"It's been good to talk about these things"

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"It's been good to talk about these things"

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Doc: 00361879


By Charles J. Hanley (Associated Press Writer)
Martha Mendoza (Associated Press Writer)

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Copyright 1999 By The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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They walked through hell together once, young men shoulder to shoulder. Now they're old and torn apart, over what to forget, what to remember, what to tell.
"Whatever happened over there, the memories I have or any of the fellows have are basically our memories. ... I don't think it's anybody's business one way or another," said Korean War veteran Royal Bollinger of Tavares, Fla.
Some ex-GIs like Bollinger, former president of an organization of 7th Cavalry Regiment veterans, objected to the Associated Press investigation of survivors' claims that U.S. forces, including 7th Cavalry troops, killed 400 South Korean refugees near the hamlet of No Gun Ri in July 1950.
The AP found ex-GIs who corroborated the accounts of the survivors, who seek a U.S. apology and compensation.
Some veterans, like Al Olsovsky of Victoria, Texas, grew heated when asked about the killings. He disclaimed any knowledge of it, but said the North Korean invaders sometimes disguised themselves as South Korean refugees or used refugee groups as shields.
"There's 8,000 of us still missing," the ex-lieutenant said, referring to U.S. unaccounted-for from the war. "Nobody seems worried about that."
Other old GIs clearly knew something and felt a need to talk about it.
"Everyone wants to talk about our own men who were lost. No one wants to mention shooting them South Koreans," said James T. Kerns of Piedmont, S.C., a machine gunner who was one of a dozen veterans to describe what happened at No Gun Ri for the AP.
Said Don Down of Elyria, Ohio, a 7th Cavalry squad leader, "The refugees were the ones who suffered, sad to say."
Edward L. Daily, who went into Korea a corporal and came out a lieutenant, is proud of the boots-and-saddles legacy of Custer's old regiment. But when he began writing 7th Cavalry histories in the 1980s, he also wanted to record some of the darker events, like No Gun Ri.
"The guys" _ old comrades-in-arms _ talked him out of it.
"You try to put things in the back of your mind because life goes on," said Daily, 68, of Clarksville, Tenn. "But as you get older, you're not as active as you were and you begin to think more about these things again."
Daily was pleased at the chance to finally fill in a historical blank. "It's been good to be able to talk about these things."
Ex-GI Norman Tinkler of Glasco, Kan., said he understood why some veterans, himself included, felt compelled to tell what happened at No Gun Ri, even if it was painful to do so.
"It's conscience," he said. "You've got to pay for your deeds sooner or later.
"That old boy upstairs is going to do the judging on it. And so if you've done wrong, you don't stand too good a chance of getting up there," he said, and then paused before adding, "I ain't figuring on making it."

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journal article



By Charles J. Hanley (Associated Press Writer) and Martha Mendoza (Associated Press Writer), “"It's been good to talk about these things" ,” No Gun Ri Digital Archives, accessed July 5, 2020, https://nogunri.rit.albany.edu/omeka/items/show/52.