Thursday, October 20, 2011

N.Korea, U.S. to Discuss Recovery of War Dead

This is very good news.

North Korea said Friday it will discuss with the United States resuming the recovery of American soldiers killed during the Korean War. A foreign ministry spokesman told the North's official Korean Central News Agency that Pyongyang had accepted the United States' proposal on humanitarian grounds and work is already underway to arrange talks between the two militaries.

You can read the rest of the story here.

Until They Are Home.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

And the winner is...

War Remains won two awards in the 2011 Military Writers Society of America book awards which were announced at their annual convention in Pittsburgh.

The novel won Silver in the Korean War Book Award and Gold in the Fiction: Literary category.

I am most grateful for both awards and the recognition from such a prestigious group of writers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Praise for War Remains

The following essay was written by Dr. John Endicott, President of Woosong University. This article appeared translated into Korean for a Korean newspaper.

John E. Endicott, Ph.D.
President, Woosong University
SolBridge, International School of Business
Daejeon, Republic of Korea

Chung Cheong Today 7 September 2011

Something of Value To Both Koreans and Americans

          I am often asked what I like to read, and do I read much in this era of television, Internet, CVDs and countless other distractions that are part of modern life in Korea or America. When asked, I usually respond that I always have some kind of reading material handy to fill any undesignated time. Usually you will find me reading autobiographies, biographies, histories that focus on the rich heritage of the states in Northeast Asia, economic-fiscal- or business-related materials, but hardly ever do I read a novel. No offense to those who write novels, I just want to spend my time enhancing the data that I can use as I go through the life of a very busy university president.
          However, there are exceptions, and today I would like to discuss that exception. Most of my readers know that I teach one course per semester at the University. Many wonder why with all the other things that have to be done by a president that I should
be teaching – my answer is why not? This is the most wonderful way to interact with the leaders of the next generation and perhaps leave a little bit of me with them.
          The reason I bring teaching up is my colleague who teaches with me and makes sure the students stay on schedule when I’m called away. His name is Jeffrey Miller and he has been in Asia for the last two decades. He has been a reporter for the Korea Times, in fact, for six-years, and has also been a university lecturer. But, most of all he is a student of the Korean War. Recently he put his love of history, his exposure to numerous Korean and American veterans of the Korean War, and his advanced skill as a writer of the English language together and completed and published his first novel called War Remains.
          When I saw his book, I was immediately taken by the picture of a soldier on the front cover – it is quite impressive –actually a photo of one of the statues in the Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C-- but I had no idea the story that he unfolds within the covers would be so powerful. Remember, I am a retired Colonel and have seen some very sad things, but I was an Air Force Officer, so my experience is not the experience of a soldier on the ground. It is here that I realized Jeffrey had done his work. His graphic depiction of the intensity and futility of the battles as the Chinese announce their presence on the battle fields with full-blown human wave tactics had an impact I personally was not prepared for. In fact, as I read the book flying back to Georgia for ten days home leave I could not put it down. The only times I stopped were when I could no longer make out the page. My eyes were full of tears.
          Let me give you a slight introduction to the book, but I do not want to ruin it for those who also read it. The story focuses on a soldier, Robert “Bobby” Washkowiak from Illinois, who enters the Army at the time of the Korean War just after he marries the girl of his dreams and ends up struggling to survive the North Koreans, the Chinese and the winter. Which one was worse in 1950 is a good question, but it was the Chinese who finally took his life.
          Of course, in the confusion of war, he could only be identified as “Missing In Action.” This is almost worse than being declared dead as the family has no way to put closure to the event. This is the story of his wife adapting to missing and finally receiving the official word that since seven years had passed her husband was now considered dead -- Dead, but no remains, no funeral, and no final good-byes.
          The rest of the story is one of discovery. Son and grandson find his love letters from Korea and begin to intensify the effort to resolve the terms of his passing. Ultimately, word is received and the cold February night of 1951 in a place called Hoengsong is related through a series of fateful encounters with a surviving military buddy. It is a story that unfortunately is one that over 7,000 families of missing veterans relive on a daily basis, but especially at birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, and other special events.
Jeffrey Miller has done a wonderful service to those families, and to all of us who intellectually handle the war, but need to understand how the military from two great nations came to know each other and came to bond in a way unknown to most. It is a restatement of the special bond that exists between America and the people of Korea. And it makes the point that this relationship did not end in 1953 but continues, and continues – unlike any other in the world.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Welcome Home Soldier

Service for US soldier killed in Korean War set this week  

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The U.S. state of West Virginia said Friday it plans to hold a special service this week for an American soldier killed in the Korean War six decades ago.

The remains of Cpl. James S. Murray were returned to his hometown from North Korea in the 1990s, but final identification was made only last December through investigation and DNA testing.

He was captured by North Korean troops while serving in the 1950-53 Korean War.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued a proclamation ordering all U.S. and state flags displayed at state facilities be lowered to half-staff from dawn to dusk on the occasion of the funeral service on Saturday.

"Today we remember Cpl. James Samuel Murray and the sacrifice he made for his country so long ago," said Tomblin. "It is an important reminder that our servicemen and women work diligently to protect the freedom we enjoy each day. It is my hope that the family of Corporal Murray will take comfort knowing he is now in his proper and final resting place."

The upcoming service comes as the U.S. seeks to resume talks with North Korea on the recovery of remains of American troops killed in the Korean War.

The U.S. recently sent a letter requesting a meeting with Pyongyang on the issue, according to the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), affiliated with the Department of Defense.

The North has not replied yet, DPMO officials said.

Nearly 8,000 U.S. servicemembers are listed as missing from the war and the remains of more than half of them are estimated to be buried in the communist nation.

Joint recovery efforts between the Cold War foes were suspended in 2005, with Washington concerned about the safety and security of its workers.
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