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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  January 30, 2011 7:00am-8:00am EST

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>> we are in the gallery room, we have kurt vonnegut's typewriter that was used in the 1970s. this was donated to us by his daughter, nanny. he wrote, you know, many of his more familiar books during the 1970s, and we're happy to have this typewriter. he, he was not a fan of high technology, and he did not use a computer. he preferred to, to use the typewriter through his dying day. he liked to work in be his home -- in his home on an office chair and a coffee table. he would slump over his typewriter. he, vonnegut would go out into
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the world every day. he talks about how he had learned that you could buy postage stamps over the internet, and he just thought that was horrible because then, you know, if he chose that route, he would not have the everyday experience of going to the post office. and those everyday experiences and the people he encountered during his daley walks were the -- daily walks were the basis for some of his stories. he met a number of very interesting characters in new york city, and going out and meeting people, you know, was a way for him to capture new trl for his -- material for his work. vonnegut is timeless because these issues, i mean, we still have the same issues. we're still suffering with war, disease, death, we have famine and environmental issues, you know? he said your planet's immune
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system is trying to get rid of you. he thought we should take care of the planet. these issues, you know, have resurfaced, and it does not look like we've found any viable solutions to these problems. so, you know, i think his work is timeless. >> c-span's local content vehicles are traveling the country visiting cities and towns as we look at our nation's history and some of the authors who have britain about it. -- written about it. go to >> up next, patrick o o'donnell talks about the marines who made up george company, one of the most highly-decorated units in the korean war. he discusses his book at borders bookstore in westlake, ohio. it's a little over 50 minutes. >> good evening. i'm here to introduce you to the author of "give me tomorrow,"
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pat o'donnell, tell you a little bit about him. for the past 20 years, pat o'donnell has been capturing the oral history of american combat veterans from world war i to afghanistan. he has personally conducted 4,000 oral histories and written seven books on modern war and espionage. he has co-produced or written 15 history channel documentaries and was a historical consultant for "band of brothers." he is award-winning and best selling author of seven books. most importantly, he was in combat, and he volunteered to go to iraq on his own. when he was in combat, he wasn't a serviceman. he went as a historian, and he just happened to be with the
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marines in the battle of fallujah. i don't know if you know where that is, but that was a big battle in iraq. he volunteered to go to iraq on his own dime and captured the story. he fought house to house in the 2004 battle, battles in iraq. where he tried to save the life of a marine when they were caught in an ambush. in "give me tomorrow," he has written a book that captures george company's experiences in korea. i was a member of george company, and i waited 60 years for this man to come along. because nobody told our story. i couldn't understand why in a battle like chosen reservoir which i'm sure all of you know because it isn't taught anywhere, and be if -- if you
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know it, it's because you want to find out about things. but chosen reservoir had the most number of medals given out for any battle. and it was a two week battle with the chinese that just came into the korean war. and they surrounded us with 150,000 men against 15,000 of us. and they were sent there to annihilate us. well, i'm here, so they didn't complete their mission. so i'd like to introduce you to pat o'donnell. [applause] >> thank you, bob. i'm so thrilled that so many people are here tonight that i know. i really appreciate that support. for me it's a very personal kind of day. about six years ago almost to this day, i returned from iraq from the battle of fallujah. and that's the genesis of this
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entire book. for me it was a very personal battle. i was there as a volunteer. i went over as a historian, but i was in uniform, and i ended up fighting house to house with the, with 3-1 in first platoon. it was more a matter of survival. and, you know, it's a battle that still lingers on for me and every member of first platoon. and, you know, whenever january rolls around or november, you know, i just remember that day, and it's just something ha just doesn't -- that just doesn't go away quite easily. and i asked my parents not to come to camp pendleton when i returned in january 2005, and i was, it was sort of a weird experience. i was completely alone. and, you know, when you come
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home from a war alone, it's sort of undescribable. everybody was there with their family members and, you know, i kind of walked across this little bridge that had some yellow ribbons, and it was a surreal experience until i met some of the men, these senior marines from george company, who asked me who i was, first, and they wanted to know more. and i explained to them that i was a historian with 3-1. they said to me, well, we, you know, 3-1 carried our battle guide on in the battle of knew ya which was news to me. i didn't know the whole story. then they said to me, do you need a ride? i said, yes. i was 24 miles away from the nearest train station. i was in the middle of camp pendleton, there were no cabs,
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so they took me toward the train station, and they asked me if i'd like to go to lunch. at lunch i talked about fallujah, and then they said to me, george company has quite an interesting story also. we held off a chinese regiment at a place called east hill in the chosen reservoir. as a historian, i was, i was astounded. how could a company of 200 men hold off, you know, a regiment of almost 3,000? that's, that right there was a thread, you know? it got my interest. and i, for me the story found me then. i became curious. and the next thing i know i was invited to george company's reunion the next year. and they said, you know, why don't you just come on over and start, you know, just be our guest. and i began interviewing the members of george company, and i
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found really one of the most remarkable stories that i think i've ever come across in my entire career. the thing that really struck me was a gentleman by the name of rocco zulo who was george company's first sergeant during the korean war. and the men told me that zulo had died during korea. and i'm like, how can ha -- that be? how can somebody basically die, and that was for me the most interesting storyline. i started to ask more questions, and i found out that rocco zulo was kind of the heart and soul of this company. and he was the first sergeant that had to lead them up a road, a 12-mile road. he used a 50-caliber machine gun, took out several machine gun nests with that as well as a bazooka and at the end of the
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road brought the men to safety. they found out there were marines that had come out to greet them. they thought they had made it, but in reality it was chinese soldiers who were dressed asthma leans, and they were shot. basically, they started shooting at the company, and rocco zulo was shot in the stomach three or four times and was, basically, pronounced dead. and he was found -- they took this man's body, and they put him in a morgue. and for 35 years they thought he was dead until their first reunion in 1986 where they found this man, basically, he was alive. somebody had pulled him out of the morgue from another company. and from there begins this amazing saga that i, that i chronicled. and it starts with this reunion in 1986, and then it goes back in time to the summer of 1950.
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for those of you that don't remember the summer of 1950, it was kind of a lot like today. basically, world war ii had ended, there had been a massive budget deficit, and everything was about cutting the budget. ferg. we had run up a major deficit during world war ii, and all the talk was about cutting the deficit and cutting the armed forces. we went from 12 million men under arms to, basically, less than a million. weapons systems, everything went out the door. so when north korea attacked on june 25th in the summer of 1950, america was completely unprepared for it. they crossed the 38th parallel with over ten divisions and 200 t-34 tanks and quickly overran sowell, and they were pushing deep into the korean
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peninsula -- seoul. there was of a number of u.n. resolutions that were passed, and america was at war along with the u.n. and several other countries like australia and britain. they came to the south's aid to stem the north korean tide that was quickly overrunning the country. and north, north korea nearly overran south korea. there was a perimeter, and basically the south was really reduced to this tiny perimeter at the tip of south korea. and at any point it looked like the dam was going to break, and the north was going to overrun the south. basically, truman appointed one of the legends of the pacific, general macarthur, to stem the tide. originally, the 23rd division was thrown in, and these guys were equipped with bazookas that
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had hardly any effect at all, and it was a delaying game. they were trading, you know, time for space. and the answer came in the form of the marine corps. first marine, provision alma lean brigade was sent over, and they acted as a fire brigade to plug the gaps. but it was in the summer of 1950 that george company, which is the focus of this book, was formed. and it's not, it's a story about men that had really no training at all in many most cases. as well as some veterans of world war ii. but many of the men were reservists, and it's not like the reservists of today where people have professional military training, they go and they train. the reservists of 1950 had no military training at all. in fact, they had some parade ground training, and many men didn't even know how to fire a
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weapon or throw a grenade. so it was in this summer of 1950 that george company was born. and rocco zulo, the man that i told you that, basically, died in the chosen reservoir, had to form this company overnight from men like bob who just talked who had some experience as a marine. but many of these men had no training at all, and they had to weld a company that could fight overnight. so in august 1950, basically, these men were trained up by a combat veteran, zulo, who had survived guadalcanal. and they were rushed over to japan, and they were rushed into one of the greatest amphibious assaults in history. enchong was going to turn the tide, basically. it's one of these amazing
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stories where only two days of the year the tides were light that the landing craft could actually land in the harbor without getting beached a mile from the shore. and macarthur, basically, against the advice of all of his generals and admirals,ed thed that the -- decided that the tide would be turned at enchong. and it was here that george company would see its first flood. of the men were assembled on landing craft, and they hit the beach at enchong, and they were in the first wave. and bob was one of those men on that first wave. and, you know, it wasn't quite omaha beach, but they certainly did have resistance, and these were some of the first members of george company to die. and bob remembers one of those first people, and it's one of those memories that'll, that never has left him. and as george company landed on
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the beach, they pushed inland towards seoul, and they were the first unit that made their way up toward seoul at a place that was the actual center of the city. and it was the only road that could support tanks. m-26 per,kings as well as sherman tanks. so capturing the road was key, and george company pushed down this road in somewhat similar house to house fighting as fallujah. and as they moved their way down this road, they encounter quite a bit of north korean resistance from pill boxes and houses and dug-in men. but their first test, first of five tests against enemy regiments came on the night that they had entered the city.
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and nearly reinforced battalion, over 6 or 700 men from north korea, backed up with tanks and self-propelled guns assaulted george company. and they held the line. this tiny company with bazookas and 30-caliber machine guns basically held the line against t-34 tanks and self-propelled guns, and they stopped the north koreans 'first offensive of in the city cold, basically, that night. and what makes george company special is that this is the first time of five that they did this. five times against five enemy regiments. and they won three medals of honor. basically, from here the company was very depleted after seoul, house to house fighting. and then they moved to the other side of the korean peninsula to
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a place called wan san. macarthur made a mistake birdie siding his -- by dividing his command. he pushed general walton walker up north with the eighth army to pursue what was left of the north koreans which had, basically, the perimeter they had broken out, and the north koreans were on the run and in tatters. and at this point, base aically, the korean war changes dramatically. the game changer was the entry of china into the war. macarthur had, basically, told president truman that the chinese would not intervene, and even though intelligence had indicated that it would. but a lot of that information was not sent up the chain of command, or it was dismissed, it was denied. i mean, there's a lot of
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different theories about it. but the men of the eighth army as well as tenth corps were pushing north towards the river and into, basically, one of the great traps of the 20th century. where instead of, you know, 50 or 60,000 chinese that macarthur anticipated had crossed the river, almost 3-400,000 chinese soldiers had marched 150 miles over rugged terrain, hid their movement and laid, basically, an insidious trap for both the eighth army as well as bob's unit in george company at the chosen reservoir. and it's here that george company makes one of its epic and great stands. that, basically, a first marine division is tasked with moving out towards wan san and into this area called the chosen
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reservoir. there's a, over 70-mile road that goes up towards the reservoir and in towards the border with china. and the first marine division is pushing along this road. anybody that's familiar with operation market garden during world war ii, it's kind of similar in the sense that a single road or a couple roads, basically, determined the entire offensive. and when that took place, it became very, very dangerous because it was susceptible to attacks from the the thanks. and that's -- from be the flanks. the chinese surrounded the first marine division, and this division, first marine division, was, basically, outnumbered 8 to 1 in most cases and sometimes more, 20 to 1. it's not like world war ii where we had a numerical advantage in almost every situation. these men were outnumbered. and it's here that george company makes one of it epic
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stands. but it first has to break through. and let me explain that for a minute. the center of gravity in the chosen reservoir was a place where the first marine division had its supplies and headquarters. the kind of the heart and soul. and -- it was kind of the heart and soul and the only place that the division could consolidate if it was attacked. so it had to be held at all costs. and what happened is in late november the chinese attacked in force. they attacked the eighth army on the other side of korea and they attacked the tenth corps on the other side. basically, they were being overwhelmed. the only unit or one of the few units that were in reserve was george company, some royal marine commandos and other kind of of cats and dogs units.
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the headquarters had to be reenforced, and these men had to go up a 12-mile road. and if you remember at the beginning of the conversation, i talked about this guy named rocco zulo. and it's here that zulo makes, they asemibl the men, and they have to move up this road at all costs. they have to break through at all costs. instead of me telling you the story, i'm going to have bob tell that story and put you in his boots as they went up that road. bob? >> that was a very cold road. it was between 20 and 30 below zero. snow-covered, ice-covered, it was a narrow road. and they wanted us and the chinese held all the high
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ground. there was four divisions between us. now, they weren't all going to get us, but most of them were. they had enough men to really shoot down on us as we were going up this road. so with no food, the weapons are sluggish, the grenades, some of the grenades wouldn't explode, we had a chaotic time. and as they were blowing up our trucks, the men that were on those trucks had to go on other trucks. and if you've ever been in a traffic jam, you see the accordion effect. and the trucks would stop, and then they'd start going again as they broke through another roadblock. and the chinese are shooting down at you, and you're telling your men to take whatever cover they can find behind a tire, on a truck or some hill that's close by. and this went on for 12 hours.
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and rocco zulo, the reason why we mention him so much, is that we knew nothing about combat. rocco was a veteran of world war ii, guadalcanal and all we could say was, well, we'll just do what he does. and he was the kind of a leader that would tell you not to do it, but follow me and we'll do it. he didn't send anybody anywhere. he says, come on, let's go. that's the kind -- that's why he was so powerful. and whenever he got shot, it really took the heart out of us. we said, boy, if rocco can die, anybody can die. but that's why we were so surprised 40 years later to see him alive.
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but as we went with up this road, the chaos that was involved here of all these trucks blowing up -- there was 150 vehicles in this convoy. and it, and the only thing you can do, you couldn't maneuver. you just had to protect your truck. and they were on both sides, so there was, like, 12 men to a truck. and you'd go from each side to see wherever the pressure was the greatest, that's where you would put your machine guns. and some of the men didn't have machine guns. the bits and pieces that were thrown into the convoy that somebody had to go up this road, and we were the only ones there. so it wasn't a pleasant task. but we finally made it to the headquarters. and then there was no warm showers or hot food, just ice
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and snow and dead chinese. and live chinese on the hills. so they told us to get some sleep because tomorrow morning, 8:00, we have to take this place called east hill. there was nobody else there to do it. that's why we had to get to the headquarters, was to take this hill. and that was our weakest spot. if east hill fell, then the whole division could fall. and if chinese got all these supplies, that's what they needed for their victory. because they were running out of ammunition too. so we couldn't even walk up the hill. i mean, this was ice-covered. previous traffic had made it like a sliding board. so we had our trenching tools and bayonets and carving out places to put your feet to grab ahold and pull each other up. and we finally got to the military crest of the hill.
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and the chinese held the topographical crest which is the higher point. and we set up, and we knew the chinese would be coming at us that night. but we couldn't dig foxholes, so what we did was we got the dead chinese bodies and stacked them around us to give us some protection against the bullets and the weather. and i was a machine gun squad leader. and i had a beautiful field of fire for that night, and the other machine gun was up above, and we had a good crossfire going. so we knew they would be coming in full force. and the worst thing that can happen in combat for a machine gunner is for his weapon not to fire. and my weapon froze up. and i'm beating on it, i'm
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yelling at my men to throw hand grenades to stop the enemy from penetrating our lines. and then as i was working on the gun trying to get it to fire, five chinese showed up, and, fortunately, i was down by the gun. and my helmet was off, and i grabbed my helmet and slap add couple of them in the face with it, probably busted their noses, shot the other ones with my .45. and they broke through. they couldn't -- we couldn't hold such a mass of men without machine gun fire. as it turned out, the other machine gunner was shot in both his legs, and he couldn't walk. so that was part of the deal on east hill. and then the commandos and some other marines reinforced us to hold that hill because that was crucial to the marines getting out of the reservoir.
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because this was right at the start of the road to the next town down where we had just come from. and whoever controlled this hill controlled everything. but like i said, it was 17 medals of honor given out in this battle, 70 navy crosses. and they probably could have gave out twice this many at least. but whenever there's nobody to verify what somebody has done, we had a thousand marines killed out of 15,000 marines up there, 12,000 casualties. they weren't all dead. if you're shot in the arm, you could still fight just as long as you don't have a broken bone. so it was a group of men.
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we didn't know each other when we started there, but it turned out that we were just brothers. and you know what happens when you pick on a brother. you're going to get the other brothers after you. and that's what happened at chosen. the chinese picked on the wrong brothers. and rocco zulo was our big brother. he always looked after us. so it was, i was so happy to see him 40 years later at a reunion. i couldn't believe it. [laughter] because i, he was dead as far as i was concerned. i seen him laying there, and they took him away. but the marines made it out, and you'll notice this pin i have on my lapel. this is the star of coterie, and this is where the marines after they came back, the fifth and seventh marines regiments joined up with us, and then we all
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fought down to a town called coterie. and that was the last place on the rez reservoir. and then the road went down to the seaports. well, this star was shining over coterie as the marines were coming in to coterie. and that's the symbol of the choicen few marines from -- chosen few marines from this battle. so if you ever see it, that's what it means. and all their merchandise and emblems and that has this on that, that's their symbol. another thing very few people know about is that when we came out of north korea -- we were ordered out -- 100,000 north korean civilians, 100,000, begged us to take them with
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them. they hated the chinese and the north korean government as much as we did. and to show you how badly we hurt the chinese, that 150,000 men the chinese army consisted of, one of their generals said that they only had 35,000 effectives after that battle. out of 150,000. that's how devastated they were. so they got hurt pretty bad by us. but anyhow, getting back to the 100,000 civilians, they wanted to come out. and they -- our leader says after we go back, after we get the men out, send the ships back. and they went back and put 100,000 north korean civilians on the ship and brought them out to south korea. now, the reason why they hated the chinese and the north koreans is because they were just normal people. they didn't want war.
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they didn't know what it was all about, but they knew that north koreans and the chinese were kicking them out of their houses, eating their food, killing their livestock, whatever, you know, whatever few i they had, and can they wanted out. and so we brought 'em out, and then the rest is history again. but, of course, people don't talk about the korean war. it's the forgotten war. and that's a sad thing about it. the greatest battle that was ever fought that i've ever read about -- there's been other battles, alamo, iwo jima, wake island, but these places they either veppeddered or they got killed or they outnumbered the enemy. but at chosen we were outnumbered 15 to 1, 10 to 1 in most cases. so i could never understand why
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the history books don't mention this. a lot of this stuff i'm sure you've never heard before. but pat brought this all out in the book, and i want to thank him again. thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you, bob. i mean, for me the greatest complement that i could ever get is from the veterans of george company. and they, they presented me with a plaque as well as an original scarf, the only original scarf of left, of buddy george on november 10th, marine corps birthday, when they dedicated a monument to the 149 men that died in george company during the korean war. let me just kind of recap a little bit here. george company held east hill against all odds.
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and the headquarters, as we mentioned, was the key point that the first marine division as well as other army units that were in the reservoir could consolidate. for three days they held the hill against all odds, against, you know, 20 to 1 odds in most cases, an entire regiment or more. they were then shipped down toward the airfield, and this airfield, they held the perimeter around the airfield. what's important about the airfield is that they bought time on east hill for the airfield to be completed when reinforcements could then be brought in to the headquarters, and the wounded could be brought out. and men like rocco zulo who was found by another marine unit, was shipped out and then spent several years in a va hospital without most of his men knowing in george company what ever happened to him. and then he showed up 35 years later at their first reunion. here at the reservoir, though,
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the fifth and seventh marines fought their way back down towards the headquarters, and the division consolidated. and the unit then moved, basically, towards the ocean, and they were evacuated. the story of george company doesn't end there though. it goes on through the rest of the war, and george company made a number of other epic stands. at hill 902, for instance, in the spring of 1951 where the chinese launched an all-out fencive, and once again george company held hill and allowed other marine and other units within the area to withdraw. and it continued to another place called boulder city the last day of the war where the chinese began -- had armistice
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talks well underway. the armistice was about to be signed. the chinese launched an all-out attack with an entire regiment against george company at a place called boulder city. thisit was this tiny little out, but they had nearly 30 men killed there on a single day. george company saw quite a bit of action. 149 men were killed during the course of the war. they had three medals of honor given to the company. but like the men of afghanistan and iraq, they came home and pretty much nobody, nobody cared. and they went about their business. they hung up their uniforms, and most of these marines went into normal civilian life. and the story, the story really never went anywhere. it was in the minds of these men. and, you know, for me it was a
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great honor to meet men like bob who i consider a great friend. and it is truly an honor to have a chance to tell their extraordinary story. so thank you very much for all coming. what i'd like to do now is open up the floor to anyone that has some questions. >> i've got a question. could you give us an overview of what the weather conditions were like and what terrain was? was the terrain similar to what's in afghanistan or in the swiss alps? what was the terrain like, and what was the weather like? and what time of year was it? >> the focal point of this book is the battle for the chosen reservoir which bob highlighted gave you kind of the boots on the ground view. and that was in november and december of 1950. and in many accounts it was one of the coldest winters on
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record. the temperature dipped to 20, 30, 40 below zero, and these men were equipped with some of the worst equipment that we had. in fact, they were underequipped. they were given surplus shoe packs and uniforms from the battle of the bulge which completely didn't prepare these men at all. in fact, any of these men that ever, that fought in the chosen reservoir if they apply to the va for frostbite, it's immediately admitted. it's assumed that they received frost night in one way or another. bob, for instance, has it on his feet and hands. it's mainly because i the equipment was so bad. just kind of picture fighting in antarctica, basically, without a tent, without hardly any equipment at all. and, oh, by the way, you're outnumbered 20 to 1. and that's sort of what it was
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like in korea. and in many cases these men didn't have any food, they were, their water was effectively the snow on the ground. many of these men subsisted on tootsie roll pops. you know, it's sort of a standing joke at every reunion that these guys go to, they hand out little tootsie rolls to each other. >> not pops, tootsie rolls. >> but you know the point. as you mentioned, bob, this is a rock hard thing that had to melt in your life. it took about two or three minutes just to get this melted, basically. so it was a, you know, this is an extreme, this is a book about survival as much as it's about combat. it's a book about war and its aftermath, and i really hoped with "give me tomorrow" to tell the story of this small unit, but also try to tell the story of all those who fought in the
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korean war so that people would have a better understanding of what these men went through. these men are great, great heros to this country. yes, sir. >> yeah. first of all, i'd like to thank you for writing this book. my all-time favorite relative was in the chosen reservoir as a marine, and i think he felt a little bit underappreciated. but my question was, to you feel -- do you feel, i realize the breadth and scope of the book is about george company, but do you feel that the success that they had at enchong really spurred macarthur to push them as far north as fast as they did? do you feel the war would have gone different if there had been more resistance or if it would have been a different outcome at enchong? >> hmm. that's a very good hypothetical question. i mean, it could have been a more protracted war like the war
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eventually ended up. i mean, "give me tomorrow" covers a period from the summer of 1950 through the chosen reservoir, and then it also touches upon the years of 1951 through '52 and '53 where the war became kind of a stalemate in a sense, and both sides fought along the 38th parallel and didn't gain much ground. so history, we don't know how history could have turned out. but, i mean, knowing macarthur his strategy always was to hit 'em where they ain't effectively, and he was going to do an amphibious landing at some point because the united states had those assets at their disposal which the north koreans and the chinese didn't have. i think there definitely was going to be a landing at some point. you know, perhaps if landing had been more contested, history may have changed. we don't know.
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yes, sir. >> i'll give you a little bit of background on macarthur's decisions. he didn't believe his intelligence. he didn't believe in his intelligence, that the chinese were amassing on the manchurian border. the intelligence showed that there was over 500,000 chinese on the border. and he, his egotistical mind could not conceive the chinese coming against his army. and when he sent us above -- there was a point where he told the joint chiefs of staff that between st. andrew on the west coast and hungnam on the east coast is about 90 miles. and at that point we had enough men to put be up a good defensive line across there and stop. that's what he told the joint chiefs of staff twice.
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well, he wanted to get all of north korea. and he -- north korea opens up to 650 miles, okay? from 909 miles to 6 -- 90 miles to 650 miles apart. on our left flank when we were up the reservoir, it was 80 miles through mountains to the closest allied force on our left flank. on our right flank, it was 150 miles to the closest army unit there. and so to surround us it was no big deal, and the way the chinese did it was they would carry white sheets. and it was snow-covered, so whenever the alarm went off that an airplane or a spotter plane was looking for them, they'd blow a whistle or blow their bugles and cover up. and anybody moved would be shot.
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so that's how they were able to infiltrate and him not know that they were all around us. but we'd been fighting 'em for some time. i think the first time we ran into the chinese was before we went up on the plateau, the chosen reservoir plateau. and there was a division that hit us, one of our regiments, and we killed over a thousand chinese at that time. and probably gave up 5, 6,000 casualties total. and they didn't believe mac arthur and his staff wouldn't believe that we were fighting chinese. and why they didn't is beyond me. e we showed -- we showed them. we had them prisoner. we captured how many prisoners. and that's one of the things that disappointed in in in me in knowing that during the second war we were to powerful, that
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our army was so great that we can lose a war to these chinese. i mean, the army on the west coast or the west -- the eighth army, they actually ran from the chinese. they didn't put up hardly any defense. they ran all the way back to seoul. and the marines were left up there by themselves. and we were getting out, we've got to fight our way. and somebody says retreat. there's no retreat. you can't retreat through more divisions behind you. there was less troops going up to the river than there was coming back. and they were there, their set purpose as their leader had said to annihilate the marines. because they knew be they could annihilate the marines, then they could defeat the army. and the marines put up that battle and decimated their army. their whole army was out of
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action until april the following year before they even came, you know, into play again. and had we not put up this stand, they could have just swung around and defeated the army at seoul. and there would be no more south korea. because what would stop 'em? we had nothing. any other questions? >> yep, another question. yeah, mr. danielson. >> yes. of. >> with 3-5. you were a veteran of the chosen reservoir. thank you for coming. >> one of the special things habit leans that -- marines is one does something and another does something better, so you try to keep up with them. but the marines at the chosen reservoir disobeyed order. marine general says, no, sir, we're not coming out unless we're coming out fighting. so i said to the general, you disobeyed an order, so you're in trouble.
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but that's the way marine work. you get the job done, or you don't -- you're not supposed to be there. now, one of the things that i was wondering about here is what kind of medals -- what are the things you get when you're a veteran? you get a hat -- [laughter] you get a whole mess of medals and so forth like that? but one of the things that veterans need to get is this thing they call disability payment. the disability payment that's available to the veterans, you'll be surprised now, is $2700 a month tax-free. $2700 a month tax-free. the government gives you a hard time sometimes to get those things, but this chosen group had a lot of frozen people and so forth, and it took some people many, many months to get approval on it. this is where we, the people, need to take advantage of is
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that when you have somebody go into the military and do something, make sure they're taken care of properly. take care of properly. now, the reason you'll be asking yourself why do we go into military? why do we have fights with these other countries? well, it's very simple. other people did a great job of helping us become individual, liberty and justice for all. we fought each other in many our united states, and then we finally said freedom is something everyone needs to have. so you find the people going to other countries and fighting freedom for other people, that's because other people did things that we benefit from. so never, never turn that down. now, one of the wonderful things that we marines have is that some -- we have very many marines that start their training at paris island, south
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carolina, which is their basic training thing. but few end up after world war ii and korea go back there for what? what would they go back to paris island for? they became a drill instructor because they learned how the marines go through things. and those are the things that are very important. some of us are very fortunate that we got in world or war ii, got educated and then we get, got training and were called back for korea and, therefore, various other things taking place. but the big thing -- >> let me just, let me, i'm sorry, sir, that was a very good statement. let me just go ahead and move on to the next question then. who with -- we have another question in the audience? >> i'd just like to make a statement. i receive disability from the korean war, mine's $123 a month,
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not $2700. and it's very difficult to get disability. it's really difficult. by the way, the u.s. army was also in korea. >> we certainly want to honor the sacrifices of the u.s. army veterans in korea, and the book brings out one unit particular, task force faith, that was on the other side of the chosen reservoir that fought very valiantly and made their way towards the headquarters. as i mentioned earlier, the book is really not just about george company in particular, it's also trying to capture the entire korean war and the sacrifices that army veterans as well as marine veterans made. do we have any other questions? yes, sir. >> i'm not sure it's appropriate, but i just wondered if you could tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and how you got into writing books and -- >> sure. yeah -- >> what it means to you, you know? >> it means a lot to me. it's not really, it's not a job.
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this is my passion. i -- it's not work for me at all. when i was 4 years old, i picked up a book on world war ii, and i was kind of sucked in immediately. next thing i know i had a library of about 8 or 900 books on world war ii, and it just sort of consumed me in be one way or another. and i started reading about military history, specifically american history, and it was after college that instead of reading the books about military history i started to interview the men themselves that fought these wars. and it wasn't about, you know, what they did. i started to find out about the feelings and emotions that so many of these men had felt. and be it began with world war i
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veterans, members of the 82nd airborne division, 101st rangers, and it just, it went from there. and i created a web site called the, which is still out today, and it's an oral history project where i volunteered my time to just capture these stories. as bob mentioned earlier, i interviewed about 4,000 members of america's armed forces as well as german and japanese veterans. and i just started to do these interviews, and the next thing i know the men themselves said why don't you write a book, and i just kind of fell into it. by accident. and i wrote my first book called "beyond valor" back in 1999 which was a bestseller for simon & schuster, and, you know, here i am today. it's, it's really, it's not about the books, it's about the journey. i really enjoy the people that i've met, the places that i've gone.
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it's not about the destination so to speak, it's really about the journey and the people that i've met who have been extraordinary. i've made some really extraordinary friends. thank you for that question. yeah. >> i'd like to ask bob, any close air support? >> a lot. >> did the -- >> whenever it wasn't snowing, the blue angels were always above us. and without them we couldn't have got out. they, they paved the way. they softened up the enemy. and they saw what we couldn't see. we're stuck to the roads. and they're up high. they could see where they're massing providing the weather's good. but in the winter you always have snow clouds and a lot of cold weather.
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fog from, you know, from the snow. so, but without them -- i just want to mention about the air force's c-47 planes. they called them the goonny birds. but these c-47 planes could carry out 25 wounded marines out well, they took out 4,500 on a runway that was ice and snow. it wasn't a normal runway. and how they came -- and it was shorter than what was required. but those pilots says, we're gonna try. and i'll tell you this one story about this one pilot. he came in, and he saw some marines that he couldn't get on, so he said, come on, put 'em on. we'll take out 28. next trip he saw some more
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marines. he says, come on, put 'em on. he took out 30 some. in the final trip he made, he had 40-some marines, wounded marines, in the his plane. on this short runway in this weather, and he got 'em all out. over 4500, that's 200 some flights had to come in while they were surrounded and being shelled and shot at. so they deserve a lot of credit too. >> just going to kind of finalize things here. thank you all for coming, and be i really just want to emphasize that, you know, "give me tomorrow" is a book about the korean war and that i hope that people, people look at their own relatives out there, and they find out what they did during the korean war. and this isn't the forgotten war. thank you very much. bob and i are going to have -- sign a few books now.
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[applause] >> patrick o'donnell's books include beyond valor, into the rising sun and operative spies and saboteurs. he's the founder of the drop, an oral history web site. for more information on his latest book, visit give me tomorrow >> this is booktv's coverage of the 61st annual national book awards in new york city, and now we're joined by megan stack who is a finalist in the nonfiction category. her book, "every man many this village is a liar: an education in war." ms. stack, what was your experience in baghdad and afghanistan? >> oh. well, i was in baghdad and afghanistan covering stories for the los angeles times. in afghanistan i was there in 2001. it was actually my first foreign
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assignment. i was a young reporter, and i sort of got thrown into it. and it was traumatic and exciting and amazing and completely memorable. i went to iraq later on, on and off for years after the invasion in 2003. just covering the events and watching everything more or less fall apart has been the sort of arc of my experience. >> so this book has been about nine years in the making? >> yeah. that book is drawn from reporting that goes from 2001 to about 2006, 2007. and it's, yeah, and it took a few years to write and get out into the market. so, yeah, it's about a decade of my life. >> where did you come up with the title, every man in this village is a liar? >> it comes from afghanistan. there was a phrase that somebody had sent to me just before i went to afghanistan, every man in this village is a liar. it survives from an old greek paradox where the person who
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said -- i think it's actually all the cretins are liars, but the person who said it is actually a cretin. so, in other words, it's a logical impossibility. if he's lying, he's telling the truth. and if he's telling the truth, he's lying. i used it as the title because it seems to me sort of an apt description of the elusive nature of truth in war and the difficulty of reporting in a war zone. village, in some ways, is a global village as well. there wasn't really anyone who came away with their hands clean from these wars. everybody was lying to some extent. >> where did this picture on the cover come from? [laughter] >> you'll have to ask my publishers. i actually don't know anything about it. they showed it to me, and i thought it was beautiful. i believe it's afghanistan just judging from the building, but i don't i don't know. >> will people learn about the daily lives of people in afghanistan and iraq? >> yeah. as well as a lot of other count.


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