Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day.
There are many veterans in my family, including my husband. But at this time, I think most of my two grandfathers, each who served entire careers for the army.
My Grandpa Chester wrote letters and poems for Grandma Leona while he served overseas. During her last couple years of life, Grandma shared these letters and poems with me and asked me to type them up for her. Some of the letters were getting brittle and I wanted to preserve anything she’d let me. I marveled at the works she showed me of his hand. Grandma said Grandpa was always a little self-conscious about his writing, but it was something special to her.
The following is a poem Grandpa wrote during his time in Korea. I asked Grandma if I could share this on my blog sometime. She said she thought it would be alright, but I never did post it before she died. It seems appropriate today. I plan to include this along with other writings from my family in a book someday. Seems we’ve all aspired to create through pen and paper, typewriter or keyboard.
God bless you Grandma and Grandpa – I miss you both.
If you wish to share this, please send people here so Grandpa gets proper credit. Thanks. And please note, this poem is presented exactly as it was written. I did not think it right to change anything even though some of the language might be sensitive.
Suffering in Korea
Below the Russian Border
Korea is the spot
Where we are doomed to serve our time
In a land that God forgot
Fighting the mosquitoes
Digging the ground with picks
Doing the work of gooks
And too damned tired to kick
Down with the lizards and snakes
Down where I get blue
Right in the middle of nowhere
Ten thousand miles from you
We freeze we shake we shiver
It’s more than we can stand
But we are not convicts
We are guardians of the land
We are soldiers in the ordinances
Earning our meager pay
Guarding the people of Korea
For two sixty a day
Living with only memories
Just waiting to see our gals
Hoping when we get home
They haven’t married our pals
Nobody knows we are living
Nobody gives a damn
Back home we are soon forgotten
We belong to Uncle Sam
And when we get to heaven
We will hear St. Peter yell
Bring in those guys from Korea
They’ve served their time in HELL.
By: Chester William David Combs
Grandma told me she thought this was written in 1949. However, it seems the US did not get involved in Korea until 1950 and I believe Grandpa was actually in Japan in 1949. Or at least officially. Still, there was something about my grandfather being part of a special group serving in Korea that I don’t have enough information about, nor that Grandpa would talk about. All I know is he had some part in helping to set up the new government and grandma was presented with a gift from the new Korean … someone? I’m not sure. But grandma had this poem stuffed inside a letter and she still had the gift from Korea.
Copyright, all rights reserved. Again, if you share this, please do not copy and paste. Please send people here so Grandpa gets proper credit. Thanks.
4 responses to “Suffering in Korea – Veteran’s Day Tribute To Grandpa Chester”
Julia, This is such a wonderful tribute to your grandfather! My father is a Korean War veteran who had also served in WWII–I too have tried to talk with him about his experiences, but he’s never been very forthcoming. When he met my partner (himself a Gulf War veteran), my dad finally started sharing a tiny bit of his military history–and I found out he was a China Marine. I was lucky enough to spend this weekend with my father, who is 85 and in failing health.
Treasure those family writings, and I hope you do put together a book for future generations to appreciate! Thanks for a great post. –Candace
Thank you Candace! Unfortunately Grandpa died in 1993 from cancer.
Julia, can you contact me, I have a very similar poem hand written with blood stains on it. This cannot be a coincidence. I tried to send you a message on facebook not sure I sent it to the correct person
OH my Dad served Feb 1952 till Feb 1955 in Korea