emotion when he described how the sudden appearance of a star in the sky on that very dark night was a sign that he and his men would reach the beleaguered men of Fox Company and survive that night as well as how he hoped he could return to Hagaru-ri one day and bring back the Marines still buried there.

If you want to remember and honor those men who fought in this so-called “forgotten war” this is one book that should be at the top of your list.

 

What was most interesting for me reading this book was of course the detailed account of General Raymond Davis leading his men to rescue the men of Fox Company as well as seeing Mr. Danilowski’s name in the Fox Company roster at the end of the book. I still vividly remember meeting both men in November 2000 during a ceremony on Knight Field located inside the Yongsan Military Garrison. After the ceremony, I had the chance to interview Davis in the Hartell House. That interview and my coverage of the commemorative event is one of the essays in Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm.

Welcome Home, Bobby

It took sixty years, but one more soldier is coming home.

Bobby Ray King went to war more than 60 years ago and never came back.

His parents and immediate relatives died without knowing what happened to the 19-year-old with the gap-toothed grin, and King became a footnote in family history.

But the military didn’t forget.

“You don’t leave a fallen American behind,” according to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command’s website. “The families deserve an answer.”

The story of Bobby Ray King coming home would resonate strongly any time of the year, but around the holidays it is all the more heartrending.

Welcome home, Bobby.

God Bless you and your family who never gave up hope that you would return home one day.

Where I Live

On a clear day, you really can see forever in Korea and that definitely was the case today before and after some freaky thunderstorms which cleared the air and made for a chilly, delightful autumn day in Daejeon. I snapped this photo from the 11th floor of SolBridge.

In the distance, as indicated by the arrow is where I live. I live in the back of the building and now that a building is going up, I have a lovely view of that building. Believe it or not, this entire area, which is the oldest part of Daejeon, was destroyed during the Korean War when the North Koreans pushed US and ROK forces south of the city (then called Taejon) at the end of July 1950.

But I digress. Let’s get back to this glorious autumn day. Today was the kind of day that I would love to bottle up and open at my heart’s content.

Today is the also the anniversary of the Cherry Mine Disaster in 1909 and my Grandmother Miller’s Birthday (1911).

Welcome Home Pfc James Mullins

And just in time for Veteran’s Day.

A Korean War soldier who went missing 62 years ago has been buried with full military honors in a North Carolina veterans cemetery, after his remains were finally identified.

The Fatyetteville Observer reports Saturday (http://bit.ly/Sj8D2y) that Army Pfc. James Curtis Mullins was buried in Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery in Spring Lake. It was the third burial of his remains.

His older brother, Clayton Mullins, said Friday’s service brought closure.

“It brings closure to a lot of questions I had in my mind,” he said. “Where he was at. What could possibly have happened to him. It made me happy that they finally identified him, and it made me sad in another way.”

James Mullins was 18 when he headed for South Korea at the onset of the Korean War in June 1950. He went missing a month later, when his unit was overrun and scattered near the village of Yugong-ni.

You can read the rest of the story here.

It’s been nearly two years since War Remains was published and in that time the remains of 70 service members have been identified and those men have finally made their journeys home from war. There are still 7,940 men still missing from the Korean War.

Until They Are Home.

Full-Circle

In 2001, while writing for the Korea Times as a feature writer, I had the opportunity and the the honor to meet a group of Korean War veterans who came to Korea to visit the Chipyong-ni battlefield near Wonju and Hoengseong.

One of the veterans I met was Oscar Cortez, who was captured by the Chinese at Hoengseong on February 12, 1951 and spent the remainder of the war in a POW camp.

When I started to write War Remains in 2009, I remembered that meeting I had with Oscar and the article I wrote about his experiences during the war (which is an essay in Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm, 2011). Based on that article, and a few others I wrote, became the basis for the story of Bobby Washkowiak.

In 2012, while doing some research on the Korean War, Doug Mayes happened across my book and read it. It turned out that he was searching for information about the Battle of Hoengseong because his Uncle Jimmy fought in the battle and like Oscar, was also captured by the enemy. Like a number of readers who have come across my book while searching for information about the battle and the search for MIAs, Doug’s uncle was also listed as missing in action (his family was contacted for a DNA sample and hopefully his uncle will soon be coming home.

Today, Doug sent me a message telling me that he had just gotten off the phone with with a Korean War veteran who had been with his uncle on the march to the camp:

Jeff, I just got off the phone with a Korean War POW who was with my uncle when he died. The chain of events which led me to this man was started by your book and research. Thank you so much, Doug

Not the kind of closure that Doug and his family wants, but it was an honor to have helped them fill in some of the blanks.

Until They Are Home

— JPAC Motto

Inchon Landing — September 15, 1950

Today is the 62nd anniversary of Operation Chromite or as it is better known as, the Inchon Landing.

In 2000, when I was a feature writer for the Korea Times, I covered the ceremony as part of the newspaper’s coverage of  Korean War commemorative events.

On that day, a typhoon was battering the peninsula and the ceremony had to be moved indoors. Braving the elements, myself and a photographer from the newspaper took the subway to Inchon and got to the ceremony just in time. I wasn’t on any media list, so after some fast talking on my part (I was the only non-military American there) I was permitted to enter. I had the chance to interview a few veterans and then, had to get back to the newspaper quickly to file the story before the 2:00pm deadline.

In fact, I was the ONLY foreign reporter to cover the event for the English-language dailies in Korea.

That article as well as the back story is just one of the many essays and stories in Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm.

I also refer to the landing in War Remains when I described General Douglas MacArthur trying to get the Navy to support his amphibious landing:

I can almost hear the ticking of the second hand of destiny. We shall land at Inchon and I shall crush them.

Battle of Taejon — July 14, 1950

On this day in 1950, the Battle of Taejon (Daejeon) began.

After U.S. forces, (Task Force Smith) were overrun north of Osan on July 5 and Chonan fell three days later on July 8th, the North Korean juggernaut rolled into Tajeon. One week later, Taejon would fall, but not before the U.S. 24th Infantry Division managed to buy other U.S. forces time as they quickly dug in at what would soon be called The Pusan Perimeter.

During the Battle of Taejon, General William Dean was captured and would spend the rest of the war in a POW camp. Dean, whose jeep driver took a wrong turn in the city, which resulted in him being captured, managed to escape his North Korean captors and elude them in the mountains for 35 days as he tried to get back to the American line. Some say that South Koreans sympathetic to the North Koreans who saw Dean alerted North Korean soldiers to his whereabouts.

I briefly describe this battle in War Remains to give readers some background information about the war and the arrival of the U.S. Second Infantry Division and Bobby at the end of the month.

In this photo you can see Taejon Train Station. I live about 15 minutes behind it. About three quarters of a mile to the left of the train station is where the SolBridge International School of Business is located.

This is what Taejon looked like after it was liberated in September following the breakout from the Pusan Perimeter:

The area in the photograph above is not too far from where I live and teach in Daejeon. Today, on the taller mountain in the back, are some antennae.

This is a monument on Battle Mountain (Bomun-sa) for the 24th Infantry Division:

The General Dean monument.

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