In May 2001, while covering a visit to South Korea by a veteran's group from San Antonio, I had the honor of meeting, (and later interviewing for an article in the Korea Times) Oscar Cortez.
It was on a bus to Chipyong-ni, to commemorate the 1951 Battle of Chipyong-ni, a battle that turned the tide of the war for the US Second Infantry Division, when I interviewed Oscar. I was overwhelmed by the story he told me, how he had survived the Pusan Perimeter and Kunu-ri, and then later, how he was captured by the Chinese on February 12, 1951 and spent the rest of the war in a Chinese POW camp. You can read the story here.
When I started to write War Remains last year, I thought about Oscar and the article I wrote back in 2001. In fact, some of the events he described in the article became key events in my novel. It was also one of the reasons why I chose Hoengsong for some of the novel's key scenes.
This photo of Oscar was taken at the War Memorial Museum in Seoul next to an artillery piece similar to the kind of piece used in the Korean War.
Sadly, Oscar changed his email address in 2005/2006 and when I tried to locate him, the email was bounced back to me. I tried a number of Google searches, hoping to contact some veteran's groups in San Antonio, the same way that Michael does in War Remains, but to no avail.
Thank you Oscar. I've included you on my dedication page.
Thank you for your service during the Korean War Oscar, and God Bless you.