FIREFIGHT AT YECHON: Courage and Racism in the Korean War by Charles M. Bussey

FIREFIGHT AT YECHON: Courage and Racism in the Korean War

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The impassioned, often eloquent recollections of a warrior who, among other objectives, aims to set the record straight on the performance of black troops during the Korean War. A retired lieutenant colonel, Bussey looks back in considerable anger, albeit with obvious pride, on his early Army years. A native of Bakersfield, Cal., he enlisted in the Jim Crow military and flew 70 combat missions in the Mediterranean theater during WW II. After Ms discharge, the author earned a college degree (in political science), held a variety of civilian jobs, and, in 1948, rejoined the Army--as an engineer. Assigned to occupation duty in Japan, Bussey was among the first soldiers rushed to Korea when Communist forces invaded. As commanding officer at the all-black 77th Engineer Combat Company, the author was in the thick of the fierce fighting around the Pusan Perimeter and elsewhere during the conflict's initial stages. During an engagement at Yechon, a vital hamlet far south of Seoul, he almost single-handedly slaughtered 258 North Korean troops and halted an enemy advance. While this feat won him a Silver Star, his CO confided that a white man would have earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. More hard battles lay ahead for the 77th ECC and its driven captain, whose resourcefulness rivaled his valor--for example, by employing indigenous cattle not only to haul supplies up mountainous terrain but also to clear local roads of mines; casualties were used to supplement rations. Derring-do and a full measure of fine yams apart, the author is at pains to rebut charges in the Army's official history that segregated outfits behaved poorly under fire during the first year of the Korean War. He also makes clear that sudden death, grievous wounds, and mindless terror were equal-opportunity fates on Korea's bloodstained killing grounds. A hard-hitting memoir of one man's two-front war that's right on target from start to finish.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1990
ISBN: 0803262019
Publisher: Brassey's/Macmillan