Return

Return

Robert (Bob) H. Baker


Bob Baker on his way to Korea, 1953

Bob Baker today


The following account is from his book Against All Odds - The Robert H. Baker Story, Copyrighted 2005 by Robert H. Baker, with all rights reserved under International and Pan-American copyright conventions.  This book was first published in 2005 in the United States by Baker Media, San Diego CA, U.S.A.  This excerpt is used here with permission. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 2005905204.

CHAPTER FIVE

SURVIVAL IN THE KOREAN WAR

By February 1953, when I arrived in Korea, the war there had degenerated into a stalemate between two great armies who were engaged in protracted negotiations for a peace agreement. The decisive factor was an American insistence that there be no forced repatriation of Chinese soldiers. The fact was that many of our prisoners of war simply did not want to return to either China or North Korea. The Chinese position was that all prisoners should be repatriated, whether or not they wanted to go home. So the two sides talked endlessly, while their two armies bloodied each other's noses in a series of meaningless conflicts.

The Korean battlefront had become little more than an exchange of artillery fire, sporadic small-scale fighting usually carried out by patrols from both sides, and a propaganda war carried on through loudspeakers set up on both sides. Max Hastings, in his fine history, The Korean War, gives an excellent description of the kind of nightmare in which I soon found myself:

"Along most of the line the United Nations and the Chinese faced each other a mile or so apart, from foxholes and observation posts sited on the forward slopes. But these were no longer the casual scraps of troops in constant motion across a battlefield. They were fortresses, honeycombs of bunkers and tunnels bored into the earth and rock by engineers with bulldozers and pneumatic drills, roofed with steel supports and timber, surmounted by many feet of earth or sandbags. They resembled the diggings of an army of monstrous moles, the setts of a great legion of badgers. Some were surmounted by carefully placed tanks, providing not only direct fire support but night illuminations from big searchlights mounted on their hulls. By day the only sign of human occupation of the ridgeline was an occasional fluttering national flag, or a defiant gesture by a man recklessly exposing himself on the skyline."

In a very real way this was a replay of the trench warfare of World War I, with both sides being deeply entrenched and making extensive use of artillery. The combat during this time was for hilltops whose possession offered little of tangible military value but served political and propaganda purposes. The fighting conditions were often miserable-steady rain, sodden ground beneath our feet, rain-filled foxholes, and the constant stench of human waste hanging over the landscape. And the fighting was often ferocious. By the time an armistice was finally concluded later that summer, the U.S. forces in these final months had suffered some 63,200 casualties, including 12,300 killed in action. As one American soldier aptly put it aptly, "This is a war we can't win, we can't lose, and we can't quit."

The southern port city of Pusan became my introduction to Korea. I was shocked to find the city was nothing but a collection of shacks with crowds of beggars everywhere. The larger buildings had all been destroyed or damaged in earlier fighting and most had not been rebuilt. It looked like a war zone of the worst possible kind. One of the first things I came to understand was that roads in Korea did not meet the U.S. Army Engineers' "good" standard of 22 feet in width and two lanes. Instead they all averaged just 18 feet in width; and because they had been built for the passage of oxcarts they were unpaved. I started to appreciate how primitive life here was in comparison to what I had known in Los Angeles. Korea was more nineteenth century than twentieth century!

The landscape got no better when we traveled by train northward to Inchon Harbor, outside Seoul. All the towns we passed through had been bombed out. The people looked as bedraggled as they had in Pusan, and war had reduced the capital city of Seoul to just one enormous pile of rubble. The United Nations and communist forces had had fought over, occupied, and given up the city on four separate occasions. Only 200,000 residents of its pre-war population of 1.5 million remained. A correspondent for Time magazine described the rampant disease and lack of any water, electricity, and food, and then observed: "The fourth fall of Seoul was a sad business, something like the capture of a tomb."

We five musketeers arrived together in Inchon. Our buddy Richard Charnie was assigned to an Intelligence and Reconnaissance platoon. He went to his commanding officer, told him he had four buddies in Inchon with paratrooper training, and asked we be assigned to the unit, too. The officer fortunately agreed. Otherwise, we would have been separated.

We all joined the 15th regiment of the Third Infantry Division. This was a legendary outfit, which was known as the "Rock of the Marne" for its exploits during the First World War. It had distinguished itself during the Second World War under the command of the outspoken General Joseph W. Stilwell. The soldiers of the Third fought with distinction most recently in the short but glorious Iraqi war of 2003. The 20,000 troops with their 200 M-1 tanks and 260 Bradley fighting vehicles saw fierce action against the Republican Guard south of Baghdad. In one battle they destroyed two Iraqi divisions while losing only three of their own soldiers killed in action.

We five were all assigned to an area called the Iron Triangle, about 30 miles north of the 38th Parallel right smack in the middle of the front line. We had finally made it to the front and were ready to see action. We quickly learned that the Iron Triangle was a three-sided area of relatively flat terrain. A natural depression ran through the area. This had been an important North Korean rail and road communication center before the war. The area had been fought over repeatedly since the start of the war. I thought the terrain very similar to the arid hill country of Southern California where I had gone on numerous hunting trips with my family and friends during my high school years.

Our outfit took up positions at the front line. We had three outposts there in forward positions. All round us were bunkers and tents. We had American tanks on our left and right flanks and could call in fire on any enemy movement we spotted at the Chinese front line, not far off. We kept the Chinese under constant observation with binoculars.

This was a United Nations operation, so we also had Turkish and Greek troops stationed on our flanks. They were careless about their fires and often drew Chinese fire down on them at night because they insisted on building roaring fires at their outposts. We also had some Australian troops stationed there on occasion. I liked them; they were friendly and excellent soldiers with good discipline.

Our job was largely that of nighttime combat patrols into the nearby canyons. The chief purpose of these patrols was to gather intelligence on enemy strength and actions. We collected whatever papers and maps we found on dead enemy soldiers. Of course, we were always on the lookout for live enemy soldiers to capture and bring back for interrogation. Our commanding officer was usually a sergeant, and we always had one or more Korean interpreters with us.

We were night fighters, often staying out all night, and were all heavily armed. I carried an M-2 carbine that was fully automatic. For patrols we always taped together three 30-shell clips so we had 90 rounds available for any quick firefight that might develop. I carried a Colt .45 caliber pistol in a side holster. I needed the pistol for close fighting, especially if my carbine should jam. We carried up to four hand grenades for use in close combat and upwards of 300 rounds. We also wore flack jackets for additional protection. We were a formidable fighting force, no doubt of that.

I saw my first combat patrol in March 1953. Our assignment was to set up an ambush. We set up a perimeter and settled in, hoping a Chinese patrol would walk along the trail into our ambush. They never did. So my first patrol consisted of a long, cold night of tense waiting for an action that never came.

I went on nine patrols in my first 30, days in Korea. By July 27, when the war finally came to an end, I had been approximately 30 patrols. I was always one of the first to volunteer for these night actions and quickly got myself a reputation as a man who loved combat so much he was never willing to miss an opportunity to smear on the blackface and go out into the night for whatever adventure awaited. I was almost shot or killed on nine of these patrols.

As tough as these patrols were, our days at the outposts on the front line could be extraordinarily tense even when the fighting was subdued. We had what one historian has called "a modified animal existence" there, maintaining our positions, standing watch, always digging, digging, and more digging. Each platoon on each hill lived a self-contained existence, very conscious of its isolation. Few of us took our boots off at night when we had to sleep at the front. We were always fearful of a night assault by the Chinese, who were notorious for launching human wave attacks on United Nations positions, but we never experienced that nightmare scenario during my months on the front. But I knew that down the slope from our bunkers a host of ingenious and intricate devices had been created and deployed to break the momentum of an assault: wire, minefields, trip flares, and booby traps. Of course, we always had to be on the alert for these when we went out on night patrol.

On many days we received a steady bombardment from the Chinese that set everyone's nerves on edge. Mortar rounds exploded across our position. Sometimes the rounds seem to burst right on top of us, and the concussions from the bursts shook the ground and jarred our insides. Such bombardments were most unnerving, but this was, after all, part of life at the front.

Our Chinese opponent was badly equipped by American standards. In the winter he wore a heavy, mustard-colored, quilted cotton uniform over his summer dress. The winter uniform was white on the inside, and the soldiers often wore them inside out when fighting in the snow. The Chinese soldier wore no helmet, only a heavy cotton cap with big earflaps. His shoes were rubber or canvas sneakers fitted over layers of cotton socks. He was able to march and fight on pitifully small rations, usually just a handful of millet seed, rice, and dried peas ground into a powder, which he often mixed with water and ate cold. His distinctive weapon was the burp gun, a Chinese counterpart of the Soviet submachine gun. It had a distinctive, round, spring-loaded magazine below the barrel.

We spent most nights back at headquarters a couple of miles behind the front lines rather than at the hilltop outposts. There we slept in sandbag-reinforced bunkers built into a side of a hill. This was as close as I got to Rest & Recreation leave during my months on the front line. At headquarters we had access to such luxuries as hot food, showers, and clean clothes. Sometimes we didn't shower for two or three weeks. Then we would get a call that it was our turn for showers. Of course, these were always cold water showers, usually with water diverted from a nearby stream. Afterwards we were issued clean clothing, which may or may not have fit us. In between our showers we had to make do with our helmets. They were our personal sinks. We shaved in them (with cold water, of course), and we cooked in them when we were up at the outpost. Our mess hall had a thatched roof, common in Korea, where all variety of bugs and insects lived. As we ate at the tables, these creatures would fall down on our plates from the thatch above.

And what did we eat? Well, when we were at the outposts we had C rations. This was our combat ration. We were issued one box a day. It contained toilet paper, cigarettes, powdered coffee, tinned biscuits (hardtack), canned fruit, and a variety of dishes, such as spaghetti and meats, chicken stew, beans and franks, and beef stew. The boxes also came with small bars of soap and chocolate. Back at headquarters, in our mess hall, we ate B rations. Our cooks prepared those. The rations were issued in No. 10 cans, which held such things as green beans, potatoes, flour, sugar, powdered milk, and other staples. A good mess sergeant was always on the lookout for eggs, fresh vegetables, and fruit, anything that could be traded with the locals.

 I remember one bizarre incident involving our cook, who had been listening  to some of our stories about being out on patrol. We had recently discovered a group of Chinese bodies, soldiers that had been shot down in earlier an ambush. Our soldiers had bashed their heads in, so they looked like ripe watermelons that had been dropped and had exploded. "Bring me back an ear, and I'll fry it up for you!" the cook joked. Well, one of the soldiers did just that and dropped the severed ear on the table in front of the cook, who was understandably sick for the rest of the day!

Headquarters was also where we got mail call. Letters from home meant a great deal to all of us at the front. I read mine over and over and saved many of them. My parents wrote only once each, short notes rather than letters, but I received letters regularly from Grandmother Elizabeth and my cousin Kay. I also had occasional letters from Dottie, the girl I had dated in Los Angeles during my leave. In April she sent a "Dear John" letter, breaking off our relationship, but at that point I really didn't care. I was always much more interested in the letters from Sherrill.

As winter gave way to spring, the hillsides around us burst forth in a riot of green. We were astonished by the speed with which the vegetation grew. When summer arrived, the heat was suffocating. The summer also brought hordes of mosquitoes. And the rural countryside in Korea gave off an incredible stench because all the farmers fertilized their rice paddies with human feces they had collected throughout the winter. The whole countryside at times smelled like one enormous open sewer.

In fact, this aspect of Korean life accounted for what had to be the single most unpleasant incident of my combat experience. Early one morning, before dawn, four of us were in a Jeep traveling along a narrow country road. We had a driver and a passenger. I was positioned at the machine gun in case we encountered any Chinese troops. Suddenly, the Jeep flipped over and landed in a nearby rice paddy. This was a close call. I could easily have been killed or seriously wounded. Fortunately, the Jeep did not roll on me, nor did any of my grenades explode. But I did end up in the rice paddy with an injured leg. My three companions went on ahead in another Jeep, but I was left behind on the road because of my leg injury to be picked up later. You cannot believe how badly I stank with all that shit on me.

The Koreans in the countryside about us had been virtually untouched by modern culture in terms of their lifestyle. They all wore the traditional costumes, which had not varied much in the past century. The men used water buffaloes to plow their rice paddies. And they were all very superstitious. The children, by the way, were all accomplished beggars.

In sharp contrast, our Korean interpreters were twentieth century people who also proved totally reliable. I was always impressed with their skills. We spent a lot of time with them. The Republic of Korea (or ROK) soldiers were also pretty good. They had behaved miserably in the early months of the war. But American forces had trained them well, and they were pretty good fighters.

We needed our ROK fighters in May and June when the Communists launched a major assault on United Nations lines. Late in the afternoon of April 22 some 350,000 Chinese and North Korean troops rushed south in a three-pronged attack, which the North Korean radio station in Pyongyang said would utterly overwhelm all the American and United Nations positions. One thrust was aimed at Seoul in the hope of encircling that city, while another attack came at the center, right at us troops in the Iron Triangle. Our troops along the line hung tight, but we all took a terrible pounding and suffered heavy causalities throughout much of May. By May 22 the situation had stabilized, and the Communist forces had suffered one of their worst defeats in the war thus far. In the meantime the meetings between the two sides of Panmunjom continued, as they tried to work out an armistice agreement acceptable to each party.

May and June were horrendous months for me personally. My Third Infantry Division was heavily involved with the fighting. I went on no fewer than 15 patrols in those months. I had gone on only nine patrols in March and April. But in May and June I came close to getting killed on at least seven occasions.

The month of May began with a nasty encounter in which my good friend Bill Barber was almost killed while just a few feet from me. The two of us had been together on almost every patrol up to that point. We had gone out on a daylight patrol on May 1 to Outpost Tom to pick up an injured POW captured the night before. There were eight of us plus the lieutenant in our squad. Outpost Tom was a little knoll with a bunker on top of it, set out in front of our main line of resistance. An American squad was stationed there around the clock. Nighttime patrols left from that place. Shortly after we arrived, the Chinese opened fire with mortars. The earth around us shuddered as the rounds exploded. Bill and I were kneeling near one another in a trench when suddenly a mortar round exploded just a few feet from him. His bulletproof flak jacket saved his life, absorbing most of the shrapnel. But he experienced concussions of both his eardrums and bleeding from his eyes. On the positive side, he was strong enough to walk from the knoll back to the lines where he was evacuated to a hospital. There they operated on him and removed pieces of shrapnel from his left arm. He was away from the front for a full month. I missed him sorely. Oh yes, as a footnote to the day's action, the Chinese POW died of his injuries before we could get him back to headquarters for interrogation.

In May the heaviest fighting in my sector revolved around Outpost Harry. This was a major outpost atop a high hill. The Chinese were intent upon capturing the hill regardless of their cost in terms of men killed. Our troops experienced both company-size and division-size attacks on the position. The fighting was often fierce. Our men on Outpost Harry were even forced to use the bodies of Chinese soldiers as sandbags to block the enemy fire. Many years later I was able to obtain copies of the Command Reports for May and June 1953, after they had been declassified. The report for May noted, for example,, that on May 16 the soldiers on Outpost Harry received approximately 500 rounds of enemy artillery and mortar fire. During the action on this day we suffered six soldiers killed and two wounded, while the Chinese losses were estimated at 50 killed and 75 wounded.

On several occasions I was asked to volunteer to lead a squad of soldiers on patrol. I was only a corporal at the time, but I knew the no-man's area between the two lines better perhaps than anyone else. I always volunteered, but the stress of the situation soon started taking a toll on me. I knew my life was at risk each time I went out on patrol.

I remember one patrol in particular on May 21 when we had a guard dog with us. He wore a muzzle, so he couldn't bark and give away our position. We were lying in ambush, waiting for the Chinese to come through. The Chinese found out we were there and started throwing rocks at us to flush us out into the open. Why they didn't throw grenades I never could figure out. In the encounter Chris Christianson, one of my buddies from Orange County, accidentally shot and killed one of our fellow soldiers, his bunkmate. These things unfortunately happen in combat. The experience devastated Chris.

In war things seldom work out as planned. In fact, in the Second World War the G.I.s dreamed up a word called SNAFU. It stood for "Situation Normal, All F----- Up." Every G. I. knew about SNAFU. It was everywhere. And in Korea we were constantly knee-deep in SNAFU. I remember one dreadful day, May 26, when we attacked a nearby hill called Old Charlie, on the left flank of our Outpost Harry. I was with an all volunteer group from the Third Infantry Division. We attacked the hill at dawn. I carried a flamethrower as well as my M-2 carbine, but I could not get that flamethrower to work! It proved absolutely worthless. That was a bad morning. One of my buddies ran in front of me and took three bullets in his stomach and chest. I'm convinced that if he hadn't been there, I would have taken those bullets. We destroyed seven bunkers in the engagement, which saw a heavy exchange of small arms and automatic weapons fire with lots of hand grenades thrown on both sides. We were in the Chinese trenches, flushing them out of their bunkers and down the hill. The action was just one long blur of running and shooting, running and shooting. The later report estimated that the enemy casualties in that action amounted to 17 killed and 11 wounded. We only suffered three wounded. On May 30, at a big assembly, I was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor for my action on that day.

(I was awarded a second Bronze Star for my actions in June, but for some reason I never received the medal. After the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, my grandchildren began asking me about my Korean War experiences. I decided to put in a request for the medal at that time. But a search revealed that all the pertinent records had been lost in an Army warehouse fire years before. However, I did get a handsome medal from the South Korean government, which they awarded to all combat veterans who had served in the war.)

All this was but a prelude to the much heavier attacks that hit Outpost Harry from June 10 to June 18. The later report back to headquarters summarized the action in the cut-and-dried language of bureaucrats, but it still gives a sense of the hell we went through there. The report read: "During the period from 10 June to 18 June 1953 inclusive the outposts and main battle positions of the Third Infantry Division were under heavy attacks by the enemy. These attacks ranged in size from a company to a regiment. The attacks were heavily supported by artillery and mortar fires. The enemy employed armor in the support role to reinforce his artillery fires. The enemy's main effort was against Outpost Harry. The enemy by massing his strength in considerable depth was at times successful in entering our positions. In each attack, however, he was repelled by the successful massing of our artillery, the coordinated fires in the defense of our positions, and finally by the timely movement of local reserves .... Friendly casualties as a result of all actions were 275 killed in action; 40 missing in action; 1,199 wounded in action. Friendly forces employed 880 tons of ammunition in defense of their positions."

The worst part of these attacks was the incoming mortar and artillery fire, which reached a volume far in excess of anything we had experienced to date. The report on the situation to the high command for the month of June stated that a total of 155,217 rounds fell on Outpost Harry during that month. This was three times the volume of fire we had received for the previous six months.

My worst day came in the June fighting. We did a daylight patrol out of Outpost Harry to reconnoiter the area for another patrol that night. My good friend Chris Christianson and I drove one Jeep up to the front lines. He wanted to park under some trees, but I felt uncomfortable with that. "No, Chris, park over there," I told him. "I feel better about that." He did. And a few minutes later Chinese artillery shells began falling on the area, exploding in the air exactly over the spot where Chris had wanted to park earlier. After the shells had stopped coming, I said to him, "Well, it's a good thing we didn't park there, isn't it, Chris?" He agreed!

We returned to our barracks to wait for nightfall, when my squad was to join two others to go out on a patrol. A fourth squad was to be held back in reserve in case we ran into serious trouble. As I lay on my bunk trying to get some rest, I realized that this just might be the last day of my life. Our upcoming mission was so dangerous that I felt I probably would not survive the patrol. At that point I realized how much I wanted to get back home after this war. I made my peace with God then. I prayed and asked Him to spare me if He could. I made a pact with Him. If He spared me on that night, then I would return home, get married, have six children (whom I would raise as good Catholics), go to college, and be successful in the business world.

Well, God came through on His end of the pact. He did spare me that night. Just after dusk we headed out on patrol. Soon afterwards I was convinced we were in the middle of a minefield. The stress was enormous. I suddenly came down with the worst migraine headache I had ever had. The Chinese attacked Outpost Harry an hour earlier than usual; we were called back from the patrol. Our forces suffered heavy casualties that night. The fighting was fierce. But I survived; God had spared me. It was now my duty to live up to my end of our pact. That day marked a major turning point for me and forever changed my perspective on life in general and the rest of my life in particular. This was my wake-up call, God saying to me, "Bob, life is worth living. Don't blow it!"

Our regiment was beaten up pretty badly during the fighting. We had taken some horrific casualties. The plan at headquarters was to pull us off the front line and rotate us back into a reserve status. That was fine with me! But no sooner had we gotten ready to transfer to a reserve area when the Chinese launched a major attack on the ROK position on our right flank. An American artillery company was also overrun at the same time. The situation looked pretty grim. So headquarters aborted the order to put us on reserve status and transferred us back to the front to plug the gap opened by the Chinese attack. For me, the most distressing part was that we were posted in the headquarters area next to the area where the Grave Registration was located. Here all the bodies and body parts of American soldiers from the front were brought for processing and shipping back to the States. I never saw so much carnage in all my life! The incoming artillery rounds had killed a good many soldiers, and their bodies were often reduced to just bloody parts that had to be collected later. This was part of the terrible price of war, and it made me sick.

We did our best to set aside the horrors of war, however, with whatever recreation we could manufacture. We had few options. First, we played a good deal of at headquarters. Those games sometimes got pretty rough! We usually played on those days when the weather was nice and no incoming shells were aimed at us. I also played a lot of cards. Gin rummy, pinochle, and poker were the most popular. We played for money, and I always did well.

A third recreation revolved around our local Mobile Army Surgical Hospital or M.A.S.H. unit. All the wounded ended up there, where the surgeons and nurses patched them up and sent them by helicopters on to hospitals farther to the rear with a much higher chance of survival because of prompt treatment. The collection of M.A.S.H. tents was located in the headquarters area not far from the front. The appeal to us troops was the opportunity to spend some time in a relatively clean area and chat up the attractive nurses who worked there. In its own limited way the M.A.S.H. facility was an escape from the horrors of the front line.

I should also note that whenever I had the opportunity I attended Catholic field masses. These were always informal affairs conducted under the threat of possible artillery fire. My patron, St. Therese, was with me all the time.

I had a curious incident at the end of June. Several of us were walking near the front when we spotted four Chinese men dressed in ROK uniforms on the other side of the muddy street. They looked suspicious; they did not look Korean. So we waved, they waved back, and shortly afterwards 1 radioed headquarters and reported four suspicious soldiers in ROK uniforms. Well, the men were picked up soon afterwards, and I was correct in my suspicions. They were Chinese soldiers dressed in ROK uniforms on a mission of infiltration and reconnaissance.

The war officially ended on July 27 at 11:00 p.m. On that last day of the war I was on the east side of the Iron Triangle, plugging a hole in the ROK line. The buzz along the front was that peace was at hand. The night before I had gone out on what turned out  to be my last patrol. My M-2 carbine was not operating properly. I could not get it to work on automatic fire, just semi-automatic, but I decided to go out anyway. I was the radioman in my squad that night. We got into a heavy firefight with the Chinese at a distance, which lasted perhaps 15 minutes. We killed several Chinese before breaking off contact and returning to our outpost. The next night, at 11:00, the war was over. Sirens on both sides of the front sounded. I was very relieved. After all, I had been on the front line for almost six months with no R&R. And by the end of July I was exhausted, utterly exhausted.

By July 27, 1,319,000 Americans had served in the Korean theater. Some 33,629 were killed there. More than 1.5 million Chinese and North Korean soldiers also died in the conflict. These are pretty big numbers. But today the Korean War is also known as the Forgotten War. Few people any longer know much about it or why we fought there.

The Army finally flew some of us to Tokyo for some R&R from September 29 to October 11. While in Tokyo I met with my brother Dick on several occasions. I brought him up to date on my combat experiences. My buddy Chris and I stayed in a geisha house that first night in Tokyo. We sat down in our room and drank a quart of expensive gin. We drank too much and talked at length about how lucky we were to survive the war. The next morning I awoke with a dreadful hangover. I decided then and there never to get drunk again. And I never did. I drank only the occasional beer or glass of wine after that.

Back in Korea, Chris and I were assigned to patrol the roads around our base to keep the prostitutes away. Every night dozens of them would try to make it onto the base to sell their services. But they all had dreadful venereal diseases, and headquarters did not want the men getting sick. So we patrolled the roads and turned the whores away.

In late November I boarded a transport ship in Inchon Harbor and headed for San Francisco. My Army career came to an end on December 8 when I was discharged.

When I left South Korea, it was a nation on ruins. Yet within two generations the people of the South transformed their country into one of the most dynamic and successful industrial societies in Asia. Where I had seen abject poverty of the worst kind, the new South Korea became one of the most prosperous countries in the world. The American sacrifice in the war played no small part in the subsequent transformation.

But today the people of South Korea seem to have forgotten our sacrifice. Thousands of demonstrators clog the streets of Seoul protesting the presence of 37,000 American troops along the 38th Parallel where for over 50 years they have kept the people of South Korea safe from aggressive communist neighbors to the north. South Korea has tired of Americans, and the Americans have grown impatient with the anti-American rhetoric of the South Koreans. I watch the demonstrators on the evening television news and feel sick at their lack of gratitude for all our sacrifices. Throughout much of the world today there is too strong a readiness on the part of many people to accept their freedoms without ever thinking about the sacrifices that had to be made by earlier generations to guarantee those freedoms.

Return to top


Return

Return

Copyright 2005, 2007, Robert H. Baker.  All rights reserved