Tag Archives: Korea

Which US war had most bald-faced liars?

Empire of Japan finalizes surrender aboard the USS Missouri September 3, 1945. By Army Signal Corps – Naval Historical Center Photo # USA C-2719. Photograph from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2684817

WWI had an Armistice Day… it celebrated the end of that particular horror.     WWII had VE [Victory in Europe] Day, and VJ [Victory over Japan] Days.   Celebrations to the end of two more horrors.   Then there was Korean Armistice Day, which nobody ever heard of, much less celebrated.   And, of course, there’s Veterans Day, just acknowledging all us veterans no matter when we were in the military.

The trouble with having undeclared wars and losing them is that nobody knows why they’re there in the first place, what it takes to win it, or how to know when it ends.    Maybe for Vietnam we should celebrate the day the last helicopter with people hanging off it lifted from the US Embassy in Saigon.

The last helicopter leaving the roof of the US Embassy in Saigon April 29, 1975. By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31234270

But now there’s this:

Honoring Vietnam Veterans Day, March 29, 2018

US landing craft 1945, Iwo Jima

Ever noticed [assuming you’re old enough] you never heard a WWI vet bragging about whatever it was he did during his time in the service?    Most I ever encountered never spoke of it at all.

And WWII veterans are pleased to tell you they spent the war burying bodies in the Solomon Islands, or in a Japanese POW camp, surrendered without firing a shot, or as a postal clerk in North Africa.   It’s always been surprising to me just how few guys actually were on the front lines ducking bullets [or saying they were during the decades afterward].

Same with Korean War veterans.     Nobody ever wants to tell you he was on a ridge with a bunch of other cold, hungry, scared GIs gunning down swaths of Chinese with a quad .50 machine gun.    In fact, Korean War vets hardly say anything at all.

That’s the reason I’ve wondered many times why the same is not and has never been true of Vietnam vets.     I’ve seen file clerks, supply clerks, mechanics,  and one particular logistics officer all claim to have been heroes, laying ambushes in the jungle.    More recently I even ran across a guy who was in Korea at the same time I was when there were few incursions and firefights on the DMZ a decade after the ceasefire.     Even knowing I was THERE the silly bastard began laying BS about how he and his unit were setting up ambushes on the DMZ… he was in the 8th Cavalry, which was on the DMZ…..   But nothing else he said held any water.    Maybe he was jealous of all those finance clerks in DaNang who’ve now become jungle fighters by hindsight.

vietnam era veteran

They’ve even got these ‘Vietnam Era’ caps so we can all get into the act. Yeah, I’m one of them Vietnam era vets….. spent my tour in Asia crawling through the jungle trying to get a dose of clap for my country. If I ware one of these I’d be what they used to call, “All hat and no cows”, same as all those REMFs on patrol.

But I’ve digressed.   My real question is this:   What was it about the Vietnam War that brought out the lies and the brags?    Why were WWII file clerks never tempted to pretend they were heroes, but the Vietnam War file clerks bought themselves ball caps proclaiming themselves brothers to the finance clerks, the supply clerks, and all the other rear echelon folks who discovered later they’d been combat vets.  Hell hundreds happily tell one another they’ve been troubled with PTSD.     Not more than two hours ago I was talking to one who was in personnel administration who is actually drawing a service-connected disability for PTSD.    A personnel admin clerk.

Vietnam never had an Iwo Jima.    No Guadalcanal or Midway.   No Bataan Death March.     When US troops landed on Guadalcanal August, 1942, they’d never seen any movies about jungle warfare.    Surprise!    They had no idea what they were in for.

Maybe that’s the distinguishing factor.    Maybe it was all those WWII movies, John Wayne pulling the pins out of grenades with his teeth.   Frank Sinatra drooling over Gina Lollobrigida between firefights in Burma.   Robert Mitchum outsmarting the Japanese while protecting a nun [Deborah Kerr].    Maybe that was the missing factor, the systemic flaw in the Vietnam War that caused all those non-combatants to spend all the remaining decades of their lives trying to correct it.

After all, shooting water buffalo out the door of a helicopter with a machine gun is a story that can be embellished with a lot more vigor than stories about typing a company morning report at the motor pool.

Don’t get me wrong.  Not all Vietnam veterans are lying.    If a guy tells you he was a Navy engineer, and upon questioning tells you he ‘poured concrete for the Navy’, he’s telling you the truth.    If he tells you he repaired field telephones, he’s telling you the truth.

And there’s always that one-out-of-ten, or one-out-of-twenty, who actually did serve in the jungle and participated in all that stuff you’ve seen in the same movies the file clerks with the Vietnam veteran caps got their stories from.

So how can you tell if a Vietnam veteran is lying to you?   Well one of the ways is to listen to his claim.     If he says he was a medic in a VD clinic he’s probably telling you the truth.

But if the US is going to carry on endless presidential wars without having to re-institute the draft they’re going to have to keep glorifying their warriors.  And  a person who spent a tour in Asia greasing and changing the oil on jeeps in Saigon loves being called a warrior.   Loves the feel when he pulls a straight face and announces, “Yeah, I fought in Vietnam.”

Old Jules

 

Battlefield nuke circa 1964 – The Davy Crockett

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by.

Davy Crockett battlefield nuke

I came across this recently declassified pic of the Davy Crockett missile and couldn’t resist posting it.  Probably the first tactical nuclear weapon anywhere.  We had a battalion of these in Korea in the 1st Cavalry Division, and probably there were a lot more in the other units along the DMZ.  In those days even the name, “Davy Crockett” was classified.

The one depicted here isn’t precisely the same as those in the 1st Cavalry Division, though.  Ours were mounted on  3/4 Ton trucks and unless my memory is flawed I think ours were larger diameter than this.

I’ve never seen a picture of a Davy Crockett before.  They sure-as-hell weren’t allowing any shutterbugs loose in the vicinity of the Special Weapons / Division Artillery in those days.  I did, however, see a lot of diagrams, both internal and external.  I wish I’d been interested enough to remember some of it.

Anyway, we had enough of those just in the 1st Cavalry Division to spark WWIII. Probably with some left over for WWIV.

Probably nowadays they’re all re-deployed to Israel and pointed all their neighbors except Palestine.  Conventional weapons will take care of Palestinians just fine until they get them into the camps for the final solution.

Old Jules

“If those Japanese could have held out through one more atomic bomb we wouldn’t be eating this crap!”

Hi readers.  Here’s wishing you a fulfilling independence from having the British for your bosses ordering you around and making you drink their damned tea.  If our ancestors hadn’t won their independence from the British we’d have had to fight on their side during WWI and WWII, the way their other colonies did.

Anyway, that WWI museum got me thinking about what GIs used to eat.  There was a long shelf of displays of their mess kits, carved fancier than a POW would do.  Beautiful designs and artwork produced while their feet were rotting off in trenches between having the bejesus shelled out of them and being sniped at across no-man’s-land.

 In Korea, at least in the First Cavalry Division, what we ate in 1963-1964 whenever we were on field rations was all left over from WWII.  1945ish WWII.  K Rations.

Breakfast Unit  Canned meat product Biscuits Compressed cereal bar Powdered coffee Fruit bar Chewing gum Sugar tablets Four cigarettes Water-purification tablets Can opener Wooden spoon

Breakfast Unit
Canned meat product
Biscuits
Compressed cereal bar
Powdered coffee
Fruit bar
Chewing gum
Sugar tablets
Four cigarettes
Water-purification tablets
Can opener
Wooden spoon

Camp Howze, Korea, had an enormous bunker chock full of K Rations of the nostalgic variety dating from before the Japanese surprised us with a surrender while we still had an atomic bomb and one-hell-of-a-lot of K Rations left.  I can testify from personal experience the US Army was patriotic and continued eating those rations 20 years after the premature and cowardly surrender of Japan.

Dinner Unit  Canned cheese product Biscuits A candy bar Chewing gum Powdered beverage Granulated sugar Salt tablets Cigarettes Matches Can opener  Wooden spoon

Dinner Unit
Canned cheese product
Biscuits
A candy bar
Chewing gum
Powdered beverage
Granulated sugar
Salt tablets
Cigarettes
Matches
Can opener
Wooden spoon

 Our quonsot hut had a corner filled with Ks still in the cartons so we could fill those long winter nights with partying song, beer, and anything worth eating in a crate of Ks.

Supper Unit Canned meat product Biscuits Bouillon powder Candy Chewing gum Powdered coffee Granulated sugar Cigarettes Can opener Toilet paper Wooden spoon

Supper Unit
Canned meat product
Biscuits
Bouillon powder
Candy
Chewing gum
Powdered coffee
Granulated sugar
Cigarettes
Can opener
Toilet paper
Wooden spoon

The cigarettes in ours weren’t Chesterfields.  Ours were Lucky Strikes in a Green package.  As in the old radio WWII jingle, “Lucky Strike green has gone to war!”  Lucky Strike changed colors after the war to red and white, but Luckies kept right on fighting in green until all those damned Ks were consumed by GIs.

Ahhh.  Nothing like sparking up a Lucky out of a carton of Ks, working fast to inhale a little tobacco smoke before it burned down to your fingertips.  Those smokes were 20 years old and we never found a way to add enough moisture to keep them smoking instead of burning.

And the chocolate!  The godforsaken chocolate turned white with age.  We didn’t care.  Everything in those Ks got tried and nobody ever died from them.  And I never heard of anyone getting drunk from them.

Fact was, a person with extra money could go to the PX and get crackers, but if he did he’d have to share with the whole hooch.  Same with sardines.  And we had KATUSAs in our hooch.  Four of them.  Korean Augmentations to the US Army.  And those bastards could go through a case of crackers, cans of sardines, quicker than you could make a grab for a can before they were gone.

But even the KATUSAs couldn’t make remarkably short work of a case of Ks.  There was always enough for everyone, along with some leftovers to munch on guard duty.

Damn.  These modern all-volunteer military guys are spoiled.  Except maybe in Korea.  Hell, in Korea they might still be eating Ks and wishing to hell the Japanese had gutted out another atomic bomb.

Old Jules

Oooeee baby! Won’t you let me take you on a sea cruise

 

Considered 'not too bad' compared to the worst.

USNS Sultan – Considered ‘not too bad’ compared to the worst.

USNS Breckinridge - one to be avoided.  Take an extension if you have to so's to get a different troopship.  No shuttleboard on this one.

USNS Breckinridge – one to be avoided. Take an extension if you have to so’s to get a different troopship. No shuttleboard on this one.

 Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

 Back in the day GIs made it their business to find out about the troopship scheduling, which ship they would be going aboard, and how to jimmy the travel schedule to avoid the worst ones.  The two above were my homes for roughly 60 days enroute to Korea and coming home.

Vietnam or Korea – Flip a Coin

 Neither of these was a picnic, considering each carried between 1500 and 2500 seasick GIs.  Sometimes those lower decks were enough to make a person vomit just from the odor.  Or huddled on deck with several hundred other guys, top of a swell a guy at the rail hurls and as the ship falls with the wave his puke hangs above his head an hour  or so before a thousand horrified eyes.

And 500 more GIs try to reach the rail in time for the next swell.

Below decks every corner held dice games, every stairwell a 24/7 penny-per-point gin game, or rummy 500 game.  And occasional poker.  No shuffleboard, no whiskey, no female companionship.  But there were some nice stops at Honolulu, Sasebo, Yokuska.

If there’s any motivation to cut down on the number of wars this country gets itself into, one way to do it would be to start hauling the GIs around in troopships again.  Cut down on the frivolous volunteerism.

Old Jules

 

Hyundai – Jeanne’s new ride

Hi readers.  Jeanne’s 1991 Oldsmobile’s headed for someone poorer and more desperate than she is.  Found herself a spanking new Hyundai with less than 100,000 miles on it and less than a decade old.  Ran it through all the mechanic pre-purchase checks and online automotive and title histories, and concluded it might be okay.

Maybe it will.  The Oldsmobile was doing some threatening and complaining it wasn’t getting enough treasure spent keeping it running.  So I hope the Hyundai measures up and lasts a while.

I’m thinking it’s named after a place I visited in Korea while I was on leave, travelling around site seeing.  Went somewhere, Taegue I think, saw a giant Buddha, rode a coal fired train around all over the countryside.  And came to Hyundai down the other side of the bay from Pusan.  Beautiful place.

Beautiful place all to hell, it was.  Trees blooming, a serene bay with all manner of Chinese junk looking boats and smaller boats with wiggletails used as oars.

People around Hyundai didn’t see much of GIs, same as up at Taegu.  I spent 30 days travelling around and a week-or-so at Hyundae.  A fond memory I hadn’t remembered until Jeanne decided on that car.

Hell of a deal.

Old Jules

Some lessons learned from the 20th Century

Hi readers.  If we didn’t learn anything from the 20th Century, it wasn’t from lack of opportunities. 

For instance, 

  1. we should have learned not to get into any wars, alliances, or trading partnerships with Japan.  We tried all three and each one ended a step closer to our economic destruction.  The US prospered until it became involved with Japan.
  2. We should have learned not to get into any wars, alliances or trading agreements with anyone on the Korean peninsula.  The US prospered until it became involved with people living on the Korean peninsula.
  3. We should have learned not to get into any wars, alliances or trading agreements with anyone in the Middle East.  Too confusing.  The US prospered until it got involved with people living in the Middle East.
  4. The US needs to prohibit more things and criminalize more things.  Many currently wealthy families, such as the Kennedys, arrived at wealth and power through the manufacture, transport and sale of prohibited substances.   Prohibiting things is win/win for the worthy who have the courage to break the laws, take the risks, and do a little discrete killing when needed.  The US prospers when the people who matter profit.  Prohibiting things raises profits similarly to the way wars raise profits for people who matter.
  5. Finally, we need to recognize once and for all we’re God’s Chosen People.  I wrote about this almost a year ago, but little has changed since then.  Why the Jews used to be God’s Chosen People but aren’t any moreThe time has definitely come to assume the crown, take responsibility for the burden we bear, and invade Mexico.

Remember where you heard it first.

Old Jules

Yong Dong Pollywood, Sollywood and Pusaniwood

Heck readers.  They’re calling the India foreign film industry Bollywood.  At least the part happens  down Bombay-way.  And they’re calling the Nigerian foreign film industry Nollywood.

But Korea, yeah, Frozen Chosun, has as good, possibly better foreign film industry than those.  And nobody’s assigning it any names with wood on the end.  So I’m nominating Yong Dong Po llywood as my favorite, because Yong Dong Po was OFF LIMITS when I was in Korea.  I enjoyed some great, but risky times in Yong Dong Po.  But failing that, Sollywood [Seoul] or Pusiwood [Pusan] works fine.  Further north foreign filmeywood might house Pyongyaniwood.

Welcome to Dongmakgol, 2005 NR 132 minutes , In a village in war-ravaged Korea, fate brings together a crash-landed U.S. fighter pilot, three North Korean soldiers and two South Korean soldiers. Starring:Jae-yeong Jeong, Hye-jeong Kang, Director:Kwang-Hyun Park, would make a nice debut for Pyongyangiwood, for instance.

The Warrior , 2001 R 158 minutes, Korean envoys on a diplomatic mission to China refuse to accept their fate when they’re accused of espionage and sent to a remote desert to die. Starring:Woo-sung Jung, Sung-kee Ahn
Director:Sung-su Kim, I’d hand over to YongDongPollywood.

And so on.

Just a suggestion, though.  What the hell do I know.

Old Jules