I have not been writing anything of significance during the past five years having been deeply involved in care taking for my wife Joan who suffered from dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. She passed away August 2, 2017. It wasn’t until after the the holidays that I felt a desire to do any writing. I felt apprehensive, would I be able to write in a way that I would feel competent. It was not only that I hadn’t been writing anything significant for a long time, but had the accumulation of years eroded my abilities to put words on paper in a satisfactory manor. Could I in my ninth decade still write?
In the middle of January of 2018 I started a project to revise “For the Cause, The Cold War Turns Hot in Korea and Why Young Men Went to War.” “For the Cause” was the last novel I had written, and like the other novels I had written, felt a need after publishing to revise the original in response to feedback from revues and other sources.
“For the Cause,” is a story about two friends, young South Dakota farm boys, having reached adulthood and having not figured out what to do with the rest of their lives joined the Marines as their best alternative in the short term. Unfortunately, soon after graduating from marine boot camp the Korean war broke out.
The two young men had joined the marines at the same time and were in the same boot camp company. However after boot camp the two young marines were separated with one going to the Navel Air Station Sangley Point in the Philippines to be part of the navel air station security detachment. The other marine found himself in the Marine First Provisional Brigade being hurriedly put together to be sent to Korea where North Korean forces had overrun most of South Korea. The book follows the two young men during the first six months of the Korean war with one doing guard duty in the Philippines and the other is involved in almost continuous combat in a very fluid situation as both armies maneuver for an advantage.
Reviews of the “For the Cause” book were most critical of the Korean part of the book. For the most part the Korean story revolves around the young South Dakota farm boy and the men in his fire team, squad, platoon and company. The overall view of the war by the men during the fighting was limited to what they heard or could see. As I researched the marines roll during the first six months of the Korean War I was impressed at how well the marines performed. The marines were first thrown into the line to fill holes in the Pusan Parameter, then pulled out to lead in the Inchon landings and the liberation of Seoul, and then again take to ships to land on the east coast of North Korea and advance into the mountains where they fell into a trap set by the Chinese at the Chosen Reservoir. I flew as a crewman on a navy patrol plane in the theater during the Korean War and followed what was happening on the ground closely and had the impression that the retreat from the Chosen Reservoir was a disaster. Only after doing the research for “For the Cause” did I realize the marine retreat from Chosen is considered one of the Marine Corp’s proudest moments. I thought if I didn’t understand the history of which I had been a part of, how likely would others understand the history of the Korean War. For that reason I decided I would include an overall view of the action taking place during the first six months of the Korean War. A view that would not be seen by the men on the line doing the fighting. To do this I had a third person narrator that would occasionally provide the reader with a general’s perspective of the war. Adding this overall perspective would seem to be something readers would be interested in. Wrong. The fiction reader is following the protagonist and their story and is not interested in the wars overall strategy. So in the revision the third person narrator is being eliminated and the reader sees the war as the protagonist sees it.
Because of the revisions mentioned, the changes to the Korean portions of the “For the Cause” were quite extensive. Since I now live alone, prepare my own meals, do my own laundry, clean, and since I had not done any serious writing for a number of years I had suspected it would take several months to complete the revision work. However within a month and a half I had the revisions to an editor. The good news being that I had not lost my writing abilities, such as they are, due to my long absence from doing any serious writing and am now ready to move onto another project.