Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Rice Paddies in Korea

U.S. Army Photo
When the Korean War soldier was not scaling hills, he often found himself slogging through rice paddies.  These water-logged flats of land were cultivated by famers assisted by ox-driven plows.  To maximize crop yields, the farmer employed "night soil," that is, human excrement that was dutifully collected and distributed by the bucket-full.  American troops had no choice but to traverse the malodorous muck which often sucked the boots off their feet.  If subjected to enemy fire, troops had no alternative but to drop to the ground and lie prone until the threat was lifted.

It got worse.  Army support logistics were far from reliable during the early weeks of the war. Among the consequences were critical shortages of potable water.  Soldiers' limited access to water during July and August of 1950 coincided with 100-degree temperatures.  Add to this the chaos of battle, and this explains why almost all troops had no choice to drink water from rice paddies.

Disease caused more American casualties than did combat. 

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