My Dad the U.S. China Marine

My Dad the U.S. China Marine

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year Wishes and Perspectives: 1946

As 1945 concluded the prospect of real peace loomed brightly. As the year came to close news spread that American soldiers were coming home. They were returning from far-flung places around the globe –from Africa, Italy, Germany, and small islands in the Pacific such as Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Philippines, Japan, and China. They answered the call to duty, leaving families and neighborhoods as na├»ve, adolescent youths and returned as mature young adults, sobered and steady by the reality of wartime service.

There were also many who were not returning home for the first peacetime New Year. My father was among those who were called to extended duty in China. Besides being separated from loved ones and familiar surroundings they had personally borne witness to immense changes in the world they inhabited and in themselves. My Dad faced dangers few if any of us could imagine. He like his fellow Marines and those of the other services faced danger, death and severe combat.

December 27 brought news that Chinese Communists had presented to the national government under Chiang Kai-shek a proposal for an unconditional truce on all sides. Gen. Chou En Lai of the communists was a luncheon guest of Gen. George C. Marshall, the new American envoy where views were exchanged. The Chinese News Service, an agency of the central government said in an editorial that, “We must keep pace with the times and solve our own problems so that the blood of our patriots which made victory possible will not have been shed in vain.” On December 31 the Nationalist government announced that it had accepted the Communist-proposed “”cease fire.” Yet Lt. Gen. Albert c. Wedemeyer, commander of American forces in China, indicated that American military support for the Nationalist government was increasing. “The trend of American policy in China is enough reason for asking just what we intend to do in the Far East,” stated an editorial in the December 31, 1945 edition of the Honolulu Star Bulletin. “Granted that our interest prohibits our complete withdrawal. But a token representation is quite different from becoming the policeman of eastern Asia.”

The possibility of peace between both sides of the Chinese Civil War must have brought kindling in the hearts of many U.S. soldiers, my father included. And yet continued civil strife in the near future would necessitate that he and many other soldier from the United States would be staying longer. “The morale of marine occupation troops in north China is quite high,” said Maj. Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., formerly the commanding general of the 6th Marine Division. At the time there were an estimated 50,000 Marines controlling several vital centers of north China. My father was one of them.

In Connecticut my father’s family greeted the New Year in Greenwich, Connecticut with cold temperatures and light snow flurries. They, my father, his fellow China Marines and countless millions around the world greeted the New Year with a sense of hope tempered by anxious concerns about the future. The surrender of Japan and the defeat of Nazi Germany did not automatically bring peace to the world. There were misunderstandings and festering antagonisms simmering with the victors courageous looking for resolutions without resorting to renewed armed conflict. Wishing for peace and achieving it in the New Year would be elusive, and as history has shown, was not achieved as many had hoped.

And yet the will to simply give up did not materialize. That still holds true in the 21st century. History reminds us that “the will-to-do and the purpose-to-perform” by individuals represents some of the best traits of our military, their families -and all who work tirelessly for the cause of freedom and the journey of bringing about a safer world.

Happy New Year

Friday, December 10, 2010

1946: "China’s Major Industry" (Honolulu Advertiser Editorial)

In the April 20, 1946 edition of the Honolulu Advertiser an interesting editorial was published entitled ‘China’s Major Industry’ which reads as follows:

“A well-known Chinese war correspondent once confided to fellow correspondents that China is not likely to become a united nation within a hundred years. China, he pointed out, has been a war-torn country for a thousand years and more and civil war has long been a part of the nation’s diet even as rice. By that he meant that without civil war and proceeds thousands of Chinese would be without a livelihood. These wars between warlords and their followers are looked upon by the average national as one of the country’s major industries.

“The current battle in Manchuria between the Chungking Nationalist defenders against the so-called Communist army is but a part of the ancient internecine struggles of old Cathay. And as for this army labeled Communist, competent observers just come from China are frank in their praise for its competence as opposed to the of-times bungling inefficiency of Chungking warlords, -who, by the way, the United States has put its money on.”