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.
Bumped into a colleague today who had just finished reading War Remains.
He bought two copies of it from me last week, one for himself and one for his father in Australia.
Anyway, he told me how much he liked it and asked me if it was based on a true story. I told him that it wasn’t but that I had met a lot of veterans and imagined what it would be like for a family still waiting for their loved one to come home from the war.
“It was very moving,” he said. “You really captured the home front well. I could really identify with the family. I know my father is going to love this book when he gets it.”
I’m sure he will.
I have a new marketing strategy.
Actually, it’s not a new one and I didn’t even come up with the idea.
What I do is look for indie writers who self publish like myself, download their books, read them and then write a review. Some of the writers are my Facebook friends and I believe in helping them out because the quickest way to sell books is by word of mouth and having reviews for people to read.
And hopefully, they will do the same for me (some already have!)
Check out some of my favorite writers who I have done this for:
I recommend these writers and the books they have written. Check them out. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Just a little over a week after I was featured in a Korean War documentary on MBC television in Korea talking about my novel War Remains and the Battle of Hoengseong, I received an email the other day that War Remains was selected as a finalist in the 2012 Global E-Book Awards.
The awards ceremony will be held on August 18 in Santa Barbara, California with Marilu Henner (Taxi, Johny Dangerously) the keynote speaker for the awards.
I’ve said this before, and I will say it again, I am very proud of this book. It is a good story.
I am happy with all the recognition and visibility this book has gotten since it first came out in the fall of 2010. What I am proud about the most is that more and more people have the chance to know about this book and read about one of the battles of this so-called forgotten war as well as the ongoing remains recovery and identification efforts. A couple of my readers have experienced this firsthand and for them and all those other families whose loved ones have come home or for those still waiting for their loved ones to come home, the story about Bobby Washkowiak resonates strongly for them.
The first filming of the day was near this bridge leading into Hoengseong. In 1951, this was the only route leading into town and for the men of the 38th Infantry Regiment, Support Force 21, and ROK forces, this was the end of Massacre Valley and the way to safety. The original bridge was destroyed during the war, but this one was built on the original site.
Yesterday, it was, “Hey, I’m going to Hoengseong to be in this documentary about the Korean War and talk about the battle and my book!”
Today, it was more like, after one of the crew had me wear a wireless mike, “Yikes, I’m going to be filmed and recorded!”
Well, it wasn’t that bad.
Throughout the day, it took no more than two or three takes for most of the shots and interviews. Sometimes, I just wanted to say something more; a few times I did get a little tongue-tied.
Being a teacher really helped. Once I got going and found my rhythm, it was like teaching a class.
Another soldier has come home.
More than 60 years after an early Korean War battle, Sgt. 1st Class Edris “Eddie” A. Viers is returning home to Iowa.
Viers, a 32-year old Swan, Iowa native serving with Battery A, 555th Field Artillery Battalion, 24th Infantry Division, U.S. Army, was last seen Aug. 12, 1950 as his unit engaged with North Korean forces near Pongam-ni, Republic of [South] Korea in what became known as the “Battle of Bloody Gulch.” During the fighting, enemy forces overran the 90th and 555th Field Artillery Battalions, inflicting heavy casualties on U.S. forces.
Read the rest of the story here.
The other day, I was asked if Bobby Washkowiak, the main character in War Remains, was based on a real person. Bobby is based on all the men who come home.
Welcome home, Sgt. 1st Class Viers.
Rest in Peace, Sir.
It smells like a demonstration.
Back in the day, in this case, back in the early 1990s, one sure sign of spring in the air was the smell of tear gas in the air. This photo was taken of riot police wearing their Darth Vader-like helmets at a demonstration in Chongno outside of the Sisa-Yong-o-Sa building (now YBM Sisa) and across from what used to be called Pagoda Park.
Before I came to Korea in 1990, one of the images I had of Korea were all these pro-democracy demonstrations in the late 1980s.
Spring has traditionally been a time of demonstration that dates back to the 1960s with the ouster of Syngman Rhee and Kwangju in 1980.
In 1991, following the death of a Myoung-ji University student, there were demonstrations almost every day. Things really got out of hand with the self-immolation of a couple students in front of Yonsei University that same spring.
In my most recent book, Waking Up in the Land of the Morning Calm, I have two chapters about having survived these demonstrations, including the mother of all demonstrations, the 1996 demonstration at Yonsei when students occupied the university for over a week.
Another soldier comes home from a forgotten war.
There were tears when U.S. Army Pfc. Frank Primm Jennings’ flag-draped casket arrived at the Nashville International Airport on Wednesday, but not those of a family mourning a young soldier gone too soon.
They came from relieved relatives and the friends who supported them through 61 years of never knowing whether Jennings would come home. He disappeared during the Korean War after splitting from his platoon to take an enemy prisoner, an act of courage that earned him a Silver Star but not a proper burial — until now.
“It was a huge weight off our shoulders,” said Beronica Vise, 44, of Decaturville, Tenn., whose grandmother, Emily Vise, is Jennings’s sister. “We had given up that they would ever find him.”
You can read and be moved by the rest of the story here.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, these stories always get to me. It all goes back to May 2001 when I covered a repatriation ceremony on Knight Field inside the Yongsan Military Garrison in Seoul. It had been about a year since I started covering many of the Korean War commemorative events on the peninsula and in that time, I had learned much about the war through the veterans I met and interviewed. But on that warm spring day, my life was to change forever.
That was when the idea for War Remains first took shape, though it would take me nine years to realize it.
Welcome home, PFC Jennings.
Rest in Peace, Sir.
War Remains, A Korean War Novel (eBook)
I’m nearing the 60,000 word mark on my latest novel as I continue to shape and develop some of the story. This started out as a flash fiction piece about an ill-fated camping trip my father took my brother and I on back in the early seventies. Then it became a short story, a novella, and now a short novel. Along the way the story changed a few times and it became much more than an ill-fated camping trip (which still figures prominently in the story).
Every time I write something new, I also learn something new about writing. I know that I am still evolving as a writer but what hasn’t changed is this need to just tell a good story. I don’t want to hide behind a lot of language; I just want to tell a good story.
That is what I tried to do with my first novel War Remains and why that novel is and will always be very near and dear to me.
It’s a good story. I’m glad I told it.
When a Hard Rain Falls is going to be another good story. Soon you will be reading about Keith, Nicky, Bonnie, Tommy, Timothy, and Glenda.