Fifteen letters
[ Fifteen Letters ][ Introduction ]
1954: [ June 5 ][ June 15 ][ June 26 ][ July 10 ][ July 27 ][ Aug. 1 ][ Aug. 11 ]
[ Sept. 18 ][ Sept. 30 ][ Oct. 29 ][ Nov. 3 ][ Nov. 11 ][ Dec. 13 ]
1955: [ Jan. 23 ][ Feb. 20 ]
[ Epilogue ]

15 June 1954

Hi Jeannie

So finally the traveling iris addict gets around to applying pen to paper and sending a belated hello to the land of the Ike's, Joe's, and Adlai's. And I put Joe between the other two to express my opinion as to the variation of people found in D.C. -- a variation as great as that which we have here but of a different nature.

To get back to a subject with sense: How are you? Do you manage to keep cool way around there, or is your baliwick as warm as mine? We roast in the heat of the day and freeze in the cool of the night, but the difference isn't so great as to be terribly disagreeable.

Totman at workIf you perchance read my sort of lengthy reports to AR, you have gathered that I think highly of Japan and less highly of Korea only in that the country is so much worse off because of the war. Compared to much of San Antonio, the Bowery in N.Y.C. is a street of mansions and compared to Pusan, these same parts of S.A. are an equally luxurious paradise. Such squalor, such terrible crowding into the most wretched and unsanitary of places. And seeing what this does to them physically, God, mentally it must be disastrous. Only their pacifist culture could sustain them, I believe. And yet I've hardly gotten here. More will learn later (that's a sentance?)

We are away up here where there are no refugees. Only the flattened villages where they once lived and the weed filled and dry rice paddies where they once tilled the soil for a living.

Just recently I read where a great deal of seed from some weed -- maybe goldenrod -- has been imported to be dusted over the hills splotched with red soil, the still-violent scars of civilized people slugging it out in that battle of God's greatest creation -- man vs. man. People show such sense. And nature takes the beating.

But why make like a preacher. Those who listen don't need to be told, and those who need to be told won't listen -- a fault as old as mankind.

So here I am North of the 38th in a tent. And it's really not bad -- yet. We can make ourselves fairly comfortable here and have our regular jobs. I said the right thing at the wrong time and am clerk-typist in the orderly room. It's true, I'm pretty much in the know and can spill the news ahead of time, but it's a boring job. Sometimes the work drags and then it pushes and this business of having a boss at your right elbow all the time doesn't appeal.

It is now 9 PM. I am lying under my mosquito net on my air mattress comfortably as can be. Dick Sturdevant is sitting at the table with Kim Kee Bong our house boy and they are working at Korean-English speech. I wish the whole world spoke Korean. It's a lot nearer a good language than English. I guess most all the GI's go thru a phase of interest in a foreign country but that it burns out shortly.

It seems so strange to hear our daily morning greeting come off the hill out in front of our tent "Coo koo coo koo." And out of the woods come iris, lilies, Solomon's seal and many other lovely flowers. How I'd like to wander in the hills. Unfortunately we can't do it because of the mites everywhere which would give us hemorrhagic fever and because if a guard saw us, we'd be picking 30 caliber bullets from our seats.

Tonight a few of us drove up the dusty road to the shower point where we had an excellent shower and a change of clothes into some that fit me better. A good deal.

Unfortunately we are attached to the 2nd Infantry Division. It's a sharp outfit - has an excellent war record. However to be sharp it has to be worked on. So now we stand retreat, block our hats, shine our shoes & buckles, have an hour of drill, revelie formation, and have to wear our jackets in the hot tents. It is all so unnecessary and stupid.

Miller, Sturdevant, KimSo now it's Wednesday morning and I'm back in the orderly room. Kim is sweeping out and the others are drilling outside. Kim certainly is an amazing fellow. Mother, Father and three sisters killed in war and he works for us at $3 per person per month. He's a Sears Roebuck addict and loves blue suits. He has hopes of going to College and to the U.S.-- but money's the factor. If he can't get either, he hopes to join the ROK marines -- they travel more than the army. And he sees Korea as it is -- all balled up. "Before war, no hoboes, now tokson (many) hoboes. Before war no sexy, now sexy sexy. Korea all messed up." And the U.S. is "scoshy (little) paradise" which is pretty close to Paradise to a Korean. And New York and Chicago are "number 1" -- excellent, Pusan is "number 10 - the worst. But "Hoboes in America ama yes. America not perfect." He's rational, intelligent, industrious, and likeable. More than once he lived by playing dead and using someone else's blood for wound marks. His life was hard and he came thru. Darned near a man at 18 years old.

Another beautiful day like many we have had -- in our monsoon season. At least the weather isn't too disagreeable.

Children in tent village. Note new and old construction materialsThere's a new village rising from the ruins of an old one, about 2 miles from here. With it will come the usual prostitution found near army posts - there are numerous compounds in the valleys around here. But far more important, the farmers will be able to once again close up the tracks of tanks and trucks and hold back the water to flood their rice paddies and put more stomachs onto a better diet. It's slow, terribly slow, but Korea is rebuilding if only those misguided men in Moscow and Peking will allow the rebuilding. Those farmers are courageous, too for where they are settling down will be a no-man's land in the next fight. Behind it are innumerable trenches, bunkers, foxholes, secondary lines, minefields and so on set up as a defense across the valley here where we are. I don't dare say where we are, maybe shouldn't have said what I did. But they are there and Joe Chink knows it too without my telling him.

Also I am going to get security checked to handle confidential material and maybe my mail is being read -- don't know. But I'm about out of gab. If you care to write and want to know any special things, ask; the worst I can do is say I don't know. The address on the outside is the right address for a while anyway.