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In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation

The Americans Who Fought the Korean War

By Melinda L. Pash

Publication Year: 2012

In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation traces the shared experiences of Korean War veterans from their childhoods in the Great Depression and World War II through military induction and training,the war, and efforts in more recent decades to organize and gain wider recognition of their service.
Largely overshadowed by World War II’s “greatest generation” and the more vocal veterans of the Vietnam era, Korean War veterans remain relatively invisible in the narratives of both war and its aftermath. Yet, just as the beaches of Normandy and the jungles of Vietnam worked profound changes on conflict participants,the Korean Peninsula chipped away at the beliefs, physical and mental well-being, and fortitude of Americans completing wartime tours of duty there. Upon returning home, Korean War veterans struggled with home front attitudes toward the war, faced employment and family dilemmas, and wrestled with readjustment. Not unlike other wars, Korea proved a formative and defining influence on the men and women stationed in theater, on their loved ones,and in some measure on American culture. In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation not only gives voice to those Americans who served in the “forgotten war” but chronicles the larger personal and collective consequences of waging war the American way.

Published by: NYU Press

Cover, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

When the first episode of the television series M*A*S*H aired in the fall of 1972 I was just shy of three years old, not exactly a member of the producer’s target audience.1 But, despite my age and a few flirtations with The Dukes of Hazzard and Charlie’s Angels and in part because of syndication, I came to be a regular viewer and loyal fan of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Korea ...

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pp. xi-xii

I could never have finished this book without the support of a number of people. Above all, my family provided years of encouragement. My husband, Sid, watched our two young sons, Graham and Sam, in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania, Abilene, Kansas, Independence, Missouri, and Washington, D.C., while I did research, ...

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pp. 1-6

During the Korean War, the United States for the first time shipped home for burial the bodies of Americans killed in action. With little by way of ceremony or pomp, the remains of soldiers who died in Korea were interred in simple graves that merely identified the person’s name, rank, and date of birth. ...

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1. Timing Is Everything

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pp. 7-16

William Dannenmaier missed serving in World War II by just a year because of his age, but he did not fret over skipping such an important generational experience. Registering for the draft, Dannenmaier never expected to go anywhere, except maybe to graduate school. He reflected to himself on his luck, that the war was over ...

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2. Mustering In

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pp. 17-52

“You’ll be soooorry!” The taunt from those who knew, who had already been there, usually came just a little too late—after raw recruits or inductees had already signed away a year or more of their lives to the military.1 By then, many of those being warned already felt sorry. Entering the U.S. armed forces during the Korean War era, as in other periods, ...

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3. You’re in the Army (or Navy, Marines, or Air Force) Now!

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pp. 53-90

When new recruits arrived at the train or bus station with duffle bags in hand, as ready as possible for the upcoming weeks or months that would transform them into “Government Issue,” the oft-repeated ritual began. Anxious mothers and wives tried to keep from crying too hard, sweethearts planted kisses in hope that they not be forgotten, ...

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4. In Country in Korea: A War Like Any Other?

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pp. 91-138

Remembering World War II, newspaper reporters canvassed Korea throughout the war in search of human interest stories for hometown readers. They expected to find troops filled with the same patriotic spirit and singleness of purpose as in the last war, but the tired and ragged young soldiers they encountered could not supply the pithy anecdotes that would make for good reading back home. ...

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5. Behind Enemy Lines

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pp. 139-160

In April 1951, Bob Ward’s luck nearly ran out. A United States Air Force P-80 captain, Ward found himself downed somewhere in enemy territory with broken legs and little hope of survival. Thinking he would die, Ward made a cross and waited. But, Ward’s captor, indicating that he too was a Christian, did the unthinkable. ...

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6. Our Fight? Gender, Race, and the War Zone

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pp. 161-182

When the Korean War broke out in June 1950, an American servicewoman, not a United States marine or soldier, first answered the country’s call to duty. Stationed in Korea, Captain Viola McConnell, an Army nurse, abruptly found herself charged with evacuating the wives and children of Americans assigned to KMAG ...

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7. Coming Home

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pp. 183-218

When Second Lieutenant Edmund Krekorian returned home from Korea, the city of Seattle welcomed him and others on the troop ship in grand style. Marine Corsairs escorted the ship to the harbor, flying off in victory rolls as a happy chorus of boat horns and whistles joined the shouts of hundreds of people gathered on the pier. ...

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8. More Than Ever a Veteran

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pp. 219-226

As men and women trickled back to the States from the Far East during and after the Korean War, a few Americans and groups did seek to honor them and memorialize their sacrifices. The United Nations dedicated a plaque to the Korean War dead at its headquarters on June 21, 1956, and on November 11, 1954, Armistice Day officially became Veterans Day in the United States, ...


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pp. 227-326


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pp. 327-336

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About the Author

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pp. 337

Originally from Oklahoma, Melinda L. Pash earned degrees at the University of Tulsa and University of Tennessee before settling in Fayetteville, North Carolina, with her husband and two boys. She has published several smaller works on the Korean War ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780814789223
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814767696

Publication Year: 2012

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Subject Headings

  • Korean War, 1950-1953 -- United States.
  • United States -- Armed Forces -- History -- 20th century.
  • Soldiers -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Veterans -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
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