Friday, November 17, 2017

A Well-Traveled Mule

1951. Korea. Even an event as ghastly as the Korean War provided the rare moment of humor.  Here we have the story of an Oklahoma mule raised for the U.S. Army during the early years of World War II.  Like virtually everything in the Army, this mule had a serial number - or more specifically, a brand, which read "OK80." Once it grew to the appropriate size, the mule was shipped across the Pacific Ocean to carry supplies required by Stilwell's forces in the China-Burma-India theater.  As World War II came to a close, OK80 was transferred under lend-lease to the Nationalist Chinese Army, for whom it labored into the late 1940s during Chiang Kai-Shek's civil war with Chairman Mao.  In 1949, Mao's victorious army absorbed assets from the Nationalist army, including mule OK80. The animal was subsequently put to work by the Chinese People's Volunteer Army as it was deployed in Korea in 1950.  Having survived any number of battles and attacks by U.S. air power, this and several other mules were abandoned by their retreating Chinese keepers during the spring of 1951.  It was then that U.S. Army soldiers found OK80 and its undernourished colleagues grazing on a hillside.  Quartermaster personnel gathered these animals and rehabilitated them over a number of days with a diet of cereal and sugar.  OK80 was subsequently put to work - once again - for the U.S. Army.

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