Ode to Korea

Authored by

B. R. (Ray) Chambers

June 1999

On this the eve of a new millennium Ė a new century Ė and the

eve of fifty years since the start of that forgotten war known

as the Police Action on the peninsula known throughout

the free world as Korea, I wish to submit this ode to those who served

in that part of the world from 1950 to 1953.

Part of this Ode to Korea is in the form of a parody.

No insult or demeaning of any unit or person is intended. This parody is written

from a GIís point of view, one who believes that thememories of that

long Forgotten War must not be forgotten.

Korea.Oh yes, I do remember Korea, that land of the morning calm, where, when the wind blows off the northern straits, it is by far colder than anywhere else I have had the misfortune to have served. Ah yes, I remember Korea.

Oh yes, I do remember those warm afternoons when the sun was shining bright and no clouds were in the sky.How those GIís would all get on the southern slope and bring out the sleeping bags Ė that is, those who were fortunate enough to have one.Where, hour upon hour, they would meticulously pick one by one those little tiny mites known as lice, fleas, or whatever that made the nights, let alone the days, very miserable by the constant itch they caused.Oh yes, I do remember those days long, long ago.

Oh, Korea, how I do remember you.Those long, lonesome, cold winter nights; those long, hot humid days of summer; and the insatiable bites of insects that infest only that part of the world. Oh how I remember.

Korea, oh how I remember the units that were called upon to serve in that waste of good young men, and the loss of life and equipment on all sides, with the United States in the forefront of it all.

Yes, I do remember the 1st Cavalry Division, the unit that had no horses.The unit that had the big yellow shoulder patch: the one with the head of the horse, the line at a diagonal down through it and that big yellow spot on the bottom.Do you remember what was said about that unit?The head of the horse they could not ride, the line they could not cross (could that have been the 38th parallel?)and then the big yellow spot for the color of their backs.Ah yes, I do remember Korea.The 1st Cavalry, MacArthurís favorite.The palace guard from Japan.

Oh yes, I can remember the other unit with the big ugly patch on the left sleeve, the one with that ugly Indian head.Yes, I speak of the 2nd Infantry Division. But, what do I remember of the most famous unit of them all when it comes to providing material and comfort?Nothing, except what has been bandied around the latrine, about it being the famous Bug-Out Division, also known as the Chinese QUARTERMASTER division.This is a stigma that must be born, true or not, for we must remember those things that made the War in Korea so different from any other.Oh Yes, I do remember what was known as Korea.

The stripes of Blue and White were those of the 3rd Infantry division and all they needed was a little blood thrown in for it to become the Red, White and Blue.Just where was the 5th Regimental Combat Team with their shoulder patch of Red?This combination then made up the Red, White and Blue.We must remember that both of these units were very bloody after many a day in skirmishes that lasted for days and days on end, seemingly never to end.Oh yes, I do remember the days in Korea.As will the survivors of the 29th Infantry Regiment.

The bent beer can shape of the 7th Infantry looked funny when surrounded with the patch of the falling umbrella.The ones who emerged from the Flying Red A... H... of the 11th Airborne Division, the one unit that had MacArthur eating his pipe stem.However, he wanted an element that could strike swift and sure. The 187th RCT ABN answered the call when they made sure that all of the women folk of Korea had NYLON panties made from parachutes after each jump into that frozen waste land.Oh yes, I must remember Korea and not forget those many days of walking in wet, mushy boots and then standing around getting frostbite.You see, leather jump boots were meant for the parade ground, not for wading in ditches full of water or on the frozen waste lands of Korea.Yes, I do remember.

Oh yes, I do remember Korea.The folks who came into this affair without the benefit of having any winter underwear, and then coming from the South, to boot.Remember the National Guardsmen who were called up for this dance?No, we cannot forget those valiant men who, like the Phoenix, rose from the ashes of World War II to again answer the call to arms.Those guys from the exotic Island of Hawaii?They had nothing but the clothes on their backs when they arrived in the cool climate of September and October of 1950, when the cool days of summer were turning into the cold days of winter.Oh yes, Iím sure that they also remember the cold nights with nothing much more that a very thin OD Blanket to keep warm with.

Ah yes, and let us not forget the trying times of the Chosin Few, those who were known as Americaís Pride: The Marines, with their frozen feet and the fallen comrades who they would not leave behind.They, like the rest of us, suffered greatly at the hand of Mother Nature with her cold unforgiving ways during the grip of winter time. Nor should we forget those Corpsmen, the Medics, the Doctors and Nurses who bandaged, cut, sutured and helped those wounded back to the road of recovery.No, we shall not forget the graceful efforts of all who gave their all.

Also let us not forget those countries that were foreign to most of us who joined in the fray, but were not of the same character when it came time to punish those who trespassed upon them.Those were the Turks and other groups in the SEATO alliance.The ways and means these groups used for those who stole from them were severe to say the least.A thief could expect to have a cleaning rod run through his ears, then be hung from the gate post as a warning to all thieves that they would not be tolerated.Oh yes, I do remember Korea.

Oh yes, I do remember Korea: The stinking smells of old rotten cabbage, something that came to be known as (.........) Korean Cole Slaw.The fetid smell of dying animals and people, with the acid smell of fires burning entire villages.The unforgettable stench of cordite and gunpowder.The horror of warfare.Oh yes, I can remember.The many bodies that floated in the harbor off Inchon, when this invasion, called a very dumb thing, actually turned the war around in favor of the forces that were trying to push the red hoard back north across the 38th Parallel.This came to be one of the best plans to come about during that entire conflict.

There were many units.The Air Force flying the outdated propeller driven fighter, later using the modern jet fighter.The Navy with its left overs from the First and Second World Wars.The Marines.And, of course, the Army.We all suffered in more ways than just one.The chilling cold, the hot days and nights withmosquitoes buzzing around your head, the resulting malaria from the bites.The fleas, lice and dysentery.The cold chow that was gulped down when given a time to eat.The greasy tin cup from which hot coffee was drunk.Yes, a lot of discomfort by all. However, we have endured, and yes we will Remember Korea. We shall remember the cooks, the bakers and the pay masters.All those who were behind the main efforts also shall be remembered, for they will remember Korea, also.

I give you this Ode to Korea in the hope that it will serve as a way to remember a place and at a time where we made many sacrifices for Duty, Honor, and Country.Even now, we watch over that small spit of land that has seen many of our young soldiers come and go.A far away land, a land known as the Land of the Morning Calm.

Yes, I will remember Korea...

About the Author.B. R. (Ray) Chambers served over 20 years in the U.S. Army with almost 15 years in the Armyís elite Special Forces.During the Korean era, he served with the 11th Airborne Division and the 187th Regimental Combat Team (Airborne).

Mr. Chambers holds a Masterís degree in Human Relations and Organizational Behavior, and

an under-graduate degree in business with a major in Electrical Engineering.