Recollections of a Boy Marine, By Gene Ciliberti

(RoseDog Books, 2003; 117 pp., $14 [eBook $9] — ISBN 0805992529).

This is a personal narrative of the author’s experiences as a U.S. Marine serving in combat during the war in Korea. His enlistment in the Corps was from 1948 to 1952.

Landing in Korea with the First Marine Division in August 1950 the author participated in the defense of the Pusan Perimeter. “This was an area at the southernmost part of the Korea peninsula.” “In those hot summer days” his “outfit was constantly on the move.” Following the defense of Pusan the author landed at Inchon where “all Hell broke loose.”

After the liberation of Seoul the next landing was at Wonsan where the Marines “saw a large sign that read, ‘Welcome, U.S. Marines! Bob Hope is here!’”

From Wonsan the mission for the Marines was to “proceed north up into the mountains toward the Chosin Reservoir.” During their epic battles to the sea by the Marines the author “was frightened just enough to become a good Catholic boy again.” The author paraphrases Lieutenant Colonel Ray Murray’s words about coming out with their weapons, wounded, and dead (p.83). Remembering only explosions, he awoke on his back “across the hood of a Jeep” with blood coming from his nose and left ear. After reaching Hagaru-ri the author was evacuated for “Concussion/Frostbite/Legs/Feet.”

Returned to the U.S. and after release from the hospital, the author completed his enlistment stateside and was discharged in 1952. In the final nine pages of his narrative the author shifts to editorializing, giving his thoughts on peace and a possible method of reducing the need for war.