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Korean Echo

December 2023
1min read

I must tell you of what is the most emotionally moving incident that has ever come to me. Last week I had a long-distance phone call from California. It proved to be a lady who had read my article “Winter of the YaIu” (December 1982) and whose husband was one of the men killed when the 57th Field Artillery was overrun. He was the first sergeant of headquarters battery. For over thirty years she had longed for some account of what happened to him. Normally the commanding officer or the adjutant or someone would have written her, but in this case they were all killed, and the few survivors could not contact everyone. The Army could only report him missing in action and then declare him dead when the war was over. She has read everything on the Korean War she can find, but there are very few histories of that war written and none in any real detail that would tell her what she wanted to know. She was just looking through the magazine when there it was. I was able to give her a few more details, but I did not know her husband. However, the nature of his duties was such that my own battery commander and first sergeant must have met him while we were attached to the 57th. They had two children, a boy then four and a girl then two. The children cannot remember their father, and she ached to be able to tell them something of how he died. I could only assure her that she could tell them (now adults) that their father died with courage and dignity doing his duty to the last. She said his last letter mentioned the terrible cold, but that he wrote that since he had spent most of his life in the Army, he was content with his lot and believed he was where he should be. There was much pride in the Army then. Many men felt that duty and honor were more important than life. At the end of our talk she said: “I am satisfied at last. It’s all over, and my mind is at ease. Now I can put it all behind me.” The realization that I had brought some comfort after over thirty years of waiting left me limp. I am most grateful I could do something for her, but I did not sleep that night thinking about it.

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