We received a treasure trove of photographs the other day from Mike Plews who lives in the scenic Loess Hills of Western Iowa. He doesn’t know what each picture is about but collectively, Mike says, they show us a world of the past but, if today’s turbulence worsens, they might also show us a world of the future. They are from his late father, Chief Warrant Officer Ronald R. Plews. Mike only wishes he had talked more with his father about them.
My father was a soldier. He served in the U.S. Army from 1923 through 1955. He saw combat in both World War Two and Korea.
He was a complex man.
He could write beautiful letters. This is not surprising because from 1927 through 1929, he was out of the army and worked as a sports reporter in Detroit.
He deeply admired General George Patton. He served as one of his senior Non Commissioned Officers on Hawaii and later, as a Warrant officer serving with the 4th Armored Division in Europe, my father earned three Bronze Stars and a Combat Infantryman’s badge.
He was one of the troops who made the breakthrough into Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.
His unit liberated two death camps, and after the war he refused to set foot in a church. Never said why.
He was a New Deal Democrat and had no tolerance for prejudice in any form.
His favorite whisky was Old Forester.
He had no use at all for Richard Nixon.
He loved the Dodgers.
My father never told me any of this himself because he had a heart attack and died in 1962. I was only 12.
All of the above I learned secondhand.
I inherited his footlocker and in it I found a tin box with about 300 Kodachrome slides that he had taken while serving on a fire base during the Korean War.
If properly stored, Kodachrome doesn’t fade. These pictures look like they were taken yesterday.
We think of the Korean War in terms of black and white, so these images can be a little unsettling. Wars are not fought by people in distant monochrome memories. That comes later.
I can’t tell you the specifics of these photos he preserved. All I know is, they were taken during the war. I never had the chance to have a conversation with my father about them. Your guess is as good as mine.
If your own parents are still living, have a conversation with them about the seminal events in their lives. I promise that if you put it off you will regret it.
I sent this to BoomerCafé because we are in danger of another war in Korea. If it comes, such a war will be in color, 24 hours a day, from Day One.