London native Norman McFadden — and many more veterans — refer to military battles in Korea as “The Forgotten War.”
In fact, not many books are available on the subject and those that are highlight major battles from a military history perspective, not personal experiences, McFadden said.
Not so anymore.
Three years in the making, McFadden has documented his military experiences in a book, “Anecdotes of War: Korea.”
“I kept a diary while I was in Korea,” McFadden said. “I wrote notes on the sides of a New Testament and kept a running log of what we were doing, the missions we went on, and the things that happened. Everything in the book is factual.”
McFadden said he wrote the book for his two grandchildren and in memory of his son, who was killed while in the military.
“I had these notes and my son told me I should write a book,” McFadden said. “He was later killed in the military and I wrote the book because he told me to.”
His only child, Norman I. McFadden, was killed in 1983 while stationed in Germany. He left two sons, now grown, whom McFadden wants to remember the military experience and history from Korea. McFadden said he also wanted to write the book for Korean and other war veterans.
“There’s just not many books on the Korean War,” he said. “I wanted to write just for the Korean War veterans. There are still people dead over there and nobody is looking for them. They (military) go into Vietnam and other places and find the dead soldiers. That’s why we call it ‘The Forgotten War.”’
McFadden said he doesn’t believe the government treated Korean War veterans with the same honor and glory as World War I and World War II veterans.
“We never had any parades,” McFadden said. “But we were a different breed. We looked at it like it was our duty. If a guy goes in the military and has to do something, he’s not a hero — he’s doing his job. But as opposed to Vietnam, nobody spit on us or protested us either.”
“Anecdotes of War: Korea” describes McFadden’s experiences, from his arrival at Camp Stoneman, Calif., in 1952 until April 1954 after years of combat and protective missions conducted in Korea’s mainland.
In one excerpt, McFadden vividly describes combat with North Vietnamese on an area called “Deserter Mountain.”
“It was around 1,300 hours now and as I looked to my rear I could see the sunlight shimmering off the Pokhan River and the ‘y’ where it split to the Hwachon and the Inje. I didn’t know it then but some of these people would never see such a glorious sight again,” McFadden wrote.
As the battle finally ended, McFadden viewed the injured and dead and passed once more across a mountaintop that overlooked the Pokhan River.
“As we climbed back up to the destroyed observation post I wondered what commander chose that location. As we passed it I took one long look at the sunshine and shimmering water of the Pokhan River,” McFadden wrote. “A lot of soldiers on that day never saw it again.”
McFadden also describes the loss of many friends who were killed in the line of duty during the Korean War.
He had experience in infantry, airborne, armor, Calvary and aviation and retired with 29 years of service as chief warrant officer in aviation. He received several awards during his military career, including the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service medal and Vietnam Gallantry cross. He attended the Command and General Staff College for Combat Developers and earned an accounting degree.
His education and military service caused McFadden, his wife Peggy, and his son to relocate many times.
“We moved 52 times in 29 years,” McFadden said.
McFadden began his military career with the National Guard in 1948 in the 149th Infantry. He went to armor division in 1954 and retired after 30 years of duty. He was a military writer and produced training materials for the aviation program through visual aids and TV scripts.
McFadden was born and raised in London and attended elementary and high school here. He married his high school sweetheart after graduating and the couple moved back to London after he retired.
Despite his retirement, McFadden’s military career continues to have an impact on his life. Last year, he received chemotherapy treatment for cancer caused by Agent Orange, a chemical used to kill vegetation during the Vietnam War.
“I was cutting leaves off trees and got sick,” McFadden said. “They did tests and found cancer and that it was caused from Agent Orange, which was used while I was in Vietnam. ...
“The leaves and foliage from the trees was so low-hanging and thick that you couldn’t see where the enemy was,” McFadden said. “They’d haul it in by helicopters and planes and it killed out the vegetation in a week. We didn’t know at the time that it would hurt people.”
But with recent news that his cancer is in remission and “Anecdotes” now in print, McFadden is setting sights on other writing projects. He plans to write a book about his Vietnam experiences and to write a history of his hometown. He already has a list of Vietnam memoirs ready and just has “to put in the meat,” he said. The next project is “A Walk Around London,” a book that will include a history of the town between 1932 and 1954.
“Anecdotes of War: Korea” can be purchased at Brookhaven Christian Book Store in the London Shopping Center and will soon be available in book stores in Corbin, Lexington and surrounding areas. The book can also be purchased on amazon.com or by visiting the publisher’s Web site, Rosedogbooks.com.
Staff Writer Nita Johnson can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.