Friday, September 28, 2018

March of Warriors

Summer 1950. Korea. U.S. Army soldiers are paraded through the streets of Seoul on their way to a series of improvised prison camps.  Only days removed from peacetime billets in Japan, these men were rushed to Korea in early July 1950 with vague orders to resist the invasion of North Korean forces. Largely unprepared for war, many men paid with their lives within minutes of initial contact with the enemy.  Those who could not beat a hasty retreat were captured, falling under the control of captors who had neither the temperament nor resources to maintain prisoners. The Geneva Convention - an international protocol that attempted to civilize the conduct of war - established a number of prohibitions, including the parading of prisoners for propaganda purposes. Unfortunately, the North Koreans were not signatories of the Convention.  The prisoner of war camps imposed deprivations greater than many men could bear.  Forty-three percent of American prisoners died in captivity.  For the most part, their remains are still interred in unmarked graves in North Korea.  Those who lived to be repatriated brought home emotional scars that gripped for years to come.

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