On occasion, however, the request is one that is of a very personal nature to the writer and one which is meant as a cathartic response to a life event and not a political call or statement. I recently received one of those messages and will offer it here for a number of reasons.
The writer obviously has carried a weight for many years and is finally trying to come to terms with an event which changed his life in ways you and I canít even guess at nor imagine. War forces every participant to deal with it in one's own way. Some put the experience away in a dark corner of their soul and try to just get on with the rest of their lives. Others live the pain and horrors every day, never quite knowing how to forget and never quite putting it behind them. Some put on their manly facade and become the proud veteran. Some simply cannot live with the weight of their demons and, as over a hundred thousand Americans did in the years following the Vietnam idiocy, simply take their own lives to stop the suffering.
The words you will read are from one who has lived with a scene of the death of another human being for so many years, so many mornings and so many nights that he finally found it inevitable that he must quiet that beast in order to go on.
His hope is that the tale might lead to the discovery of anyone related to this fellow Marine who might then learn more of his death and his selflessness. The actual circumstances surrounding the deaths of warriors in any war are seldom known to their families. They learn only that the soldier died on a certain date in a certain country. Little else is ever known or discovered. This man wants to change that for the family of one casualty of the long ago Korean War. For that noble and appropriate cause, I offer his story in his words. If the name of anyone involved is familiar, I ask that you respond directly to him (his e-mail and snail mail addresses follow the story) or pass the story along to anyone you know who might have some knowledge to share with him.
Please, I do not want this to become some annoying chain letter as that would not be fitting for the message nor for the dead. If you can help, I ask that you do.
Do the images of war go away? NO! They live on in the mind.
I have many images that are always in my mind after nearly fifty years. I live with them and have adjusted myself to let them be a part of me.
One April day in 1952 I will always have with me! We were located near the Truce Talks at Panmunjom, Korea. We had not received mail in several weeks and just got word that mail had arrived at the Command Post. Two fellow Marines volunteered to go get it.
We heard the explosion about three minutes after they had left our position. Several of us rushed towards the sound but quickly realized the two Marines had crossed into a mine field. We had to get them out of there immediately, however to blindly rush into the mine field would mean even more casualties.
With our bayonets we carefully probed the ground at an angle to locate any other mines. This was a slow painstaking task. After several minutes we were able to reach the wounded Marines. We didn't have stretchers so we had to improvise with two wooden boards and carefully carry them out of the mine field.
PFC. Gerald N. Stanko was the most seriously wounded. He had stepped directly on a mine! One of his legs had been blown off to his hip and he had lost a lot of blood.
The M.A.S.H. helicopter we had called for hadn't arrived yet. We tried to stop the bleeding and comfort him. After several minutes the nineteen year old Marine asked for his mother and died.
I only knew PFC. Gerald N. Stanko about ten days but the image of his death will never be forgotten.
Former Marine of The Forgotten War, 1950-1953
Robert J. Herman
1231 Bambi Drive
Williams, Arizona 86046
OVER 55,000 MEN WERE KILLED IN THE "KOREAN CONFLICT" IN 38 MONTHS. MORE THAN 8000 ARE STILL MISSING IN ACTION. THERE WAS NO WELCOME HOME PARADE. THE MONUMENT IN WASHINGTON, D.C. WAS DEDICATED IN 1995....42 years after the war was over...
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