In any wartime situation, there always seem to be those who think the United States should not get involved…mostly because they think that if we just stay out of it, the enemy will leave us alone. Of course, history does not prove that theory. When we look at the wars that the United States has been drawn into, only after we were attacked too, we find that the enemy always intended to take on the United States too, and we were only delaying the inevitable. It seems like every wartime president has had to deal with the naysayers, and President Eisenhower was no different. During the Cold War years when the Communists were trying to take over the world, Eisenhower chose a strong United States defense against it, but his view of a strong defense was much different that General Hoyt Vandenberg’s view. Vandenberg wanted a massive increase in conventional land, air, and sea forces, while Eisenhower said that a cheaper and more efficient defense could be built around the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Senator Robert Taft argued that if efforts to reach a peace agreement in Korea failed, the United States should withdraw from the United Nations forces and make its own policy for dealing with North Korea, basically a completely independent foreign policy, or what one “might call the ‘fortress’ theory of defense.” While both of these suggestions might seem like the best course of action, history tells us that Senator Taft’s suggestion would make us look weak, and possibility bring about attacks on the United States, and while I would tend to agree with General Vandenberg, that we need a strong defense system, I also understand that as technology changes, nations must change with it. Having hundreds of fighter planes is not necessary, if a few can drop a bomb that will settle the matter once and for all. It is similar to the use of pen and paper when we live in a computer age.
President Eisenhower was no stranger to sending the military might of the United States out to attack the enemy, and in his days as a general, he made those decisions every day, but as every one should realize, the more men you have to send, the more possibility of losing them. The decision to send soldiers to their deaths was not one that Eisenhower ever took lightly. With a strong nuclear arsenal, the enemy nation knew that they had better think twice before taking on the United States.
Without naming either man, President Eisenhower responded to both during a speech at the National Junior Chamber of Commerce meeting in Minneapolis. His forceful speech struck back at critics of his Cold War foreign policy. He insisted that the United States was committed to the worldwide battle against communism and that he would maintain a strong United States defense. It was just a few months into his presidency, and the Korean War still raging, but Eisenhower laid out his basic approach to foreign policy with this speech. He began by characterizing the Cold War as a battle “for the soul of man himself.” He rejected Taft’s idea that the United States should pursue isolationism, and instead he insisted that all free nations had to stand together saying, “There is no such thing as partial unity.” To Vandenberg’s criticisms of the new Air Force budget, in which the president proposed a $5 billion cut from the Air Force budget, Eisenhower explained that vast numbers of aircraft were not needed in the new atomic age. Just a few planes armed with nuclear weapons could “visit on an enemy as much explosive violence as was hurled against Germany by our entire air effort throughout four years of World War II.” With this speech, Eisenhower thus pointed out the two major points of what came to be known at the time as his “New Look” foreign policy. First was his advocacy of multi-nation responses to communist aggression in preference to unilateral action by the United States. Second was the idea that came to be known as the “bigger bang for the buck” defense strategy.
Anytime a nation is facing war, it is a stressful time for its people, but no nation will do well using the isolation strategy, because a nation that appears to be weak in its own defense, will ultimately become a target for attack. I am not an advocate for the United Nations, and in fact, I believe we need to disband the United Nations, but I do believe that a nation must have allies…nations with like values, who are willing to go to war to back up their allies, and that we must not allow bully nations to take over smaller nations, because that only strengthens their resolve to expand further. I also believe that when technology becomes available, it must be properly combined with human forces to achieve the best result in the most efficient way.
On June 25, 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea, my uncle, Larry Byer found himself in the middle of what would become some of the hardest years of his life. Uncle Larry was an Army private during the Korean War. Korea was originally under the rule of the Japanese empire, but when it collapsed after World War II, the country was divided. The United Nations, using the United States as its main force, came to aid of South Korea. China, along with assistance from Soviet Union, came to aid of North Korea. North Korea was unhappy with the division of the country that took place after World War II. The global tensions of the Cold War that developed immediately afterwards didn’t help the situation either. Then the North Korean government decided to get back the area they believed was actually theirs. In reality, Korea isn’t the only country ever to be divided, so had they simply accepted it, the problem might have been resolved right away, but they simply wouldn’t.
I understand why something had to be done with the country of Korea, because they had no government, but it doesn’t seem right to me to divide the country. Nevertheless, it was done that way, and in reality, that area has been volatile since that day. North Korea has tried to take over South Korea. They have also made many threats to the rest of the world. Their leader, Kim Jong-il, and now his son, Kim Jong-un, have both proven to be ruthless, and about half crazy. The rest of the world is constantly trying to decide if we need to go in an blow them up, or try not to make them too angry. Time will tell, and it depends on Kim Jong-un.
This was the world my Uncle Larry found himself in while he was a private in the Army. The North Koreans fought their battles in any underhanded way they could come up with. Their only goal was to win the war. They didn’t of course, and soon, my Uncle Larry came back home. I’m sure he was very happy to be back home. Spending any time in a crazy war like the Korean war would never be ideal in any way. I am just thankful that he made it home. Today is Uncle Larry’s birthday. He would have been 82 years old. Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Larry. We love and miss you very much.
For years many Americans, myself included, were drawn into the Korean War, or at least one aspect of it, in the form of M*A*S*H, a popular television show about the way a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital was run…sort of. The show took on more than just the hospital side, by including a comical side that portrayed the antics of Benjamin Franklin Pierce, aka Hawkeye, and his best friend and co-conspirator, BJ Honeycutt. I can’t say just how true to life the show was, but we all cried right along with the doctors and nurses when they lost a patient, and cheered when they saved one.
In reality, the MASH units were a vital part of the war effort, and the saving of the lives of many soldiers. These were amazing surgeons who learned techniques that cut corners, making surgeries faster and more efficient, bringing lifesaving changes to medicine in the process. The MASH units were originally established in August of 1945, and then were deployed during the Korean War and later conflicts. The Army deactivated the last MASH unit on February 16, 2006, which I did not know, but I’m sure most of my military friends probably did. The MASH units were replaced by the CSH or Combat Support Hospital. I’m sure the CSH units are amazing units too, and maybe someday they will have as big a place in history as the MASH units did, but unless they do a television show that is as popular as the M*A*S*H show was, I don’t think their place in history will be as well known to the American people as the MASH units were. I’m sure that with all the improvements, the CHS units are probably better and more up to date than the MASH units were, but in the hearts of the M*A*S*H fans, the CHS units have big shoes to fill.
Many an evening has found Bob and I watching a M*A*S*H marathon. And during the original years, we watched it every night that it was on. We simply liked the show. I have to wonder if any other war has been watched as much as the Korean War…even though people didn’t necessarily realize that they were watching a war, or at least a part of it. While we may not have really learned a lot about the Korean War from this source, we did learn something about one part of the war…a vital part in all reality. Now that M*A*S*H is on again as re-runs, we often fine ourselves watching it again…even though we know how it will end. It is just one of those timeless shows. You just really never get tired of them…even the re-runs.
Since I wrote the story about bossy big sisters a while back, I have wondered about Bob’s great uncle, James Ernest Schulenberg. Jim was the youngest of Bob’s great grandfather, Max Heinrich Johann Carl Schulenberg’s ten children, and Bob’s grandfather, Andrew Carl Schulenberg was the oldest. Andy was born March 12, 1906, and Jim was born June 10, 1928. That put Bob’s dad, Walter Andrew Schulenberg’s sister Marion Claudine Schulenberg, born November 29, 1927, a little over 6 months older that her Uncle Jim. Nevertheless, the three were good friends, and played together often. After Andrew’s divorce from Vina Nona Leary Schulenberg, Walt and Marion’s mother, my guess is that the children didn’t see each other as much, with the possible exception of at school. Nevertheless, as we age, friends come I and out of our lives, and we maybe aren’t as close to our cousins, or in this case, an uncle, as used to be.
By the time Jim was grown, the Korean War was in full swing, and Jim took part in that war. I don’t know if he was drafted or if he enlisted, but I know he served, because of a story in the Billings Gazette saying that upon his return from the Korean War, he and his wife, whose name I don’t know yet, made their home in West Forsyth, Montana. That would put him right back in the town he and so many of the other, more recent, Schulenberg family members were born.
At some point around 1993, Jim moved to Billings, Montana, where he would spend the rest of his life. Jim passed away on June 24, 2006. When I first saw this picture, I had the opportunity to ask my father-in-law, who he was, but for some unknown reason, I did not ask him for very much information about his Uncle Jim. Now that he is gone, there is no longer an opportunity to ask him, and I really wish that was not the case. So often, we do not realize how much that past family history will mean to us, until we no longer have the opportunity to find out about it first hand. It is a live and learn situation, but I wish I had learned about it first, and not had to live with the regret that I didn’t ask.