Jeffrey Miller

A Writer's Life

Category: Woosong University

Praise for War Remains

The following essay was written by Dr. John Endicott, President of Woosong University. This article appeared translated into Korean for a Korean newspaper.
John E. Endicott,Ph.D.
President, WoosongUniversity
SolBridge,International School of Business
Daejeon, Republic ofKorea
Chung Cheong Today 7 September 2011
Something of Value ToBoth Koreans and Americans
          I am oftenasked what I like to read, and do I read much in this era of television,Internet, CVDs and countless other distractions that are part of modern life inKorea or America. When asked, I usually respond that I always have some kind ofreading material handy to fill any undesignated time. Usually you will find mereading autobiographies, biographies, histories that focus on the rich heritageof the states in Northeast Asia, economic-fiscal- or business-relatedmaterials, but hardly ever do I read a novel. No offense to those who write novels,I just want to spend my time enhancing the data that I can use as I go throughthe life of a very busy university president.
          However, thereare exceptions, and today I would like to discuss that exception. Most of myreaders know that I teach one course per semester at the University. Manywonder why with all the other things that have to be done by a president that Ishould
be teaching – my answer is why not? This is the mostwonderful way to interact with the leaders of the next generation and perhapsleave a little bit of me with them.
          The reason Ibring teaching up is my colleague who teaches with me and makes sure the studentsstay on schedule when I’m called away. His name is Jeffrey Miller and he hasbeen in Asia for the last two decades. He has been a reporter for the Korea Times, in fact, for six-years, andhas also been a university lecturer. But, most of all he is a student of theKorean War. Recently he put his love of history, his exposure to numerousKorean and American veterans of the Korean War, and his advanced skill as awriter of the English language together and completed and published his firstnovel called War Remains.
          When I saw hisbook, I was immediately taken by the picture of a soldier on the front cover –it is quite impressive –actually a photo of one of the statues in the Korean WarMemorial in Washington, D.C– but I had no idea the story that he unfoldswithin the covers would be so powerful. Remember, I am a retired Colonel andhave seen some very sad things, but I was an Air Force Officer, so myexperience is not the experience of a soldier on the ground. It is here that Irealized Jeffrey had done his work. His graphic depiction of the intensity andfutility of the battles as the Chinese announce their presence on the battlefields with full-blown human wave tactics had an impact I personally was notprepared for. In fact, as I read the book flying back to Georgia for ten dayshome leave I could not put it down. The only times I stopped were when I couldno longer make out the page. My eyes were full of tears.
          Let me giveyou a slight introduction to the book, but I do not want to ruin it for thosewho also read it. The story focuses on a soldier, Robert “Bobby” Washkowiakfrom Illinois, who enters the Army at the time of the Korean War just after hemarries the girl of his dreams and ends up struggling to survive the NorthKoreans, the Chinese and the winter. Which one was worse in 1950 is a goodquestion, but it was the Chinese who finally took his life.
          Of course, inthe confusion of war, he could only be identified as “Missing In Action.” Thisis almost worse than being declared dead as the family has no way to putclosure to the event. This is the story of his wife adapting to missing andfinally receiving the official word that since seven years had passed herhusband was now considered dead — Dead, but no remains, no funeral, and nofinal good-byes.
          The rest ofthe story is one of discovery. Son and grandson find his love letters fromKorea and begin to intensify the effort to resolve the terms of his passing. Ultimately,word is received and the cold February night of 1951 in a place called Hoengsongis related through a series of fateful encounters with a surviving militarybuddy. It is a story that unfortunately is one that over 7,000 families ofmissing veterans relive on a daily basis, but especially at birthdays,Christmas, anniversaries, and other special events.
Jeffrey Miller has done a wonderful serviceto those families, and to all of us who intellectually handle the war, but needto understand how the military from two great nations came to know each otherand came to bond in a way unknown to most. It is a restatement of the specialbond that exists between America and the people of Korea. And it makes thepoint that this relationship did not end in 1953 but continues, and continues –unlike any other in the world.
           

Once Upon A War – Jeffrey Miller Looks Back

Once Upon A War – Jeffrey Miller Looks Back

Once upon a war

“When the cold, biting wind howls down from the mountains, I can almost hear their screams and cries riding upon that cold wind.”

When I’ve walk across the frozen Woosong campus here in Daejeon, South Korea (approximately two hours south of Seoul) on my way to school the past few weeks—when it has been so bitterly cold here—and have seen the snow-capped and pine-dotted mountains in the distance, I think about the war, which was fought north of here sixty-one years ago. I think about the men who had to traverse some of those mountains, trying to keep warm and dry during one of the coldest winters on the Korean peninsula. I think about the American blood spilled on the snow-covered ground of Korea, the same way that blood was spilled at Valley Forge and Bastogne. I think about the young men who died here far away from home and loved ones, who would never know warmth again.

And when the cold, biting wind howls down from the mountains, I can almost hear their screams and cries riding upon that cold wind.

Sixty-one years ago, as January came to a close; the Korean War still could have been lost for South Korea and the UN forces, which had come to Korea’s aid. Since November 1950, when the Chinese entered the war, the conflict had become, according to General MacArthur, “an entirely different war.” Those Chinese forces, an unstoppable juggernaut since Kunu-ri and Chosin, had pushed UN forces south of Seoul during the New Year’s Offensive. Poised to strike again around Wonju—a key transportation hub—men of the US Second Infantry Division, as well as French, Netherlands and other UN Forces, were about to turn the tide of the war at the Twin Tunnels and Chipyong-ni. It would not come easy and without cost, especially the casualties, which would befall the Second Infantry Division at Hoengsong February 12-13, 1951.

These were not the names of faraway places, which would become the vernacular of a nation remembering gallant stands and battles. For the generals sending men into harms way, these were names—marked by tiny flags and grease lines on crinkled, yellowed maps. For the hundreds of men who would lose their lives in “Massacre Valley” alone, they would be a cold, scribbled number written under KIA or MIA.

This is what I think about every day, when I see those cold, dark mountains shivering in the distance and the men who could have come from towns like LaSalle, Illinois; Vassar, Michigan; Waterbury Connecticut; San Antonio, Texas; St. Louis, Missouri; Charlotte, North Carolina; Indianapolis, Indiana; Cleveland, Ohio; Wheeling, West Virginia—who found themselves on those hills and mountains, in those frozen paddies and valleys of that so-called “forgotten war.”

This is why I wrote War Remains.

I haven’t forgotten.

Book Review and Interview in the Korea Times


Ines Min from the Korea Times wrote a very nice review of War Remains:

“It’s never been a forgotten one for me; not with the lead I still carry in my body.”

Exactly what has or has not been lost in the dredges of time is the Korean War (1950-53). Sixty years later, the battle scenes may not be as visceral for most of us as carrying shrapnel in our flesh — but it remains tangible, emotional and wholly real for many on the peninsula.

Jeffrey Miller, an English teacher at Woosong University in Daejeon, uncovers the horrors of war in his debut novel released late last month, providing an insight into the torrid time.

War Remains follows the tale of Bobby Washkowiak and his grandson Michael, who explores the past in order to find out exactly what happened the day his grandfather went missing.

Alternating from present day to wartime past, the novel unfolds through pulsating battle scenes, personal vignettes and quiet introspection, making use of jumping perspectives in order to create an intimate tale of loyalty, love and livelihood.

You can read the rest of the review and the interview here.

Thanks Ines!

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