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Donald A. Chase Poetry

Donald A. Chase lives in Framingham, MA. He joined the US Army Reserves on May 20, 1944, then enlisted in the regular army October 1945. He served with the 89th Infantry Division in Europe during World War II. When the Korean War broke out, Donald re-enlisted into the Army in December 1945. He arrived in Korea January or February 1951 and served with B Co., 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. He was wounded March 1951, then injured a second time in June of July of 1951. He returned to action in Korea November 1952, assigned to I Company 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. He was wounded a third time on July 26, 1953 at Outpost Harry. He was discharged from the Army in October 1953.

Regarding the use of his poetry on the Korean War Educator website, Don wrote, "The writing of it was a form of therapy for me when all the scenes and experiences would come to mind after I retired and had time on my hands. In fact, it has never ceased to amaze me how certain things from that war still stay so clearly in my mind even though they all happened almost fifty years ago. There were the battles when I was with the 24th Division in 1951 when it was a war of movement, and then the stalemated trench warfare of 1952 and 1953 which in a certain sense was even more nervewracking."

Poem Index


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Life's Highlights

I have had many adventures down through the years.
Most have brought happiness, a few have brought tears.
With the passage of time some memories tend to dim.
Yet certain ones stay forever, always locked within.

Two warm hearted soldiers who took care of me
While still a young kid in the infantry.
They saw I was timid, withdrawn and shy
And in their own quiet way were always nearby.

A war torn Europe with its shattered land
Full of death and destruction at every hand.
But one scene stands out above all those things bad.
The children’s smiling faces when I shared what I had.

There was the old gold miner on the outskirts of Nome
With his tales of places in the world he had roamed.
We would sit and talk under lead colored skies
And remembered still were his cold deadly eyes.

Stock car racing with all of its fun
Always looked back upon as my day in the sun.
Camaraderie taking place with other drivers you know.
The banging and crashing just part of the show.

Another war in a far off place
Leaving good and bad memories which time can’t erase.
The Swedish hospital where my wounds slowly heal
A shy Korean girl bringing me my meals.

Parachute jumping and the tingling thrill
when the lines pull taut and the canopy fills.
Alone in the sky, so peaceful and free
Where somehow I feel its just God and me.

My work as a carpenter allowed me to build
Many tangible things that are obvious still.
Buildings and bridges carry the mark of my hand.
Even after I’m gone they will still stand.

Marriage and children with the joy they both bring
Made life complete so t’was easy to sing.
But something went wrong for it all came apart
Leaving an emptiness unseen in the heart.

These verses tell a story and the scenes they create
Were all part of my world as determined by fate.
Someone has watched over me, in oh so many ways
Now allowing me my memories to help fill my days.


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Veterans

Whenever our country has gone to war,
there come forth a special breed,
of men and women from all walks,
to serve in those hours of need

Like minutemen of old, they rallied,
to defend our flag ‘round the world,
and even today, though aged and gray,
stand tall when our banners unfurled.

There are tears for departed comrades,
whose bodies now lie far and wide,
yet always remembered down through the years,
so in a sense, walk side by side.

These men and women are veterans,
who carry the scars of the fight,
some on the outside, most on the inside,
but all from defending what’s right.


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A Memorable Day

The soldiers trooped aboard the ship
in a seemingly endless file,
their youthful banter filling the air,
faces crinkled with smiles.

But behind the smiles and banter,
was the knowledge they were going to war,
when this ship completed her journey,
leaving them on some distant shore.

Also present was the nagging thought,
that many might never return,
and just how fate would decide this,
led feelings inside to churn.

In time, the ship is loaded,
then slowly starts to sail,
while observers standing on the pier,
see thousands lining her rail.

Many looked through glistening eyes,
as these young men sailed away,
but whether aboard the ship or on the pier,
all would long remember that day.


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Prisoners of War

Off to one side and silent
they sat with downcast eyes.
Not knowing what their fate would be,
or whether they would live or die.

One had blood dripping down his face,
from a bullet crease in his head.
Another’s arm hung mangled,
with its bandage stained bright red.

The third had feet discolored,
in sneakers that were full of holes.
His toes all swollen and useless,
frozen stiff by the winter cold.

They were enemy soldiers,
yet human like you and I,
and one couldn’t help but notice,
the pain in their anguished eyes.

That scene of pain and misery,
which has defied the passage of time,
Is another unwanted souvenir,
from a war that left scars in the mind.


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Silent Mountains

If the barren mountains of Korea could talk,
what memorable tales they would tell;
of men who fought in a forgotten war,
which gave them a preview of hell.

They would speak of things that tried men’s souls,
leaving the survivors to remember so well.
The cold with its snow, mud from the rain,
and underground holes where they dwelled.

There would be stories of human endurance.
Brought on by the will to survive.
Bravery and courage and unthinking sacrifice,
for warfare demands some must die.

They also would tell of the burial place,
of soldiers now locked in eternal sleep,
whose grey-white bones lies silent and still,
though loved ones and comrades still weep.

These voiceless mountains with their untold tales,
have a far greater meaning than most.
To the men who fought and existed thereon,
they are a separate world full of ghosts.


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Unwanted Memories

Often when I sit alone, and twilight fills the sky,
I find myself recalling scenes from other years gone by.
Memories of Korea still clutter up my head,
those dreary days and hellish nights, and my friends, long dead.

The many hills we fought through, which never seemed to end,
and all the while the fear inside, of death around the bend.
The clashes with the enemy, who sometimes fled away,
but, for every hill we won, someone had to pay.

Maybe one was lucky, when a bullet found an arm;
for a little while, at least, you were safe from harm.
My mind recalls the icy weather, when diseases took their toll,
when frozen feet were common, from winter’s numbing cold.

The trench line with its bunkers and grimy faces there
where if you were observant, you saw the burnt-out stare.
The pathway from the trenches that led to no-man’s land,
a torn and barren piece of ground, destroyed by human hand.

Always, there were those who fell, never to arise,
and to this day, I still can see the shock in startled eyes.
These vivid pictures locked inside, although they do not show,
never seem to leave my thoughts, no matter where I go.


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Brutal Game of War

First there is a scream for a medic,
but tool ate, so a soul must yield.
To the whistling death of the bullets,
that criss-cross the battlefield.

Still others shake and tremble,
as deadly shells crash down,
but a certain sense of honor,
makes them hold their ground.

Sometimes the fighting is savage,
so bodies lie in heaps,
and some will always question,
was the price too steep?

Yet when the battle is won,
there is a feeling of great pride.
Although you cannot see it,
because it’s something that’s inside.

So many times this happens,
in the brutal game of war.
That all who have endured it,
are changed forever more.


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Reminiscence

We climbed the hill in silence,
just listening to the sounds of war.
And each in his own way and manner,
tried to get ready for what’s now in store.

All heartbeats started to quicken,
as we thought of what goes wrong,
when shells and bullets start to sing,
their always deadly song.

And so we heard this song of death,
for many a night and day.
And fortunate indeed were those of us,
who were able to walk away.

But the sights and scenes encountered,
as the days and nights went by,
Live forever in your mind,
and at odd times can make you cry.

"Time will erase all wounds", ‘tis said,
but sometimes that’s not true.
For when the wounds are deep inside,
they become a part of you.


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War's Legacy

From boyhood to adulthood, many changes take place,
but the scars left by war are never erased.
When you answer the call and become part of the fight,
then you learn of war’s horror with all of its fright.

How the shells crash down with a chilling sound,
as you crouch in fear in your hole in the ground.
How the bullets zing and whistle past,
while a friend slumps down and breathes his last.

The enemy soldier, just another man,
doing his duty as best that he can.
No glory exists, and the gruesome sights seen,
haunt you forever and become part of your dreams.

When at last it’s all over and you sail for home,
you carry the scars that are yours alone.
Scars on the outside, easy to find;
scars on the inside, etched deep in your mind.

The years pass by and memories fade,
but thoughts still turn to the friends you made.
To those who survived it, and to those cut down,
who today rest quietly in their spot in the ground.


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Darkness Brought Death

Each time the daylight faded, and darkness filled the sky,
the waiting would begin, for the night to hurry by.
Darkness was the time that the enemy chose to strike;
knowing eyes grew dim and weary as they strained to pierce the night.

There was little sound or movement and the weather took its toll.
Bodies ached and stiffened, from winter’s bitter cold.
Hours slowly passed, all senses showed fatigue.
Endurance had its limits, with sleep the crying need.

Suddenly without warning, flames and thunder rock the scene.
Shells and bullets hit their targets, while the night was rent with screams.
Man-made moonbeams lit the sky; flares added their glow.
Shadows twisted and danced, like some weird picture show.

Chattering machine guns sang their deadly serenade.
Shrapnel whined and howled, from exploding hand grenades.
From frozen snow-filled holes, men would fight to stay alive.
Sadly, though some did see a sunrise, many others also died.


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Dreams

Life is pleasant in sunshine’s bright light,
but apprehension begins with the coming of night.
You fall asleep, but dreams fill your mind,
of days of terror once thought left behind.

Of days on an outpost in no-man’s land
seeing the pieces of what once was a man.
Who he was, no one will know,
only part of his head and one hand show.

The unseen mortar coughs up its shell,
followed by a blast that casts its spell.
There is nowhere to go, no place to hide,
as the screaming shrapnel spreads ever so wide.

At last its quiet, but you still hug the ground,
shocked at first by the absence of sound.
The heartbeat slows and you wake to find
it’s just another dream playing tricks with your mind.

These scenes of battles from days long ago,
are kept buried inside so no one knows.
And although you try with all your might,
you can’t stop the dreams that come with the night.


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Wounded

I did not hear it coming in, for mortars make no sound.
Only when they leave the tube and when they hit the ground.
A flash of colors filled my eyes, from a thunderous blast,
My body flew into the air, it happened all so fast.

Lying crumpled in a heap, too stunned to feel the hurt.
Blood spilling freely from the wounds, mingling with the dirt.
The medic looked, rolled his eyes, I can’t remember what he said.
With shredded legs and head torn open, all seemed colored red.

Carried down the hillside, by fellow comrades who slipped and fell.
Compassion showing in their faces, gentle words to wish me well.
The clean soothing hospital, where my wounds were treated with skill.
Then away from the winds of war, blowing through those hills.

For me the war was over and homeward bound I’d be.
My mind a cluttered storage place, of faces, scenes and memories.
Yes, all the external wounds did heal, but not the ones inside.
These, are constant thoughts of friends, who from this blast did die.


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Korean Hills

The rugged battle field in Korea,
contained many hills with well known names.
Deadly fighting took place on their slopes,
but sometimes all in vain.

Jackson Heights was such a place,
where a lot of blood was spilled.
The end result was many deaths,
and the enemy controlling the hill.

Outpost Tom and Outpost Dick,
were places of much lesser fame.
Yet, there too men suffered and died,
When shells came down like rain.

Outpost Harry was a critical hill,
one to be held at all costs.
And so men went to their maker,
To insure it would not be lost.

History books on the Korean War,
will have a paragraph that tells
About the men who defended Outpost Harry,
and how they defended it well.

 

 

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