Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Viewing North Korea’s threats from a personal perspective April 5, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:31 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

HAVE YOU CONSIDERED North Korea and the recent missile threats lobbed against the U.S.?

I have.

U.S. Army Cpl. Elvern Kletscher, my father, in the trenches in Korea.

U.S. Army Cpl. Elvern Kletscher, my father, in the trenches in Korea.

For me it’s personal. Personal because some 60 years ago my father, dead 10 years now, fought as an infantryman in the Korean War. On February 26, 1953, he was struck by shrapnel at Heart Break Ridge. In May 2000, he was awarded a Purple Heart for those wounds. I don’t need to explain Heart Break Ridge. The name tells the story.

Today I reflect on his horrible experiences there and wonder whether that war was worth all the death, all the physical and psychological damage inflicted upon those who fought? Like my dad.

I suppose you could wonder this about any war. Was the war worth the lives lost, the lives changed?

The answer to that question cannot be tidied into a succinct statement, for the response would vary depending on your perspective—perhaps as a soldier, a parent who lost a son or daughter, the daughter who watched her father struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

War is never neat and tidy, but rather complicated.

Did the Korean War halt the spread of Communism? Yes, in the south.

This photo, pulled from the shoebox which holds my dad's military photos, is simply labeled "front line." That would be "front line" as in Korea, where my soldier father fought.

This photo, pulled from the shoebox which holds my dad’s military photos, is simply labeled “front line.” That would be “front line” as in Korea, where my soldier father fought.

Yet, despite the signing of a truce, a definite uneasiness has existed between the two Koreas, separated by a 155-mile long, 2.5-mile wide fortified Demilitarized Zone, for 60 years.

Now North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, has thrown the region into even more uncertainty by his actions and threatened actions. I won’t expound, only note that when I heard mention of North Korean missiles on standby to possibly strike U.S. targets in  Hawaii, Washington, Los Angeles and Austin (Texas), I listened. Anytime a specific place in the U.S. is named, the entire situation becomes much more personal.

I suppose that is part of the strategy, to heighten anxieties. With so much information out there, whom do we believe? Is North Korea capable? Is it not?

This photo from my dad's collection is tagged as "Kim, Rowe, Allen & me, May 1953 Machine Gun Crew." That's my father on the right.

This photo from my dad’s collection is tagged as “Kim, Rowe, Allen & me, May 1953 Machine Gun Crew.” That’s my father on the right.

What would my Dad, who termed Korea “a hell hole,” say about all of this?

What would Teri Rae say about all of this? She was only six weeks old when her dad died. My father witnessed Ray’s death on the battlefield. (Click here to read about Ray.) He never forgot. I’ve never forgotten either the heart-wrenching and horrific story of the Nebraska soldier who never returned home to his wife or his first-born.

These are my thoughts as I consider the unsettling situation unfolding in Korea.

What are your thoughts?

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling