|About the Book|
This book does not attempt to cover the Korean War in all its aspects. It is simply Captain Bernard W. Petersons own reflection of his personal experience. If his story adds just one small facet to the factual history of the intensive actions inMoreThis book does not attempt to cover the Korean War in all its aspects. It is simply Captain Bernard W. Petersons own reflection of his personal experience. If his story adds just one small facet to the factual history of the intensive actions in that conflict carried out by all-American combat units and their UN allies, and if it stimulates additional investigation by historians, it will have achieved its primary aim. Short Straw, then, is Petersons sequel to his first book, Briny to the Blue, Memoirs of WWII, by a Sailor/Marine Fighter Pilot. I am not a professional writer, nor a historian for that matter, but just one ex-Marine among thousands who wants to tell of this small part during a tragic and dramatic period of our countrys history. Numerous books on the Korean War have been written by professional historians who have only gleaned their stories from active participants rather than relating their own firsthand experience, probably lacking in many cases. It is therefore, my intention to preserve as many of my firsthand, on-the-spot personal accounts as possible, and to try to put the reader right there beside me, whether it be in the cockpit of my F4U Corsair or in a slit trench with the 1st Marine Division calling in air strikes. Army, Navy and U.S. Air Forces are covered in the book.The Korean War commands little more than a footnote in history books, when in fact it was a long drawn-out campaign during which nearly six million men and women served in the armed forces under the United Nations banner, fighting three times as long as they did in World War I, the war to end all wars. Actually, the war in Korea lasted almost as long as WWII and ironically, all of Korea, China and Russia had been our allies back then and Japan our common enemy. Talk about reversals and the vagaries of politics! The purpose of our entrance into this conflict was to rescue the newly established Republic of Korea (ROK) from the invading communist hordes, first the North Koreans and then the Chinese communists all marching to the drum-beat of Joe Stalins International Communism.It all began with our peaceful ally, South Korea, being attacked by its neighbors to the north. This was unprovoked, raw aggression, first by the North Koreans and then by massive Chinese armies. Unfortunately, nobody had really explained to us why we were expected to fight, and, yes, die for an Asian country of which most of us had never heard. However, a defeat would have been a national disgrace and Japan, not yet recovered from WWII, would have fallen next.In the final analysis, Korean vets can stand tall and be proud in spite of all the old cliches, such as The Forgotten War, Uncertain Victory etc, even though there were no welcome home marching bands or Keys-to-the-City handed out. The satisfaction of having been part of a united effort to stop communism wherever it threatened the free world is enough.A thousand volumes could not begin to portray the chaos, drama, meanness, frenzy and cold terror that took place over the three years of fighting, which resulted in nearly the same number of deaths as the Vietnam War did over a 10 year period. The number of Americans killed during the Korean War was 54,246. Approximately 92,970 UN troops had fallen into communist hands -- 7140 of them Americans, 84,715 Korean, and some 1115 members of other UN units. The communists admitted to holding only 11,500 UN POWs. Two-thirds of them --Americans held in communist prison camps-- were destined never to return. I can only hope my book will provide a fresh insight to this devastating military exercise.Most military planners and historians are now looking back and saying that the Korean War was the decisive action that turned the tide of World Communism and will be so noted when the ultimate definitive history is written. My book, then, will by no means be the last word on the valor and heroism that was shown by our American servicemen and women, as well as our allies. The significance of this little footnote in history may finally be understood.