Combat experiences come to life through accounts of veterans
It was a strategic range of hills just east of the center of the 38th parallel — it overlooked a big valley to the north. It was along this parallel that United Nations forces were able to stop the advance of the Chinese and North Korean forces after they pushed the U.S. forces out of North Korea. The Second Division was able to retake this ridge after several days of combat.
Lundberg was attached to the 14th Infantry Regiment of the 25th Division that was sent to relieve the Second Division.
Describing the hillside as very steep and slippery from the rain, he said the Chinese and North Koreans hit the lines just before daylight.
“Due to the artillery support we had and the defense we put up, we were able to repulse their attack. We had a few men hurt but no deaths,” he wrote. “Our unit was attacked many times during the time we were on this ridge. We were there 28 days. Our unit went up with a full company of 190 men. When we were relieved by the Greek Army, we had 98 left in my company. I don’t know if they were killed in action, wounded or transfered.”
The United Nations Command estimated that during one week of fighting, the battalion received nearly 5,000 rounds of artillery and mortar.
“I lost 70 percent of the hearing in my left ear, because an artillery shell exploded next to the trench I was in,” he wrote. “I was almost covered with dirt from that blast.”
Melissa Pavlicek takes the reader back to Christmas Eve 2004, when she was standing outside a desolate postal compound in western Iraq.
She writes about the anguish of leaving her family to serve her country with the U.S. Marines.
Pavlicek gives herself permission to reflect on her family back home, while pondering on the loneliness of the deployment.
“How could I have left my children and my husband to carry on with their lives without me?” she wrote. “How could I have just left my children knowing that they were all at pivotal times in their young lives?”
She continued, “Did my children know that every breath I took was for them and that as the days in this godforsaken country are consumed by my mission and the welfare of my troops, my nights are filled with restless sleep and thoughts of guilt of leaving them, and memories of life back home.”
Army and National Guard veteran Roxanne Evans writes about growing up with a dad suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. It was to honor his memory that she put his experiences into words.
“He lived a life filled with a repeated pattern of despair, healing and despair again,” she wrote
Evans said her father could not escape the horrors of the Korean War.
“During the Battle of Chip Yong-ni, a hand grenade had blown my dad’s young face away and left behind deep scars, both physically and mentally. Oh, the doctors did a remarkable job with what they had to work with, but his soul was damaged.”
At one point, she remembers holding his hand while he told her, “I just have to make it stop. All I want is for it to stop.”
Evans wrote, “At my young age, I couldn’t understand the true meaning of his plea or even grasp what he was asking for ... It took many years for me to put the small puzzle pieces of dad’s tormented life together before I truly understood the nightmare that imprisoned him. The doctors called it ‘battle fatigue’ or ‘combat stress’ and felt the soldier should just get on with life, suck it up and eventually the nightmares would go away. There wasn’t much understanding or help for a suffering soldier in the 1950s. It was many years before he truly got the help that he desperately need.”
Vietnam veteran Dave Logosz vividly remembers one mission near the Cambodian border in September 1969.
Armed with a sniper rifle, he could easily see 400 to 500 meters ahead with his Starlight scope. The mission was to observe, but the patrol had access to artillery as well as air firepower.
“Silence was of utmost importance,” he wrote. “The first night was uneventful ... we took turns resting and observing during the day.”
In late afternoon, the patrol observed two young boys about the age of 12.
“They were carrying nothing and appeared harmless, so we let them pass by,” he wrote.
Around 8 p.m., the patrol heard explosions and gunfire coming from an American ambush patrol near the river. A helicopter flew by to pick up two dead American soldiers. The radio reported two young Viet Cong had thrown a charge among the American patrol. The Viet Cong also were killed.
The Viet Cong were determined to be the boys who passed by earlier in the evening, Logosz wrote.
“How I wished I had been the Grim Reaper earlier that day. This haunts me to this day,” he wrote.