Star Tribune commentary: Our dangerous reluctance to talk openly about war

By Catherine Madison
Star Tribune

The War Came Home with Him (Catherine Madison)“Doc, you got a phone call.”

It was June 25, 1950. My mother was calling long-distance, then expensive and rare, from her childhood home in Maryland. She was trying to reach my father, a young U.S. Army Medical Corps captain on temporary duty in Yokohama, Japan. Doc, as his military buddies knew him, took the phone.

“North Korea just invaded South Korea. They’re calling it a police action,” my mother said. “What’s going to happen to you? Will you have to go?”

Doc did have to go. The U.S. troops then in Japan, though inexperienced and ill-prepared, were the first to land on South Korean shores. Two weeks later, Doc was on the front lines, fighting with the doomed Task Force Smith. Vastly outnumbered and overrun by the enemy, nearly half its soldiers died. Most of the survivors were captured and would spend the next three years in prison camps along the Yalu River. Of his initial group of 738, Doc was one of only 275 who made it home.

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