In honor of Thanksgiving today I recommend everyone who is celebrating the holiday to take a second and give thanks to all the US and allied personnel thought fought in the Korean War. Here is an excerpt from Max Hastings book, “The Korean War” that shows what Thanksgiving was like exactly 61 years ago from today:
November 24th was Thanksgiving Day – bleak and blustery. Immense logistic efforts had been made to ensure that the men of the 8th Army enjoyed their turkey dinner. By track and even by airdrop, the traditional Thanksgiving trimmings were shipped to the army that was still assured by its commanders that it was victorious. The British and other allies mocked the idea of bringing domestic comforts into the forward areas. “I could not stop asking myself what on earth it had all cost,” said one British soldier, faintly ashamed of his own small-mindedness. Yet he and his compatriots were also secretly impressed by a nation capable of such a feat in the midst of a campaign. The enemy were nowhere much in evidence. In the forward areas the troops were uneasy, yet they clung to MacArthur’s promise; home by Christmas. In some units work had begun to clean up vehicles and equipment, to crate surplus stores for shipment to Japan or Stateside. The cold was already intense, though not as bitter as it would become. In a thousand positions among the barren valley and hillsides of North Korea, American soldiers huddled around flickering fires fueled from the wreckage of local huts and imported packing cases, and made what seasonal cheer they could. Afterward, they looked back on that day as a hollow echo of a celebration, when they had seen what was to come. The clothes that Colonel John Michaelis of the 27th Infantry was wearing on Thanksgiving Day, he did not take off until February 16th.
What I found interesting about this passage personally was that last year I spent Thanksgiving in Afghanistan and I had a British officer tell me how impressed he was with the logistical capabilities of the US military to do everything from celebrating holiday meals to quickly establishing new forward operating bases in remote areas complete with phones, Internet access, MWR tents, etc.