Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Soldier Boy

My father was a young man when he enlisted in the Army. He was ready to fight for his country. Leaving everything behind that he had ever known. A country boy from the mountains of North Carolina, he went willingly to fight for freedom. He enlisted in the Army, trained to become a Para Trooper, and was sent to Korea to fight a war on foreign soil. I wonder sometimes what he thought as he set alone at night and looked out at the stars? Young and so far from home, cold, damp, and wet from all the rain and snow, somehow he persevered throughout the toughest of times. The stories he tells are amazing and even though he won't admit it, he is a hero amongst all who fought and died in this war.

My father's name is Ned Edward Gosselin. He was born in 1930 in Enka, North Carolina. When he was eight  years old, his father was killed in an automobile accident. When my father turned sixteen in 1947, he joined the United States Army. Of course his mother had to sign for him in order for him to enlist. He was stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina for his eight weeks of basic training. He then went to Fort Bragg, North Carolina at which time he became a Para Trooper. He was then sent to Fort Benning, Georgia. My dad believes he had approximately 167 jumps before he left the service. He was stationed in Okinawa for one year, then Japan and the Philippines. When the Korean War broke out he was stationed in Japan. He spent four years in the War before coming home. He was shot in the war during one of his jumps and received a Purple Heart for his valiance. He was in the service for approximately six years. 


What was the Korean War All About?

Korean War

Korean War, conflict between Communist and non-Communist forces in Korea from June 25, 1950, to July 27, 1953. At the end of World War II, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel into Soviet (North Korean) and U.S. (South Korean) zones of occupation. In 1948 rival governments were established: The Republic of Korea was proclaimed in the South and the People's Democratic Republic of Korea in the North.

Relations between them became increasingly strained, and on June 25, 1950, North Korean forces invaded South Korea. The United Nations quickly condemned the invasion as an act of aggression, demanded the withdrawal of North Korean troops from the South, and called upon its members to aid South Korea. On June 27, U.S. President Truman authorized the use of American land, sea, and air forces in Korea; a week later, the United Nations placed the forces of 15 other member nations under U.S. command, and Truman appointed Gen. Douglas MacArthur supreme commander.

In the first weeks of the conflict the North Korean forces met little resistance and advanced rapidly. By Sept. 10 they had driven the South Korean army and a small American force to the Busan (Pusan) area at the southeast tip of Korea. A counteroffensive began on Sept. 15, when UN forces made a daring landing at Incheon (Inchon) on the west coast. North Korean forces fell back and MacArthur received orders to pursue them into North Korea.

On Oct. 19, the North Korean capital of Pyongyang was captured; by Nov. 24, North Korean forces were driven by the 8th Army, under Gen. Walton Walker, and the X Corp, under Gen. Edward Almond, almost to the Yalu River, which marked the border of Communist China. As MacArthur prepared for a final offensive, the Chinese Communists joined with the North Koreans to launch (Nov. 26) a successful counterattack. The UN troops were forced back, and in Jan., 1951, the Communists again advanced into the South, recapturing Seoul, the South Korean capital.

After months of heavy fighting, the center of the conflict was returned to the 38th parallel, where it remained for the rest of the war. MacArthur, however, wished to mount another invasion of North Korea. When MacArthur persisted in publicly criticizing U.S. policy, Truman, on the recommendation of the Joint Chiefs of Staff removed (Apr. 10, 1951) him from command and installed Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway as commander in chief. Gen. James Van Fleet then took command of the 8th Army. Ridgway began (July 10, 1951) truce negotiations with the North Koreans and Chinese, while small unit actions, bitter but indecisive, continued. Gen. Van Fleet was denied permission to go on the offensive and end the “meat grinder” war.
The war's unpopularity played an important role in the presidential victory of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had pledged to go to Korea to end the war. Negotiations broke down four different times, but after much difficulty and nuclear threats by Eisenhower, an armistice agreement was signed (July 27, 1953). Casualties in the war were heavy. U.S. losses were placed at over 54,000 dead and 103,000 wounded, while Chinese and Korean casualties were each at least 10 times as high. Korean forces on both sides executed many alleged civilian enemy sympathizers, especially in the early months of the war.


See R. E. Appleman, South to the Nakong, North to the Yalu (1961); D. Rees, Korea (1964); B. I. Kaufman, The Korean War (1986); I. F. Stone, The Hidden History of the Korean War (1988); C. Blair, The Forgotten War (1989); S. Weintraub, MacArthur's War (2000); D. Halberstam, The Coldest Winter (2007).

The Purple Heart
Not to long ago, my father received this medal for his service in the Korean War.