Tag Archives: Korean War

Gen. MacArthur: Was Truman Right In Firing Him?

As 2018 approaches, the economy, politics, sexual harassment and all the other news items fade with the potentially disastrous reality. North Korea claims to have successfully tested a nuclear missile that can reach all of North America.

President Trump and other world leaders will threaten and bluster. However, the potential is real today and the question has no satisfying answer. Can anything restrain the certifiably insane little North Korean dictator from pushing the button?

For those of us who served in the Korean War and history buffs, the memory of why then President Truman fired General MacArthur comes into vivid view today. A year after the North Korean sudden attack on South Korea in 1950, allied forces commanded by MacArthur had swept the invaders back across their border and into what would have been total defeat.

However, just when victory seemed certain, Communist China and the Soviet Union joined in on the side of the bad guys, tossing in weapons and millions of “volunteer” troops. It was an ironic twist of history. This was just five years after the end of World War 2, when the US helped those former friendly allies with massive amounts of equipment, ships and aircraft to defeat Japan and Germany.

Facing the enormous new opposition and possible Korean disaster, MacArthur asked President Truman to authorize the use of nuclear weapons. That was historically logical, because it’s what brought the Japanese to surrender just a few years before.

The proposal infuriated Truman, who had hopes of a negotiated truce, and he promptly relieved MacArthur of his command. The truce was signed in 1953, allowing the Communist regime to recover in North Korea and be a world military, and now nuclear, threat ever since.

Now, can anyone know today what could have happened if Truman had approved of nuclear strikes in Korea in 1951? After all, he was the one who made the fateful decision to drop two on Japan in 1945. Is it just possible that the threat or actual use in the Korean War would have resulted in a united, democratic Korea today? And no raving dictator with his finger on the button that could devastate the USA.

Your Job Sucks? Advice From Groucho Marx

Where can you get a job that gives you the chance to see and gab with the great Groucho Marx and other classic movie legends just about every day? After Navy recall service in the Korean War, I was hired in 1953 to work in one of the most luxurious towns in America.

I became a $100-a-week employee of the Beverly Hills Citizen, now long out of print. It had been a twice-a-week free morning newspaper. After it was purchased that year by Will Rogers Jr., son of the famed humorist, it became a daily and required paid subscriptions.

One of my first tasks, in addition to writing local news stories, was to visit Beverly Hills families to recruit pre-teen paper delivery boys. (In 1953, no girls.) Each would solicit and collect $30 a month from subscribers and earn $20 in pay.

Many recruiting visits were to the upscale city’s most expensive mansions. Back then, they sold for a lofty half-million bucks. Today, they list for $10 million and more. It was a bit intimidating when ushered into posh living rooms, sometimes by a uniformed butler.

When I spoke with parents who were famed producers, actors and directors, my pitch was that the experience would give their boys real responsibilities and valuable learning for later business careers. It worked, and we soon had a 50-member corps of delivery boys.

Of course, being Beverly Hills brats, some delivered their newspapers from the back seats of family limos. Others found kids from more modest Los Angeles homes and paid them to do the deliveries.

One benefit of working for the newspaper was that I always could expect to bump into the era’s most famous people in Beverly Hills restaurants and stores. I recall seeing Jerry Lewis, James Stewart, Yul Brynner, Jack Benny, Charlton Heston, Lana Turner, Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball. And best of all, Groucho Marx.

Groucho’s house was just a short walk from the newspaper building, and he stopped by the front office several mornings a week to check on the news and talk with us. Far from the exaggerated slapstick character he portrayed on the screen, to us he was a kindly father figure.

As we became better acquainted, he asked about my Korean War service that had just ended. I told him it was with an aircraft carrier air group. We spent six months’ deployment in Korea and 18 months at a Navy air station before returning to civilian life.

I griped to him that the $100-a-week newspaper salary was less than my Navy chief petty officer pay had been. Groucho then gave me advice I followed for the next 40 career years. He told of early experiences with his brothers, and how they struggled with low-pay jobs to make their way out of NYC’s Lower East Side ghetto poverty.

Groucho said the best thing about being unhappy with a lousy job is that if you keep searching, whatever comes along has to be a better one. It worked for me, and I eventually achieved a 30-year management career with a major insurance company.

After all the many decades since, I still treasure my conversations with the kindly and brilliant Groucho Marx.

Deja Vu: NK Hate Against US For More Than 65 Years

When I was recalled for Navy active duty in the Korean War in 1951, I remember seeing anti-USA posters from North Korea. Many depicted cruel GIs invading and killing innocent Asian kids.

Now, in my advanced old age, I realize the hate between the nations and same propaganda scenes have never ended. And today, with both nations headed by pompous clowns, the hate has intensified to dangerous levels.

Following World War 2, enemy nations that had tried to destroy each other eventually shared peace. One of America’s strongest allies today is Japan, and relationships with Germany and Italy are totally friendly and cooperative. Even hatreds of the later war in Vietnam have cooled off with open trade and tourism.

However, after six decades, and with both countries pointing advanced nucelar weapons at each other, the USA and North Korea can literally destroy the world. For those of us who know the history of the Korean War, we can’t help feeling President Harry Truman was totally wrong in firing General MacArthur in 1951.

The general’s plan was to use massive force to destroy the Communist regime and free all of North Korea. If that had happened then, maybe today we wouldn’t have to endure the hate-USA propaganda and insane dictator. And much worse, wait for the first nuclear armed missile to arrive on American soil.

Aw, Gee Whiz! Exhausted Justin Bieber Cancels Tour

Calling the reason for not continuing his Purpose World Tour as “unforeseen circumstances”, the boy singer apparently needs some rest and rehab time. Of course, jumping around and squawking for several hours every night can be very tiring.

Anyhow, Justin will still make multi-millions this year with other gigs and recordings. So, who cares about a bunch of teens who’ll be heartbroken and may not be able to get refunds for their $1,000 Bieber cancelled concert tickets?

It all brings back memories to this old guy of performances by other entertainers of note. The best of all, comedian Bob Hope never cancelled any of his thousands of wartime performances for GIs during World War 2, Korea and Vietnam. And many of them were in makeshift outdoor theaters where the threat of enemy gunfire was always present.

So, let’s just hope the Biebs will recover his voice and get back on the concert tour. We know he’s brave enough to face the perils of being mobbed by dangerous teens.

7/4/17: Old Vet’s Patriotism Sorely Tested

Hey, what the hell is happening in my enfeebled brain? We celebrate our Nation’s independence and I approach my 92nd birthday. Isn’t it traditional that the older you get, the more conservative and feverishly patriotic you become?

I was 16 when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 brought the USA into World War 2. I joined the Navy at age 17 because it was my patriotic duty. And we were willing to give up our young lives as in the lyrics of the Battle Hymn of the Republic: He died to make men holy, so let us die to make men free….

Just a few months before the war ended, 5,800 Marines were killed in March 1945, mostly teens, to capture a little island called Iwo Jima. The war ended in August of the same year, after atomic bombs devastated two Japanese cities, killing 200,000 people, mostly women and children.

My strongest thought now is that dying in any war is stupid and self-destructive. All the patriotic music, recruiting posters, flag-waving and snappy uniforms sucked us naive teenagers in. We were brainwashed to go forth and kill those evil enemy teens to save our beloved nation.

Of course, on the far side of the world, German and Japanese teens were doing the same in preparation to kill us. After WW2, I continued in the Naval Reserve to help pay for college. When the Korean War started in 1950, I was recalled to active duty along with other members of my reserve aircraft carrier unit.

Guess what? Those former Japanese and German enemies were suddenly our best pals, providing airports and seaports, while profiting by selling us war supplies. And the Russians and Chinese, loving allied pals just five years earlier during WW2, were now our deadly enemies.

What’s the idiotic reality of war? At this advanced age, I can no longer be inspired by the patriotic parades and music. To me, war is old guys in fancy uniforms giving each other medals while teens on both sides do the fighting and dying.

Has a war ever produced anything other than useless carnage on battlefields and destruction of cities? And it goes on, when throughout history, politicians, patriots and generals always start another war just a decade or so after the last one. Oh, and by the way, have a safe, happy, peaceful Fourth of July holiday.

When Marilyn Monroe Sang Just For Me

The movie star, who died 55 years ago at age 35, was then at her glamorous best. She performed with USO shows in Seoul, South Korea, for U.S. soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors. It was in 1954, just as the war ended with a cease fire.

I was with a group of Navy guys who were at Daegu Air Force Base in Seoul when we heard Marilyn was scheduled to entertain there that night. We convinced the pilot and crew to find something wrong with our R4D Navy transport, so we could delay the return flight to our base in Tokyo Bay for 24 hours.

It was a great evening for all the yearning, homesick GIs who were dazzled by the movie star’s sexy performance. We Navy guys managed to get seats near the stage, and I imagined the glamorous movie star, only a few feet away, was performing just for me. The sight and sounds of blonde Marilyn singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” created memories I still cherish today.

North Korean Murderers Still Evil Gooks

The deliberate and fatal abuse of the young American student held captive for 18 months brings back memories of the 1950s. Otto Warmbier made the mistake of stealing a Communist propaganda poster and it cost him his freedom and eventually his life.

My experience with Korea goes back more than 65 years. After Navy service in World War 2, I continued in the active reserve to help pay my way through college. At graduation time, I was notified that my Reserve Naval Carrier Air Group had been called up. I served two more years of active duty during the Korean War.

Without warning, North Korean forces invaded South Korea in 1950. They immediately began systematic murder of civilians and captured ememy soldiers as they swept south. This prompted President Harry Truman to intervene with US military. The North Korean cruelty continued, and their atrocities included torturing and murdering Americans captured in battle.

Finally, after more than three years of bitter war, a cease fire was signed, and surviving American POWs were eventually released. All had been severely abused and subjected to the cruel Communist methods of torture and brainwashing. Many were forced to sign ridiculously false confessions denouncing the US.

Some of us who served in that now-almost-forgotten war called the North Koreans gooks. It was a label that reflected their brutish methods and disregard for human life. The latest example of torturing and sending home the dying young man only reenforces the true meaning of today’s North Korean gook mentality.