World War II Cavalcade: An Offer I Couldn't Refuse

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9780897451949: World War II Cavalcade: An Offer I Couldn't Refuse

John Munschauer was drafted into the U.S. Army in April 1941 and thrown into what he calls a "thoroughly corrupt and thoroughly fascinating" environment. He rose from Private to Medical Administrative Officer, and then volunteered for the Infantry!

In 1945 he served with the 6th Infantry Division, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 63 Infantry, in Luzon, The Philippines, and with the Korean Occupation force.

Munschauer says, "I was dragged into the Army kicking and screaming," then did an about-face and "grabbed a flag to help lead the parade."

The author speaks for the soldiers with whom he served and tries to "tell it the way it was" in World War II. His generation, he says, planted many seeds that grew to become an important part of the present -- most of it good, some of it bad. Yet he notes, America can be proud of what it did in World War II -- and none more proud than the Infantry, to whom the book is dedicated.

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About the Author:

John L. Munschauer received a B.A. from Cornell University in 1940 and was drafted into the U.S. Army in April 1941. He rose from Private to Medical Administrative Officer, the Infantry Lieutenant, and in 1945 served with the 6th Infantry Division, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 63rd Infantry, in Luzon, The Philippines, and with the Korean Occupation Force.

In July 1946, he became the Placement Director at Cornell, serving as a Career Counselor and Educational Consultant until his retirement in 1984 as Director of the Cornell Career Center.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction: As a child I saw Cavalcade, a film that chronicled the life of an English family at the turn of the century. It was about war and it was about peace. It was about joy and about sorrow. A parade of events in the life of the family made the film interesting; what the family did about these events made it engrossing.

Why I remembered this long-forgotten film is a mystery, except that I had been writing about World War II when Cavalcade came to mind to give me a formula for handling my material. I began marching in a cavalcade when one of Roosevelt's earliest drafts dragged me into the prewar Army of Jones' From Here to Eternity. It was thoroughly corrupt; it was thoroughly fascinating. I have to tell about it. The Army turned me into a surrogate surgeon. I saw great medicine; I saw malpractice. I practiced medicine. I can take out your appendix; unfortunately I can't remember how to stitch you back together. Stories from M*A*S*H were not new to me. But my medical career almost ended when I was put in a mental hospital. I have to tell about it.

While I was dragged into the Army kicking and screaming, I did an about-face and grabbed a flag to help lead the parade. That almost ended when my Infantry platoon decided to kill me. I have to tell about it.

When the war was over and I was on duty in Korea, a Japanese army unit presented me with a regimental sword, and Japanese civilians held a banquet in my honor, got me drunk, and sent me off with a geisha. I have to tell about it.

Cavalcade suggests a march -- the past moving forward to the present and on into future. The greatest event of the century, World War II, created forces that are propelling us forward into the 21st century: in technology, at a pace that seems to increase as the years go by; in human affairs, where there has been progress. Sometimes the war seems to have left us with a mindset that had led us in the wrong direction at times -- more astray than you can imagine, judging from the stories my daughter brought home from school, especially stories relating to atrocities by soldiers, and, of course, the dropping of the bomb. I feel I can speak for the soldiers -- at least those with whom I served -- and present a different picture, but the teacher had another explanation: "Your father didn't know what was going on because he was there." I am still trying to figure that one out, but all I can say is, he didn't know either.

One thing is sure. My generation did plant many seeds that grew and became an important part of the present -- most of it good, some of it bad. If, other than to entertain, and to give in to a compulsion to get war stories off my chest, I would like to present as honest a picture as possible of what we were like then, perhaps to help better understand the seeds we planted. If this small snapshot of the life and times helps some historian, I will be pleased. And I would be most pleased if it would help my daughter and her teacher see past events in an historical perspective, rather than interpreting history with today's values.

Certain of the attitudes and language of the times that I reflect in this book may offend some, but I am trying to tell it the way it was. In today's light, some of it doesn't please me. Back then, I called Japanese "Japs," and did it with considerable hatred. I don't hate them now and today would never call them Japs. But I am left with never-ending questions about them. Wary -- that's the word that applies to them. And I am not without questions about us. Worry -- that's the word that applies to us. Whatever the heritage, there was a time when the country can be proud of what it did, and none more proud than the Infantry. I dedicate this book to them.

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