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A Collection of Quotes about the Korean War. “Monclar, in turn, standing next to Stewart, was impressed by how cool the American general appeared, calmly smoking his pipe. “What he didn’t know,” Stewart admitted later, “was that I bit the stems off thr...

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“It is virtually a genetic condition among military men that when they have a chance for a breakthrough, they want to push ahead.”

- David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2007) pg. 324

“As the principal architect of the new China, in his [Mao Zedong] mind he now charged himself with keeping the revolution true to itself. That kind of belief in a single strand of history and in yourself as its principal figure – in effect serving as history’s man – is powerful stuff; it has both its strengths and weaknesses.

What Mao knew – about China’s peasants and their suffering, and the cruelty of the old order – he knew brilliantly; what he didn’t know; he didn’t know at all and often was unable to learn. That kind of success has the capacity to produce a terrible kind of megalomania. Epic revolutions probably demand someone with a supreme, invincible sense of self, a belief in the price that other men have to pay for the good of their vision; it was what allowed men like Mao and Stalin to rationalize great suffering for the good of the cause. But in such men there were no boundaries, no restraints, and what began as an all-consuming vision became almost inevitably a great nightmare as well; in time, monstrous crimes would be inflicted not only on China’s foreign enemies, or even it’s domestic dissidents, but on its own loyal citizens, including many of the men who had served Mao so loyally in those years of civil war and then in Korea. But to understand Mao’s action at this critical juncture it is important to think of him always not just as the architect of a revolution but as its guardian as well, someone who believed that his enemies – of whom there were many, domestic and foreign – were always out to destroy his revolution and that he had to move against them before they moved against him.”

- David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2007) pg. 339

“It was a day of tears, MacDonald thought years later. Some men wept and others perhaps should have. At one point, as they were coming up on The Pass, the convoy stopped and MacDonald walked toward the head of the column to find out what the delay was. Along the way, he saw Butch Barberis, commander of the Second Battalion of the Ninth Regiment, standing by the side of the road. Bullets were landing everywhere, but Barberis seemed immune to danger, in no way afraid of the Chinese, but not moving either. He and MacDonald had been friends, young officers of roughly the same age posted together back at Fort Lewis before the war, and MacDonald had always thought of Barberis as perhaps the single most fearless officer he knew. It was just like Barberis to stand there contemptuous of enemy fire, rallying his troops, MacDonald thought. Then he noticed that Barberis was weeping. “Mac,” his friend said, “I’ve lost my whole battalion.” [U. S Army Battalion is typically around 600-1,000 soldiers]

- David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2007) pg. 454

“Freeman had been spending a lot of time with his own artillery officers, Paul O’Dowd, the forward observer for the Fifteenth Field Artillery Battalion, noticed. He was always checking in, asking what they were hearing, and there was a good reason for that, because when all the other forms of communications were breaking down, the artillery generally had the best communications left. The artillery had to have good communications; if they didn’t, they risked killing their own troops. So they had their own spotter planes, and their reports from the field were very good, or at least very good on the scale of communications that existed by then.”

- David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2007) pg. 457

“At that moment, Emerson’s orders – absolutely terrifying, since the Chinese in great numbers were on the move south – were to try to hold that bridge until the late afternoon. He had one company [between 100-200 men] with which to do it. Chinese divisions [full strength Chinese division was 9,500 men, but it was typical for them to be understrength] were headed right at him, and the cold was a brutal enemy all its own. (He still remembered quite precisely more than half a century later that the temperature that day was twenty-three below.) As Emerson waited, he began to think about something that he would ponder for much of his career; what was it like for a unit of infantrymen who believed that those above them had decided they were more or less expendable as part of a larger need for the rest of a division’s survival? Were they some kind of unfortunate offering to the gods of battle?”

- David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2007) pg. 466

“Lieutenant Charley Heath had never dared to think he would make it out alive. But because had had gone out with the first group of tanks, he was one of the first to arrive, and he had been able to watch the other men from the division as the fortunate ones reached Sunchon. Every story seemed to be worse than the last, as the Chinese presence along The Gauntlet had grown stronger, and he heard stories about so many friends that died that day. But there was one scene that he always remembered: his regimental commander, Colonel George Peploe, just standing there weeping. There had been some moments when Peploe had seemed to those who served under him almost unbearably cocky, but this was a different man; it was as if he had been wounded, but all the wounds were on the inside. He was standing there crying, unable to stop, when one of his battalion commanders, Lieutenant Colonel Jim Skeldon, came over and held him and tried to steady him, more for emotional than physical reasons. But Peploe could not stop weeping, and then Skeldon, in the most tender of acts at the end of the most violent of days, took off his helmet and held it up to shield Peploe from the view of others, so no one else would be able to observe him crying. Though Peploe had lived when so many of his men had died, it had clearly been a kind of death of him as well.”

- David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2007) pg. 467

“…it was part of the code of the Army that when a senior officer failed in combat, great effort should be taken to protect his reputation and any sense of disgrace minimized, in no small part to show that the Army did not make mistakes.”

- David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2007) pg. 498

“Before he [Ridgway] took the command, he had already spoken to Joe Collins about the need to be though with the senior people in the field. “You must be ruthless with your general officers. Be ruthless with them because everything depends on their leadership.”

- David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2007) pg. 492

“When his forces had caught the Americans utterly ill-prepared at the Congchon River, even when they had isolated an American unit, they often found it difficult to finish that unit off., especially given U.S. control of the skies. (That complete control had occasioned a certain droll humor among the crews of American antiaircraft guns. When fighters or bombers flew overhead. The men would identify them as “B-2s.” As yet there was no B-2 bomber in the Air Force inventory, so some soldier not yet clued in would ask in surprise, “What’s a B-2?” And the answer would invariably come back, “Be too bad if they weren’t ours.”) U.S. firepower was, as advertised, exceptional, and because of the Americans airpower and the mobility of their ground forces, they had a capacity to come to the rescue of isolated units that the Chinese had never seen before.”

- David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2007) pg. 506

“For it was one of the great contrasts of the first year of the war , the stark difference between the two armies and the way they maneuvered: on the eve of battle, even facing a force that had nine divisions in it, the Americans did not yet know where the Chinese were; by contrast, hiding an American division on Korean soil would have been comparable to hiding a hippopotamus in a pet store.”

- David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2007) pg. 520

“Writing in the Saturday Evening Post of the very troops who had been so green only a few months earlier but fought so well at Twin Tunnels and then Chipyongni, the veteran correspondent Harold Martin said, “Much of their wisdom is the battle know-how the individual soldier picks up as he survives fight after fight, the simple things the books have always taught, but no soldier ever learns until he has been shot at: to keep off the sky line; to spread out in the attack, instead of bunching up like quail; to dig deep when on the defensive; to treat his communications equipment as tenderly as he would treat his sweetheart; to keep his socks dry and his weapons clean; and to hold his fire until the enemy is close enough to kill.”

- David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2007) pg. 534

“Monclar, in turn, standing next to Stewart, was impressed by how cool the American general appeared, calmly smoking his pipe. “What he didn’t know,” Stewart admitted later, “was that I bit the stems off three pipes that day.”

- David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2007) pg. 539

“At night, some of the other officers had noticed that he seemed to be mumbling to himself just before he went to sleep. At first, they thought he was saying his prayers. One officer asked if Treacy were reciting Hail Marys. No, the answer came back, he was reciting the name of each man in his battalion who had died and asking God’s forgiveness for his own responsibility in his death.”

- David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War (2007) pg. 573

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