10 August, 2012

10 August 1945

438th AAA AW BN
APO 513 % Postmaster, N.Y.
10 August, 1945      1000
Good morning, darling –

As a matter of fact it’s a lousy day here today – typical of a cold, windy, rainy day in New England – in October. They say we’ve had our summer here already, but I think we’ll have more warm weather.

The hottest news here is something I’ve already mentioned to you – namely the Colonel’s leaving. But it’s now definite, and he takes off definitely on Monday – 13 August. We have a few more high point men who will probably be going in the next several weeks. There are eleven of us with points below 85 – and we don’t know where we’ll go – or when. Anyway – on Saturday night we’re going to have a big brawl – i.e. tomorrow evening. He’s been a pretty good egg – somewhat on the style of Col Pereira. Now – temporarily at least – our Major – Hoag will take over. He’s a nice fellow – but not forceful enough. How much we’ll be pushed around is hard to say – but we’re kind of used to it by now.

Well, sweetheart – I became busy for awhile. You know, dear – I’ve built up quite a little practice from outside units. We’re centrally located and we see a lot of transients. Last week a Sgt. came in – complaining of service he had been receiving at the hospital in town. He had a draining sinus on his buttock and they were just dressing it from day to day. Well it needed a little nick to open it up adequately and the thing cleared up in a few days. Now I’ve been referred business – pay is still the same, darling.

Gosh, dear – would you please write our Congressman and complain about the mail? C’est toujours la même – rien. C’est formidable! Honestly – it’s becoming very annoying – day after day – no mail – and that’s really all I have to look forward to from day to day – and you just can’t or maybe you can – imagine how lonesome a day is without a letter from you, sweetheart. I love you dearly and I love your letters and I miss so much not being able to read daily that you love me too.

Oh hell here come some more guys. They’ve been dropping in all morning – but I’m not so busy these days that I can’t see them.

I’d better knock off now, sweetheart – because it’ll be noon soon and I’d like this to go out. Whatever else I say or write, darling – I mean always to remind you that I love you and you alone – and I always will!

Love to the folks, dear – and
My deepest love is yours alone –


about How Korea got Divided

Korea had been a unified country since the 7th century. During the 19th century imperialist nations threatened Korea's long standing sovereignty. After defeating China in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, the Japanese forces remained in Korea, occupying strategically important parts of the country. Ten years later, they defeated the Russian navy in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), contributing to Japan's emergence as an imperial power.  The Japanese continued to occupy the peninsula against the wishes of the Korean government and people, expanded their control over local institutions through force, and finally annexed Korea in August 1910.

In November 1943, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek met at the Cairo Conference to discuss what should happen to Japan's colonies, and agreed that Japan should lose all the territories it had conquered by force. In the declaration after this conference, Korea was mentioned for the first time. The three powers declared that "mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea [we] are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent.”

For Korean nationalists who wanted immediate independence, the phrase "in due course" was cause for dismay. Roosevelt may have proposed to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin that three or four years elapse before full Korean independence; Stalin demurred, saying that a shorter period of time would be desirable. In any case, discussion of Korea among the Allies would not resume until victory over Japan was imminent. However, American leaders worried that the whole peninsula might be occupied by the Soviet Union, and feared this might lead to a Soviet occupation of Japan.

On 10 August 1945 two young officers – Colonels Dean Rusk and Charles Bonesteel – were assigned to define an American occupation zone. Working at extremely short notice and completely unprepared, they used a National Geographic map to decide on the 38th parallel. They chose it because it divided the country approximately in half but would leave the capital Seoul under American control. No experts on Korea were consulted. The two men were unaware that forty years previous, Japan and Russia had discussed sharing Korea along the same parallel. Rusk later said that had he known, he "almost surely" would have chosen a different line. Regardless, the decision was hastily written into "General Order No. 1" for the administration of postwar Japan.
Charles H. Bonesteel III
Dean Rusk
The Soviet forces entered the Korean peninsula on 10 August 1945, but occupied only the northern half, stopping at the 38th parallel, per the agreement with the United States. A few weeks later the American forces entered Korea through Incheon. U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John R. Hodge formally accepted the surrender of Japanese forces south of the 38th Parallel on 9 September 1945 at the Government House in Seoul.

With the ending of World War II, the American victory over Japan very rapidly turned into a series of conflicts over the future of East Asia and the Pacific. Splitting Korea at the 38th Parallel, the United States and Russia began their Cold War game of influence and conflict just shy of all out war. Korea was the first test of their policies and resolve.

In December 1945, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to administer the country temporarily. Both countries established governments in their respective halves favorable to their political ideology. In the process, U.S.-run elections supervised by the U.N. replaced an indigenous, left-wing government that had formed in June 1945 with one led by the right-wing politician and anti-Communist Syngman Rhee. The southern partition's left-wing parties boycotted the elections. The Soviet Union, in turn, approved and furthered the rise of a Communist government led by Kim Il-Sung in the northern part. The Allies said that Korea would be a unified, independent country under an elected government but failed to specify the details or how to make this happen. In 1949, both Soviet and American forces withdrew. This set the stage for a Korean Civil War which led to the Korean War (1950-1953) and the eventual creation of a four-kilometer wide buffer zone between the states, where nobody would enter. This area came to be known as the Demilitarized Zone or DMZ.

Still divided today, it is difficult to see how the Korean people will ever have the opportunity to be one again.

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