A natural storyteller, he made it sound like they spent the time playing jokes on each other and exploring the countryside and just every now and again getting shot at.
My favorite was the one about how he built himself a “camper.” He’d go into the dumping grounds, the compounds where they hauled broken-down, exploded vehicle parts, figure out what he needed and then just stroll out. He did this until he had a completely rebuilt truck with a small living space in the back.
It was not the first, nor would it be the last time my dad built his way to better. In his very understated way, he taught me about coping with hardship and how to be brave—though I didn’t realize just how brave he’d had to be until I was an adult.
While helping my dad to prepare to participate in the dedication of a Korean War Memorial in his hometown, my brother found this in his papers:
"Distinguished Unit Citation...
As authorized by Executive Order 9396, the following units are cited... in the name of the President of the United States as public evidence of deserved honor and distinction. The citation reads as follows:
"The Second Infantry Division and the following attached units ******* 300th ARMORED FIELD ARTILLERY BATTALION (less Battery "B") ******* are cited for extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance of duty in action against the armed enemy in the vicinity of Hongchon, Korea, during the period of 16 to 22 May 1951.
Defending the critical sector of the Eighth Army battle front, the Second Division and attached units faced a hostile force of 12 Chinese Communist divisions with an estimated strength of 120,000 troops. The Third Chinese Army Group drove the full force of its savage assault against the Second Division with the specific mission of annihilation of the units.
The right flank of the Unit was completely exposed when enemy pressure broke through adjacent United Nations elements. Pressure increased and each night enemy forces bypassed staunch defenders and occupied positions to their rear. Tactical units of the Second Division launched fierce counterattacks which destroyed enemy penetrations, successfully extricating themselves, and through readjustment of positions, stopped the onslaught of the Chinese Communist forces.
Executing planned withdrawals and extending their flank eastward over extremely rugged, mountainous terrain, the Second Division and attached units provided critically required time for other Eighth Army units to regroup and block the attempted enemy envelopment.
Without thought of defeat, this heroic Unit demonstrated superb battlefield courage, knowledge, and discipline and esprit de corps in accomplishing this extremely difficult and hazardous mission as to set it apart and above other units participating in similar operations.
Its sustained brilliance in battle, resolution, and extraordinary heroism reflect unsurpassed credit on those courageous soldiers who participated and are in keeping with the finest traditions of the United States Army, the United Nations Forces, and their own homelands."
History records this about the 300th:
“In all, the 300th fired 514,036 105mm howitzer rounds in 805 days of combat. The soldiers of the 300th earned 12 Silver Stars, 63 Bronze Stars, and numerous other medals. In addition to two Presidential Unit Citations, the battalion also earned a Meritorious Unit Citation and two Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations. Eight soldiers from the 300th were killed-in-action and another 175 wounded.”
And yes, I cry each time I read it.
My dad had always been my hero, and I’ve always been proud of his service in WWII and in Korea, but now I know where he learned to stand his ground through the storms of life. Why he’s always been such a great example to me.
Because of my dad, and for all those who stood, and stand, in harm’s way, the authors of Pets in Space are donating 10% of the first month’s proceeds to Hero-Dogs.org. We hope you’ll join us in supporting a wonderful organization that works to help Veterans of all wars cope with coming home. And while you’re supporting Hero-Dogs.org, you’ll get to read some amazing stories. Get your copy now!
From “The Real Dragon,” Pets in Space
“Your mom would be proud,” he said, almost as if he caught my thought. He went silent again and I could almost feel the wheels turning inside his head. Finally he sighed. “If she did something—then it’s not over, is it?”
I shook my head. “No, it’s not over yet.”
I don’t know what he saw in my eyes—or if he could see anything—but he was a genius. He nodded slowly, his shoulders straightening just a bit. Then he looked up at the round, gold moon. “I would have liked to take a ride around the moon.”
New York Times, USA TODAY, Award Winning, and Best selling authors have eight original, never-released stories and one expanded story giving readers nine amazing adventures that will capture your imagination and help a worthy charity. Come join us as we take you on nine amazing adventures that will change the way you look at your pet!
10% of the first month’s profits go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.
Available Oct. 11, 2016.