MK introduction: (24 Nov 2003)About three years ago this month, my Bunker Buddy Sherwin ("Arc") Arculis (#6) sent me an email which had attached his Memories of War. When you have read it, you will understand why I asked him if I could put it in our Bunker. But, after replying with something like what is in his Forward to Memories of War, quoted below, he (to my dismay at the time) added:
"After it was finished, in about fifteen minutes, I felt better about many things.
"Thanks for listening and keeping my personal outpouring to yourself. It doesn't belong on the web. Arc."
But then. lo and behold, this 11 Nov 2003, Arc emailed me this:
"I awoke today remembering that this is Veterans Day and my mind went into flash backs. I recalled something that I had written in 2000 and that I had asked you to treat it privately.
"However, we in fact do have a war in progress, and our young are fighting and dying. Therefore, I feel it apropos not only to release you from my privacy request, but also to suggest that you, if you wish, post my Memories of war in our Buddy Bunker. Arc."
Your suggestion is more than well taken, Arc. I hope other readers are as touched as I was by your "outpourings". MK.
Forward to Memories
Old men make wars and young men die ". I don’t know who said it, but I remember it from an old episode of MASH.
So let me tell you a story. It was something I had to do and wanted to do.
After a couple of years, Korea had left my mind except for rainy July nights. As life progressed and I had married, and had kids and etc, Korea was a forgotten part of my life.
Then the Private Ryan movie came out and I saw it. Soon the WWII memorial was being touted and I contributed to it. Soon came the Korean War Memorial with those stark cold statues frozen in agony. Like faces under a flare at night. Then the 50th anniversary of the Korean War was publicized as the forgotten war. And the memories all came back in sheer pangs of reality.
The traveling Vietnam wall came to our town and I visited it and was choked up with emotion reading the names and looking at the pictures. I went to the web and I found sites about the Korean War and located the 3rd Div history. As I read it, I came to the piece about Kelly Hill. I think my heart froze as I read that section over and over and over. Later on came the story of Jackson Heights, in which I had participated.
I decided to take that history and interweave my own recollections as little vignettes. But one night, as I was describing the Kelly Hill night, the memories flooded back like a downpour.
I opened a new page and wrote the “Memories of War” in a torrent of words. When it was done, I felt better about many things.
Thanks for listening and accepting my story. Arc.
Memories of War
The memories of 47 years ago are buried deep in the forgotten experiences of life.
Yet, during the quiet times, or when signaled from the crevice of the soul by some sight or smell or sound, the mind spews forth, in spits and starts, long ago put away thoughts.
Ground combat cannot be explained or understood by those who have not lived through it. The acrid smell of explosives, the crump crump crump of mortar and artillery fire, the staccato sound of automatic fire, the wining, whizzing, and flapping, never-to-be-forgotten sound of careening fragments, the frozen cry of a dead man, the screams of the wounded, and the smell of warm blood and spilled guts.
Foul memories indeed! At night the horror is magnified and intensified by the Dante like flashes from the indirect fires and the tracers waving like mystical wands seemingly at arms length.
The bleached out pasty white faces of the frightened and wounded are engraved in the minds eye forever, staring back with pitiless gaze. The soldier clutching a wound, the boy calling his mother, the silent moving mouth, are never forgotten.
The cold, the wet, the dirt and filth, the hunger, the thirst; these are the bit players accompanying the solder in his daily quest for survival.
Thankfully, time, in its own way, submerges the dark and foul and replaces it with newer, sweeter and better memories.
The sound of a baby’s call, the soft sounds of a lovers voice, the laughter of friends and children; these are the better thoughts of good living and peace within ones self.
When I think of war, and those days so long ago, I recall the words of Rudyard Kipling in his short poem “Tommy Atkins.” The poem was dedicated to the soldier and the veteran who is despised in peacetime and given short shrift, but who get accolades and honors when it is time to go to war.
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ Tommy wait outside;
But it’s “Special Train for Atkins” when the troopship’s on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special Train for Atkins” when the troopship’s on the tide.
Oh God, may we never again send our young to face the horrors of war.
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