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Op-Ed Special
A Soldier’s View of Seoul and More (1951-52)
Special Contribution
By Don E. Porter
US Gen. Douglas MacArthur (center), commander in chief of United Nations Forces, watches Incheon Harbor from the U.S. Navy amphibious force command ship USS Mount McKinley on Sep.15, 1950 at the height of the Korean War (1950-53).

As a 20-year-old for the first time outside of Southern California, and starting with nine months on occupation duty in Japan, and next the landing in Inchon, South Korea, where four months earlier US Gen. Douglas MacArthur made another landing at Inchon, cutting off the North Koreans who were far down the South Korean Peninsula and just about ended the war but, that is when the Chinese enter the war on the side of the North.

Our landing at Inchon was much different from MacArthur’s, no opposition except the 30 below zero weather that greeted us. the move from the LST (landing ship tank) that brought us ashore and to the Kimpo Air Base just outside of Seoul, the capital city of South Korea.

Our next move was heading north through Seoul, which was destroyed, young children begging for food, most parents had been killed, including that of former UN Sec. Gen. Ban Ki-Moon, whom I had met years later at the winter Olympics. He thanked me for helping save his country.

I said, “it was worth it.” I worked out of Regimental Headquarters and twice a week made trips to the MLR (main line of resistance) where I delivered dispatches (no faxes or phones) in most cases had to stay over night (no traveling on the MSR at night). Only distractions were nightly artillery exchanges.

I safely existed the conflict in May of 1952, returning home to my lovely bride Jean whom I haven’t seen for 15 months.

Years later I returned to Seoul during meetings and the Olympics and saw a much different Seoul then in 1952, a beautiful, modern city, having arisen from the ashes.

I had also visited North Korea for meetings in 1994 and again in 2004. In 1994 prior to my visited, Kim il Sung, dictator and framer of starting the war, had passed away and after my arrival I was asked to attend the memorial and viewing, which I did (the only American to do so).

My summation today, is you can’t trust the North Koreans, the Chinese or the Russians. Beware of all three.



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The above writer, Don E. Porter, the Korean War's American veteran, serves as contributing writer for The Seoul Times. He has been serving as president of the International Softball Federation (ISF) since 1987. He can be reached at depcoop1@gmail.com

 

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