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.
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.