Marty O'Brien's Casualty Book

Epilogue

 
Today, the world keeps a watchful eye on North Korea and those who once again would plunge Korea into chaos and ruin for the same geo-political reasons as existed in the 1950s. Some 43 years after the bitterly-fought Korean War, the United States maintains 37,000 troops in Korea as part of a "sacred promise" to defend South Korea.

Too much blood was spilled in Korea in the 1950s, and too many young men, and a small number of women, died in "The Land of the Morning Calm," to ever allow war to raise its ugly head there again—regardless of the source of any future threats. And we must be VIGILANT to ensure that our politicians do everything in their power to honor the commitment we made to the South Korean people, in terms of blood and sacrifice, so many years ago to defend them from Communism. Most of all, we must NEVER FORGET those who died in the Korean War to uphold that sacred commitment!

The Korean War veteran can take great individual PRIDE in the fact that the military victory that he or she helped to achieve in the 1950s enabled the South Korean people to escape the yoke of Communist tyranny and oppression, unlike their countrymen in the North. Your sacrifices provided a shining example of courage for freedom-loving peoples everywhere!

Looking back, one may ask if the Korean War was worth the expenditure of so many lives and broken bodies? For those who believe in FREEDOM and LIBERTY, the obvious answer is "Yes," for the reasons mentioned above—and they agree with John Toland, who concluded in his book In Mortal Combat that "those who fought and died in that war did not fight and die in vain."

Hell does freeze over. It froze over in Korea in the 1950s—but, none of us want to see Americans involved there in another political war ever again. If America’s sons and daughters are sent off to fight the Communists in Korea in the future, hopefully it will be for the right reasons and, hopefully, it will be a total victory.

Thanks to Korean War veterans everywhere, South Korea today is a modern, progressive industrial nation that enjoys high standards of social and economic development—a nation that looks forward to an enlightened unification of the Korean peninsula—one which will free the people of North Korea from the shackles of Communism going into the next century. Success does not come without problems, however.

If a peaceful and amenable re-unification and reintegration of the North and South under a democratic market regime does not occur soon, South Korea faces the possibility of another conflict with its Communist adversary in the north. In the meantime, the current rapid industrialization of china poses a real economic threat to South Korea’s developing industrial capacity and overseas markets. Furthermore, to the detriment of South Korea’s industrial base, there are signs that Japan and Russia are taking real steps to take economic advantage of North Korea’s un-realized untapped labor force.

Thus, the need for an enlightened re-unification is urgent. Unless the North and the South close in political and economic union, the future seems uncertain. The game can be played out peacefully if the will exists.

Although North Korea’s future may develop along democratic lines in the future, the country today, under Communism, remains an economic and political basket case. The government and people of North Korea are living in a time frame of 50 years ago, and some of the scenes that recently have been witnessed in the North have been compared to a pre-1940 feudal monarchy. Food shortages abound and starvation stalks the land.

Incredibly, there still are forces within the world body who are divided on the issue of whether Korea should be re-unified under free market Capitalism or militant Communism. And for some, war still is not out of the question. Of late, there have been armed transgressions into the DMZ and other hostile advances by the North. To complicate matters, North Korea is making overtures to several countries to help them with their nuclear programs.

Hopefully, the ruling elite of North Korea and their backers are aware of the fact that they have no chance anymore of winning a war in Korea because of the realities of the current international situation. Today, the technological and military preparedness of the U.S. and South Korea is vastly different than it was in the 1950s—and much more deadly--unless, of course, it is not used and South Korea is allowed to fall.

Cooler heads must prevail, though, for the re-convergence of the two countries into a unified country by peaceful means is a must. For the truly enlightened, one of the world’s last vestiges of the Cold War must be discarded as the nations of the world move into the 21st century!

The role that the United States is playing, and will play in the future to meet North Korea’s needs, will prove to be of paramount importance in charting the course of Korean history. Preferably, both Koreas need to regard economic interaction with each other as an investment in a prosperous and secure future, and reconcile their adversarial differences. In the final analysis, re-unification will not be possible unless there is a joint effort to enter into serious discussions on a rational political and economic program of reintegration—one based on a system of labor division based on Capitalist, not Communist, market principles.


FIGURE 4

[KWE Note: Because the original document was so faded, Lynnita Brown of the Korean War Educator typed the text onto the website rather than scanning the document.]

Headquarters, 1st Marines
1st Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force,
c/o Fleet Post Office, San Francisco, California

REGIMENTAL MEMO: 14 June 1951
: Operations of this regiment since June 1
NUMBER 40-51:

1. The Regimental commander wishes to express to all hands of the regiment and to attached and supporting elements, his boundless admiration and heartfelt congratulations for their conduct of the operations of the past two weeks.

2. The missions you have been called upon to accomplish during that period have been very difficult. Added to the rugged terrain has been a dogged and fanatic resistance from a competent, resourceful and heavily-armed enemy estimated to have been, at the very least, three regiments in strength. You have attacked him in his prepared positions in very rugged terrain and you have never been stopped. Even considerable losses have not turned you from your objectives, nor shaken your morale. And the losses you have inflicted on the enemy have been tremendous. You have counted many hundreds of dead in the various positions taken in spite of the enemy’s propensity for burying his own dead, so that is most probably only a small part of his casualties. His wounded will probably die, ours won’t.

3. In accomplishing this you have demonstrated professional skill of the highest order. You have used ground and cover with consummate skill, as I have personally observed; you have used your organic supporting arms very intelligently; you have used your attached supporting arms, including air, tanks and artillery, to their maximum potential. You have used patience, common sense, and good judgment in regulating the speed of your advances; and, when time was of the essence, you have used sheer guts and determination to close with the enemy and destroy or rout him with grenades, bayonets, clubbed rifles and even with bare hands on at least one occasion.

4. I have never in my life been so proud as I am to be permitted to command this regiment. I have been here less than a month to date, so can take no credit for your professional ability. That was taught to you and learned by you through bitter experience long ago. I have served in infantry with the 5th Marines as an enlisted man in the First World War, and as a junior officer in the Nicaraguan Campaign. I have supported a lot of infantry regiments while I was an artillery man before and during the Second World War. It is my carefully considered opinion that this is the best regiment of infantry that I have ever seen. I am glad to be allowed to join your club.

5. A lot of comrades, officers and men, have died or been injured in this "police action." I fear that more, very probably, will be before it is over. But you are making traditions of valor and professional skill that will rank alongside of, or outrank, the achievements of Marines of the First World War, the Second World War, and all our minor campaigns. And I urge you all to believe, whether or not you are, or have been, religiously inclined, that in this struggle for decency among men, we are fighting on the side of the Lord. The Communists who oppose us are fighting to deny His existence.

6. There are those, of course, who hardly can be called friends of the Marine Corps. The well earned fame of our Division has become such a by word at home and abroad that some people would like nothing better than to see us drop the ball just once. As long as you carry on the way you have done the past nine months, particularly the last two weeks, they never will.

7. This memorandum is written to tell you how one old Marine, who isn’t about to fade away as long as he can serve with men like you, feels about you young Marines.

8. I think you are grand. Thank you for all your most gallant and effective work.

(signed)
W.S. Brown
Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps
Commanding

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AN EXTRA VALUE

"An extra value that comes from the listing of the names of our buddies is that memories of long ago return. Sometimes it arouses in our minds others whom we may have temporarily forgotten. Being separated in time and place is very different from being separated in heart and mind. The remembrance of comrades of their past ought to generate thoughts for their good. If they have died it is easy to think a prayer for their eternal rest. If they still live a prayer that they may remain well and prosperous. A lot of thoughts can occur in a few seconds. Keep your buddies/comrades in your heart and mind always. Never forget them. If we forget, who will remember them or us."

Rev. George M. Rinkowski
Eight U.S. Cavalry Regiment Association
Saber November-December 1996

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Back to O'Brien Table of Contents
Appendix I

 

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