Saturday, August 25, 2012

POW's disarmed, marched to death in November 1950

Jack Goodwin is one of the last few survivors of the "Tiger Death March," a grueling 120-mile forced hike across Korea in which the wounded and dying who could no longer keep up were shot - executed summarily on the orders of a North Korean commander they knew only as "The Tiger."

Mr. Goodwin watched as a Lieutenant from East Texas stoically submitted to a bullet through his brain because his men were too badly wounded or too sick to continue.

When he was captured, he weighed about 120 pounds; when he was repatriated to the U.S., he had lost half his body weight. He weighed just slightly more than 60 pounds. About two thirds of the men who were captured in those first few days of the war perished from dysentery, lung infections, dehydration and parasites.

When there was no snow with which to rehydrate themselves, they were forced to drink water from rice paddies that were fertilized with human excrement. It took extensive treatment at an Army hospital in San Antonio to rid Mr. Goodwin of tape worms that had infested his body.

He recalls being a nervous wreck after spending 4 of his birthdays in captivity. He was captured on the day before his 20th. Jobs were scarce, and he was just about to re-enlist when he got word that he had been granted a disability pension for his wartime service. He later retired from the Post Office and had opened a tropical fish emporium in West Waco near the old Providence Hospital.

"Tropical fish are a hobby that is very soothing to your nerves," he says.

Does he have any advice for young servicemen and women who come under the command of the United Nations, as he did so long ago when he was serving on occupation duty in Japan?(click here for a previous report)

"When you're in the Army, you do as you're told."

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