Wednesday, July 25, 2012

POW recalls 4 birthdays in Korean prison camps

Vets of forgotten war detail 7 betrayals
Hewitt – Jack Goodwin was only 20 when he boarded a plane at his duty station in occupied Japan and flew into the hell of an undeclared war.

He fought only one day before the North Koreans took he and his comrades prisoner of war – the day before his 20th birthday.

“I spent 4 birthdays in captivity,” he recalls today, a rueful tone very evident in his delivery.

Mr. Goodwin is the historian for Korean War veterans in the central Texas area. He is one of less than 60 POW's still living, a revered figure in the ranks of America's forgotten warriors who made it home alive from the Korean “conflict.”

They got little if any recognition for their sacrifices. For instance, when Mr. Goodwin got home after 4 years of the hell of a POW camp, he was greeted by a lone photographer from the local Waco paper who recorded his name and took his picture. That was the last he and the other troopers ever heard of it.

There were no boulevards lined with cheering citizens, no ticker tape parades, no welcome home banquets.

But he's upbeat. “We didn't have it so bad as prisoners of the North Koreans. It was the Chinese who were so hard on prisoners. They starved them, beat them – we had one death march – We had one death march where we lost 100 men...” His voice trails off. He's in his 80's now. It's been a long war for Jack Goodwin

The Library of Congress is sponsoring a Veterans History Project, the intention being to record their stories on video or audio in their own words. The stories that are chosen will be archived in the library for the duration. For particulars, you can learn of the librarians' standards at this website:

They gathered on Tuesday afternoon at VFW Post 6008 in Hewitt, members of the Order of the Purple Heart, Vietnam Veterans, and many warriors who served in the first war prosecuted under the command of the United Nations in a place so obscure that President Harry S. Truman admitted many years later he had to go to the Map Room at the White House and consult the globe to find its location when the Department of State first informed him of the need for American troops to be sent there.

It was a war of many firsts, and though it was not the first undeclared war America ever fought, it was the first ever fought that committed American fighting men to the control of an international tribunal like the United Nations. It was the first in which the enemy attempted to force POW's to confess to war crimes they did not commit, crimes which no one committed because – in fact – they never took place.

An honored speaker, Mike O'Bric, outlined the “seven great betrayals” that dictated their wartime experience, the first of which was sending untrained, inexperienced troopers like young Jack Irwin into harm's way to confront an enemy who had violated a treaty and flooded across the DMZ in a strength at least 8 times that of their number.

They were committed by generals and a President who assured Congressmen they could handle it. The reality was stark. They wound up in a tiny area of southeastern South Korea at a place called Pusan, starving, nearly bereft of ammo and supplies, and helpless.

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