Sunday, May 25, 2008

An Interview with My Father on His Korean War Service

Memorial Day is for remembering the military dead or wounded. In the United States, we commemorate the day by visiting the graves of not only our servicemen and women, but of family members and friends. It is also a time of welcoming summer and of having a barbeque or picnic. Although it can be a very solemn day, it is often interwoven with fun activity. Such will be the case in my own family.

In 2003, when I found myself teaching a senior high school American History class, I did an interview with my father on his Korean War Service. This was to set an example for my students whom had received an assignment (from me) to find a veteran and interview him or her. What a profound experience it turned out to be for all of us. If you ever have such an opportunity, grab it!

My father wishes to forget these events. In fact, when I asked him for permission to share the interview here, he said that it was better to forget. I assured him that it is better to remember. It's always better to remember. We, he and I, have purposely skated past the more troubling parts of the story, but I hope that you might find this little interview with one of the three million who served in that war of value or interest.

Interview with My Dad on His Korean War Service

What dates did you serve?
September 15, 1950 to November 6, 1951

How old were you then?
20 to 21

What branch of the service were you with?
The United States Marines. I had been serving with the Second Marine Division in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina when the call came to go to Korea. There was not enough man power in the Division so we were sent to Camp Pendleton in California to get reserves and build up the man power. We weren't all ready to go. Some of the guys were not even finished with boot camp yet. I saw some guys break down while trying to pack their seabags because they hadn't been trained to do even that. I was switched to the First Marine Division. We were part of the Inchon landing.

You were part of the Inchon landing?
Yes, I landed on an island off Korea called Wamedo and we went running and zigzagging across a causeway into Inchon. There was plenty of gunfire. The Seventh Time Division, they had an hour glass as their insignia, was with us. (Army)

What was your spiritual condition then? Did you ever pray?

Not very time to pray. I didn't know nothing about religion or the Lord then. I went to church three times. There was a chaplain with us all the time. I knew about four Christian guys. I knew that they were Christians because they witnessed to me all the time. They were all killed and I wondered why the Christians would be killed. Now I think I know the answer. They went because they were ready to go home; a lot of the rest of us weren't.

What kind of equipment was issued?

We were issued summer gear the first year and we went through the winter with only summer gear except for winter socks, mittens, and caps with earmuffs. We had a lot of frostbite casualties. We had summer sleeping bags that did not break away. That's why 37 men had their throats slit in Kojo while still in their bags sleeping in the trenches. The bags did not release them. They were cold and bundled up tight; they were sitting ducks. By the way, Truman issued an order that no one who had served in the first winter in Korea would serve a second one so that is why I was out in November.

What was the climate and terrain of the country like?

The 38th parallel is equivalent to the middle of Maine, the same sort of climate and terrain. A few times in the mountains it got to be -40 and -50 degrees at night. If we got a sore throat or something the medic would just give us a shot of penicillin. I became allergic to penicillin in Korea.

Where did you sleep? Were you actually fighting from trenches?

Yes, part of the time, sometimes fighting on our feet. Some men saw hand to hand combat, but I did not. Yeah, I saw combat, but it didn't go like you think. The fighting was not constant. It would come in spurts. You'd never know when. A major attack could mean a pounding of 36 hours.

What kind of food did you eat?

Sea rations and every two weeks you got a chance for a hot meal and a "hot" shower.

Did you ever run out of food or ammunition?

No, but I was hungry and without food for a day or so when we marched out of the Chosin Reservoir to Ham Hong to board a ship to Pusan. They did not have enough food on the ship to feed us so we were really hungry when we got off the ship in Pusan. We were very happy to see the Red Cross there with hot coffee and doughnuts, but they were not free; they were for sale. None of us had any money. It was very disappointing. Then we walked a little further and there was the Salvation Army with hot coffee and doughnuts for free. [To this day, my father will not donate to the Red Cross; although, he will always support the Salvation Army. The reason for the Red Cross' decision to sell coffee and doughnuts has been widely documented.]

How did you and your family feel about being in a war with North Korea? Did you see it as a just cause? (Dad grins) Well, I didn't have much to say about it. I think the country accepted it because North Korea was Communist and China supported them.

What was your opinion of General MacArthur?

Didn't like him. Most Marines didn't like him. He was a show-off. He was dressed up in a leather jacket with clean khakis, sunglasses, and a corn-cob pipe. He never looked like he did anything and I don't think he was a very good commander. General Matt Ridegway was a far better leader. [Ridegeway replaced MacArthur.] When we landed in Inchon, I could have reached out and touched him [MacArthur]. He bounced us Marines around a lot. Truman was right to fire him because he usurped Truman's authority by purposely going beyond the 38th parallel three times when he had been ordered not to. This is what we used to say about MacArthur:

With the help of God
And a few Marines
MacArthur will retake the Philippines

Hey, (my dad says brightening) this is a funny story! Bob Hope beat the Marines into Wan San! No, I didn't get to see the show because I was sent off to secure Kojo. [My father found Mr. Hope's beating the Marines to Wan San highly amusing.]

What kind of fighters were the North Koreans?

We said that that they were 'killers [killas] by day; guerrillas by night.'

What did you do with your dead and wounded?

The Marine Corps had a policy that you never leave your dead for two reasons: 1. The morale of the men stays up if the dead are gathered and 2. The enemy never knows how many have been killed. The Chinese never left their dead either. (Marines don't believe in retreat — we just advanced to the rear.) We saw lots of blood, but no dead. The wounded were usually helicoptered out just like in the tv show MASH. I liked that show because it was pretty realistic and they had all the correct equipment.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Well, yes, it doesn't appear that we accomplished anything, but at least we held on to what we had against tremendous odds...China had become involved. We even heard that Russian pilots had bombed...after all, we were only 38 or so miles from the nearest Russian city. Maybe they were worried for their own country. What would we do if that was going on just 38 miles from us?

My father went on to serve his country for a total of nine years. He was in Okinawa when I was two and three. Thank you, Dad, for your service to your country. I honor you for it.

Hope that you will find someone to thank, too. Maybe he or she lives at your house, in your town, is your neighbor. God bless them all!

No Greater Love

Source (Link is broken, but I am allowing this to photo to stand.)

"No one shows greater love than when he lays down his life for his friends." John 15:13 NIV

Friday, May 23, 2008

As Promised...

Well here I am!

Not buying it? Okay...I have been trying to figure out if I could be willing to lie to everyone. But I'll just do as promised...

This new "do" has made me laugh and cry. I don't know what I'm going to do about it, but if anyone has a suggestion other than cutting my hair, please let me know. Thanks!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Book of Bright Ideas

Happyone tagged me back on May 8th to write about my favorite book.

Here is the background information: Books are scarce in the world. They are illegal in some provinces. They are not easily replaced, if not impossible to replace if lost in many if not most circumstances. If you can replace a book or buy one, it is usually through the black market at astronomical costs that you cannot afford. Yet you have been able to maintain one of the best collections in the world. If your entire library was about to burn up (think of the firefighters in Fahrenheit 451 invading your home) and you could only have one* book to take with you other than the Bible, what would that be and why?

Simple Rules: Answer the question. Offer one quote that resonates with you. Tag five people whose response is of genuine interest to you and inform him or her that they have been tagged.

Being the rotten rule-breaker that I am, I am going to discuss a book that I probably wouldn't grab in those circumstances, but which I have thought a lot about since reading it. If I were in those circumstances, I'd grab my grandfather's vintage valise that sits on one end of the sofa, go to the bookshelves, and just shovel in as much as I could. I can't even imagine living in the world that is described in that paragraph. Though I've never written a book, I have kept journals and journals truly are not replaceable so I want to grab them, too.

So that's the book and just in time for your summer reading enjoyment. The narrator is a nine year old girl who becomes friends with the little gal you see on the cover...great cover by the way!

"I was nine years old the summer Freeda and Winnalee Malone rushed across our lives like red-hot flames, peeling back the shutters that sat over our hearts and our minds, setting free our sweetest dreams and our worst nightmares. Too young to know that anything out of the ordinary was about to happen."

Not going to tag anyone, but if you find yourself needing a post some fine day, this would make a good one! Thanks, Happyone!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On a completely different note, I am going to do something radical to my hair tomorrow...r-a-d-i-c-a-l! Here's the before...

I promise I'll post the radical Saturday morning, if not before, no matter how awful it is. :D

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Could it Be Aslan?

Prince Caspian has made it to the theaters and I can't wait to see it. C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia series thrills old folks like me, too.

Thanks to everyone who left a comment yesterday. I laughed and chuckled my way through each thoughtful response. I particularly enjoyed the thought of a little hedgehog. I didn't see it, but that didn't matter. I did see the screaming woman. I could almost see a sphinx. Dogs and sheep...perhaps, but I think you know where I'm going with this...

Aslan Source allowed to stand

Sometimes the Lord uses the most simple things to remind us that He's ever watchful, ever present, ever taking care of us. I've been concerned for my daughter's work environment and her state of mind and spent much of the day discussing it with her. That evening, when I saw the photo of her on the beach and this stone lion gazing placidly on her, well, I'm getting choked up thinking about it even now. It was a God thing.

The rest of you all have earned your jobs as children's illustrators! :D

The Pouring Teapot

May 18 - May 24
This week is all about sharing about teapots. Do you have one? two? or three? maybe more? Is it for display only or do you use it for tea? What is the tea server you use most? Your favorite teapot (or is it something like a quart jar?). Tell your teapot story, give its history, and tell what it means to you. You can share more than once if you'd like. Antique, new, Asian, English, or something in between --- we'd love to know!

So it all comes down to this... I'm displaying three teapots that have graced my home for the past eight years while my sister was in residence. The green ivy Corelle pot you've seen before and is the only teapot I own. The apple teapot and the center one belong to my little sister and soon her kitchen will be ready to receive them. Of her two, I love the center one for its feminine, autumnal appearance. As for good handles and good spouts they all fall on their proverbial keisters. I am on a mission to find a good teapot soon. I'll be eagerly reading about teapots on my tour throughout the week. I am so interested in teapot design for function more than beauty these days.

Did anyone see Mark Fitzgerald on Martha Stewart some time ago? A feature was done on his pottery shop. Amazing work he does and he's very fussy about designing good handles and spouts that pour properly. You can see a selection of his incredible teapots at I am saving my pennies even though I don't find his teapot items that pricey.

Oh I can't believe that we've come to the end of this most amazing Hospital-i-tea Blogathon hosted by the incomparable LaTeaDah. She has done an amazing job of gathering this all together for us. Hope that you'll join the final tour!

Edited to Add: Just one more teapot to share... My mother took this photo for me, but it didn't arrive before I posted. Anyway, this is my favorite family teapot for its charming graphics. I've always loved it. (Since I broke it while visiting my grandmother many years ago, it is used as a decoration only.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Owls Head

Come take a little day trip with us to Owls Head and allow the beauty of the day to drift over you as it did me. Enjoy! (Click on any if you wish to enlarge.)

We're seeing more of these sorts of benches in our corner. I find them meaningful and perhaps a better answer than a tombstone.

Now I know that I've been seeing things lately, but does that rock formation to the right beside my daughter look like anything to you? I'll let you know what I think tomorrow.

Thanks for looking at my pics; have a great start to a great week...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Amazing Grace Shall Always Be My Song of Praise

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the homecoming of His saints. ~Psalm 116:15

Many of you may have read that Dottie Rambo was tragically killed in a bus accident a week ago. You can read more about that here at

Dottie Rambo has written many, many wonderful hymns of the church. Perhaps you have sung them; I have. My favorite is "He Looked Beyond My Fault and Saw My Need," which is set to the music "Danny Boy." As I was looking for more information about the song, I found this wonderful background story. I know that when you have time, you'd be blessed to read it at Christianity Today. (This page no longer exists at CT; however, the story can be found here.)

David Phelps sings one of my favorite versions of the song here. It is a powerful testimony to a grace this big, a love so strong, a God who can forgive this much.

A beautiful Sunday to you all. (I'm heading for the ocean with my daughter today. Yes, I'll take my camera.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Day with Nan

There is not one thing unusual about a trip to the town dump. This is where we, the townspeople, in an effort to save on taxes, handle all our own refuse and recycle everything from tires...

to kitty litter... Yes, it's enough to give anyone pause.

Then it was off to see some flowers...

Then to lunch where I remembered to wash my hands before enjoying my lunch of fish and chips.

More flowers and barns...

This was my favorite flower...verbena...such delicate shades of coral. I think it would look good with the little wee green house.

Range deer, for those who asked, are raised for meat and usually sold in the Adirondacks at hunting lodges. Believe it or not. ;>

Nan likes to watch them eat pellets... That's right, Nan, get out your own danged quarters because I am not spending mine for this.

By the way, has anyone else been receiving secret messages in the word verification codes?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Heeding a Suggestion

Today my sister is taking my mother off for a fun day. It's 9:35 and they're probably already on the road. This leaves my grandmother home with my father, her son-in-law. Say no more, eh?

So when I was visiting yesterday I suggested to Nan that we have a little day ourselves. Her eyes lit up. "Oh???? What shall we do?" Right off the top of my head, without any thought whatsoever, I came up with an itinerary: a trip to the town dump, lunch out, a look at the public garden, and a visit to the range deer. I'll take my camera.

In the meantime, I have followed Mari-Nanci's suggestions concerning cropping, which she left in comments yesterday. See what you think. You can go back and forth between yesterday's and today's posts to see the striking changes. Striking! Oh yes!

She's on to something, which you can check out right *here.* Thanks, M-N!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Flowers, Bananas, and Where Did I Put that Print?

Gracious! My titles are so mundane these days. Please forgive me, perhaps the title fairy will visit me in time for tomorrow.

The azalea is in full bloom and buzz, covered as it is with large blossoms and honey bees. I have been trying to take some artsy-fartsy shots; I need lessons. Perhaps my neighbors would like the picture of their home above.

Then I tried to capture the bay window as I peeked at it through the branches. Even less successful.

Next a photo of the phlox with the rhubarb doing well behind. Chicken poo, who knew? Lovella, that's who! (ETA: I'm sorry about mentioning brownies in this context, but Lovella has a brownie recipe up...yay!)

I'm just gonna toss in everything save the sink. Have you ever heard that a banana grows in three long segments...something about the way it develops from a banana blossom? Don't ask me, I am no botanist. But here are some photos to show you what I mean. Now you can amaze your children or, heck, this even amazed the adults in my crowd.

Finally, I am certain that you've all been in knots wondering where I might put the print that I showed you Monday. It was a gift from my daughter. She likes where it is. I was sitting with it for a while and now I'm almost convinced that I really like where it is, too. (If you don't, it's okay, just don't tell me. I'm that fragile about my decorating choices.)

Here's the before (don't get too scared now)...

And the after...

And from the side...

The light is changing so rapidly with the tree canopy growing larger every day. We're going from open skies to a verdant cocoon all in such a short time. It is messing with my photography. Right! That's as good an excuse as any!